General Question

YARNLADY's avatar

Should a father who abandoned his wife and children apologize years later?

Asked by YARNLADY (44332points) August 22nd, 2012

The person in question has no memory of the prior family because of a severe stroke.

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15 Answers

DigitalBlue's avatar

He should only apologize if he feels badly about it and wishes to apologize, sincerely. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Coloma's avatar

How can someone apologize if they don’t remember what it is they are apologizing FOR?
Did he acknowledge his less than stellar behavior prior to the stroke?
People make mistakes, they run when they are scared and overwhelmed at times, it is best to always just remember that when we know better we do better.

Self forgiveness is just as important as other forgiveness.
Yes, I agree with @DigitalBlue an insincere apology is worse than none at all.

Sunny2's avatar

How can he apologize for something he doesn’t and probably won’t remember? You’d have to tell him all about it and see what his reaction is. If he then wants to apologize, then of course, let him, but be prepared to help him find the words.

tinyfaery's avatar

It would have to be a true heart confession. And even then I would be skeptical. He owes not only an apology, but he needs to claim the pain he caused a sincerely atone for his behavior.

Judi's avatar

It’s never to late to apologize.

ETpro's avatar

Strokes wipe out areas of he brain and can alter behavior and even perceptions about past behavior. Both my mom and my sister in law had a stroke. Both survived with nearly everything intact, but each had new idiosyncrasies.

It is entirely possible for someone to do something in their youth based strictly on self interest, feel no remorse at the time, then have a stroke that wipes out memory of that event but leaves parts of the brain responsible for empathy and regret intact. Upon hearing of the crappy way they treated someone, they might sincerely want to apologize. And I agree with @Judi, while life remains, it’s never too late to say I am sorry. Will that erase decades of pain. Certainly not. To even begin to do that, it will take positive actions now to show he means what he says.

Shippy's avatar

Does his family feel he should apologize? Must be, if he cannot recall them. How able is he to understand compassion? or insight despite his brain injury? If he can, maybe he can do it to set their feelings to rest? Then it would depend on him. But it could mean forgiveness and peace for that family.

JLeslie's avatar

Never too late to apologize. His apology might not be accepted at first or ever, but I think if he truly feels sorry he should apologize. Not only for those he hurt, but for himself.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

He doesn’t remember, so what’s the point. He has no memory of what he gave up or lost so how can he sincerely apologize?

bkcunningham's avatar

IMHO, I if I wanted an apology, it couldn’t just be the words I’m sorry. It would need to include a discussion of the situation, circumstances and mindset of the people involved at the time of the abandonment. It would be futile to try to get this from someone who has no memory of this part of the past.

I understand people wanting answers and explanations about why others have done things that impacted their own lives or why things happened to them in life, but you have to move on and not allow that injury to cripple you. Deal with it in your heart and head and move on.

JLeslie's avatar

I think if my memory was impacted because of a stroke, but I am told what had transpired and felt horrible about it, the apology still counts. I don’t mean the apology must be accepted, I only mean the intent of the apology can still be sincere. The brain is complex. People can lose memory and still be horrified or joyful about events that transpired in the past. The story of their past might seem like a story of someone else’s life if they have no memory, but memory loss does not necessarily mean loss of emotions like empathy, regret, sadness, etc. What’s unfortunate is the person doing the apology would not be able to answer questions for themselves nor the people he had hurt. Sometimes a conversation can give perspective into what a person was going through when they did something that was very hurtful to others and even themselves. Sometimes being able to empathasize with the person who seems so awful can ease the bad feelings and make forgiveness easier. In this situation they would not have that opportunity.

wundayatta's avatar

If he wants to apologize, then that’s what he should do. It has nothing to do with any of the rest of us.

Similarly, if he does apologize, then it is up to those who receive the apology to decide if they want to forgive. If he remembers nothing, they may not want to forgive, but then again, it may be enough just to hear the sincerity in his voice and know that he really feels bad that his former self did this, even if he didn’t remember it.

But there are no shoulds here. Up to him. Not up to anyone else.

gailcalled's avatar

Without the memory, the behavior is an abstraction to the promulgator, no matter how justifiably resentful and unhappy the wife and children feel.

How would a programmed apology make them feel better?

dabbler's avatar

I’m having a hard time understanding what it will mean if he apologizes when he doesn’t know what he has done.
However I think @wundayatta has a very good point that if he has a strong feeling he certainly has a right to express it, and it may indeed be coming from some deep part of his being that wasn’t hurt by the stroke and has always wanted to apologize. It’s up to him if he wants to express this regret.

YARNLADY's avatar

thanks for your answers. He has told me he’s sorry he hurt people, he does understand the concept.

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