As Iíve gotten older Iíve realized something incredibly important. Something that Iíve learned is a super-critical life skill for all of us, but especially key for our survival as parents. Itís actually one of the few tools in our emotional toolbox that has the capacity to convert a potentially nasty exchange with our kids (or anyone, for that matter) into a healthy, maybe even productive, conversation.

Itís taken awhile, but Iíve realized the value of knowing when to admit that I was wrong. And lemme tell you, itís one powerful little nugget of knowledge. Because once we harness the ability to self-reflect enough to know and accept and, most importantly, admit when weíve screwed up, everything changes.

Now I say this because, as a mom of two girls (one in high school and one whoís a freshman in college), Iíve been reflecting a lot lately on how my interactions with them have evolved over the years.

Like how, when they were young, we really didnít argue because they were just cute little squirts and any issue we ever had was more or less a little-squirt-sized issue that was easy to resolve. Stuff like not riding on the dog or why watching ďJawsĒ when they were four was a terrible idea. But then, as they got older, their issues grew accordingly. And so, at times, did our clashes.

Iíve learned, though, through incredible trial and error, that nothing defuses an argument faster than admitting when youíre wrong. Especially when youíre a parent. The unfortunate thing is that knowledge doesnít always come easy to us parents. And thatís because parents have egos.

See, I think most people ó parents in particular ó are just inherently stubborn when it comes to owning their actions. I know I can be, even in spite of the fact that I try very hard not to be that way.

Now this isnít to say that everyone is like that, but Iíve been around long enough now to get a good sense that itís definitely the majority of us who struggle with it. And I think thatís because, sometimes, we start off in one direction, lobbying one point, maybe realizing along the way that our point was feeble to begin with, but have too much momentum going to pull back. I do it constantly.

But I can only imagine how many arguments couldíve been avoided, or, at the very least, shortened, if I hadnít dug in my heels just on principle alone. (Donít get me wrong, obviously, as a mom, I was almost always right, but even I screw up occasionally. Shocking as that may seem.)

Actually, what a lot of us donít realize early enough in life is that itís incredibly humbling, no, liberating actually, to own it when we screw up. Mainly where our kids are concerned.

Because admitting weíre fallible as parents has a powerful and important impact on kids. It proves that peopleóeven people they trust the mostócan make mistakes. I mean, how can we raise our children to believe that thereís no shame in admitting when theyíre wrong if we, the parents, canít do the same? We canít. And we shouldnít.

Look, I have plenty of examples of times when I held the line too long only because I wasnít ready to back down or just because I was the The Mom. (I use that one a lot.) But the times I retreated before any real shots were fired, the fighting almost always stopped. Itís uncanny, really. But a little humility goes a long way.

See, for most of us, admitting weíre wrong, especially to our kids, feels unnatural. Thatís because, as the Moms and Dads, we typecast ourselves as the ones who have to be strong and confident all the time. The ones with all the answers.

Then thereís the whole pride thing, which, to be honest, can be one of the toughest hurdles to clear in learning to admit weíre wrong. Because it shows weakness and fallibility. It creates a vulnerability. But it also proves weíre human. Thatís the key. Thatís what our kids need to see. And the ironic thing is that it shows our kids way more of our strength and character when we own our actions and apologize for our mistakes.

Now my girls are probably reading this and thinking, Mom, seriously, what the hell are you talking about? You hardly ever admit when youíre wrong. And to that I say, First of all, yes I do, but it just so happens that the percentage of my actually being wrong is extremely low. And second, I said Iíve realized that owning my mistakes is incredibly valuable. I just havenít fully deployed the concept in my day-to-day life. But Iím working on it. Baby steps.

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at She is also the author of ďLIFE: It Is What It Is,Ē available on