Urgent: From Fighting to Family-Eliminate Family Rifts
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Urgent: From Fighting to Family-Eliminate Family Rifts
Children often have turbulent relationships with each other because of the nature of sibling
dynamics. Siblings may grouse about the oldest who always paraded his superb grades in front of the others... the
youngest who always made mistakes and was always forgiven unconditionally by mom and dad... the middle kid who
always came home reeking of marijuana, but was still seen as "the golden boy."
Unfortunately, adult siblings often opt out of relationships with one other on account of unresolved conflicts from
the past which continue to bleed into their present-day relationships. This situation is usually unnecessary and is
harmful to the children of adult siblings, as well as to themselves.
Family rifts can be handled assertively or passive-aggressively and, unfortunately estranged siblings often take
the passive-aggressive route, just silently ignoring one another or freezing each other out. The healthier approach
is to see this estrangement as being harmful to everyone and taking a diplomatic, assertive and courageous stance
by forthrightly and non-judgmentally acknowledging the problems and calling for a group "meeting of the minds" or
In actual matter of fact, no matter how big or small, there's usually some legitimate basis for these gripes and,
of course, there's plenty of blame to go around. One patient, Tiffany, confided to me that many years past, her
college graduation triggered simmering adolescent grievances with her sister which had never been resolved.
Her sister, Marie, felt ignored, "forgotten" and marginalized as a teen. She also had deeply held resentments that
Tiffany, as the "baby of the family" and the one who always had the best grades, was always indulged and spoiled as
a kid. Courageously, they both decided to "non-judgmentally" process their differences, centering on what had
previously occurred, including the triggers that led to their estrangement and how they wanted their relationship
Tiffany told me that, as a result of their conversation, she began taking part in family relationships in a deeper
and less-guarded way, while Marie endeavored to value her worth and to focus on the fact that she, too, was
intelligent and had a central role to play in family affairs, even though she did not get the great grades or have
the college education. Opening up to one another about their feelings -- and, yes, apologizing for letting one
another down -- brought them closer.
They both changed in ways that had positive impacts on their lives. They expressed mutual empathy and listening to
each other non-judgmentally helped them to see that they were, literally, in the "same boat."
For adult siblings, striving for better relationships is well worth the effort because of the positive impact it
has on your whole family-for the rest of your life and the rest of your kids' lives. One courageous sibling has to
initiate the healing process and it might as well be you.
How should you do it? Start by asking to meet with your estranged sibling to discuss the problems in your
relationship. You can do this in writing, in person or on the phone.
Often feelings of being rejected, discounted or emotionally "dismissed" are involved and usually there is, at
least, a grain of truth to it. Regardless of how valid or invalid you believe the reasons are, to start the
healing, you must demonstrate that your sib's feelings are accepted and understood by you.
Invite your sibling to create a list of disappointments he has with you. Even though this may be unpleasant, your
willingness to openly and non-judgmentally listen will dramatically demonstrate how valuable the relationship is to
Initially, your task is to openly listen to what your sib says without reacting to it one way or the other (though
asking a few questions for clarification only, is OK). Your goal is for your sibling to FEEL that you really
understand his problems with you.
How do you do this? You achieve this by repeating the points your sib has made about you back to him with no
personal judgment, reaction or spin involved.
At this point you are simply reflecting one person's, your sib's, version of reality with no issues of right or
wrong mentioned. The important context and atmosphere you want to create is one in which two people can be together
and even contradict one another -- while both can be correct at the same time.
Next, it's your turn to express your disappointments. Remember, the goal is that both of you feel "cared for," and
understood for your genuineness and honesty.
This approach is valuable, even if there is just a "felt distance" among you and your siblings that is not
particularly deep, but is the simple result of benign neglect.
Ponder this: In some ways, these troubled feelings and behaviors experienced by you and your sibs are just the
unnecessary symptoms of being lazy. You can change all that.
Take the initiative. Actually demonstrate to your sibs that you do care.
Invite your sibs to work things through. Have the important conversations that have taken a long time coming.
Then continue the process. Establish a loving ritual, like calling or sending a cards, regularly, just once or
twice a month. If you do that for three to six months or so, you will probably find that you are amazed at how much
joy it brings, not only to you, but the rest of the family, as well.
Dr Shery earned his doctorate at the Univ. of Southern Calif and is an expert counselor in Cary,IL. He provides
FREE phone consultations and cutting-edge digital programs to help people eliminate family
rifts.They have helped thousands and are guaranteed to help you get closer to your loved ones in just days!
Get FREE info NOW about these New Self-Therapy Kits while the FREE
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