Teach kids importance of sincere apologies
BY JUNE STRAIGHT World Staff Writer
Monday, December 31, 2012
12/31/12 at 6:30 AM
Because I Said So is a blog written by six parents and one grandparent.
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"Oops. Sorry, Mom."
"Sorry, Mom, that was an accident."
And my personal favorite, "But Mom, I said I was sorry!"
My daughter has mastered every insincere way to apologize, and man, it irks me.
I'm sure every kid abuses the forgive-and-forget mantra once they figure out how easy it is to move on and get back their privileges after a punishment or spat.
As adults, we kind of encourage insincere responses to sticky situations. We tell them to "hug it out" and say they're sorry like they mean it - instead of encouraging them to empathize with the other party and actually mean it when they say they're sorry.
The message we send is that everything should be OK once you pacify the victim. Then, that person should stop whining and get on with life.
I hate that message. And I think the whole forgive-and-forget thing is stupid.
So "sorry" in my household is a very big deal.
In fact, every "I'm sorry" is usually countered with, "Well, it's time to stop being sorry and start making things right."
"Sorry" simply isn't good enough.
In our home, an apology is a nice gesture, but the road to forgiveness has three requirements: acknowledging wrongdoing, trying to make amends and making a real effort not to repeat the offense.
It's important to me that Collette and Rose Amoy grow up to understand that "I'm sorry" alone doesn't make the hurt go away. When Collette doesn't meet all three of these requirements, I won't accept her apology.
I tell her, "I don't really think you're sorry, and that's OK if you're not. But when you do hurtful things, you need to be ready to accept the consequences."
And that's that. Often times, she's OK with accepting her punishment and moving on or trying to earn back privileges with good deeds.
Just as I expect her to meet certain criteria for forgiveness, I emphasize that she should expect the same of others.
I don't want my children to grow up accepting empty apologies. Not that I want them to grow up holding grudges, but I want them to be able to recognize and keep their distance from insincere people.
There's a story I've been telling Collette for years about the possum and the snake. The story begins with a leery possum being cautious as he tries to help a distressed snake. The possum knows from past situations that the snake is sneaky. But eventually he lets his guard down, and the snake convinces the possum to carry him home in the possum's pocket. The possum is surprised and hurt when the snake bites him, to which snake replies, "You knew I was a snake when you put me in your pocket."
That story not only sums up the dangers of forgiving insincere people, but also it highlights the deception associated with empty apologies. Neither character is one you'd want to be able to identify with, and in the end, it's best to always be sincere and surround yourself with sincere people.
June Straight 918-581-8331