I recently posted about the types of therapy biases experienced by the many estranged people I have spoken to, and this is demontrated in this recent agony-aunt style article a frustrated client shared with me.
The person writing and her husband are struggling with her husband’s family, using the word ‘abusive’ twice to describe them, as well as other potential terms suggesting abuse, such ‘controlling’ and ‘It’s either their way or the highway’.
Despite this, the adviser is convinced they should reconnect with the parents…and ‘possibly’ walk back into very damaging behaviours. She presumes that the parents will view things differently and then proceeds to focus on what might happen if his parents were to get sick or die…from my experience, estranged individuals already carry a profound level of shame for the situation and are fully aware of the consequences of their choice to pull back…the last thing they need is more pressure from an expert they have reached out for help.
The fact is, there is still too little information in the letter to know how to proceed with his parents, but I would start with compassion and validating their experiences, while encouraging them to trust their own intuition, after all they know their family better than anyone (including me).