How To Build A Healthy Relationship With A Parent

by Raven Ishak

While everyone has a biological family, it doesn't necessarily mean that those people are part of their lives. While establishing a healthy relationship with your parents sounds like a no-brainer to some people, for some, there are dozens of factors that make connecting with parents on a deeper level extremely difficult. Whether it was because your parents were toxic when you were growing up, or simple because of personality conflicts, maintaining a healthy relationship with a parent can be frustrating and difficult.

No one has the perfect parent. There will always be moments where your mom or dad annoy you or embarrass you for no reason. While those are common feelings one might have towards their parents, there are other types of parent-child relationships that might need a little bit more attention. According to Psychology Today, there are four types of toxic relationships you can have with your mother, in particular: competitors, stuck in the past, codependents, and the freezer. While these type of relationships are harder to re-establish and maintain, especially after a possible dramatic incident, there are ways to do it if you're willing to forgive and let go of the past. Of course, every parent-child dynamic is different. The choice is ultimately yours; if you know that building a relationship with a parent won't be possible or healthy for you, then you know how best to proceed. However, if you do feel like you want to re-establish your relationship with your parents in a healthy, safe way, here are nine ways to do just that.

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1. Focus On The Issues, Not Each Other

Don't think that pointing your finger at the other person is going to solve anything. You need to remember that you're trying to fix the issues, not just punish your parents for their mistakes. Instead, focus on communicating, not blaming. "...let the other person know that they can see things from their point of view...focus on attacking the issues and not each other. No personal attacks, stay on the topic," says psychologist Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC in an interview with Bustle over email.

2. Slowly Ease Back Into The Relationship

Remember to take your time when you're trying to mend a broken relationship. The less pressure you put on it, the easier it will be for everyone involved. According to an article on Dr. Phil's website, you don't have to force the relationship. It's better to take baby steps than no steps at all. Re-establish the relationship at a pace that is comfortable for both of you.

3. Look Within Yourself, Too

"You have to be willing to looking within yourself instead of just focusing on what your parents did, too," says Dr. Robert Reiner PhD, Executive Director of Behavioral Associates in a phone interview with Bustle. Conflicts are normally a two-way street, and for you to rebuild a stable relationship with your mom or dad, you should also try to figure out if there's anything you can fix within yourself, as well.

4. Set New Boundaries

While you may think things can go back to the way they used to be, it's best to establish exactly what it is that you're expecting out of the new relationship now. "It is important to set boundaries about what the relationship needs to be like going forward, and if the other person chooses not to accept that, that is their choice, not yours; you are just trying to set a healthy relationship with healthy boundaries," says Martinez.

5. Be Aware Of Your Limits

Listen to your gut before you do something you're not comfortable with, especially if you have a toxic parent. "Only promise and agree to what you want and can handle. [If] they are particularly toxic, make sure the boundaries are stricter and more more restrictive in nature. This might mean less frequency and time, but still communication," says Martinez.

6. Stay Away From Personal Attacks

You won't develop a healthy relationship if you're only focusing on what they did wrong instead of finding a solution. "Focus on issues and not feelings. Attack issues and not each other. Stay on point, listen, but be assertive with your needs and point of view as well. Use 'I' statements, and do not get into personal attacks, even if attacked," says Martinez.

7. Don't Focus On Time

Don't hold yourself back from having a potentially healthy relationship with your parent because you're afraid of conflict. It's better to jump in and try, than to regret not trying at all. "People wait to have the conversation because they're waiting until they are ready, but it's just a way to avoid the conflict. You're trying to improve the situation, so why wait to do that?" says Dr. Robert Reiner PhD, Executive Director of Behavioral Associates over the phone with Bustle.

8. Have Realistic Expectations

According to PsychCentral, moms and daughters tend to have expectations that are idealistic when it comes to their relationship. For instance, kids usually assume that their mothers will always be nurturing and present during their lives. While it would be great to imagine that your parent is always perfect, understand that he or she is human, too, and allowed to make mistakes once in a while.

9. Be Honest & Assertive With Your Feelings

It's never easy to be honest with another person, especially when the truth may hurt their feelings. But all you can do is be calm and respectable, and hopefully your parent will appreciate that honesty, paving the way for a new, healthy relationship. "Stay on point, listen, but be assertive with your needs and point of view as well. Use "I" statements, and do not get into persona attacks, even if attacked," says Martinez.

If you want to have a stable relationship with your mom or dad again, make sure you're honest not only with yourself but with them, too. It's OK to take baby steps to get there as long as you're looking forward and not focusing on the past.

Images: Pexels

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