Have you ever wished you could go back and change something — an event, a conversation, a holiday, anything — that would change the course your relationship with someone took? Have any of those been family… or your kids?
When we reach our later years, our dream is to be surrounded by our kids and their families. For some of us though, negative relationships with — or even complete separation from — our children makes it profoundly difficult to have nice, happy family gatherings.
Family relationships are always emotionally charged, and both sides of the relationship can harbour hurt and resentment for a long time. This is what causes many parent-child relationships to be strained, and on occasion, to fall apart.
To start mending a broken relationship, it is important to keep the door open — reaching out, even through rejection, will help children see that their parents still want to try to be a part of their life, starting up some level of conversation hopefully. At the same time, if children have done something that caused the estrangement, and are extending a peace offering, parents would do well to reconcile.
As Professor of Psychiatry Robert C. Adams says, “The estrangement of adult children from parents, in cases where overt parental abuse had not in fact occurred, can in some instances be read as a mark of immaturity on the part of the adult children. Forgiveness involves understanding and identification with the difficulties one’s parents may have had, and as such, forgiveness is an expression of love and maturity.”
Of course, sometimes the hurt is still raw, or too fraught with emotions, to be able to have a civil conversation, and that’s okay too. Using a handwritten letter to communicate feelings is great therapy, and also gives both parties enough time to think about their feelings.
Whatever your situation, challenge, or struggle, believe that there’s still time if you want the relationship to change. There is always an opportunity to heal. Also, you can reach out if you want to, but sometimes, all you can do is leave the lighthouse of reason help guide your child’s wayward ship to the safety of your love.
Family is, after all, family.