How to Reconcile with Parents


Reconciling with an estranged parent can be one of the most difficult actions in a person's life. Here's how to re-establish a relationship on your terms.

  • Should you reconcile with them? Before picking up the phone and contacting them, thoroughly investigate your reasons for doing so. Speak to friends, loved ones, or a therapist to make your motivations clear. Ensure that it's not to rehash the past, or carry on old patterns.

  • Control your expectations. It's unrealistic to think they've changed completely in the years apart, or that they'll be willing to apologize for mistakes made. Try to be objective.

  • Maintain your individuality. If you feel like a parent is lying to you, or engaging in verbal abuse, get up and walk away. If you feel them engaging in old patterns, confront the issue, and tell them that you'll be willing to continue the conversation at a later date. Your primary responsibility is to yourself.

  • Be open to forgiveness. If your parent has wronged you in the past, and you feel that they are genuinely repentant, try to forgive them. This needn't happen instantly: take the time you need. But in the end, practicing forgiveness is the best way to move on from past hurts.

  • If you're partly to blame for past injuries, ask for forgiveness from your parents. However, do not do so if you've done nothing wrong.

  • Don't allow yourself to be controlled. It's tempting to allow parents to take the lead. But do not forget the reasons for the estrangement in the first place. If you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of the reconciliation, clearly state it. Understand that this is not a negotiation: what works for you is what will happen.

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