How to bridge a family divide

Dec 2, 2011, 11:21 a.m.

Families aren't always close. Often, it's not because family members want it this way, but that they feel this divide is too large to fix. With effort, however, you may be able to remedy the relationships if you're committed to bringing your family closer together. Bridging a family divide starts with coming to terms with what caused the divide in the first place. If you've done something wrong, you have to accept that it was your mistake. If another family member is clearly in the wrong, you have to decide whether you want to and are able to forgive and forget, which is likely the healthiest thing for all of you.

Reach out to your other family members via phone, email, or a letter. Gather your thoughts before you approach the person, so you can be clear and concise about what you want to say. Apologize if you've done something wrong, and find out what you can do to make it right. If you're waiting on an apology from someone else, you may never get it. Accepting that and reaching out to that person anyway can help bring the family back together. Only you can decide whether having the family together again is worth letting go of old pain, but often there is more value in having family around you than there is in staying angry by something that happened years ago.

If you can't reach out to the family member with whom you have the disagreement or if that person has already passed away, reaching out to that person's children may be the best choice. It can give you peace of mind and help you reunite family members who may have been estranged for many years.

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