When my husband and I became parents it did not take us long to realize there was one powerful way we could show God’s love and our love to our child...and it didn’t matter that our son was one a few weeks old! We began doing this right away and it helped us love as a family even better.
You may be reading this and think “Oh we already do that!” and then there are some who may struggle to accept that apologizing to children is of value or perhaps you just never thought about it.
Apologizing is part of the reconciliation process that builds trust and affirms love in relationships. Apologies and forgiveness are powerful because they break apart and root of bitterness that attempts to be planted in our hearts.
Relationships are messy! Whether it is between a parent and child, a husband and wife, between extended family or even friends. Relationships are messy because people are imperfect and we hurt each other often, many times unintentionally. This is why having the courage to initiate reconciliation is so significant.
No matter where we are in our parenting or marriage journey, I want to remind us that reconciliation is a vital necessity for strong relationships. And often times it is the most challenging thing to do when we justify why we do not need to initiate reconciliation or when we avoid it because of pride.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” - 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
God gave us a ministry of reconciliation and I believe it is important to evaluate our lives to be sure we are being ambassadors of His love and gospel, starting with our families.
Why we apologize:
My husband and I apologize to each other when we face conflict in marriage. This is not always an immediate response, but we do it because it is very difficult to embrace intimacy if we don’t.
We apologize to our son so he can be comforted, affirmed in our love for him, to let him know that we are not perfect but that we make mistakes and know it, to set an example of how to apologize, and to build up trust and cultivate intimacy with him.
How we apologize:
We apologize by saying “I’m sorry because…” We try as best as possible to verbally acknowledge exactly what we are apologizing for so that the other person knows we know what we did wrong. This also validates their feelings of hurt or offense. We make eye contact and most of the time apologize with an aspect of affirming physical touch, whether it be a hug, hand holding, or a kiss. With our son, we get down on our knees so that we meet him where he is at.
Also, since reconciliation is an opportunity to teach our child, when we apologize we encourage him to say, “I forgive you” hoping in time he will understand the power of saying those words as well.
When we apologize:
My husband and I apologize to each other when we realize we have wronged either each other or our child. Seeing how we wrong our child can be difficult as children tend to respond a little differently with their slightly smaller perspective on life. We rely on each other as adults to keep us accountable by gently pointing out when an apology to our son is necessary. Respecting each other, we assess the situation and then initiate reconciliation. Sometimes we apologize for how we reacted to a situation with our son, the way and tone we talk to him, or even fighting in front of him with each other.
*One a side note we are careful not to apologize for things that seemingly cause an emotional response in our child, but not because of a wrong, such as when we are training our child or disciplining him.
I believe apologizing is a beautiful way to humbly admit and show your family that although you may be imperfect and make mistakes, you truly love them and have their best interests in mind. I also believe that being an ambassador for Christ through the ministry of reconciliation honors God.
Do you apologize to your child(ren) and if so can you share in the comments a testimony that would encourage other parents?
- Jennifer Smith UnveiledWife.com