Healing a family rift… It’s not easy 104



View Profile

My brother arrives in Australia next week for a family wedding. It’s been about a year since he and my mum spoke for more than a simple “Merry Christmas” which I thrust upon them by phone in a family moment.

Mum (64) and my sister-in-law had a rather large falling out over an emotive family issue while mum was staying with them in America where they live. It ended her trip badly, with her leaving in angst, and she hasn’t had any contact with her beautiful grandkids since, let alone my brother and sister-in-law.

As a family member I refuse to take sides. It’s none of my business what happened over there between the two lovely and loved ladies in my family. But it has certainly caused my mum and my brother and sister-in-law no end of angst. And frankly, with my brother hitting our shores we are faced with the first opportunity in a long time to heal the family rift.

How will it happen? I don’t quite know at this stage how it might come together, but I suspect I might have to be an instigator in a moment of opportunity. No more stoney silence if my goal is achieved. But how should I go about it on my brother’s very rare 3-day trip (and this time sans wife and kids) to Australia. Will I drop my brother in at my mum’s house, and leave them to spend a few hours together alone on the day of the wedding? Should I take them to somewhere where neither is on home turf and have them meet, like in a coffee shop or something in case there is an outburst? Or should I seek their mutual approval on a strategy to bring them together?

I took a look around the Internet about how the tipsters suggest dealing with a family rift.

It’s a tough one, because both my mum and my brother are cut from the same glorious cloth, that is, they both refuse to accept that they are to blame on this one. And they’ve both been carrying around the worries about each other for the whole year as baggage.

There’s an adage that you can only be as happy as your unhappiest child. No one wants to feel the heartache of being estranged from their children and grandchildren.

Moving past anger and blame to care

Children and parents who have been disappointed by their loved one, on the basis that they would be there for them or put them in front of all priorities need to take conscious steps to reengage with the relationship, moving past anger and blame in the relationship.

Sometimes, sitting back will help you understand that all the other party needs is a meaning “sorry”.

And with a sorry you might be surprised with the outcome. My mum and I have discussed the merits of “sorry” at length in her relationship with my brother. She doesn’t want to apologise as she doesn’t see or feel the problem sits at the end of her. But I suspect what both of them need is a jolly good mutual apology to be able to move past the moment.

Think about what really caused the situation and remedy it

What really happened to push your child, or you away from your family relationship? It is an important thing to acknowledge to yourself, even if it’s of no use to the relationship n the longer term.

Finally, think about what really matters. Is this fight or dispute and “who wins” really that important? If you’re family, full of blood and love, why would you let a disagreement marr some of the most precius years of grandparent and grandchildrens’ lives.

Have you had experience with family rifts? Any ideas for me?

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. Hi I would take your mum to the airport to greet and welcome them home to Australia. Maybe that way they won’t embarrass themselves or anyone in such a huge space. Let bygones be bygones. Some people just hold on . You just never know. Would be hard for both sides. Would be very hard for you. Maybe you may have to quietly intervern with your brother . Life’s too short. Good luck

  2. To me the answer would be for both parties to sit down and talk. But if the other party refuses to talk there is no chance of a harmonious solution. I am in the situation of having no contact with my grandchildren who live very near to us. Whenever we have run into our daughter or son-in-law by chance they quite literally run away. I wish you luck.

  3. Comes down to do u want to be right or be happy because it seems u can’t be both and life’s too short to carry around grudges agree to disagree and move forward

  4. Hhmmmmm…..can’t offer a solution because you didn’t state what caused the rift in the first place. To apologise if one feels they did nothing wrong can sometimes equate to admitting guilt when one is innocent and that can sometimes eat away at a relationship too

  5. They need to ‘ build a bridge and get over it’ life is too precious and short. Hope they put pride aside and reconcile, for everyones sake

  6. Hope it all goes well and for a lovely wedding day. I feel that seeing they are coming at all say’s alot, may be no apology but maybe they don’t wont the rift any more either.

  7. Do not sit on the fence. I am married into a family of fence sitters and it has caused a lot of grief over the years. I would put them both together and you should stay there as well. Just get them talking and hopefully they will realise that life is too short for this to happen.

    1 REPLY
    • Wish someone had done this for me many years ago. No family left now to do it.

  8. Time helps and not talking about what happened but just saying this sorry I love you !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *