If we’re not being careful we can devalue the word sorry by thinking that we can do whatever we want and that saying sorry afterwards will magically fix it. This can lead to our sorry meaning nothing to our children or the person we are apologising to. They have to know that you mean it and are being sincere and that you aren’t trying to manipulate them. This can become a problem for when you are being sincere in an apology, because that sorry is no longer credible. The word sorry has the power but there must also be a genuine and authentic meaning behind those words.
There has to be the element behind your sorry that is acknowledging you’ve made a mistake and that the other person didn’t deserve whatever it is you said or did. Parents can sometimes be fearful of apologising to their children and can have the perception that it makes them look weak. It’s true that there is a lot of vulnerability in apologising to your child, but there is so much power in that vulnerability. Being vulnerable with your child empowers both you and the child.
There used to be the saying “you give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.” What parents sometimes don’t realise is if “you give them an inch they”ll give you a mile.” If we can apologise and own up to our mistakes our children will give us the “mile”, the room and the space to be forgiven. If you’re not being vulnerable with your child then they become protective of themselves and what they’re truly thinking or feeling. That being said it is important to choose carefully what “inch” you are giving your child. We have to be sure that they can handle the responsibility of what we are giving to them.
I believe people who are willing to be vulnerable are much stronger than those who are not willing to share their weaknesses. Simply because we will always have weaknesses somewhere along the line, so if we live that lie that we don’t have any weaknesses our children will be able to see through that. But, if we can be totally vulnerable with our children, honestly, respectfully and honourably they will treat you with respect and honour because they appreciate that you have done the same for them.
A question my son Ben asked me was what my overall encouragement would be to give to parents about the importance of apologising. So here it is.
Vulnerability is powerful and when you are vulnerable you are actually empowering your parenting. You are helping your child connect with you and understand you. Apologising with genuine vulnerability when you know that you’ve made a mistake, intentional or not, will take your relationship to a whole new level.