Ask an Expert: How Do I Make Amends With my Adult Children?

By Larissa Mooney 02/19/15
Today's question is on how to, if possible, earn the forgiveness of your adult children who resented your addicted self.

I am pushing 50 and for a year have been clean and I think I am doing well except in one area. I want my three children, all adults in their twenties, to forgive me and they are still holding a lot of resentment. I don't have a therapist and not sure I am getting the best advice from my sponsor. I'd like to hear from one of your people. Thank you. - Arlene


Larissa Mooney:  Arlene, rebuilding trust in recovery can take a long time – perhaps longer than you would like. You have accomplished a great deal by achieving sobriety over the past year, and healing damaged relationships with friends and family may be one of the hardest challenges in recovery. 

Without knowing the details of your situation, I would encourage you to have open and honest conversations with your children about this process and the goals you are striving for in your relationships. I would reflect on what you have been through as a family and factors that may be making it difficult to move forward at this time.  I would also ask yourself whether you are consistently dependable, accountable, and responsible in your daily interactions with others. These are important steps to earn trust from those around you.  

Throughout this process, I would focus on changing things that are within your control, such as your reactions to others, choices, and activities, and accepting what may not be in your control. With consistency, patience and time, your relationships will strengthen and heal.



Larissa Mooney, MD, is the Director of the Addiction Medicine Clinic at University of California, Los Angeles, and is a board certified addiction psychiatrist with expertise in the treatment of substance use disorders and psychiatric co-occurring disorders. She is also Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at     Full Bio.

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