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The Mel Robbins Podcast / – Is It Too Late? How to Repair a Broken Relationship With Your Friend or Family Member

The Mel Robbins Podcast – Is It Too Late? How to Repair a Broken Relationship With Your Friend or Family Member

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In this episode of “The Mel Robbins Podcast,” Mel Robbins explores the topic of repairing broken relationships with friends or family members. She dives into the reasons behind estrangement, the challenges faced by both parties involved, and offers insights on how to navigate the path to reconciliation.

Main Takeaways

Reasons for Estrangement

  • 50% of people will experience a strangement in their lifetime.
  • A strangement is a cutoff in a relationship that may be temporary or permanent.
  • 27% of families in the US are estranged from a family member.
  • Estrangement is tied to the idea of preserving one’s mental health and well-being, and can be seen as an act of existential courage.
  • Cancel culture is not limited to media and is happening in friendships and family relationships, leading to ghosting and a lack of deeper discussion.

Understanding Estrangement Dynamics

  • Divorce can cause children to blame one parent over the other, support one parent over the other, and see parents as individuals rather than a family unit.
  • Mental illness in either the parent or adult child can contribute to estrangement.
  • Some therapists may assume childhood trauma is at the heart of adult problems, which can lead to estrangement.
  • Acknowledging blind spots and being open to learning more can help parents bridge the gap with estranged children.
  • The most common complaint from estranged adults is the need for their boundaries to be respected.

Steps Towards Reconciliation

  • Reconciliation requires parents to understand their child’s perspective and avoid being transactional in their communication.
  • Writing an amends letter, acknowledging one’s character flaws, and taking responsibility can be a powerful tool in the reconciliation process.
  • Reconciliation is often a marathon, not a sprint, and it may take time for the child to forgive and accept.
  • Respecting boundaries and allowing the adult child to set the terms of the relationship is crucial.
  • Assuming your child has valid reasons for their actions, even if you don’t understand them, can foster understanding and empathy.

Support and Compassion

  • Dr. Coleman emphasizes the importance of showing compassion and empathy towards family members.
  • Society needs more empathy and compassion to prevent family estrangement.
  • Dr. Coleman reassures listeners that he is here to support and understand them.


Understanding the Dynamics of Estrangement

Estrangement is a prevalent issue in our society, with a significant percentage of families experiencing cutoffs in their relationships. This can be attributed to various factors, including the need to prioritize mental health and well-being, the rise of cancel culture, and the changing dynamics of family roles. Divorce, mental illness, and miscommunication also contribute to estrangement. It is crucial for parents to acknowledge their blind spots, be open to learning, and respect their adult child’s boundaries.

Navigating the Path to Reconciliation

Reconciliation requires understanding and empathy from both parties involved. Parents need to take responsibility for their actions, acknowledge their character flaws, and make amends through heartfelt letters. It is essential to recognize that reconciliation is a gradual process that may take time for forgiveness and acceptance to occur. Respecting boundaries and allowing the adult child to set the terms of the relationship is crucial. Compassion and support from society can play a significant role in preventing and healing family estrangement.


Repairing broken relationships with friends or family members requires understanding, empathy, and a willingness to address past grievances. By acknowledging the reasons behind estrangement, respecting boundaries, and taking responsibility, individuals can pave the way for reconciliation. It is essential to foster a culture of compassion and support to prevent and heal family estrangement in our society.

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