Holiday Season Survival Guide

Holiday help

The holidays can be one of the toughest times of the year for parents estranged from adult children and grandchildren. It may be tempting to ignore, avoid, or downplay the holidays. You escape by going on vacation. You might take on heaps of volunteer service to keep busy. Or you might just put your head …

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Are You Giving Too Much?

giving too much

Many parents estranged from an adult child or children find themselves sending gifts and money into a void. They can’t quite decide how much to give, or whether to keep giving, to an adult child who doesn’t acknowledge them. If this describes you, and if you’re feeling resentful of the time, money and energy you’ve …

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On Again, Off Again

kid with suitcase

Do you prefer listening to reading? You can hear an audio treatment of this topic here: Reconnection Club Podcast Episode 28: On-Again Off-Again Estrangement  *   *   * If you’re like many other parents who read this newsletter, maybe you’ve experienced a cyclical pattern with your adult child of “Now we’re talking, now we’re not.” Known …

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The Black Sheep Effect

black sheep

[Prefer listening to reading? Listen to Episode 26 of the Reconnection Club Podcast, which includes an excerpt from an interview with family black sheep expert Elizabeth Dorrance Hall.] You’ve likely heard the expression, “the black sheep of the family.” Does your family have a black sheep? As a therapist, I’ve often heard clients describe themselves …

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When a Stranger Calls

unexpected contact

[Prefer listening to reading? There’s a podcast episode based on this post: Reconnection Club Podcast Episode 7: Preparing for Unexpected Contact] Whether you think you’re likely to bump into your estranged adult child out there in the world or not, it will behoove you to get familiar with this month’s topic. Preparing for unexpected contact …

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Lost in Translation


A picture may be worth a thousand words, but all those words don’t necessarily paint a pretty picture. When things go wrong in correspondence, they can spiral out of control quickly. Both parties may do damage without realizing it. Understanding how this happens and what to do about it can be a relationship saver. This …

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Out of Character Behavior

character masks

[Prefer listening to reading? Listen to our podcast episode, Is Your Child’s Behavior Out of Character?] At least 15% of the time when I’m talking with an estranged parent in therapy, they’ll say something like this: “My son’s behavior that night was totally out of character. I’d never seen him act that way,” or, “It’s out of …

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Birthdays and Holidays

Birthday party

Parents of estranged adult children often wonder, “I’ve been giving my child space, but now her birthday (or an important holiday) is coming up. Can I contact her?” This month we’ll addresses this common question. (Also check out the Reconnection Club Podcast, where we also discuss questions of contact, gifts, etc.) Giving Them Space “But …

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Reconciliation As a Process

Father and son

For most parents estranged from one or more adult children, reconciliation is the brass ring. It’s something you dream of attaining one day. But have you ever thought about what happens next? Usually when you win a prize, you take it home and put it on a shelf, or maybe over the fireplace, where you …

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Contact, Timing & Consistency

The keys to success

Have you ever wondered how long you should wait before reaching out to your child again? I’d be surprised if you said No. It’s the number one question I hear from estranged parents, hands down: “How long should I wait before trying again?” It’s frustrating all around, because I’d love to be able to offer …

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A New Start

Make a fresh start this year

Well, you made it. You survived the holidays, and now the blank canvas of a new year awaits your brush. Some parents estranged from their adult children feel depressed at this time of the year. They think, ‘Oh, great. Another year of estrangement to look forward to. What’s the point?’ While those feelings are understandable, …

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