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Why my family doesn’t say ‘I’m sorry’

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I’m pretty sure we’re messing this parenting thing up in a million little ways, but this much we’re doing right.

We don’t say, “I’m sorry.”

Here’s why. Because then this becomes the narrative.

“I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay.”

And you guys, sometimes the apology is necessary and appreciated, but whatever happened is not okay. Two little words don’t magically negate whatever happened. So, instead, we say this.

“I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me?”

Then the response can naturally be whatever it needs to be.

“I forgive you” or “Thank you for apologizing, but I need some time” or, even, “That’s okay.”

When my husband and I apologize to each other this way in front of our daughter, we model a relationship that respects both parties. When we apologize to our daughter in this way, we own our part in the situation without taking away her right to feel as she does. And when she apologizes in this way, she learns that she is responsible for her behavior, but that she does not have control over another’s response or feelings.

That’s why my family doesn't just say, “I’m sorry.”


Follow Mandy McCarty Harris, Writer for more stories of standing happily in the awkward middle of life, love, and parenting.

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