15 Apologies Your Adult Child Needs To Hear (But You’ve Never Offered)

15 Apologies Your Adult Child Needs To Hear (But You’ve Never Offered) Shutterstock

Parenting isn’t an easy job, and most parents make mistakes. Whether it’s your first child or your last, it’s a learning experience that begins with what you learned from your parents. Sometimes, this creates cycles of neglect, abuse, and other harmful things, but not always. When determining what your adult child may want to hear in an apology from you, start by thinking about what you wish your parents would have said “I’m sorry” for. Even if you were your child’s best friend and confidant, there’s a chance they wish you’d have done some things differently. Let’s look at some apologies your adult child needs to hear before it’s too late.

1. For not offering them religious freedom.

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Religion and spirituality are significant parts of many people’s lives. If you grew up in a church setting, you likely also raised your children in that church. You may have baptized them when they were little—without their permission. You might have even sent them to bible school and had them go to confession regularly without giving them a choice of whether this felt like the right path for them or not. While many children stick with the chosen religion or spiritual path as their parents into adulthood, some don’t.

2. For punishments that may have been over the top.

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Many parents incorporate the same punishment techniques as their parents did, no matter how outdated they may be. While some punishments may have had a more significant impact on their behavior, there are times when punishments are way over the top. Some unnecessary punishments included spanking them in public, grounding them for weeks, or cutting off meals and affection. If you did these things to your child even once, it likely left a lasting impression and requires an apology.

3. For being more of a friend than a parent.

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On the opposite side of the spectrum of people who over-parent, are those who under-parent. You wanted to be friends with your kids rather than a parent, so you let them get away with things most parents would have set punishments in motion for. Perhaps you talked to them about inappropriate things for their age. Maybe you let them do things like drink and smoke without explaining the adverse effects because you wanted to be the fun and cool mom or dad. Your child may have come out of this okay, but they could also have developed some issues with making friends their age, struggles with substances, and issues with authority.

4. For not hearing them during a crisis.

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It’s pretty easy to ignore children’s stories about bullies and mean people, but sometimes what they tell you is a fact. If your child was bullied or abused in any way by a peer or an adult while they were young, and you pushed it off as a fabricated story, now is the time to talk to them about it. You may have been doing what you thought was best at the time, but those events likely caused lasting trauma in your child’s life, and while an apology won’t make the hurt go away, it could be a big step in their recovery process.

5. For pushing your career wishes on them.

Portrait of unhappy cute little girl sadness looking away sitting on bed during parents quarrelling and fighting in living room on background. Concept of family problems, conflict, crisis.

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Perhaps you didn’t get the chance to do something you dreamed of doing, like becoming a doctor. So, you pushed your child to fulfill your career dreams, even if it wasn’t what they wanted to do with their life. They may have done what you wished and are living an unhappy lie, or maybe they didn’t, and you have a little resentment toward them because of it. In this case, an apology is never too late because no matter how old we are, we can do something new with our lives, and you may open your adult child up to pursuing their real passion.

6. For wanting them to follow the same path as you.

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If you ran a family business, you probably pushed your children to be part of that, even if it wasn’t what they wanted to do for a career. This isn’t the only path you may have blocked for your children. If you pushed them to attend the same college you did or join the same sorority or fraternity you were part of; you may have taken away the hope of going to some other college or even pursuing a technical career.

7. For spoiling them too much.

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Some parents spoil their children too much. And, while not all spoiled children grow up expecting everything to be handed to them, some do. If your child takes more than they give, and you spoiled them as they grew up, you may be the reason why they are the way they are.

8. For not giving them enough.

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Some parents hold back too much from their children. Perhaps you didn’t have a lot of money to buy your children a lot of presents, or you wanted to teach them the importance of being happy with what they had, no matter how little. Either way, if they had friends with more, they may have felt as though you were neglecting them—whether or not you were, apologizing and explaining the situation can go a long way.

9. For not teaching them the fundamentals of life.

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While some parents do an excellent job teaching their children about money, fixing cars, how to take care of a home and yard, and the importance of a good job, others don’t. If you relied on your child’s school to teach them the fundamentals of life, they may have missed out on some key factors—like how to save money and stay out of debt. Of course, it’s never too late to start saving or paying off those debts, but perhaps now is a good time to apologize and give them some pointers.

10. For having someone else raise them.

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If you hired a nanny to raise your kids or left them with family members for extended periods, your children may have felt abandoned when they were younger. Those scars may still exist even if you seem to get along now. Apologizing and showing a little added love and affection for your adult children could help them move on from that childhood trauma.

11. For not letting them be themselves.

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While there are some things parents don’t want their children to do, like letting them wear a string bikini at the age of 16, not allowing them to explore who they are can leave them feeling like frauds. If you tell your child how to dress, what music to listen to, what friends to hang out with, and shelter them in any way, you possibly hold them back from becoming who they are truly meant to be.

12. For not being more open about feelings and emotions.

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Did you teach your children that it isn’t okay to cry? If you punished them for crying or being upset, you may have altered how they dealt with their emotions. By teaching kids to embrace their emotions and allowing them to see ours, we help boost their emotional intelligence. Open up to your adult children about why you may have suppressed your own feelings and theirs.

13. For not spending more time with them.

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Even if you raised your children yourself, you may not have spent enough quality time with them. Did you play with your kids? How often? Did you read to them, or have them read to you? If these are things you didn’t do too much of because of career, school, or life in general, now is an excellent time to start spending more time with them.

14. For being too strict.

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There’s a point where strict parenting goes a bit too far. If you grounded your children often, kept them from extra-curricular activities to “keep an eye on them,” or were abusive in any way, your apology can mean more than you think it will. While being a strict parent can sometimes be helpful, being too strict can leave lasting psychological wounds.

15. For your romantic relationships.

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Good on you if you had a happy marriage or relationship with your child’s other parent. For some children, however, single parents can bring in a slew of issues that lead to childhood trauma. If you and your partner divorced and you spoke ill of them to your child, now is the time to apologize for that. If you always had new partners, that revolving door may have confused your children about love and romance.

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Yvonne started studying healing therapies in 2008 and has since earned multiple degrees and a Holistic Wellness Practitioner Certification. As a spiritual counselor, Yvonne has helped people with relationships, wellness, and more. She is also a Reiki Master and a Professional Oracle Reader and Dream Interpreter.

Yvonne has a Ph.D. in Holistic Life Coaching which taught her about wellness and occult practices. She studied everything from meditation skills to world religions and art therapy. She also has a D.D. in Spiritual Counseling.