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'Sorry' Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Nobody likes to apologize. It's embarrassing. We feel ashamed, sad, foolish. It's tough to get those words out, even if they're the only way to move beyond the wreckage of a parent-teen conflict and start healing.

Why is that difficulty multiplied when we need to apologize to our own kids? See whether any of these reasons might apply to you.

1. Until now, your child has looked up to you. Asking forgiveness is an admission that you're not perfect – which implies that maybe you don't always make the best choices as a parent. You're afraid this will cause your teen to doubt all your decisions, or to find further excuse to defy you.

2. It can be humiliating to admit you're wrong. It feels like assigning yourself to the penalty box. The truth is that it takes strength to acknowledge your faults, and can help your teen relate to you as a fellow mistake-maker – but it's not much fun.

3. You want to model perfection so your teen will strive for a higher goal. Unfortunately, models of perfection discourage kids who feel like they're constantly messing up. If they can't be perfect, why try at all?

4. You fear that if you admit you're flawed, your teen won't respect you anymore. Actually, the opposite is true. Kids say they respect their parents more when they apologize.

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Adapted from Sticking With Your Teen: How to Keep From Coming Unglued No Matter What, published by Focus on the Family. Copyright © 2006 by Joe White. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Next in this Series: Why Apologize?