Frag­ment­ed Fam­i­lies: Pat­terns of Estrange­ment and Reconciliation

Ellen B. Sucov
  • Review
By – March 23, 2012
In too many fam­i­lies, some­where along the line there’s been a rift or an estrange­ment which has sep­a­rat­ed par­ents from chil­dren, or sib­lings from each oth­er, or has cut off a large branch of the fam­i­ly tree. In her book, Ellen Sucov, a psy­chol­o­gist, sen­si­tive­ly and poignant­ly tells the sto­ries of many fam­i­lies, includ­ing her own, where this kind of cut­off” has occurred. The sto­ries come from bib­li­cal and sec­u­lar lit­er­a­ture, as well as from actu­al fam­i­lies. In some cas­es, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion occurs; in oth­ers, not; in still oth­ers, it’s a work in progress. Most of the exam­ples are from Jew­ish fam­i­lies, and Sucov pro­vides cul­tur­al back­ground infor­ma­tion that would enable a non-Jew­ish read­er to under­stand some of the essen­tial char­ac­ter­is­tics of typ­i­cal Amer­i­can Jew­ish fam­i­lies. Sucov also weaves explana­to­ry mate­r­i­al from fam­i­ly sys­tems the­o­ry and ther­a­py into the text. The mate­r­i­al is fas­ci­nat­ing and enlight­en­ing, but would have been more accu­rate­ly enti­tled Frag­ment­ed Jew­ish Fam­i­lies.” Sucov (or the pub­lish­er) may not have want­ed to pro­duce a book that focused exclu­sive­ly on Jew­ish fam­i­lies. How­ev­er, the book is in fact an excel­lent dis­cus­sion of estrange­ments in Jew­ish fam­i­lies, and unfor­tu­nate­ly may have mis­led, and missed, prospec­tive read­ers by not includ­ing this infor­ma­tion in the title. Appen­dix, notes, references.

Discussion Questions