The Power of Apology

by geoffrey, November 19, 2013 Communicating With Your Teenager, Headlines, Radical, Relate 2


I know that most parents don’t make mistakes. When confronted with issues from their teenagers they always respond lovingly, full of grace, and exuding kindness. Their teenager comes home two hours late and their excuse is “My phone died,” and they respond with, “what can I do to help you achieve the curfew goal next time?”

However, that’s not always me. The hard truth is that sometimes I respond out of frustration. Sometimes my humanity overtakes my graciousness and I respond to my kid out of anger. I may raise my voice. I may say something condescending. I may roll my eyes.

Guess what? I am not the only one. The reality is that as parents who are born on this earth, we were born sinful and selfish. Therefore, there are times we may do or say something we regret. Whenever we respond to our teens incorrectly or sinfully, we are offered a unique opportunity to model for them the power of an apology.

Something happens in our kids whenever we are willing to admit we aren’t perfect. There is a power we impart to them when we sit across from them and say “I made a mistake and I am sorry.” When we apologize to our kids for mistakes that we make we release them from the bondage of perfection. Teenagers would never verbally admit that they look up to their parents, but they do. Constantly. They are always observing how we respond to things, decisions we make, and how we treat people. The way that we as parents treat people demonstrates for our teenagers how they can treat people.  How many times have you responded to a salesperson or drive through employee harshly, only to hear your teenager use the same rhetoric later?

Whenever we apologize to our teens, we model for them maturity, respect, boldness, humility, etc. Those are characteristics we all desire for our teenagers to have. If, as a parent, we are too arrogant to apologize for our own stupidity, then how in the world can we expect our teenagers to apologize for theirs?

Apologizing when we’re wrong doesn’t just model important human characteristics for our teenagers, it also provides an important reminder for our kids we as parents desire for them to always know. We are FOR them. We are on their side. We aren’t dictatorial know-it-alls. Every parent has the desire for a close relationship with his or her teen(s). As a Radical Parent, we can’t just stand idly by and be “friends” with our kids while watching them make moronic mistake after moronic mistake. If our teenagers could always know, or be reminded, that even when they disagree with our decisions we are on their side, it will drastically change our relationship with them. One major way we can foster that type of relationship is by not only parenting them through their mistakes, but also being willing to admit when we make them too.

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About the Author

Geoffrey is a Youth Pastor in Abilene, TX. He enjoys writing, baseball, reading, and traveling. He is married to Sarah and they have an almost three your old daughter Berkley Grace and a newborn daughter Ellie Katherine.


  1. Andy Wood says: November 20, 2013

    So true! You are absolutely right! I don’t make mistakes!

    (Just kidding).

    It seems that the generation prior to mine saw apologies as a form of weakness. That’s why I vowed that when I had kids of my own, when I screwed up, I would own up, and for the most part, I think I have. (There’s this one incident that apparently the whole family views as quasi-abusive on my part… I’m holding out on that one. But I digress…)

    What I have observed, however, and I’d like to know your thoughts on the matter, is that for some parents apologizing IS a form of weakness because, well, their entire approach to parenting is a form of weakness. These are the parents who do a lot of hand-wringing and worrying about perfect parenting and how their kids will turn out and how it’s already their fault but the kid’s only 3 years old and all that. So their apologies come from the same kind perspective. They say to the kid, in essence, “I want you to like me and need you to approve of me, so please forgive me for making the colossal mistake of correcting you out loud when you were burning down the house.” (I’m on lots of medicine right now and I hope that makes sense.)

    Anyway, apologizing from a position of strength is a completely different matter. There we set aside our authority and our strength (kinda sounds like Philippians 2:5, etc.) and make ourselves servants of our children by acknowledging our weakness or failure. That, in my view, is the kind of transparency and humility that earns the respect of our adult children. What do you think?

  2. Joan Dean says: November 22, 2013

    This is a wonderful article. If only parents would do this, I believe it would change the
    direction of many a kid.

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