Powered By Caring

thank_you generosity

I’m excited and very touched to report that as a result of my reader’s (you lovely people know who you are!) generosity and caring, E-Stranged will continue to stay live. Total received donations reached $295.00 today, which will cover hosting/domain costs.

I couldn’t have maintained the blog without your support. This website and blog is here today, and will stay here tomorrow, because of you.

With heartfelt gratitude,


I look around but no one’s there …

Looking around








Family privilege is the abundance of benefits, mostly invisible, that accrue from membership in a stable family.
Sieta and Brendtro

In the wake of needing to post for financial donations to keep this site up, I was led to, once again, consider family estrangement and its relationship to family privilege. I’ve written a bit about family privilege previously [Family Privilege], but wanted to raise it again as a fundamental reality for those who are estranged.

Family privilege starts by thinking about the way we construct ideas of family – what we think family is, what we think they do – and what family actually is, and what is actually done. As the quote above says, family privilege is a naturally occurring benefit that people in healthy functioning families receive, simply for being part of their families. These benefits are practically invisible for those who receive them but are painfully absent for many people who are estranged.

What does family privilege look like?

For many people who are estranged, challenging life circumstances are faced alone – whether they be things like a health scare or hospitalization, new baby’s arrival, or … trying to complete an intensive course of study (like my PhD). There’s an assumption that floats around in social circles – that everyone has family support and can access it – and this assumption trickles its way into social, economic and political systems. For instance, if someone needs day surgery, hospital staff are likely to assume a family member will be there to provide {free} support and a lift home. If someone has a new baby, there’s a likely assumption that family and extended family will provide {free} support, childcare and on the job training. If someone is in a tight spot financially, there’s an expectation that family will step up to the plate and provide {free – or at least no interest} financial support to lend a hand. When people get older and more frail, there’s an expectation that their immediate and extended family will be there for them to provide connection and caring as well as financial and physical support. These are just a few examples of the many, many ways that built-in ideas of family and what families do, impact the way support is asked for and given.

Whose job is it to care?

Socially, politically and economically, the idea of family stepping up, being present, caring,  willing and able to provide {free} help is integral to how the need for support and services is perceived and shapes the questions that are asked and the help that is offered. If we agree that caring and supporting is something that should be managed by family, it means that there is little need for social systems, support services and resources to extend help – after all, families do it. The follow on from this, is we will live in systems that have heavy investments in families “staying together” whether it is feasible, healthy or happy for their members to do so. When family cannot be relied upon to care, it shakes up “the system” that really doesn’t want to care because caring costs time, money and resources.

Socially, economically and politically it works to think that family is where the bulk of caring for should occur. Furthermore, there are gender implications running through caring considerations, since traditionally women have, by and large, taken up the responsibility for caring.

Doing it rough

When family is not an option, the playing field radically changes. Challenging times become doubly so and working toward achievement becomes doubly difficult. Those who are estranged become more resourceful, more independent, not by choice necessarily, but through necessity.  However, no matter how independent and resourceful we are, there will be times when we can’t do it all, when we will need support and help – and these times are perhaps some of the most painful and difficult times for those who are estranged.

People who are estranged have to entirely rethink how they arrange their social supports and relationships. Some will create “families of choice”, others will expand their social support networks through participating in churches, clubs or other {charitable} organizations known for providing some support. Some people who are estranged will develop networks of friends, where the give and take is made explicit, not out of greed, but out of necessity. Some will reach out to unexpected people for unexpected kindness. Consider Emily’s predicament; “I asked my colleague at work if I could use her as a “next of kin contact” when I had my wisdom teeth removed. I had to have a number for the form or the dentist wouldn’t do the procedure. There was no one else to ask.”

Some people who are estranged will not have family support, and also will not have access to these developed social support networks I am speaking of above. They do for themselves, or it quite simply will not be done.

A history of getting knocked back

For some people who are estranged,there may be an entire history of reaching out for help and getting knocked back. It can be very difficult to ask for help, or trust it will be forthcoming, when history reveals that being vulnerable is fraught at best or simply not worth it. There’s a double bind for these people because they don’t experience family privilege nor do they trust others to help.

How do you help?

I challenge you to think of the places where you might assume family privilege, or the places you have needed it but it wasn’t there. Think about the “work arounds” — what have you put into place in your life to make up for the family who isn’t there when you look around? Finally – I encourage you to think about how you extend your caring, support and help – especially to those who don’t have the social resources that you do, whether it be your immediate or extended family, a partner or spouse or an extended social network. How do we help?

Update and Request for Your Support

listsSo wow – it’s been a few months since I have turned my attention to this blog. I miss having the time and intellectual “space” to write here, however, I’ve been busy working on my PhD and my estrangement research and have been doing plenty of academic writing! I’ve just finished submitting an academic article, Rethinking family estrangement: A review of the existing literature for publication and am chomping at the bit to be able to share it with you. As soon as I am able, I’ll be posting the link here.

Help wanted - woman running with bannerOn a completely different note, I’ve received the annual renewal notification for maintaining the hosting and domain for this blog. I’ve been self-funding this site for nearly 6 years however, as a full time PhD student with no income, I just cannot swing it financially this go round.

I receive heaps of positive feedback about this site, and am regularly told the content has been/is valuable and much appreciated. I’d love to keep the website/blog up for my readers, but it will be dependent on donations to make it happen. My target to keep things up and running smoothly is $300.00 and must be reached before  November 30th or sadly, the content will go down.

If you’d like to help keep E-stranged up, please make a donation through the Paypal button below. Every little bit helps!