The majority of us who grew up with brothers or sisters remember the good times, but we also remember the arguments and fights. You know which one was favored by mom and dad and who wasn’t. No family is perfect and arguments and squabbles are considered normal. Kids grow up and feel close to their siblings and many find that their sister or brother is their best friend through life. But what happens when something unexpected happens and your sibling turns into someone you no longer respect or want to be around? More and more families experience distance from one another both geographically and emotionally, and the emotional separation can cause stress on the whole family.
Parents who have feuding children are distraught about it. Their last wish with their dying breath is that their children would get along. It’s awkward to try and reconnect with a sibling you haven’t spoken to in years, but there is hope and making the attempt(s) can work if you change your mindset before contacting your sibling.
Preparing your mind to talk to your sibling means you have to assume a gentle approach, reminding yourself that this is your peer not your parent. Don’t expect them to take the high road or act more mature, and remember resentment makes people regress not progress. If you haven’t seen your sibling in a long while, and it was a very negative breakup, consider writing a letter first.
- It is wisest to meet in a public or neutral place the first couple of times. It’s less likely to be overly emotional in a public place.
- Take them at their present and don’t dredge up the past. Keep the first get together short, casual and stay away from confrontation.
- Don’t expect to change them or convert them to your way of thinking. The key to opening conversation is to be prepared to listen without defensiveness.
- Stay humble and don’t let your ego get in the way. If you begin resisting, hearing the negative stuff they feel bad about, the communication will go downhill fast.
- It’s okay to state facts, but don’t get judgmental, loud or point fingers. Once this begins, past resentments strengthen and they become more convinced they were the one wronged.
- Don’t expect too much from one meeting. Depending on how long ago the split was it may take several meet ups or letters before anything changes.
Experts in the field of Contemporary Families remark on the increasing number of families who live far apart. For many, these geographical changes have made it more challenging and more important to keep in touch. For estranged brothers and sisters their resentful feelings as well as their geographical distance can lead to total estrangement until they are old or ill at which time it may become more important to communicate their differences. Your sibling is the one person who knew you when you were a child and there can be serious regret if that relationship is not resolved.