The best way to apologize is through changed behaviour.

I reflected on this nugget of wisdom after last week’s session of SNAP.

The hubby, T and I are halfway through the SNAP program and it’s been great so far.

We’re learning behaviour intervention and co-regulation strategies and while it’s never perfect, we’re applying them with noticeable gains.

Last week’s session for the boys’ group was about apologizing – which T struggles with as he sometimes does not correlate his actions with the effect they cause.

As we look ahead to Easter weekend – a time to often reflect on forgiveness – I’d like to share three reflections about the word “sorry.”

T’s recent “Code Mission” homework from the SNAP program.

I’ve learned that changed behaviour is the best way to say sorry

We work hard to remind T to say sorry when he’s done something to cause hurt to others and that the best way to say sorry is to not do it again.

We keep in mind that learning from mistakes and understanding consequences is often hard for kids with FASD.

T is good at pointing out a perceived fault in others but often doesn’t recognize the same in himself.

It’s as frustrating as it sounds – and there are lots of Groundhog Day-like conversations – but we know it’s his brain. And we’re working on it.

Recently, the hubby and I are struggling with bad language. T started to drop f-bombs at home and daycare.

I’m pretty sure he picked it up from older kids on the school bus and using it as attention seeking behaviour but it needs to be addressed.

After screaming “F-you” to the hubby mid-last week, we grounded him from his tablet for the rest of the week.

And yes, it’s as much of a punishment for us as it is for him too!

Madonna’s “Sorry” from her 2005 album “Confessions on a Dancefloor” ruminates on empty apologies.

I’ve learned to stop saying sorry for my child’s disability.

Last fall, I received a call from T’s teacher who let me know that T had been talking rudely at the rotating support staff that work with him.

I quickly apologized and said I’d talk to him.

But when I reflected on the incident, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t need to apologize – because first of all, I wasn’t the one who talked rudely.

Secondly, when I dissected the situation more, T needs structure and routine and he was being helped by different changing faces, often two different people a day, telling him what to do. Of course, he’d get disregulated.

And I said as much when this was discussed at a School Services Team meeting. We were very grateful for the support but the inconsistent structure is counter-productive for kids like T.

If there is a genuine reason for me to apologize, I will – but I refuse to apologize for things caused by T’s disability, unless the school board apologizes for not being more FASD-aware, for not recognizing FASD as an exceptionality and for not doing more to train their staff about FASD.

What I do instead when issues get raised is I validate their point (e.g. Yes, I understand why this may be concerning) but I ask questions and get them to view the context from the perspective of a child with a disability.

I’m not unreasonable but as one of T’s two biggest advocates, I also recognize that kids with FASD are often guilty until proven innocent, which is so unfair and frustrating.

Thankfully, we have a respectful relationship with T’s principal and teacher. We may not see eye to eye on everything but I think they get where we’re coming from.

And there is a good ending to the incidents last Fall. T now has a regular CYW supporting him in the classroom until the end of this year.

I thank God for her on a regular basis, because she has been so good for T.

The 2023 remix of Madonna’s “Sorry” by Toronto DJ Blondish is a lovely take on the song.

I’ve learned to stop being so hard on myself.

I really struggled with T’s disability in the earlier years, especially when I don’t respond with calm in his stormy moments. The guilt ate at me.

In my prayers, I ask that my loved ones and I can be our best versions and that we can forgive ourselves and each other when we are not.

I’m becoming better at forgiving myself for the many moments I’m not my best self.

This Fatherly article writes that “learning how to forgive yourself for big and small errors is important for personal growth. It also teaches your children crucial lessons: how to be vulnerable, how to accept and move on, and how not to be overly critical. And it helps you lead a better life.”

When we recently grounded T, we were clear that we removed the tablet because of his actions and not because of anything else.

While we anticipated it to be a torturous few days, it proved to be surprisingly positive. T entertained himself with his toys and colored an activity book. It was a joy to see him stretch his imagination.

Last Friday, we had a rare dinner together – whereas we usually get T fed first then eat later – and enjoyed a delightful conversation together, without the tablet usually in front of T’s plate.

The weekend was also wonderful and reminded me that every day is a new day and to let go of yesterday and focus on the here and now.

Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” is one of his best songs.

39 thoughts on “Sorry

  1. The way I see this is as much as you teach T how to behave and how to be kind to others, you also teach yourself how to learn from every single thing that happens with T — whether it’s his interactions with people at school, or the way he talks to you and your husband. It means both you and T are in fact growing together, and that is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Bama. Life is a journey and you are absolutely right that we growing together through the ups and downs. 😊 I’m not sure if you celebrate Easter but hope you’re having a good weekend! It’s a long weekend over here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Ab. Happy Easter to you too and have a great long weekend! Unfortunately we only get one day off on Good Friday here in Indonesia, which is why I decided to go on a week-long trip to Vietnam. Still can’t believe it’s over. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful thoughtful post Ab. We’re so quick to apologise without taking the time to reflect on whether we should or not. Often shame is the driver that causes us to assume we are at the one at fault when it’s often far more complicated- rarely ever just one persons fault. I’m a big believer in taking collective responsibility for that reason. Seeing problems as problems of the collective not just the individual. Equally shame is what prevents us from forgiving ourselves. Yet this keeps us rooted in position and prevents us from growing. Making the distinction between shame and guilt is so important for that reason. Just because we did something wrong doesn’t mean we are something wrong. Ab – it’s often take an outside perspective to get an accurate measure of how well we are doing. As a reader of your blog it seems obvious to me (as I’m sure it does to every other reader) that you and the hubby are doing an amazing job with T. You should be so proud of yourself and your efforts. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi AP, thank you for this very thoughtful and kind comment. It brightened up my Sunday and it’s just starting for us over here. I’m glad you understand what I was getting at this with this post. Your comments about taking collective responsibility and that shame often prevents us from self forgiveness are so true. Hope you and your family are enjoying your weekend as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There really is a balance of what is necessary to apologize for and what isn’t. I fully agree that you shouldn’t apologize for a child’s disability, while also establishing accountability. You’re a good parent and I respect your standards. I know parents with neurodiverse kids struggle a lot with accountability versus being accomodating, but it seems like you try hard to understand what to do and when. I have known autistic adults who clearly never heard the word “no”, and at first I would feel guilty for holding them accountable. Then, I would ask myself, “would I hold them accountable if they were able-bodied?” If the answer is yes, then I do

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Claire. The accountability piece is so important to me as it was how I was raised but it definitely is very challenging with kids who are neurodiverse. And hence why I’m grateful to learn these new intervention strategies.

      Wishing you a wonderful long weekend ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Diane. I wouldn’t say I’ve figured it all out but I’ve learned a lot since we started this parenting journey. And grateful for every lesson learned. 😊 Have a wonderful Easter long weekend with your family!


  4. There’s a saying about how life never gives us more than we can handle. I think it’s really beautiful that you’re taking the challenges faced in raising T as an opportunity to look inward and reflect… it’s an exercise that I think will not only help you be the best possible parent to T (and recognize when to adjust tactics), but also a better person. You and you husband are doing great, and I really admire your commitment to give T the support he needs to not only get by, but to thrive. 💕💕💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Erin! I think the blessing of this journey is the opportunities to look inward and they are helping us grow together. Not always easy but worth every challenging moment. 😊 Enjoy the long weekend ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think that’s a program every parent should have access to Ab! So many things I wish I would have handled differently when the kids were young. You and husband are doing a great job with T. To apologize can be humbling but the key is to see the why behind the words and yes- no longer do what hurts to begin with. Such a good reminder we all need.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Deb. You know it’s funny that you said that comment. Because when we were going through adoption and had to take the mandatory parenting-related classes and then now this, I’m like, many parents can benefit from this too – not just those caring for neurodiverse individuals! 🙂 Hope you have a nice long weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Glad to hear that the SNAP (without the “and bend”) program has been great so far and that you’re seeing some positive results from the new approaches and strategies you’re trying. I think many people are great at pointing out flaws and faults in others but struggle with recognizing their own. It’s good that you recognize the need to not be so hard on ourselves. I know I need to do a better job of that sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Linda! It’s been a worthwhile program for us, as much as it eats into our weeknight free time. Letting go of the need for everything to be perfect is a liberating feeling for sure. Hope you both have a nice long weekend at the cabin!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks!! There surprisingly was still a lot of snow at the cabin, which made walking in a bit challenging and annoying because snow kept coming in around the top of my shoes. But we certainly enjoyed all this sunshine!! I still can’t believe that it’s supposed to be 20C+ this week! Hope you had a happy Easter too!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. As always, I’m amazed by your patience, your willingness to look inside your own mind. I had to chuckle over T’s use of the f-bomb … I well remember my own first exploration of the word and my punishment to write “I will not say f**k” one thousand times … heck, at the time I couldn’t even count to 1,000!!! T is in the best, most loving and capable hands he could possibly be in. Someday, he’ll tell you that himself!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jill. Writing lines would certainly be a good way to practice his handwriting too. I will have to keep that in mind.😆 He’s been good at not dropping it at home since he’s been grounded so let’s hope I don’t have to go that route. 🙏 Hope you have a nice long weekend ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay, but maybe just make him write it 50 times? Yes, let’s hope he doesn’t suddenly burst forth with it when you’re visiting friends or family, though they would probably get a chuckle out of it! Not a long weekend, but a weekend nonetheless! I shall enjoy it and hope you guys do the same!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thanks Jill. My family’s seen and heard him in his moments. Some just go with the flow and others make comments and you just roll your eyes silently. 😆

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Margie. I think having a bend and snap can be such a stress reliever sometime. Maybe I’ll do a few reps today! It’s a quieter day in the office with less people around to see. 😆 Have a wonderful long weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a beautiful reflection on a word we use so often without the depth you describe here. I’m wondering about the SNAP training – what do they say about apologizing as we correct our behavior not to do it again? I love the second point – I love that you are working in concert with the school but not automatically apologizing for T. And thank God for the CYW til the end of the year. Yay!

    The last point is such a good one! Yes, we need to forgive ourselves. A message I need to hear again and again and I’m glad you are taking it in too.

    A great post accompanied with such amazing examples and fantastic music! Thanks, Ab!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Wynne. The SNAP approach is interesting. Speaking just from the parenting cohort perspective, there’s a focus on redirection, correction and repair as the first priority and using punitive means (eg timeout, taking away privileges) as only the last resort. So grounding T is a no no according to SNAP. It’s very humbling to learn about these different “evidence based” approaches.

      I ended up waking up between 1-3 last night, boo, so todays gonna be a treat. 😆 Thankfully it’s a short week. Wishing you three s wonderful Easter long weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this post, as I love and enjoy reading all of your posts! The swearing has to be frustrating. It comes down to cause and effect and also our impulsive ways. I hate explaining why we do things, because I feel like I am constantly making excuses. But I know you know and I know you understand, because you are AMAZING! I hope one day to meet you and your hubby and T.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Rebecca. The F bombs and the shut ups are very annoying and yes at times so frustrating. I think it’s a combination of impulsivity, being disregulated and attention seeking behaviour of the bad kind. We’re thankful the F bombs has gone away at home since we grounded him but he’s still dropping them at daycare as I think he’s getting the desired attention. Such is the joy of life and kids. 😆 We’ll get through this like everything else.

      The FASD community is small but growing and yes, it would be lovely if we all got to meet one day. You never know!

      Have a wonderful long weekend to you and your family.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Sorry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: