Shop the fall collection ➔

It’s a sultry July afternoon, and in a spontaneous moment of inspiration, I decide to squeeze in a trip to the bike path before naptime. Bekah’s five, and she no longer naps. She’s been on a quest to learn to ride her little pink bike with rattling training wheels. Caleb’s almost two, and he’s the one who needs the nap in approximately 27 minutes. I strap her helmet over her pigtails and plop Caleb in the stroller. If we move at a decent pace, we can conquer close to two miles in our allotted time frame.

The expedition starts out at a decent pace; however, about 300 hundred yards into the journey, Bekah’s tire meets the formidable obstacle of a fallen acorn. The slight bump is startling, and the tears come. “I can’t do this!” she shouts, her enthusiasm waning.

“Sure you can, sweetie. Just keep going slow and steady.” 

I’m now pushing the stroller with my left hand and bending to hold onto her bike handlebar with my right hand. An elderly couple saunters past. I smile politely and pretend we’re having fun.

The minute I let go of the handle, Bekah’s in tears again. 

“Come on, babe! If you make it around the loop I’ll give you a treat at the car!”  I’m getting desperate now. 

“I can’t! I just can’t!”  She’s in full-blown meltdown mode now.

Despite the excitement, Caleb nods off. I tickle his leg, “Stay awake, buddy.” (He doesn’t transfer from stroller to car or car to crib. A 20 nap will ruin the next seven hours of our lives.)

After three more attempts at encouraging my precious daughter, I lose it. “You get on that bike and pedal your way around this bike trail, or there will be serious consequences!” I’m not yelling, but I’m close to it, and the tone of my voice attests to my frustration. 

Looking back, it was a low moment as a mom. I aim to be diplomatic, loving, and gentle. Completely losing it because my child was fearful on her bicycle was unwarranted. Little Bekah sobbed the whole way around the bike path that afternoon. By the time we were packed into the car, her sobs were more of a quiet whimper, and I wanted to whimper with her. What should have been a fun, child-centered activity was ruined by my explosion. 

We managed to keep Caleb awake until he reached his crib, and I held my daughter on the couch and reconciled with her while he slept. 

Anyone who has spent more than five hours with a child has probably at least experienced a patience-testing moment. As parents, most of us have lost our tempers with our children. Here are three things to say to your child after an explosion:

I’m so sorry.

Modeling a heart-felt apology is one of the most important lessons any parent can pass on to a child. When a child sees sincere remorse in a parent’s eyes, he learns what it looks like to truly seek forgiveness. Letting our kids see that we make mistakes too is important in guiding them to become honest, caring, empathetic adults. Everyone blows it sometimes. The best we can do is sincerely apologize.

Here is what I love about you . . .

I blew up on Bekah because I was frustrated with her pace and her fear on her bike. When we walked away from the bike path, she felt less-than, ashamed, and she believed she didn’t measure up. Our explosions often come on the heels of our children’s mistakes and shortcomings. For every explosion, it’s important to deliberately affirm and encourage our children. I looked straight into Bekah’s big blue eyes and said, “I got frustrated because I was trying to keep Caleb awake, and our bike path adventure was taking longer than I had planned. I’m so sorry. It wasn’t your fault. You’re doing a great job on your bike. You’re also so great at helping me care for Caleb, showing compassion, and being a loving daughter.” 

Let’s not wallow.

While part of me felt like wallowing on the couch for an hour with a bag of chips, we need to teach our children not to get stuck in a pit of despair over every mistake. Once reconciliation has taken place, it’s time to move on. Bekah and I got out our favorite coloring book and worked on coloring a page together. We talked about an upcoming trip to the zoo and all the reasons we love summer.

Most likely, there will come a time when you blow it big time. Extend grace to yourself and then take responsibility for it. We’re not messing our kids up by being humanwe’re modeling what it looks like to walk in sincerity, love, and compassion.

Stacey Pardoe

Stacey Pardoe lives with her husband Darrell and two children in western Pennsylvania. In addition to being a wife and mother, she is a writer, mentor, and teacher. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their passions and make an impact in the culture. She enjoys hiking, camping, running, and spending time outside with her family.

It’s Okay to Say No to the Promposal

In: Kids, Teen
Boy holding pink sign saying "Prom with me?"

Promposals are cute.  But, even for the sweetest questions, it’s okay if the answer is not yes. I have more boys than girls at my house so the whole meet the boy asking your girl out with a gun posts don’t sit well with me. Boys and girls have an equally hard time negotiating friendships and relationships in high school, and I care equally for both. A young man spent some time, told his friends, made a cute sign, and planned to ask my daughter to a dance. A friend of my daughters mentioned he might ask (and even made...

Keep Reading

I Wipe the Slides

In: Kids, Motherhood
boy on slide

I want you to have the most fun possible at your tiny playground stars program, so I wipe the slides. I don’t want you to have a meltdown if your clothes get wet while I’m gone, so I wipe the slides. I want to have three precious hours of only managing your little sister, so I wipe the slides. RELATED: I’d Rather Serve My Kids Than Have Them be “Self-Sufficient” I don’t want you to feel embarrassed by a big reaction to wet clothes when I’m not there to help you, so I wipe the slides. I want you to...

Keep Reading

One Day You’ll Outgrow Being My Little Boy—But Not Today

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and two sons back-to-school picture, color photo

One day you will come home after your first day of a new school year and not wish to share a single thing. Not today. Today, you got into the car and talked non-stop about every second of your day. I was delighted!  One day you will not have countless first-day forms for me to sign and return the next day. Not today. I signed my name at least four times. I was happy to grant permission for you to play sports, learn algebra, and do whatever else I gave my permission for.  One day you will not allow me...

Keep Reading

The Sports Mom Shows Up For Her Kids, No Matter What

In: Kids, Motherhood
Youth baseball game

We’re nearing the end of club baseball/softball season, and the burnout is real. The time away from home, burning through gas to get somewhere for two hours with half your house packed only to pack back up and turn around and drive to the next two-hour destination is insane. I don’t even like the sport right now. There . . . I said it. I’m so sick of softball fields and wind-blown dirt in my face. I’ve seen so many balls thrown in the last two months that my eyes hurt. But I still show up. I love to see...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

3 Common Phrases to Avoid Saying to Your Kids (and What To Say Instead)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with young boy on couch

Learning to love yourself is hard work. I did not grow up loving myself. Instead, I always felt inadequate, and I felt the need to change myself to prove my worth.  I want more for my kids. I want my kids to know their inherent value and worth. I want to empower my kids to love and accept themselves.  My self-love journey, aided by the expertise of a counselor, has helped me realize there are some narratives from my childhood I needed to unlearn. I had to accept my emotions as helpful and not something to be pushed down. I...

Keep Reading

They Love Each Other (and Sometimes They Don’t)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toddler girl lying with big brother, color photo

When I was pregnant with his baby sister, Forest kissed my belly and talked about all the wonderful things he would do with this little girl he already loved so much. His plans changed, however, after she was born, and the thing he wanted to do the most with her was place her gently in the trash can. Some mornings he would kiss her softly, other mornings he would walk into the room where I’d be nursing her and say, “Her doesn’t look precious to ME.” Two and a half years later, Forest’s feelings toward Grace remain about the same....

Keep Reading

As a Mother, I Matter Too

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in living room

“What’s more important than me, Mammy?” my daughter asked. I looked at her, and she was looking at me. Her question wasn’t harsh or accusatory, it was curious. She was curious. We were in the kitchen, I was at the table working, and she asked me to help her find something. I told her I was finishing up some important work and then I would play with her. This is when she asked me what was more important than her. I bit my tongue to stop the words that wanted to rush out of my mouth. I wanted to proclaim...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Follow Your Beautiful Heart

In: Faith, Kids
Mother and daughter smiling

When I held you in my arms for the first time, it was like time stopped. As you looked up at me with innocence and new life, I was struck by the reality that my main role in your life would be to guide and direct you on the right path. I hoped I would do the best job possible. As I watched you grow, I basked in your joy of putting on your pretty dresses, adorned with layers of costume jewelry, parading around the house for your father and me to see. I dreamed often of what path you...

Keep Reading

My Daughter is “Extra” and the World Needs More People Like Her

In: Kids, Motherhood
girl jumping

She is . . . extra. She just is. All the time she is extra sad, and then extra “OMG, Mom-that-was-so-epic-let-me-tell-you-everything.” Extra energetic, then extra I’m too tired to help with any family chores. Extra hungry, then extra refuses to eat the food she just asked for because she’s full. RELATED: In Defense of the Wild Child Extra loves to show how much knowledge she has, then extra doesn’t want to do her homework because she’s too busy “being.” Extra defiant, then extra brings home adorable “I love you, Mom” art from school. There is no middle ground with this...

Keep Reading