The Best Apology Ever

How do you stand on the matter of apologies? Are apologies your strength? A sore spot? A foreign concept? From my viewpoint as a veteran therapist, apologies are a necessary part of every relationship skill set. Furthermore, being either unapologetic or unforgiving creates a weakness in your connection to others. Can you remember receiving an apology which absolutely hit the mark? The best apology I have ever received was from one of my 4-year old granddaughters.  

It was a Friday in February. My husband and I had the privilege of hosting our three youngest granddaughters for the day---two were four-and-a-half and the youngest was three. They are delightful little people who bring us great joy. On this particular day, however, their interaction with each other resulted in an abundance of tattle-taling and non-violent territorial squabbles. They were a handful. Even making blue cupcakes with them lacked its customary luster. The day was more gate keeping and less enjoyable than normal. Grampa and I handed out multiple re-directions with admittedly shaky patience, but with ample demonstrations of love. 

The next day, one of the “older” granddaughters phoned me at 7:30 in the morning. “Gramma, I just called to tell you I am sorry for not listening to you yesterday” was her opening line. The next 12 minutes were filled with her spontaneous litany of the details of her various infractions. I interjected with brief validations and acceptance of her apologetic purpose. “And I am sorry that I did not invite my sister to dinner and let her sit with us at the table”—referring to the make-believe meal the three of them had prepared (using with the same plastic food her Mom had played with as a child). On that misstep, her cousin came to me and “ratted” her out in defense of the youngest girl. 

Later that day, I called my daughter and learned that this emotionally intelligent child had borrowed the cell phone from her parents’ night stand. Her Mom was groggily aware her child had taken it and but had only heard snippets of our conversation. I filled her in.  I discovered that there had been no “coaching” from my daughter, who was as surprised as I was about the apology and the call.  The conversation with my granddaughter had touched me to tears with its sincerity, innocence, and natural flow. Near the end, the little darling charmed a smile from me when out of the mouth of this babe came, “I love you. And Gramma, could you please give us another chance and have all of us over together again? That’s all I have to say.” 

There are five basic elements to a “best” apology and she---at the wise age of only 4--- had covered them all.

  1. Expressing remorse sincerely without excuses.
  2. Noting the specific deeds for which she was sorry.
  3. Speaking in a natural and unscripted manner.
  4. Giving the apology in a timely fashion.
  5. Demonstrating a desire to repair and strengthen the relationship.
  6. Bonus: being emotionally aware enough to offer an apology without being asked or told to do so. 

I will never again think about apologies as being difficult to offer. After all, if a four year can do such a beautiful job of it, so can any adult


 **NOTE: This blog is for entertainment and information purposes only. None of the Dr. Coach Love's Blog articles are intended to diagnose/treat any illness or substitute for professional services of any kind such as medical, mental health, spiritual, legal, financial, or other. Please seek any professional assistance as appropriate for you.

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