I’m apologetic to a fault—I’m wired that way, but I often regret the unnecessary “sorry’s.” When I was part of the 9-to-5 grind, I couldn’t dish out commands to my subordinates without a lengthy explanation. With friends and family, I constantly step down from a discussion and accept their points if they feel highly about a completely irrational opinion. I’m carrying it to motherhood, apologizing for my toddler being a toddler. This has to stop.
Just a few nights ago during a play date, I noticed my excessive sorry’s at play. Sorry, my daughter took a long nap. Sorry, she’s hungry. Sorry, she’s talking too much. Then my dialogue transformed into asking my little bub to say sorry herself, for things I’m pretty sure she understood were not wrong. Her playmate, just a few months younger than her, would constantly grab her toys. I’d offer her a new one and tell her to share. She’d happily oblige until it’s taken away from her again.
It turned into a tug-of-war that resulted to tears of frustration. “Don’t like her! Baby go home!” My little girl screamed. The mom, my close friend, was horrified and asked my daughter to say sorry to hers. Comebacks raced in my head, but what came out of my mouth was equally appalling. I pleaded with little bub to say sorry. That if she does, she’ll make me very happy and I’ll stamp her with a star. My husband, thinking our daughter hurt the other child, chimed in and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know my child can be such a bully! Bad girl!”
Later that night after our guests left, I corrected my husband to never say little bub is bad, or naughty, or a bully. She was simply defending herself. Moms shouldn’t be in the way of their play in the first place, anyway! I realized how contrasting my way of parenting was with my friend’s. She just let her kid be a kid, comfortable enough to think that I’d be the understanding and mediating one because my child is a tad older. People actually expect me to adjust just because I’ve always been apologetic. What example am I really portraying to my daughter, then?
Saying sorry is as vital as knowing when to stand up for yourself. That’s what my mom taught us growing up. She was our defender, always on our side in front of others even if we were in the wrong. But we got the discipline we deserved in the privacy of our home. Although sometimes extreme, I find that it’s a good approach to teach kids who will be there for them when they need it the most.
Forcing my child to say sorry even if it’s not her fault may teach her humility, but it also lowers her self-esteem. She will question herself, lose confidence, and will look to me (and eventually others) to answer her problems. I don’t want that for her. She should stand her ground, apologize, or practice humility when necessary. And it starts with me. I have to be on her side. At this point in her life, who else will be?
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Dorothy Guya