Tori Spelling 07: Can Feuding Adult Children Really Reconcile with Parents?

With the birth of her new baby, Tori Spelling has renewed a relationship with her mother. But is it real—and what can we learn about family reconciliations?

Tori’s dispute with her mother arose from negative comments Tori made about her mother on Tori’s VH1 sitcom, “So NoTorious.” It seemed as though the split between them was permanent until two life-altering events changed everything—the death and mourning of Tori’s father and Tori’s pregnancy and birth of her child.

Death and birth are powerful family events that often result in bringing family members back together. Each event provides a built-in reason for renewing distant or troubled relationships. Sometimes, however, the attempts at reconciliation backfire and produce a riff that is more potent than the original disagreement.

Here is a short list of suggestions to increase the possibility of making long-lasting and healthy family peace. Remember, these are only suggestions, and some may not apply in your situation. There is no one right formula for everyone.

  1. If you are part of the problem, apologize briefly for your part. Try to resist the temptation of adding those “taglines” that only stir the emotional pot. For example, try to avoid saying things such as: “This wouldn’t have happened if you…..”
  2. Don’t over-explain why you did what you did. Try to aim for 3-5 sentences maximum. If you are angry, report your anger rather than BE your anger. You can say, for example, “On a scale of 1-10, I was hurt a ten.”
  3. Get solution-oriented. Keep you focus on the future rather than the past. Tell the other person what you would like your future relationship to be. For example, you (or Tori) could suggest doing something together two or three times a month together.
  4. Set the ground rules. You could promise each other to give advice only when asked and to keep all comments positive.
  5. Try to resist the temporary high that sometimes accompanies reconciliations. This high is often followed with a painful crash. Why? The joy of feeling loved and accepted from a parent (or any other important family member) seems to fill that empty hole in your heart. Your long-standing feelings of being undervalued, misunderstood and unloved weaken. Hopes increase—only to be dashed. The new relationship is fragile and cannot bear the weight of fixing your past hurts.
  6. Relationships take time—especially broken ones. Give yourself time to establish a new track record. Measure your progress in terms of seasons. Change is usually not easy for any of us.
  7. Set realistic goals. Some parents are good at rallying—but not at following through. That one-time visit, for example, with your absent parent may not be followed up with many more contacts. Try to get a renewed appraisal of who you parent is or isn’t. Some people truly cannot “change their spots.” Ask yourself whether you are willing to accept the other person’s limitations.
  8. You do not need to forgive and reconcile in order to be emotionally healthy. Some parents commit terrible emotional crimes of abandonment and abuse, for example. You must determine for yourself what you are willing to accept, forgive and tolerate. Aim first for understanding how the other person got that way, and then see where that takes you.
  9. If painful and disruptive relationships continue, seek professional help from someone trained in family issues.
  10. Ask yourself, have my previous “efforts” been positive—or have my actions made the problem worse? For example, a common approach that is usually doomed to fail is the “pow-wow,” where you let your parent or family know everything they’ve done wrong. This kind of emotional dumping rarely works because it is laced with blame and no solution-focus. There might be hugs and apologies, but unless you establish some ground rules for future contact, you might have bared your soul in vain.
  11. Finally, ask yourself, “If my parent died and I didn’t try to establish a positive relationship, how regretful will I feel?”

And what about the future of Tori’s relationship with her mother? It depends on time, expectations and new behavior on both parts.

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Author's Bio: 

LeslieBeth Wish is a Psychologist, Clinical Social Worker and author who is nationally recognized for her contributions to women, love, relationships, family, career, workplace, and organizations.

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