Raising a teenager is no walk in the park. They’re always moody, angry or irritable, and they may even start acting out or talking back and arguing with you. It can put a real strain on your relationship.
The truth of the matter is that you’re going to argue with your teen. It’s a normal part of the process of them growing up. They’re going to resist you and may even try to rebel against the rules and boundaries you have within your home.
However, arguments and disagreements can get heated, and you may find frustrations building until you snap. You could accidentally say something really hurtful or unkind to your teenager in the heat of the moment, and then immediately regret it after.
So why do we say such hurtful things, and how should you apologize and make amends with your teenager afterwards?
Why Do We Say Hurtful Things?
Sometimes, we may say hurtful things that we don’t really mean in an argument. This is largely due to the fact we’re angry, frustrated and lashing out. But why do we say such things to the ones we love?
Well, for the most part, it is because we fear disconnection from that person. We are worried that we’re drifting apart, and losing that connection. So, saying something hurtful makes it easier to lose that person.
Other reasons may be because we’re at a loss for words, and don’t know what to say. In many cases, saying hurtful things in an argument is simply an emotional reaction.
You may say something without realizing the impact of your words or without thinking it through in the heat of the argument.
You may also say hurtful things as it is a trauma response- it’s what you know and how you’re used to dealing with relationships from how you were raised as a child yourself. You don’t mean to be hurtful, it just comes out. So, how can you apologize?
It’s Not Just About Saying Sorry
When it comes to making up for what you said, it’s not just about saying sorry and moving on. That will not fully repair the damage or repair your relationship with your teenager.
You may have really hurt their feelings with what you said, and you’ll have to do more than just say ‘I’m sorry’.
Try and put yourself in their shoes, would you want them to just apologize half heartedly if they hurt you? No, you’d want them to understand your feelings, and really mean what they say.
You may need to also give them some space. Let things cool off, even if it takes a few days. Then, think about having a conversation with them.
So, first you need to recognize the offense, and what you’ve said. Think about how it may have affected them. Then, empathize with them and their feelings, considering their perspective.
You’ll also want to make up for it, by trying to repair the relationship. Try and take some time to spend it together doing something that you both enjoy, and having some quality time together to move past what happened.
How To Apologize To Your Teenager
Some parents shy away from apologizing to their teenager. They’re your kid after all, and perhaps you feel they shouldn’t have been arguing back with you in the first place.
It’s important that you see them as an individual- and treat them as you would any other person that you’ve had a falling out with. Treat them with respect – even if you still disagree with them.
So how do you do it?
The first step is to choose your timing. It should be a time where you can talk openly, just you two. It shouldn’t be in a public place or when others are around.
Try to find shared down time like when you’re in the car together so you can talk privately just the two of you.
You’re also going to want to level with your teenager, and be open and honest with them. They’re not kids anymore, they can tell when you’re not sincere.
The next step is considering how you say your apology and how you word it. You don’t want to sound sarcastic, or insincere.
To do this, you’ll need to handle it carefully, and let them know that you misstepped. It’s okay to admit that parents make mistakes too, and no one is perfect all of the time.
Let your teenager know that you’re trying your best, and that you were unsure how to handle the situation or the argument, and that you’re trying to understand them as a teenager.
Try to ask them for advice on how to handle situations in the future- of course depending on what you argued about.
You’ll also need to avoid making a few mistakes. You don’t want to pass the blame and say something like ‘I’m sorry, but you made me so mad.’ or ‘I’m sorry but I did what I thought was best.’
Your apology should never be followed by ‘but’ as this passes blame.
Instead, say something like ‘I’m really sorry I said what I said, I shouldn’t have done that, I didn’t want to hurt your feelings but I did, and I should never have spoken to you like that.’ as this takes the blame and responsibility for what was said.
Finally, talk about what you can do to move on and do better in the future. Ask your teen ‘how can we avoid this argument in the future?’ and think what you both need to do to avoid discussions getting out of hand again.
By doing this, you’re treating your teenager with respect and like an equal, and you can tackle difficult conversations much more effectively in the future.
To summarize, apologizing to your teenager should never be a bad thing. Too many parents shy away because they are too proud, or they don’t know what to say.
We all make mistakes, but you need to admit to them and apologize if you want to repair your relationship and move forward.