How often do you give yourself a free pass?

One of your jobs as a parent is to educate your child.

It's more than just the fun stuff, like teaching them to draw or play chess. It's also how to act in a world of actions and consequences.

I'm finding out the hard way that teaching this to a child isn't always a walk in the park. At times, it requires firmness. At times, it can make you frustrated or angry.

Whenever a "behavior adjustment" occasion happens, you get a split second to decide how to react. Are you going to be frustrated? Are you going to raise your voice? Or are you going to give them a pass?

Your daughter figured out she can throw things in the air and, most of the time, make them land safely in her hands. She knows that glass is fragile, but the temptation is too strong.

Next thing you know, the glass explodes on the tile floor in a gazillion of feet-cutting pieces.

You look at her. She looks at you. Experience taught you to recognize the look on her face. Embarrassment. "I know. Sorry!"

On your best days, you decide without hesitation to give her a pass and go straight to comforting her.

We talk to ourselves.

When we do some grown-up version of breaking the glass we were playing with, it might sound like how we were talked to as kids—only worse. The voice is ours, but the words aren't. We immediately tell ourselves it could have been avoided. We criticize ourselves, sometimes harshly.

To many, the inner critic is a full-blown freewheeling bully.

What I'm pondering these days is how I can give myself a free pass when I do something wrong.

I'm a proper adult now (assuming there's such a thing) and a parent. Nobody taught me how to parent my kids; I'm figuring it out as I go.

There is no reason I can't do the same for myself. I should be able to parent myself with intent, and I strive to become better at it.

Of course, that's already what we do when we talk to ourselves. But reframing as "parenting" makes it easier to grasp than thinking, "I should be nicer to myself."

The first actionable step comes with the reframe: I should give myself a free pass when I do wrong.

It doesn't relieve me from sweeping the floor to remove the broken glass. But it affirms that anything else, including the inner negative commentary, is extra.

Here's to becoming calmer parents to ourselves!