After a particularly difficult weekend of parenting, I confided in my friend Joy that I felt like my child’s irrational behavior seemed to be a reflection of a parenting fail on my part.
My child could not accept that they had to stick to their commitments. (Never mind the fact that they had cried, begged, swore on their grave that this was the ONE thing they were born to do and HAD to do it or their pitiful life was over.)
Now there was a new, “I’m gonna die if I don’t do this” thing and I was officially the “meanest, most unfair mom ever.” (Exact words of my child.)
The words didn’t bother me. The anger behind them did.
I wasn’t as worried about the fact that they thought I was being mean; it was the fact that my child was so quick to change passions in the blink of an eye.
Joy pointed out that maybe there was some regret there. My child now saw a new opportunity and regretted making the previous choice. My friend shared that her kids had demonstrated similar behavior and accused her of “forcing” them to do the very things she knew they loved. In her kind and wise way, Joy said, “I think sometimes they (the kids) have regrets and they use it as anger towards us, but it’s not okay for them to be angry with us for what they regret.”
Regret as anger?!?!
I had never considered the two feelings to be mutual or even really related except to be angry at myself because I regretted something.
Never had I believed that my regrets were a reason to be angry at someone else, but, as I thought about my own past, I realized that it had happened. It had happened a lot when I was younger and occasionally in adulthood. Wow!
Regret doesn’t make it okay for us to punish others or treat them with hostility.
Regret is something within our own minds and hearts.
Regret happens when we fail to do our best to seek out the actions, reactions, and successes that we most desire.
Yes, our desire may present itself in hindsight, but it still does not give us the right to be angry with others.
Now, if something terrible occurred or failed because of the actions of another person or people, it’s understandable that you would feel anger. However, you can’t regret the actions of other for them. Those actions are not yours to repent.
So whether you are a parent in doubt or someone who is frustrated with seemingly limited options, please keep this in mind; regret does not give anyone the right to lash out at others.
We should shape our lives based on what we believe is best.
Our energy should be directed at moving forward and putting the past in its place (behind us).
Our intent should fuel us to be honest about what’s bothering us or the anger shot our way because of the regrets of others.
When we begin to understand that there are more positive ways to deal with regret, the easier it will be to release any remorse or help others cancel their contriteness.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Joy also recommends prayer in these situations. She is super smart, so I recommend taking her advice.