Posted by admin on December 7, 2017

Ten Reasons Grown Kids Give for Staying Away From Home

Wonder why they’re not coming home for the holidays? Upset because they never return your letters, calls or texts? Estranged, alienated, or suffering silently (or not)?  Are the kids you always hoped would be your friends once they were grown even if you weren’t related to each other  not only decidedly unfriendly, but still upset because of something you don’t even remember? According to my clients, over 40 social media groups for estranged parents, and recent research, here are the top ten reasons family estrangement is a disturbing new trend – data indicate that it’s almost as common as divorce.Usually it’s the grown kids who do the estranging, and the parents the wondering.

It’s not about doing any or all of them once, and never again – it’s how often we repeat them that matters. The combination  counts, too – if it’s only one or two of these behaviors we’re likely to get a pass the first few times, but if we make a habit of them, it should ‘t be surprising if our kids  disconnect. Stopping them may be the first step in getting back in touch.

  1.   You insist on being right. We all have different stories about the past, even one we shared. But as long as you insist on your version, they don’t have a right to theirs.  Accept their stories as being true for them.
  2. You don’t know who they are now. Life has taught them lessons you don’t know.  They’re not the same adults they were as children, even if you think they are. Don’t assume, you still know what they think and feel.
  3. You’ve locked them into childhood roles. She was a spendthrift, he was a ne’er do well, she was the good girl, he was the peacemaker. But now she manages a million dollar budget, he has a responsible job, she’s a complete mess and he gets in the thick of every family fight. Give them a chance to show you who they are now – you might be surprised.
  4. You think the divorce doesn’t still bother them. It  still may. Once again,  explain that it wasn’t their fault.  Admit your inability to prevent it.  Acknowledge their pain, even if it was long ago. Let them tell you how it was for them without being defensive. Express your regret. And tell them you hope they can move on, because you have.
  5. You can’t let them live their own lives. They’re adults now – they have a right to their lifestyle, religion, partners, decisions and choices.
  6. You ignore their boundaries. You stick your nose in things that are none of their business, like their marriages. You tell their secrets to others, including their siblings. You can’t stop nagging, no matter how many times you tell them to do something they  don’t want  to do.
  7. You listen but you don’t hear them. You jump in before they’ve finished. You tell them instead of asking them. You talk over or through them, not to them. Just be quiet and let their words sink in before you jump in with a response. If you don’t understand, ask them to explain.
  8. You take sides. Sibling quarrels aren’t your business any more, if they ever were. Let them work it out among themselves, no matter who you think is right. Refuse to mediate unless you can be truly neutral.
  9. You triangulate. If you can’t get what you want from one child, you try going through the other, or even their or your spouse.  You ask them to tell each other’s confidences.  You draw a third person in to an issue that’s only between two of you – or should be.
  10. You take liberties you’re not entitled to. Just because you’re still their parent, you can’t interfere with their life. You need to back off and wait to be asked…for your help, your opinion, your understanding. Imagine there’s a door between you and them; knock first, and don’t enter unless invited, even if the door’s just a metaphor.
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