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by Abigail Van Buren

Terrible Teen Turned Terrific Wants to Thank Mom and Dad

DEAR ABBY: I am a 21-year-old female student living at home. During my middle and senior school years, I was more than a handful, to put it mildly. I was angry and depressed, and caused my mother and her new husband a lot of problems. I did some horrible things. I got kicked out of several schools, received failing grades and ran with a bad crowd. I am very ashamed of my behavior.

I know I have deeply hurt my mother and the rest of my family. I am doing well now, but I don't know how to apologize to them and thank my mother for her support and for all she's done for me. I wake up every morning and thank my lucky stars that I wasn't thrown out on the streets.

My mother and stepfather have worked diligently to help me turn into the caring young woman I am today. Abby, how can I ever make up for the grief and heartache I caused them? Without them, I would be nothing. -- INDEBTED TO THEM, LAKEWOOD, CALIF.

DEAR INDEBTED: Your parents' reward comes from seeing what a fine young woman you have become. Parents are very forgiving. Your present behavior can make up for the past.

However, it wouldn't hurt to talk to your mother and stepfather and tell them how you feel. Apologize, and tell them you will spend the rest of your life being a credit to them. Let them know you love them, and continue being the caring, contributing member of your family and community that you have become.