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The Apology

My daughter has been a member of a class of girls that, they'd make great cast members of the movie "Mean Girls" and it's been going on since Kindergarten. I recall her teacher saying, "You know, I've NEVER had a class like this. The girls will only play with the girls when usually at this age they don't care who they play with." and they were already exchanging phone numbers.

My sweet girl has been at the receiving end of the meanness more than a few times and let me ask you something, if a child hurts your child, do you feel the urge to threaten life and limb on them? don't? Yeah, neither. *ahem*

Anyway, we've recently been in the midst of more girl drama. Ugh. Girl drama. It's the pits. But this time, my girl was the one who had said somethings that were unkind. A classmate came up to Belle and a friend on the playground and asked if they "liked *Jennifer" (*name changed) to which they responded "No. She's gullible."

Now, whether or not there is a real reason to dislike "Jennifer" (there is) I have great, big, HUGE reservations about NOT talking bad about people. That whether or not you may or may not like someone, you are NOT allowed to be mean to rules. So, when the words my daughter spoke got back to "Jennifer", it was time for a lesson in apologies. (And a lesson in, "Any conversation that starts with a question like that will not have a good outcome...just don't answer it.")

Turns out, my husband thinks of me as the "Apology Nazi"...we were talking with Belle about how she is never to speak ill of anyone. That everyone was created by God, and He doesn't make junk. If she doesn't like someone, she needs to be kind and keep her mouth shut. We told her she owed "Jennifer" an apology and that from here on out she doesn't need to be friends with her but she most certainly needs to be respectful and kind.

I'm not sure why apologies are so hard, probably because it's admitting fault, but Belle was not eager for this end of the deal. "Ugh. Fine. I'll just tell her I'm sorry if I hurt her feelings."

"No. That isn't an apology. An apology is saying you are sorry for the thing you did. Not for the outcome it caused."

Belle looked at her dad with pleading eyes that said, "Help me out on this one dad." and his only response? He held up his hands, gave a laugh and said, "Don't look at me! Your mom is the apology expert." I, um, have apparently been a little *passionate* about apologies before...and, er, not the ones I give, but the ones I receive...which apparently has left a mark on my husband!

So, now I'm an apology an apology in your books, or do you have "rules" for apologies like me? 


  1. I agree with you. A sorry the after effect is not an apology for what you do. You have to apologize for what you said/did/caused for it really to be an apology. A sorry I hurt your feelings to me would mean "I'm not sorry I said it..I'm just sorry you heard about it." which isn't really an apology at all.

  2. Ugh, what a toughy! I think you're right though - it's not a true apology if you're sorry for how someone responded to your actions. That's not a lot better than if you apologized to "Jennifer" for Belle. A sincere apology is taking responsibility for your actions!
    The flip side of that is if it's a forced apology, it's not sincere anyway. So, I think, as much as you might want to make her apologize, you may need to leave the ball in her court a bit here Mama. You've explained why her choice was perhaps not the best, and that the words were hurtful to Jennifer. You've also covered what makes it a proper apology. Perhaps it's best to simply leave it at "The right thing to do now would be apologize to Jennifer. I'm going to trust you to make the right choice, and handle it how you best see fit."
    Lead, set the example, guide, but avoid the resistance that comes with forcing, unless safety is at risk.
    Just my thoughts! Good luck!

  3. I think you are doing the right thing. My daughter has been bullied by one little girl for 2 years. To the point this year she came home in tears. The mother of the little girl made her apologize. And whether it was sincere, my daughter was ok with it. She said they would probably not be friends but she was just happy to know the other girl knew that it hurt her feelings. So while your Belle may not be sorry, it may mean something to the other girl. Plus, maybe it will make her really choose her words more wisely because she won't have to go through this again.

  4. I think that an apology needs to be sincere. If it's not sincere, it really doesn't mean anything to me. I don't think apologizing for the outcome is sincere so I think you're right!

  5. I'm lucky in this kind of case because my kids both will apologize if necessary, and of their own will. Which I think is critical. Saying 'I'm sorry' because you are told to is not a real apology in my book. Actually if your not sorry its lying, and that in my house is the biggest no no ever. I tolerate a lot, but not lying. Now if an incident happened and I felt that the child needed to apologize, and they just didn't feel it was necessary we'd have a talk about why I feel like they need to apologize. If they still don't buy it then I'd have then perform some kind act for that person, as a show of apologizing but not really saying the words. If its to an adult, or I really feel there is a need then I will apologize for the child, because I feel its needed. Most likely if that happens there will be some form of punishment for said child too. Like I said thankfully my kids are good about apologizing because I know I mess up enough myself and end up apologizing to them myself.

  6. Good luck with that one!! It's a tough value to instill. Kids are so emotional, the last thing they want to do is say they did something wrong, even when they *know* they did it and it was wrong. We have many conversations about apologies and how important they are and how they are only sincere is the person you are apologizing to actually feels like you are sorry.

    One can only hope our kids will grow up to say "Wow! Mom was right" and from that point, give good apologies!! In the meantime, I give you credit!! You are absolutely right on all accounts!

  7. To me, it is the "if" I hurt your feelings. She is the age where she knows cause and effect. If someone said that about her, she would have her feelings hurt, correct? I think that taking the if out of it, makes it a heartfelt apology. Maybe say to the girl, I should not have said that about you and I am sorry. Easier for you as a mom. Growing pains of childhood. I hope that it all straightens itself out.

  8. I agree with everything you said. I try to raise my two young sons with the same principles. I agree that if you're going to apologize for something, it should be for your actions, not because you got caught or the effect of what you did. I believe that everyone was made equal by God, they may look different or act different but we all came from the same place. I have also taught my children not to judge a book by how its bound or its cover but by what is on the inside, so to speak. I can't force my children to behave as such 24-7 because they are not in my sight 24-7 but if i hear about something or see it then they are to make amends for it. Treat others how you want to be treated, if they treat others badly eventually they will get it back but if they treat others with respect, they learn they will get that respect in return in a lot of cases. Hopefully it all works out for your daughter and this girl.

  9. I think you have the right idea with your rules, but, like a couple commenters said, sometimes it just matters that the "mean" person took the time to say anything at all, whether an appropriate apology or not. I know I am HORRIBLE at apologizing when it turns out I'm wrong, and I'm trying to teach my girls to do far more than mumble I'm sorry, but it's hard. And sometimes, I feel so physically ill over the outcome of my bad decision that I can ONLY mumble I'm sorry at the moment and run away for fear of being sick. Maybe in teaching my girls, I will learn how to give a "real" apology without mumbling or bolting.

  10. If I ever heard the words "I'm sorry" pass my husband's lips, I'd probably drop dead from shock. I'm determined not to raise my boys the same way.

  11. The 'if' would be the issue for me, too. A simple "I'm sorry for hurting your feelings" would do. I don't think I'd make her apologize for her statement because even if she's sorry for the reaction it caused, she must have meant what she said and I don't think you should have to apologize for making a statement you believe to be true.

  12. I think it's a beautiful thing that you are teaching your daughter. To respect others, to not talk bad about them and when it should happen, to value and take responsibility for the apology for your own actions. Kudos to you!!


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