Making Amends to Adult Children: The Challenges

Filed in Gather Books Essential by on July 6, 2007 0 Comments

Because of my new book, “When Parents Hurt,” I am often asked by parents who are alienated from their children about how to go about healing their relationship. Many, rather, I should say, allof these parents are in enormous pain. Some of them have been cut off by their adult children for many years, while others for only a few months. There are many steps to healing a parent and as many to heal the relationship with a grown child. The first place to start is to acknowledge whatever mistakes you have made as a parent. While this is a crucial step, many parents object with the following reasons:


 “I did the best that I could.”


Yes, you did. But, you have to acknowledge that that might not have been enough. Your child may have needed something different from you that you were unable to perceive, or to carry out at the time. Saying that you did the best that you could is something you should remind yourself of, not your child.


“Just because I apologize doesn’t mean that I deserve to be rejected or mistreated by my child!”


That’s absolutely correct. Making amends for past mistakes isn’t the same thing as saying you were a terrible person or parent. It’s a willingness to see your behavior from your child’s perspective. There are separate realities in every family.


“I shouldn’t have to make amends. I deserve respect. My parents never apologized to me.”


You do deserve respect but respect is more likely to be received when it’s given. And the rules have changed: today’s children of all ages are on a far more equal playing field than parents of almost any other generation. And you don’t have to-it’s just that it increases the likelihood of a better outcome.



“Why should I try to make amends? It won’t change anything.”


It may not. There may be nothing you can do to save your relationship with your grown child. But making amends is something that you do as much for your own integrity as for him or her. It helps you to feel as though you have made a sincere and heartfelt attempt to address the relationship. It can help you to feel better about who you are regardless of who your child says you are.


Next week I begin my media tour that will encompass radio, TV, and other people’s parenting blogs. Below is my schedule. Please call up the station if I’m in your town or blog me at the parenting sites!

WHEN PARENTS HURT: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don’t Get Along” (HarperCollins)


                                     UPCOMING APPEARANCES:


Monday, July 9th



WHK RADIO/Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland/Akron/Toledo/Jackson MS/Providence RI

Albany, NY and on internet at:

12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Taped Pacific

4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Taped Eastern



Thursday, July 12th



KRMD FM/Shreveport, Louisiana

6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. Live Pacific

8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Live Central


Monday, July 16th



WPSL RADIO/Chicago, Streator, Il.

11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Taped Pacific

1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Taped Central


Wed. July 18th



(check for time)


Tuesday, July 24



Diane Rehm Show

11AM-Noon, Live Eastern,

2:00-3:00 Live Pacific


Monday, July 30th



WGET AM/Gettysburg, Pa.

5:30 a.m. to 5:55 a.m. Live Pacific

8:30 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. Live Eastern



My book is going to be reviewed and discussed at the parenting blogs, below.

Please join in on the discussion. Also check out Dr. Helen Vent’s review at


Tues, 7/10 – Campaign Launch:

Wed, 7/11 – Surrender Dorothy -
Thurs, 7/12 – Radioactive Girl -
Fri, 7/13 – Blooming Yaya -
Mon, 7/16 – Motherhood Uncensored -
Tues, 7/17 – Troll Baby -
Wed, 7/18 – Builder Mama -
Thurs, 7/19 – Mid-Campaign Post:
Fri, 7/20 – Cheese Party -
Mon, 7/23 – Soul Gardening -
Tues, 7/24 – Chaos Theory -
Wed, 7/25 – Pundit Mom -
Thurs, 7/26 – Round-Up Review:


Sign up today for Dr. Joshua Coleman’s FREE monthly ezine at or Dr. Coleman is an internationally known expert in parenting, couples, families, and relationships. A frequent guest on the Today Show, he has also appeared on ABC 20/20, Good Morning America, the BBC, and numerous news programs for FOX, ABC, and NBC television. Dr. Coleman’s advice has been featured in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, The London Times, and many other publications. He is a Senior Fellow with the Council on Contemporary Families and has a private practice in San Francisco and Oakland, California.






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