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‘90s FAMILY : Preventing Estrangement

Coping: For parents of younger children who want to try to prevent potential estrangement, experts recommend that parents:

* Allow the children as much independence as they can appropriately have, and celebrate their steps toward maturity.

* Find other sources of support--friends and activities--so you don’t depend on your children for stimulation.

* Look at child-rearing as a phase or a season of your life, not a profession.

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* Practice good listening and communication skills within the family from the beginning.

* Evaluate your own level of success in smoothly separating from your own parents; such modeling may be helpful to the next generation.

Prevention: Experts and those who have experienced parent-child estrangement offer these suggestions to help families cope with--and possibly repair--torn relationships:

* Try to find some way to talk and see what each person needs from the other, how each may be disappointing or frustrating the other, and what roles each needs filled.

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* Many estrangements are caused by different perceptions. Seek to find a way to discuss these feelings openly.

* Try to keep some line of communication open, even if it is only the exchange of birthday cards or holiday greetings.

* Re-evaluate your expectations.


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