Family feuds: and how to say sorry 26



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Ever had a spectacular family falling out, digging your heels in on an issue in the heat of the moment only to realise later that the pain and angst it caused was simply not worth it? Or perhaps when you looked into the actual facts of the situation you were standing up to fight about, you found you were in the wrong?   Families will be families and where there is love there is often dispute too.  Sure, it is not always your fault, but there is always an opportunity in life to apologise and make amends, even if it is just to try and keep the peace.

I know in my family, there is not a year that goes by that doesn’t require some kind of in-family apology.  This year it was the eloquent mutual apology between my mum and my brother after a spectacular dispute that caused us all to explore the methods for good apologies.  Funnily enough, my sister in law nailed it, on a recent trip to Australia to visit (they live in the US).  She saw mum for the first time since a large and emotional argument about a year ago, and extended a box of Cadbury’s Roses.  But what are the other ways that an apology can be felt and how should you go about it?

We all know how it feels to be on the wrong end of a dispute.  It can make you feel sick with worry not knowing how the situation might resolve itself or whether it will do so at all.  So if you are in the wrong, it is important you reflect on this feeling and remember that apologising needs to come with a full acknowledgement of what has been done that is “wrong”.  Even if you aren’t in the wrong you might choose to apologise out of the desire to not escalate the conflict further.  A good quality apology can make it clear that you want to put your relationship first, ahead of “winning”.

So how do you do it…? Here’s some tips.

1.  Consider whether you want to apologise in a quiet and humble way, or in a “quick and intense” way.  Each is a valid way to apologise, but quick and intense is said to be more effective, addressing the issue quickly, within the shortest possible time from when the disagreement happened.  We all know that the longer a fight goes on, the deeper the emotional wounds are.

2.  Make sure your apology is true and honest.  It really does need to come from the heart for someone to feel it.  And you need to show genuine feeling about why your loved one is upset.

3.  Take a proactive stance to discuss how you might avoid the same thing happening in the future.

4.  Consider an olive branch gesture to show just how much you value the loved one.  It might be a gift, a note, or a box of Roses as per my sister-in-law and mother’s recent dispute

Best of luck.  Sorry can be the hardest thing to say or the most rewarding, or both at once.

Have you battled with family feuds and the need and desire to give or receive an apology?  What tips can you share? 


Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I will never ever never forgive or forget

    7 REPLY
    • not really Judy, I am better off without any of them, I have so much hatred for them I hope they rot in hell

    • actually think I might write a book and name them all, then others can be aware and not let it happen to them, that would be interesting to say the least lol lol

    • thye dont even know where I am living now, but had to change my mobile number and then advise all the contacts took me about 5 hours to get it all organised, but worth every minute

  2. I have feuding sibblings right now, one resident in Australia booked a holiday over the xmas period for his family with extended family coming from other parts of NZ to a holiday destination in the Central North Island, without telling his NZ based sister. She and her family have had their caravan based there on a permanent site and we have all been there every xmas for a few years but a month ago the camping ground completely doubled the fees to over $4000 per year. Daughter and family decided the new fee was just too much as now they only go for the two week xmas period and terminated their contract and brought the caravan home. That is when her brother told us of their bookings there for the holiday period. now both are thinking the other one is being unreasonable and as the Australian based one cant get out of his booking and thinks his sister should have just paid the huge fee and stayed there. neither will give in and I am caught in the middle.!!! b…… kids !!!!!!!!

    2 REPLY
    • Step back Catherine – listen but don’t support either side. It’s the son’s fault for taking things for granted…the cause of most problems.

    • I am not getting involved, told both of them dont make me piggy in the middle !!! I can understand my sons frustration but also see my daughters side. !!!

  3. It doesn’t matter what I do with any of the immediate family I always doing it wrong and I won’t fight back. They will find out the hard way. Hate it this way but it never changes with a couple of people who are immediate family.

  4. After I lost my husband my doctor asked me if I knew how lucky I was to have a family…. Of 5 children now increased with wives, partners and grandchildren, …… And 3 brothers also with extended families. and we all get on. There is never a cross word ….. I feel totally blessed.

    2 REPLY
    • I have five wonderful kids and their spouses etc.(families total 36) and the only time I get worried is when I hear those suggestive words “Mum, we’ve been thinking….” or “Mum, we’ve had a meeting…” goodness knows what plans THEY precede.

  5. I feel like I’ve spent my life saying sorry. Many times I’ve done nothing to keep saying it, but anything for peace and quiet. Inside I get angry with myself for capitulating

  6. My sister and I have been waiting for a long time to hear sorry but time keeps going by both have serious health problems and I came very close to dying very recently which they all am aware of but still nothing the worst part is it affects all the children involved and that makes the hurt and betrayal even worse I guess some people don’t have strong family ties and that blood is not always thicker than water . In our family loyalty is given to the wrong person a man who doesn’t know the meaning of being a father or even being a decent human being maybe he has more to offer them than we do obviously they think they have made the right choice thank god we have the love of our own children and grandchildren and each other and close friends for which we are thankful for true love is unconditional

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