Sorry I’m Sorry

The Dorky Daddy recently posted a heartfelt admission of an issue that he deals with, which is so admirable and awesome since a lot of guys don’t admit to it. I felt it was important to reiterate that it’s actually an issue for the whole family. Namely, I do it, too.


We’re uncontrollable apologizers. And we’re officially sorry about it.

You’ll see on his post the moment that the truth hit us, but let’s just say that our unnecessary apologizing has been passed on to our 2-year-old son. Yup. Show any sign of distress, and he immediately starts faux crying while saying “I sowwy, Mama. Sowwy, Mama.”

Lose something. “Sowwy, Mama!”

Spill something. “I sowwy, Mama! So sowwy!!”

Punish over something. “Sowwy!!” (Okay, that last one is awesome, but he doesn’t know to say “sorry” for doing something wrong; just because we’re upset.)

Some might say it’s not a big deal, or that it’s not a bad problem to have an apologetic kid.

To that I say, well, keep it to yourself. (Yeah. I went there.) You get to feel what’s best or worse for your kids. We get to use our (in this case shared) intuition to decide that this is a problem for us. He’s no off-the-wall, drug-abusing kid, of course, so it is all relative…but it still concerns us. And the fact that our apologetic ways allow people to discredit our feelings is something I’d rather Hadley not have to deal with, too.

Sorry for the blunt moment, but it was needed.

Wait. No. I’m not sorry. God, this is so damn difficult.

Taking the energy down for a moment *turns dial* let’s address the reasons that apologizing can be a negative thing. List time:

* Sometimes…just once in awhile…it’s a manifestation of passive aggressiveness. We all have frustrations on a daily basis. At work. At the grocery store. (I can’t COUNT how many times in one trip I’ll apologize to people at Hannaford for something I didn’t do.) Out clothes shopping. Heck, at home with your partner. If someone ticks you off, be it in a big or small way, sometimes “sorry” pops out when you’re actually upset about something…and aren’t REALLY sorry.

And, I’ll admit. When someone walks in my way or steals the spot in line or takes advantage of me at work…I will passive aggressively say, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” *raises hand* I do it. It’s been done.

* Insincere or overused apologies lose their meaning. The more you say “sorry”, the less you really mean it. The more I hear Dave say it, it simply blends into the conversation. Sure, it’s a word of kindness (usually), but we need to learn how to use our TONE of LANGUAGE to display our kindness rather than jumping around the kitchen apologizing for tripping over each other. 

* Apologizing without thought gives the other person the upper hand. Totally. I tend to apologize as a kindness tactic — regularly saying “Oops! So sorry you caught me eating my lunch. Sorry! What’s up?” Seriously. They interrupted MY lunchtime (which I was trying to get work done during) and I’m hoping, at the very least, to receive an acknowledgement that I’m being put out a bit before dropping my sandwich and helping them out.

Instead, I’ve often found that the person disregards it completely and continues on, like a bulldozer, with whatever their own needs are. My confidence issues ain’t gettin’ any better with crap like that goin’ down. It is what it is, and it’s not great.

So, yeah. There’s more, but that’s the general idea of the thing. Our goal is to raise a happy, healthy, kind, intelligent, confident young man. Part of confidence is being comfortable with yourself and knowing how to act in situations. Regardless of how we appear, Dave and I both have confidence and self-esteem issues. The last thing we want is to pass these on to our beautiful little man. Last thing.

Dave is doing great at trying to identify when “sorry!” is an acceptable response and when it’s probably not the best go-to. He’s not phasing it out completely; that’s not the point. It’s knowing when to say it and when it’s not necessary. That’s all.

I, actually, already started working on my sorryisms at work last year. It. Was. Hard. There was definitely a bit of acting needed to help me learn how to not get plowed over (I also used the sorries as a way to be kind, which often got me screwed over). And, y’know what? It kinda worked. There are still people who are just always going to be hard nuts to crack (which is fine), and I learned which people respect some confidence and some boundaries.

I didn’t start implementing it in other parts of my life. I didn’t think it seemed necessary. But, now it seems it is.

Here are a few of the ways that we’ve been addressing the issue:

* I’ve been talking to Hadley in a low-key, “it’s not a big deal” sort of way when he says it. We talk briefly about why he said it, and usually why it’s not needed. If it IS needed, I’ll say something like, “It was good of you to say you were sorry. When you *did such-and-such naughty act*, you were making bad choices and hurting our feelings, so it was a good thing to say ‘sorry’ about.” Or whatevs. I’ve seen a quick decrease in his use of the word. Sometimes a quick one or two sentence chat gets into his smart little brain better than a super big lecture or hitting him over the head with it.

* We’re not doing anything like a “Sorry Jar” or anything so drastic. Sometimes an apology is totally warranted, especially in marriage or in the day-to-day. But, we’ll gently remind each other, “Honey, you said ‘sorry’ and it’s totally cool, you didn’t do anything wrong.” While Dave likens it to quitting smoking (it’s definitely a habit), it’s not the sort of thing you need to kick yourself over when you accidentally let one slip. Sorry happens. It’s a process.

* If I’m truly sorry for something, I state why. I like to use “I’m sorry because…” any time I’m actually admitting a mistake or a poor wording or any number of reasons. Self realization is where it’s at. It also makes the apology carry so much more weight. It gives “sorry” back its importance.

* We’re having issues, but working on finding replacements for “sorry.” It’s difficult because there’s a sweetness attached to it that nothing can match. Again, it all depends on the situation. Sometimes it’s best just to cut it out. Other times, say someone’s having a bad day, just responding “Dude, that sucks” doesn’t show enough empathy. So, we’re feeling it out. Saying “I’m sorry your day is so terrible” might just have to be a replacement for the time being.

And just because I prefer to end on a positive note, and I hate that I was super harsh at the beginning of the post (I’m not sorry, but I don’t want it to be taken the wrong way), here are some of the awesome things about “sorry”:

* Sorry can melt your heart when it’s said at the right time…especially by someone who’s admitting a wrong or who happens to be an adorable 2-year-old who seems to be connecting to you while saying it.

* Sorry can hold so much power, when used sparingly. When you truly make a mistake and can own up to it (the hardest part), saying “I’m truly sorry” and owning the problem, then finding a way to fix it, it can earn you respect. Or not. But maybe!

Care to add anymore positive things about “I’m sorry”?

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