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  • Sheldon Press

Rules of Estrangement: Why Adult Children Cut Ties and How to Heal the Conflict

Joshua Coleman

7 Reviews

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Intergenerational relationships

A guide for parents whose adult children have cut off contact that reveals the hidden logic of alienation, explores its cultural causes, and offers practical advice for parents trying to reestablish contact with their adult children.

'I've seen many parents and adult children grappling with these issues, and this is exactly the book they have all been waiting for.' - Lori Gottlieb

Has your adult child cut off contact with you?
How can you heal the pain and start to build a bridge back to them?

Labelled a silent epidemic by a growing number of therapists and researchers, estrangement is one of the most disorienting and painful experiences of a parent's life. Popular opinion typically tells a one-sided story of parents who got what they deserved or overly entitled adult children who wrongly blame their parents. However, the reasons for alienation are far more complex and varied. As a result of rising rates of individualism, an increasing cultural emphasis on happiness, growing economic insecurity, and a historically recent perception that parents are obstacles to personal growth, many parents find themselves forever shut out of the lives of their adult children and grandchildren.

As a trusted psychologist whose own daughter cut off contact for several years and eventually reconciled, Dr Joshua Coleman is uniquely qualified to guide parents in navigating these fraught interactions. He helps to alleviate the ongoing feelings of shame, hurt, guilt, and sorrow that commonly attend these dynamics. By placing estrangement into a cultural context, Dr Coleman helps parents better understand the mindset of their adult children and teaches them how to implement the strategies for reconciliation and healing that he has seen work in his forty years of practice. Rules of Estrangement gives parents the language and the emotional tools to engage in meaningful conversation with their child, the framework to cultivate a healthy relationship moving forward, and the ability to move on if reconciliation is no longer possible.

While estrangement is a complex and tender topic, Dr Coleman's insightful approach is based on empathy and understanding for both the parent and the adult child.

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Praise for Rules of Estrangement: Why Adult Children Cut Ties and How to Heal the Conflict

  • A hopeful, comprehensive, and compassionate guide to navigating one of the most painful experiences for parents and their adult children alike. The Rules of Estrangement candidly addresses parental estrangement from every conceivable angle, steering readers away from shame and blame to a place of newfound understanding and empowerment. I've seen many parents and adult children grappling with these issues, and this is exactly the book they have all been waiting for. - Lori Gottlieb, psychotherapist and 'New York Times' bestselling author of MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO TALK TO SOMEONE

  • Dr Coleman is one of the few experts in the western world on family estrangement. This book both comforts and challenges parents who are estranged from their adult children, lighting up a path for how they may repair their broken relationships. It offers excellent insights into the sociology and psychology of family relationships, which we too often assume are always supportive, close and functional. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to learn from years of refined specialist practice in this important field. - Becca Bland, Chief Executive, Stand Alone Charity

  • A must-read guide for any parent in a troubled relationship with their adult child. - Ruth Whippman, author of THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

  • Family estrangement is shrouded in shame and secrecy, yet in Dr Coleman's experienced hands, both the causes and consequences of estrangement become far easier to comprehend. Crucially, Dr Coleman explores the complexity of estrangement whilst extending kindness and compassion for all involved. Rules of Estrangement is essential reading for anyone looking to gain insight and understanding on this topic. - Dr Lucy Blake, Senior Lecturer in Children, Young People and Families, Edge Hill University

  • I have, for many years, recommended people to see Dr Coleman, but until I read this book I don't think I ever knew the extraordinary range of his gifts. An inspirational book. - Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Washington, Seattle. Expert: 'Married at First Sight'

  • While this is a book primarily written for parents, his compassionate view of the estranged adult child offers helpful insights for all generations involved. - Joel Kramer, Psy.D.; John Douglas French Alzheimer s Foundation Endowed Professor of Neuropsychology in Neurology, University of California, San Francisco Medical Center

  • Rejecting glib indictments of 'toxic parents' or 'ungrateful kids', Coleman offers calming advice on ways that estranged families can recover or move on. - Stephanie Coontz, author, THE WAY WE NEVER WERE

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Joshua Coleman

Joshua Coleman PhD is a leading expert on marriage and relationships. His advice has been featured in The New York Times, Parenting Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and Psychology Today.

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