Why I Say ‘I’m Sorry’ To My Daughters


Being a mother has been the single most important job I have, or ever will have. It has changed me. And for the better. It has taught me to unconditionally love. It has broken my heart. It has caused me to cry, laugh, and yell. It has changed my world in every way possible.

Why apologizing to my children is good
Photo credit: Rebekah Kay Photography

But it’s a tough job…the toughest. And although most days go pretty smoothly, there are days where by the time evening rolls around I just want a do over. Please tell me you know those days?!?!

Maybe naps were missed. Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe plans were changed.

Whatever the reason may be, some days I just feel like a bad mom.

It’s the end of the day. A long day. A day of playing outside, running errands, preparing food, negotiating, changing, crying, laughing, coloring, school, reading, and cleaning. We are bathed and ready for bed….but she still won’t fall asleep.

I’ve read our three books, told her a story about my childhood, she’s had a drink, I’ve rubbed her arm.

But she’s still talking, tossing, and turning.

I lay there thinking of the dishes that are still in the sink that need to be put away or else we’ll have ants.

I think about how great my own bed will feel once I can actually lay in it.

I think about the load of laundry that’s still sitting in the washing machine that’s probably on the verge of a mildew smell.

I think about the Real Housewives episode that I wanted to catch up on.

And my patience runs out. I’ve had enough.

I yell.

I leave the room. She begs me not to.

I give her a punishment for the next day. She cries.

I tell her not to leave her room. She doesn’t.

I breathe. For about two full minutes. She’s five and I’m tired.

So I go back in. Lay down next to her and tell her I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

“It’s okay Mommy.”

She hugs me and falls asleep. And we both feel better.

Life lessons with saying I'm sorry

I’m hoping within those last moments before she finally drifts off to sleep she’ll know that it’s okay to say sorry. Not the fake, I made you say it, sorry.  But a true, genuine sorry. The kind of sorry that sometimes musters up all the courage you have to actually say it. The kind of sorry that you hope will make everything better. The kind of sorry you say to someone you love when you know you messed up.

It’s also in those moments that I feel like a good and bad mom all wrapped up into one. And it’s in that moment that I hope she learns we all make mistakes, even moms, but even with those mistakes there is love. I hope she learns that it’s satisfying to accept apologies, and that most people deserve it.

I hope those two, small worlds help teach many huge lessons.

It’s the first of many sorrys that I will say to her. And the beginning of many sorrys she will say to me. And that’s okay.


  1. Thank you for sharing! We’ve all had days like that and I think it’s SO important for our kids to know we are human too, that we also get upset or angry and say things in haste…and to see us make up and apologize as well.

  2. Such a great post Kathleen!

    Your feelings are totally valid and will resonate with so many other parents.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. We’ve all been there! It is so important to teach this lesson to our kids but also know in our heart it’s okay to say sorry. I know plenty of adults who are stubborn and never say it or truly mean it. We have to teach them young so they aren’t those adults someday!

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