Is it okay to punish yourself for the mistakes of your child?

By Diyaa in Experiences
Updated 09:10 IST Dec 12, 2020

Views » 682 | 5 min read


Its eight pm in this wintery evening, when I receive a text from someone, I most dreaded. It was from my child’s English teacher. The cold weather wasn’t any less that the text had to add on to my chills. Knowing their compatibility history, I sensed she had called to complain about my eleven year olds goof ups. But what was it even about I wondered. He just finished his English papers two days back which I was most thrilled about it. I had put in my heart and soul into his lessons and taught him well. When he finished I felt he had done pretty well. The mother in me was very proud. I didn’t want to check the paper, but thanks to the online schooling, I could read his answer sheet immediately. We soon forgot about it. It was done and dusted. We had to prepare for the other subjects lined up.



The empath that I am, I was so anxious since morning. I wondered whose vibe I picked. And the text said exactly that. She had been trying to contact me since morning but somehow was unable to. She asked me to call her back at once. The panic mode set in as soon as I read that. I was driving and I quickly looked for a parking space where I could talk to her in peace. She told me how my son forgotten to attempt one part of the exam. I couldn’t believe what she said. I had read his answer sheet myself, I had prepared him well. How could I not check the question paper? How did I miss that too? I told her I appreciated her calling me and making me aware of his mistake. She actually wished well for him, by cautioning him about the other papers. She didn’t want him to repeat his mistake. I knew my son’s only setback was his impatience. The urge to finish and run. He had been doing that ever since. The only advice I gave him and that he un-followed was to take his time to re-check the paper. I apologized to her on his behalf and thanked her too. She asked me to tackle this well and not let him know she called. But a mother’s brain over-powered her heart this time. I was beating myself up inside my head. How could I have been so careless? How could he attempt only half a paper? Was I over-confident in him and that’s why I left him to deal with it alone. Why did I leave the room in which he was writing his exams and let him take control? I asked her if she could give him another chance at this. I knew in my heart this won’t be fair to other kids and how will my son learn his lessons? I still insisted on her accepting his resubmission even after knowing her answer would be in negation.


What hit me hard was, after being smart and well-read how could my son make such a stupid mistake in ‘my’ favorite subject? Yes, it was my favorite not his. I was angry at myself. I was punishing me. The guilt made me restless.


I told him about this incident as soon as I reached home. I didn’t know how long I could keep it in me. He and I both confirmed after checking the paper that he had make a mistake. He felt very sorry and guilty or rather it was me who made him feel so. He tried re-attempting in the hope that what if she accepts it. I didn’t want to break his heart and I let him do what he best could to make it right.


What do you do when your child makes a mistake? Is it not ok to tell them and make them aware so that it’s not repeated? Of course, they have a choice and a fate that will work for them but as parents this is the least we can do I felt. If I left it and didn’t tell him about it he would never know. Now the point was is it ok to put them in the guilt or just let them deal with it?  This is just his sixth grade exams that I am nerving about so much. He has a whole life ahead. Who doesn’t make mistakes? He may make some life-altering grave mistakes in future, like we all have sometime in our past. (Which I pray as a mother, he doesn’t). But we’ll that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?


Just when I was arguing with my own intellect, I read these beautiful lines on someone’s post. It instantly felt god-sent, like just to clear my head and give me a better perspective at this. We are all humans after all. We create mistakes and learn from it. That is how we get successful. Perfectionists are usually unhappy and angry people most of the time, for they don’t allow the freedom to make mistakes, there isn’t any room for it in their lives. And instead of learning they get into the victim mode. Failing to learn from a mistake is what’s unacceptable. The best way is to learn and move on.


When I saw him fix the blunder in the right way, I felt the need to forgive him at once without putting any more guilt in him or in me. I knew this couldn’t be undone but we had to understand it, see it, learn from it and change for the better. When mistake help us enhance our tomorrow, then may be it isn’t so terrible after-all.

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