Apologize to Your Kids

I noticed something about myself lately. I don’t like to apologize to my kids.

I guess I feel like I’m always right! Imagine that!

Obviously, I apologize if I blatantly lose my temper, such as when I yell.

But what if I’m just being impatient? Or, even more tricky for me: what if I don’t discipline in love?

I for some reason have this blockage against apologizing when I’m also asking my son to apologize to me. My thought process is:

-He did something wrong (e.g., disobey).

-He got a timeout. OK, I hastily said, “Get in time out, right now.” in my not-so-nice voice.

-Now he needs to apologize. But I don’t need to apologize because he’s the one who disobeyed me. And what kind of message would that send? If I apologize, then will he think that he shouldn’t have been put in timeout?

I think I really get hung up on that last point, so I convince myself that I shouldn’t apologize. Which is a terrible idea!!

Even if I make a slight grievance against my son, shouldn’t I seek reconciliation? By apologizing myself, I

-model what apologies and forgiveness look like AND

-acknowledge and teach that mommy is not perfect and has to rely on the Lord for forgiveness and self-control.

These are two HUGE things I want Samuel to know and see and breathe because they can lead him straight to the gospel!

I also have the opportunity to acknowledge that his discipline is deserved and appropriate, even though I may not have administered it perfectly.

So not only am I learning how to apologize to Samuel when I’ve wronged him, but I am searching for grievances I make when he is being disciplined.

But please PLEASE don’t just apologize with “I’m sorry” and teach your kiddo that.¬†“I’m sorry” is a great set of magical words, but it doesn’t teach much except for … the magical words.

So when you apologize you say

I’m sorry for being impatient. That was wrong. Do you forgive me?

And teach your child how to do this too. At first, you will have to tell them what to say and how to say it (Big boy voice, looking in the eyes/face, no contempt, etc.). But they will get the hang of it. And in the midst of the apology they’re learning¬†that their actions are not always pure, but that mommy or daddy will always love them exactly the same in forgiveness.

Sometimes when Samuel says, “Do you forgive me?” I’ll say, “Yes!! I forgive you like Jesus forgives us!” in a very excited tone… because it’s exciting people!

At the same time, I think it may be possible to over-apologize and make it meaningless. For example, if you go through the apology process, accept forgiveness, and then you continually apologize (perhaps because of mommy guilt). This teaches your child that they may not have really been forgiven, so they better keep checking if you’re OK with them.

Maybe you’ve never apologized to your kids. You can start today! It takes a little practice letting go of that perfection ideal. If you feel like you’re pretty good at this, that’s great! Ask God to reveal how you can continue to tangibly show Jesus to your kids.

2 thoughts on “Apologize to Your Kids

  1. Dawn Newark

    I’m so glad to hear this article! We just sat our kids down the other night for a family meeting and discussed the “I’m sorry”. We told them that while we don’t always do what’s “right” we love them and we are sorry if we make mistakes sometimes as well! Great post Stephanie! It’s a VERY good idea to teach them a proper apology and how to accept one!
    Aunt Dawn

    1. Stephanie Post author

      I think it’s actually quite important for them to see us fail and to see how we respond to God in that failure!

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