Bring it to Barb


Dear Barb,

My relationship with my adult son is strained and I don’t know why. He is doing well financially and married with kids. I remember we had a falling out a year or so ago, but I thought it had been resolved and forgotten. What is a good way to break the ice to make sure that things are good with us without causing a flareup or possibly make things worse?



Dear Sad,

If you have a conflict that you remember with your son within the last year, I can only surmise that it was serious enough to remember without knowing your “falling out” details. It can’t be resolved or forgotten if you feel a strain present between you, but maybe just an apology is all that is needed.

I constantly hear this sentence: “I just wanted an apology and acknowledgement for what they did.” This sentence has come from married couples, divorcees, grandparents and, yes, children. Teens or young adults using drugs were the most prevalent in recent years purely holding on to past resentments and hurt feelings.

Research shows that receiving an apology has a noticeable, positive physical effect on the body. An apology affects the bodily functions of the person receiving it – blood pressure decreases, heart rate slows and breathing becomes steadier. An apology is crucial to our mental and even physical health.

I can assure you that your son won’t reject a sincere effort to apologize. As we develop the courage to admit we are wrong, an apology has the power to humble even the most arrogant. It causes us to feel humiliated and in turn acts as a deterrent, reminding us to not repeat the same act. Receiving an apology can help us to move past our anger and will prevent us from being stuck in the past.

To give a meaningful apology it must contain the three R’s: regret, responsibility and remedy.

Regretstatement of regret for having caused the hurt or damage

Responsibilityan acceptance of responsibility for your actions

Remedya statement of willingness to remedy the situation

Make sure all three of these elements are present when you prepare your private meeting with your son. This meeting could be life-altering for both of you. Tip: Use eye contact while you are speaking to resonate complete sincerity.

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