On July 29, news broke that Meghan Markle‘s father, Thomas Markle, slammed his daughter in a scathing tell-all interview with The Mail on Sunday. During the sit-down, he accused the royal family of cutting off all communication between him and Meghan. Even if the newly-minted Duchess of Sussex has been able to navigate her toxic relationship with her dad up to this point, surely that interview had to be the final straw, right? Well, not necessarily.
Life & Style spoke with two experts on family dynamics, both of whom have never treated Meghan or Thomas, and they were able to offer their professional opinions.
Laura Roemer, LCSW, MFA, a Clinical Social Worker and Therapist, believes that even in a case this dire, that there is a possibility for reconciliation between the feuding father-daughter duo. “All of [Thomas Markle’s] behavior may deep down be fueled by sadness, but he has only displayed his bitterness, and has pushed his daughter further away,” Roemer began.
“He would need to show respect for the physical and emotional boundaries she has requested, and truly show compassion and contrition towards her, acknowledging their painful history and humbly admitting his own culpability,” she continued. “Only this show of humility, desire for closeness and respect for her choices would begin to allow for open communication and a mending of the relationship.”
In addition to Laura Roemer’s insights, Meredith Shirley, MS, LMFT, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Practice Director at Manhattan Relationship Counseling and Psychotherapy, offered some words of guidance for the former Suits actress.
“My advice for Meghan, or for any client dealing with a parent engaging in such behavior, would be to try to address the matter privately with the parent individually,” Shirley began. “As we unfortunately see more and more in the age of technology, people often feel more validated in their derogation of others if it can be done behind a keyboard or through a third party, because this is more comfortable than a direct confrontation with the intended party.”
Shirley went on to highlight the unique difficulties of being associated with a famous family. “Because Meghan is now part of a large, well-publicized family, it is easy to make such remarks when the intended target seems distant and far away,” she explained.
“However, we also see this in family dynamics in a phenomenon called ‘triangulation,’ which is when there is tension between two people in a family and a third person is pulled in to alleviate some of that tension. For the Markle family, this seems to be the case but on a much larger scale,” Shirley continued.
She stressed that Meghan addressing her father directly and privately would eliminate the triangle. Furthermore, Shirley believes that “direct conversation typically yields more long term results and clarification.”
From these two experts we were to ascertain that while it would certainly be an emotionally taxing process for Meghan and Thomas to mend their relationship… that it is possible. “Unless someone is a pathological narcissist, it is hard for most people to hear that they have caused someone else pain and not feel some kind of remorse,” Shirley concluded.
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