I’ve struggled with regret much of my adult life–my verdict: it’s a toughie. When my father passed away in 1997, I was very lucky because we had tremendous communication and as I had matured we were able to speak very frankly so there was a lot we were able to say to each other. All that aside, once he was gone I was reminded of one particular event that I never got to talk to him about…something I regretted terribly.
With children, apologies are so simple. Usually a grown up–a parent or teacher, for example–say when it is called for: “say you’re sorry for hurting Johnny’s feelings.” Oh, OK. And then it happens, perhaps begrudgingly or with a pout, and 1-2-6 it’s over. Everyone is back at the sand table playing next to one another until the next infraction.