Making amends to my parents...


New Member
I'm almost 28 now and I've had a conduct disorder my entire life. (along with bipolar/adhd/substance abuse). Overall, I am on a better trajectory these days. I've received a criminal pardon, gotten sober (thanks to AA), changed my social circle and beginning to establish my career as a real estate agent. I still make more indiscretions than the average person but for the most part, I live a pretty civil life.

As somebody with a conduct disorder, I managed to stumble across this website as I was researching my own demons and since then, I've been reading posts nonstop and feel absolutely awful for hurting the two people in the world who love me the most and causing them unthinkable levels of heartache.

It's absolutely disgraceful how much I've hurt them. I've hit them....I've called them all sorts of names.....I've gaslighted them..there's holes/dents all over their house because of me. I've always known these things, but reading about them from a different perspective has shed some light on how devastated and conflicted my parents must have been. And for that, I thank all you guys for your contributions.

But what now? AA teaches me to make a list of all people I have hurt and make amends. I haven't had the courage to reach that step yet but I know that I eventually will --and must. But how? How does one go about beginning to apologize for 20+ years of chaos and pain that I've inflicted? Obviously I've been doing my best to be a better son today, but where do I start in terms of making amends for all that I have done.....I don't know where to start. I truly want them to know that I'm sorry and I'm willing to demonstrate it in my actions....I've never been good at expressing my emotions, especially in this manner.

Any and all thoughts are much appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to read this.


Hi Water,

What a lovely and heartfelt post. What is your relationship like with your parents today? Have they forgiven you? I think you need to forgive yourself.

There is perhaps no way you can make up for all the 20 years of “chaos” but it sounds like you are on the right track just wanting to make amends, show your parents how much you love them and how sorry you are. That is great!

Let’s face it—though nobody would condone some of your past actions, you were a lot younger then and immature; your behavior was influenced by drugs compounded with some behavioral disorders, and probably the wrong crowd, among possible other things.

Many young people go through similar situations to varying degrees just by nature of being immature and impressionable. And often when maturity kicks in, you see the change of heart that you have so eloquently displayed here. It happened with my two older children when they were about your same age, and didn’t have the conduct problems of my third child, though they still had issues growing up for which they have both apologized and are on good paths today. And at 20 years old, the youngest and most difficult is starting to see the light as well.

You got through it and that is commendable. You took extra steps to get sober, obtain a pardon, and find a new social circle. That is wonderful! That‘s a parent’s dream come true! I imagine your parents must be proud of you. I hope they are. Just continue to show them by your actions as well as your words that you love and care for them. If you need medication, stay compliant with it to keep setbacks to a minimum.

Just keep doing what you’re doing! Please don’t let any previous bad behavior define you. And if you are a praying person, pray. Ask for guidance and wisdom. It sounds to me like you’ve already got a good supply started.

Please stay in touch with us—I’d love to hear more from you. Your post made my day!

Love, Nandina


PS: Something tells me you are going to be bombarded with Mother Love here! You are exactly what all of us hope and long for, and some, fortunately have received.


Well-Known Member
Dear Water,
Wow! What a fantastic post. Well done on getting your life together. You should be so proud of yourself.

Speaking as the mother of a child with some deep issues, all I want is for my son to be okay. For him to be living his best life. I'm sure it's the same for your parents.

It's so wonderful that you want to make amends, but my bet is that your parents' biggest joy will come from you being happy and productive. I think that if it would make you feel better, a simple, heartfelt apology acknowledging what you put them through would be more than enough. You could do this in person or in a letter if that's easier.

Keep focusing on being sober and living well. This is the best way you can honour your parents' love.

overcome mom

Active Member
Water, What I wouldn't give to hear what you have written from my son. Like Miss Lulu said all most parents want is for their child to be happy, safe, well and financially able to take care of themselves.
My son has told us that he is sorry for things he did to us when he was younger. He has not stolen from us in the last 8 years but he continues to get in trouble with the law ,use drug etc. When he says he is sorry I am never really sure what he is sorry for, for me it would be helpful if he was a little more descriptive. He wouldn't need to list every single incident but a few of the more memorable would show me that he really does have some insight and remorse.
I am so happy that you have made a commitment to yourself. I know your road will not always be a straight one ( no one's is) but I am sure for your parents that just seeing you doing positive things is the most important. Please give them time to change also. After years of problems and them reacting one way it will also take them sometime to not expect things to turn out poorly. This does not mean they don't think you have changed or on a good path. Your behavior is what all of us pray for, for our children.
Maybe writing them a letter would be easier for you. You could also repair some of those hole and dents in the house. No only would some of the physical holes be gone but the emotional ones too. I know every time I look at the big scratch in my door where my son tried to break in it brings me back to that time I would rather not be reminded of.
Good luck in all you do. You are asking all the right questions.


Well-Known Member
Dear Paul

Ditto what the others have said. All of it is water under the bridge. If my son would or could write or speak what you have written, all of the pain, regret, fear, and guilt in me would evaporate. All there is under all of it is love and hope.

All of us do the best we can. In my view life is for learning and gradually to become the best person that we can be. In my book, all that you went through (and hopefully, for your parents too) will serve to deepen and strengthen your character and expand your heart for others, and hopefully for yourself.

Nothing at all is served by your falling onto your sword. You are allowed to make mistakes and to change. The past is gone, there is only right now. I think a simple "I am sorry" is enough...along with the commitment and follow through to live an ethical and responsible life.

Nobody turns on a dime. It's little by little. Like an ocean liner. Please don't be too hard on yourself.

I want to add something that could be somewhat painful and difficult. Trust and confidence are a muscle. It might be a while before your parents can trust the change that they are seeing with their eyes. Partly because they've been bruised, and fear being hurt and disappointed again. But also because parents are humans too. We are damaged by our own acts, our own lives, our own childhood. You are not responsible for the hurt in your parents. They are. And they are the ones who must heal themselves. This is not your baggage.

I think the most important thing is to forgive yourself. And the hardest. Take care.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Congratulations on changing your life. So very proud of you and I don't know you. Change is so very hard.

You can see here that you are most likely very very loved by your parents and yes you have hurt them deeply for many years. You can't sugarcoat it.

I would start by showing them love and compassion. It will take much time for them to see that you have truly changed but that's okay. Just seeing you do better each and every day is all they will need from you. THAT is what makes life better for them. It is very scary for them so give them the time they need to trust you again.

I'm going through the exact same thing now with our son. You're always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm starting to realize there are no more shoes hanging over my head after 2-1/2 years of having him home.

Prayers for your continued path.


Well-Known Member
I think making amends to a parent, as a parent, has to do more with changing your behavior toward them than words of regret. Of course you can verbally apologize or write a letter. Many of us have heard apologies a lot and our kids many times only to have it all fall apart the next day.

To me, and I am active in Nar Anon, actions speak louder than words. Don't tell me, show me I can trust you. I will be so grateful and filled with love. I have already forgiven my daughter although still in a bad place and not nice to us. How I pray that would change. Trust would be a bigger issue if she came back humbly. Forgiveness....that already happened.

Most parents are eager to forgive and want to trust. All you need to do is show them they can, that you are healing now. Congrats to you as you see a better way to live 🌹

Love and prayers.


Well-Known Member
This is wonderful. Blessings.
Be kind to them.
be appreciative.
be honest
be respectful
be responsible
be a good citizen
Live in a healthy manner.
When you can...and especially as they get helpful.

Be happy...but if you do the above...that’s probably a given.

Thank you for your post.Wishing you well.


New Member
Thank you all for enveloping me with support in this thread. I recently apologized to my parents again and they acknowledged it and have been very understanding. I wish I could do more than just say sorry... I think you guys are absolutely correct....the most I can do is through my actions today and moving forward. As for the damage throughout the home, I have repaired what I can already, and will finish the rest when I am more established in my career to have the funds to completely re-do the feels really good to be able to do "normal" family things and slowly gain back my parents' trust.

I still have a long ways to go to get to the best version of myself. One area I still need work in is emotional regulation...although im not prone to fits of violence anymore, I still make poor decisions when I'm heated and I've been exercising every day and attending group therapy.

For all you parents, I'm really impressed by the amount of resiliance and love in your own journeys. This is a truly challenging disorder, but I'm continually amazed by the level of commitment some of you guys have demonstrated.....I truly hope it pays off (if it hasn't already)....I know that for me, at least, if I hadn't had the parents I did, I wouldn't have the slightest chance in this world....probably would have have been long dead.

Thank you all and wishing each and every one of you all the best!


Roll With It

My son was a very difficult child. He did many of the things you have done with the exception of substance abuse issues. He did repeatedly make serious efforts to kill his sister and I over the years. None of the process was easy for any of us. Today he is someone I am incredibly proud of. He is building a career for himself. He has worked to rebuild his relationships with each of us. He started with inviting his little sister and brother (and his Dad) to go play D&D type games with him. My daughter enjoyed it but not on a regular basis. My youngest son gamed with him 2-4 times a week for 7 years. Now they game online, but they still game. He comes to visit me and just talk. I don't think any of the healing could have started without a sincere apology to each of us. I know that was hard for him. Even now, if he is having a bad day at work and I show up (he manages a grocery store), he will start to worry that he has been rude to me. He never is, he just worries that he might have been.

Now we try to get together for game night as a family, or to watch a movie or whatever, when he has time. He always stays in touch if he thinks anything is going on. For me, the best amends are that he is a loving and caring big brother to his siblings. And that he is enjoying his life.

I am glad you reached out to your parents with an apology. In time, things will just get better as you continue to make progress.


New Member
I just saw this post and it gives me so much hope! Thank you! All the apology I want from my son is to see him turn things around and a big hug!


Sending good vibes...
I agree with all the others here. So very happy for your turn-around! You are headed in the right direction. Someone mentioned -give this time. You have given the apology to your parents which is wonderful and now they will need to see it in your actions going forward.

They are eager I'm sure to embrace this new change but to some degree they will be guarded until more time has past to indicate this is for real.

So very happy for you. Keep doing all the things you've done to get you to this point.


Great to see change in behavior and in life overall, Don’t stop going to the support group. Your parents deserve happiness and you have giving them a Great gift of love and repentance!


Well-Known Member
Honey, I don't feel like I will EVER say the word sorry to my parents enough. Ever. Seems like every card I write that's what I'm saying. I put them through the ringer in my teenage years, and my daughter nailed the coffin in hers with them. I just always feel a bit of sadness about it, and will always feel like I can't make up for it. But, they are overjoyed with the blessings of my kids, their grandkids, and my stabilized life. They tell me I've brought them so much more joy than pain in my teenage years -- I just have a hard time reconciling with that, even if I know that it really is true. Keep loving them, and loving yourself.