Family Estrangement: How Grown-Ups Pull Away From Toxic Families

Family Estrangement: How Grown-Ups Pull Away From Toxic Families

Hurt and hateful feelings serve a purpose for these adult children, enabling them to resist renewed attempts at reconciliation and protecting them from reentering abusive relationships with their parents. “By speaking their parents out of the family, they speak a new family into being,” said the author of the study.

One interesting and seemingly counterintuitive finding in the research was that adult kids who didn’t talk with their parents frequently didn’t necessarily have the worst quality communication; sometimes, the distance made it easier to feel closer to them.

And while ignoring role expectations and reducing relationship effort was easier after moving away, many study participants reported that moving away was easier than staying away. Some said the most effective way to reduce the effect that parents’ actions had on their own emotional well-being was refusing to take responsibility for their parents’ actions and focusing on their own lives instead.

Are you consciously working towards keeping your parenting healthy and positive? Read 10 Do’s and Don’ts To Keep Your Parenting Healthy and Non-Toxic

All unhappy families are unhappy in their own way, which explains why one person’s experience of family distancing is different from someone else’s. By contextualizing estrangement as a dynamic, rather than a fixed event in family functioning, research points the way to the possibility of reconciliation, or at least rapprochement, on both sides of the generation gap.

If you don’t want estrangement to be your future, then you have to make sure that you shower a lot of positivity on your children. This will help you cement your relationship with them, and make sure that both of you share a healthy bond.

If you want to know more about estrangement from children, then check out this video below:


[1] Conti, R.P. (2015)” Family Estrangement: Establishing a prevalence rate.”Communications Research, 1-29 Journal of Psychology & Behavioral Science,3, 28-35

[2] Scharp, Kristina M.,” You’re Not Welcome Here: A Grounded Theory of Family Distancing,”. Communication Research 1-29

Written by Jane Adams
Originally appeared on Psychology Today

Family Estrangement: How Grown-Ups Pull Away From Toxic Families

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