The family is one of the most important units in our lives, and some people tend to develop bonds with family members that may last a lifetime. However, it is important to note that just like other units, the family goes through difficult periods that might threaten to destroy the family dynamics.
In this article, we will explore the meaning of estrangement and how to handle estranged family members. In addition, you can read this article by Sri Lakshmi to learn more about the significance of family.
What is family estrangement?
Family estrangement is a situation where one or more family members decide to physically or emotionally distance themselves from other family members, often causing a split in relationships.
Estrangement can be due to various factors like emotional issues, unresolved conflicts, abuse, neglect, and other family dynamics. When estrangement occurs in the family, there is little or no interaction or communication between family members.
It is important to mention that the decision to separate oneself from the family can be deeply personal and a means to heal from the ongoing conflict or stress in the family. When estrangement occurs, no one is absolved of the effects, as it causes guilt, shame, frequent conflicts, unhappiness, etc.
One of the reasons why misunderstandings occur is poor communication. If this happens regularly in the long term, it can cause estrangement in the family. The absence of effective communication can cause frustration, making family members avoid each other like a plague.
When physical, emotional, or psychological abuse occurs in the family, it can cause estrangement. Family members may distance themselves to seek protection and healing from the effects of the abuse.
Some family members suffer from neglect, which might make them think they are not wanted in the family. Hence, those who feel neglected might separate themselves from the rest because they don’t feel loved.
5 challenges of dealing with estranged family members
One of the reasons why people may ask, “Is it ok to be estranged from family?” might be due to the challenges of dealing with estranged family members. On how to handle estranged family members, here are some associated challenges.
1. Emotional pain
Unresolved emotional conflicts could cause estrangement, which could cause emotional pain for all involved parties. This might make it difficult for everyone to be at peace with one another.
2. Difficulties in communication
When there are long-standing issues in the family, it could cause estrangement, which might cause communication problems. Ongoing misunderstandings and grievances in the family could make it difficult to learn how to handle estranged family members.
When estrangement is in play, it can cause isolation or loneliness. The estranged family members might separate themselves from the rest, causing bad blood between both parties.
It might be difficult to reconcile during family estrangement because painful memories will likely resurface. This might cause trauma, making the reconciliation process more challenging.
5. Shame and guilt
It is possible for estranged family members to feel guilt and shame, which can be a huge emotional burden. Their feelings, which may be valid, would keep getting in the way of achieving reconciliation.
When it comes to how to deal with estranged family, it can be challenging because of the peculiarity of the relationship. Here are some tips on ways to handle estranged family members.
1. Evaluate your intentions
Before you reach out to an estranged family member, check your motives. Do you want to speak with them because of past issues or conflicts, or are you concerned about their health and well-being?
Ensure that your primary motive is centered on caring about how they feel before you address other issues.
2. Open communication
Concerning knowing ways to handle estranged family members, ensure you have an empathetic and open conversation with them. You should express your concern about how you feel regarding their health or illness. Reveal your intent to always support them irrespective of your past issues.
3. Respect their decisions
Not everyone might be open to having an open conversation with you. Hence, on ways to handle estranged family members, respect their decision if they need more space and time. They might be willing to reconnect but not ready for it, depending on your pace.
4. Practice active listening
To know how to handle estranged family members, ensure you listen actively. Don’t listen to them to judge or react to what they are saying. This helps to rebuild trust and creates a safe space to help them open up.
5. Offer support
Learning how to handle family estrangement can be better understood when you offer your estranged family members support. You can volunteer to help them get some tasks done to enable them to see your good intentions.
6. Prioritize your well-being
The process of managing how to handle estranged family members can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. Hence, it is important to look out for yourself by practicing self-care. Ensure you take care of your physical and mental health.
If communication between you and your family member is proving difficult, and you want to know how to deal with estranged family, consider seeking mediation.
A mediator is mostly a third party like a close family friend, counselor, therapist, etc. They help to facilitate conversations to prevent conflicts from occurring.
8. See a professional therapist
If you are finding it difficult to learn how to handle estranged family members and things are getting complicated, you can consider the services of a professional therapist. The primary essence of a therapist is to help you navigate the complicated dynamics of any relationship.
Commonly asked questions
Here are the answers to some pressing questions that can help you understand the way to deal with an estranged family member:
What can you do when a family member stops talking to you?
When you notice that a family member is no longer talking to you, consider undergoing self-reflection to find out if you did anything to offend them.
Next, ensure you communicate openly and honestly with them to find out what you did. Be ready to give them ample time to process their feelings and communicate when they are ready.
Watch this video to learn more about the art of communication:
What is the duration of the average family estrangement?
When it comes to how long the average family estrangement lasts, there is no fixed time. It depends on the willingness of both parties to resolve their differences and accept one another once again.
Why should you reconnect with an estranged family?
Concerning the question, “What to say to an estranged family member,” one of the reasons to reconnect is to seek closure and healing. Reconciliation and reconnection allow both parties to move on from old grievances and help to rebuild and strengthen the family bond.
How to rekindle a relationship with a family member?
To revive a relationship with your family member, practice open communication to listen to them. Be ready to give them sufficient time to heal. Be ready to apologize if you’ve offended them, and volunteer to offer support in any way to make their lives easier.
In this study by Andrew Clark and other authors, you will learn pivotal steps in building a family.
When family members are estranged, it doesn’t mean there is no hope for reconciliation or healing among all parties.
Having read this article on ways to handle estranged family members, you will be better informed on how to handle estrangement issues if they occur. For more tips on how to restore the family dynamics, consider seeking the services of a relationship counselor or therapist.
Noah loves to write on matters of the heart and mind. His experiences have taught him that being an honest friend who communicates well and giving importance to self-love can go a long way in maintaining loving relationships.
When Read more he’s not writing or advising people on how to thrive in their relationships, he loves exploring new places with his partner, working out, and pretending that he’s good at cooking exotic stuff.
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