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What to Do When Someone Won’t Talk to You

Sad teddy bear estranged from stuffed bunny

Estrangement from important others is a sad fact of life for many people. One of the most painful experiences a parent can have is to be rejected by an adult child who appears to want nothing to do with them. Estrangement between siblings, in-laws, neighbors, even coworkers, is also common.

The reasons for estrangement are as diverse as the parties involved. Sometimes there was a very close relationship in the past, and something happened that created distance.

This may have happened either slowly over time or rather suddenly, but once that distance was created, it solidified into estrangement. Or, the relationship was never as close as it could have been, and the gap just kept getting wider, until there was no relationship at all.

If you're estranged from an adult child, a sibling or someone in your social circle, and the estrangement is their choice rather than yours, you're probably feeling rejected.

Rejection is a powerful emotion that can lead to all sorts of defensive behavior, which in turn can further alienate the rejecting person. If someone has chosen to have little or no contact with you, it's important to acknowledge any softer feelings you may have about that.

Parent-Child Estrangement Is Sometimes (But Not Always) About Abuse

Girl, upset, with mother in backgroundI received the following feedback last week about an excerpt from my Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children, and I wanted to respond.

Unfortunately, the feedback was anonymous.

Surely this person is not alone. So I thought I’d respond with a blog post…

S/he wrote:

I read through your entire page on Estrangement and I’ve got to say that it all felt a bit like you’re condoning the behaviour of abusive parents; telling them they need not feel any remorse for the suffering they’ve caused and they need to practice more self-compassion.

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Differentiation, Part 2

In last week’s post I talked about how differentiation can contribute to estrangement between parents and their young adult children.

This continuation of that post talks about the married adult child, and offers some tips to help you trust the process.

Remember, differentiation is a normal and healthy part of human development. It’s not due to a lack of gratitude or character.

Everyone goes through differentiation, and if you pay very close attention to your own relationship to your parents, you’ll see it in action! Read More

Differentiation: “Normal” Estrangement From Parents?

young woman holding out her handDo you have an adult child under 30 who’s pulling away from you?

It could be part of a normal process of development called differentiation.

We all know that children eventually (or rapidly!) grow into adults, but not without going through some developmental stages.

It’s easy to see these stages in kids’ behavior when they’re young. For example, something they used to love is now boring, or vice versa.

But technically, all of us remain adolescents until we’re 25. Read More