How to Apologize to Your Family

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Have you ever come home from work in a bad mood and snapped at your family? Have you dumped the pressures of the day on the ones you love? Have you been mad at the boss and taken your frustrations out on your partner or children? All of us have dumped on others. We've made boo-boos. We've been thoughtless and made assumptions. We've been mad and pointed the finger. We've lost our temper and been defensive. The only way to make it right is to apologize and change our behavior to show that we mean it. Here are six ways to apologize to the ones you love.

Things You'll Need

  • A willingness to admit your mistakes
  • Apologize Quickly.
    As soon as your recognize that you've made a little or big boo-boo, apologize. It's really simple, yet really hard to do. When you make a mistake, apologize to everyone who was affected by your words and actions. Be happy for yourself that you're mature enough to admit when you've crossed over the line.

  • Don't Let Yourself Get Away.
    When you have an angry outburst, don't let yourself get away with it. If you behaved badly in front of others--your partner, your children, the neighbors, the in-laws, your friends-the right and appropriate thing to do is to apologize to everyone affected by your outburst. For example: "I yelled at your mother and that was hurtful and embarrassing to her. It was wrong of me. I have apologized to her and now I'm apologizing to you."

  • Be Specific.
    No generic "I'm sorry" allowed. It is not enough to simply state, "I'm sorry." You must identify your misbehavior and include that recognition in your apology. For example: "You're right, I said I would be home by 6, and I should have called to tell you that I'd be late."

  • Drop Defensiveness.
    Defensive postures obscure the issues, muddy the emotional water and create more distance. You may not have meant what you said; you may have been teasing, but if the other person is hurt by your words or actions, an apology truly is the appropriate gesture. "I'm sorry that I teased you about your new haircut; that was insensitive of me" is a good one.

  • Make a Goodwill Gesture.
    To complete an apology means that you repair the damage. If you kicked a hole in the wall, fix it immediately. If you said a cross word or snapped, offer to make amends by doing the dishes, making the bed or doing the laundry. Repairing the damage and making amends shows your willingness to change your behavior. A goodwill gesture shows sincere intentions.

  • Set it Straight.
    The purpose of an apology is to keep your family connections thriving. It is not about who is "right " or who is "wrong." Apologizing is a way of staying close and making sure that you and your beloveds are happily connected. When we own up to our mistakes, we admit that we are human. Your family doesn't expect perfection. You will make many mistakes, act in haste, hurt and disappoint each other. The good news is that a sincere apology is the magic ingredient that will keep your relationships strong and your family will respect you for making amends.

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