Episode 26: The Black Sheep of the Family

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Is your estranged adult child the black sheep of the family? If so, there are things you need to know about how to reach out and try to reconnect.

This episode features an excerpt from Tina’s interview with Dr. Elizabeth Dorrance Hall, a professor of Communication at Michigan State University. Her research on the experiences of people who identify as the “family black sheep” has revealed information that family members, especially parents, need to understand.

The black sheep of the family is usually someone different in noticeable ways. They may be the only one who’s unmarried, didn’t go to college, doesn’t work in the family business, or practices a different religion, lifestyle, or diet. They may consider themselves underachievers compared to their siblings.

To find out how being a black sheep might contribute to estrangement from family, Tina asked Dr. Dorrance Hall for advice for parents whose estranged adult child happens to be the black sheep of the family. Or as Dr. Dorrance Hall calls them, marginalized family members.

When it comes to repairing relationships, knowledge is power. This episode provides parents with some instructions on bridging the gap between the black sheep and the rest of the family.

The episode ends on a hopeful note: Estrangement as an ongoing, active process. It’s not a forever decision made once and never revisited.

Reconnection Club members will find the complete interview with Dr. Dorrance Hall about the family black sheep in our library at reconnectionclub.com/library. It’s part of our collection of helpful conversations with experts, under the “Interviews” tab.

Not a Reconnection Club member yet? Join our mailing list and receive our “Top 7 Things to Avoid When Trying to Reconnect with an Adult Child” checklist. (Members, you can find that under “Documents” in our library.)

Use the player below to listen to this episode. (Want to offer feedback? Tweet to Tina on Twitter: @reconnectclub.)

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