Discussion Topic

Dealing with estrangement

Posted on 08/16/11, 11:52 pm

How nice it would be if everyone could have a storybook family. Unfortunately, few do. Many families suffer from the pain of having one member who wants nothing to do with the rest. Often it is one of the grown children. The parents and siblings feel the loss, almost like a death. There are feelings of guilt. Family gatherings are always a sad reminder of the fractured relationships. Sometimes efforts to heal the rift only make things worse.

What is the best way to handle this situation? First off, we must release the notion of obligation. If we think that any adult is responsible for the happiness of the rest of the family, we are locked in a co-dependent stance. If the family were as perfect as we might like the world to think it is, then it would not have an estranged member.

An individual may create distance from the family for a variety of reasons. It may be that past hurts are too painful and being around the family brings them all to the surface. In order to keep stability and balance in his or her life, the individual may need to back away for a time. It might be that the family is currently dysfunctional. If the individual feels judged or criticized by the rest of the family, or if one or more members has an addiction or anger problem, it may simply be more than the individual is willing to cope with.

Sometimes the difficulty is with the partner of the estranged person. If the partner has not been accepted by the family, it becomes awkward for everyone. It becomes easier just to stay away.

The hardest possibility to deal with may be that the individual does not like the family. As people get out into the world, they meet others, and their values, preferences and even their personalities may change. We cannot command others to like us, or to want to spend time with us. If we become angry and demand explanations, they will be driven farther away. If we keep pursuing them, after they have made their wishes for space quite clear, they will take even more space.
Showing 6 Replies
  • Reply #1 08/17/11  12:39am
    Good food for thought
  • Reply #2 08/17/11  2:17am
    Sad, but unfortunately very true....
  • Reply #3 08/17/11  11:37am
    Almost sounds as if it's written from the estranger's point of view? Would like to see mention of working out problems, rather than distancing or just staying away.
  • Reply #4 08/17/11  11:45am
    Very true! My ED has wealthy inlaws and they have basically bought her. It really hurts because I would of never dreamed that would happen. Our only child! We miss our 3 GC soooo much! She professes to be such a good Christians. She has gone against a lot of the Scriptures in the Bible.
  • Reply #5 08/18/11  1:32pm
    I agree with Whip on this one - sometimes distancingyourself is the only thing to do - especially with other options already exhausted. It takes 2 to tang and unfortunately, people like to play a lot of games and put up a false front. "I love :oe" means nothing if it is just words. That's what my husband and I were getting for 38 years - a toneless "I love you" with nothing to back it up - no emotion, no loving gestures - no nothing. Just words and an obligatory phone call. It was like we were put in a little box - to be taken out when she needed us and then put back on the self to remain until next time


  • Reply #6 08/18/11  1:51pm
    Nice Post Whipping., I like it.
    Hugs to u


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Do you have adult children, who have blamed you for everything wrong in their childhood, lost contact either through addiction, divorce, or in laws? No phone calls for birthdays, Mother's day, just no communication. How do you cope with the emptiness, the painful loss of not having your children in your life? *WARNING*: Read this note about privacy: http://www.dailystrength.org/people/548/journal/1802327