Apo-gize, Bea!! Elle has learned to demand apologies from her sister when she feels she is wronged. Part of this is modeled – we try to practice apology and forgiveness a lot. It starts with me, as most things around here do. I learned early in this mothering journey that if I want my kids to learn to apologize, I have to swallow my own pride and apologize to them.
If Bea feels wronged or mistreated, I try to incorporate an apology. Even if it’s along the lines of, I’m sorry this has hurt your feelings, my goal is to include a way of making her feel heard and a way for a path to reconciliation to start. (This, as always, is so much easier said than done. I’m still practicing.)
Last weekend was the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. I read an interesting article from 2014 about the importance of observing this holiday, of recognizing the need to apologize. Author Elissa Strauss says,
Our overflowing in-boxes and constantly updating social feeds have made us all too comfortable with scrolling past or deleting an issue rather than reflecting on it. And there is always something else to read, providing us with an all-too-easy escape route for an uncomfortable situation. But of course there is a real risk to approaching our behavior and personal interactions like we do a tweet.
Apologizing and admitting wrongdoing is the hard work of justice. I can easily cite my family lineage as coming to America after the Civil War. We didn’t have anything to do with slaver! Why apologize? Or I can recognize the fact that I have benefited from systemic oppression, whether I like it or not. It makes me uncomfortable and I wish it weren’t true, but it is and I have to decide what to do with it.
In my mind, apologizing isn’t groveling or giving up all of my rights or becoming a victim myself. It is recognizing there is wrong in this world. It’s recognizing my part in that wrong. It’s asking for forgiveness and a plan to move forward. Without this repentance, we are stuck. As individuals, as a society, as a culture, we cannot move forward.
Sometimes apology means sitting beside someone and saying, I’m sorry this has hurt your feelings. It’s hard. I don’t like feeling responsible for the transgressions of my ancestors. But I am convinced that, until we swallow our pride and recognize historic injustice, we will be stuck.
If you’re a parent, how do you model apology for your kids? Do you find it difficult to apologize for things out of your control?
This post is Day 4 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.