It’s not uncommon for adult children to fall out with their parents, whether it’s due to a recent issue or a problem that’s been present since adolescence. However, if both sides are willing to work on the relationship and improve it, there are things that can be done. No matter if you’re the parent or the child in this situation, here are a few steps to take.
Looking within themselves
First of all, start by looking inward. You have to be aware of what your role in this deteriorating relationship was. Did you not support your anxious or depressed child when they needed it? Did you not respect your parent’s authority? As conflicts are typically a two-way street, both of you had a role in the disagreement that led to the relationship is what it is now. Look within to see if you can fix something in yourself before you tackle your relationship with your parent or child.
Establishing the problem
Before you can start fixing your relationship, it’s vital to establish the problem. What happened in your past that led to this strain between family members? Was there a lack of support, was there a lack of trust, was someone’s loyalty brought into question?
From betraying someone’s privacy and sharing secrets to cheating them out of money, there are various things that might have happened. Saying what the problem was out loud will ensure everyone understands what you’re trying to fix. Once you’re both aware of the issue, it will be easier to approach it.
When you start talking to each other again and addressing the issue, you can begin initiating change. Ask for forgiveness or forgive the other side. If you’re not yet ready to forgive, tell them what it would take for the relationship to improve. In case you’re not ready to talk yet, you can start by sending letters or text messages. As it can be difficult to change at once, small changes will be of the essence.
Slowly easing into the relationship
It will not be easy to fix everything all at once. Keep in mind that it will take time to get over some things and resentments. It’s useful to remember not to put a lot of pressure on yourselves to resolve everything immediately. If there are years of conflict and trauma, there is a lot to work through and it will not happen overnight.
Turning to professionals
There are situations that you will simply not be able to resolve on your own. In that case, it’s a good idea to turn to professionals. For example, you can look for a parenting coach that will work with everyone and help you reach an agreement.
They can suggest some strategies that you can apply to your relationship and see if you can improve it that way. Moreover, if you have things to talk through, turning to a family therapist is also recommended as you might uncover some things that you didn’t even realize were bothering you.
Setting new boundaries
No matter if you look for professional help or not, it’s also advised to set new boundaries. It’s probably not best to go back to how things were between you. It’s better to establish exactly what you’d like to see from this new and improved relationship. Decide on the boundaries that suit you and ask the other person to do the same.
If you see that you cannot respect each other’s limits, you need to rethink this whole endeavor and see how you can work together to have a better relationship. Trying to reconnect while not following the set boundaries will not get you far.
Having realistic expectations
For your own mental health, it’s important to have realistic expectations. You probably know how this person tends to act. If you notice any old patterns despite them saying they’ve changed, you should know better than to expect instant results.
Nothing will be solved in a matter of minutes. Keep your expectations low and understand that the other person is also human and bound to make mistakes; that will make a positive outcome that much better.
Taking the necessary time
Finally, remember not to focus on time. Any therapist will tell you that it will take time (perhaps years) to improve the relationship. Furthermore, everyone has their own timeline. While you might feel better about the whole situation after only a few sessions, the other party might need more time. Let everything happen in its own time and don’t rush it.
If you’re not happy with where your relationship with your parent or child is right now, fret not as there are various ways how you can fix it.