I have this awesome friend who gives each parenting decision such thought and she recently ask me what I would be teaching my child is the appropriate way to accept an apology. Honestly I had not given it much thought yet despite the numerous playdate situates where one kid does something they shouldn’t and the mother tells the child to apologise. I had automatically always said, “It’s okay” as I imagine most people would. But this is definately not what I want to teach my child.
As society we are super awkward about conflict and so that’s why I think we automatically respond to apologies with, “It’s okay”. Even when it is not okay. It is not okay that that kid pushed you. It is not okay that that person hurt your feelings. It is not okay that that person treated you disrespectfully.
So what will I be teaching him to say? I will teach him that he can give different responses to different situations. Here are a few examples:
- Thank you, I appreciate your apology. Apologising is hard (when it is sincere) and although you might not be ready to forgive the person you can at least acknowledge gratitude for the apology.
- It’s okay. Sometimes it is okay and the person is apologising for something that really didn’t even bother or affect you. Then it is okay.
- I hear what you are saying/ I hear you. Maybe the person explained why they acted the way they did as part of the apology and you can acknowledge that you are listening without dismissing their actions as okay or expressing forgiveness before you are ready.
- I forgive you. Only say this if you really mean it and are ready to say it.
- Sometimes(not always) it is necessary to first explain how the person’s actions made you feel before giving one of the answers above.
So you may wonder why I feel strongly about not teaching him to dismissively say that it is okay?
- Because I want him to know that it is okay to not belittle the impact of what someone did to him.
- I want him to know that it is a good thing to have boundaries and not accept certain treatment.
- I want him to know that even if a person apologises he has the right to process his emotions and forgive them in his own time.
- I do not want him to ever feel that forgiving someone means that what they did was okay.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject? How have you taught your child to respond to apologies?