Sometimes apologizing is the hardest thing to do. Many of us have never learned how to do this. We were not born knowing how to take ownership of our actions, so the act of apologizing takes some time and practice. Apologizing is something that needs to be demonstrated to us in our families so that we can learn. Modeling this behavior is a very powerful process.
I was one of four children in my family; I was a middle child. From what I understand, I was often oppositional, testing my parents as I discovered my true self. My family was quite loud, as you can imagine with 4 children under one roof. My mother played a very dominant role in our family. She had a strong personality, yelled often and believed that she was, for the most part, always right. For many years, I never heard my mother apologize for anything in our house, except perhaps burning dinner. When I reflect back on my childhood, I realize that she was doing the best she could at that time. As a child herself, she was not afforded the opportunity to learn the art of owning her behavior and apologizing for the error of her ways. Perhaps her mother and father did not focus on that. This lack of ownership is often a cycle that continues generation after generation.
It took many fights, some long periods of silence, and my adulthood before I was able to share with my mom how important apologies are. It was extremely uncomfortable for her. She was much more at ease with letting 2 or 3 days go by without any communication than using the words “I am sorry”.
The words “I’m sorry” are so powerful. It is an important part of our growth and maturity. Today, it is crucial that we teach our children this unique gift through modeling it ourselves. Owning our behavior and taking responsibility for an outcome or pain we may have caused another person is part of that ownership. How do you model this in your family?