Last week my boy crossed the line and said a couple of really mean things to me. I was quite rocked by his lashing out and am expecting an apology. Looks like it might be a while.
During these days of waiting, I’ve been puzzling over his inability to offer a simple “I’m sorry.” As a mom, I can only assume I failed to convey some fundamental component of character to him. I can’t imagine that he doesn’t understand how hurt my feelings were by his words, especially since I’ve mentioned a number of times how hurt my feelings were by his words. I can only conclude that he must not know how to properly apologize.
After arriving at this conclusion, I’ve made several attempts to help him formulate an apology. My initial bid was quietly direct and went something like this: “You know I deserve and expect an apology from you, right?” Response: nothing.
I continued to treat him to my cold shoulder, a technique which I find most males struggle to get beyond, until I took another crack at it prompted by his request to host a sleepover at our house. When I refused to allow him to have a friend spend the night (using a minimum of words, of course), he asked if I would change my mind if he apologized. I told him I wasn’t negotiating with him and gave him an excerpt from Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture to
absorb read. The topic of the chapter was perfect – it was a discussion about how an insincere apology is more offensive than no apology. End result: nothing.
My most recent foray in eliciting an apology was an appeal to his adolescent need to be popular. I asked him how he thought his friends and their parents would feel about him if they knew the things he had said to me. His response: nothing.
I don’t think my son is a bad kid, nor do I think he truly thinks I am a not-too-smart-female-dog, but I do believe we’re at an impasse. I don’t often dig my heels in because I think parenting is the ultimate pick your battles kind of job, but I know this is a critical lesson he needs to learn and, for that, I’m not apologizing.
Any suggestions or similar experiences you might want to share?