15 Parents Who Did A Complete 180 And Became Way, Way Better People For The Kids Who Needed Them Much Earlier

15 Parents Who Did A Complete 180 And Became Way, Way Better People For The Kids Who Needed Them Much Earlier

Note: This post contains mentions of abuse, sexual abuse, and suicide.

Nobody is perfect, much less parents. Recently, members of the BuzzFeed Community shared what caused their parents to genuinely become better people, and the stories are powerful. Here are the most candid responses from adults who ended up giving their parents a second chance:

1."My dad is the best example. He was a pretty conservative man from the time my brother and I were born. My brother came out when he was 17, and my dad didn't take it well. He even grounded him. It broke my brother's (and my) heart. Now, we are both in our late 20s. Recently, my dad accompanied my brother to a drag show and gay bar. My dad even painted his nails for the occasion. He was the loudest in the room and even talked to the drag queens afterward. He never apologized (that I know of) to my brother for his reaction when he came out, but my brother took that night as his apology. It's one of my favorite stories to tell."

Two people, an elderly man, and a younger man, smile while standing by a body of water with arms around each other. The older man wears glasses and a short-sleeve shirt, and the younger man wears a long-sleeve shirt
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2."My dad never worked in food service or retail, so he always acted like an asshole whenever restaurants or fast food spots messed up his order. He didn't tip servers very well, and he always kind of looked down on people who worked such jobs. Well, when I was 17, I started my first summer job at a local pizza spot. One day, my dad came in to drop off my lunch that I'd forgotten at home, but it was during a lunch rush, so he had to wait at a table for a bit before handing it to me since I was working the register. While he was waiting, there was an extremely rude customer who started yelling at me since he couldn't use his expired coupon or whatever. I kept my cool because I was used to customers acting out, but then my dad came to the front of the line and told the customer off about yelling at a teenage girl. After that, he didn't say anything about it, but he noticeably began treating food and retail workers with a lot more respect."

—Julie, 32

3."I had a really difficult relationship with my parents growing up. After my mom stole my car, we became estranged again. For years, I had worked on finally letting go and realizing that our relationship just would not improve. I had to give up hope and mourn. I don't know what sparked it, but after a few years, my mom dropped a letter off at my house with a genuine apology. It felt different than the previous 'apologies.' I gave her a chance, and things have been really good since. I think the difference was that she started seeing a more qualified psychologist rather than her previous therapist, and she also found out I was planning an international move."

A woman in a casual top, seated at home, looks emotional as she reads a letter. Plants and household items are visible in the background

—Sam, 26, Canada

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4."My mother was not very kind to me growing up, but my brother could do no wrong. Fast-forward 15 years, my brother was battling alcoholism (thanks, Dad), and I had just had a baby. Suddenly, my mom was so proud of me, and I didn't even know what to do with that. I was still very wary of her, but she seemed to be trying. Then, when she got cancer, she became totally caring, interested, and suddenly not judgmental at all anymore. I'm still not sure how I feel about the 180-turn, but I am glad we got to clear the air before she died."


5."My father was verbally and sometimes physically abusive with my mom up until my early teens. He was really struggling with his own problems from when he was younger; he would feel horrible after he would be mean to her. I remember walking by their bedroom once and seeing him on his knees, sobbing his eyes out against my mom's belly. When I was about 14, he had to leave for a few months for work in West Africa. He brought books written by counselors and such with him. Something clicked in him during that trip; he became a completely different man in terms of the bad parts of him. That was nearly 15 years ago, and my parents could not be more in love now."

A person with wavy hair and a plaid shirt reads a book while sitting by a train window. Trees are reflected in the window outside.

6."Growing up, my mom put immense stress on me to perform well academically — to the point where I developed so much anxiety that it would physically make me sick. When I didn't break the top 50 in my high school class and was rejected from all the 'good' colleges I'd applied to, my mom canceled my graduation and my upcoming birthday parties. She was extremely hard on me and had always implied that I was a disappointment to her. Then, after my grandma passed, it took a major toll on her, and she started going to therapy. I don't know what happened during those sessions, but she finally eased up and even said she was proud of me. Now, we have a much better relationship. I'll never forget how she treated me, but she is a much better person and mom now."


7."My dad was very verbally and emotionally abusive from the time I was 12 or so until I moved out after graduating high school. He blamed me for my own sexual assault, was very rude and abusive to service workers, and would often leave me to take care of the house and my verbally and physically abusive older brother — who was six years older and whom Dad knew all about his abuse — while he traveled all over Europe and got plastic surgery. I was walking on eggshells, juggling all the responsibilities. Then, I graduated high school, and right before I moved to the UK for undergrad (from the US), he came out as gay (he was 61 years old when this happened) and told me he had a boyfriend."

Person sits on the edge of an unmade bed, looking out of a window at trees. Bedroom setting suggests contemplation or reflection

8."When I was 15, I attempted suicide. I had an awful relationship with my parents (who are/were divorced) and felt alone and isolated in my own family. My siblings also treated me like shit. While I was in the psychiatric ward, my mom and dad came to visit me every day. The psych associates said they almost never had parents do that. We did a family therapy session daily, and I learned a lot about them. They really loved me so much, and they got to hear how I felt about how they treated me. My mom said she had no idea and was so sorry I ever felt like she didn’t care about me. When I came home, we continued our family therapy and grew so much closer. I now tell my parents everything, and I love them so much."


9."My parents got divorced. Growing up, they did their best to be great parents (and did an amazing job!) but had a toxic relationship that did no good for anyone. I learned some terrible ways to handle emotions/conflict watching them fight, and I also started to form a complex that I was the only reason they were together and, therefore, the root of all of their marital problems (if anyone else feels this way, years of therapy did wonders). They finally split up when I was in my early 20s but really dragged their feet to file the paperwork. And then, of course, things got nasty when financials got involved. My mom stayed at home when we were younger, and my dad resented that she would get more out of the settlement because of that."

A man and woman sit on opposite ends of a couch, facing away from each other, appearing upset or in disagreement

10."My dad was very violent when I was a kid. There was constant screaming, and I was terrified of him to the point where I never wanted to see him again. Two years ago, he and my mom divorced, and he completely changed. He is now very spiritual and close to nature (I am into occultism, and he shamed me for it for years). He doesn't get angry anymore, and I spend all of my time with him. I love that we get along so well, but I can't stop thinking about little me and how he made my life a living hell. It is really hard to forgive, but it is such a joy to see him finally peaceful and enjoying life."


11."I never had a good relationship with my mother. She always made sure I had everything I needed to stay alive, but emotionally, she was either unavailable or straight-up hostile. However, she had a great relationship with my older brother, who was her first child. My mom always followed him wherever he went, destroying all obstacles for him every step of the way. She was what you would call a 'lawnmower parent' to him, which really messed him up in the long run. But anyway, when I was 17 and my brother was 21, I, unfortunately, found out about an incestuous relationship going on between him and my mom. I was absolutely shattered and ran away to stay with a friend until I went off to college. I did not contact my mother or brother once during college and planned never to again."

A person is shown packing clothes into a suitcase while pressing down to fit everything in. The scene takes place on a bed

12."Growing up, my dad had a real anger problem. He didn’t drink or do drugs — he was just angry all the time. He would take it out on me and my siblings. We would be thrown around, hit, choked, and called every name under the book. I never understood why my mom stayed with him. At 18, I got pregnant. I was too terrified to tell my parents, so I ran away and told them when I was about six hours from home. I told my dad straight up that he would never know this child and that my child would never know what it would be like to feel so horrid all the time. This was the turning point for my dad. He knew he had issues but always struggled to find help. He suddenly just decided he was going to be a better grandfather than he was a father; he started therapy and continues to this day. My son is 15 now, and they have an awesome relationship. Honestly, I wouldn’t have survived being a young single parent without my dad. I am beyond proud of how much he has changed."

—Amie, 33, Australia

13."My dad came from an abusive, alcoholic upbringing. The only stories he told us about his childhood were messed up and typically made me feel really sad for him. He loved us, but he was scary when he got angry — verbally abusive to my mom and siblings. When I was an adolescent, he told my siblings and me one day that he wasn't happy, didn't love our mom, and was moving out. He imploded our world. Cue basically a falling out and near 20-year estrangement or near estrangement between us kids and him. He never stopped trying to reach out periodically, but typically, I couldn't engage with him. Around 2018 and 2019 (probably before then), he became more stable in his communications. It felt possible to reopen myself to our relationship since I never stopped loving my dad, nor did I ever question if he loved me. I always wanted him in my life; he was just very unsafe. But, then, he wasn't."

A man and a woman are sitting on a couch having a serious conversation. The woman has long hair and is seen from the back

14."My parents were high school sweethearts. They started dating when they were 14 but broke up after graduation. My mom married a piece of trash six months later and had my oldest brother. Her first husband abused her horribly — everything you can think of. She was lucky to get out alive. They divorced. Four years after their breakup, my mom reunited with her high school sweetheart, and they started dating again. My mom got pregnant with my next brother and married two months later. My mom then had my third brother, me, and then my sister. They were the best parents they could be. They went through a lot of trauma and abuse in both of their pasts. My mom was angry and blew up all the time; anything would set her off. We lived in fear of her and her blow-ups."

A young girl with long hair sits curled up on stairs, appearing sad. She is wearing a patterned tank top and shorts

15.Lastly: "When I first came out as trans — when I was still financially dependent on my parents — my mom did NOT take it well. And by 'not taking it well,' I mean that, while it wasn't to the point of physical abuse, we're talking pretty severe (and arbitrary) verbal and emotional abuse. When it came to light that I was considering dropping out of college so I could work enough hours to rent an apartment and start hormones hopefully, my mom was shocked and hurt that I assumed she would cut me off — despite her telling me I 'wasn't allowed' to transition while she was still financially supporting me in any way. My saint of a father managed to convince her to meet with my therapist to try and get a better understanding of where I was coming from without requiring me to continue to try and get my perspective across and be ignored/screamed over."

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If your parent underwent a sudden (or gradual) change of heart, share your story with us down in the comments, or you can anonymously submit it using this form.

Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Dial 988 in the US to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ+ youth, is 1-866-488-7386. Find other international suicide helplines at Befrienders Worldwide (befrienders.org).