While our mothers may often be our biggest fans, willing to forgive us for many wrongs, it is still important to be able to acknowledge when you feel you've done something and to offer an apology. Apologizing to your mother can be simultaneously easier and harder than apologizing to anyone else in your life. It can be easier because often you know in advance that your mom will forgive you, yet it can also be harder because it can be painful to admit that we have done something to hurt someone so important or to acknowledge that we have disappointed our mothers in some way. If you have done something that requires an apology to your mom, here are some ways to help you make your apology both effective and sincere.
"Mom, I'm Sorry"
Tell your mom that you are sorry and be specific about what you are sorry for. A flippant apology that simply dismisses the situation with a quick "I'm sorry" is neither sincere, nor effective. To truly express remorse for what you have done, you need to explicitly state what you are sorry for along with a statement of remorse. Try to avoid getting sidetracked by excuses or explanations, as these will only weaken your apology.
Ask your mother to forgive you. Of all the people on the planet, your mom is the most likely to feel unconditional love for you and to offer you their forgiveness. Nonetheless, it is still important to specifically ask for forgiveness. By formally asking your mother for forgiveness you are letting her know that you value your relationship with her and that it is important to you that your relationship be harmonious. Thus, asking for forgiveness can sometimes be less about you personally being forgiven and much more about mending the relationship that has been damaged.
Empathize with your mother and consider how your actions have made her feel. If you can understand how your mother is feeling as a result of whatever you have done, this will help you to provide a sincere and meaningful apology. Acknowledge and validate your mother's feelings by letting her know that you understand the impact your actions may have had on her. Avoid criticizing or judging your mother's feelings. For example, perhaps you think that she has been too sensitive or has over-reacted. Avoid mentioning these thoughts in your apology, and instead, validate her feelings, whatever they may be. By validating your mother's feelings, you give her the freedom to openly express her feelings without fear of judgment and you create an atmosphere that is conducive to healing.
Offer to make up for what you have done. Ask your mother if there is anything you can do to remedy the situation and be open to doing what she asks of you. If you are offering to make something right, try to offer a compensation that is related to what you have done. For example, if you forgot to pick something up and consequently your mother was unable to complete an important task, offer to immediately complete the errand and set things right. The more closely related your offer of amends is to the actual offence, the more likely your mom will feel that it is a sincere offer of apology and reconciliation.
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- If you find it too hard to apologize to your mother face to face, consider writing her an apology.
- Sometimes, when people are very hurt or upset, an apology that is offered too soon can seem flippant or insincere. Balance the severity of the offense with the speed with which you offer an apology. Be sure to have truly considered what you have done, why it was upsetting and how it has made your mother feel before beginning your apology.
Karen L. Blair has been professionally writing since 2001. Her work has been published in academic journals such as the "Journal of Sex Research," "Journal of Social and Personal Relationships" and "Psychology & Sexuality." Blair received her M.Sc. in psychology at Acadia University and her Ph.D. in social psychology at Queen's University. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow and research consultant.