“I am sorry child, I was wrong!”

Saying the words, “I am sorry” to anyone is often an acknowledgement that we have done something wrong which isn’t always easy because it requires you to be vulnerable admitting that you were wrong; how much more, to a child.

I remember growing up, the expectation was always on the child to apologise to the adult even when it was clear who was in the wrong.

You were better off sucking it up and accepting that you knew what you knew but pointing it out would probably add more salt to the open wound. It was almost as though, being an adult earned you the right to completely disregard the feelings of the child, therefore stamping power and authority over the child at whatever cost. If you (the child) dared muster up the courage to raise it, it would be disregarded in the same breath that it was brought up.

Reflecting on this makes me realise just how oppressive it must’ve been for us as children not to have been given the opportunity to even say words like “that hurt my feelings.” It was an unspoken rule, you weren’t allowed to feel the hurt, or talk about it.

As a child, I knew how much this impacted me emotionally and I was determined not to carry this forward when I had my own children. It hasn’t however been as easy as I had hoped and now, perhaps I see why it is just easier to say to a child, that his/her feelings are not valid because it is towards an adult and in some cases, that adult is YOU!

As you may have picked up if you follow my blog, I have two daughters, both very different; one subtle but can be assertive, the other, unapologetically assertive.

I recognise this and as a parent, my goal is to ensure that their voices are heard, and their feelings are validated and acknowledged. I can however hold my hand up to say that I am also on a journey and struggle in this area when the finger has been pointed at me.

There have been a number of occasions where I knew I did something wrong, but ego and pride get the better of me I was quick to say sorry to them for things that weren’t my fault; it was simply easier as long as I wasn’t the one causing the hurt.

One time, my older daughter pointed out that I had got something wrong during a conversation we were having about school; my defence mode was quickly activated.

I played the adult card and told her she was in fact wrong because I was the adult and knew better. Rather than be open to the possibility that I might be wrong;

I was conditioned to believe that it was impossible for a child to know more than an adult. I saw that she felt hurt, but I was more determined to prove to her that I was right, and she was the one that had given me the wrong information. As you can guess, I wasn’t only wrong, she did quite badly in the homework task that was given, and it was my fault.

When I picked her up from school later that day, I asked her

“Tum, how did you do on your task, I am sure you got a certificate!”

She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “Mum, it was all wrong because you didn’t listen to me!”

My heart broke into so many pieces because at that moment, I was looking at my 8-year-old self and I relived what she was going through.

Courtesy: (VeryWell Family)

I bent over and gave her a hug…. “I am so sorry; this was all my fault,” I said.

I teach my girls that when apologising, you have got to make it personal, not just say sorry, but to own it by saying “I am sorry”. And this was exactly what I had to do, practise what I preached.

Truth be told, it wasn’t that hard once I said it, it actually felt good.

Pamela Shodeinde

From then on, I always check my responses, be sure that it was proportionate and balanced, and when I am called out, I put my hand up and own it. “I am Sorry”. Three words that hold so much power.

Normalising this approach with our children is so important because it makes you human in their eyes. It may feel scary and uncomfortable especially if you grew up in an era like mine where it was simply a taboo, but the benefits for you and your child(ren) is priceless.

When they see us as human and approachable, they find it easy to trust and talk about their worries, wishes and feelings.

When they see us as human and approachable, they find it easy to trust and talk about their worries, wishes and feelings. (Image Source (Mom.com)

Modelling parental perfection to a child will only teach that child to copy what they have seen and try to be perfect too which we all know is simply not possible.

It is okay to be vulnerable because I firmly believe that it solidifies your relationship and helps that child to become emotionally resilient and intelligent.

Be mindful of your position as a parent, and the power dynamics between you and your children. Showing respect to your child is not weakness, it is helping that child see you as a person who can make a mistake and own up to it.

If you enjoyed reading this, please kindly leave a comment and share with your friends.


5 thoughts on ““I am sorry child, I was wrong!””

  1. Aderonke Oshungbohun

    I remember one day I raised my voice before going for a night shift, called first thing in the morning to apologise. Princess T said Don’t worry about it, just don’t do it again 😂😂
    Apologising is not a sign of weakness, you won’t be taken for granted because you apologised. That’s what I’ve learnt

  2. Nice one Pam. We are our children’s first teachers, we definitely need to lead by example. No one wants to be wrong, especially to someone much more younger, but I can personally say that I believe God gives us children to build some essential characters, humility being one of them. You are wrong say sorry. I like you point as well make it personal ( learnt something). Don’t just say sorry, mean the sorry. It’s not a I don say sorry na make i hear word matter lol.

    Once again a lovely write up.

  3. Sorry from my parents, growing up as a little boy was a scarce commodity in my family, it was an extinct specie, non existent! My parents would rather beat you up to save face rather than apologise to you, as a matter of fact my parents, especially my Father was “he who must be obeyed and feared”. We nicknamed him voltron, his cane was like Voltron’s blazing sword! I vowed to be different with my own children and God helped me, with them I don’t pretend to know it all, I don’t conceal my humanity, and when I’m wrong I admit, sometimes not outrightly but they totally understand what I’m trying to do and say, and I must admit that it makes me feel pretty good and for me, it’s not a sign of weakness but it’s laced with wisdom, after all I don’t have the monopoly of being right!
    Great piece Sis!

  4. The uniqueness of your write up is that it takes one back memory lane. I remember growing up as a child, I was quite assertive too., it even earned me the title of “lawyer of the house”, there was always this flame to ensure that fairness was practiced in the house, even though I had three older siblings.,one could easily feel like I was a stubborn child. Thank God,my dad realized this feature in me as a child and rather thought me diplomacy in achieving results and I will be forever grateful to him for that.
    As simple as your words are in writing, these are real situations children go through at home and is totally relatable. .. The funny part of it is that parents or older folks may not really know they practice confrontation and the impact it has on a child. Thank you for this eye opener piece 👌

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