5 Stages of Estrangement

When you hear the phrase “stages of estrangement,” your mind probably goes to your adult child. “What will s/he do at each stage?,” you might ask. Or, “What am I in for?”

I recently wrote five articles on my new theory of stages of estrangement.

They outline not the stages that every estrangement goes through — nobody knows whether such stages even exist — but rather stages that YOU are likely to experience emotionally when your adult child rejects you.

As a therapist specializing in parent-adult child estrangement, I’ve watched parents go through predictable passages when an adult child becomes estranged.

For your convenience, this page links to all five posts in the series I wrote for PsychologyToday.com. Please read them in order if you can; they make the most sense in the context of a process.

Just remember that, like the well-known stages of grief, these don’t necessarily represent a linear or even a continuous process.

Different people experience these stages differently. They may stay in the same stage for years. They may entirely skip a stage. They may circle back to a stage they’ve already experienced, repeatedly.

Here are the stages in order:

Stage 1: Shock

Stage 2: Despair

Stage 3: Acceptance

Stage 4: Transformation

Stage 5: Maintenance

What do you think of these stages? Do any of them feel familiar?

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