Why Adult Children Are Cutting Off Their Parents More Than Ever

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Celebrity family feuds are in vogue right now, whether it be between Megan and Thomas Markle or Britney and her teen sons. However, given that 10% of Americans are said to be alienated from a parent or kid, you very certainly know someone in your own life who is experiencing parental issues.

Researchers and therapists agree that family rifts are on the rise, particularly as adult children cut off communication with one or both of their parents. In a 1997 study on family bonds in later life, it was shown that 27% of adult children had severed links with their father and 7% with their mother. According to sociologist Karl Pillemar’s research, 67 million Americans, or one in four, are separated from their family in 2020.

Relationship therapist Simone Bose practises in London. In her work, she deals with family issues every day, such as estrangement, and her clients come from a variety of backgrounds and situations.

She told Newsweek, “Decisions are never simple.” “Putting your parents apart is the hardest thing in the world to do.

“They were your entire world when you were a youngster, and their influence on your life may be enormous at any age.

“I believe that people are becoming more conscious of mental health issues and how maintaining parental contact can impact a person’s life and self-esteem.”

These are the main explanations given by Bose for adult children cutting off their parents:

  • toxic conduct
  • Variation in values
  • a lack of assistance
  • Abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual.
  • Absence of empathy
  • A changing world

Dealing With Your Parents’ Toxic Behavior

Over 1,000 mothers who were alienated from their adult children were asked by Ohio State University researchers last year why they thought their adult offspring had broken touch. A third party, such as the other parent, a family, or their child’s partner, was deemed to be at fault by almost 80% of respondents.

Children are more likely to report toxic behavior—such as a lack of empathy, a refusal to respect boundaries, and being extremely critical or malicious—as the cause of cutting a parent out of their lives, according to studies suggesting that parents and adult children rarely agree on the reasons for the rift.

“I had a client whose mother was quite controlling and critical,” stated Bose. He endured a lot from her because of the cultural component and “respecting your elders.”

However, because their mother was becoming so interested in his marriage, his brother cut ties with her.

The mother was acting in a narcissistic manner, according to Bose. It has been demonstrated that parental narcissism negatively affects a child’s self-esteem and personal growth, which can result in adult self-doubt or feelings of unworthiness or rejection.

Bose added that narcissistic parents “may be judgmental, needy, or depict themselves as ‘the victim,'” and that they “don’t have good boundaries with their adult children.”

“Occasionally, the only thing you can do is limit interaction with this person.”

Parents that are physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive

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According to a 2015 University of Cambridge study, prior behaviours may be just as triggering for adult children as present ones. Although few individuals would criticise a person’s decision to cut off a parent because of physical or sexual abuse, researchers discovered that participants’ estrangement from their parents was more frequently caused by emotional abuse.

59 percent of those who were estranged from their fathers and 77% of those surveyed cited emotional abuse as the cause for their lack of contact with their mothers.

Comparatively, only 26% of estranged parents attributed their daughter’s rift to emotional abuse, and no respondents thought emotional abuse was to blame for their son’s estrangement.

Parents Who Have Different Values Than You

Families can be torn apart by misaligned expectations of duties and relationships as much as by personality conflicts.

“I’ve seen couples where a parent or in-law is really overbearing or whose values are objectionable, and this starts to affect their own parenting and the values they wish to instil in their children,” said Bose.

They could begin to perceive this person as harmful.

Family conflicts brought on by politics can be challenging to heal.

It was excruciating for one of my clients, who lived alone and frequented conspiracy theory websites, to communicate with his mother, Bose recalled.

He finds it difficult to hear his mother distort truth because he is a very political person. He wanted to talk to her but was unable to.

Parents that are never there for you

Estrangement can result from neglect or a failure to support their adult children’s life choices in the past and present, which may not be as visible as physical or sexual abuse. If a child’s emotional needs are not addressed, it can result in mental health problems, substance misuse, emotional trauma, and trouble adjusting as an adult, even if their basic requirements were met during childhood.

Bose stated, “I had a client who was gender-fluid and was investigating her sexuality.

“When she initially came out, she felt highly judged by her parents, and she couldn’t fully get over it.

“During therapy, topics related to her past and how she felt so misunderstood kept coming up. She found it quite challenging to develop a relationship with them since she became triggered anytime she talked to them about her life.

She had grown more independent due to living in a new city, and with the backing of her friends, she felt empowered to make that choice.

Parents who are unable to relate to you

There are always two sides to every tale, and adult children and parents frequently dispute over the past. But failing to address their child’s feelings can result in resentment or wrath.

While many parents participating in a 2015 study by the University of Nebraska blamed their child’s “entitlement” rather than their own acts for the breach, only 18% of the women in the Ohio study thought the estrangement was their responsibility.

People sometimes find it difficult to admit when they haven’t been a good parent, according to Bose.

However, how the issue develops frequently depends on how effectively the parent takes in the information.

Parents Who Find It Difficult To Deal With Changes In The Modern World

Over the past 50 years, not only has family life altered drastically, but there has also been a greater knowledge of the various identities, lifestyles, and options available, making it simpler for individuals to forge their own tribe apart from their biological families.

Bose noted that there is now a lot more information and support available.

“If someone has a concern about their life, they research it, join forums, and follow Instagram profiles of individuals who are sharing their stories.

“People now have support to justify their decisions when they are feeling this way.”

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