Learning to never hide away from saying sorry
One of the things I think many—perhaps, most—of us men struggle with is saying we’re sorry. I know I find it hard. The problem stems from our innate need to always appear strong and without weakness. In some situations this serves us well; many times our families need us to be strong on their behalf.
This strength very often is a gift we as husbands and fathers can bring to our homes. When everything else can seem to be falling apart, we can be a rock solid foundation, keeping everything together. But the fact that we need to be strong for our families, and the reality that our kids need to feel a sense of security, doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for admitting weakness and saying sorry to our partner and kids when we need to.
I know for me, my reluctance to ever appear weak is what triggers my hesitation in saying sorry. Having to say I’m sorry means I messed up; it means I let someone down, or made a mistake that has impacted on my family. It means facing up to the undeniable reality that I’m not perfect. And that’s not always easy.
With my five-year-old daughter, Eloise, there are times when I know I’ve gone too far and allowed my frustration with something she’s doing—or, more specifically, something she shouldn’t be doing—to turn into angry yelling. Even mid-yelling there’s a part of me groaning inwardly that I’ve reached this point, but it’s too late and I struggle to reign myself in.
And then Eloise gives me one of two reactions. She’ll either let out this agonisingly frustrating smirk; or she’ll have a hint of fear in her eyes. Both have a horrible affect on me. The former makes me madder still; the latter makes me want to curl up in a corner and cry.
Yet even when I know I’ve let thing go much too far, I still find it difficult to apologise. Sometimes it feels like every ounce of my being is trying to resist. But I know I have to force myself to go and apologise to her. Being too proud to apologise to my own daughter is not an endearing quality.
Sometimes I do the right thing, but there are also too many occasions when I haven’t. I make excuses to myself. ‘She won’t remember.’ ‘The moment’s gone.’ ‘It wasn’t that big of a deal.’ Deep down though I know I should have said I’m sorry.
The stupid thing is that when I do actually say I’m sorry, it’s no big deal. It’s always much easier than I imagined it was going to be. And it feels good.
I want to be the kind of Dad who is big enough and humble enough to own up to the times I’m not the Dad she deserves. That means I have to never hide away from saying sorry.