A few weeks ago I asked people on my Facebook page if they apologised to their child. I did the same on twitter and the response was phenomenal.
It may seem like a crazy question but it’s a topic that comes up a lot when I’m working with parents and it seems to divide opinion with some being very clear you should always apologise and others being clear you shouldn’t.
I’ve always apologised if I’ve made a mistake, or said something I shouldn’t have. It seemed like a normal thing to do. It’s not always easy and sometimes I’d definitely prefer not to do it, but I do. I apologise to other adults so why wouldn’t I apologise to my son?
However, I know that not all parents do this. Some don’t feel they should, even when they are in the wrong. I respect their opinion but I disagree.
If we want our children to apologise to us or anyone else when they make a mistake, I believe we should be prepared to do the same and role model the behaviour we want to see.
That being said, I’m not a fan of forced apologies either. They don’t feel right to me.
I do think we should accept an apology given to us, even if we are still hurt or upset, but maybe with the acknowledgment of how we feel. We all know it can be hard to apologise, even harder if it isn’t accepted, so acknowledging it only seems right to me. It also encourages the other person to apologise in the future and know it’s ok to do so.
Last year I was working with a couple who didn’t apologise to their children as they didn’t feel adults should apologise to children, but they expected their children to apologise to them. We talked about this as part of the session and I could see they weren’t convinced by my thoughts. The following session we were talking about how things were going and the Dad mentioned he had apologised to his son for the first time. He was totally taken aback by his son’s reaction. His son clearly appreciated the apology and the Dad felt things had changed in their relationship since then. Months later and things are still improving.
Sometimes it’s worth trying things even if we don’t feel they will work. You might be surprised. And if it doesn’t work then you haven’t lost anything. If it does you’ve potentially gained a lot.
If you’re in the no camp give it a try and see how it goes.
I’d love to hear your opinion on this one, are you for or against apologising to your children?