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Family Estrangements: How They Begin, How to Mend Them, How to Cope with Them Paperback – January 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553381962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553381962
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While admitting "there are no statistics on the subject," LeBey contends that estrangements between family members are "pervasive" and "escalating." She blames the baby-boom generation's "self-indulgence," women's liberation, rising divorce rates and "increased mobility," all of which have made it easier for people to leave their families for a job or other personal opportunity. LeBey, who claims that everyone suffers in a family estrangement, structures her book around case studies involving divorce, in-laws, sexual orientation, inheritance disputes, interracial/interfaith marriages ("what for many [families] is their worst nightmare") and family businesses. At the end of each chapter she offers pat advice to those left behind, like "never give up!" and "don't blame yourself." A lawyer and former judge with no background in psychology or family counseling, who is estranged from her own son, LeBey only interviewed people who were left behind, not people who chose to leave a relationship. Consequently, her case studies are one-sided and often simplistic, passing harsh judgments upon the people who initiate estrangement. LeBey claims it is not her intention to blame, yet she characterizes those who leave as "mean-spirited," "relentlessly cruel and punishing," "ruthless" and "irrational," accusing them of "poisoning the minds" of children and grandchildren against those left behind. While LeBey's take may comfort people in her position, it isn't likely to mend any fences. (Apr.)Forecast: Given her own affecting personal story, LeBey is a logical candidate for the talk shows; indeed, she is scheduled to appear on the Today Show on April 10. Since few other books address this topic, the book is likely to find its niche, although its flaws may curtail its long-term prospects.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

While estrangement is a subtopic in books focusing primarily on divorce, parenting, interfaith and interracial marriages, and declaring homosexuality, this work deals specifically and soundly with family rifts. LeBey, a lawyer and former judge, draws on research and her own experience of alienation from her son to present a sensitive approach to dealing with estrangement. LeBey stresses how to reestablish relationships with a loved one and how to cope with the loss when overtures don't work. Her examples and anecdotes are drawn from a wide spectrum of family situations, her advice is consistent: be open to reconciliation, learn to forgive for inner peace, never stop reaching out, and learn to live a full and active life and build new relationships. Each chapter closes with straightforward and practical guidelines. This fine book not only recognizes a problem that most people conceal in shame but also fills a void in self-help literature. Highly recommended for public libraries. Kay Brodie, Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, MD
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Having dispensed with this nugget of advice she spends the rest of the book treading water and repeating her mantra.
Kevin Ormsby
A poorly executed book that will make a lot of grandparents and mothers-in-law feel better without truly offering them the chance to change themselves.
Julius
This well written book by Barbara LeBey offers a road map back to a loving relationship with an estranged family member.
ReaderRabbit

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 93 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I don't know if a reader of sample pages only is allowed to write a review, but that's all it took for me to see that this author is of no use to someone on the lookout for coping advice in my situation -- the terrific pain that results from finally having to end an abusive family relationship to save my own sanity. Le Bey starts right off by making it clear she sees family estrangements as the "down side" of the 20th century's movement toward individual rights, and characterizes sibling splits as "arguments over who got grandmother's silver."
If a writer on this subject wants to be taken seriously, her first few pages had better acknowledge that some people's family relationships, even without beatings or incest, are made hellish by forms of mental cruelty and disordered behavior that would be considered grounds for divorce (and possibly court-ordered therapy) in a marriage situation. I cut off all relations with a relative after years of bearing with such behavior, for the last seven of them insisting fruitlessly that my relative agree to try professional counseling before we met again face to face. This has been indescribably painful, and I am sure I am not the only person who has struggled for years to understand and cope with horrible behavior before deciding to separate from it. (I can only imagine what is endured by relatives of people who repeatedly tax their family relationships with criminal, addictive or similar catastrophe-creating conduct.)
I have gotten much comfort from books that help me gain perspective on the causes of the behavior I endured and I can always use advice on how to cope with the experience of having no family. What I don't need is to start reading a book on estrangement that all but accuses me and other "leavers" of being selfish on the first few pages. I hope my estranged family member never gets hold of this book -- I can hear the crows of self-vindication already.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A reader on August 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
this book can damage your family relations if you adhere to the author's advise.

do not blame others only but look at yourself too. if you do not, you could find yourself isolated very quickly.

read more than this book and get other ideas and concepts. the more i read, the clearer it became how isolated the author is in the landscape of self-help books.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful By REGINA on August 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
The author writes with bitterness and blaming. Read between the lines. Her own conflict with the own son says more than 10000 words. But of course there is only one scapegoat in her view. Denial and blame on the victims. This book was very difficult too read, can not recommend it at all, because it does not help you, it is just a constant accusation of the others' faults.
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Claudia S. on August 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book the first twenty pages but threw it right away, becaus I could not stand the blaming and constant negative attitude.
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48 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
This author has a clear agenda to paint daughter-in-laws as the masterminds behind many family estrangements. She offers absolutely no scientific research to support her charges. She doesn't examine the possibly that a mother or father in-law could be the cause of a rift and certainly never concludes that a son may WANT to leave his family. No, the DIL is blamed for forcing her husband to take sides with her against his family of origin.
Newsflash: Sons will not become estranged from their birth families if the underlying relationship with his parents is overwhelmingly healthy.
Newflash #2: Disfunctional people don't generally admit they are flawed. But the author believes without question that the mothers she interview with estranged sons did not contribute at all to the estrangement! Gee, I doubt they'd admit that they were controlling, narcissistic, alcoholic, possessive, jealous, etc.
This book is an incredibly self-serving project which may make the author feal like a martyr and give her a big thumbs up for being so brave and so forgiving. Writing a book about estrangements is a wonderful distraction from actually looking inward and reflecting on how the author herself may have contributed to her own pain. Nah, much easier blaming the daughter-in-law and pretending the family of origin was a slice of heaven on earth. No sense looking at one's own faults. Sigh.
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36 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Colin Jamieson on August 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
This author does not take any responsibility. Blaming others only. No changes.... blaming and self-pity.

There are plenty of good books if your family is in troubles. NOT THIS ONE.

Recommended: Toxic Parents, Emotional Blackmail from S.Forward etc
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Nicky Brown on August 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
Estrangement is on its way if you follow the advise from this book.

There are really great books if you need help with your family:

1) Toxic Parents by Susan Forward

2) If you had controlling parents by Dan Neuhardt

3) The family crubicle

and many more.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie on June 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Thank you to Barbara LeBey for adding even more stress and resentment into some already rocky relationships between mother and daughter-in-laws. What I explored in this book was a bunch of one-sided mother of son sob stories that blamed the daughter-in-laws for family breakdowns. Unfortunately, there wasn't much exploration as to why these estragements were SONS and their mothers. Also unfortunate is that my mother-in-law read this book and now has ME to blame for the years of dysfunction and denial that have plagued her family. She now has a convenient excuse to ignore the alcoholism, manipulation, conditional love and lack of communication that she raised her son in. Honestly, if we, daughter-in-laws, were such "evil puppet masters" with enough control over our husbands to make them abandon their families, don't you think we would work on the dirty socks on the floor first?!!! Why not try a James Dobson book instead?
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Family Estrangements: How They Begin, How to Mend Them, How to Cope with Them
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