We were at a party for a mutual friend and as we were standing in a circle, talking to each other, she started talking about her kids' field trip. I was semi listening, semi listening to the other conversation next to me. When she showed the picture of two toddlers, I asked her if one of the kids had down syndrome. When I saw the looks on everybody's face, I knew she was hurt because it was her kid I had mistaken for. I apologized immediately.


How can I apologize to my friend? I felt really ashamed that I put her in that position. It was an honest misconception of mine, and didn't mean it as an insult or anything like that. I feel very bad about, do you have any suggestions how to act further?

  • 2
    Was this a case where you happened to know that one of the kids had Down's Syndrome, and you pointed to the wrong kid? Or did you think that one of the kids looked like he had Down's Syndrome when in fact neither did?
    – Upper_Case
    Oct 10, 2018 at 11:20
  • Neither kids had Down, and I didn't knew who her child was..
    – anon
    Oct 10, 2018 at 13:38

2 Answers 2



Even in light of Dutch etiquette (or lack thereof, the Dutch tend to be very informal. I know cause I live there) this is a faux-pas for sure and will have raised some eyebrows. It will probably, depending of course on the people involved but people being people, also have been the basis for some gossip and/or snarky or disapproving remarks made in private afterwards. However, "blurting out something stupid" is a fundamental part of the human experience. We've all been there; you, me and luckily also your friends. Stuff like this is not unforgivable and I would be surprised if it was treated as such. If it was, it would almost certainly be in a much broader context involving more than just this single incident.

You obviously still feel bad about the whole affair and feel the need to apologize to your friend again, but the first question should probably be: should you apologize again? I think this depends on your friend. If she has already shrugged it off, bringing it up again might not be the best thing to do. Your mutual friend might be of help here, you could inform discreetly.

If you do sense that your friend still feels hurt, or resentful towards you, you could try and "talk it out" as the Dutch say, but you'll probably want to pick an appropriate time to do so. And you should be reasonably sure she is willing to talk about it with you, again something your mutual friend could help you with. If you do, being completely honest would probably get you the furthest. I wouldn't recommend adding meaning where there is none, if you didn't think it through (or didn't think at all) just say you didn't. The Dutch use an English word for this: "brainfreeze". If that is what it was, call it that. Calling it an "honest misconception" might be explained poorly, like there is a truth to it (which, even if there was, would be wise not to mention). Mixing and matching your own words together you'd end up with something like this:

I felt really ashamed that I put you in that position. I didn't mean it as an insult or anything like that. I feel very bad about it.

Also, I wouldn't worry much about the other people that were in the room, to them it will probably just have been another weird/awkward situation that is easily forgotten, especially since you've already apologized.


You have already apologized. You can't do anything more than that. She will also forget it. Don't let her recall it again.

When a mother shows the picture of her child to her friends or family members, obviously she expects warm admiration about her child (or any question regarding the kid's activity). But here you directly asked her about her kid's Down syndrome. She might have got deeply hurt because it's unusual to hear such things. You did something she didn't expect to happen and everyone's attention got redirected at her and her reaction. You already apologized, and you didn't want to hurt her.

Now what you can do is talk to your mutual friends about your actual intentions. You can request one of your friends to come with you and both talk to her about the misconception. Request to your friend to speak with her again when alone and explain what you tried to do.

Your friend

"She didn't mean to insult you and she feels very bad about her wording. She was engaged in another conversation and by mistake she talked like that "

The involvement of more than one person affects on the matter differently.

You have hurt her. Now you apologized in person and through your friend. That is enough.

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