So how do we convey that to our children? I once had a discussion with one of my sons which might serve as a helpful model. I used as an illustration a "balance scale;" the kind that has a cup on each side, to which weight is added or taken away to enable the scale to even out in the middle, or to balance. Any changes to the scale (adding or taking away weight from either side), disturbs the balance. To restore the balance, weight needs to be added or taken away from the opposite side.
I explained to my son that a relationship is much like the balance scale. In a perfect world, every relationship would always be precisely balanced. However, relationships are "organic," in the sense that they are always growing and changing. In truth, relationships generally struggle to maintain a rather delicate balance, which is frequently and easily upset by unkind or insensitive words, neglectful or hurtful acts, inattention to detail, etc. Very quickly the relationship scale is lopsided. However, in a relationship, particularly one which recognizes the importance of social understanding, the participants work hard to regain balance. Situations can be "repaired" and balance restored through the use of apologies (and forgiveness), kind acts or words, a desire to understand what went wrong, and a resolve to try new, more helpful strategies in the future.
I reminded my son that when he is discouraged by a lopsided relationship, where misunderstanding, sadness, hurt, jealousy, anger, or frustration are present, that this is simply a sign that it is time to rebalance; to choose a strategy to repair the damage and restore balance to the relationship.
Naturally, this will work better in some relationships than others. In fact, professional intervention may be necessary when a relationship is characterized by one person's need for power and control. In extreme cases, this may lead to bullying or even abuse, when one person is determined to maintain an unbalanced relationship, to the detriment of the other person. (In the presence of such relationships, a “break”—whether temporary or more long-term—may be needed for physical and emotional protection).
My son and I both appreciated the opportunity to view relationships through a practical and visual illustration which emphasizes the opportunity to continue to work to achieve comfortable balance with other people. Since then, we have used the analogy often to understand and appreciate the changing dynamics in family and peer relationships. We hope you will find this to be helpful, too!