Why I Recently Had to Apologize to My 14 Year Old Son

When a parent should apologize to their child

Have you ever had one of those moments in your marriage where a fuse burns out, and you’re left with an unexpected situation on your hands of two people who just simply don’t see eye to eye?

Thankfully, this kind of occurrence is rare in our marriage, but nonetheless, on this day recently, it still occurred.

You see, there had been a meltdown in communication about a small detail of our family’s day, and that one small miscommunication snowballed into many other problems and emotions that followed.  And when it was all said and done, my wife and I found ourselves in the living room of our house, throwing insults at each other in an uncommon explosion of built up emotions.

In the course of that conversation, my wife told me something that I completely disagreed with, and I responded by forcefully saying, “Go away, I don’t even want to see you or talk to you right now. Just go away.”

While I knew that I was in no right frame of mind to keep talking at that moment, I also knew that the way that I had just handled myself was very foolish, selfish, and even disrespectful towards my wife.

To compound the problem, here are a couple of other details of the situation that day to consider:

  1. While this was happening in our living room, we currently had invited company over for lunch, and they were in the kitchen sitting at our table eating without us. (and sadly, probably overhearing us at the same time… Have you ever tried to yell at someone with a strong whisper? It doesn’t work out too well.)
  2. My wife was in a wheelchair do to a recent foot surgery she had, and so had very limited mobility to ‘go away’, even if she wanted to.
  3. As soon as I said those words, I turned around to see my 14 year old son sitting on the living room recliner behind me as I was having this heated conversation with my wife.

While all three of those things complicated our problem that day, the one that bothered me most was the fact that I had just disrespected my wife, and my son’s mother, right in front of his eyes and ears.

I’m sure you can understand my situation… For the last 14 years I have been intentionally teaching and training this boy of the importance of respecting girls and women in every circumstance, and had even recently corrected him for disrespecting his sister.  And in the heat of that moment, I had just undercut everything I had ever taught him… by my own bad example.

Needless to say, my heart immediately sank. I knew that I had blown it, and I had blown it bad.

In the hours that followed, I wrestled with what to do, both in response to my wife and to my son (not to mention our company still sitting in the other room).  I really felt like even though my reaction was wrong, I was still in the right.  But I quickly realized that none of that really mattered.

I knew that there was only one right thing to do – man up, swallow my pride, and ask for forgiveness.  And that’s exactly what I did. After calling my son into the kitchen later that day, I apologized to him in front of his mother for the disrespectful way that I had handled myself and treated her.  I explained to him that I was wrong. I was ashamed. I was sorry.  And that there was no excuse for my actions.

While I don’t know if my son will ever forget that day and what happened, what I do hope and pray that he never forgets is that a real man is able to admit when he’s wrong, make things right, and ask for forgiveness.

I’m the one who set the wrong example, and hopefully, I’m also the one who set it right.

Do you ever find yourself hesitant to apologize when you know you’re in the wrong?  Remember, your kids are watching you, and counting on you to get this right.

So… when should a parent apologize to their child?…

“When you’re in the wrong, and your child knows you’re in the wrong, you can’t afford to make the wrong decision.  Apologize.”

Who do you need to apologize to in your family?

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