Repairing the Parent-Child Relationship
Broken relationships between parents and their grown children are sadly, very common. Whether motives are misunderstood, actions are taken out of context or . Restoring a Broken Parent/Child Relationship. In Our Blog. iStock_Medium Jenny and her mom, Karen, have not spoken to each other in five. Tensions are normative in the parent and adult child relationship, but there is little research on the topics that cause the most tension or whether tensions are.
It just signals that you need to reestablish some closeness with your child by making yourself more available and attentive. One caveat to keep in mind is that some of the above problems can be caused by other factors such as ADHD, drug abuse, divorce, peer problems, and so forth. Nevertheless, these situations can also significantly tax the parent-child relationship, and in some cases professional counseling is necessary which we highly recommend in addition to the ideas outlined below.
Methods for Repairing the Relationship If you've done any reading about the parent-child relationship, you know that the main advice given is that you need to spend time with your children. This is absolutely true and there really is no way to get around this very important step. All relationships are built upon contact that is characterized by caring, dependability, trust, empathy, acceptance, energy, and time.
Relationships that are not tended to and nurtured on a regular basis become problematic and eventually erode or break down. So the first rule of thumb is that you must figure out a way to make some "relationship time" with your child that is separate from discipline or tasks.
The second part of the equation has to do with how the time is to be used and what is to be accomplished as a result. There are four types of activity that are particularly conducive to building the parent-child relationship while also accomplishing the goals of involvement, self-exploration, recognition, problem-solving and expression of feelings.
Play Participation in activities outside the home Verbal recognition. Play For younger children all the way up to 10play is the primary mechanism for the expression of feelings, communication, and solving emotional problems. It is both a window for stepping into and understanding your child's world, and a vehicle for creating a solid bond between the two of you that is felt by the child through your interest and involvement at their level. You can begin by setting aside some time each day or as often as you can to play with your child.
The number of times per week will depend on your schedule as well as on the amount of repair that's needed. If the relationship is very strained, then try and play at least five times a week to start and back off as the relationship improves. Keep in mind that any amount of playtime is better than none. How to Play For younger children, you might clear a space on the floor and announce that you would like to play, or you can join in with play that's already in progress.
For older children, it is more effective to play in the child's room. Either way, let the child be "the boss," meaning that they decide what they want to do and what toys or materials are to be used.
Let them guide you as to how you can join in or interact and then follow their lead. Don't ask questions other than to clarify their instructions. If you have not done this before, you might find that your child is a little wary at first of your participation. If that's the case, then sit and observe until you're invited to join in. You can try making comments about what you see going on, but you want to be sure that your comments are strictly descriptive and carry no judgement.
For children who can't seem to get started, you can initiate play by simply beginning to play with something yourself. For example, you could begin coloring in a book or lining up toy cars, or engage in any activity that you know your child likes.
This will usually peak the child's interest and before long, he or she will join in. Sometimes they join in by taking charge and instructing or correcting you. Rules During Play The important rules to observe during playtime are as follows: The child needs to be in control during playtime.
Absolutely no conversation about discipline should occur, nor should their be any hint of judgement or criticism on your part. Other distractions need to be eliminated for the duration of the play session. If you have only 25 or 30 minutes, that's fine. You just need to be sure that you make some arrangements to avoid distractions. Take the phone off the hook, have your husband or a friend watch the other kids, and so forth. The more you engage in playtime with your younger children, the less struggles you will have with discipline and gaining cooperation.
Your undivided attention during playtime combined with the child's opportunity to be in charge will go far to satisfy his or her needs for attention and power. Conversation Just as play is the most powerful tool to use with younger children in sustaining the relationship, conversation is the tool par excellence to be used with adolescents.
The kind of conversation we are talking about here is used to do several things: Once I got away, my life got so much better. Family Estrangement in Adulthood ," which describes a survey of over people who self-identified as having estranged from all or part of their family of origin, offers some relevant data: Who is more likely to break ties: How does gender affect closeness?
It's more common to be estranged from a mother than a father or both parents. Conversely, it's more common for daughters to estrange than sons. However, when males estrange, it seems to be more final or longer-lasting: Who tends to estrange permanently: So sons and fathers are more likely to experience permanent closure than daughters and mothers.
What about intermittent estrangements? We have some insight into on-again-off-again estrangements, where family members cycle in and out of closeness over the years. So it's more likely for mothers to experience intermittent estrangements over the years.
Who is most likely to cut off contact: The younger generation is usually the one to break ties. Over half of people who "divorce" a parent say they were the ones who made the move. Is there any chance the relationship will be mended? According to the parents, yes: Most parents hold out hope that they will reconcile with their child.
5 Reasons Why Adult Children Estrange From Their Parents | WeHaveKids
But according to the younger generation, no: And according to experts like Sheri Heller, LCSW, a NYC psychotherapist and interfaith minister in private practice, "If PD abusers lack the capacity for insight and positive change, it is likely they will persist with predation, denying their perfidious motives, and evidencing an absence of sincere remorse. To re-engage with this degree of pathology puts the adult victim at risk for regressing into dysfunctional interpersonal patterns, succumbing to guilt and cognitive dissonance, getting mired in confused roles, and being flooded by abandonment panic.
For many, this constitutes a deal-breaker which results in finality. On the other hand, if you're looking for ways to deal with your parents rather than disowning them, read 5 Strategies for Dealing With Difficult Parents.
The British study found an interesting generational discrepancy when it came to the communication of the reasons for the estrangement. In other words, many abandoned parents who are rejected by a child don't consciously know the reason, even though they were explicitly told. So they either forgot or didn't listen. In fact, they don't even remember the conversation. This disparity only emphasizes the breakdown in communication in these families and suggests that the older generation might not be listening or has a hard time hearing what their children are saying, which is probably at the core of the problem.
Is That the End? In closing, I want to say I am very well aware those listed aren't the only reasons for estrangement, nor will my advice apply in all situations. I haven't mentioned trauma, abuse, divorce, or substance abuse. I haven't talked about undiagnosed mental health issues or those who simply refuse to take their meds.
Are you Estranged from your Child? Parent-Child Relationships
That said, people don't just walk away from families that are healthy. All families have their issues, but functional families talk about them, try to understand one another's perspectives, apologize for any hurt they've caused or wrong they've done, and truly move forward, beyond all that suppressed anger and resentment. The exact opposite is true of unhealthy, disordered families. I lived in one for more than 40 years. Sadly, I didn't realize it until the abuse was heaped upon my husband and children as well, but when it became obvious, I demanded that it stop.
I tried discussing the matter, only to find myself enmeshed in bitter verbal arguments. I tried using parables and comparisons, pointing out other family dysfunctions and relating them to our own, but that failed, too.
Repairing the Parent-Child Relationship
I tried many ways to rectify the situation, but every time, I was met with anger and resistance. Contrary to what they think, I didn't estrange from them to punish them, I did so to protect myself and my children. I realized I had become just like them and I made a conscious choice to change myself and to bring to an end the generations of dysfunction in my family tree.
Sadly, our story doesn't end with a happily-ever-after, but I know I made the right decision, and I know I'm not alone. Every day I read stories, online support group threads, estranged child forums, and talk with people around the globe who feel they had no other choice but to walk away. Not a single one of us is happy about it. Relieved it's over, yes, but certainly not happy with how or why. I'm also privy to the perspectives of rejected parents.
One commonly stated complaint among parents who have no contact with their children is that their child's behavior toward them reminds them of how they were treated by their own parents when they were young.
If this is you, I want you to ask yourself, "If my parent was that way and my child is that way, isn't it possible I am, too? They'll reconsider the things they've said and done because they want to repair their broken relationship with their child and are willing to do whatever is necessary to do so. Unfortunately, however, many readers will be inclined to argue and resort to writing long comments complaining about their child to a bunch of internet strangers.
- 5 Reasons Why Adult Children Estrange From Their Parents
I can't change everyone. Responses to questions posted on EmpoweringParents.
We cannot diagnose disorders or offer recommendations on which treatment plan is best for your family. Please seek the support of local resources as needed. If you need immediate assistance, or if you and your family are in crisis, please contact a qualified mental health provider in your area, or contact your statewide crisis hotline. We value your opinions and encourage you to add your comments to this discussion. We ask that you refrain from discussing topics of a political or religious nature.
Unfortunately, it's not possible for us to respond to every question posted on our website. As a parent coachTina Wakefield coached parents on techniques from the Total Transformation, as well as Empowering Parents' other programs, for over 8 years.
Tina is also a mother and stepmother.