Interesting take on why adult children think it's ok to cut off parents

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by SomewhereOutThere, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member


    Children At The Center, Adults On The Outs

    In previous generations, no one worried about a child’s self-esteem. In the past, elders’ experiences were valued and their children listened to them. Estrangement did happen, but it appeared to be reserved for parents cutting off a wayward child — the “black sheep” of the family.

    After WWII, Dr. Benjamin Spock entered the scene as one of the first parenting experts trying to understand children's needs and talking about family dynamics. Spock gave parents what he considered the best recipes for a healthy happy child. He believed that parents should be more flexible and affectionate with their children and should treat them as individuals. Previous conventional wisdom had been that child-rearing should focus more on building discipline.

    So maybe the seed of children cutting off their parents started with us. We boomers were the first generation with parents who were ultra-concerned about making sure their children had a “better” childhood than they had.

    A common story among parents who have estranged adult children is how much they had focused on their children, how much they did to make sure their children had all the best advantages, made them the center of the family universe — and often how they treated them more like an equal or an adult than a child. (I did the caps)

    With more permissions, more social pressures and changes to the traditional family structure, I believe the shift in parenting that started back in the ‘40s needs to be examined.

    Has a change in parenting style led to the rise of narcissism in subsequent generations over time, resulting in the ability of adult children to cut off their parents without much thought or concern for the consequences?

    I believe that a culture of “self-esteem” — give everybody an award, change dress sizes so larger people feel smaller, allow teens to be disrespectful to those in authority — has set the tone and created a possible outcome I don’t think anyone expected: the idea that it’s OK to cut off contact with your parents.

    When something, or more specifically, someone, no longer supports the view you have of yourself — get rid of them! (My comment: How familiar is this????)
  2. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I think there is some truth to this. I was raised to respect my elders, to say "Yes Ma'am" "No Sir", Please and Thank You. My dad was a very good provider but if I wanted something I had to earn it. He helped me to learn the value in hard work. My husband and I raised our son with the same values.

    I never bought into the whole Dr. Spock way of thinking but much of our culture did.

    As a kid I had household chores, our son also had household chores. My son was to mow the lawn and take out the trash. It was always such a battle to get him to do this, he was always very dramatic and one of his biggest "arguments" as to why he shouldn't have to do his chores was "my friends don't have to do chores" and when he wanted something that we felt he should earn was met with "my friends parents give them whatever they want"

    I'm all for helping a child develop good self esteem but it needs to be tempered with how to deal with dissapointment, how to be a gracious loser, how to not be a cocky winner. Unfortunately parents are only one part of the influence in a childs life, media is another as well as their friends.

    We did our best to instill in our son the values and morals that if you want something it has to be earned and to have respect for others. Unfortunately he felt we treated him unfairly and always compared us to his friends parents so I am not suprised that he has an attitude of entitlement.

    It doesn't suprise me that so many adult children have cut their parents off, they never learned how to respect them or like in my case they resented the idea.
  3. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    This sounds SOOO familiar. He would always throw J-1 (Lost track of which of the J's is which but this is the one who had been his friend since early elementary school.) and his family in our face. We would respond with "we don't care what HIS parents do, we aren't them and you aren't their child". He eventually distanced himself (or was distanced from?) J-1 and started hanging out with worse and worse kids. Ironically, this kid grew up to be hard working and dependable. He is getting married this month. His parents gave him what we considered to be an insane amount of allowance but I think (not sure) that he helped out with their cleaning business to earn it while ours constantly complained about the tiny amount of work he had to do each day to get his allowance.

    Yeah, here's to you Dr. Spock! :grrr::highvoltage::highvoltage:
  4. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    My D H hates Dr. Benjamin Spock and Dr. Lee Salk to this day and blames them for much of what happened to our family. I read and referred to their books on raising healthy children religiously. I mean that literally. I had so little clue about how to parent, and took my role as parent and homemaker very seriously.

    I read things like Marilyn French's The Women's Room and came away thinking how clever she had been to list the household chores on index cards. So I did that, too.

    For those who don't know, that book was actually about the pointlessness of the heroine's attention to cleaning and wifing.

    It is funny to me that I started her index card file of how to create a home based in part on that book, instead of turning away from my devotion to creating a home, which was surely the writer's intent. What happened there though is that I began keeping all kinds of things on index cards, and that is how I got my quote box. It is a lovely thing. In it, I read who I have been, what I have found poignant or beautiful or valuable in my adult life.

    I am so happy to have it. I share many of the quotes with all of you, here.



    A therapist told me once that everything good I had put into my child (I was in therapy over difficult child daughter at that time. difficult child son was still exceptionally perfect.


    Exceptional in every way.



    The therapist said that all the good things she had been raised with would always be there, in her heart, to guide her, all of her life.

    I find that this is true. Both my kids are interesting, really bright characters. They are kind and empathic and blazingly creative.

    They are actually amazing parents, until they aren't.

    But addiction is addiction, and here we all are.


    On the issue of seeing a parent (as I am not seeing, or being seen by, mine) or seeing or not being seen by, a the end, we learn to cherish ourselves whatever the wounding. We learn that their condemnation is their business.

    Our business is to cherish ourselves and our lives and our memories and our courage.

    We may wish with all our hearts that things could be different, and that we could have those same things our friends seem to have. But for us to survive it, we need to make that choice to cherish ourselves through it. We need to refuse to take responsibility for the choices someone else makes.

    What they choose changes nothing about us.

    Nor should we allow it to.

    That is part of their game, I think. Perhaps that is the pleasure they take in excluding us, when they can no longer dominate us.

    I suppose that is what it is.

    As for our children, I think a person recovering from addiction perhaps needs to take many times away from family to figure out what is real, now.

    That seems to be what my son needs to do.

    Sometimes, he hates me so much and has to tell me all about it.

    Sometimes, he doesn't talk to me and refuses to allow his children to have anything to do with me, either. In those times, he says I am a really bad, unfair, uncaring grandma to his children because I don't treat them the same as I treated my first two grands. (What he actually does is call me a jerk. You believe it?!? But I digress.) But then, those first grandchildren were mostly living with us as they grew up, and difficult child son's children are well taken care of by difficult child son and so, have not lived with us. Instead, they live very far away.

    I have to think about all this stuff alot, because everything looks so different for us than I had believed it would. I don't know how to see or respond to these things correctly, so we are flying by the seats of our pants most of the time.

    Then, difficult child son will call. If things go well, he will call again the next week.

    He asks whether we want to talk to the kids.

    And things go along pretty well for awhile.

    Currently, we are not talking, I guess.

    So, I just love him anyway and love myself, too.

    That is my responsibility. To love myself so I can love all my difficult child family without being hurt or damaged or scarred further.

    That is how I think I see it, today.

    It's another version of that old "I just want everyone to be happy". I get that, but it works for me.

    It is so easy to choose hatred, to declare an ending, to ride off on that horse.

    I just think all that stuff is a lie. And I think choosing to do things like that keeps us stuck.

    Sometimes, there are no answers. There is no one to blame. It does no one any good for us to pin our bad feelings on an incident or a person or, for me, memories of abusive things. I want to understand and heal the shame.

    I want to cherish myself and my time, here. I want to look into other people's eyes and feel that connection that happens, sometimes.

    I want to have that with my children and grands, and I want to be ready for it so I can recognize it and accept it and celebrate it when it happens.

    And those are the only things I know, for sure.

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  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Cedar, I really like your post. "What you think of me is none of my business."

    You just hopefully listen to your son, when he is in a bad mood, and let it go out your other ear, knowing he will change in a week. So many of us deal with off and on relationships it does get old and we just learn to do it.

    I had to laugh (sorry) about Dr. Spock, who is the only one I knew about. I thought he was a little fried in the brain, yet I did not run a strict household myself. I ran a child-centered home where, at least for my first two kids, we had the only Nintendo and tons of games in the area so bikes from around here would be almost to the end of our sidewalk and kids would always be over. I partly did it because Bart was so shy. I wanted him to have friends. He likes that I did it, when we talk about it today. He remembers our house as lots of fun. I can see him trying to do the same thing for Junior. Is it good? I don't know. It didn't make him lazy or entitled. Goneboy benefitted too, but I don't think it was as important to him. He was very charming (Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) trait) and also he was a good friend. He had grown up with his caregivers being his friends rather than adults (as he was to them) and he was always very comfortable with his peers. Adults were a bit different.

    It is amazing how these theories cycle out...seeing the results of a theory that takes off is always amusing, until the next one. Now we are Spock on steroids. Seems that kids get free cars, free cell phones, free tablets, free computers...heck, even beyond their younger years. And we wonder why so many are lazy!!!!
  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Dr. Lee Salk was about enhancing self esteem in our children.

    But you know, I wonder what our children would have been like had our neighborhood schools remained our neighborhood schools, and had drugs not taken their tolls on all of us. The same generations we complain so bitterly about are taking a good, hard look at racism and at every other aspect of what freedom means from the generous perspective of the other guy, of the one discriminated against.

    This has never happened before in history.

    We have so many people our own children's ages who work to bring water to African deserts or who created and work for and fund Doctors Without Borders and similar kinds of things. It isn't just us, it is the world they want to see changed.

    And they believe they can do it.

    One of the things difficult child daughter was doing at fourteen when she was running away was teaching the horrible rotten awful read. He had been diagnosed dyslexic.

    Turns out he was misdiagnosed.

    At fourteen, she was doing that sort of thing.

    When she fell again this time, she described the streets with compassion and a sense of outrage, and I believe she will bring that to some positive fruition before her life comes to its end.

    Our son sees the world in that same way ~ with that very certain belief that what everyone things is just the way things are is wrong, and that he can effect positive change.

    Think of Lucy's son, and of what he believes. Where did that come from.

    Both kids go sucking the bottom of the barrel when they are addicted, but when they are not, they are quite amazing as I think most adults of that generation that we raised on Dr. Spock, and on Dr. Lee Salk, are.

    In my secret heart, I think the problems, the societal inequities and accepted cruelties ~ I think all those things will be addressed now at some future time because so many members of this generation wound up addicted or living like that for some other reason. Seeing true things, things that are really ugly and wrong. And, rather than finding some excuse ~ which mankind has done from time immemorial to explain disease or poverty or royalty or immense wealth ~ I think our kids or theirs might just change that whole mindset.

    And now, you all know why my mother describes me as romantic, right?

    F you, mom.



  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Cedar, wow. Do you live in California? Don't answer that, I was just thinking you had to.

    My experience with so many kids of all ages in the Midwest is that the kdis couldn't care less about anyone but themselves and their friends, that most are either racist themselves (remember, I have an Asian kid and two black kids) and that what happens overseas is not even something they know about. Of course, my kids are younger. Bart understands the world, but is very disinterested in most issues, unless they influence him, such as the unfair custody laws in our country that bias mothers or the tax laws that make him pay so much of his income. A hurricane in another country? He knows about it. He doesn't think about it. It is not like it is in other countries, I don't think. I am more apt to feel our younger people (perhaps younger than your kids) care little for much outside their own four walls. There are ALWAYS exceptions, but our country is not that giving or compassionate. Lucy's country, yes. Ours, I don't see the compassion. When I talk about caring about racism and stuff, I get a slew of hate about entitlements and I've honestly never heard more than the people on my politics MIRC channel who care about anyone overseas. And some churches too who give overseas.

    How many kids in the U.S. are like Lucy's kid?

    That's why I thought of California, although you have no obligation to verify it. That is the only state I know of where there is a sense of caring. One English woman I chat with on a political channel told me California is the closest that the U.S. has to Europe.

    Now it just could be the people I meet. But I am not feeling the kids having such caring hearts. Jumper has a good heart, but she is one individual and it only applies to people she knows. She is on the gay rights bandwagon because of people she knows and likes. She loves and wants to rescue every animal. But she has little interest about anything that happens overseas. I think she is more typical. Again, though, I could be wrong.Maybe most kids DO care. They certainly care more than the old farts in our country do ;)

    I personally, and again I could be wrong, do not think our adult kids are taking drugs because they are so worried about racism, sexism, and terrorism. I think they are just entitled and irresponsible. Again though JMO.
  8. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Love this. Yes, when they can no longer dominate us.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    All people do the cut off, if they are disordered, and if they can not dominate us. That is why they do it. We dared to stick up for ourselves. It's not just our adult kids. It's a trait of a control freak. They just don't think it's fair if the scapegoat won't be that scapegoat anymore (shrug).

    Sadly, sometimes the scapegoat is a loving parent to a confused adult child.
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  10. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Yeah, our kid is just lazy and likes his pot. Nothing anywhere near so noble as this.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

  12. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    While I remember perusing Spock's book, I mostly remember judging my sister in law for rearing her child according to The Magical Child.

    Darn, I was a judgmental &%[email protected]#.

    While my nephew has problems, he is way ahead of my difficult child.

    Once, in a small airport, while a girlfriend and I were waiting to board, Spock got off a plane. An airport employee pointed him out and I think, years later, that is why I bought the book.

    Mostly, I wanted to raise my oldest child UN-like my parents raised me. Uh, that did not help.

    And, at my ripe old age, I am pretty certain it had not so much to do with how we raised him. husband and I truly believe there were bigger forces afoot. Certainly, if we had known more about mental illness, we might have sought out better ways. How many parents, in their mid-20's, know to do this? And, how could we have predicted what was to come. There were no clues. We were totally in love with our remarkable child, who seemed perfect in everyway. And, by the time difficult child was 15 and suddenly acting out, it would have been too late.

    I cannot blame Spock at all.
  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    We raised the kids in Minnesota, SOT. Just like in Prairie Home companion ~ where the men are handsome, the women are strong, and the children are all above average.


    Oh, I did not mean to imply that people are opting for a life of addiction because they are concerned about social problems, SOT. I was chiming in on my opinion of the good parts of the legacies of Dr Spock and Dr Lee Salk.

    Because of our postings here relative to genetics, and because I see what I see in my family history back several generations, I think it is true that addiction and mental illness are genetic issues, not parenting issues.

    I agree that fooling around with drugs in the first place happens because our kids don't believe addiction could happen to them. In that sense, I would say "entitled and irresponsible", but in that sense only. I think Americans are generous and very kind. We are a decent people willing to believe it is possible to create something better than what has always been. Slavery, which was seen as something evil, the Jim Crow laws and the terrible things that were justified to bring Native populations into our version of civilization were about as close as we ever came to establishing rigid social classes, aristocracies based on blood or money, or caste systems as adequate responses to misery and illness and poverty.

    I love that such a thing as America came into existence, love the ideal and the dream and the strength and the resilience and the essential goodness of it.


    I missed that one, I think.

    I was smug and judgmental too, Seeking.

    I thought we were doing so well....

    I believe this now, when I know our daughter's problems seemed to have vanished and then, to have come back. From spending so much time here on the site, I understand that addiction happens however we were raised, and that there may be a genetic component to that whole mess. So, I think I see what probably happened to our family.

    I don't know why "what happened" mattered so much. Probably it was because we had two children, each self-destructing in a different way.

    Here is a thing I know: Most kids are committed to the futures their parents are committed to for them. There is so much pride and acceptance and such a feeling of a job well done, and I wish I had that, too.

    But other than that, now that I know I cannot change things for us, I am not searching desperately for an answer, for some right way to do this that other parents knew and I did not. I can stay present to what is. I am beginning to appreciate who the kids are in a way I have not been able to, before detachment parenting.

    I suppose what it is, is that, having let go of responsibility for them, I respect them more as people.

    But I think it would be a very hard thing to convince ourselves to let go of responsibility for a teen or early twenties child.


  14. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Not JUST lazy. Talk about entitlement...He complains about racism...Toward HIM. Our son is the whitest boy you've ever seen and apparently the black man is keeping him down. (insert eye-roll here) Then there's his conspiracy theories. When we took him out to dinner we joked with him about getting some tinfoil for his hat.
  15. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    And lets be completely honest here. He can be the most racist, judgmental, closed minded person.
  16. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    He's not racist as in he hates other races. But he does seem to think anyone in a position of power is against him and if they happen to be black people he isn't above using terms I find inappropriate.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, I don't share your view of the U.S., Cedar, especially of late. Seems our good intentions are going backwards to me, but this isn't that kind of site so let's just agree to disagree.

    Our kids are not just raised by us and many factors determine how they turn out. Teachers matter. Peers matter. Clergy matter. Neighbors matter.

    Genetics is one big one,which is why I decided not to take too many chances and to not have more than one bio. child who, possibly due to his upbringing, is not half as affected as the rest of the clan. I am also affected. But I've been open about that. I didn't escape. None of us did of those that I know.

    I believe in genetics. I think it is a good thing there are so few of my DNA left and hope my grandson and the other kids who may bear children in our DNA collection will not see the horrendous problems that our family has had for at least two generations. I told Bart about my feelings too and, looking at his non-relatives and how they have behaved, he agreed and decided only to have one child too and he will. Junior is all her wants. Junior seems like a normal, incredibly intelligent child too so we may have lucked out in this next generation. It's not like Bart doesn't know our family of origin is sick. He experienced some of it and is very smart himself. Bart, of all the kids, knew something was wrong with my mom and did not attend her funeral as he didn't know her and she never so much as sent him a birthday card on his birthday. We['ve talked. He gets it. (She ignored all of her grandkids because she didn't like me.) Who ignores grandchildren because he/she doesn't like the child? But she did. 100%.

    I think it will surface again, but I wish it not to. Fortunately, the DNA pool is smaller because my uncle, and if I were calling anyone narcissistic on steroids anymore, it would be him...decided thankfully not to breed. He was too selfish to have children and Thank the Lord. My brother has never had a live in relationship. That cuts out a lot of possible DNA extras who could have prolonged whatever genetic problems are on the family tree.

    But I also think environment is in there a bit and if we give our kids too much, and never tell them they need to get a part time job, say, at sixteen, why would they ever expect us to stop giving and giving? They are growing up much later these days in many cases.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015
  18. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    OK... here's a non-American perspective... :)

    The problem isn't just in the USA. It's across most of the "western" world.

    I don't have scientific studies to quote - just a lot of statements from a LOT of "older folk", collected over 40+ years of being interested. From that perspective, the biggest thing "wrong with kids these days" is that they are raised believing peer relationships are the most important. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to the picture below - you need to look at this from a "statistics" standpoint.

    Yes, they get raised that way. They start in day-care - age-segregated groups. They go from that to school - again, age-segregated groups. They no longer have large extended families that they spend considerable time with. Their out-of-school activities are either solitary (such as music lessons or swimming) or... age-segregated groups (such as team sports)

    They do not learn to relate to and socialize with anybody except their own age group. So, what else can we expect?

    There's unexpected fallout from this too. If you do NOT raise your kids as noted above... they are frequently seen as misfits, in particular if they also have a few challenges. You either fit in to the age-segregated system, or you are an outsider forever.

    Modern society, the education industry, and increasing urbanization reinforce this system. I believe that we are less than 100 years away from the end of civilization as we know it today.
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  19. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It seems to me that we are in flux here in America. We will come into balance over time. Like it was with sanctified racism or feminism or religion, and like it is now with abortion, there will be a time when we realize we have gone too far in one direction. We are a moral and decent people, and we will rethink what is correct moral and ethical behavior.

    It has been this bad, in the recent past.

    "...if they are disordered...."

    I can't help but feel secretly judged and fraudulent and bad when I have been cut off. I like this way of looking, SWOT.

    If the cut off seems not to make sense, and they never do, that must be what is happening. I suppose the signs were there, all along.

    If they are disordered....


  20. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I'm glad, SOT.

    I have friends who strongly disbelieve what I find true ~ on both sides of the aisle we seem to have erected between one another these days.

    This is how we learn new ways of seeing. This is an interesting discussion.