How To!

How To Walk Away from an Impossible Parent

Knowing when to mend fences, and when to move on.

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Episode Notes

When Sydney’s dad texted her “Do me a favor and lose my number,” she was crushed. At 27, Sydney has always had a rocky relationship with her dad, but she’d held out hope he’d still be a part of her life. Now she’s starting to think it may be a lost cause. On this episode of How To!, we bring in Joshua Coleman, a psychologist and author of the upcoming book Rules of Estrangement, who had his own yearslong standoff with his daughter. Before Sydney figures out if she should reconcile with her dad, Josh says, she has to stop internalizing how he treats her. It’s the parent’s job to be mature and if they can’t do that, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over their failings. In the end, the best thing may be to just move on without them.

Do you need us to find an answer to a tough question? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might have you on the show.

Podcast production by Derek John and Rachael Allen.

About the Show

What if Dear Abby were an investigative reporter? Each week, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit) takes on listeners’ toughest problems and, with the help of experts, finds the answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask but couldn’t. Until now.

Do you have a problem that needs solving? Have you found the advice on our podcast helpful? Send us a note at howto@slate.com or leave us a voicemail at 646-495-4001 and we might play it on the air.

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