Although everyone makes mistakes, there are times when mistakes can damage a relationship, even between kids and parents. When a conflict occurs, parents often expect their child to make the first move towards reconciliation. As their child --whether 14 years old or 40-- showing your love and respect by making that first move can help reestablish and strengthen the relationship. A verbal apology may suffice, but writing an "I'm Sorry" letter can have a much greater impact on mending the relationship.
1. Timing is Crucial
The timing of your apology letter is important. Sooner is usually better, but allow enough time for emotions to cool. By writing your letter sooner, the thoughts are still fresh in your mind. Writing sooner also demonstrates a caring, sincere attitude. Remember to take the time to write your apology letter carefully, so as not to appear as though you rushed through it just to get it done.
2. Be Direct and Sincere
Being direct in your apology letter will set the tone and help guard against appearing sarcastic, uncertain, over-dramatic or insincere. Start with your primary message: "I'd like to apologize" or simply, "I'm sorry." Choose your words carefully so that your letter is respectful and considerate. While writing, keep in mind that your goal is to make amends, not to reengage the issue or argue a point. This can make your letter feel insincere.
3. Show What You've Learned
Sharing what you've learned from an issue reassures parents that a problem is not likely to happen again. It also demonstrates your ability to reflect and grow from the experience. Take responsibility for your part in the disagreement and offer to make amends. Assure your parents that it won't happen again. Avoid making excuses or suggesting reasons for why the issue occurred. Assurance without excuses will further the sincerity of your apology letter.
Following up on your "I'm Sorry" letter is very important. Express your desire to meet and discuss your apology with your parents. Ask what their thoughts are regarding the letter and carefully listen to their response. If you've offered to make specific amends, do it. An apology letter is just the start of rebuilding the relationship. Following up reaffirms that the issue has been settled so that you and your parents can move on with a stronger relationship.
- When Sorry Isn't Enough: Making Things Right with Those You Love by Gary D Chapman and Jennifer M. Thomas
- Effective Apology: Mending Fences, Building Bridges, and Restoring Trust (Bk Business) by John Kador
- Breaking the Code: Two Teens Reveal The Secrets To Better Parent-Child Communication by Lara Fox and Hilary Frankel
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