Sam Radford wants to be the kind of Dad who is big enough and humble enough to own up to the times he feels he’s not the Dad his daughter deserves. That means he has to never hide away from saying sorry.
One of the things I think many—perhaps, most—of us men struggle with is saying we’re sorry. I know I find it hard. The problem stems from our innate need to always appear strong and without weakness. In some situations this serves us well; many times our families need us to be strong on their behalf.
This strength very often is a gift we as husbands and fathers can bring to our homes. When everything else can seem to be falling apart, we can be a rock solid foundation, keeping everything together. But the fact that we need to be strong for our families, and the reality that our kids need to feel a sense of security, doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for admitting weakness and saying sorry to our partner and kids when we need to.
I know for me, my reluctance to ever appear weak is what triggers my hesitation in saying sorry. Having to say I’m sorry means I messed up; it means I let someone down, or made a mistake that has impacted on my family. It means facing up to the undeniable reality that I’m not perfect. And that’s not always easy.
With my five-year-old daughter, Eloise, there are times when I know I’ve gone too far and allowed my frustration with something she’s doing—or, more specifically, something she shouldn’t be doing—to turn into angry yelling. Even mid-yelling there’s a part of me groaning inwardly that I’ve reached this point, but it’s too late and I struggle to reign myself in.
And then Eloise gives me one of two reactions. She’ll either let out this agonisingly frustrating smirk; or she’ll have a hint of fear in her eyes. Both have a horrible affect on me. The former makes me madder still; the latter makes me want to curl up in a corner and cry.
Yet even when I know I’ve let thing go much too far, I still find it difficult to apologise. Sometimes it feels like every ounce of my being is trying to resist. But I know I have to force myself to go and apologise to her. Being too proud to apologise to my own daughter is not an endearing quality.
Sometimes I do the right thing, but there are also too many occasions when I haven’t. I make excuses to myself. ‘She won’t remember.’ ‘The moment’s gone.’ ‘It wasn’t that big of a deal.’ Deep down though I know I should have said I’m sorry.
The stupid thing is that when I do actually say I’m sorry, it’s no big deal. It’s always much easier than I imagined it was going to be. And it feels good.