Be Predictable (Except When You’re Not)


Predictability is a good quality in any parent. For parents estranged from an adult child, it’s an absolute requirement. Being a little bit unpredictable can also be good occasionally, but only when it’s strategic and creates a pleasant surprise for your child. This month’s newsletter offers specific ideas on how to use predictability to repair …

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The Friendship Trap

Friend or parent

Do you prefer listening to reading? Listen to the Reconnection Club Podcast’s Episode 34: Was Your Child Your Best Friend? for an audio version of this article. Parents of estranged adult children sometimes tell me that before the estrangement, they enjoyed an unusual warmth and closeness with their child. In some cases, the relationship felt …

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The Impact of Emotional Immaturity

Emotional immaturity

[Do you prefer listening to reading? Listen to the Reconnection Club Podcast episode based on this article, When an Adult Child Seems Emotionally Immature.] Many parents I work with individually tell me that their estranged adult child seems young for his or her age. I hear about 30-year-olds throwing trantrums and 40-year-olds who can’t seem …

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The Press of Time

Time flies

May is a month that’s full of special days: Mothers Day, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries… In case you didn’t see it, last month’s newsletter talked about dealing with special days during an estrangement from your child. This month we’ll talk about Time. It may be a heartless thief of weeks and months, but it’s also a …

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Special Events and Holidays


Even if you don’t have a graduation or a birthday coming up, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are both looming on the horizon. In this month’s article, I’ll talk about dealing with the pain of special events and holidays without your child. What to Do? Many parents of soon-to-be college graduates are anxiously wondering what …

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What Their Silence Means


Do you prefer listening to reading? We have an audio treatment of this subject in Reconnection Club Podcast Episode #20: What Your Child’s Silence Really Means. Listen now.  *   *   * You’ve probably experienced the pain and frustration of sending a thoughtful and heartfelt message to your child, only to receive no reply. Repeated exposure …

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Estrangement: What The Research Says


When it comes to estrangement between parents and adult children, there’s stuff we know, and stuff we don’t know. For instance, parents often ask, “Why do these kids think it’s okay to treat their parents this way?” Well, we don’t know the answer to that one. But there is some evidence to suggest that maybe …

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When You Don’t See Progress

Yin and yang

January’s the perfect time to take a fresh look at what progress looks like, not just in your relationship with your estranged adult child, but in general. The Chinese concept of yin and yang is a helpful one when you’re pursuing a goal, whether it’s improving a relationship, increasing your income, strengthening your body or …

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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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