Mental Health and Addiction Ministry

  • Gina Larson
  • Jenn Smith
  • Barbara Maurer
  • Maria McCormack
  • Jenn Smith
  • Craig Yannessa
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Family Estrangement

Family estrangement (or, simply, estrangement) is the loss of a previously existing relationship between family members, through physical and/or emotional distancing, often to the extent that there is little or no communication between the individuals involved for a prolonged period. It may result either from direct interactions between those affected - including traumatic experiences of domestic violence, abuse, neglect, parental misbehavior such as repetitive explosive outbursts or intense marital conflict and disagreements, attachment disorders, differing values and beliefs, disappointment, major life events or change, or poor communication - or from the involvement or interference of a third party. The estrangement is often unwanted, or considered unsatisfactory, by at least one party involved.

For example, as a child transitions into adulthood, the adult child may cease contact with his or her parents and possibly other family members. In another scenario, an intolerant parent might reject an adult child because of the child's life choices. In both cases, the family estrangement may create an inter generational rift that can persist for years and replicate itself in subsequent generations.