Fixing relationships with adult kids brings ‘personal growth’

Ten million Gen X and Baby Boomer parents have estranged adult children. Parents wonder: How did this happen? Where did I go wrong?

Over time, holidays, birthdays, and even the birth of grandchildren may pass in silence. Anguish may turn into anger. While time, in and of itself, does not necessarily heal, actions do, and while every estrangement includes situation-specific variables, there are practical, effective, and universal techniques for understanding and healing these not-uncommon breaches.

Tina Gilbertson, a psychotherapist and author of “Reconnecting with Your Estranged Adult Child,” has developed techniques and tools over years of face-to-face and online work with parents. Gilbertson cuts through the blame, shame, and guilt on both sides of the broken relationship, so parents will feel heard and understood but also challenged — and guided — to reclaim their role as “tone setter” and grow psychologically.

Becoming a stranger to one’s child is one of the most painful things that can happen to a parent, Gilbertson says. Although you enter estrangement in pieces, it’s a crucible that can make you whole again — not just as someone’s parent, but for yourself, the Vancouver, B.C. native advises.

The greatest burden for estranged parents is unnecessary shame, said Gilbertson, adding her purpose is not just to help you repair your relationship with your child, but also to fortify your bond with yourself.

“Healing from estrangement is an opportunity for intense personal growth if you’re up for it. This is true whatever the outcome may be,” she said.