“If all parties are willing to do some emotional and relationship work, reconciliation is possible in families, even after long-term estrangements,” Abrams says.
It’s healthy to want to repair the relationship with your family, she says, but it’s important to be clear about the changes you’re hoping to create.
“After doing your own reflection of what you want from this relationship and who you want to be in this relationship, you can consider various ways to approach this family member with honesty and with an offering of openness,” she says. “If they feel similarly, then it’s best for you two to discuss what can be different from the past and what you want for the future of the relationship.”
As long as you and your parent or parents are all willing to grow closer, changes can be made. Start with reaching out, having compassion, actively listening, and setting boundaries. “You cannot force someone to change,” Abrams says. “You can offer them an opportunity to connect with you according to your needs and see if they can meet you there, and vice versa.”
If you’re not looking to, or your parent is not willing, to mend the relationship, therapy can be a great way to heal from your childhood wounds and finally form a secure attachment style. Maintaining patience through the healing process and developing consistent, trusting, two-sided relationships will also be helpful.