I Choose Not to Make My Son Say "Sorry" and "Thank You" Because It Could Traumatize Him

Family & kids
3 weeks ago

When it comes to parenting, there are many different styles, each with its supporters. Some parents believe in being strict, while others are more relaxed and focus on being gentle and understanding. Emma, one of our readers, belongs to the second category. She wrote to Bright Side to share her unique parenting style and to seek advice, as she often faces criticism for her methods.

Emma decided to break the cycle in her family. At 38 years old, she reached out to us with a heartfelt letter:

“Hello, Bright Side, I’ve always admired your platform as a place where people can freely express their opinions. In the past, I’ve often engaged with others’ posts, offering advice and sharing my perspectives. Now, I’m seeking opinions from your audience about my situation with my son.”

Emma began her story by saying, “My son, Georgie, is 8 years old. All my life, I knew I wanted children. When I found out I was pregnant, I decided to adopt a less adversarial style of parenting.”

The parenting style she chose was affected by her childhood.

Her decision came from a bitter personal experience. “Growing up under my parents’ strict rules, I understood the consequences of an authoritarian upbringing. It wasn’t just tough for me; it affected everyone in our household. The constant pressure led to anxiety, and my self-esteem suffered. My relationships with my parents were strained.”

“It took me years to realize the toll this environment had on my mental well-being. But as I grew older, I made a conscious effort to confront these challenges. It’s important to find a balance between discipline and understanding in raising children. That’s why I want to create a nurturing environment for my son, one that prioritizes love, respect, and open communication. I don’t want him to go through the same hardships I did. However, my husband disagrees with this approach. He believes that Georgie should understand social norms and the consequences of his actions.”

Emma decided not to force her son to give false apologies.

She explained, “I will never force my child to apologize or say thank you and please. I believe this approach can psychologically traumatize him.”

“When we make kids say sorry, even if they don’t mean it, we’re teaching them to be fake. Your child might not genuinely feel sorry for what they did, and that’s alright. It takes time for kids to learn empathy and realize how their actions affect others. Forced apologies teach kids that other people’s feelings matter more than their own. Sometimes, when we argue or have a problem, we need time to calm down and think about what we did wrong. This thinking helps us see our part in the problem and admit our mistakes. When we rush to make kids say sorry, we don’t give them this time to think. We also tell them to ignore how they feel and only focus on the other person. This might lead to adults who always try to please others, struggle to speak up for themselves, and don’t know how to get what they need. That’s why Georgie doesn’t give false apologies.

Emma recalled an incident at the playground: “When Georgie pushed another kid at the playground, instead of forcing him to apologize, I came to this kid and apologized myself instead. I believe that Georgie would watch my example and learn acceptable behavior in that situation. But the kid’s mother wasn’t happy and asked Georgie to apologize himself. When I explained my reasoning, she called me a bad and irresponsible mother.’”

She faces a lot of criticism from family and friends.

Emma faces a lot of criticism from family and friends. “The playground incident escalated our argument at home. My husband insists on stricter methods, but I don’t agree. Some people use force or meanness to control their child’s behavior, thinking it’s good parenting. They might do this because they feel unsure or scared. I want to be a friend to my son, help him understand his emotions, and navigate life together. This way of relating helps the child learn about freedom and responsibility and how they affect others. I don’t ignore my authority; I just don’t consider myself superior to my son. Georgie and I already share a strong bond. If I feel overwhelmed, I’ll explain to him that I need some time alone. Now that he’s learning from me, he’ll let me know if he needs space.”

Emma concluded her letter with a plea for advice: “Despite always having confidence in my parenting methods and seeing positive results, constant criticism from my husband and other parents has made me question my decisions. I hope your audience can give me some advice. What do you think about this?”

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Preview photo credit Keira Burton / Pexels

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What happened before the incident?Did he push the child to be mean?? Or on accident?
Your a good mom and don't believe different.

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