I watched from the kitchen as my daughter wound herself up into a big spin and then flung her arm and the toy barn she was wielding into her younger brother’s gut. He doubled over instantly and I knew the tears were close behind. As a reflex, I hollered, “Say sorry to your brother!” trying to smooth the situation over without having to completely stop making dinner. My daughter’s response left me speechless and at a loss for what to do next. She hollered back at me “It wasn’t an accident!” “I can’t say sorry ‘cus I did it on purpose!”
I hadn’t thought about apologies that way. I used to always apologize because I believe they make people feel better. I’m definitely torn in this situation because my whole thing this past year has been about self-improvement and learning to not be sorry for my actions. I blame Rachel Hollis for “Girl, Stop Apologizing” #sorrynotsorry. I’m not sure my daughter really got the same message Rach was sending, but her declaration of not being able to apologize because she did it on purpose was a concept I wasn’t prepared to hear. Don’t get me wrong, as a parent I was also a little terrified. My daughter just hauled-off and hit my son in the gut and deep down I want her to feel remorse for it and apologize.
After stewing on this for a while and conferring with my husband (a man who has never once apologized for anything and admitted that he had probably also said something similar to his mother when he was a child) I realized that maybe saying sorry is not a universal bandage for confrontation. They need to know that there are consequences for their actions and getting out of those consequences with a heartless “I’m sorry” is not the kind of mindset I want to instill in them.
So for now, I’m resisting the urge to force an “I’m sorry” every time there is an incident and instead try talking about how our actions affect other people and how that might make them feel. We are also coming up with other ways to express our emotions instead of lashing out at each other. I’m hoping I’m not raising tiny psychopaths, but you never really can be sure.
What is your stance on “I’m sorry” when it comes to your kids? Do you and your SO agree on responses and solutions? Leave a comment below on your thoughts and experiences.