Estranged Parents: When Adult Children Stop Talking to Mom or Dad
by Christina Gregoire (aka Tina Boomerina)
Grown children often cut off communication with their parents when there are problems about money, conflicts over new boyfriends or girlfriends, or silent issues concerning a parent’s remarriage. However, in some instances, parents have no idea why their sons or daughters have stopped talking to them.
The problem is widespread.
Parental Estrangement: When Kids Break Contact
Since the time of Freud, psychiatrists have analyzed adult patients' problems and have deciphered how those problems were caused by one or more of the patient’s parents. But, now it’s time to look at things from the parent’s perspective.
This article is about “parental estrangement," a phrase often used when a child has cut off communication with a parent for no compelling reason.
Yes, some parents make terrible mistakes that are so bad that their children SHOULD cut off all communication, but this article is for those of you mothers and fathers who have lost contact with your children for less significant offenses or for subtle misunderstandings.
How many of parents have lost contact with their adult children and don't know why? No one knows. But, any parent who has been cut off by his or her child should not feel alone. Just take a look at the following celebrity families:
- Angelina Jolie stopped talking to her father, actor Jon Voight, for years, after his marital infidelity caused Jolie’s parents’ divorce.
- Demi Moore cut off contact with her own mother. Later, her own daughters reenacted the family script.
- Meg Ryan stopped talking to her mother, Susan Jordan, when Jordan divorced Meg’s father.
- Jennifer Aniston stopped talking to her mother in 1996 when her mother wrote a tell-all book about Jennifer. (This mother was definitely in the wrong.)
- Jessica Simpson was estranged from her father after he had an affair with a gay lover… oy... what a mess.
Who is in the right? Who is in the wrong? Who caused the problem? Who cares? These are celebrities, not close friends or family members. However, one of the main elements in many cases of parental estrangement seems to be divorce. Let’s use the celebrities as examples:
- Angelina Jolie was bitter about her father leaving when she was 4 years old.
- Demi Moore’s entire family seems to be embroiled in divorce and rehab.
- Meg Ryan’s mother ran off to become a star.
- Jennifer Aniston’s parents divorced when she was 9, and Nancy Aniston wrote the tell-all book out of financial need, because most women take a big financial hit when they divorce.
- Jessica Simpson’s parents recently divorced. Accusations are flying all around the internet, but it sounds like Simpson has good reasons for shunning her dad.
A Silent Epidemic - In the Real World
While it is interesting to understand that even the rich and famous have their share of problems, what the heck is going on with the rest of the country that inspired Joshua Coleman, a San Francisco psychologist, to write the book, When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don’t Get Along? (Collins Living, 2007)
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