Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why can't you say "Sorry"?

D and I are blessed to have 3 (and counting) kids. As much as we teach them things to cope in life, it is also through them that we learn things that no one else could have taught us. The best thing about having 3 kids is with them comes different lessons, or at least same lesson, different times.

Yesterday was one such time. Audrey was playing chess with Grandpa and Julian was sitting quietly beside them. After a while, he must have felt bored and started to kick Audrey's water bottle. Grandpa saw it and told him that what he did wasn't nice and told him to apologize to Audrey. Julian refused. Grandpa, on the other hand, kept telling him (nicely) that he should since that was neither respecting his sister's things nor his sister. Julian kept quiet.
Audrey sensing that it's not getting anywhere (and didn't want the game to be interrupted) told grandpa "never mind, grandpa, no need. Now your turn to move." Grandpa tried a little while but because Audrey kept insisting, he let it go. Julian of course got away happily. I witnessed the whole episode and  had a conversation with him:

M: Julian, what is stopping you from saying sorry?
J: (thought for awhile) nothing
M: Okay, then can you say sorry to jie jie now?
J: No
M: Why not?
J: Because Jie Jie said no need
(Am I always stuck with smart alecs???)

Congratulations to me again! I got another kid who is allergic to the word Sorry. (Is it just me????) I remembered when Audrey was about 2, she was very rude to the helper then. I told her to apologize to the helper. She refused. I brought her into my room, closed the door, and talked to her. She stood her ground. She was not going to apologize. Unfortunately for her, I didn't budge either. (And please… she was not that calm… all these while, she was crying and throwing her tantrums) One hour passed, nothing. Two hours gone, still nothing. We were in the room for three hours! I was doing my work and she was sitting in one corner. I told her only when she is ready to talk, she can then come to me. Finally she gave up. After three hours (THANK YOU GOD!!!), she came over, and said that she wanted to talk. I asked her if she knew what she did was not nice. She said yes. Then I asked her if she could apologize to the helper. She said ok. (Why couldn't she say so earlier???) Since then, she had no problems saying sorry. (Suddenly, the three hours was worth it… )
With Isaac, God gave me a break. (How kind..) He was a sensitive and easy child. When he hurts someone, or does wrong to another, he would say sorry. (If your child is like this… YOU ARE DAMN LUCKY!) 

So here comes Julian. Is there a better way to teach him to apologize or should I just stick to what I did with Audrey? I know I may not have the best methods so I googled for answers. It's interesting that now most studies say that parents should not get their children to say sorry because chances are they don't mean it and say it just to appease the parents. By doing so, the children would learn to only say "insincere" apologies. (I obviously am not convinced by it, but since I'm always the harsher one, I decided to discuss with the Mr on it)

D didn't buy the arguments for it. In fact, he thinks we should get the child to say sorry regardless. I asked what about the insincere apology bit. He said, ever since when apologies are sincere. (Suddenly I am not so sure about the times when he said sorry to me…) In fact if anything, it teaches the child humility and authority. 

I reflected on what he said. Does everyone mean their apologies as adults? (Of course the argument is, because from young they learn "insincere apologies" now it will be insincere
Many times, people say sorry… and with their apologies, come with the word "but". I don't know if it's just me, but to me, when someone says "Sorry… , But…" it means they are not sorry. It's like saying my act was justified, so I still don't think I had wronged you. (What's your style of apologizing like? Whether it's to your spouse or whoever.. :)
D and I, well, we don't say sorry to each other if we cannot see how our act is wrong. But not seeing that the act is wrong is different from not seeing that the other person is hurt from the act. We learn from  Engaged Encounter to instead of saying sorry to each other, we ask for forgiveness instead. (Not easy ok… saying sorry is telling the person to accept it in his/her time, whether they like it or not. Asking for forgiveness is on the other hand saying that while my act could be right, it was not enough to make you feel bad.) Will talk more about it next time… :)

Insincere apologies aside, I need to also recognize and consider what my child is like. Audrey and Julian are children with a lot of ego and pride. (Wonder who they got that from…) They may recognize that their act was mean, but that's the most they will do. They will not apologize unless someone insists on that. Isaac on the other hand, is very loving and aware of that and he feels uncomfortable to see another person hurt because of him. (How come so different???) 
For my egoistic kids, I don't tell them to say sorry simply because of their act. I insist that they sorry because life doesn't revolve around them. They may not like what they do, but they need to do it still. Maybe for the first few times they will be resentful. But considering everything, if i let it go, they may never learn to be humble especially in front of people who matter most to them. From there would the lesson of remorse be learnt. (And please… They KNOW at 2 years old, their act is not nice and can hurt people… so before saying that they are still young and not know anything… They are that manipulative….)
For my sensitive child, I recognize that also for him, saying sorry could easily just be feeding another's ego. We also have to make sure that Isaac doesn't say it too often, that he gives in to everything and not have a stand. 

SO back to Julian. Would I dread spending Xhrs in a room with him until he recognizes he needs to apologize? OF COURSE. But until I can come up with an easier way, I still need him to learn the lesson of humility. The only thing i can assure him is I will go through the lesson with him… :)

But through it all, believe me, they are truly blessings. So thank you God, for blessing me with them. :)


  1. Wow! Michelle!! That was what Caesar millan, the dog whisperer advised as well, that we be patient (so really great job for waiting 3 hours). He says that many dogs are not rehabilitated because the owners are just not patient to go through the process with the dogs.

    Thank you for sharing. I was also born the more sensitive type. And even now tend to over apologise. sometimes I struggle to understand others who are different from me but from your experience, I can see that people are born clearly different.

    So when we have certain strengths, I know who to thank. Thank God for somehow creating me a certain way. And when I have certain weaknesses, I will be patient as He is also firm and patient to help me and wait for me to grow up. Like you has been for your children.

    1. HI the worm! Thanks for the encouragement. I really don't have any scientific proof… It's really my decision and opinion on the egoistic and sensitive bit. :) And yes, i'm sure you are very special… :) Hang in there… you will be fine!