Page 2

You and Your Adult Child: The Why of Estrangement and How to Heal By Kathy McCoy, Ph.D. Estrangement hurts every day of the year. But the pain can be particularly intense during the holidays with empty places at the holiday table, a phone that doesn’t ring, and unanswered texts. And afterward, you’re left wondering, “Why?” Many parents contend that they’ve been blindsided by estrangement, that there’s no reason for it. But, in fact, there’s always a reason. Sometimes it’s hard to see and accept. Numerous studies have examined common triggers for estrangement with some surprising findings: • Fathers are more likely to become estranged from their grown children as the result of divorce, either when the children were young or due to a late-in-life divorce.

This desire to stay close may increase with the parents’ age, coming at a time when adult children have increasing responsibilities for their own families and careers. Helping an adult child financially can actually increase the likelihood of estrangement. This can happen because financial help may be an expression of power between the generations. Also, an adult child’s financial neediness can spark conflict with and sometimes between parents. A good relationship in the growing-up years doesn’t guarantee you’ll never be estranged: Marriage and new in-laws can lead to conflict and estrangement. Also, some forms of mental illness that can make relationships difficult do not appear in young adults until their 20s. Whatever the reasons for your estrangement from an adult child, what can you do to heal the rift?

• Mothers are more likely to become estranged from their adult sons and daughters due to giving unsolicited advice or having a clash in core values— particularly regarding religious beliefs or lifestyle choices.

Healing the Rift 1. Be the first to reach out and say, “I’m sorry.” Even if you feel your adult child is to blame, realize that you may want to heal the rift more than your child does and so need to make the first conciliatory move—as hard as that may be.

• Parents and adult children are less likely to become estranged as the result of verbal arguments than they are from a conflict of needs: This is often the need of the adult child to be independent and in control of his life and the need of the parent to remain closely connected and, ultimately, in control.

2. Accept responsibility for your part in the current conflict or estrangement. Remember that the only behavior over which you truly have control is your own. Think of new ways to make a positive difference.

Your guide to choosing the right living and care options for you or a loved one. Read it online, in print, and on mobile/tablet devices. onlinepub.com

3. Practice letting go. Let go of old roles, the need to be right, and the need to have the last word. Respect your child’s independence and adult choices. 4. Learn to live with differences. Just because we’re related, doesn’t mean we’ll always have the same opinions and beliefs. Part of growing in love is learning to tolerate differences. You may have a long wait if you expect your child to agree with you. If you put your love for your adult child first, before your beliefs, you may find your way back to each other. 5. Accept boundaries and limits now that your child is grown. Such acceptance can increase closeness. Don’t drop by without calling. Don’t give advice unless asked. Respect their independence while celebrating what you can and do share. Healing Yourself When Estrangement Persists 1. Forgive yourself and your adult child. This is very hard, but it is

   

 

22nd annual edition

Call today for your free copy! (717) 285-1350 2

January 2018

50plus LIFE t

          

  

      www.50plusLifePA.com

50plus LIFE York County January 2018  

50plus LIFE — formerly 50plus Senior News — is a monthly publication for and about Central Pennsylvania’s baby boomers and seniors, offering...

50plus LIFE York County January 2018  

50plus LIFE — formerly 50plus Senior News — is a monthly publication for and about Central Pennsylvania’s baby boomers and seniors, offering...