My mother has been my friend since I was a child. So much so that it was sometimes difficult to remember that she was also my parent first. However, the friendship we enjoyed did not stop my mother from whipping me into shape whenever the need came up. Even now as an adult, I trust my mum to call me to order if she thinks I’m doing something wrong.
One major reason why she’s been so effective at doing this is that, as a child, I was hardly ever plagued by a feeling of injustice at her disciplinary methods. This is not because she has never made mistakes, but because she’s always been able to apologise to me when she wrongly chastised me.
Setting examples for future relationships
Having been a rather proud child, learning to to apologise for my wrongs was rather difficult. But I imagine it could have been so much more difficult — if not impossible — if I hadn’t had my mother’s easy and frequent apologies as an example.
Today, I don’t struggle with apologising when I know I’m wrong. Also, I apologise to my staff, younger siblings, and my two year old son too.
Children learn best mostly by demonstration and example. If I had a penny for how often I struggled with adults telling me to do as they said but not as they did, I’d probably be rich. While they may not have the rich vocabulary to describe what they recognise as hypocrisy, kids are sensitive to such inconsistencies in words and actions.
Respect begins at home
The two words, ‘I am sorry’, sincerely spoken, can heal a lot of wounded relationships. But far too many grown men and women find themselves incapable of being humble enough to apologise for their mistakes. Our ego is so internalised that the idea of admitting to wrong doing in the first place is too much for some people to handle.
This isn’t helped by a culture of ‘respect’ that encourages older or more powerful people to offend subordinates and younger people at will without being bound to apologise. Our people say, ‘When a child steps on an elder’s toes, the child apologises. When the elder steps on the child’s toes, the child also apologises. ‘ In that sense, respect isn’t reciprocal, it is a function of power. It’s no surprise then that we have a political atmosphere of oppression. Humility is only for the weak, and leaders are gods without accountability.
With the family being the nucleus of society, the solution begins at home. We can begin by learning to apologise, whether to our staff and people younger than we are. And yes, you should definitely apologise to your child.