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  • Writer's pictureThe Care Company

How to Have Hard Conversations That Build Family Bonds


A mother and daughter having hard conversations that build family bonds.
There are simple ways to have hard conversations that build family bonds. Learn more.

Anytime you dedicate so much energy to caring for a senior member of the family, it is natural for other relationships to take a back seat. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day, and you can only spread yourself so thin. This may lead to additional stress, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings.


The key to overcoming this hurdle is communication. It means having conversations that could be uncomfortable but allow the opportunity to air grievances, share feelings, and ultimately reinforce the love you have for each other.


Kicking Off a Courageous Conversation

First, realize that a planned, formal meeting isn’t necessary for a conversation to be effective. It can be a quick chat while waiting for the coffee to brew. It should not, however, be a triggered response to a stress-inducing incident. Plan to talk about a problem before the stress has a chance to build up to an explosive level (or when you’ve had the opportunity to settle down).


Here is an example scenario and how to incorporate a courageous conversation. Your teenager is feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed having friends over because of the dementia-related behaviors of your elderly mother. Start with this quick assessment to assess the answers for yourself and your daughter:

  • Exactly what are each of us feeling and thinking?

  • What goals do we want to accomplish from this conversation?

  • What do we need from one another?

  • What do we want each other to know?

  • What do we have to give and receive?

Include in your assessment the feelings of the individual in your care as well. In particular, prior to the cognitive decline, determine what your mom would want for you personally as well as your daughter.


With this particular framework in mind, allow yourself to be truthful, authentic, and vulnerable. Listen to each other’s perspective respectfully, offer understanding and empathy, and collaborate to create a viable solution.


Is It Better Left Unsaid?

You may feel as though it’s simpler to maintain status quo than to risk upsetting a member of the family by initiating a challenging conversation. And certainly, situations may arise that are best resolved through another means, for example, by speaking with a professional counselor to unravel your feelings and thoughts prior to approaching someone else with them. As a general rule of thumb, however, absolutely nothing beats open, honest communication to allow you and the people you care about to better understand one another.


Let a caregiver from The Care Company help you carve out time for the conversations you need with other members of the family by providing skilled, professional in-home care for the person you love. Contact us online or at 416-422-2273 to learn more about our home care in Toronto, Etobicoke, Scarborough, as well as the surrounding areas.

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