Family ties are a tight bond that holds us together in good and evil. It is an invisible tie and bond that may pull and bend, and when broken, it hurts everyone around. People get hurt, take sides, and feel trapped. When family fights trickle down into the everyday life of each member, we find ourselves torn. Do we take sides, and if not, how do we stay nurtural.
Family events and holidays can be trying and unsettling. Not taking a side always lands in taking sides. It splits the family and, if not addressed early, can last a life time-or someone’s lifetime.
My children are in the middle of a family split. The fight has affected the other family members. It has developed into a stubborn cold war, which causes the family pain and uncomfortable situations.
As Easter approaches, not knowing how to handle these two grown children fighting makes it challenging to navigate.
Do we act like nothing is going on and see who shows up for Easter? Do we cancel a family gathering, so we don’t take sides? How do we help the children understand their parents act like toddlers with fits, fights, and stubbornness?
Last year due to covid, we had no Easter Egg hunt, no picnic, no church celebration, and no gathering. The holiday that I find the most enjoyable, fun, and exciting with picnics, lunches, new clothes, and colorful eggs in newly sprouting grass. This year we have a problem as to how to navigate this recent hiccup.
Part of me would like to hide out and run off to places unknown and celebrate in a new and rather lonely way. I would say lonely, but I enjoy the quiet and alone time. Time to reflect, make plans, and decide on a future. My future is already laid out but only because I know retirement is five years away.
Thinking of my parents as they get older. I am trying to figure out what that means to me and my life. How that will affect my children’s plans, and our family’s future makes this fight more difficult.
To add to the mix is a wedding- my oldest son is getting married. He refuses to invite his brother because of this argument. My youngest son refuses to let the children be together and wants me to stop spending so much time with one of my grandchildren. (my oldest son’s child) The child who needs extra help has a sensory processing disorder and low working memory, making school and life a struggle.
I have had this child with me from age six weeks, and he is now 11. I would never think of backing off or leaving him to fend for himself. His need for therapy, homeschool, and babysitting overrides the argument that I spend too much time with only one grandchild, which puts me in the middle of a strong pull to one side of this argument.
Back to family ties, as we get older and watch our adult children fight, we try not to choose a side but eventually have to choose one. I am not picking one adult child over the other. I am not deciding who is right or wrong. I am not even choosing who’s children I want to have because I want them all in my life. I am choosing how much each can be in my life at this time.
My grandchildren are suffering because I can not have them all together for outings or events. I am not sure about Easter or other holidays. I am struggling with the loss of time and communication with my family. Trying not to take a side but having to take sides is hard on all of us. I should have mentioned my youngest son has said until my oldest son talks to him, apologizes, and lets it all go, the grandchildren can not be together.
Family feuds and fights cause a ripple effect. The plans we had change, and the ideas of trips, vacations, holidays disappear into what was and what can be. Old hurts from the past become the present monster and face of the fight.
Childhood anger, hurt, resentments begin to rear their heads. Quietly people go to each corner and takes a corner. Switzerland identified because all conversations end up addressing the hurt and heartache. Phone calls stop, and texts are unanswered. Misunderstanding takes hold, and we stand in the cold.
Not knowing how to get the family together is hard. Time continues to move forward, events, holidays, and vacations continued. The new normal is to wait. We are waiting for stubbornness to stop directing the fight. We are waiting for love to take hold. We are expecting family to mean something more than the past hurts and resentments. Jealousy is the strongest emotion in this family fight. At the same time, we are figuring out how to stop the jealousy. Addressing the jealousy becomes challenging and time-consuming.
Amid the fight, I have aging parents who have health issues; one has Alzheimer’s. Each time we bring this situation up, we have to go over it again because of the lack of memory. Confusing and sadness raise their heads again and again.
Taking time off from all of it is so tempting. Navigating through it is stressful and complicated. Knowing what path to take to keep family ties strong seems impossible. Remembering I raised them to face issues, move past the hurt, and put the past in the past does not help at this moment but will win out in the end. Jealousy is a strong enemy and can destroy families, relationships, and plans.
Facing our past and taking ahold of jealously and ripping its head off with honesty is the first step. Addressing the emotions can be overwhelming but worth the struggle. Having family and friends to help bridge this gap is essential and crucial for healing. Understanding yourself is one step toward recovery, but not the only step. Asking for forgiveness and accepting your part in the fight is a big step. Allowing the family to forgive (not necessarily forget) is vital in bridging the gap of separation. Acceptance that we all make mistakes, we are not perfect, and we all have a past we may not be proud of is a step toward family unity.
This family feud is affecting others and causing pain to many. The time and space needed are hard to give to each son. It is difficult for the grandchildren. It is painful for the great-grandparents. Waiting is always the most challenging part of this process.