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Love and Parenting: I am sorry

Three of the most powerful words ever spoken in any relationship are, “I am sorry.” There is weight to our actions. If we have hurt someone with our words or actions, we should be the first to advocate healing. Apologizing when you are wrong is one of the most powerful ways to build trust in an adult relationship. Apologizing to your children is a profound example of trust because you are the authority figure. 

As parents we have the ability to soften the hearts of our children and bring them back to love when we apologize. We show our children through our actions that those in leadership are also accountable for what they do and speak. Your child will be less likely to accept abusive behavior from other adults when you are the standard for taking responsibility for your own actions.

Parents apologizing to children also lessons the shame of an apology. Often children are scared to apologize because they associate apologies with getting into trouble. The truth about apologizing with sincerity is that it is not an attribute of the weak. It takes strength to be vulnerable enough to apologize and emotional intelligence to correct your own behavior. 

Children need to learn that an apology should be followed by right behavior. An apology without personal correction is a manipulation. We are quick to correct our children and secure an apology, but are we as quick to correct our own behavior when we are out of line?

We never blame someone else for our wrongdoing. If my child is acting out and I in turn stand over them screaming, am I justified in saying, “Oh NOW your feelings are hurt? You pushed me off the cliff! If you would just behave, I wouldn’t yell!” Under no circumstances would this response ever be ok. Now not only would my child feel bad about their own behavior, but they are also carrying the weight of mine. This is an amazing opportunity for me as a parent to practice what I preach. “Ok, look.  Mommy screamed at you. Mommy was out of line. My behavior was not ok.  You were acting out, but that is no excuse for me to also act out. I am responsible for how I handle myself. I am the adult.” These are the moments we build a bridge of trust between ourselves and our children. These are the moments they learn to respect us, not because we have demanded it, but because we have become worthy of it. 

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”― Benjamin Franklin

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