I Never Force My Son to Say SORRY and THANK YOU — It Could Psychologically Traumatize Him

When it comes to parenting styles, there are numerous methodologies, each with its own advocates and proponents. Some parents believe in being strict, while others are more relaxed and focus on being gentle and understanding. Our reader Emma belongs to the second category. She wrote to Bright Side not only to share her unique parenting style but also to seek advice from other parents, as she has often encountered criticism regarding her methods of upbringing.

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Emma, 38 years old, reached out to us with a heartfelt letter, “Hello, Bright Side, I’ve always admired your platform as a reliable source where people freely express their opinions on various topics. In the past, I’ve often engaged with others’ posts on your page, offering advice and sharing my perspectives on the stories shared. Now I’m seeking opinions from your audience in the situation with my son.”

The woman started her story, saying, “My son, Georgie, is 8 years old. All my life, I knew that I wanted to have children. When I found out I was pregnant, I decided to break the cycle in my family by adopting a less adversarial style of parenting.”

Her parents’ strict upbringing affected her mental well-being.

The woman explains that such a decision stems from bitter personal experience, “Growing up under the strict rule of my parents, I’ve come to understand the consequences of such 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 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 is why I want to create a nurturing environment for my son, one that prioritizes love, respect, and open communication. So he doesn’t have to go through the same hardships as I did. But my husband does not agree with this approach in raising a child. He believes that Georgie should understand social norms and the consequences of his actions.”

Her son doesn’t give false apologies.

The mother chose to instill empathy in her son without insisting on deliberate politeness. She expresses, “One thing I’ve decided is that I will never force my child to apologize or say thank you and please. I truly believe that this approach can psychologically traumatize him.”

The mother explained her position, “When we make kids say sorry, even if they don’t really 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 grown-ups 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.”

In her letter, Emma recalls an incident that occurred recently 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 according to Emma’s letter, the kid’s mother wasn’t happy with this and asked Georgie to apologize himself, “When I said that my son is not going to apologize because it could traumatize him, she called me ’A bad and irresponsible mother’ for letting my son behave like this.”

She faces a lot of criticism from family and friends.

Emma continues her story, “This incident at the playground only escalated our argument with my husband about parenting. He insists on stricter methods, but I don’t agree with him. Some people, thinking about good parenting, might use force or even be mean to control what their child does, all to protect their own reputation. 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, and 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.”

Concluding her letter, Emma writes, “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?”

Angelina Jolie is renowned not only for her remarkable talent and philanthropic endeavors but also as a mother to many children. In this article, you’ll discover 10 unconventional family rules that Angelina follows that make her parenting style unique.

Preview photo credit Ron Lach / Pexels

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I understand the Mother's idea about forcing a child to apologise & her saying that it's a fake apology if forced. I just disagree with her not teaching her Son the basic manners of saying please & thank you. Those are not forced or fake, they should come naturally, as part of being a nice person

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Estás creando un pequeño monstruo, si no respeta las normas sociales poco a poco los demás comenzarán a excluirlo de sus grupos. Todos nosotros aprendimos a decir: "Gracias", "por favor" y "lo siento" y crecimos sanos y felices. Te recomiendo leer un poco de psicología infantil.

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Telling your child to say "I'm sorry." when he's not is telling him to lie. Failing to apologize is much more beneficial than encouraging dishonesty,

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The pendulum may be swinging too far the other way. Maybe find a happy medium, he may feel he isn’t responsible for his own actions if mom is always apologizing for him.

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