A Lesson for My Daughter :: Stop Saying Sorry

A Lesson for My Daughter :: Stop Saying Sorry

Our home feels smaller these days and things that caused very little attention before are now magnified. The volume is now louder with all of my people under one roof all day {and night}. There is more bickering and more competition for space to just be alone. It was in this space of chaos that I became aware of the need to address a habit my daughter had developed. One afternoon, with my daughter’s hands in mine, I looked into her large brown eyes and said, “You have to stop saying sorry.” With a questioning look on her face she attempted to confirm what was being told to her, she asked “So, I don’t have to apologize?” 

It was not my intention for her to stop apologizing all together, but to help her understand the best use of the “sorry”. I want her to be humble and have the ability to admit when she is wrong. 

In the weeks prior to this conversation “sorry” had become a knee-jerk reaction any time my husband or I would call her name. Now had the amount of time we spent correcting her actions increased? Yes, so I strongly believe that she assumed that each time I called her she was doing something wrong. Honestly, as much time that we have spent resolving conflicts between my daughters I wouldn’t be surprised if she actually was doing something that was holding her in conviction. Their attempts to keep sisterly conflicts on the down-low is at an all time high these days.  I feel a key piece of my role as their mother is to help them communicate with each other and having daughters 17 months apart has meant that conflict resolution training started as soon as they could walk. 

Actions are Better than Words

Using the boy who cried wolf label, I explained how words will not mean a thing if you are not sincerely sorry. When she was truly remorseful she would feel the urge to change her actions. Pretty much, “Stop saying sorry and just stop screaming at your sister.” I needed the action that she regretted to end or it would appear to me that she was just trying to pacify me with a quick “sorry”. 

Nope, There are still Consequences

Then we moved to, “Hitting your sister then saying sorry will not keep me from telling you what I feel you need to know.” The life lesson here is even if we are guilt-ridden by the mistakes we make there are still consequences. From the age of 8 to 98 consequences still remain. It sucks, but that’s life. 

In our house apologizing quickly {even when her sister accepts the apology} does not end the discussion. As her parent I still want to determine the issue at hand. Was screaming at your sister an unprovoked response? {spoiler alert:: it’s usually alway provoked} Part of the consequences is sincerely apologizing, but we need to chat about that before this is all wrapped up. 

She was not only using “sorry” during conflicts, but it was showing up in areas that really made me feel tender towards her. She started apologizing for being herself. This is an action that my mother would most definitely say, “She comes by it honestly” meaning that I knowingly taught her this habit. Isn’t it lovely when our children become little mirrors of the habits we wish we could overcome? I have been guilty of over using “sorry” and I wanted to drive home two more things before she scattered off to inevitably start a fight with her sister over who got to build their house in Minecraft. 

Don’t be Sorry for Questioning

No matter how many times I was told that questions are good growing up I fought the urge to preface my inquiries with “sorry”. This habit still pops up as an adult and I find myself saying, “I am sorry to ask, but…”.  I want my daughters to understand that in our house questions are welcome. She does not have to apologize when asking for a snack before dinner, but she does have to accept my response and not try to ask me the same question six more times {that falls into actions speak louder than words}. I want my daughters to know that their questions are valid and they should not feel bad questioning for understanding. 

Don’t be Sorry for Your Feelings

If there is one statement I want my daughters to carry with them into their adulthood as a woman it this – never apologize for your feelings. Don’t get caught in the trap of, “I am sorry that I am mad.” I wasn’t given this freedom until after the age of forty when a therapist sternly said, “Those feelings belong to you don’t you dare apologize for them”.  Each of us can be affected differently by the same situation thus causing a range of feelings.  Now, while everyone {and their friend Karen} will tell you how you should feel as a woman don’t listen to their shaming spews. If something makes you angry then be angry, but be mindful of your actions – that is typically where apologies need to be made. 

As my daughter’s eyes started to glass over due to my overuse of words I realized I needed the conversation far more than she did. I thought the conversation was due to my frustration with her actions {please do not say sorry again}, but it actually the discussion hit home for me. I needed the reminder that actions speak loud than words and being regretful does not mean that consequences are off the table. It drove home the fact that my questions are important, whether out of curiosity or  suspicion.  And the truest of truths is that I do not have to apologize for being happy, sad, or any other feeling that may arise {neither do you}.

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