This topic has been on my mind lately, as I’ve been catching myself saying „I’m sorry“ to my 11-month old from time to time. Not in a sarcastic way, something along the lines of „nope, can’t do that, I’m sorry“ whereas I’m not sorry at all.
My apologies are genuine.
When it’s meal time and he’s getting cranky, but I’m still preparing lunch because I started too late.
When I get him ready to go outside and park him in a stroller next to the door, remembering I forgot to grab my phone, keys, a water bottle, a jacket and his to-go lunch. And he really wants to go outside.
When I’m actually the reason why he jumped in surprise and tipped over.
Now, I’m not saying we need to be our kids’ slaves, have no authority and apologize for everything and anything – I’m aware that would cause a major authority issue.
The very fear of losing authority, however, is the reason why many parents will not apologize to their kids.
I grew up in that kind of family.
No matter how much I loved them and cared for them, I knew that they weren’t always right. I became very aware, very early (too early) that we’re all humans and that adults make mistakes, too. It’s been a major burden in my childhood.
I’ve never gotten a single honest apology when I was a child. I’d go as far as to say my parents and other members of my family never even thought I could be right about something.
It’s created a major problem with my self-esteem and confidence when it comes to standing up for myself, or decision making. I’ve gotten so much better at all of that since I left home, but man, was it hard when I couldn’t do that at the age of 15.
I never got the chance to confirm my theory. Was it belief that a child can’t make a valid point and be correct from time to time? Or is it fear of losing authority? Or both?
While analyzing this on my own example, I’ve disovered that this kind of behavior was the very reason for my early de-attachment from my closest family.
I needed to feel like a human being whose opinion actually matters from time to time.
I wanted someone to admit when they’re making a mistake. To teach me to apologize.
I used to be horrible at apologizing. Even when I knew I was wrong, I’d find it hard to utter „I’m sorry“, hoping that the other person actually sees how sorry I am.
I started not with words, but deeds. I’d cook dinner, buy a small present, draw something or try to do something special. Anything to avoid saying the words.
Luckily, I was able to find a man who accepted me for who I am and together, we worked on this issue a lot.
Now, when I know I made a mistake, I will absolutely apologize, even to an animal or a child who doesn’t understand these words.
Honestly, I would never forgive myself if my son was struggling like I did to say he’s sorry, because I haven’t shown him a good example. I want him to know how easy it is and how valuable it is to other people.
I don’t care too much whether he grows up being smart or not. Handsome or not. Successful or not.
Yes, I want all of those things for him: intelligence, good looks, competence, ability to provide for himself and his loved ones.
What I want the most, though, is for his heart to be filled with kindness and compassion.
I want him to know how bad it is to hit an animal, a child, or anyone regardless of their age, gender, religion or any kind of opinion they have.
I want him to understand the importance of both words and actions of kindness.
I want him to learn how to love, but also be loved. He needs to know he deserves us to love him, no matter what or who he is. Respect, trust and opinion are different. He can live without those if he doesn’t give us any reasons to feel that way about him.
But love… he can’t live without. No child can.