Tuesday’s blog post focused on how divorce and parenting style can cause a breach in your relationship with your adult children.
As a marriage and family therapist, I know there are all kinds of reasons why parents and adult children become distant. The experts used to think that negative behavior was due to bad parenting. But decent parents can raise difficult kids. Some may have a demanding temperament from birth, are harder to parent or are less responsive to influence. It’s been said that you’re only as happy as your least happy child. Estrangement causes heartache, regret and shame, as well as the belief that you’ve failed at one of life’s most important jobs.
If your child won’t let go of the past, it may be up to you. Here are some ways to make the first move to reach out and heal the rift:
Take responsibility. Resist self-criticism, but acknowledge your part because there’s truth in what both of you have to say.
Clarify expectations. Evaluate what caused the eruption and how you’ve solved problems together in the past.
Try journaling. Writing about how you feel will bring more clarity and understanding. When you apologize, express remorse not just guilt.
Accept. You can’t resolve the past and some things will not change. Realizing that, in itself, may improve your relationships.
No matter what, family bonds are for life. Consider this a work in progress and try not to give up. Family counseling may help you understand each other’s point of view. Bear in mind that your apology may not heal all wounds. At some point you need to make peace with the fact that you did everything you could.
This month our posts at www.RealHealth.Anthem.com have focused on family connections. If you’re interested in reading them, here’s an article on the Lifecycle of Sisters, and videos about Leaning on Siblings and Family Reunions. Why not share some of your family stories with us? And, as always, we welcome your comments and questions.