National Public Radio Offers Insights on Family Estrangement and Reconciliation


The holidays are a time when people think about families. It’s also a season where expectations are often unreasonably high. Indeed, most of us carry around unrealistic expectations regarding family life during the holidays.

I know, because in that department, I am guilty as charged. I want each family event to be the “best ever,” and I can set up high expectations that are hard to fulfill. I have been compared to Chevy Chase’s character, Clark Griswold, in the iconic Christmas movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. In the film, there is this bit of dialogue with his long-suffering wife, Ellen:

Ellen: “You set standards that no family activity can live up to.”

Clark: “When have I ever done that?”

Ellen: “Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, holidays, vacations, graduations…”

Clark and I are not alone; the holidays bring up a host of family issues. It’s also a time when people who are estranged from their families feel pain most acutely.

Perhaps for this reason, National Public Radio featured my new book, Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them, on two recent shows. The response was amazing. I had the pleasure of taking call-ins on the show Radio Times  on WHYY Philadelphia. I was struck by the enormous pain of estrangement callers described, but also hopeful stories of reconciliation listeners shared.

I was also able to join host Robin Young on the nationally-syndicated NPR show Here & Now. We had a great conversation about the book, family rifts, and strategies to overcome them.

Please take a listen, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

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.
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