The holidays can present a great opportunity to revisit family relationships that have deteriorated or gone away completely.
7 Tips for Repairing Family Relationships
1. Be prepared to forgive. You may be focusing on asking for forgiveness yourself, but make sure that you give some serious thought to how the relationship ended up deteriorating in the first place and make sure you are able to forgive this person. If you reach out and you are still holding onto old feelings of hurt and anger then this will almost inevitably end up coming out sideways with a snide remark or unconsciously looking for evidence that the person will just end up disappointing you again.
2. Do not underestimate your family members. Perhaps you have drifted from someone and feel guilty about avoiding them. The guiltier you feel and the more you avoid, the more awkward and anxious you will feel about reaching out. Give your family member a fair shot to surprise you by forgiving you or just skipping right to welcoming you with open arms. Sometimes stories get built up in our heads and become even more powerful than reality.
3. Expect that this relationship will require extra energy. You will likely need to reach out more than once and try to really extend yourself. Try to follow up regularly with phone calls and texts to check in. If it is worth it to you to repair this relationship then it is certainly worth prioritizing it and putting forth some extra effort.
4. Be ready to acknowledge happened. Depending on the situation, the other person’s feelings, and their readiness to talk, you should address the falling out. If you don’t address the elephant in the room there is a good chance it will eat away at both of you and create more awkwardness. If you are not ready to talk about it, respectfully ask that you table it for later, but it needs to eventually be acknowledged.
5. Come up with a list of benign conversation topics so that you can have some easy conversation and ways to connect. Think about this person’s interests and regular activities and ask about them.
6. Try to establish a new way of relating that involves expressing your feelings openly and letting the other person know that they are hurting your feelings or doing something that rubs you the wrong way. Gently request a topic change.
7. Have an awareness of your personal limits and boundaries. Make sure that it is truly in your best interest to try to repair the relationship. If this person has been abusive and repeatedly hurtful or if they are not at all open to the idea of reconnecting then it is probably in your best interest to hold off for now. Similarly, if you find yourself repeatedly reaching out and are just getting berated by this person then it is time to pull back. Go into trying to repair the relationship with a solid understanding of what your personal limits are and how you will know if the other person crosses them.