Imagine my delight when I was listening to my favorite podcast (at this point maybe we can all say it together), HomeWord with Jim Burns, and the author Gary Chapman was featured with his new book The Five Languages of Apology.
I'm sorry.Each of these expressions correlates with a specific apology language--the words that someone needs to hear in order to understand that you are really sorry. You can listen to the podcast or read the book to find out the specifics behind each of those phrases, but just as with the love languages, simply understanding that it takes different words for people to take an apology seriously has been eye-opening to me.
I was wrong.
What can I do to make it right?
I really don't want this to happen again.
Will you please forgive me?
In addition to explaining how and when to use each of the apology languages, Dr. Chapman delves into what it means to forgive (both for the one forgiving and the one who is forgiven). Unlike his love languages books, which are geared to a specific group--couples, singles, parents--Dr. Chapman says that everyone can benefit from this book. Each of us has reasons to forgive and/or ask for forgiveness on a weekly (if not a daily) basis. The relationships in which we should be using these skills include coworkers, family, friends and neighbors. There are also chapters on why some people never want to apologize and how to teach your children to forgive and ask for forgiveness.
Apologizing is one of our "house rules." I will admit that I am not always as consistent as I would like to be in my parenting, but this is something I really believe in. When I lose my cool with my kids, I apologize to them. When Kyle throws a fit, he has to apologize to me. When Amanda gets rough with Kyle and he gets hurt, whether she did it on purpose or not, she must say she's sorry. I am also trying to teach them to accept the apology and offer forgiveness.
Just yesterday Kyle showed me that he really was starting to understand--not only that it was a required step after he acts inappropriately--but what it really means to apologize. I had always used this big word, apologize, in conjunction with "Say you're sorry," but I was never sure how much he understood. He had been sent to sit on the stairs because of something he said to Amanda while we were cooking dinner together. He came back into the kitchen and said, "I want to 'gize. I want to 'gize to Amanda." He hugged her legs and said in the sweetest voice you can imagine, "Sorry. I sorry 'danda."
He got back up on his stool and continued his part of dinner preparation, crushing the tortilla chips. "Can I have a chip, Kyle?" Amanda asked. "No! My chips. Can't have them!" Kyle answered, his sweet voice replaced by the mean tone he has copied so well from his mommy.
"I guess he doesn't really understand what it means to be sorry," Amanda wryly observed.
It sounds like they need to learn to speak each other's language.