Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Sorry Apology

"An apology is a good way to have the last word."  ~Author Unknown

Without a doubt my least favorite thing about my daughter is her inability to apologize. She's horrible at it. It's biting into tin foil with silver fillings annoying. A close second is her refusal to accept any help or instructions when she's doing something wrong.

And where does she get this from? Yours truly, of course.

I'm thinking of apologies after the latest in a long line of high profile apologies that didn't quite cut it. I'm talking about, of course, Congressman Anthony Weiner. Let's be honest: this guy only apologized because he got caught, not because he's sorry. He denied and dodged for weeks only to "come clean" if you want to call it that, because he couldn't keep up the lie any longer.

Other athletes or celebrities often say things like, "I'm sorry you were offended." Nothing like making the people whose feelings you may have hurt feel worse just for having feelings.

The fact is, saying your sorry doesn't make it right. You've got to mean it. You've got to be sorry. Then you've got to not do it again.

I know this because I am working on it myself as I try to teach my daughter the same thing.

You know what we both do? We try to immediately cover up our indiscretions by making jokes or getting defensive. Sound familiar, Mr. Weiner?

When she does apologize, it's insincere. That is, if you can hear it at all.

It starts with an act of wrongdoing. Say you're playing with her and she's getting rough. You ask her to stop, or to be careful, because she's going to hurt someone. She doesn't, and she kicks you in the ribs... hard. You're in pain. You tell her she hurt you. You ask her to apologize. She stands there and refuses. Not only does she refuse, she goes silent. Not only does she go silent, she won't even make eye contact.

Then your wife comes in because you are too furious with both pain and the situation to handle it properly.

After the refusal, the silence, and the no eye contact... she will finally apologize. It will barely be audible, but she'll do it. You ask her to repeat it. She says, "I said I was sorry." Now she's getting mad... at her victim... just like the athlete who says, "I'm sorry you were offended."

"How would you like it if mommy or daddy hurt you? Would you like that?"

She shakes her head no as she continues her silent treatment while still not making eye contact.

"Then why did you hurt daddy?"

Silence.

"You need to say you're sorry."

"I did."

"You need to say it louder."

She shouts it.

"No, honey... you need to say it nicely. And you need to give daddy a hug."

Nothing.

I can deal with the tantrums, the irrationality, the stubbornness, the refusal to allow us to help her, the occasional not listening, the messes. I can deal with all that... barely.

But I can't deal with her crappy apologies. Now I know how my wife feels.

She used to be good at saying she's sorry... until we changed the rules on her. Click here to read.

9 comments:

  1. No one likes to admit they screwed up especially a kid. I will take any firm of sorry, even a mumble. Having them say it with feeling is not going to happen. I can usually tell when they know they have screwed up.

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  2. True. Part of is I need to relax a little.

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  3. hmmm. when they are older, i want to tell you i humbly disagree. it's got to be sincere, or they learn to take things for granted...you know?

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  4. psssst: i am a lousy apologizer...i did not have good role models. it's really important...they need to learn sincerity. too many of us 'accept' things. then again, i tend to set my expectations a bit too high. maybe i also need to lighten up a little.

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  5. psssst: i am a lousy apologizer...i did not have good role models. it's really important...they need to learn sincerity. too many of us 'accept' things. then again, i tend to set my expectations a bit too high. maybe i also need to lighten up a little.

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  6. I agree re: when they're older & sincerity. But what age do you enforce it? Certainly not age 4 yet.

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  7. you need to toughen up. a kick to the ribs by a little kid can't hurt that much.

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  8. Dear Anonymous,

    You, me, my 4 yr old daughter and a back alley. She'd kick your ass tough guy and it would hurt!

    Sincerely,
    Someone who actually has kids.

    ReplyDelete
  9. for the record I may have kids. I just dont know about them -

    Sincerely -
    Someone who may or may not have kids (college was a trip)

    ReplyDelete

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