Why Parents Should Stop Saying “Sorry”

Author Steven Cribbs    Category Parenting     Tags

When was the last time that you said “I’m sorry” to your child? Did you use the phrase in an attempt to shrug off or down-play an issue; or, did you truly describe something you were apologetic towards with an attempt to make the issue right?

Sorry on Australia Day-sky writingphoto © 2010 butupa | more info (via: Wylio)

As parents, we are very interested in how our kids make apologies and how they use the word “sorry”. But, do we apply the same standards and desires to our own use of the word?

I know that I am not perfect. And, I admit, there are times when I use a quick and insincere “sorry” to escape the situation. The embarrassing part is when my children observe my antics knowing that I am doing what I have told them not to. The sad part is when I do this to the detriment of my children.

But, this is so easy to do, isn’t it? It is so easy to get in the habit of saying “sorry” just get out of having to deal with a situation.

Have you stopped to think, though, about the example you are setting for your kids. If we make light of the apology, we train our kids to think that:

  • Apologies are not important
  • It is okay to commit some sort of offense and then just talk their way out of it
  • We can do anything we want, no matter how it affects others, as long as we give the obligatory “sorry” word at the end

And what about the other effects on our kids? In the “sorry” process towards our kids we teach them that they are not important enough to us to rate an apology, that they are not worthy of our time or maybe that we just do not care that much about them.

However, we can set a very powerful example for our kids by using sincere apologies at appropriate times. When we apologize to our kids, we teach them:

  • To believe that they are important – that they are real people
  • To know that they are more important to us than whatever caused the issue
  • To trust you (since we never really trust someone who portrays the attitude that they are always right and never admits a wrong)
  • How to handle mistakes
  • That our failures in life don’t define us

The list could go on. I am sure that you have already thought of a few more. But, I would like to move on and give you my simple steps for an apology to kids:

  • Acknowledge what happened and take responsibility for your part
  • Recognize the affects on the child and their feelings
  • Express remorse (this must be honest and sincere)
  • Promise to correct the problem and describe what you will do
  • Show that you continue to love your child unconditionally
  • Follow through with your promises

We will never be perfect. And we don’t have to pretend that we are. We can actually use those not-so-perfect times to make a positive difference in training our children to be the young men and women that God created them to be.

This topic of “sorry” has become a series. Check out these links for the rest of the story:

Question: What have you learned about apologizing to your kids? You can leave a comment below.

4 Comments to “Why Parents Should Stop Saying “Sorry””

  • Jeff Randleman April 6, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I think apolgizing is a crucial skill to teach our kids. They will bump heads with others, and knowing how tosay ‘m sorry will go a long way to helping them build relationships.

    But the tough part is modeling it. I get frustrated with my wife. The kids notice. But do they notice when I say I’m sorry? I need to make sure that they see that part of the scenario as well.

    Thanks for the great thoughts!

    • Steven Cribbs April 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      It seems like our kids always notice the actions that we don’t want them to. I agree with you, I need to make sure that they see the actions that I want them to pick up on.

      Thanks for commenting Jeff!

  • MyOneResolution – Weekender Links April 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    […] Why parents should stop saying “Sorry.” […]

  • What To Do When Your Child’s Feelings Are Broken | Steven Cribbs August 9, 2011 at 6:48 am

    […] Apologize.  We all make mistakes.  Our children know it.  But, they also need to know that they are important enough for an apology. […]

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