‘I’m sorry’ hardest words to say

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

Question: Why do so many people have trouble apologizing when they say or do something rude or even offensive? It seems to me like we’ve lost the ability to extend this common courtesy; at least, I’ve certainly seen it in my own extended family.

Jim: “I’m sorry” could be two of the hardest words in the English language to say. And that’s too bad — because when they’re spoken with sincerity, they can bring healing to almost any relationship.

Oh, it’s not hard to speak the words, but it can be tough to say them with sincerity. That’s probably because we understand that to apologize is to accept responsibility for wrongdoing. It requires humility on our part, which can often be confused with giving someone else the upper hand over us. That’s why apologies tend to be viewed as a weakness.

It’s also why people often offer apologies that have been stripped of any real meaning. We minimize the severity of our actions; we blame our behavior on others; or maybe we say all the right words but dilute them with sarcasm or humor. Whatever the method, we recognize it when we see it. And the result is always the same: the appearance of an apology without the substance of one.

Maybe it’s a growing lack of responsibility, a pervasive sense of entitlement or the anonymity of the internet bleeding over into daily life. But this trend is a problem.

Far from being a weakness, a heartfelt apology requires strength because it demands sincerity and humility on behalf of the person offering it. And that’s the secret. Mending a damaged relationship has little to do with the words we use to express our contrition. The healing comes from the authenticity we pour into our words and actions.

Question: So many young people I know seem to have a skewed view of sex. How can I help my children begin to develop a healthy sexual foundation?

Danny Huerta, vice president, Parenting and Youth: Sexuality isn’t just about sex. It involves the mind, the body and relationship. For your kids to develop a healthy sexual foundation, you need to help them develop healthy character.

There are five foundational character ingredients to healthy sexuality:

¯ Empathy. Kids must learn that other children have their own thoughts and feelings too. Help them try to understand what those thoughts and feelings might be. Generally speaking, this would be best to begin teaching at the age of 2 or 3.

¯ Self-control. Children also need to learn how to manage their own desires, thoughts and emotions. Help them notice how their thoughts impact how they feel and how their actions affect others.

¯ Love. Kids should be taught what it means to develop steadfast, faithful, loyal and persevering love for another. Many cultural messages teach kids how to be consumers of people, i.e., “How do you benefit me?” Real love combines security in oneself with the ability to give of oneself wholeheartedly and freely.

¯ Patience. Similar to self-control, patience is the ability to delay gratification rather than seek immediate pleasure. There are plenty of everyday teaching opportunities for parents to help kids learn patience, but the best thing you can do is model it.

¯ Connection. Studies indicate that teens who are actively involved in their faith and have a strong bond with their parents are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as premarital sex, pornography and substance abuse. Pause and enjoy your relationship with one another at home through meals together, laughter, board games or walks.

Help your kids focus on these five foundational components of healthy sexuality, and they will reap the benefits for years to come as they continue to work toward healthy sexual development.

For more information on this topic, visit focusonthefamily.com/parenting/sexuality.

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Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.