Books Feed

A new book on family estrangement: Fault Lines: Fractured Families and . . .

I read about a new book on the subject of family estrangements today:

Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them by Karl Pellemer, Ph.D.

Haven't read it yet myself.

Karl Pillemer is a family sociologist and Professor of human development at Cornell University and also a Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is an author of 6 books and over 150 scientific publications. He has been a speaker throughout the world on aging related issues.

Fault Lines shares for the first time findings from Dr. Pillemer's five-year, ground-breaking Cornell Reconciliation Project.

Recently Published Books on Family Estrangement

 Estranged Stories, ebook version. by Elizabeth Vagnoni, Mary Cay Reed. Available for Amazon Kindle Fire®, Apple iPad®, Android devices, and Mac or PC computers. Currently (as of Dec. 17, 2017) priced at $15.99.

Estranged Stories Understanding. Support. Peace. Hope” by Elizabeth Vagnoni, Mary Cay Reed. Blurb 2017. ISBN-10: 0615937683, ISBN-13: 978-0615937687. This is the print version which currently is priced at $44.74 on Amazon.

From the online listings of the book on Amazon and on Blurb:
"In Estranged Stories, Elizabeth Boykin Vagnoni and Mary Cay Reed have woven together a compassionate description of the succession of emotions many parents experience when they become estranged from their adult children. Using a variety of stories from, parents talk about the common thoughts and feelings they experience when faced with estrangement. They talk about suggestions for confronting feelings, how to respond to others, finding hope, and coping with the inability to have a relationship with Grandchildren. While these stories come from a few, they represent the feelings of more than 5,000 who have joined estrangedstories and responses from over 3,000 who have completed our survey. Sometimes just understanding that you are not alone and many others share the same "stories", is helpful when trying to understand this emotionally crippling situation."

Family Estrangement: A Matter of Perspective by Kylie Agllias. ISBN-13: 978-1472458612 ISBN-10: 1472458613

We Don't Talk Anymore: Healing after Parents and Their Adult Children Become Estranged by Kathy McCoy. October 2017. ISBN-10: 1492651133 ISBN-13: 978-1492651130.

Estrangement of Parents by Their Adult Children by Sharon Waters. April 2017. ISBN-10: 0692882154 ISBN-13: 978-0692882153.

Long Division by m.nicole.r.wilhood: Book of Poems of Sibling / Family Estrangement

Long Division is a book of poetry written by m.nicole.r.wilhood. It is about family estrangement and specifically about sibling estrangement. She has experienced an estrangement from her younger sister. Her manuscript has been accepted by Finishing Line Press. The link is the pre-sale link for the book.

The author writes:

Long Division is a short collection of poetry that I had been too afraid to write for years. I was too afraid to admit the brokenness of my family, too afraid to admit that I still hoped for the kind of relationships I saw my friends having with their siblings, too afraid to spend time with the pain of having a sister but not having the "built-in best friend" my mother was excited I would have when she found out she was having another girl. This collection relays stories my parents have told me and recounts my own memories as I finally come to terms with the deepening estrangement between my younger sister and me.

Family Estrangement: "Being Wrong": The Book, the Experience

I finished reading the book, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, on May 20, the day before the day predicted by Harold Camping for the much ballyhooed Rapture that didn't happen. What I learned, among many other interesting things, from the book was that in the nineteenth century there was a man, William Miller, who had set the date of October 22, 1844 at the day when the world would end and judgment would occur. That became known as the Great Disappointment. Funny how people are that they would be disappointed that the world did not end. Things must not have been going too well for them or for their twenty-first century spiritual kin that they would find survival in this world to be such a disappointment.

I was interested in reading the book, Being Wrong, because I personally have needed to cope with being wrong at times and also with others being wrong. The issues that I find so interesting about the condition of "being wrong" encompass a number of areas in life including the need to be right, the resistance to being inaccurate and/or wrong, the absolute denial of being wrong despite evidence to the contrary, perfectionism and its role in determining rightness or wrongness, political issues, religious issues, romantic issues, memory, psychology, culture, society. Kathryn Schulz, the author of "Being Wrong", attempts to cover most of these issues.

For me this was not light reading. It took me a while to get through this thought provoking book. It provided me with some answers for how it can be that people decide that an idea or a course of action is the right course of action and ignore evidence that indicates that they might be incorrect. As I read this book I remembered decisions and ideas that I had had in the past that I later changed my mind about.

Some specific memories that I have where I ended up changing my mind are ones that relate to my disliking certain people. I remember that in 2003 I met a woman for whom I developed a strong dislike. I considered her to be unfriendly, cold, haughty, aloof, and rigid. I was involved in working with a group of people that included her. She held a prominent post in that group. I disliked her a lot. I'll refer to her as Geraldine.

At that same time there was a married couple in that same group that I also disliked. I had been hearing negative things about them from others. I had heard that they were controlling. Both were described in many negative ways. I met them after having heard these things and I was ready to dislike them. The chip was already on my shoulder when it came to them. I'll refer to them as Bob and Janice.

I saw the things that they did through the filter of my dislike. So I saw them as controlling, incapable of warmth, mean, uncaring, authoritarian, and even foolish and stupid. I had to work with them but I wasn't willing to give them any benefit of the doubt. I felt antagonistic towards them. In retrospect I cringe at how I talked about them to others and how I thought about them at that time.

It took a while for me to see Geraldine, Bob and Janice in a different light. To put it in a different way, it took a while for me to see the light. The light being that they were and are all hard working intelligent nice people who give of themselves to benefit others and who deserved my respect, admiration, and friendship, not my enmity or my hostile negative thoughts and feelings. Why had I started out with such a wrongheaded assessment of them? I ask myself that. Why had I been so unfair?

Similar things have happened where I have thought that certain people were quite wonderful and then they turned out to be untrustworthy, dishonest, out for themselves alone and screw everyone else. I can be so very wrong at times that I scare myself!

In the case of Bob and Janice, I had allowed the statements of others whose opinions I trusted at that time to influence my feelings about Bob and Janice. The more I worked with and spoke with Bob and Janice, the more I liked them. I was puzzled about this. Every time I got off the phone with Janice, I felt surprised by how much I had enjoyed speaking with her. The more I spoke with her husband, the more I liked him. My husband liked him too and my husband is a pretty good judge of people.

It took me a couple of years but I eventually needed to admit to myself that I thought that my other friends were wrong and that Bob and Janice were terrific people who did not deserve what had been said about them. I even realized that one of the people who had been the most negative about Janice was very much like Janice in her personality. Perhaps, since both are somewhat take charge people who spend a lot of time doing things for others, their similar personalities had resulted in a collision of personalities rather than a positive experience. I can't find a good explanation for why my friend disliked Janice so much except that maybe it is impossible to have two women like that in the same room? I know that I have ended up liking Janice quite a bit and liking my other friend somewhat less because she has done so much badmouthing of Janice that I haven't found any evidence was deserved. By doing that, she was doing damage not only to Janice but also to a very good organization that is set up to help the local community. For a time I was guilty of this same thing because I had also said negative things that were unfair. Since then I hope that I have set things right through my change in attitude and loyalties. Since then I have become a defender of Bob and Janice when I hear unfair things said about them.

My feelings towards Geraldine also changed as I got to know her. I learned more about her personal life and how much she devoted of her time and energy to the organization which we both support. My theories of how unfriendly she was and how aloof fell by the wayside. I learned how to get along with her when she was upset. I contradicted her at times and we both survived. We both made each other laugh. We both felt grief over losses in our lives. We both cared deeply about many of the same things. We were both deeply invested in the same goals that result in helping an organization move forward that helps a community. I developed a respect for her creativity and her devotion to what she cared about. I grew to like her a lot which was quite a surprise to me after my initial reaction to her. I admitted to myself that I had been wrong about her. She was not the unfriendly haughty beast I once thought she was. She was a caring generous human being. She did not deserve the opinion I once had had of her. I had been wrong.

Thus I approached the book, Being Wrong, with my memories of the times that I have been wrong, my observations of when others think and do things that also seem to be wrong,  and my desire to understand how it is that we as human beings can cling to our wrongheaded beliefs no matter that there is evidence that we are indeed wrong.

More on this later. I think this is going to end up being a longer piece of writing than I had anticipated initially. I thought it would be only one post's worth of writing lengthwise. You could say that I was, yet again, wrong!


Former Things: A novel & blog. About Family Estrangement

I haven't yet read this book, Former Things, by Gail Lowe but I am going to order it and read it.

The author has a blog, Former Things - Planting a Seed Called Forgiveness,  that I am linking to right here. She writes beautifully. From what I have read on her blog, I expect that her novel is an excellent read. I am recommending it without having read it.

This is a belated Mother's Day present to visitors. I just found a reference to this novel this morning, the day after Mother's Day.


On the Today Show, July 6, 2010: Joshua Coleman and Debby

Joshua Coleman and Debby were on this morning's Today Show on NBC. Joshua Coleman is the author of When Parents Hurt. Debby is a mother who has been estranged by her daughter for seven years. I am providing a link to the interview. I don't know how long the link will be good as the Today Show might not provide these links for permanent access. So if the link doesn't work at some point and I realize that, then I will remove it. It should remain good for a while.

What happens when children cut off their parents. Interview with Joshua Coleman and Debby.
July 6, 2010

BTW the url for the discussion group, Estranged Stories, has been changed to

The old url will still take you to the site but there is a new permanent url.


Dr. Joshua Coleman on NBC's Today Show, Friday, Dec. 21, 2007

Dr. Joshua Coleman, family therapist and author of When Parents Hurt will be appearing on NBC's Today Show on Friday, December 21, 2007 in the 8 o'clock hour.

Followup note: I watched the segment (video link here). Call me a curmudgeon if you must but I was disappointed that the Today Show didn't give this topic more time. It seemed like one minute. Maybe it was two minutes. They showed the text of a few emails from parents who are in pain over estrangement. They had a brief segment of Coleman being interviewed. He was asked to give three tips for parents. He suggested, "Take responsibility. Stay in the game. Get support." And then, of course, there is his book. Which is an excellent book which would be the most helpful for those who are in situations where they have a conflict which has not yet reached the point of estrangement. The most positive thing that might come ouf of the Today Show is that parents may buy his book. MSNBC has this on their website now about Coleman and family estrangement.

I had been looking forward to the Today Show's coverage of this topic so was very disappointed that, in my viewpoint, the coverage was only crumbs of information. Not a full meal. Not even an appetizer! But maybe I am not seeing it the right way. I am seeing the cup as 80% empty when I could look at it as 20% full. One fifth of a cup is better than an empty cup! So perhaps I need to see the Today Show coverage as a needed acknowledgment of the painful losses that so many experience through estrangement. And I need to thank the Today Show for their two minutes of coverage of family estrangement. After all, time is valuable. And they have so many other things to discuss. Hmmmmmm. Like Christmas presents or something.

So much power is in the media and then they don't use it. They spend more time on cooking recipes than on important issues that affect people's everyday lives.

Ginny (who likes food as much as anyone but wishes that the media would present food for THOUGHT sometimes and not just food for the stomach.)

Sisters: Estrangement & Reconciliation

October has been a busy month for me. No time to read books. Although I find time to sit at the computer and read and write. It takes a conscious effort to pick up a book to read rather than go online and browse through the vast tomes of the internet. I have several books waiting for my attention. One being My Mother's Daughter: a memoir by Rona Maynard.

Continue reading "

Sisters: Estrangement & Reconciliation

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When Parents Hurt by Joshua Coleman & related links

I heard of this book for the first time yesterday and visited the sites at the links above. This sounds like a compassionate book that would be of interest to many parents who have lost their relationships with their children.

A reader mentioned "When Parents Hurt" to me yesterday and sent me a link. I thank her very much for letting me know about it. I hadn't heard of it before. It was published in July 2007.


New to my bookshelves

I am reading two books:

  • "Bad" Mothers The politics of blame in twentieth-century America, edited by Molly Ladd-Taylor and Lauri Umansky. Published 1998 by New York University Press. A book of 26 essays.
  • Why Good Things Happen to Good People by Stephen Post, Ph.D. and Jill Neimark. Published 2007 by Broadway Books.

and have ordered a book written by a Canadian woman author, the third of the women in her family to write a memoir which was just published in September 2007:

  • My Mother's Daughter by Rona Maynard. Here is a link to an Oct. 1, 2007 review by Sarah Hampson on GlobeLife: Family matters: take 3

Fragmented Families by Ellen B. Sucov

Due to a damaged hard drive that needs to be sent out for data recovery, I'm not currently updating the website. I expect to be able to do updates again in a couple of weeks. (I can do them now but it would be easier if I had some files back on my computer.) In the meantime, I will put the items that I would have put on here on the Estrangements blog.

Continue reading "

Fragmented Families by Ellen B. Sucov

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Postsecret's Frank Warren in Reading, PA, June 17, 2006

Frank Warren, June 17, at the Reading Public Museum

I had the great pleasure of meeting and photographing Frank Warren of Postsecret when he came to the Reading Public Museum in Reading, PA on Saturday, June 17, for the opening day of an exhibit of a selection of the Postsecret postcards. The exhibit will run until October 8 and he will be back at the museum in the fall for a book signing.

I was fascinated by seeing the actual postcards. The real life sizes and the handmade nature. Being able to see both sides of some. The creativity in deciding how to express each secret. A few of the secrets made me shudder.

The exhibit was mentioned briefly on the Postsecret website. I don't know why it isn't mentioned there now but it is mentioned on the Reading Public Museum site. So if you're in Pennsylvania in the vicinity of Reading, you might want to visit. The other exhibits where the postcards have been shown were in the Alexandria, Virginia area.

Book by Linda Carroll, mother of Courtney Love

Seattle Weekly: Article: Courtney's Family Curse by Tim Appelo: Estranged from her daughter Courtney Love, Linda Carroll went on a journey to find her own mother and wrote a book: Her Mother's Daughter: A Memoir of the Mother I Never Knew and of My Daughter, Courtney Love

With much thanks to my friend, M,  for sending me the link.