Navigating Familial Estrangement

We’ve received a substantial number of questions from our listeners regarding familial estrangement: when one family member distances themselves from the others, or chooses not to interact with them at all. It’s a common and extremely challenging situation, and the pain related to it can be particularly intense during the holidays.

Today on Being Well, Dr. Rick and Forrest Hanson discuss family estrangement, particularly between parents and children, and how the questions we engage in this territory apply more broadly to how we balance our own boundaries with the responsibilities we have toward other people.

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Key Topics:

0:00: Introduction

3:05: Our framework for discussing estrangement in this episode

6:10: Joining and distancing

9:40: Duties in relationship between children and aging parents

15:35: Parents’ behavior then vs. now

19:00: Distinguishing family systems from parents as individuals

24:10: Functional forgiveness when someone doesn’t show remorse

26:45: Choosing the kind of relationship we want to have

31:45: Parents’ pain when children distance

33:40: How parents can consider the child’s perspective

39:40: Grieving an estranged relationship internally

45:30: Approaches to interacting with estranged children

52:30: How to decide whether or not to engage in a relationship

55:10: Awareness of cultural influences

57:20: Ownership and what parents can do to repair

1:03:00: The wide range of variables influencing family relationships

1:07:00: Wishing well regardless of circumstances

1:09:30: Recap

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