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Reconciled with a family member? We want to hear from you!

August 29, 2018

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: family,   Family Reconciliation Project,   Karl Pillemer,   research,  

silhouette of four people - two teenagers and two adults who are holding hands - on a shore at sunset

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

What problem is experienced, directly or indirectly, by almost everyone and can cause emotional distress so profound that it lasts for a lifetime?

The answer is estrangement from a family member. More than one-fifth of adults report currently experiencing estrangement from a family member and most families live through an estrangement at some point.

Despite how often family members are cut off from one another, very little research has been conducted on estrangement. There is also scarce professional guidance for families trying to heal a rift among its members.

The Cornell Family Reconciliation Project aims to fill this knowledge gap. The project is seeking people from across the country to contribute their stories of how they reconciled with family members after a rift. The researchers will study these reports about how an estrangement was resolved and offer solutions based on these real-life experiences.

portrait of Karl Pillemer

Karl Pillemer

“There is a lot of information available on how difficult estrangements are and what causes them,” said Karl Pillemer, professor of human development at Cornell and the director of the project. “However, what is lacking is the good news – how family members overcome a rift and reconcile. By gathering many reconciliation stories, we hope to contribute knowledge that is useful in resolving such family problems.”

Reconciled family members are invited to share their stories on the Cornell Family Reconciliation Project web site. Also, those interested can participate in the study by volunteering for an anonymous personal interview (sign-up information is on the web site). Based on the information received, Pillemer and his research team will prepare materials designed to offer advice to estranged family members and to the professionals who work with them.

“We invite people to help us understand this complex problem by sharing their stories,” Pillemer said. “The advice from people who have been through estrangement and reconciliation can help thousands of other families.”

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