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"Should I Cut My Child Out of My Will?"

by Joshua Coleman, Ph.D.

I recently received the above question from a reader. Since it's a common question from people who have read my new book, I thought I decided to post my response for others who may considering this.

Dear Dr. Coleman,

For those whose children have refused to acknowledge/speak to/communicate with them for several years, what do you think about leaving those children out of a will?

I feel so hurt and betrayed by my child's refusal to see me or let me see my grandchildren. It's really hard to want to respond by being generous.

Dear Reader,

I would certainly sympathize with the impulse to leave them out of your will if they had refused contact for several years.

Our parents are with us long after they die, and we will be with our children long after we're gone.

As parents, we need to think how the consequences will play out long after we're gone

However, if I were going to leave my children with a long-lasting message that would carry on after my death, it would be one of generosity and dedication, despite how unjustly I believed that I was treated by them.

Imagine how powerful it would be to give your child his or her inheritance with a letter of love and-without guilt - expressing regret that you couldn't be closer in your lives together; but also for you to acknowledge that he or she must have had her reasons to have cut off contact.

Now imagine the message you send if you leave your child nothing, or only leave the inheritance to the child who remained close to you. There would be damage done to the child left out of the inheritance and there won't be much satisfaction to you in it.

I believe that, as parents, we need to think of how those consequences will play out well after we're gone.

It is also possible for children to forgive us after we're gone for whatever ways that we wronged them, or for whatever ways that they believed that we wronged them.

© Copyright 2007 Joshua Coleman

Dr. Joshua Coleman is an internationally known expert in parenting, couples, families, and relationships. He has appeared on ABC 20/20, Good Morning America, The Today Show (Australia), the BBC, and numerous news programs. His advice has been featured in numerous publications around the world. His latest books are When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Donít Get Along and Married With Twins: Life, Love and the Pursuit of Marital Sanity Visit his website for more information or join the discussion on his blog. If you're a parent who has been rejected by or cut off from your adult child, get support here.

Some Related Articles:

When You Can't Stand Your Future Son-in-Law
Strangers at the Table: The Tragedy of Estranged Family Members
The Family Divorce: Irreconcilable Family Rifts
When Your Children Leave the Nest: Getting Ready For the Day After


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