family estrangement : when parents, children break up

4 posts / 0 new
Last post
DaveW
family estrangement : when parents, children break up

 

I found this NYT article stunning,
and the lengthy set of thoughtful reader comments very disturbing:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/03/when-the-ties-that-bind-unravel/?src=me&ref=health
How common is this, and is it a growing phenomenon (or not)?

DaveW

While there are no official tallies of parents whose adult children have cut them off, there is no shortage of headlines. The Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn reportedly hasn't spoken to her father in at least four years. The actor Jon Voight and his daughter, Angelina Jolie, were photographed together in February for the first time since they were estranged in 2002.

A number of Web sites and online chat rooms are devoted to the issue, with heartbreaking tales of children who refuse their parents' phone calls and e-mail and won't let them see grandchildren. Some parents seek grief counseling, while others fall into depression and even contemplate suicide.

Joshua Coleman, a San Francisco psychologist who is an expert on parental estrangement, says it appears to be growing more and more common, even in families who haven't experienced obvious cruelty or traumas like abuse and addiction. Instead, parents often report that a once-close relationship has deteriorated after a conflict over money, a boyfriend or built-up resentments about a parent's divorce or remarriage.

"We live in a culture that assumes if there is an estrangement, the parents must have done something really terrible," said Dr. Coleman, whose book "When Parents Hurt" (William Morrow, 2007) focuses on estrangement. "But this is not a story of adult children cutting off parents who made egregious mistakes. It's about parents who were good parents, who made mistakes that were certainly within normal limits."

Maysie Maysie's picture

I have many many responses to this "news" item.

But it all goes to hell when you see this line:

[quote] While there are no official tallies of parents whose adult children have cut them off, there is no shortage of headlines. [/quote]

I'm a former sociologist. This shit gets me ired. The fact that a trend is suggested in the article by examples of celebrity estrangement and individual anecdotes (from parents only) tells us all we need to know. Like the "girl gang" media phenomenon, this is an invention.

[quote] A number of Web sites and online chat rooms are devoted to the issue [/quote]

Yipee! There are also many websites devoted to Elvis being still alive. FFS.

[quote]  it appears to be growing more and more common, even in families who haven’t experienced obvious cruelty or traumas like abuse and addiction [/quote]

Um, yeah, don't even fucking go there. 

Maybe it was a slow news day, or perhaps it's a sign that the baby boomers are really getting frustrated with their shrinking media presence as they approach 65.

And DaveW, any unmoderated comments section is always disturbing. I'm thinking of starting a 12-step group for progressives who can't stop reading them. Wink

DaveW

the reader comments are filtered by NYT editors, and the quality is quite high, I found; includes some quite moving testimonies about  families fracturing

as for the timeliness of the subject, I hate the adverb "increasingly", used non-stop by journalists to lend urgency to their stories on "trends" ;

by contrast,  I noted that one shrink posted as his sole comment the remark of King Lear that no serpent's tooth is sharper than a child's ingratitude; dated roughly 1610, so the phenomenon of family splits is hardly "new" ....