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I'm Sorry

Apologizing is an essential learned skill. I know adults that don't know how to apologize or who seem incapable of sincerely uttering the simple words, I'm sorry. Then there is the other end of the spectrum. People that say I'm sorry all the time at the littlest things. Does it carry the same meaning if it's said constantly? On the other hand, when it is heartfelt and genuine, apologizing is a brave act.

Think about it; it's easier not to say anything and walk away as nothing happened. Then to stand face to face with someone, look that person in the eye, and say I'm sorry. A person who can admit they were too harsh, hurt someone's feelings, or flat out wrong is a person I respect and would want to keep in my life.

My daughter used to say sorry constantly. It became an automatic response for things that didn't even make sense. For example, when asked, can you please pass the ketchup? She would respond with, oh, sorry here. I want to raise a confident child that doesn't feel she needs to apologize for everything. So, I started kindly pointing out to her every time she said sorry that she was using the word unnecessarily. I also started bringing up in conversation that when you overuse the word, it loses its meaning and would give examples of situations that truly warranted an apology.

I was surprised how quickly my daughter stopped overusing the word sorry once she realized how often she said it. Another outcome I wasn't expecting, she started sincerely apologizing for valid reasons, which wasn't always the case before. She is not a morning person. Everyone in our house knows this, and she can be snappy and irritable. I know shocking from a teenage girl. We clear the way and let her do her thing. On those days, which are getting less and less, I now get a heartfelt apology for her owning her behavior and how it impacted everyone else.

As brave as it is to apologize sincerely, I think it might take more courage to return to a conversation to apologize and reset. It’s never too late to revisit a conversation. We all have had conversations/interactions that weren't so hot or were hot at the moment, especially spending so much time together through a pandemic. One afternoon my daughter brought me a coffee that had I'm sorry written on it for something that had happened earlier that day. Coffee and a big hug solve just about anything.

I continue to have conversations with my children about apologizing. It is a life skill they need to learn. The sibling apology with no eye contact and the begrudged, I'm sorry, said under their breath doesn't count. They absolutely should acknowledge they did something worthy of an apology, sincerely express their remorse and offer a resolution in an attempt to fix the situation and repair the relationship with the other person. It's ok to make mistakes, feel ashamed, humiliated, and guilty. These are all normal human emotions. An apology is a great way to recover and move forward and not get stuck in those feelings.

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