Demanding an apology does not undo the offense. I am/was BIG on demanding an apology. Why?! Was it because I was raised that way? Somehow wired to think that by saying “sorry” the offender actually means it and wants my forgiveness? Through my years of being a parent I focused less on “forcing” my children to say “I forgive you” and transitioned to what I felt at the time was a healthy “apology accepted”.
Isn’t that odd? I focused more on how the offended child answered the forced apology. Boy, am I WAY off?! It finally hit home the other day when one of my children said or did something to ME and I demanded an apology! Then she said “I’m sorry Momma, it probably made you feel frustrated and angry when I said that.” Or when the 6 year old blurted out “I said SORRY!” after I watched her shove her sister. Who knew my children would be the ones to teach me about the “sorry syndrome”. If I’m not demanding an apology, I’m saying sorry. It made me reflect on being a “sorry sayer”. My whole life, I’ve apologized for EVERYTHING. My. Whole. Life.
Them: Gosh, I had a terrible drive into work today.
Me: I’m sorry.
Them: I’m starving!
Me: I’m so sorry, let me get you something to eat.
Them: The weather is crappy today. Can’t believe I forgot my jacket.
Me: I’m sorry.
Them: My sister hit me, Mom.
Me: I’m so sorry honey.
Them: Bumps into ME.
Me: Excuse me, I’m sorry.
WHAT is wrong here?! I’m apologizing for things I have zero control over. Apologizing for things that I didn’t cause. Things that have nothing to do with me. I’m a sorry sayer. I’m creating sorry sayers and demanding apologies be said.
While I genuinely want my children to learn that their actions can impact another, I do NOT want them to not have genuine remorse or empathy for their behavior. I do not want them growing up into this awful cycle of apologizing for everything and not meaning it. I’m not sorry for 99% of the things I say “sorry” for. I’m just not. It is habit. It’s stemmed from childhood trauma, feeling low self esteem, being a people pleaser, etc. Knowing how to apologize for regret is one thing. Apologizing for basically existing is another. I do not want my children to see me repeatedly apologize my way through life. Then turn around a demand one for what I feel is owed to me. I’ve been praying on this quite a bit, because the only manual we get in life just happens to The Bible. I came across a few things about this subject that are repeated over and over again. Here are a few of my favorites:
- I want them to apologize and seek forgiveness because through Christ, God has forgiven us. Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to each other, sympathetic, forgiving each other as God has forgiven you through Christ.
- I want them to not hold onto offenses. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
- I want them to strive for peace amongst each other. Romans 14:19 – Therefore, let’s keep on pursuing those things that bring peace and that lead to building up one another.
- I want them to see maturity in apologizing and changing your ways to avoid repeatedly hurting one another. 1 Corinthians 13:11 – When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
- I want them to know forgiveness is not always easy. It can be the hardest thing you ever do in life. To give forgiveness means that we release the debt that someone else “owes” us. We work through the associated emotions–even multiple times if necessary. Matthew 18:22 – Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
What has been your biggest hurdle or triumph in giving or receiving an apology? How did you overcome it? What has helped you teach your children how to apologize without forcing them?
I’d love to hear from you!