Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I Will Not Apologize

She apologized for asking me if she should have taken gym clothes to school.  When I said she didn’t need them, she apologized again for asking.  She doesn’t like how I did her hair – I’m sorry.  She forgets to change the cat litter – I’m sorry.  She doesn’t want a sip of the smoothie I made – I’m sorry.

My daughter, Miss I’m Sorry.

It’s a behavior – a knee-jerk reaction – that we're working on.  “No reason to say you’re sorry – you didn’t do anything wrong” is my mantra.  “I hate disappointing people,” she says.  “I want you to know that I’m sorry for doing it.” 

No one is disappointed in you for being you, for asking questions, for failing and for succeeding.  We are all just living our lives, I say.  No one needs to apologize for that.

I confess that she gets it honestly.  Until recently I apologized in advance for things, even if I didn’t do anything wrong.  “I’m sorry for thinking this” “I’m sorry I don't agree” “I’m sorry you don’t understand me.”  Kids see and hear everything, and they are amazing mimics.

In comparison, my son has a healthy handle on apologies.  He apologizes only when he has clearly committed some offense.  When he realizes he has done something wrong, he’s sorry.  On the other end of the spectrum, my husband almost never apologizes except after a long drawn out discussion that I need to initiate, at the end of which I have to feed him the words:  This-is-where-you-say-you’re-sorry.

After a while I got tired of saying I’m sorry.  I didn’t really feel sorry.  I used the phrase as a catch-all for another person’s anticipated negative feelings.  My apologies were usually wasted – most of the time the other person didn’t even feel bad about any perceived transgression of mine.  I projected my feelings onto others, especially the low regard I had for myself in situations where I wasn’t on my best behavior.

It made me feel worse over time.

So I stopped saying it.  I adopted different patterns, and took on my son’s clear boundaries for apology.  Did I do something wrong?  I'll apologize for that, but nothing else.

I will not apologize after saying something that you don’t want to hear. 

I will not apologize for having a different opinion than you.

I will not apologize for insisting on table manners and please and thank you.

I won’t apologize for my ignorance on a subject I’ve never thought about before.  

I will not apologize for not laughing at a joke I don’t think is funny. 

I won’t apologize for staying home when everyone else wants to go out,
for watching a TV show that no one else likes,
for my music preferences,
for my political beliefs,
for saying no,
for saying yes,
for participating,
for abstaining,
for using a big word that you don’t know.

Look. It. Up.

There is no I’m sorry for being me.

I hope that my daughter learns this soon.



  1. Love this, Andrea. A friend recently told me something that another friend told her - Never excuse, never defend. I think apologies work in nicely there. I felt terrible one time when I felt I couldn't possibly take on a volunteer job for a club I was in, like I had to justify why I couldn't do it. I apologized profusely, then allowed myself to feel guilted into it (they did nothing to guilt me - that was all me). I wish I'd had clearer boundaries then.

    1. Thanks, Leigh Ann. I'm sure your experience paved the way for clearer boundaries now! We only make certain mistakes once. There's a fine line between saying "I won't apologize" and "I don't care what you think" and it's hard to tell which side we fall on. I hoped this post didn't come across that way. I believe in being sensitive to others, but not at the expense of our own self-worth.

  2. AMEN.
    I used to be a repeat apologizer.
    No more.

  3. I have a friend who does the "I'm sorry" thing ALL the time and I tell her, stop it! You do not have to be sorry for answering the phone! LOL! Also, can't help but think of Justin Bieber after reading this post. ;-p

    1. You're a good friend. It sort of alarms me when people apologize for nothing.

      I'm going out on a limb here to say that I am glad that Justin Bieber is back, because every one of his new songs is my new jam. I don't even care what that means to conscientious objectors of the Biebs.

  4. I admit that I have a tendency to apologize a lot. I'm Canadian, right? It's practically a national obligation. (Like Elaine says, even the Biebs sings that he's sorry.) BUT, I do agree with everything you say. We absolutely should apologize for the things for which we are responsible. But we aren't responsible for everything.

    1. I have heard that about Canadians - you guys are just so polite and even tempered and chill. :) You are so right! A person can't take the blame for everything. Maybe if everyone is saying sorry, then it doesn't sting so hard when you are the one saying sorry all the time.

  5. My son has problems with this - the saying I'm sorry for no reason. And he acts like I'm going to beat him or something. Do I look like someone who's going to beat her kid? (Don't answer that). ;-) But he gets it from me. Sigh.

    1. It does make you feel wicked, like your child has a reason for apologizing for nothing. It's a habit for sure. One that mine definitely learned from me, too. Joining you in your sigh.

  6. Oh, wow. This is really good. I needed to hear this. This is so healthy that you teach her this! Good stuff!

    1. I hope it sinks in for her. And I'm glad that this helped you, too.