Wow! “Sorry” : one little word, 5 letters long, hardly difficult to pronounce, but seldom uttered freely or easily, and arguably, one of the most important words in the English language!
Why is it that the word “Sorry” is so hard for most of us to say, if not all of us? So often, as parents, we think that we are above having to apologize to our children and yet, we know there are times when we have reacted harshly or spoken words that have cut deeply. We can justify our responses as emotional in the moment, and needed as disciplinary measures and still, there is this nagging feeling that perhaps we didn’t really deal with a particular situation in the best way. Perhaps we even feel deep down in our gut that the way we handled something with our child was totally inappropriate. Wishing for our words back is useless!
In one of the chapters of my book Mommy Memoirs, entitled “I’m Going to Kill You~ and Other Words You Can’t Take Back” I confess to having reacted poorly as a young mom, after putting up with a great deal of whining, begging and misbehaving by my sons out in public. We were shopping and they were getting on my nerves in a big way. Can you relate or not? I had, as I retell the story, one last frayed nerve left that finally stretched and snapped and I hissed that first phrase with all the venom of a cornered snake to my little guy!
My goodness! My son’s response was immediate and heartbreaking and I will never forget it, although my son swears to me that he doesn’t remember the incident at all. He was young after all~ however, I remember it like it happened yesterday (and he turns 30 this year!)
I am mentioning this because the ability to say “I’m sorry” is, I believe, a learned response. It is something that has to be modeled by us, for our children to understand not only the power of those words but also the necessity of them in our daily vocabulary. When parents don’t ever apologize, children barely recognize the words and quite frankly, don’t learn to use them easily themselves. I am living proof of that.
My husband has been terrific at apologizing to our sons when necessary. He actually ended up teaching me how to do it as I had not really experienced apologies from my own parents growing up. When it’s not in the vocabulary of your home, it sounds like a foreign language! We must learn how to say it frequently and teach our children to sincerely ask for forgiveness. This five letter, one syllable word will benefit them and their relationships on into adulthood if they become fluent at using it regularly.