My family is drifting apart

November 2, 2021 at 10:52 pm | 3 years ago

I’ve raised three children who are now well-adjusted, independent, twenty-something adults. They get along well, and I’m very proud of what’s become of us. We’re a small family with no one to lean on but each other, so it really bothers me that my oldest and youngest are clinging to past issues that keep them from growing closer. Their grievances seem to be misunderstandings which could be resolved over a weekend of private talks and bonding experiences. I’ve tried not to get in the middle, but I hate standing by worrying they’ll drift further apart. How do I convince them to get it together because we’re all we’ve got?

Melancholy Mom

Dear Melancholy Mom,

First of all, kudos for achieving the first half of the hardest, most important work in the world. Now that your adult children are capable and probably very determined to do everything on their own, their way, parenting will be tricky. It’ll primarily be an exercise in open communication, respect, faith, and patience.

I agree with your decision to not put yourself between them, though that doesn’t mean you’re not involved. You are, because the quality of their relationship affects you and the family dynamic you’ve worked so hard to instill. Talk to them about how their issue with one another impacts you and your family. In turn, listen to their grievances without minimizing their feelings. The matter may not be as simple to them as it seems to you.

Most importantly, encourage them to spend time together working through their differences but don’t expect to convince them. They’ll have to see the value in it for themselves, and want to close the gap in their relationship. You’ve laid a lot of groundwork throughout their upbringing, so trust you’ve prepared them to handle things on their terms. Resist the urge to insert yourself in this part of the process. It would likely do more harm than good. Finally, have patience. While bonding experiences could promote healing and be fun for all, your children’s issues probably developed over time and multiple instances. Things won’t resolve in a weekend. But if the past is an indication of the future, I have high hopes for your family. Hang in there!

Yours Truly,

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