WE often invest time and energy into trying to fix romantic relationships or friendships. But we become timid, or even down right stubborn when it comes to repairing the relationship with our parents. While every family and every situation is different, the truth is that your parents are family and family deserves a second chance. Life coach, Andrew Jacobs, and senior counselling social worker at The Family Life Centre, Thuli Buttoman, share insights into repairing your relationship with your parents after a fallout.
HOW TO PUT OUT THE FIRE
Thuli says it’s pointless to want to talk to your parents when things are still heated. “All of you are angry, so letting go of your anger first is the best option. Once you feel as though you are in a different mindset and are able to speak to them, pick up the phone and say that you are coming over. Make your approach without any confrontation,” says Thuli. “Acknowledge that the situation has not been okay between you and that you wish to resolve the issues. As you are aware of what transpired, acknowledge what took place and let it be known that you are there to resolve the matter.” Thuli says your approach to the situation is important and could increase the tension or soften things if done right. “You must approach your conversation with your parents with caution and you need to make it clear that you are looking for reconciliation. Emphasise openness, stay away from vulgar words and speak calmly,” advises Thuli.
MAKE AN EFFORT
Thuli further adds that you should not shy away from mentioning why your relationship went sour. But you shouldn't focus on that, instead focus on where you want the relationship to go. “Take baby steps with phone calls or small Sunday brunch visits and then work your way up to longer visits or events such as family gatherings,” she says.
THE FIRE STARTER
Thuli adds that giving your parents a second chance will take work, patience and understanding. Andrew says fixing your relationship with your parents is like fixing any other relationship, the best way to begin repairing any broken relationship is to uncover where it went wrong in the first place. “There are a number of possible reasons why your relationship with your parents turned sour. Some reasons may be considerable and for a good reason, while others may be insignificant, petty or just a result of stubbornness,” he says. Thuli adds that there are a few things that may be the root of the conflict such as:
Misinterpretations: The conflict may have been caused by misreading someone's actions and misunderstanding actions or words that were said.
Generational gap: The generational gap is now wider than ever with the introduction of a lot of new ways of living. This gap often reduces our ability to relate to one another. Your parents often don’t understand why you want certain things or are choosing to live differently from how they lived at your age.
YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE
Thuli says you should remember that the conflict is not only about you as it effects the whole family. “Fighting with your parents will have an impact on the relationship your children have with their grandparents,” she says. “Seeing a counsellor can be helpful. They provide a harmless and neutral environment for your interaction, can act as an intermediary, help keep you focused on amends rather than starting old arguments and help you understand each other.”