Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Repost: How do parents become estranged from their children?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.


Dec. 1, 2010

Since I'm a crime reporter, it should be no surprise that I sometimes write about dangerous criminals. Not long ago, in an attempt to cover all my bases while reporting on a crime, I tried to find family members of someone who had been recently arrested so I could get a rounded picture of the kind of person he is. The man's mother told me she couldn't comment for my story because she hadn't spoken with her son in more than five years. Then she hung up.

I don't know the details of that family's story or whether what she said was true. Still, the possibility that she had in fact lost contact with her son struck me as heartbreaking, especially since she sounded like she was not a young woman.

I'm an only child. Although my parents were not perfect by a really long shot, I can't imagine being estranged from them. They are past retirement age now, and I hope that my presence in their lives is at very least comforting. I have some friends who are somewhat estranged from their parents, and that state of affairs has always puzzled me. I'm hopeful that my daughter, who may also end up as an only, will grow up to have the same kind of loving relationship with my husband and me that I have with my folks, and that my husband has with his.

I know that parents' relationships with their children ebb and flow. I definitely remember my own teen years (particularly when I went away to college) as a time of renegotiating the parent-child relationship.

When that woman held her son for the first time, I'm sure she didn't look at him and hope that they would one day not be on speaking terms.

I don't know how estrangement happens, but I do hope to be fortunate enough so that it doesn't happen to my relationship with my daughter. Of course, I can't predict the future. As I'm finding about so much when it comes to parenting, I can only do my best and hope it's enough.

Are you estranged from your parent or child? Did it happen suddenly or was it something long in the making?

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