The Apology

My grandparents on my mother’s side were both redheads. My mother was a redhead. Before I started turning white (now strawberry), I too was a redhead. Being from a long line of redheads, I thought it was in my DNA to have a fiery temper. It was common knowledge. We all had that temper and we justified it because we were redheads. I was in my early thirties when I realized that I knew just as many bad tempered blonds and brunettes as redheads. We redheads didn’t have a corner on the market. Could it be that being a redhead was just an excuse to behave badly? Did I have to follow that path?

Let me state clearly that I HATED to apologize. It was about this time when I understood the relationship between running my mouth in the name of truth and later having to apologize for what I said. There was no filter between my brain and my tongue so things were in my brain and out my mouth. Not a smart place to be. I found myself apologizing a lot. My epiphany was (Are you ready for this stroke of genius?) if I thought before I spoke, I didn’t usually have to repair the damage. Who knew? Not me up until then.

Fortunately for my children, I chose to change my behavior patterns when my eldest was still small. Understanding that this is a process was helpful. I didn’t do a 180 degree turn. It was just one little degree at a time. At first I failed more than I succeeded. What I learned through this process has allowed permanent change and that’s a good thing.

1. There will always be conflict with someone. With children in the house, no matter what age, you will disagree with their behavior and choices at some point. When you disagree inappropriately by yelling, name calling, using bad language, bringing up old mistakes, or disciplining too severely, you must take immediate action and apologize for how you handled the situation. That doesn’t mean that the consequences go away just that you feel you needed to handle things better.

2. Lots of practice at apologizing made it easier. I got better at making my apologies more quickly and they were actual apologies.

3. Anything that starts out with “I’m sorry you…” is not really an apology. It is putting the responsibility on the other person. “I’m sorry I…” is appropriate and builds relationships.

4. My children learned that admitting they were wrong and apologizing was okay. They had it modeled for them repeatedly. As grown women they can and do admit when they are wrong and apologize. I’ve actually seen it.

5. Apologizing without taking action to change your behavior is empty, damaging, and breaks trust with the other individual.  Take the next step.

I work hard to make sure that the filter between my brain and my mouth is in good working order so I don’t unintentionally hurt anyone. My relationships are stronger with family and friends. I don’t mind apologizing any more. It’s all good.

Comments are always welcome…

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