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Sorry, Not Sorry?

Unpopular opinion time, I think that apologies are underrated. Yes that is right, underrated.

I know that we live in a time where "sorry, not sorry" or "unbothered" are the desired and revered attitudes for many, and while I do think that there are times where these are appropriate, I'm kind of over it. I am not talking about the automatic apologies that so many women, mostly, have been trained to make for essentially just existing and taking up space, those mechanical apologies need to keep phasing out of our language patterns. I hope I never hear my kids mutter those apologies.

I also hope that I don't hear them start to say things like "sorry, not sorry" or "that's just my personality" or "if they can't deal with it, that's their problem", because I know them, and I know there are times when they should be sorry. I love them dearly, but just like any other human beings, they can be assholes and I am working hard to make sure they grow up knowing when and how to apologize for when they are.


I apologize to them a lot, and I apologize to them for specifics. "I'm sorry I raised my voice", "I'm sorry for being grumpy this morning", and "I'm sorry that I over planned and we didn't get to everything"... are all things I feel like I say on repeat, but those are also things that I know I struggle with so... (shrug). Before I catch any flack for this (you would be surprised how many grown adults are against apologizing) let me tell you that I do not apologize for making them wake up for school, do homework, eat dinner, clean up after themselves etc.

I apologize for when my own behavior affects them which I think most reasonable people would agree is fair, but there is a catch. We are living in a time of "sorry, not sorry" where apologizing or backing down from an errant position is seen as weak or less than. We all laugh at the meme of Homer Simpson saying "Well, excuse me for having enormous flaws that I don't work on" and raise our hands saying "same' (well I know I do). We say that we don't have to prove anything to anyone, but want people to prove themselves to us. We expect and accept apologies when we aren't gracious enough to deliver them when they are due.

Here is the second catch. How do I teach these little people to make proper apologies, but not need apologies that they may never receive? I don't fucking know. Here is what I am doing, and hopefully it is at least partly correct. I make them give each other full apologies, not all of the time, but a lot of the time. Yes, I make my kids say "sorry", I know that that's not so popular these days, but I can't let loose a gang of people in this world that don't know how to apologize. So, not only do I regularly make them apologize to each other, but I make them say what, specifically, they are sorry for. Just like I say to them.

"Cash I am sorry I pulled your hair"

"Patience I am sorry that I broke your toy"

"Charlie I am sorry that I yelled in your face"

None of this "I'm sorry but", or "I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings"... we are talking real deals here... but, not all of the time, since I don't want them getting too used to expecting them, as it seems that they are becoming less common among adults and children alike.

I'm not really sure if I am taking the correct parenting road here, although I do see that I need to prompt my girls to apologize less and less as time goes on. Cash is a little rogue in this area, and his brain works a little differently where he is less likely to actually care how his actions or words effect someone else, but we are working on it. They apologize to each other more and more and seem to mean it and understand it, and they all understand that they have the right not to accept an apology or say that they are still mad or hurt or whatever they are feeling.

It feels right to raise them to know that we all (them included) make mistakes, overstep, have bad days where we act cranky, or make wrong decisions. It feels right to let them see me make apologies when I should. It feels right to see them take responsibility for their words and actions by making meaningful apologies to each other and to know that they've done what they can to right the situation. It can be hard, but still feels right, to explain to them "ok if you don't apologize to your friend that is up to you but they likely won't be your friend anymore or at least probably not in the same way".

What feels right, but breaks my heart, are the times when I apologize for snapping or shouting and have to hear them say that they don't feel better yet but will tell me when they do. That's their right and I am proud that they have the ability to use their words in that way, and that they have the trust in me to be honest. I want them to know that feelings go both ways, and while they are all very special in their own way so is everyone else.

“Never forget the nine most important words of any family- I love you. You are beautiful. Please forgive me.”– H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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