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| Your daughter, now in her 30s, stopped talking to you after you and she had words over finances, a good 10 years ago. You've reached out to her several times since the dispute, eager to mend fences and get your relationship back on track. But your voice mails have not been returned. You feel heartbroken, angry and helpless.
Sheri McGregor can relate to the feeling of sadness and desperation.
"I never imagined that my own child could reject me,” says the author of Done With the Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children. “Yet, one of my five children cut ties with me and his entire family. It's emotionally devastating and something no loving parent expects or is prepared for."
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Experts agree that there seems to be an increase in separations between adult children and one or both of their parents. One survey of more than 800 British adults who self-identify as partly or fully estranged from one or both parents found that it's more often the adult child who initiates the separation. The study reported that more daughters than sons initiate breakups. Further, more mothers than fathers are estranged from their adult kids. Estrangement from fathers, however, lasts longer: an average of 7.9 years, compared with 5.5 years from mothers.
8 Dos and Don'ts of Reconciliation
- Do handwrite a note or leave a brief voice mail.
- Do approach the situation lightly.
- Do reach out infrequently but authentically.
- Do apologize.
- Don't text or email.
- Don't get into a big explanation.
- Don't allow silence to take over.
- Don't plead your case.
While the survey found that a sizable majority of adult kids don't expect reconciliation, some parents see glimmers of hope and believe that, with the right approach, they can find a way back into the relationship. But there are right ways and wrong ways to handle a possible reconciliation.