Sometimes adult children want to improve relations with their parents, even if before that they had conflicts and misunderstandings. Together with a psychologist, we understand why it is important for this to accept the shortcomings of the parents, give up expectations and complete the separation.
Where to start if you want to build relationships with your parents
family psychologist, EFT and EMDR therapist, studied at the Institute of Psychoanalysis and the Center for Systemic Family Therapy, work experience – 4 years.
There are no universal strategies and magic tips. Every situation is different. If you decide to build a relationship, build on your own experience and history of relationships with your parents.
First you need to understand what you have already done and what came of it. Rate your previous communication strategy:
- How did this strategy of behavior work, what results did it lead to?
- What did you do and what did you say to your parents?
- How did they react?
Based on this analysis, you can develop a new strategy. At the very least, you can definitely try doing things differently.
But first, make sure that you are really ready to build relationships with your parents. Ask yourself the question: “Why do I want to do this?” Do not stop at simple answers from the series “These are the parents …”, “Vasya has such a good relationship with dad …”, “Why not …”. The best thing to do is to sit down and make a list of 5-10 answers to the “why” question, so that each next item follows from the previous one. This will help you understand what you expect from communication. Perhaps, behind the desire to make peace and become closer, there is still an unconscious expectation that now the parent will see, understand, give or acknowledge.
Building relationships is worth it if you are ready to accept all the imperfections that your parents have and accept from them what they can give you right now. Perhaps your mother will still grumble. But now you can accept it and see behind it her care and concern for you, and perhaps this will make you feel a little warmer.
What is separation and why is it important
Separation is the physical and emotional separation of a person from his family. In this process, children’s relationships are completed, they are replaced by a new communication “adult-adult”. There is an acquisition of autonomy when a person takes responsibility for his life.
A well-performed separation process is characterized by the fact that a person can have his own opinion, similar to the opinion of his parents or different from it, and at the same time act as he sees fit. At the same time, physical separation, when a person moved out of his parents and began to live independently, is not a sign of separation. Most of the time, moving doesn’t change anything. An adult child can remain just as dependent on the opinions of the parents, their decisions. An important aspect of separation is precisely the fact that a person independently makes decisions based on his own opinion.
It is important not to confuse separation with an emotional break. An emotional break occurs when the connection with the parents is simply cut off. That is, a person tries to separate from the family through physical and psychological distancing. But at the same time, the “child-parent” relationship remains incomplete, the inner emotional life of an adult child continues to be filled with them. An indicator of such a gap is the emotional reaction to the parents. For example, when a person has already grown up, he does not have communication with his parents, but he continues to blame them for his failures, remember with resentment that they were unfair, get angry at some situation from the past.
When you want to build a relationship with your parents, separation is key. Conflicts and difficulties in the relationship “adult child – parent” remain if a person “gets stuck” in the position of a child and continues to demand, hope that the parent will understand, come to the rescue, give permission for something. In a failed separation, a person expects a certain behavior from the parent that will not hurt him, and reacts sharply if the parent does something differently.
An important task in separation is to see your parent as he is. He is not a monster or a superhero, not a deity standing on a pedestal. It’s just a man with his own strengths and weaknesses. Once the separation is complete, there is no hope that the parent can be changed. A person sees his parents as they are, and on the basis of this decides whether to continue communication or not.
Situation: there was no definite conflict in the family, but with age, the child and parents moved away, began to communicate less.
What can a child do if he wants to get closer to his parents?
In such a scenario, rapprochement, if needed and desired by both parties, often happens by itself. Some unifying events, such as the birth of grandchildren, can serve as a catalyst.
If such events do not occur, then you can try to reduce the distance on your part. For example, come to your parents and drink tea together or say that you think that you have moved away and you would like to become closer. You can invite mom and dad to go somewhere or take a walk in the park together. And in a situation where something sad or joyful happened to you, try calling them and sharing your experiences.
It always makes sense to analyze why the distance still happened. You may find that this is the normal course of life. We cannot be as close to our parents at 30 as we were in early childhood. As we grow older, our ties with our parents weaken so that we can redirect our energy to get closer to other people, choose a partner for ourselves and establish this closeness with him.
Situation: there was a conflict. Once upon a time, the child was offended by his parents, or they were at him, because he entered the wrong university, moved, chose an “inappropriate” partner. In general, he made an independent decision, which his parents did not approve. Perhaps they are still arguing about it, or they don’t communicate at all.
What should an adult child do to improve relations with parents?
It must be recognized that a parent has the right to have an opinion different from yours. And also accept that the parent may not agree with you, may experience a variety of emotions about your decisions. That’s why you and an adult, so as not to be offended by this, not to seek the approval of your parents about your own decisions.
If you still have arguments about the correctness of your decisions and you are trying to convince your parents that you did everything right, then it is very difficult for you to accept that they are unhappy with you or that they are experiencing some kind of “bad” emotions because of you. . You need to try to let go of this feeling. Take a deep breath and a long exhale, pause. Ask yourself the question: “Why do I keep insisting that I am right, why do I want to convince them? Am I sure I did the right thing?” You can even apologize to them and say that you are sorry that your decision affected them so much or became a source of contention that you did not want it. We do not know what reaction will follow this. But at least your parents will be surprised, and then it will be seen. In any case, with this action, you have already moved the trolley off the usual rails.
Situation: the child in the process of growing up did not communicate much with the parent. For example, his mom and dad were divorced. Now he has grown up and wants to make contact with one of them.
What should he do?
It is worth analyzing what you expect from this contact, what you hope for. It is important to understand and be prepared for the fact that the parent will not be what you imagined him to be. It may not behave the way you expect. But if you are interested and you are ready to try to establish communication, just let him know about your desire to communicate and see what the reaction will be.
How to build communication and what to prepare for if you decide to improve relations with your parents
Again, there is no universal advice here. Most importantly, try doing things differently and respond differently. For example, if you know that you usually get very turned on or overreact to a phrase, think ahead about how else you might respond to it.
If you usually argue all the time, then try to listen to your parent this time. Tell him: “I think I heard you, you said such and such.”
If you often take offense at something or demand that your parents admit something, try asking their forgiveness this time. I’m sure everyone has a story to apologize for.
Unfortunately, you need to be prepared for disappointment when trying to build relationships with your parents. The most difficult thing is to understand that you do not owe your parents anything, but your parents, when you are already an adult, also do not owe you anything. You can offer the parent to renew the relationship, make peace, get closer, but then the ball will be on his side. He may want to accept it, or he may refuse. There are always two sides to a relationship. If only one side wants to get closer and the other doesn’t, there’s nothing you can do about it. And although it may hurt, you are an adult and able to deal with this disappointment.