Nowadays, where recent generations are departing from many old school ideals, it has become even harder to bridge the gap with older folks. In the past, the focus was on living the American Dream- it was more important to “make it” and fulfill individualistic cultural ideals. Now the American Dream includes self-actualization, as accomplished by therapy, self-help and mindfullness. These modalities are gaining traction, are widely accepted and encouraged. Introspection was not commonly sought after in older generations. It makes sense that sometimes it is hard to connect emotionally with your parents. Difference in values and ideals can be a big barrier. If you recognize your relationship with your parents could be warmer and stronger, make the first move!
The simplest and quickest way to start building that bridge is for you to take the first step and talk. Your parents will not do it, mainly because they never have. Don’t wait for them to come around. They might be taken aback by your efforts to improve the relationship, but stay consistent. Model to them how you want to be spoken to: with openness, honesty and with goals in mind. Have suggestions for what getting closer would look like to you (more frequent phone calls, quality time etc.) and adjust to what your parents feel comfortable with. Remember that you and them have a lifelong established way of interacting with one another and that will not change in one conversation. You will need to be patient and persistent, as well as adjust your expectations. Therapy can go a long way in helping you create a game plan on how to do this. It can also help you develop tools for how to cope when you don’t get the desired result, working on how to be open to connecting emotionally in a way that fits both you and your parents.