Tips for Gaining Back Trust and Intimacy with Parents and Family Members

Relationships with family members can be fraught with problems and complications. These are the people you can't easily run away from. Yet you might not always want to be around them either. We want to be close to our family members but we don't always achieve it. If you are looking to rebuild your relationship with your parents or siblings, here are some cautions and tips.


?Are you ready to put the blaming and complaining aside and sincerely attempt to rebuild the relationship?

Sometimes we want to rebuild the relationship but we are unwilling to let go of past events. They come up to haunt us and we find ourselves blaming the other person again. You can't hold a grudge and at the same time rebuild trust. Reflect on whether you have let go of the anger. If not, you need to make peace with the past first.

?They think they know you and you think you know them.

The reality is more complicated. Because you grew up with your family, you think that everyone knows everybody, but it is likely that in your late teens or twenties, you left home to start your life as an adult. From that time on, your family members have spent a lot less time with you. You have changed, grown and they may think they know you but they only know parts of you. Help them understand who you are today. And remember that your parents and siblings also change. Observe and notice who they are today in this moment.

?Beware of toxic parents and siblings.

You know who they are. They have never had anything but bad words to say about you. They have never given to you but simply take. They are supposed to be the parent but they end up being the child. They never speak to you unless they want money. If you can't build a relationship with your family because they bring you down, drain you of energy and other resources, constantly criticize you rather than support you, be aware that whatever you try may not work and they may not be able to be positive forces in your life. If that is the case, it might be time to realize that and contain their influence on your life. Help them as much as you can but don't let them overtake your life. You cannot save them if they don't want to be saved. If they are severely toxic, you may have to keep a healthy distance from them.

Tips for Rebuilding

1. Express to your family member that you desire to be closer. Seek agreement from them that they want the same thing.

2. Apologize for past hurts and mistakes. But make sure you are sincere about your apology.

3. Give it time. Don't rush. It takes time to build relationships and time to rebuild them. You cannot return to intimacy overnight, so expect to build back closeness slowly over time. It may take a few years.

4. Rediscover who this person is. Be curious about them as though they were a stranger. Seek new ways of perceiving them. We forget to see our family members as others see them. Look closely.

5. Notice when your walls go up. Take note of what triggers your walls to go up and consciously work to keep the walls lowered. You have built up very old strategies to deal with your family. They may not serve you now. You must now be willing to be a little vulnerable. Reestablishing intimacy means opening yourself up to being vulnerable. Intimacy and vulnerability walk hand in hand. That's what closeness is about, close enough that there is always a potential of having your feelings be hurt.

6. Be aware of your hot buttons. This person knows how to push them. Don't fall into old ways of reacting. And don't push their hot buttons either. You can control how you behave with them and how you react to them. If they try to push your button, don't fall for it. Ignore it and it will pass. If they keep trying, point out to them that it contradicts the goal of being closer.

7. Share who you are. Just because this person has known you for a long time, doesn't mean they know who you are now. Share your authentic self with them!! Remind them that you are not the same person as you were at the age of 12.

Author's Bio: 

Judy Tso is a personal coach, anthropologist and business owner. She specializes in Solutions for Growth and Change for individuals, nonprofits and corporations. She has worked to rebuild her relationships with her family and knows the trials and tribulations.

In her coaching, she specializes in getting people to flow. Potential areas that can be addressed include personal growth, improving relationships, balancing work and home life, advancing or changing careers, transforming the way you approach and live life.

For corporations and non-profit organizations, she specializes in business coaching, working effectively on teams, being creative and innovative, helping managers be better coaches to employees and staff, and managing cultural and business change.

For all coaching, she utilizes her background in anthropology and many years of business experience as a facilitator, coach and consultant to corporations and non-profits in the areas of organizational effectiveness, new product development, creativity and creative problem solving.

Judy utilizes the Co-Active Coaching Model from the Coaches Training Institute and is a member of International Coaches Federation.

She can be reached at or visit