Estrangement happens between people. Insight of the day! Estrangement happens in families. Some are reconcilable, some are not. Some relationships can be reconnected with an objective mediator with the appropriate skill sets. That is where I come in – and I’m glad that I do! One of the more enjoyable, and successful, things that I do in my practice is to help adult parents reconnect with their estranged adult child. In some situations the situation is reversed and the adult child is trying to get back in the good graces of the adult parent and is seeking my assistance to accomplish this.
What I have been experiencing a lot lately is an adult parent coming to my office to speak of a heartbreak that exists. These parents have been shut out by their adult son or daughter. They want to understand why and hope that I can facilitate a more harmonious relationship.
Here’s how it works. I get “the story” from the shut-out adult parent. During the narrative I usually pick up on part of the reason why the other adult child has banned him/her from his/her inner circle. I close this initial narrative by asking the adult parent to text/call the other adult child involved and ask if s/he would meet with me one time to explain the “exile”. Usually the “exiler” is pleased to come to and give me the reasons for this chosen behavior.
At the conclusion of these information gathering sessions I then invite them to come in together to see what might be done to develop a better relationship. Deep down most parents and children would like some form of peaceful, maybe even nurturing, relationship. Love usually runs deep, though sometimes it is buried for a time.
Generally in such cases there has been some mistakes made that the adult child considers to be grievous. Sometimes it is a single incident when a behavior took place that led to the estrangement. Most often it is a style of interaction that the adult child finds to be frustrating and, therefore, puts up a strong barrier.
In the latter category it is often when the adult parent has crossed the line by judging and/or advising the adult child as to what s/he should do in particular instances. (“Shoulding” on people generally is not a good idea!).
Respected Reader, if you or someone you know is in such an estranged situation, act on it. A parent-child relationship at any age is precious and important. Every effort to reconcile this relationship is a great idea!
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates