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You can apologise and still be in control

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“The two children had just come back from school, siblings- boy and girl. Their mother works in a government establishment while their father runs a small-scale business. His nature of work enables him to have them with him when they return from school. They play together all the time because there were no other children around there. But their play is many times stressful to watch as complained by their father’s neighbour.

“When you hit your seven-year-old sister in the name of play and she howls with pain, would an eight-year-old boy not learn to be gentle next time?” the neighbour says with concern.

“The girl was playing quietly by herself when her brother sneaked up, spread his hand and hit her on the head. The way he did it, his hands reached her forehead and the upper eye. I stared with mouth agape, as the girl cried with pain.”

“When we told the father to warn the boy for the umpteenth time, he looked at the girl and hissed ‘serves you right’.
“What lessons is he giving that girl?”

Case number Two: “This widow who is a mother of four desires to raise her children in a wholesome way, many times, though, their neighbours say, her second son appears to be desperate to go on his chosen ways- an attitude the widow does not agree is good for a 12-year-old boy. Most of the time, she did not spare the rod at the least accusation that the lad had done wrong.

“Why are you so severe with this boy?” we ask her all the time. “He does not hear,” is her answer all the time even when she knows that the boy may be innocent.

“It is the type of thing he would do,” she would fire back

“And when it turns out that the boy was innocent of the offence his mother had beaten him for, she would grit her teeth and match around to show the boy that she was ready to punish him the more if he makes any “fim” sound.

“The boy is just the average child, curious and friendly, but I think that his boisterousness proves too much sometimes for his struggling mother. But I had to scold the mother on the day the boy broke his arm. When they came to inform her, she stared at them. According to her, she had warned him to stop playing with those particular boys, but he would not listen to her.

“Her way of driving her point home was not to move from her home until ‘those people who had caused the accident had taken him to the hospital.”

Now, when a parent squares up against her child who is still so young to understand the full meaning of his actions or why he should be punished for it, when such parent does the correction so much as to cause a hurt, she has done as badly herself, you know. That is our position here. That is why some children grow very stubborn because they think that their parents would still punish them whether they are at fault or not.

These two sets of parents are not the only ones to offend children in the name of discipline. But worse is that they refuse to accept that what they did was wrong. To their minds, a parent could never do wrong against his child. Instead of apologizing, therefore, they want to punish them more; think of this saying of the elders, ‘beating a child and robbing her of her tears’.

Of course, you do feel awful when you punish too much and worse when it was unfair because he did not do it. Be bold enough, therefore, to admit your mistake and apologise to the child. Don’t think that she will take you for granted because your apology makes you appear weak to your children.

You may also think like many of us that a child forgets his anger rapidly and would go back to playing within minutes of feeling hurt by somebody.

But you may not be teaching the right lessons and with time the child may think that you do not care for her. This is not the right ground to raise happy and trusting children.

So might it not be easier to just own up to say that you were wrong and too harsh in punishment; it could still be easier to maintain the authority as the one who knows a lot of things concerning them and the home.

How to say sorry and not lose face
Wait until he is drying his tears and looking longingly at his mates playing football then you can approach and help him to dry his eyes. Then confess your sin;

“I made a mistake punishing for what you did not do,” “I should not have been too harsh.” “I should have asked questions before I punished you, so I want to say that I am sorry.”

Be firm and make him to understand that you apologised for a wrong judgment and being too strict. But do not make it be understood that they are free to misbehave and get away with it.

If your child is on the war-path, stay calm, do not try to beat him to order. This may be the moment he is able to utter that, “Mummy is always beating me for what I did not do.”

Smile to make him see that you understand why he feels hurt. But even as you apologise, watch out for those things that make you want to beat the daylight out of your son; he may want to interpret it as a sign of weakness and may try to take advantage and ask for the wrong favours. You may feel in the mood to give a little treat, but put your feet down, those things which are forbidden him remain in force.

The grounds of your apology should be that you made a mistake; maintain that anybody who makes a mistake should apologise for the error. When you make apologies, they learn how to make corrections when they err themselves. Your children pay attention to what you show that you are not ashamed to make mistakes and then put things right again. You show them that honesty is important around the home.


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Ozo Mordi

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