Rebuilding a relationship with your estranged father may be difficult, but it will be worth the effort. Through effective communication, counseling and patience, you can rekindle the father-child relationship you once had -- or never had -- but always wanted. When you both show one another mutual respect and understanding, nothing that can stop you from building a bond that can last a lifetime.
Validate His Presence
In a relationship where a father and child are estranged from one another, both suffer emotionally. When seeking to reconcile with your estranged father, it may be helpful to tell him he has a role in your current life, advises associate professor of social work Edward Kruk in his Psychology Today article, "The Impact of Parental Alienation on Parents." When an estranged father is told he has a place in his child's life, it can encourage him to work with the child toward reconciliation. Parents love to feel needed, and this is no different for an estranged parent.
A father can become estranged from his child for many different reasons. Perhaps there was a bad break-up from the mother, or an argument during the child's older years. Maybe distance between the father and child created emotional distance. Counseling can be an effective way to facilitate communication between a father and child, without assigning blame to either party, say psychologists Amy J.L. Baker and Katherine Andre in their article, "Working With Alienated Children and Their Targeted Parents: Suggestions for Sound Practices for Mental Health Professionals," published in Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association. Counseling allows both parties to be heard and to communicate feelings effectively.
You may have some notion that once you rekindle your relationship with your estranged father your relationship together will be great. You need to be realistic about what to expect from your father and the relationship you may build together, says psychologist Ellen B. Sucov on her website Fragmented Families, in a section titled, "Strategies for Change," which highlights excerpts from her book "Fragmented Families." While you may be longing for the perfect father-child relationship, your father may not be able to follow through with meeting your emotional needs. You both need to be prepared to accept each other as you are, currently.
To rebuild a relationship with an estranged father, you can increase the amount of involvement you offer him in your life. You may invite him to spend holidays with you or include him in birthday celebrations. Involving your estranged father in your life shows him that you want him around, advises the Psychologies Magazine article, "Understanding Your Father's Influence." Your father may feel appreciated and loved when you include him in the important events in your life -- and that can lead to his active participation in your life.
- PsychologyToday.com: The Impact of Parental Alienation on Parents
- Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association: Working With Alienated Children and Their Targeted Parents: Suggestions for Sound Practices for Mental Health Professionals
- FragmentedFamilies.com: Strategies for Change: How to Move Toward Forgiveness and Healing
- Psychologies Magazine: Understanding Your Father's Influence
Jaime Vargas-Benitez has been a parenting writer since 2010. She has worked in the child wellness field in various roles for over 20 years. Along with the experiences of raising her own kids, she has been privileged enough to participate in the raising of hundreds of other children as well.
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