Episode 14: Is Your Child’s Behavior Out of Character?

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You know your child so well. Or at least, you used to. When it comes to behavior from your adult child that surprises you, what seems “out of character” may actually be an adult child expressing an essential part of who she is. How you respond to out-of-character behavior will probably have some impact on …

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Episode 8: Don’t Take the Blame, Do Take Responsibility

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Taking responsibility is not the same as accepting blame. Blame is punitive, destructive, and a dead end. Responsibility, on the other hand, is constructive. Responsibility says, “I’ll take on this challenging task!” Taking responsibility for your relationship with your estranged adult child is an intentional act that puts you in the driver’s seat. If you …

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Your Circle of Control

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We all have people, circumstances and events that affect and concern us. Let’s call that group of items our “circle of concern.” Our personal circles of concern may overlap, but what concerns one person might not concern another. For example, any kind of legislation affecting mental health professionals in Colorado and Oregon will fall within …

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Is Your Estranged Child on a Power Trip?

Our next podcast episode will look more closely at the behavior of estranged adult children to determine whether they’re getting some sort of thrill out of pulling you this way and that. In the meantime, I’ve written an article over on PsychologyToday.com about an alternative interpretation of power-hungry-seeming behavior in general. When it comes to …

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Episode 1: Why Time is Your Friend

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Most estranged parents feel like time is a thief, stealing opportunities and happiness while they’re estranged from an adult child. This makes parents feel a bit desperate, so they reach out in ineffectual ways. But the reality is, you can only do so much. You can’t push the river. Fortunately, in addition to be a …

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Why Apologize? And How to Do It Well

Well over half of all estranged adult children, according to one website, would like to receive an apology from the parents they’ve rejected. Of course, many of those parents would appreciate receiving an apology themselves. Their hearts are broken by what feels like callous disregard and disapproval from their estranging children. This creates a dilemma. …

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The Reconnection Club Podcast

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Listen to the show that offers compassion, clarity and personal development tips for parents estranged from their adult children In each episode, psychotherapist Tina Gilbertson talks about practical tools for melting the ice, as well as how to cope when nothing seems to be working. Tina looks at the research and dispels myths about estrangement. …

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Is Your Estranged Adult Child a Narcissist?

“Narcissist.” It’s a loaded word, tossed back and forth between estranged adult children and their parents. Adult children cite parental narcissism as the reason for necessary cut-off. Rejected parents on the other hand wonder if narcissism is keeping their child from taking perspective, or caring about the wounds they’re inflicting. This latter assumption is the …

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Emotional Estrangement

Parents sometimes ask me, “My child talks to me, but I don’t feel comfortable with him; are we estranged?” This article is my response. If you’re in touch with your child, but the relationship feels more distant, more stressful, or more effortful than it used to be, or than it feels like it should be, …

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

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No Contact Means No Contact

Reach out at your own risk

Most estrangements I hear about are not symmetrical. The adult child maintains silence, either partial or total, while the parent reaches out regularly, trying to keep some connection alive. It’s very one-sided. I often hear, especially from parents of 20-somethings who’ve disappeared on them, “But it’s been a year. How long can this continue?” It …

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Be Predictable (Except When You’re Not)

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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 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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Are You Giving Too Much?

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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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Reconciliation As a Process

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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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