How One Family Used “Fault Lines” to Reconcile: Fortune Magazine


Tanzina Vega is writing a series on pandemic-driven shifts for Fortune magazine. I was very moved to read that a family had relied on my book Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them as their guide to reconciliation. As Vega writes:

In a December 2020 interview about family estrangement, Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at Cornell University and author of Fault Lines: Fractured Families and
How to Mend Them, said that while there is an initial relief that comes with eliminating family conflict through estrangement, many people who attempt reconciliation do it for themselves, not for the other family member. “They felt like it was a weight off their shoulders; they were avoiding anticipated regret,” he said. Pillemer, whose research has focused on family reconciliation, said that even those who say they are satisfied with the estrangement may still feel a “longing 3for a restoration of the relationship.”

Pillemer’s work eventually made its way to the Hardy family. After reading his book, Roselyn suggested the family try agreeing to disagree. The Zoom calls had taken place in the pre-vaccine days of the pandemic, after a few of the couple’s friends had succumbed to the virus. Those deaths influenced Doug’s thinking about how to engage with his children. “We can’t agree about the past, but we can focus on the future if you want to be a family,” he told them.

The article goes on to share the unexpectedly happy outcome for this family, who decided to take a chance at reconciliation that greatly paid off.

Have you reached out to an estranged family
member during this time of crisis?
We’d love to hear what motivated you and what was the outcome.
Share Story