Why You Should Apologize to Your Children

holding hands

The Bible says the children are a blessing from the Lord. That’s a big, scary statement and as their parents we have the responsibility to raise them well. Let’s look at parenting from 10,000 feet. There are essentially two very broad but different approaches to parenting:

  1. Do as I say
  2. Do as I do

In the interest of full disclosure this post is probably going to be difficult for the do as I say crowd. I get that it is often, if not always, the path of least resistance to be a do as I say parent. However, the problem is that the path of least resistance is not always the best way. Do as I say requires less engagement and effort than do as I do.

Giving instructions is fine but leading by example is better.

One of the best things we can do for our children (and everyone they will ever meet) is teach them how to apologize. This is so valuable because admitting that we are wrong isn’t something that comes naturally to any of us. This is going to require a lot of work, I know because it did for us.

How do we teach our children to apologize? Simple, we apologize to them.

Most of us will usually just say “I’m sorry” when we wrong someone because it’s easy and requires no humility. But a real apology requires you to humble yourself, admit what you did wrong and ask for forgiveness.

We found that saying sorry was the easiest part of the equation. Learning to say what we were sorry for was hard to remember at first, but with enough practice we started to get it.

The second part required a lot more effort. Asking for forgiveness is hard on its own, but asking for forgiveness from a five year old because you yelled at them for running in the house was harder still. “Why should I apologize to her? She was running in the house” I would tell myself. But then it occurred to me…I’m the adult and I have the greater responsibility and the higher standard to live up to.

It’s important to remember that apologizing is a two step process. In order for things to be made right forgiveness must be specifically asked for and granted.

Here is an example of a dialogue between me and Brooklyn after I yelled at her.

Me: Brooklyn I’m sorry that I yelled at you.

Brooklyn: Thank you daddy.

Me: Will you please forgive me?

Brooklyn: Of course I will.

Me: Thank you sweetie.

That was a lot simpler to write than it was to do for the first time or the second time. Or the third time. I think you get the point. But if you do it sincerely and consistently it will become easier.

We have to model apologizing for our children. The only way they will learn how to apologize is if we show them.

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2 Comments

  1. This is a great lesson to learn. It took me a long time to learn it myself, but I have seen a change in my children. They each have learned to apologize and also to forgive. 2 very important things for raising good little people. Thanks for the post!

    • It took us a long time to learn this as well Step-Mama. It’s really great to see the kids keep “short accounts” with each other. We have become better at apologizing as a result as well.

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