To Apologize or Not To Apologize: Should parents apologize to their children?
Which camp do you sit in? “I apologize to my children when I make a mistake because I want them to understand that I am human and make mistakes too.” Or “We are adults and we don’t owe our children apologies.”
I polled my FeelLinks page followers and asked “Do you apologize to your children if you lose your cool”? From those that responded, 97% said they do apologize to their children and 3% reported they do not.
Here is what some of our FeelLinks Community had to say:
- “To normalize mistakes and model how to navigate making them (and amending them) K.T.
- “To let them know even as parents we are not perfect and we make mistakes” K.L.
- “Because I want them to know I’m not perfect, but I’m trying my best.” D.B.
- To model appropriate behavior and show that it’s okay to make mistakes if you right them” S.G.
Thank you all for sharing your voice on this topic!
Let me begin by saying that I personally sit with the 97% above; I do feel we should apologize to our children if we lose our cool or make mistakes of any kind.
Before I get too far into this post, I want to be clear on what I am (and what I am not) talking about here. I am not advocating for apologizing to our children when they do not like a decision or family choice we have made. Those are life choices that we are making because we are the adults, the ones doing this thing called parenting. We are not at fault for our children having a highly emotional response to something just because they do not like it - this is not a case where I believe in apologizing to our children; I refer to these as “non-negotiables”. I am a firm believer in listening to our children, tuning in, validating and showing empathy for how they are feeling, but the outcome of my parenting decision will not be changed by their tears.
Okay, now that we have that straight…here is my why!
Apologizing to our children is a learning opportunity - our children can see and hear us reflect and take responsibility for our mistakes. Whether you brought your child to a birthday party late because you put the incorrect time on your calendar, or you lost your cool and yelled at your child because they were holding you up from leaving the house on time, we make these typical human mistakes and it is our responsibility to model what we would like our children to do in the same situation.
Additionally, when parents apologize, we should be naming the feeling(s) we are experiencing so that our children understand that it is normal for us all to experience difficult feelings. I don’t know about you, but I may overuse the word “frustrated” in my home! Modeling an apology and adding in our emotions is such a great learning opportunity for our children. It can also be a great time for a parent to acknowledge and identify how our children might be feeling because of the mistake we made.
I found this incredible article by Dr. Laura Markham, How (and When) To Apologize To Your Child. I highly recommend taking a read ahaparenting.com/blog/how-and-when-to-apologize-to-your-child. She discusses avoiding apologies vs. modeling apologies, and when and what you should say to your child.
To my readers, if you do not sit in the same camp as me on apologizing to your children, I would love to hear from you; I love a good, respectful conversation with differing opinions. Please email me at Marcelle.firstname.lastname@example.org and you might even be featured in a future blog post.
P.S. Supporting your and your child’s growth in emotional intelligence is important everyday. Please check out FeelLinks plush doll and journal set at myfeellinks.com or on Instagram & Facebook @myfeelinks. Today is the right day to order this tangible, unique resource for your child.