“Sorry is hardest to say when it matters most.” ― Ebehi Iyoha
We as parents can often be heard saying, “Now tell him (or her) sorry!” or “You had better apologize.” I know from experience that I’m usually saying one of those phrases, or something very similar, most days to my girls. They are 18 months apart and they are best friends. About 90% of the time they play together fantastic!! It’s during that other 10% when those aforementioned phrases can be heard in our house. My husband and I are continually training them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). It’s hard work! They are still learning (and so are we), and that means there are times when actions and attitudes are not what they should be.
But I’m not writing this to talk about our girls. Did you catch the part about us as parents still learning? Of course you did, because you are too. Or at least you should be.
One thing I’ve learned, and am still working on, is the need for us as parents to say sorry to our children. Now I’m not talking about apologizing for disciplining them, or for making them follow your rules, or something similar. For those things, do NOT apologize. But what I am talking about apologizing for are those things you do, that if done to an adult for example, would cause you to apologize. Maybe you were yelling at them and you shouldn’t have been (Proverbs 15:1). Perhaps you misspoke unknowingly and you later learn what you told them was not the truth (Psalm 34:13, Proverbs 12:22, Colossians 3:9).
Many times we use the verse Matthew 18:15 when talking about church discipline, and rightly so. However, it not only shows us how to handle sins committed against us, but it gives us an example of what we are to do when WE sin against another. Consider the passage: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” The one who committed the sin is to repent. Are we following this teaching when we are not apologizing to our children and repenting of the sins we commit against them?