Friday, November 19, 2010

Heartbreaking (Adult) Sibling Fights

One of my favorite readers named, “anonymous” responded to my recent post, When an Adult Child Cuts Off a Parent, by sending me a link that she found. It’s a post on that is titled “When Adult Children Fight, a Mother's Heart Breaks” and was written by Jessica Barksdale Inclan. It is well written and poignant.

She describes the distinctly different personalities of her two grown sons; one an anarchist and the other a police-academy aspirant.

Inclan writes, “At one time, these were my happy little boys, my sons who played together all day on the weekends, slept in the same room for years. They both went to the same college, called each other frequently, hiked together, laughed together. But when Nicolas began to become the man he is, their ideologies started to pull them apart. He began to despise all that Alex stood for, and their drives home from Washington State began to get ugly, full of silences or harsh words. Our last meal together, all of us sitting around the table of our new home, was as unpleasant as could be.”

“It's possible that these two will never come back to one another. The fight could be the axe that splits their relationship wide open, forever irreparable. I close my eyes and breathe in hard when I think of them forever at opposite sides. Siblings are the closest relationships in time and age and place. Siblings know each other in ways no one else can, and to see my boys approach an end to this connection is more than I can bear.”

I want to suggest two things:

These two young men drifted apart and have let their ideologies divide them. There will (hopefully) come a time in the future when they will recognize the indispensable nature of one’s nuclear family….and agree to disagree.

Second, I have faith that the (future) spouses and children of these two young men may have a profound influence on this sibling division (or not). If each brother has their own two children (which my research shows is likely) and they each try to prevail upon their own children how important sibling bonds are in life, a major-watt light bulb may illuminate (or not).

You can read Inclan's entire post by clicking here.

And be sure to read some of the frank comments that follow her post such as Debbie who stated:

I do feel a little better because I'm not the only one who is going through this. My two boys will never be friends and will never have a relationship. I think this is sad, but I'm done with all the conflict and unpleasantness. If I could go back in time, I would have had puppies and never any children.
(ASinger: Ouch!)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

When an Adult Child Cuts Off a Parent

I wish I had a more chipper post for Election Day folks; this is just plain sad.

Therapists for years have listened to patients blame parents for their problems. What about the suffering of parents who are estranged from their adult children?

Joshua Coleman, a San Francisco psychologist who is an expert on parental estrangement, says that 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.''

Dr. Coleman himself experienced several years of estrangement with his adult daughter, with whom he has reconciled. Mending the relationship took time and a persistent effort by Dr. Coleman to stay in contact. It also meant listening to his daughter's complaints and accepting responsibility for his mistakes. ''I tried to really get what her feelings were and tried to make amends and repair,'' he said. ''Over the course of several years, it came back slowly.''

(A Singer: there is no simple answer or quick fix here. Coleman correctly states that persistence is the key)

Source: Tara Parker-Pope, NY Times