I wish I hadn’t done that

Learning from experience“I wish I hadn’t done that…”

“I didn’t mean to…”

“I didn’t think that would happen…”

As a dad these are things I hear my children say, far more often than I would like to.  It is heartbreaking to be a parent at the point these words are uttered. That is the point at which they understand that they have done wrong and the point at which despite their contrition I must follow through on the punishment their act has warranted.  It is heartbreaking because they know it is coming and they know they had it in their power to avoid simply by making a better decision.  It is heart breaking because as a parent you know your actions are going to make them sad, and maybe even mad, but you have to see it through so that the lesson is learned.

Whenever I talk about consequences with my kids I tell them choices are like sticks, you can’t pick up one end without moving the other.  I want them to understand that they choose the consequence at the same time they choose their actions.  It is a very hard lesson to learn, and if we are really honest with ourselves, I think we are all constantly learning and relearning this lesson.  I know that often I am guilty of the same shortsighted view of my choices that they are.  Too often I find myself thinking:

“I wish I hadn’t done that…”

“I didn’t mean to…”

“I didn’t think that would happen…”

They are definitely hard words to learn from.  If I find myself saying them too often I know I have hit a point at which I need to slow down and evaluate the choices I am making.  I need to evaluate them against the person I want to be, so that I can eliminate those choices that take away from my goal.

I recently listened to a story of a knight errant, one of Arthur’s knights of the round table. In his tale he is constantly the victim of his own poor decisions and does not ever seem to find a way to learn from them. In the end, though, things turn out OK for him. However in my mind I have to assume he paid a heavy toll in body and spirit for his inability to apply some critical thinking to how he made decisions. Which caused my ultimate takeaway from the story to be:

“What is the ultimate price we pay in body and spirit from the fact that we do not take the time to consider our choices critically?

I think that is at the root of my approach with my kids. Maybe, just maybe, I will be able to get through to them and help them to make a few less bad decisions than I have made.   Maybe I can get them to approach their decisions with a little more forethought than I have done or at least more than an Arthurian knight errant.

None of us are going to travel the road of life and avoid bumps and bruises along the way.  None of us will be free from making bonehead mistakes from time to time.  We just don’t have to make them all… hopefully we can learn from experience, and from each other.

So with that being said I’d like to encourage you to share some of the lessons you have learned from your mistakes.  Let’s see if we can help everyone’s travels on the road of life become a little less bumpy.


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