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Hard to Say 'I'm Sorry'
By Susan Hines-Brigger


Perfect Way to Say 'I'm Sorry'
A Fresh Start
For Teens: Time to 'Fess Up
For Kids: The Prodigal Son

"Tell your sister you’re sorry.”

I thought it seemed like a perfectly reasonable demand considering the fact that my two-year-old son, Alex, had just tried to hit Madison, his older sister, in the head with a toy because she wouldn’t let him watch the Barbie Nutcracker movie for the 10th time.

But Alex wouldn’t budge. He willingly accepted all of his punishment except saying he was sorry. He simply refused. It was one of those times when as a parent you wish there was a handbook that addressed all of these tricky situations.

But just as I was pondering what my next move would be, Alex walked over to his sister without saying a word and gave her a big hug. Mission accomplished.


Perfect Way to Say 'I'm Sorry'

Saying “I’m sorry” is never easy. Doing so is an admission that we screwed up, and very few of us are comfortable with admitting that.

But let’s face it: We all make mistakes and have to say we’re sorry sometimes. Luckily, as Catholics, we have many ways to say “I’m sorry.”

Of course, the easiest way is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, often referred to as Confession, even though confession is only one part of the sacrament. The trouble is, not a lot of people take full advantage of this sacrament—myself included.

The whole point of the sacrament is to make things right again. When we sin, we are separated from both God and the Church community. Going to Confession offers a way to fix the relationship.

A Fresh Start

This month, many people will be making—and possibly already breaking—their New Year’s resolutions. Make an effort to start this year with a clean slate.

Here are some suggestions how:

Head to the confessional. As I said before, this sacrament is often under-used by Catholics. Take advantage of this opportunity to make things right with God and others.

Make “I’m sorry” part of your vocabulary. As a parent, I realized early on that it’s just as important for me to say “I’m sorry” to my kids when I screw up as it is for me to teach them the importance of apologizing. As you well know, kids mimic what they see—even when you wish they wouldn’t. Give them a positive example.

Accentuate the positive. A priest recently told me that at the end of each Confession he asks the person to say one or two things he or she is doing right. He said that it often stops the person cold. So often we focus on the things we need to apologize for and we forget to pay attention to the things we’re doing right.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. I’m sure each of us knows someone who is constantly apologizing for one thing or another, even if it’s not warranted. When overused, saying “I’m sorry” can lose its power.

Let go of a grudge. Sometimes situations get to a point where neither person can say “I’m sorry” because the disagreement has gone on for so long—or one or both of you don’t even remember what the argument was about. Reevaluate whether or not it’s worth spending your energy holding onto your anger.

Read and reflect. Take some time to read—either alone or with your family—Colossians 3:12-13. 

Next Month: Faith in Action


For Teens: Time to 'Fess Up

One of our local radio stations has a feature every Monday where people call in and say they’re sorry for something they did wrong but never owned up to. Recently a woman called in and apologized to her brother for allowing him to take years of blame for starting a fire at their farm. She actually had started the blaze. Needless to say, the station never seems to have a shortage of callers.

Is there something you’ve done wrong but never ’fessed up to or said you’re sorry for? For instance, did you break something and blame it on a sibling? Or did you put a scratch or dent in the car and blame it on someone else? If so, take advantage of the new year to make amends and own up to your mistakes. You’ll probably feel relieved.

For Kids: The Prodigal Son

The Bible is filled with stories about forgiveness. But perhaps the one that best illustrates the concept is the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

Have someone read the story of the Prodigal Son to you and then draw a picture of your favorite part of the story. Share the picture with your family and explain what you drew and why.


Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to

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