Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Parenting My Son with Bipolar: ‘I’m Sorry’


By Julie Joyce

I’m Sorry.

Two little words that can really be effective in a relationship but only if the person saying it really means it. Living with someone who has bipolar it is often a struggle not to take their words personally when you become a target of their anger.

For many years I accepted my son’s apologies over and over. I knew it was the illness that was causing the behavior. The problem was as he got older it became harder for me to differentiate between the illness and his person. Especially in adolescents.


@BarbieBF, thank you for sharing that link to Julie’s article. I can relate.

The upset I’ve felt living with my 24-year-old son – who allows himself to go off his sleep schedule, stop taking (or reducing) meds, become vulgar and angry – is so painful. The stress turns my world upside down. Last year at this time I could hardly get out of bed from depression - maybe I could accomplish one thing, then sleep more. :sleeping:

The Julie Joyce article you linked has a comment:
“Letting someone go to save yourself is exactly where we are. Our son never apologizes, he just says we need to accept him the way her is but he’s emotionally abusive, rude, disrespectful…… We’ve finally told him he needs to move out on his own.”

I @Johnjohn have been on that brink too. I have the list of homeless shelters and housing facilities in my hands. Of course having the list doesn’t necessarily mean there are any beds available. I haven’t given him the boot yet. But his mother who lives in another state can handle him for a couple months at a time, and that gives me a break. Even though she’s my “ex” we get along and work together very effectively with our son.

When things are bad, I often just walk out of the house, I don’t engage. He tells me that sometimes I’m a “pain in the a__”, but he also likes to know I’m close by. I DON’T EVER WANT TO SHAME HIM, but I don’t want to be a doormat either.

I often use the words, "I’m sorry."
If his phone doesn’t do some feature he wants and he’s really agitated, I say, “I’m sorry your phone won’t function the way you want it to. It would be cool if it did.”

If he wants to go to Korean Barbecue for dinner, and he’s angry when I say it’s not in our budget, I say, “I wish we could go there. I’m sorry, it will have to be another time.”

I’ve found that if I can say, “I’m sorry.” – HE can too. We set a standard for each other. Whenever he apologizes, I wipe the emotional slate CLEAN. I don’t hang onto the anger. I make his apology SAFE and repeatable - so he knows that HIS apology gets HIM real results.

Also borrowing from

Our role may be to keep a tedious balance between “letting go” and “healthy expectations.”

We teeter-totter between good boundaries and “giving the person a life.” We wish to maintain our dignity, our careers, our tempers, our dreams — all while being a part-time manager of a bipolar/schizophrenic’s off-center behaviors.

A doctor in Hawaii made a difference in the lives of prisoners living in the worst circumstances. This SIMPLE thought/prayer/mantra technique can and does make a difference. EVERYONE at some BASIC level – needs to hear these words:

I’m sorry.
Please forgive me
I love you.
Thank you.

This is called the Ho’oponopono prayer. Can it make a difference in healing the feelings of the mentally ill? Here’s Dr. Hew Len’s uplifting story of positive change at the Hawaii State Hospital, at a special ward, a clinic for mentally ill criminals…

Thank you to everyone on this site for all the helpful sharing. :sunny: