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How to heal a rift

1. Accept your part in the estrangement. What things might you have done that helped cause it? Write about it. Try taking the other person’s point of view and write about past events from their perspective.

2. Don’t expect them to see your point of view. It’s not going to happen, at least not by issuing an ultimatum.

3. Don’t expect an apology. Figure out what’s the least you will be happy with and set clear boundaries on how their behaviour will need to change for you to engage in the relationship. Or, if you’re the one who has been cut off, be clear on how you will behave differently going forward. Be very specific about what this will look like. Avoid vague promises like: “I’ll be more respectful.” Respect means very different things to different people.

4. Don’t expect the other person to change. If you’re rebuffed keep the door open. Stay in contact with cards on birthdays and key holidays, that lets them know you’re still open to rekindling the relationship.

Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them, by Dr Karl Pillemer, is published by Yellow Kite

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