Sometimes my work feels more like ministry than therapy. As a psychologist specializing in family estrangement, my days are spent sitting with parents who are struggling with profound feelings of grief and uncertainty. Or will I just die alone? Do they think I abandoned them? Since I wrote my book When Parents Hurt , my practice has filled with mothers and fathers who want help healing the distance with their adult children and learning how to cope with the pain of losing them.
Why You Should Stop Trying To Reconcile With Your Estranged Adult Child
Children Who Break Your Heart: Here's Some Expert Advice | HuffPost
Estrangement looks different in every family. But one thing the majority of estrangement cases have in common, according to Joshua Coleman, a San Francisco-based family psychologist and co-chair to the Council on Contemporary Families who serves as a leading expert on paternal estrangement, is that the estrangement is usually initiated by the adult children. Is it a net gain to my life or a net loss to my life? In most cases he sees, Coleman says the pressure is largely on the parents to change. Which means, should both parties be open to a reconciliation, there are two different approaches. To understand that your kid, even if it seems crazy to you, felt like an estrangement was the healthiest thing to do. Adult children also have their share of the work to do if they want to reconcile.
How to Re-Establish Contact With an Estranged Family Member
In my studies of the lives of older Americans, I learned that almost nothing is as painful to them as estrangement from an adult child. When I wrote a blog post on this topic , it led to an extraordinary outpouring of interest that both surprised and moved me. When we reach the later years, our dream is to be surrounded by loving children and grandchildren. For some older people, however, a negative relationship with one of their offspring - or even worse, complete separation from him or her - is profoundly difficult. Parents in this situation are looking for advice.
An emotional distancing. A cessation of communication. A cold war. Family estrangement can be defined in many ways.