Breaking up with Mom



So kristen when I was prepping for this episode. Two big things surprised me okay. What's that okay? Thing number one breaking up with a parent is actually pretty common. Like the stats aren't airtight. But at least in the US and the UK an estimated ten to twenty percent of folks experience some kind of family estrangement and thing too well because of how common it is. I was expecting there to be a ton of research on. Who What where? When why it happens you know like cutting ties with your parents especially your mom is so ripe for research at touches on psychology mental health trauma but practically no one has studied it partly because it just goes so unspoken yet you know estrangement sounds like such a formal term but it's not a legal designation like emancipation but because it revolves around adult parent child relationships. It's kind of tough to track. You know because once we're grown ASS adults Technically these are voluntary relationships. Yeah and I mean one thing. Harriet although emphasizes is how estrangement encompasses a whole spectrum of situations geographical distance emotional distancing or completely calling it quits which is what focusing on today. Could you give us an example of sort of that line between just standard parent child conflict? That's GonNa Happen. And actual like boundary crossing problems that tend to lead to estrangement. Yeah that's a that's a good question I can speak to it from my experience but also having interviewed fifty or sixty other people who have been through estrangement. The stories are often very detail sometimes are different but the the basic pattern of the story is often the same and that is that there is some fundamental lack of ability to trust in the relationship. You know and whether that comes from way way back in the relationship or whether it's something that Sort of enters it. I mean most of the time. There's something that's really wrong. There's something that's really been wrong for a long time And so you know in a sort of non estranged quote ordinary family. Of course there's going to be conflicts and of course there's GonNa be problems but you have the ability to get past them because there is this fundamental trust and Sort of mutual understanding that you know we might disagree but I have your best interests in mind and I know you have mine in families that have estrangement that seems to be missing. There's not that sense of like unconditional love trust So often there's just this sense of like it's not just one thing that you did. It's everything that has gone into our relationship is it's the pattern of things you know It's this sense that you're always saying things that are meant to cut me down. You are always do violating my whatever privacy my boundaries whatever in very very often there's substance abuse or mental health issues involved Or alcoholism those have been features in a lot of the stories. I've heard too so what are some estrangement myths? That need busting in your mind. Ooh There are a lot of them. one of the most pervasive myths. Is this idea that kids today. They're spoiled. They get mad because mom and dad didn't give them a Porsche for their high school graduation or they didn't like something that one parent did one day and so they walk off in a huff and it's a tragedy and everybody suffers In other words this idea that people walk away from their families in a very casual way and that is not just just not true what the research suggests and what my own experience suggests is that walking away from. Your family is so complicated. And it goes against so many social norms and a- prohibitions. That it really takes a lot to make people do that and so it might look like there's one incident that make people walk away but in fact there's always you know a lot a lot a lot of things that have happened and gone on over a long period of time. So that's one and then I guess the other big myth to my mind. Is this idea that family estrangement is always a bad thing that it's always something that we should be trying to fix for some people. Walking away from family is not just a good idea. It's a survival

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