Apologies are hard.
Apologizing means acknowledging your faults, admitting that you are wrong, and agreeing that you can do better.
Apologies don’t come naturally to anyone because they require stepping outside of our own thoughts, feelings, and opinions to see how another person thinks, feels, and sees.
Apologies are necessary.
Even when it means apologizing to our kids.
Today, I apologized to my kids.
It was a busy day with lots of things to be done. I had lost my patience more than once, talked in a tone of voice that I don’t condone, and expected my children to magically know everything that I was thinking without speaking those things to them. It was just one of “those days.” Do you ever have those days? The days when you snap at your kids for doing something you don’t like, but then immediately feel horrible for how you responded?
I spent most of the day replaying my actions–my frustrated facial expressions, my harsh tone of voice. I reflected on why I responded the way I did and how I could have done it differently.
And then I decided that I had to apologize. Here’s why:
Apologizing to our kids is educational. Kids of all ages, from two to eighteen, are daily learning what healthy relationships look like. They don’t yet grasp the intricate workings between friends, family members, and spouses. Modeling remorse over faults, acknowledgement of hurt, and the desire for growth is vital for our kids. These are extremely important skills to have in order to maintain strong and healthy relationships in life. Where best for them to see these skills on display than in their own home?
Apologizing to our kids creates trust. If we, as parents, are willing to admit when we are wrong, our kids will feel safe to admit when they are wrong. When we model this behavior of honesty and owning up for our mistakes, our children will learn to do the same. This mutual understanding that no one is perfect and that everyone messes up sometimes will cultivate an environment of trust in our homes, allowing our children to be willing to have these hard conversations.
Apologizing to our kids fosters unity. I would love to break out in the High School Musical Original “We’re all in this together!” for you, but since we are only connected by a screen, I’ll spare you. But seriously–our homes will experience a sense of unity when apologies are given regularly. I’m not saying that you need to apologize to your 10-year-old for not giving her a phone (which is a whole other blog for another day). I’m definitely not implying that you need to apologize to your kids for upholding boundaries, being disciplined, or being the parent. What I am saying is that apologizing to your kids when you handle a situation poorly or make a mistake shows your child that they aren’t alone. It shows your child that you are a team, navigating life together as a unified force.
I know admitting you’re wrong isn’t fun. Choosing humility when you’d rather just ignore your mistakes doesn’t come easily. But what is that old saying? Nothing worth having comes easy.
And a trustworthy, unified relationship with your child who knows what a healthy relationship should look like is definitely worth having.