For today’s Hot Tip Friday, we want to share the 5 A’s of Apology. Last night it was Jody’s daughter’s birthday, and we spent the evening at her house. While we there, my 10 year old son, Seth, did something that deeply upset the birthday girl, Sydney.
After Jody called this morning to share it with me, I sat down with Seth to talk about it. He realized that he had been wrong and that he needed to apologize. So, I took the time to go over the 5 A’s of Apology with him again. After that, we also talked about the importance of communicating in a person’s love language.
Sydney’s love languages are affection and gifts. Clearly, he can’t be too affection (inappropriate for a 10 year old boy and 13 year old girl, of course), so that leaves gifts. After we talked through the best way to speak his apology (based on the 5 A’s), he made her a card using her favorite color paper.
On our way to meet her, we’re going to take Seth to pick out a small gift for Sydney. Then, he can pull her aside, speak a thorough and genuine apology and then present his token of apology.
Next week, we’ll share the Four Promises of Forgiveness. But for now, here are the 5 A’s of Apology.
The 5 A’s of Apology
A true apology is an expression of one’s regret, remorse, or sorrow for having wronged another. The apology is a critical part of genuine conflict resolution and restoration.
Admit You Were Wrong
The first step is to verbally agree with the person (and God) that the actions were wrong and explain how they were wrong. “I touched your things without your permission and made a mess in your room, even after you asked me not to. It made you feel like I didn’t care about you, and that was very wrong.”
The next step is a sincere statement of apology, which includes a complete statement of what the person is apologizing for. “I am sorry that I disrespected your belongs and dishonored you by ignoring your requests to stop.”
Often, an apology is weakened by a subtle shift of blame. “I am sorry, but I wasn’t the only one doing it.” Excuses can also weaken the apology. “I know I shouldn’t have gone through your things, but I was looking for something.”
Sometimes a person will try to find something redeeming in their behavior in order to relieve some of the burden of responsibility. “I should not have been playing in your jewelry box, but I DID put everything back when I was done.”
As parents, we need to make sure we are not causing our children to stumble on this one. It’s tempting to think, “Well, it was wrong, but he was just following along with the other kids were doing.” Accepting full responsibility is a critical part of the apology, and it’s an important step in building restoration.
Ask For Forgiveness
It’s humbling to ask for forgiveness, but it’s an important part of the process. “Will you please forgive me?”
Alter Your Behavior
An apology seems empty when the person makes the same mistake again and again. This is the repentance part of apology. Repentance means turning in the other direction. After a person apologizes, he should be thinking of steps to change his behavior in the future, and he should communicate those steps.
To help with this one, Jody and I put some new guidelines in place when the kids are playing to help set them up for future success.