Log in (admin only)

Holidays Are Also Times For Mending Relationships

children

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

During Thanksgiving to Christmas the absence of loved ones becomes ever more poignant. When a loved ones dies, we can’t do anything but learn to bear with the loss and adapt to the new circumstances. But what about broken relationships? Those can be mended.

By words that were said and things that were done, relationships are ruptured forever. People walk out the door on their loved ones vowing never to come back. Many shut the door on their loved ones and never open it again.

In the December 18, 2000 issue of Time magazine, Lise Funderberg relates stories of such ruptured families. To wit, Jonda has not seen her twin Wanda for the last 13 years and doesn’t believe she ever will. Jonda misses her sister terribly as she says, “There isn’t a day that goes by that something doesn’t remind me of her.” Wanda, after a family reunion, simply disappeared. What Jonda doesn’t know and might never know is why.

To relate another story, Nancy has an older sister and an older brother. She doesn’t speak to either of them. As a child she worshipped her brother. When he used to come home from college, she was filled with joy. She thought she had a good relationship with him. But, a few years ago, he stopped returning her calls. She doesn’t know why.

No communication. Unanswered phone calls and letters. An impenetrable silence. How does one repair such a relationship? It must be terribly frustrating for those who want to reconcile. This pattern of foolproof silence is responsible for continued estrangement of millions of parents, children and siblings in America.

It is estimated that 3 to 10% of baby boomers have completely severed contact with a brother or sister. According to one survey, 11% of baby boomers felt that their siblings were hostile to them. Thousands of parents are estranged from their adult children. It leaves much to be desired and rectified.

Ann Landers once suggested that we should have a national “Reconciliation Day,” a day to forgive and forget and let bygones be bygones. Great idea! After reading her article on reconciliation, a lady immediately picked up the phone and called a brother she had not spoken to for nine long years. Their relationship was ruptured over money. When she called, her brother told her that he had almost picked up the phone to call her but didn’t. He was glad to hear her voice. They talked for a long time that day and were reunited after all those years.

Prospects of reconciliation don’t please everyone. In this case, upon reading Ann Lander’s article, a man, under the influence of alcohol, began to call everyone he had hurt in his life. He called a female relative in the middle of the night who had fought so hard to keep him out of her life. That call reopened painful wounds for the lady and brought back memories of the worst time of her life. It shows that reconciliation is not for everyone. There are situations when it is best to keep an offending relative out of your life.

Here are some of the causes often cited by siblings for estrangement: arguments over the care of elderly parents; conflicts over parental estate; parental divorce; past abuse or hurt over past actions and lack of bonding between siblings as they were growing up. When there is will and commitment, most conflicts can be resolved. Therapy and mediation can also be helpful. During Thanksgiving to Christmas the absence of loved ones becomes ever more poignant. When a loved ones dies, we can’t do anything but learn to bear with the loss and adapt to the new circumstances. But what about broken relationships? Those can be mended.

By words that were said and things that were done, relationships are ruptured forever. People walk out the door on their loved ones vowing never to come back. Many shut the door on their loved ones and never open it again.

We live in times of high divorce rate. Families of choice often break within a few years leaving couples estranged and lonesome. Relocation is a fact of life. Contact with old friends continues to diminish. Neighbors are often near strangers. In such circumstances, blood relationships may be the major source of durable relationships. These relationships should be preserved, and if need be, revived.

Some change a lot as they grow up and their siblings can’t relate to them any more. Some grow up to be disagreeable or unlikable. But in other cases, people tend to be overcritical and want their siblings to fit into the molds of their preference.

A sibling may choose a partner that you may find objectionable. It may trouble you to see that your sibling is in a toxic relationship that would do nothing but harm him or her. Perhaps, an addiction is controlling your sibling’s life. In the past, you might have spent a lot of time and effort in trying to rescue or bail out your sibling and now you are tired and don’t want to do it any more.

It is alright to stop bailing your relative out. But to sever all connections because it hurts to witness him or her suffer is not alright. Let your relative know that you still care about him or her. To overlook the imperfections of others is close to perfection. Keep the door open. If the door remains open he or she may one day come back in.

Even though years might have past without any contact, it is never too late to pick up the phone and call your estranged relative. Be willing to take responsibility for your past actions. If it doesn’t result in reconciliation, you are still at the same place before you made the call. Who knows that one day the person you are trying to reconnect may not feel the same stirrings to reconnect with you?

We live in times of high divorce rate. Families of choice often break within a few years leaving couples estranged and lonesome. Relocation is a fact of life. Contact with old friends continues to diminish. Neighbors are often near strangers. In such circumstances, blood relationships may be the major source of durable relationships. These relationships should be preserved, and if need be, revived.

Some change a lot as they grow up and their siblings can’t relate to them any more. Some grow up to be disagreeable or unlikable. But in other cases, people tend to be overcritical and want their siblings to fit into the moulds of their preference.

A sibling may choose a partner that you may find objectionable. It may trouble you to see that your sibling is in a toxic relationship that would do nothing but harm him or her. Perhaps, an addiction is controlling your sibling’s life. In the past, you might have spent a lot of time and effort in trying to rescue or bail out your sibling and now you are tired and don’t want to do it any more.

It is alright to stop bailing your relative out. But to sever all connections because it hurts to witness him or her suffer is not alright. Let your relative know that you still care about him or her. To overlook the imperfections of others is close to perfection. Keep the door open. If the door remains open he or she may one day come back in.

Even though years might have passed without any contact, it is never too late to pick up the phone and call your estranged relative. Be willing to take responsibility for your past actions. If it doesn’t result in reconciliation, you are still at the same place before you made the call. Who knows that one day the person you are trying to reconnect may not feel the same stirrings to reconnect with you?

©Vijai Sharma, PhD. All rights reserved. Used by permission, from www.mindpub.com/topic41.htm