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How to repair relationships with family members


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Hi Kandee,

Welcome. I saw your other posts and I’m wondering – do you know specifically why you are interested in the possibility of repairing or reestablishing relationships with your children and parents?

One of the things that I have learned in therapy is that relationships with adults, even adult children, are a 2-way street. As I have been speaking up more, my adult children and other family members are backing away.

Seems to me like acceptance of each other may have a lot to do with things. And if folks can’t accept me, unless I fulfill some image they have or want of me (which I tried most of my life to do), then I just can’t do that any more. Very sad, but I’m over 60 and I just can’t.

Perhaps in time we might establish new relationships, I’ll just have to wait and see.

Do you have good social support from friends? An in-person support group has been enormously helpful to me. If you are not close to your adult children and parents, then I wonder if there isn’t a reason, for your own comfort or whatever, that kept you away from them? Figuring out that knot, if you can, may be a place to start.

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Do you have good social support from friends? An in-person support group has been enormously helpful to me. If you are not close to your adult children and parents, then I wonder if there isn’t a reason, for your own comfort or whatever, that kept you away from them? Figuring out that knot, if you can, may be a place to start.

I completely agree that it is a two way street and it requires acceptance. I distanced my self from my parents because they couldn't accept me or my children. I just couldn't handle the instability anymore, or the constant drain it was on me. I was always still there and would make contact attempts over the years with no response from them. It took me years to distance my emotions enough to have it not effect me on a daily basis. It still get upset me from time to time, I never healed from it. Just suffered from it less often.

My oldest daughter has a problem lying. It is extreme and she lives in her own little world. She has created this entire past of lies focused on how awful I was which gradually came to light for me. She moved in with her father (who lies too) when she was 15 and completely disowned me and my other 2 kids. I have been waiting all of these years for her to grow up and decide to be part of our lives. The first few years were spent unaware of the mental illnesses in our family. I listened to emotional healthy people who insisted my daughter would come around. This was when I thought she was just a typical teenager.

She reestablished relationships with her siblings a few years ago but doesn't even consider me her mom. Now I find out her lies were told to her siblings over the years. She also recently cut ties with her best friend of 20 years, who was family to us.

Just recently, my son talked to me about all that had been said about me over the years, so I told him the truth. He is stuck trying to decide who is telling the truth and either way he goes, someone he loves is lying. His family hates each other and are unwilling or incapable of making it better. My parents hate me, my daughter hates me, my daughter now hates my parents and her best friend, her best friend and I are still close and I am willing to include anyone if they want to move forward. My son wants his family together, all of us at the same time. He asked me to try.

I tried - I am failing - they are unwilling at this point. I am not even sure if it is possible. I doubt it without mental health care and that won't happen because in their eyes I am the only one with a problem.

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I certainly understand and can feel how hard this must be for you. I am the “identified patient”, too.

Last year my psychiatrist put it to me bluntly: “Your daughter is just not going to be there for you. As long as you expect that from her you are going to be depressed.”

OK, so maybe I failed as a parent that my daughter is like that. Or maybe it’s just the way it is. At this point she is unwilling, so there is nothing I can do about that. We haven’t spoken since last March and she has not responded to our last email exchange, in November.

My son and I are still communicating, but not a lot. For a while he was in the middle. But the last I heard, he and his sister are “taking a holiday”.

So I understand how hard things must be for your son, too.

I wish that just trying our best would be enough to make things OK. Seems like it ought to – but that hasn’t worked for me so far.

My support group has been a sanity-saver, maybe life-saver, too. I don’t know if I can mention specific groups here – but you can check the internet for support groups in your area.

Best wishes – to you and your family. I certainly wish there were some easy answers. Maybe somebody else has some good ideas?

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  • 3 weeks later...

sorry to hear about your case

but i have the same problem. I cut off from my parents and brother because they were troubling me, abusing me, calling me names and for mental peace i cut off from them and similarly from my mother in law.

I live a very isolated lonely life and incase of emergency i would only have my husband to take care of me.

But seriously speaking i wont go to rekindle the relationship between my parents and bro because it will only be painful in long run

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Hi Namasthey,

I live a pretty isolated life right now, too. My husband died 13 years ago. I loved him very much and feel like he loved me. So I was lucky in that respect.

I thought that my family of origin was fairly close but we are just superficial and proper. There is not much there for me anymore. I love some of the people but being superficial and proper and pretending all the time is just too painful.

Except for my support group, I have found that most of my few friendships are/were superficial, too. I can still be “nice” on the outside but inside I am sad, raging, depressed. Who wants to be around that?

The best that my therapist and I can tell, I developed the skill of “cutting off” parts of myself at any early age so that I could be acceptable in my family. I guess you could say that she and I have been working on repairing the relationships among the part of myself. That’s meant that those parts are closer to the surface, maybe, and more likely to come out in possibly inappropriate ways. But I’m feeling like working on that is more important for me right now than relationships with others. Despite how lonely I am. Maybe if I can calm the sadness and rage inside, then I’ll be in better shape to relate to other people in the future.

And I have 5 cats who are wonderful companions! Very non-judgmental.

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