Parenting means a lot of tears, fights, giggles, more tears, more fights and endless apologies. As I began my parenting journey, I wanted to be sure my children knew how to apologize. I want them to know the process of saying sorry for intentional choices that caused hurt and pain, as well as honest mistakes.
During this journey I found myself instructing the other hurt child to say "it's okay" in response to an apology... until one day I realized it's actually not always okay.
My oldest was a happy and very active little tike. When really happy he tends to get physical. One afternoon as I attempted to shower, I heard happy noises which quickly turned in to someone-is-going-to-get-hurt squeals. Sure enough a bawling 2 year old came tearing in to the bathroom because his older brother had horrifically scratched his back.
As I held my sobbing 2 year old, my oldest came in to say he was sorry. My little one turned and said "it's okay". This hit my heart. It was not okay. He had been hurt by no fault of his own. It was not okay that he had been scratched to the point of drawing blood and my oldest needed to know that.
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I turned to my oldest and said just that. I held my puffy cheeked, red eyed son and explained that when someone hurts you, even if they say sorry, doesn't mean it has to be okay. You can thank them for their apology, but you do not have to tell them that what they did was okay.
From that moment on apologies are not met with "it's okay" in our home; they are given a kind "thank you" in return. Apologies won't wipe away a wrong that was done; they're more than the words we say. Verbally expressing your apology is just the first step.
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