September 16, 2009

Apologies

This weekend marks the start of the Jewish New Year and with that comes time for reflection and making ammends. It's been a topic of much discussion around here recently. During his second week of school, Noah came home reporting he got in trouble for being disrespectful to the teacher. After a long discussion with Adam, Noah sat down and wrote this letter to his teacher:He wrote the note himself, but I am not sure he would have done it without some initial encouragement from Adam. This whole apology thing is hard. It's a hard concept to teach and it's even harder to actually do, especially with sincerity. When I read this post on Motherlode it really struck a chord with me. A true apology goes way beyond the parental prompt I hear myself saying way too often: "say you're sorry". I plan on taking time over the next few days to apologize to my children. It's not that I don't apologize during the rest of the year when I do something that causes them pain. I do. But during this time of year, I also dig a little deeper and try to take an even more honest look at myself and my relationship with my children and others in my life. It's not a comfortable or enjoyable thing to do, but I think it is important for me and for them. Any thoughts on teaching kids (and adults) to apologize?

10 comments:

morninglight mama said...

I saved a note JAM wrote me when he was 4 or 5 that read "I'M SROOY," and now that's what we say when we apologize- I'm srooy.

Very thoughtful post-- I have a whole helluva lot of apologizing to do...

Corinne said...

I always make a point of apologizing when I've lost it, as soon as I can pull myself together to do it. I agree, I think it's something we need to be specific about teaching.

Dawn said...

I have been thinking about this lately too. I have been pondering how to instill empathy. I think it goes hand in hand with the ability to truly apologize for something.
Thanks for you thoughts and sharing Noah's letter..
I am off to read the link!

Mom said...

I think that leading by your own example is a very effective way to teach your children almost anything. I know that I am prejudiced, but I think that you and Adam do an AWESOME JOB of this.

לאורה משנה said...

Hi Lucia, I've been following your posts all along and I'm very happy to hear how well you are adjusting. Are you planning on visiting us at all? We would love to have you here and now it's much more near. Just let me know and we'll pick you up at the airport :)
Ok. Now lets talk about teaching your children how to apologize. (Now you're talking to the Parent Instructor ;) - Mom said it: by example. Do apologize before them and before others in front of your children (whenever possible and age/subject suitable). Do it as sincerely as you can or don't do it at all (or you'll be teaching them how to "as if" apologize. Talk to them about your feelings when apologizing to them or after they saw you apologizing to another person. Validate the act. Make it be a symbol of braveness and of consciousness of our human condition of being not perfect. By apologizing you also teach them how to take responsibility ones own acts.
We parents teach by example and our children are ALWAYS seeing what we do and listening to what we say.
I know you are an awesome mom (I read it all the time), therefore I'm sure you'll do great with this "apology" thing too.
Hope to see you!
Laura.

Jessica said...

My biggest thing about apologizing is to always say WHY you are apologizing. I always tell the kids "I'm sorry doesn't mean anything if you don't say what for". I think it helps a lot. It's pretty easy to toss out an "I'm sorry" without thinking about it and then go on. But when they have to think about why they are saying it (as opposed to an automatic response to get out of trouble) I like to believe the lesson sinks in a little deeper.

Dana said...

I just apologized to my kid for a less-than-stellar parenting moment that happened earlier today. I've never really thought of it before, but I do always apologize later if I think I've acted unfairly. She does not always respond appropriately to my apologies, but I guess that'll come with time. This parenting is HARD, unending work.

Cami said...

The only thing I guess I really do (besides demanding an apology when a kid hits another) is to apologize myself. I try really hard to do it without making excuses, and show the kids that parents are held to the same expectations that children are. Then sometimes I point out that we all feel better now that we've talked it over. I hope that gets things through.

Emily said...

What a sweet boy Noah is! It sounds to me like you're already off to a great start. After all, he came to you with the discipline issue in the first place. He was honest and thoughtful, and he wrote a lovely letter.

When do you leave for Rome? I hope we can get together again before you go!

Mom2Isabel said...

Like what most of the other folks have said, I think that leading my example teaches this lesson a lot better than anything else. When I lose it, I usually apologize right away and explain why I did what I did. (This has had some comical consequences as Isabel, of late, has been telling me that she "is SOO frustrated!".
Another thing that I do, in situations that are more than minor, is what for her to be in a place to really hear me and comprehend WHY what she did was unacceptable. My ex-husband use to say, "Timing is everything" and I have to agree. If I force an "I'm sorry" out of her too early, it's really just lip service. If I give her a little time to process it, she usually comes to an understanding on her own of why something was wrong.

PS We miss you guys so much! What is the time difference? I have been talking to Laurie in China on SKYPE. We'd love to talk to you and Mei Mei. Shoot me an email and let me know.

Love to all of you and Happy New Year!
Laureen