4 Steps to Apologizing

Updated: Jan 11

Since the very first sin was committed, we have been avoiding taking personal responsibility for committing wrongs (Genesis 3:12-13 -You know, when God asked Adam what he did and Adam said, "It was that woman You gave me!"). Well, after witnessing frequent hurtful interactions between our teen boys, which pretty much ended with one of them sideways glancing at his brother and mumbling, "Sorry," and the other shrugging, "It's OK." I knew something had to change. So, we recently started following a specific format to ask for forgiveness when we've wronged someone in our home. At first, it seemed weird and artificial and uncomfortable. Because it was.

But then something unexpected happened.

Using this format allowed the boys (and ME!) to gain an understanding of what it means to remove the log from your own eye before taking the speck from your brother's eye (Matthew 7: 4-5). But there was another unexpected outcome....it helped ALL of us see how sometimes we apologized when we actually didn't do anything wrong! Check it out:

#1 Breathe Deeply

It HAS to start here since you can only give from what you have! So if YOU are not feeling calm and aware of your own emotions, others around you can't possibly either. Breathe! Breathe again. I promise it's worth your time.

LOOK the person in the eyes. This is to help connect with one another. #ConnectionCreatesCooperation is not just a cute saying that we use at Connect Point Moms. It is actually true. When you feel connected to another person, you are more willing to cooperate with them! Think about when you feel most loving toward your husband or mother or best friend...it's THEN that you want to do anything for them to help them feel happy!

#2 Recognize you did something hurtful (on purpose or not)

While we can't ever "make" anyone feel remorse for what they did or said, we CAN help them see when their behavior has an impact on one another. This begins when your kids are young and you say things like: "See his face? His face is saying he didn't like when you took that toy from him." Or "See her face? Her face is saying it hurts her when you call her names."

This helps us understand that our actions have impacted another. And it doesn't require your child to just "Say you're sorry" because unless they FIRST recognize that they hurt another, they can't possibly FEEL sorry about it! And if you "make" them say sorry without this step - it's like teaching them it's OK to be dishonest about their feelings.

Once they recognize the sin committed against another, they can say "I am sorry for......" and name it!

  • I am sorry for throwing your book across the room.

  • I am sorry for yelling at you to get out of my way.

  • I am sorry for making a face when you said you didn't like the dinner I made.

  • I am sorry for ... and SPECIFICALLY name what it was you did that hurt another person.

#3 Acknowledge that it was wrong and why

Now, THIS is the step that helped my boys and I recognize that sometimes we were apologizing when we didn't actually do anything wrong, but instead, just made a mistake. For example, when we read aloud together, sometimes one of my sons mispronounces a word and I say the word correctly. He will then say, "Oh sorry." Hmmmm.... Well, I GUESS he could say, "I am sorry for saying that word incorrectly" but he could NOT complete the format with: "It was wrong because....." because it was not "WRONG" - it was just a mistake!

Jesus Christ lived a perfect, sin-free life when He walked this earth over 2000 years ago. And, He was also 100% human. Which means even He probably made mistakes! Can you imagine Him at two years old, accidentally knocking over a cup of milk (water? wine? what did they drink back then?) because that's what two year olds do!

Think about the last thing you told someone you were "sorry" for...was it something you actually did wrong? Or did you just mean, "Oops! I made a mistake?"

Here are some examples:

  • It was wrong because the Bible tells us to be slow to anger and quick to listen.

  • It was wrong because I yelled at you in my anger.

  • It was wrong because I was actually upset about something else and took it out on you.

  • It was wrong because ... and SPECIFICALLY name WHY what you did was wrong.

#4 Plan for next time

Reconcile the relationship by thinking through how the situation could have been handled more helpfully rather than hurtfully. And then say what you would do differently next time. This is an important last step so that you can have a plan moving forward. In order to #Learntodoitdifferently, we must plan it, name it, and follow through with it.

Like this:

  • Next time I am going to stop, breathe, and pray before responding.

  • Next time I am going to walk away until I can respond rather than react.

  • Next time I am going to pause to recognize what's REALLY upsetting me before reacting.

  • Next time I am going to ... and SPECIFICALLY name what you are going to do differently next time.

I would really love to hear if you try this in your home and how it goes for you!

Please sign in to leave a comment or feel free to email me at ConnectPointMoms@gmail.com.

#ConnectPointMoms helps you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you're in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them!

For quick, helpful parenting videos, find Kate Connects on YouTube or join the Connect Point Moms Facebook group to find encouraging supportive moms struggling through it all together!

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