Do You Disappoint Your Child?

| October 11, 2010 | Comments (7)

disappointIt was a pleasant drive to preschool this morning.  The sun was shining and we smiled as we drove by the trees with the leaves all beautiful hues of reds and yellows.  All in all, we’re feeling pretty good about the day ahead.  We pull into the church parking lot and get our place in line with the other parents, who are dropping off their preschoolers.  Then, from the backseat I hear a little voice say:

“Don’t forget about chapel.”  (Only, it didn’t come out as “chapel”, I had to take a second to decipher what she was trying to say.)

I turned around.  “Don’t forget about what?  Oh, chapel.”  I knew the kids had chapel at this Christian preschool, but I didn’t take the time to read the monthly newsletter to learn that parents are encouraged to attend.


I was speechless because I could see it in her eyes how much it hurt her that I wasn’t there, because I did forget.  It was the previous day.  “Were the parents there?” was my thoughtless rebuttal.  “Yes.”  She answered matter-of-factly, while still holding my gaze.  Man, if looks could kill.

Double crap.

I grasped at my thoughts, trying to find some way to make up for it.  I’ll take you for ice cream after school!  I’ll let you watch five movies in a row!  I’ll buy you a pony!!!  Anything!  Just please forgive me!

Nothing came out.  I just sat there in the driver’s seat, feeling a ton of guilt in the bottom of my stomach like I had just eaten some greasy diner food at midnight the previous night.

She got out of the car and we exchanged I love yous and see you laters and I drove away, looking for the nearest farm where I could purchase a pony to make up for my lack of organizational skills and attention to detail.  All the way home, I felt terrible about missing chapel.  It then occurred to me that this is why she didn’t have much to say to me on the way home yesterday.  Because I missed this activity that was important to her.

When I arrived at home, I immediately leafed through the drawings and papers with alphabet practice scribbles and circles around things that match or don’t match and I found the October newsletter that clearly states, “Chapel: Parents are encouraged to attend.”

Parenting FAIL.

See how awful I feel about disappointing my five-year-old?  I can only imagine how bad it’s going to be when she’s in grade school and I accidentally forget the date of the holiday play or when she’s in high school and I miss the big game.  I’m on the other side of the guilt trip, now.  I get to feel what disappointing someone else really feels like.  I realize that buying her a pony is not the way to make things “better”.  The only way I can make things better and teach her a lesson at the same time is to simply apologize to her.  I don’t need to make promises because I know that really isn’t the best way to handle disappointment.

I let my little girl down and wow, it really kind of feels terrible.  How do you disappoint your child and how do you make up for it?  Are you teaching them that a sincere apology is enough or do you make promises to make it up to them?  What do you think is the best way to handle a child’s disappointment?

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Category: Preschool

About Amy M: Amy is a suburban Chicago circus clown, I mean, mom, who juggles parenting her two young daughters, her work-at-home job, and her never-ending passion for creativity. She lives each day to the fullest and often feels like there aren't enough hours in the day. She has a blog called ParentSphere where she talks about the people, places and things that make her life a happy place. View author profile.

Comments (7)

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  1. Lisa says:

    So far I haven’t done this because it’s a matter of can’t, not didn’t since I work full time. Last year when my son wanted me to go on his field trip, I felt bad but had to simply explain why I couldn’t. I mess up more like, I promised to make meatballs the next time I make spaghetti and I totally forget lol
    Smaller things, but much more often I’m sure. I apologize but also try to keep things in perspective. Not to downplay hurt if there is any but really I think my kids need to know how lucky they really are in the grand scheme of things.

  2. Your skin will get a little tougher over the years. People make mistakes. Our kids will learn this and need to be accepting and forgiving when someone make a mistake regarding them. It’s just a great time to explain to her that everyone is human, even MOMMY!

  3. Mom Farabaugh says:

    Dear Amy ~ I know just how you feel having been there over the year’s of raising the eight of you. We have to forgive ourselves as well as ask our children to forgive us for failing them sometimes. I’m sure she was disappointed that you weren’t there. Just explain to her that mom’s make mistake’s sometimes also just like children do. Tell her your going to try harder not to do that again.

  4. 2kop says:

    Yesterday I disappointed my son, who wanted to talk to me after school (middle school), but I was on the phone and kept putting him off. When I went to find him after I finished my call, he just said: “Never mind. You’re always on the phone.” Crap. I sat down, apologized and told him he now had my undivided attention. It took a few minutes, and several apologies, but he came around.

    On the other hand, Thursday is take-your-parent-to-school day. I hate ake-your-parent-to-school day, probably because I started out with two step children, added twins, and then five years later, two more just 16 months apart. And despite all that experience, I have yet to figure out how to be in two places at one time. Someone is always disappointed. Usually me.

    This year, I’m going to my own class in the morning, and attending one class each for my boys in the afternoon. And then I’m apologizing. Again.

  5. Catherine says:

    I disappointed my child today and am racking myself with guilt. I was supposed to go read to my child’s 4th grade class for “Read Across America Day” and I totally forgot. The worst part is – I am a teacher at the school! Not only did I disappoint my child, I disappointed his entire class who was so excited because a 5th grade teacher was coming to read. To make it even worse, he cried when he came into my room that afternoon. I want to make it up to him so bad but don’t know how.

  6. Michelle says:

    I know this is an old post but it really was just what I needed to read tonight. My daughter has been talking about how excited she is to go to the Girl Scout day camp this summer for a few months now. Today I went to go register her and discovered I missed the registration deadline and they are very strict on no late registrations. I felt sick to my stomach all day because of my negligence. I’m heartbroken that I had to be the one to dissapoint her:( Tracey’s comment was spot on. We are all human, even Mommy.

  7. Joy says:

    I found this website after searching for tips after disappointing your child. I’m glad I’m not alone. I told my daughter she couldn’t go to a special event this weekend because she got sick. Then she totally rebounded today, feeling way better, but now it’s to late for her to go. :( I feel horrible cause I know she would’ve loved to go, but I was doing what I felt was best based on how sick (fever, sleepy, etc) she was just yesterday. I hate feeling like I let her down just trying to do the right thing. :(

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