Most parents teach their kids to say “sorry” from a young age. Half the time our kids don’t really feel remorse when they make amends, yet we push them do it anyway. To be honest, I have had a few laughs at some of the forced apologies my kids have made over the years.
I knew they weren’t the least bit sorry. I tried…
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As parents, you pray one day your kids will understand the power of apologizing. Until then, you continue to work on their hearts, hoping you do your best to set a good example.
So… how do you set a good example?
The best way to set a good example is to model it. Kids mirror your behavior. Ouch.
If you don’t apologize to your kids, they’re probably going to be reluctant to apologize to you.
As parents, it is good to learn how to apologize to your kids so you will have a good relationship not only now but also in the future. If you are still not convinced, here are five reasons to help you understand the power of apologizing.
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The Power of Apologizing: 5 Things Happen When You Don’t Say Sorry
Check out these five things that can happen when you choose not to apologize to your child. In fact, you may be shocked at some of the long term consequences that can happen when you don’t take the time to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
1. It Sabotages the Relationship
You will sabotage the relationship with your child long-term if you don’t learn the power of apologizing now.
Over the years, unresolved conflict can turn into resentment, bitterness, and even hatred.
In fact, a wedge may be created that never gets resolved.
Furthermore, after years of offenses, you may not know how to start unraveling the problem, even if you go to counseling. Many times the past is blurred by time and emotions. Sadly, no one remembers the details enough to get a clear picture of what happened.
However, there is one thing your child will remember when he is older–how you made him feel when he was young.
Take into account and listen to how your child feels about your behavior. Chances are there are things you can improve like your tone of voice, gestures, not interrupting, or nonverbal responses.
I was the worst at interrupting my kids. Definitely had to apologize for that.
Never underestimate the power of apologizing. It will reap dividends later in your relationship.
2. It Creates a Double Standard
Learn to say “sorry” so you don’t create a double standard. At an early age, most parents start introducing the concept of “I’m sorry.” This is usually introduced before the age of five.
By this time, kids are learning a sense of justice.
They understand an offense and possibly how to make amends for their bad behavior. They know when they bite, hit, lie, or throw sand in someone’s face, it’s wrong.
When you do something that is obviously wrong to your child (yell, swear, slap, threaten, verbal or physical abuse, etc.), your child automatically thinks the same thing. There should be an apology. And change.
It is a logical deduction.
When you don’t apologize (and change), you create an incredible amount of confusion because your child sees that adults don’t have to obey the same rules when it comes to taking responsibility for actions.
God has one standard for sin. It is repentance. And it includes everyone in the family.
3. It Sets You Up As God
Apologizing to your child is important so you do not set yourself up as God.
When you do not humbly admit wrongs, you become all-powerful and omnipotent in the family. Your kids may even develop fear towards you as there is nothing to stop you from doing whatever you want without consequence.
Furthermore, your child will have a hard time separating God and dad/mom as different entities since both are all-powerful. This confusion can easily get dragged into adulthood causing spiritual disillusionment and anger towards our Heavenly Father.
The best thing you can do as a parent is to practice repentance so that your kids don’t ever confuse your behavior with God’s behavior.
1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth” (NLT).
4. It Negates a Teachable Moment
Apologizing to your child is an opportunity to take advantage of a teachable moment. When you say sorry, you set a good example of how to make things right when you have acted badly.
You not only restore the relationship but you also reinforce the fact that you are not perfect. And that is okay. You have made yourself human and show that part of life is humbly apologizing, making changes, and asking for forgiveness.
In fact, the power of apologizing to your kids is not just in saying sorry, it’s in the forgiveness. If you don’t own your bad behavior, they won’t have an opportunity to practice forgiveness.
Sadly, you have now set your children up to believe once they are an adult, they no longer have to apologize since you don’t, nor do they know how to forgive easily.
This, in turn, starts a generational stronghold.
Many times, it takes fasting and lots of prayers to break a generational stronghold of this magnitude.
5. It Creates a Lack of Respect
Apologizing to your child is important so you create a common understanding of respect for each other. Children are smart. They know bad behavior when they see it.
Even young kids know yelling, threatening, pouting, silent treatment, intimidation, domination, etc. are not right. They cry, recoil, and go into self-protection mode due to fear and shame when a parent comes after them.
You can split hairs and rationalize all day about how adults are the ones in charge and they shouldn’t be questioned, but I ask you to step back and look at yourself.
If you could watch yourself on video, what would you see? Would you be able to show that video to your friends?
Think about whether you have created quiet contempt or heartfelt respect and admiration in the heart of your child.
You can demand respect from your children through compliance, but you can’t demand respect from their hearts.
That is earned.
When to Say Sorry and When Not to
If you have done something wrong, then it is important to apologize to your child.
However, if you know you are not wrong, then you can still listen to your child’s feelings. Sometimes kids just need to be validated for how they feel about your decision.
Teenagers, especially, have a heightened sense of justice when they are wronged, so it is important to talk through the issues.
Over time, they may hold a grudge and become difficult to deal with if you do not address the problem. Furthermore, they may obsess on the offense and fall into self-pity or even depression.
Keep talking. Listen a lot. Stand firm on what is right but do it with love.
Rules without relationship equal rebellion.
How Do You Apologize With Dignity?
If you are going to take the time to apologize to your child, then you might as well get it right. Here are three signs of a genuine apology:
- Admit what you have done wrong and ask for forgiveness.
Don’t say,” If I hurt you, I’m sorry,” or “If you would have put your shoes on, I wouldn’t have yelled.”
A better example is something like, “Mommy lost her temper. I am so sorry. I should not have acted that way. Will you forgive me. I will do better next time.”
The second sentence takes ownership of behavior while the first sentence lacks true repentance for bad behavior. A good apology is one that owns the offense, asks for forgiveness, and makes effort to change in the future.
- Don’t blame or shame your child.
Even though your kid may be annoying or disobedient for the tenth time, don’t shift the blame to him when you have lost your cool. Furthermore, don’t shame him with careless words like “If you weren’t so bad, I wouldn’t have to yell at you all the time.”
Make sure your words are words of love and healing, not blame and shame. After that, appropriately deal with the disobedience.
- It is not about winning and losing
Parenting is a relationship, not a wrestling match.
Stop thinking you are on opposing teams. You are in this together as a family. You either all work together or you become fractured.
Don’t ignore the power of apologizing (and changing). It covers a multitude of sins and heals broken hearts.
Why is Apologizing Important?
If you will readily apologize for your behavior, then your child will probably be more willing to do the same. Every once in awhile, you may get a child who is obstinate and won’t say sorry when he is wrong. Start praying when this happens.
Pray the Holy Spirit breaks through and gets to his heart.
In the meantime, work on you.
If there have been gross offenses along the way, take care of it now.
I encourage you to pray and truly ask God where you can improve your relationship with your kids. Perhaps it’s time to take inventory and be honest with yourself. It is okay if you have messed up. The important thing is to get it right.
This is about you. It is time to own up and set the example so your child will follow.
Understanding the power of apologizing is important when you parent. Do you say sorry? Comment below.
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