In response to an article I wrote, Earn Your Child's Respect, I received the following e-mail:

I wish that I would have read your article thirty years ago when I was bringing up my daughter. I think I have missed the boat in my relationship with her... I haven't spoken to her for the last two years.

After communicating with the father and the daughter I realized that both of them are hurting over this sour relationship, yet none of them will take the first step to alter it. They are each waiting for the other person to take the first step.

I shared with them the following observation: When children get into a fight you can hear them say, "I will never ever talk to you again! I will never play with you in a million years!" Five minutes later you can find them playing with each other and enjoying each other's company.

Adults on the other hand, when they get into a fight — especially within the family — may not talk to each other for twenty years. Sometimes they forget the original reason for the fight. The reason for the difference is that children would rather choose to be happy than to be right and their natural instinct tells them that they will be happier if they forgive and forget.

As adults we sometimes choose being right over being happy. We exchange the temporary pain of making up with our loved ones and pursuing happy times together for a long-term sadness of not being able to connect to the important people in our life. "It is our anger that gets us into a fight," a wise person remarked, "but it is our ego that keeps us there." It is wise to let go of our ego and ask the other person for forgiveness, even if we may be in the right. If we are the parent, or we consider our self the wiser of the two parties, we should utilize our maturity and wisdom to take the first step towards repairing the relationship precisely because we understand that it is more difficult for the other person to do.

In some cases we need the assistance of an independent party — an individual who is a mutual friend to both parties, or a professional in conflict resolution, to start the process of reconciliation,

Sometimes the reason the relationship is not working may be of the subconscious nature. The people involved don't really know why they are upset with each other. Long term counseling may be needed in this case. The journey may be longer but very rewarding.

It is like having an operation, where the patient puts himself in short term pain for long term gain. The end result will be that we will be happy as well as being right, for letting our ego go.

On September 11 people trapped in the twin towers utilized their final moments calling their loved ones and saying to them for the very last time, "I love you!" At moments like that the ego does not play any role and the real human being reveals itself in its full glory.

Life is too short to bear grudges, regardless of what kind of relationship you had with your parents or your siblings. You will miss them once they're gone from your life. So why wait until it's too late? Act now!