When two or more individuals exist in a long-term relationship, there will be conflict, writes marriage and family counselor Will Cunningham, author of “How to Enjoy a Family Fight.” If there is a winner in the argument, that means someone lost and that can lead to hurt feelings and acrimony. Regardless of whether you were right or wrong, the winner or the loser, you can find yourself needing to make up and repair the relationship. Making amends is one step in that process.
Decide that you can be the first one to make a move in repairing the relationship and that you will do so regardless of whether you feel you were in the right or in the wrong. It’s not about who was right or wrong, but about maintaining a healthy and loving relationship with your father instead of remaining estranged and angry, writes Stever Robbins, entrepreneur and creative mind behind the "Get-It-Done Guy" website (see link in Resources).
Reach out to your dad and ask him to meet you at his earliest convenience, once your anger and his have cooled. You could select a neutral place, but selecting a public location where neither of you can openly express your feelings can prevent reconciliation and making amends. If you are concerned about how the meeting will go, send Dad a letter, email or text to get the ball rolling and set the stage for reconciling.
Apologize for arguing with your dad. That doesn’t mean you have to admit your side of the argument was wrong, although that’s a good step if that’s true. Ask for forgiveness for hurting him or being involved in the argument at all. You might say, “I’m sorry. I could have found a better way to deal with things than arguing with you.” Your apology must be sincere or your dad isn’t going to accept it. Your apology must also avoid laying blame on your dad, according to “The Twelve Step Journal”, by Claudette Wassil-Grimm.
Ask your dad what you can do to make amends and then do it, if it’s at all possible, advises Cunningham. When making restitution, it’s not up to you to tell your father how you will make amends, it’s up to him to decide what will fix it for him. If you can’t do what he asks you can say, “I can’t do that, but I can…” and then give him an option you could accomplish. He might not accept your option. He might not have an idea about what you can do to make it up to him at all. Cut him some slack and give him time to determine how he wants this to be resolved.
Offer a hug or some other expression of love. Tell your dad how much you appreciate him and want to have a healthy and happy relationship with him. Even if he doesn’t want your display of affection, apology or restitution, you offered it, and that’s really all you can control, observes Cunningham.
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- How to Enjoy a Family Fight; Will Cunningham
- Get-It-Done Guy: How to Repair Relationships Quickly
- 12Step.org: Step Nine
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.
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