The Apologetic Administration

I’m sorry.

How do those words make you feel? Probably open and receptive to what the speaker will say next. Apologies are transformative experiences wherein the person who feels injured now feels empowered.

President Barack Obama has been going around apologizing to just about everyone, and it has become an underlying story. President Obama has apologized for some of his political appointments. He has apologized to Nancy Reagan. Most recently, he has apologized to European leaders. Sean Hannity, and other political pundits, has been extremely critical of President Obama’s apologies. Hannity has even called the President’s overseas trip “the apology tour”.

Those who are upset about the apologies question what the United States has to apologize for, and they question why President Obama doesn’t spend his time talking about how great and unique the United States is as a country. Furthermore, they see the apologies as a sign of weakness, and they perceive that an apology to a European nation is akin to saying that our country is inferior to their country.

The whole apology debate has become a partisan issue. Those who favor the apologies find it refreshing because they perceive that former President George W. Bush apologized for nothing. Columnist Steve Adubato writes, “(Former President Bush) either refused or simply couldn’t acknowledge any of his mistakes.”

Unfortunately, what’s lost in the political rhetoric is the true power of an apology. There has been too much debate about whether any injury actually occurred and whether the recipient is deserving of an apology. Instead, there should be a recognition that strong relationships are built on equality and evenhandedness.

Technically speaking, an apology is an acknowledgement that the person has created an injury and they are accepting responsibility for the damage. An apology can also be a powerful tool in negotiations and mediation. A conflict typically involves one person feeling injured by the other. Many times, it is not effective or helpful to focus on whether the injury actually occurred; rather, the apology itself enables closure and allows the people involved to move on so they are able to work together in the future.

Despite what is being said by the critics of President Obama’s apologies, it is not a sign of weakness to apologize. Strong leaders are able to show humility and admit mistakes. Strong negotiators understand apologies play an important role in transforming relationships.

Co-Parenting for Father's Day

The first modern observance of Father’s Day is believed to have taken place in the early 1900’s. It became an official permanent holiday in the United States in 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed it into law. It is intended to be a family-oriented celebration of a father’s commitment to parenting. In many divorced families, however, it is a source of tension, frustration, and anger.

Some divorced parents harbor resentful thoughts like: Dad doesn’t seem to want to spend time with the child the rest of the year; Mom always finds a way to mess up my special day with the child; the child doesn’t even want to spend time with Dad; Mom never encourages the child to spend time with me; Dad doesn’t even pay his child support; Mom never uses my child support payments for the child. They then inject these negative feelings and thoughts into the holiday plans.

The laws and the courts have stated clearly that parents are expected to make decisions in the best interests of their children. It is widely regarded that in most situations this includes fostering a good relationship with both parents, which includes liberal time sharing.

However difficult this may be, parents must avoid putting their children in the middle and to reassure their children that they are not responsible for either parent’s behavior. Here are 5.5 tips that may make sharing these types of holidays smoother:

1. Be considerate and respectful of each other as you plan ahead. Children shouldn’t be left on their own to plan for the holiday. Ask Mom to assist with a card or gift and offer to reciprocate on Mother’s Day and her birthday.

2. Place the value of the holiday on time spent together, not money. Read a story; Go for a walk; Go to a park; Go fishing.

3. Avoid expressing your own negative feelings about your co-parent to the children; rather, listen patiently to the children and express hopeful feelings for improvement.

4. When speaking of your co-parent, maintain a neutral tone.

5. Don’t use your children as weapons against each other for past bad behavior by denying parenting time, by making plans that interfere with parenting time, and by not adhering to the schedule that’s been arranged.

5.5 Don’t depend on one day a year to build or validate your relationship with your children. Create an open and caring relationship based on mutual respect throughout the year.