close up photo of mother and daughter smiling

How To Heal A Strained Parent-Child Relationship

Family relationships can be incredibly complex, especially between a parent and child. Over time, misunderstandings, conflicts, and even distance can develop, causing anger and hurt feelings. Thus, one party must take the first step to heal a strained parent-child relationship.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of healing the rift between you and your loved one. Let’s start by exploring some steps and strategies you can use to mend your relationship and build stronger connections with your parents or children.

Open and Honest Communication

The cornerstone of any healthy relationship is open and honest communication. Sit down with your parent or child and express your feelings, concerns, and desires. It’s essential to listen as well. Encourage your family members to share their thoughts and emotions without judgment. Remember that it’s a two-way street, and mutual understanding is the goal.

  • Talk to each other about your feelings, concerns, and desires using “I feel” statements. Discuss the issues that have caused the rift.
  • Example: “Mom, I’ve been feeling distant from you, and I think it’s because we don’t communicate as openly as we used to. I want to change that and have more honest conversations with you.”
  • Don’t be surprised if you spend more time listening than talking. Additionally, be careful to avoid sounding accusatory by using “you” statements, such as, “You really upset me when you ….”

Reflect on the Past

You may need to delve into the past to heal a strained parent-child relationship. Reflect on the history of your relationship and identify key moments or issues that may have contributed to the current rift. Understanding the root causes can help you address them and work toward resolution.

  • Reflect on key moments or issues in your relationship history that may have contributed to the current rift.
  • Example: “Remember when we had that big argument about my career choice a few years ago? I think that was a turning point in our relationship.”


Forgiveness is crucial for mending a relationship. Both parties must be willing to forgive each other for past mistakes, misunderstandings, and conflicts. Holding onto grudges and resentment will only perpetuate the brokenness of the relationship. But letting go and forgiving can be incredibly liberating.

  • Let go of past grudges and resentments. Forgive each other for past mistakes.
  • Example: “I understand that you were worried about my career, but I want to apologize for the argument we had. We both said things we didn’t mean. I hope you can forgive me, and we can move forward.”
  • Once a trespass is forgiven, it should be left in the past where it belongs and not brought up again in a future moment. True forgiveness means you’ve moved on and strengthened your relationship.

Set Realistic Expectations

Managing your expectations is crucial when working to repair a parent-child relationship. Remember that people can change, but the change may not happen as much or as quickly as you hope. Be patient and realistic about the progress and improvements you can achieve together.

  • Understand that people may change, but it takes time. Don’t expect immediate transformation.
  • Example: “I’m hoping our relationship will improve, but I understand that it might take some time for us to rebuild trust and connect fully again.”
  • Being human, it’s possible either of you could unintentionally err in behavior at some point. So, give each other permission to gently correct errors should backsliding occur.

Repair a strained parent-child relationship through communication

Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, the issues in a parent-child relationship may be deeply rooted and complex. In such cases, seeking the assistance of a professional therapist or counselor can be immensely beneficial. Therapists can provide a safe and neutral space for both parties to express themselves and work through their issues.

  • Consider seeing a therapist or counselor if issues are deeply rooted.
  • Example: “I think our relationship issues go beyond what we can solve on our own. How do you feel about seeing a therapist together?”

Spend Quality Time Together

Reconnecting with your parent or child requires spending quality time together. Engage in activities that both of you enjoy, and create opportunities for bonding. This could be as simple as a regular dinner night or taking a trip together. Building new positive memories helps to override the negative ones.

  • Reconnect by engaging in activities you both enjoy.
  • Example: “Let’s plan a weekend getaway just the two of us. It could be a great opportunity to bond and create new memories together.”
  • Example: “I’d love to spend more time with you. Would you like to get together for dinner and some retail therapy?

Show Empathy and Understanding

Empathy is a powerful tool in repairing a broken relationship. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand their perspective. Demonstrating empathy shows your parent or child that you genuinely care about their feelings and experiences.

  • Try to understand the other person’s perspective and acknowledge their feelings.
  • Example: “I realize my decisions may have hurt you, and I’m truly sorry. I want to understand how you felt about it.”
  • Example: ” I feel like I didn’t give you a fair chance to state your side of things. I want to make it up to you. May we talk about that now?”

Be Respectful

Respect should be at the core of your interactions. Treat your parent or adult child with the respect you would offer to any other person in your life. Respecting each other’s boundaries, beliefs, and choices is crucial for building trust.

  • Treat each other with respect, regardless of differing beliefs or choices.
  • Example: “Even if we don’t always agree on certain matters, I want to respect your opinions and boundaries.”
  • Example: “I understand you have different beliefs about this. I’m proud you are thinking for yourself, and I respect your beliefs.”

Give it Time

Healing a broken parent-child relationship takes time and patience. Reconnecting is a process. It takes effort on both sides to rebuild trust. Be prepared to deal with setbacks along the way. Remaining persistent and continuing to work on the relationship will pay off for you and your loved one.

  • Understand that healing takes time, and there may be setbacks.
  • Example: “We had a great time on our trip, but it’s normal to have some ups and downs. Let’s keep working on our relationship.”

mother unhappy with daughter's pink hair

How To Talk To Your Parent Or Child

  • Do your best not to speak to a loved one in anger. It’s crucial to step away and deal with the problem after both parties have cooled down. For example, you could say, “I’m not thinking clearly about this right now. I need some time, and then we can discuss this in a bit.”
  • Be aware of defensive or attack language. Begin your sentences with open and friendly communication, such as, “I feel” or “I’m hearing you say….” Avoid saying, “You did” or “You made me do…” Sentences beginning with “you” are inflammatory to the listener. Putting your loved one on the defensive is not helpful when attempting to heal a strained parent-child relationship.
  • Ask your parent or child for their opinions and give validation to their answers. For example, you might say, “I see what you mean,” or “I hear what you are saying.”

Additional Tips to Heal A Strained Parent-Child Relationship

  • Avoid calling multiple times every day or visiting without being invited. It puts pressure on your relative and shows a lack of respect for their personal life.
  • Do your best to make time when your relative needs you. If you are in the middle of something you cannot leave, let them know when you can get back to them.

Self-Defense Maneuvers

If your child or parent refuses to talk to you, forcing the issue will further damage the relationship. Let your loved one know you will be there when they are ready to talk.

This reassurance gives your relative time to work through unresolved feelings with the understanding of a future reconciliation.

In the meantime, it’s helpful to have support. Rejected Parents is a great online support group offering despairing parents additional information regarding this issue.

Smiling mother and adult daughter

Step By Step Strategy To Repair A Damaged Relationship

1. Have a heart-to-heart with your parent/child. Be ready to hear with your heart and not your defense mechanisms. Assure your loved one that you will not react but only listen.

2. Acknowledge and accept any role you played in the rift. Listen with an open mind, being careful not to interrupt. Accept what your parent/child says and verbalize understanding. Don’t be ashamed if there are tears, as they are often a sign of healing.

3. Once you’ve both identified the issue and the role each of you played, accept it and sincerely apologize.

4. Next, work through strategies to resolve the issues. Discuss behaviors that need to change to avoid future rifts and what behaviors are needed to strengthen your relationship.

5. Make a vow to change your behavior. Then stick to it.

6. Understand that both you and your parent or child are human. Agree to forgive each other if one of you makes a mistake. Then, continue to work on strengthening your relationship.

Concluding How to Heal a Strained Parent-Child Relationship

Mending a broken parent-child relationship is a journey that requires effort and dedication from both parties. It’s essential to approach this process with an open heart, patience, and a willingness to change. By following the steps outlined above, you can work towards rebuilding a stronger, healthier, and more fulfilling relationship with your parent or child.

It’s never too late to reconnect and create a positive familial bond that can last a lifetime.

How to heal a strained paent-child relationship pin



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  1. I love these ideas! My friend has a very strained relationship with her parents and this would be so helpful. I love your points about practicing forgiveness and seeking professional help.

  2. What a great post! I think a lot about building relationships at a young age, but we all know a lot can happen before they are grown. This is a great resource for strategies to repair relationships with our children.

    1. Thank you Jasmyn. In my view, it is a great strategy for building relationships with young children and with repairing any type of relationship. Glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Thank you, Jenn. You are so right! Good communication with children when they are young keeps relationships going more smoothly as they grow older. Your comment is appreciated!

  3. Omg this post came at the first time, dealing with my 13 year old is challenging with being a single parent. Oh how he gets on my nerves but I love him so much. What makes it worst is that he is an only child? So he is always trying to play the game all day and not clean his room. I get so tired of arguing with with him about that but your post helped me to be more patient and understanding with my son.

    1. Hi, Christy! I love that! And, you are right. This post works with all ages, not just adults. 13 is a tough age, but you sound like a great mom. You’ve got this!

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