Thursday, March 05, 2009

Words Kids Need to Hear - Chapter 4

I'm sorry, Please forgive me

I'm sorry, please forgive me means being authentic and sincere when asking for the forgiveness of my child - not flippant or offering excuses for that which I'm apologizing. Apologizing and asking for my child's forgiveness - sincerely and authentically - teaches my child to sincerely and authentically apologize and seek forgiveness from others. By receiving this gift from me, she understands what it feels like to be on the other end of it - a take on the Golden Rule. By treating my child with this level of respect I am demonstrating the level of respect that I expect her to have for others... if you want to be respected, you must be respectable.

Important aspects of an apology:
* Humility - everyone messes up and has reasons to apologize. Being able to acknowledge a mistake or an error to my child increases her level of respect for me. I'm sorry means nothing when I'm cornered or forced to say it. Children tend to live by a variation of the golden rule: Do unto others as has been done to me. If I want my children to be humble, sincere, authentic, and able to admit her mistakes to others and take responsibility for those mistakes it is I who needs to teach her what that means and how it feels to be on the other end of it. It is I who needs to show her with my actions that it is important to respect others in that way and that it is important to own up and bear responsibility.
* Making no excuses - this is something that personally drives me crazy... when someone apologizes followed by a "but" or an excuse for his/her behavior. I'm sorry, please forgive me means absolutely nothing when the person goes on to rationalize or justify his/her bahavior. Allowing for a reason for the injustice committed against me. If I am sincere in my desire to seek forgiveness then I don't need to explain to her why I acted the way I did - I was wrong. Period. I accept my wrongness and ask you to understand that I accept it and accept me in return.

In other words...
* apologize out of a sincere and heartfelt desire
* apologize in a timely manner - the apology has less impact the further away from the incident
* speak clearly and concisely
* keep it brief - she'll receive the message if it is brief, the potency of the apology diminishes with every syllable following the apology
* say it no matter what - when a child has been disappointed by an adult he/she may downplay the circumstances or excuse the adult's behavior on his/her own. Even if the child says, "its okay" to your explanation, it is important to apologize.
" Children who hear no such apologies - and instead learn to dismiss the legitimate liability of others - will eventually do the same for themselves. Play that chilling thought out further, and you'll see no-fault kids who grow into adults unable to take responsibility for their own actions. To combat this possibility, apologize early and often and to all to whom it's due." (page 71)

- "to all to whom it's due" = other adults as well. It is just as important for our children to hear us say I'm sorry, please forgive me to other adults.

"How we handle ourselves after our errors forms lasting impressions in their young memories. Someday, they'll recall that picture when they consider whether or noth they want to move closer to God - or to keep their distance... to that end, what example do we set?"


Brenda B 7:18 AM  

Thanks for sharing these. This book is awesome! I don't know where I picked it up but appologizing is one thing I did right with Carlin and I had a lot to apologize for. Now as a teenager he still has his moments but generally he is quick to admit when he has done wrong and sincerely appologize for it.

You won't regret practicing this with your kids.

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