We're quite the apologetic society, aren't we? Us women, in particular, are always apologizing for saying something we "shouldn't have" and for doing something "offensive." As a woman and, now, as a mother, it's hard to feel like I don't live in the land of sorry. But frankly, most of our apologizes are unnecessary. In fact, I've lost count of the times I had to apologize for my kid's behavior in public when I shouldn't have. Parents are constantly defending their choices and offering apologies for their kids' behaviors, all for the sake of pacifying others.
Sure, sometimes our kids do something ludicrous and unexpected and we should say sorry as a result. If my kids carelessly knocks something over and breaks it, you'll hear me say sorry. If they make a huge mess at a restaurant, you bet I'm apologizing. If they cut someone off at the playground or accidentally push someone off the slide, I'm so, so sorry. Other times, however, I think our apologies as parents are superficial at best; uttered to placate others and keep us from feeling an unnecessary amount of judgment and shame.
Plenty of research suggests we should not force our children to apologize. Allyson Schafer, a psychotherapist and a parenting expert claims that insisting on an apology "will do more to embarrass your child than give him or her a lesson on empathy." Every time we apologize for our children when we shouldn't, we are teaching our kids that insincere apologies are OK and should be granted, even if they aren't truly deserved.
I've done my share of unnecessary apologizing, and I'm here to tell you to stop saying sorry. Unless, of course, an apology is sincere and warranted.
When My Kid Threw A Tantrum In The Supermarket
There, right in the middle of the baking isle, my child fell to the floor and threw one of the greatest tantrums I’ve had the distinct "pleasure" of witnessing. She couldn’t have the cupcake on the box. Oh, she wanted the cupcake, and it didn't matter that it was a picture of a cupcake on a box and not an actual cupcake, she wanted it bad. Now. I was horrified and upset with my daughter, but mostly I felt the need to apologize to those around me who may or may not have been horrified and upset, too. In my mind, my child was ruining the pleasant shopping experience of all other customers, so I needed to say sorry.
But, did I really? What was I apologizing for, exactly? Was I really sorry for the fact that my toddler is not yet emotionally mature enough to express herself with poise? Was I sorry for her lack of ability to have a lively debate with me about the authenticity of that cupcake? Toddlers have meltdowns over getting grilled cheese for dinner after they asked for grilled cheese for dinner. That’s just how they are. I wasn’t apologizing for her, I was apologizing because I was worried people would think I can’t control my child. I was apologizing to make others happy and comfortable.
When My Kid Used A "For Customers Only" Restroom
I totally understand why businesses don't allow everyone to use their restrooms. Those restrooms can get super disgusting really quickly. So trust me when I say, I really do get it. But when I have a toddler who doesn't know how to "hold it" for longer than 30 seconds, I really wish a business would be a bit lenient with their strict bathroom policies.
One time I was sternly told by an establishment that it was "fine that I used their restroom this time, but next time I'll have to purchase something." I apologized. I shouldn't have.
When My Kid Defended Herself
I said sorry the time my child hit the child who pinched her. I didn't mean the sorry; it was entirely superficial. In fact, I said is quietly enough so my kid didn't hear me. It was a cowardly thing on my part, but I did it to appease the other parent. What I should have said was, "Maybe if your child didn't terrorize my child, he wouldn't have gotten hit."
I teach my children to defend themselves whenever they feel threatened, so if my kid felt bullied by another child, I will no longer apologize when she defends herself. Not sorry.
When My Kid Was Being A Little Too Honest
Kids say the silliest things, don't they? Sometimes they look up at a stranger in line behind us at the grocery store and say something like, "Mom, why is that lady so big?" or, "Mom, why is that guy's face so weird?" Kids lack a filter.
My daughter constantly tells me my stomach is just "so fluffy." I can't get upset, because I realize that kids just say what pops into their adorable little heads and I would hope other people realize that as well.
When My Kid Didn't Want To Play With Another Kid
Listen, just because I am friends with someone doesn't mean my child has to be friends with that someone's child. I'm not into arranged friendships. My kids get to choose their friends, just like I do. If I happen to be friendly with the parents of my kids' friends, that's a win for everyone.
So, even though I feel the need to apologize to you for my kid's refusal to play with your child, I shouldn't have to. I shouldn't have to because my child is already forced to do many things she probably doesn't want to do, and making her play with someone she doesn't want to play with isn't on my list of priorities.
When My Kid Didn't Want To Share
I don't believe in forcing my children to share. Sure, if someone is at our house I make sure my child is forthcoming with her toys, but I won't force her to share her toys with a stranger at a playground. While I feel obligated to apologize for my kid's "clear lack of manners," I am actually not sorry at all.
When My Kid Didn't Want To Talk
I understand our society demands certain niceties in order to maintain our connection to other humans. As a result, though, we often expect too much from children. My child is an introvert, it takes her a decent amount of time to warm up to other people. In fact, sometimes she never does.
However, I do apologize for when she doesn't greet someone or when she doesn't say "thank you." I do so because I don't want that person to be upset, sure, but in reality I'm really just showing my child that her personality is something to be sorry about, which I definitely do not believe it is.
When My Kid Refused To Apologize
I once apologized for my child when she refused to do the same. She did not believe she was wrong in a given situation, and as a result did not want to apologize, so I did it for her. It wasn't right and I shouldn't have done it. All it taught her was that one should apologize even if the person on the receiving end doesn't deserve it.
Most of our apologizes are frivolous. They are merely an automatic response to a somewhat uncomfortable situation. It's easier to say sorry than to stand and make your case and prove a point. An empty apology is effortless. It's a white lie. So, honestly, why do we do it so often when it's so disposable? Because we've been taught to be apologetic for who we are and for how we parent. We've been raised to be sorry. Well, for me, that stops now. I am not sorry, and neither are my kids.