To Err is Human, to Anticipate is Parenting

Alexander Pope the English poet wrote “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Mr. Pope who coincidentally is not related to Olivia shared this Scandal free perspective in 1711. Mr. Pope did not author the first part of the quote, “To err is human” but Mr. Pope did author the second part of the quote, “to forgive, divine”.

While the first person to do something is generally the person we remember, Mr. Pope set a new precedence. Today few would care about the first part of the quote if there were not the second part.  To err is human – duh, so what. To forgive, divine – wow, that’s deep.

With the mere addition of three simple words – Mr. Pope’s addition to a quote which most would take for granted – transformed an obvious phrase into a transcendent passage. Mr. Pope’s words enlighten us all and serve as a continuous reminder that every human can make a mistake and that we should forgive those that do.

Something More

There is no record that Mr. Pope’s words were intended for parents. Yet, his words feel like something more than just another great quote. Mr. Pope’s words are divine directions for parents.

For the lack of better imagery, parents are like Vince and Larry, the Crash Test Dummies. Our job is to stay mindful of this quote no matter what and be prepared to apply it at a moment’s notice. If I could rewrite the quote in 2014, I would write: Children err, parents anticipate and forgive.

Scientific Fact

Vince and Larry warned in their commercials that it’s a scientific fact that accidents are bound to happen. Parents need also remember that it’s a scientific fact that children are going to err. There is no PSA about the errors of children like the safety belt PSAs featuring the Crash Test Dummies but there probably should be.

A PSA might be useful because it seems parents often forget that the newest, least experienced, miniature models of us are going to err. Note to grown-ups: WE ERRED AS CHILDREN TOO!

In fact, many of us, adults, are still making the same errors we made during our youth. All one needs to do is watch, listen or read the news. Talk about real-life Crash Test Dummies.

To Err Is Human

So relax parents! Stop all the yelling and screaming! You don’t want to have a heart attack or worse do you?

Chill out and accept the irrefutable scientific truth: Not only are children going to err, it is extremely likely that children will err more often than we want. If you don’t believe me, ask your parents.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to give up and decide not to be a responsible parent. Please don’t do that. The news clearly shows each day that there is more than enough inept parenting already. Rather, I just want to inform and remind you to stop acting surprised when your child slips-up. You don’t have to and you shouldn’t be astonished when your child makes a mistake.

Buckle Up

As parents, our job is like the repeatedly painful unrewarding job of the Crash Test Dummies. As such, it would be wise to stay cognizant of three things at all times:

  1. Children were created to make errors. There is just no getting around this fact. There are no perfect adults and there will never be any perfect children. So no matter how you protest, the word child is now and shalll always be synonymous with the word “oops” and the phrases “I made a boo-boo” and “my bad”.
  2. Prevention will always be better than cure. The only hope parents have of reducing the errors of children is to anticipate problems before they occur. Proactive parenting reduces the likelihood of mistakes. Although, preemptive action won’t eliminate all errors it certainly beats doing what too many parents do – stick our heads in the sand.
  3. Forgiveness is Divine. Chances are when you consciously adopt rules one and two, your child will not only recognize the error of their ways before you have a chance to chastise them but they will be on bended knee begging for mercy. How you respond may have huge eternal consequences. Choose wisely!

So now that you know a bit about Alexander Pope and the Crash Test Dummies, sit back, relax and enjoy the exciting and rewarding ride that is parenting.

One last thing before you pull off, don’t forget to bring along your GPS and put on your seat belts. Trust this dummy, you don’t want to get off course on this journey and you definitely want to be prepared for a road trip that is full of hills and valleys, twists and turns.

Finally, I’ll say it for you “who knew that you could learn so much from a dummy!”

Previously Published on The RS Project