Image by Suzi Kim via Unsplash

Parenting is the foundation on which we all stand; the “a” of the alphabet of our lives. Unlike other parts of one’s waking life, parenting does take up quite a lot of space considering that it is a lifetime role, once you’re in there’s no opting out. Parents do a lot for their children; bring them into the world, give them a home, a family, cherish them and teach them literally everything from how to stand and walk on their own to how to hold a spoon eventually to more complex tasks like how to read, drive,do house chores, handle finances, even how to deal with relationships. 

Growing up, I always assumed that my parents were right no matter what; sometimes it didn’t even count that they had clearly fallen short, I just simply knew it for a fact that at the end of the day, between me and them, if anyone was going to be “right”, it was obviously my parents. It goes without saying that in such an atmosphere where the child is most likely to be in the wrong, the adults are seldom inclined to apologize to younger ones when they are the ones at fault. All things considered, both parents and children make mistakes, however, parents are more likely to steer clear of having to apologize to their children. So, the question stands, are parents obliged to apologize to their children?

Apologies seem rather obvious when you think of the fact that it’s actually basic social etiquette to acknowledge our blunders regardless of whom you’ve offended, nevertheless, in a family setting, especially between parents and their children, the topic of apologies becomes somewhat daunting. This can be traced to a cultural element where parents are seen as supreme beings and their children do not have any power whatsoever to take issue with their behavior. Under the influence of the cultural norms, other reasons that contribute to why parents might not apologize to their children also arise. These include;  parents’ fear of showing their vulnerability, the assumption that apologizing to your child might come off as a display of weakness, the need to ascertain “who is in charge” to mention but a few. While these are all seemingly explainable reasons for why most parents get away with never admitting that they’re at fault, none of them are worth the impact of a much-needed apology, because as we all know it, a parent-child relationship is more about love, compassion and respect than it is about power. Thus, an apology - a parent admitting their mistakes can fix so much. 

Values like empathy and sensitivity to the needs of others particularly in the sense of acknowledging actions when one’s in wrong regardless of whether it was towards a child, an acquaintance, or even a stranger, are the fruits of a seed sown from the beginning; a virtue groomed at home. Children learning this virtue right from their parents can go a very long way; it teaches them that between holding on to pride and holding yourself accountable, always choose the latter. 

I read somewhere that “apologizing to your child is an act of love”. I think this sums up why parents apologizing to their children is as important as all other ways parents express their affection for their children. 

Written by Leon Inksmitten