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Family Preparedness: Five Steps to a Better Apology

Family Preparedness: Five Steps to a Better Apology

March 06, 2023

Five Steps to a Better Apology Inspired by Lisa Marshall of Quick and Dirty

We became interested in this topic after an office colleague reported on his frustrating parental week-end.  The 13 year old daughter had a meltdown/tantrum argument with her mother.  Dad intervened and sent her to her room after a belligerent “I’m sorry” didn’t fill the bill.  Drawing on his thoughts of the moment, he demanded that she write out “I will not be disrespectful to my mother in word or deed.” 500 times before rejoining family activities (meals).  It took the entire day.  It seemed that nobody felt good about this repentance. 

I recall this class punishment from 4th grade.  I do not recall it positively impacting my character. 

Shortly afterwards, I saw this little article by Lisa Marshall and grabbed the essence. This skill seems like it could be taught and included in everyone’s social/emotional “toolkit”.  This might be a good “save” so that it’s available when you or yours might need it. 


Five Steps

Express regret.  List the hurtful effects of what you did. What was your behavior?

Accept responsibility:  Take on the fault of the specific mistake or mistakes.  Own it.

Make Restitution.  Ask the person you wronged how you can make amends.  Do not specify what you will do, since it may not be what the person wants.  What will actually help repair?

Repent.  Say that you will work to resolve the issue or change your behavior and will not let the problem recur. Identify the needed change. 

Request forgiveness.  Ask for it directly.  Am I forgiven? 


  1. What was the behavior?
  2. What was the harm? 
  3. What’s the needed repent?
  4. What’s the lesson learned? 
  5. Was it repaired? 

Don’t worry that children never listen to you.  

Worry that they are always watching you.  Robert Fulghum-author

WFS.Family Preparedness, KRoth 2019