Friday, May 16, 2014

Don't say Sorry - Just Don't Do it.

The Headlines:

Words can mean nothing.  

Actions often speak more.

So in my house we have a saying.

Kids do things wrong.  If you have children, you already know that.  If you don't… I suspect you too are aware of that fact too.  But somewhere around, I don't know, age 2 or 3, when kids do something wrong they have been taught - by parents, teachers and care givers everywhere - to say… "sorry".  They think if they say that one little word… it will get them off the hook for whatever they did.  Hit someone: sorry.  Dump sugar out of a canister that was sitting on the counter:  sorry.  Ride a bike through the neighbors beautiful flower bed: sorry.  Go #2 in his pants because he didn't want to stop playing:  sorry.  Thank God most of those things didn't happen to me… but all real possibilities!   Yes, it was about that time when we started a saying here in our house:

"Don't say sorry, just don't do it."

It began with my daughter, when I grew incredibly tired of hearing the "I'm sorry" accompanied by the long, sad face and sometimes tears, over something that was clearly wrong to do.  She knew it was wrong.  She did it anyways.  Then she was genuinely sorry.   Or was she?  Maybe she had just learned the code word for getting off the hook.  I decided to teach her, through one phrase… just because you say you're sorry doesn't mean everything's okay.  I would rather they think about the behavior and stop it before hand.  Then, sorry isn't necessary.

I know what you're thinking... she was 3 years old.  A lesson somewhat lost on that age but a lesson that needs to be taught nonetheless.  In fact, perhaps not enough of us ever learned this… which has made us worse off as adults.  So why not start young?  How many times have you done something, as an adult, you wished you could take back?  I want to try to instill in my children that the actions they take speak miles - but the words, while powerful, can sometimes fall flat.

I have a friend whose currently going through a rough time in her marriage.  Her husband has done awful things which include, but are not limited to his psychological issues, abuse and affairs.  He has said sorry for many years.  He has made the sad face, cried, confessed and promised up and down.  But in the end, sorry wasn't enough. The words no longer held any weight but his actions were screaming very loudly.  She could no longer stand for it.  She and her children deserved more.  She has decided to leave him.  In the end, sorry did nothing.

These days, when my 3 year old son does something wrong, the big lip goes down and the tears start flowing… it is truly the saddest face you've ever seen… see below?  It gets even better than that too!

He woefully cries "I'm sorry mama… I'm waaaaay sorry!"  and, sometimes, most times, I calmly reply "don't say sorry…" while my daughter finishes…"JUST DON'T DO IT!"

It's a lesson that will take a lifetime to learn.

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