A beautiful thing about being in a family is that even though ruptures can happen, so can repair. Our aim as parents is to model this to our kids, and show them that relational repair does and will reliably happen. This is a great security that we can give our kids.
Repair means that we fix up the hurt and damage in the relationship. It is wonderful to be modelling repair to our kids from an early age, but if you haven’t done this before, it is never too late to start – even if your child is 16... even if they're 36! Repair does wonders for getting the ‘warmth’ back.
Repair means apologising and making it better again, so you can get back on track. In my own parenting, repair is needed if I have overreacted, been in a bad mood and spoken in a very grumpy way with my kids, lost my temper or yelled about something. If there has been rupture in my relationships with family members, it’s healthy to now demonstrate that the work of repair can be done.
But how? Repair is hard to achieve if you are still angry. Any peace-making efforts won’t land well when offended parties are feeling hot and bothered. Wait until you are calm, so that your apology does not turn into more cross ‘telling off’. If you’ve had a bad morning with one of your teenagers before school, you might say to them after school, “Look I’m sorry I got mad at you this morning. I really hate starting the day like that and I know it doesn’t make you feel good either.”
At times it might be appropriate to go a bit further and have a teaching moment – “Can I ask you to please just unload the dishwasher every morning – without me asking – because it will help to take the pressure off”. You could also try getting them involved in problem-solving the conflict, empowering them to consider how they might help get things back on track. "How do you think we could run our mornings better so that we can all leave the house feeling calmer each day?”