Why Families Break Up : 1A "I don't feel like I need my family to change for me to love them. But I do need them to change for me to have them in my life."

More and more Americans are estranged from family members. We explore why, and when reconciliation is — and isn't — possible.

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Why Families Break Up

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Why Families Break Up

1A

Why Families Break Up

Why Families Break Up

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WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: Prince Harry looks at his bride, Meghan Markle, as she arrived accompanied by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales during their wedding in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. WPA Pool/Getty Images hide caption

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WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: Prince Harry looks at his bride, Meghan Markle, as she arrived accompanied by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales during their wedding in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.

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No one can hurt you like a loved one, and no one loves you like your family.

What happens when the hurt makes you walk away, for good?

There isn't a lot of research available on how often familial estrangement happens. And the studies generally appear to have a relatively small focus group — like this one, published in 2017, which surveyed 52 children in the process of estrangement.

But The New York Times reports that the lack of research might be changing.


In the past five years, a clearer picture of estrangement has been emerging as more researchers have turned their attention to this kind of family rupture.

Their findings challenge the deeply held notion that family relationships can't be dissolved and suggest that estrangement is not all that uncommon.

Relatives can distance themselves for reasons that build up over time: reasons that force what can be a difficult decision.

In fact, not just once – with the decision to leave – but sometimes repeatedly, every time one considers reconciling.

Everyone loves a happy ending, but what if happiness requires staying apart instead of getting back together?

We'll explore why families pull apart, what it takes to reconnect, and how some have decided that distance is a virtue.