3 TOUGH QUESTIONS – Parent and grandparent alienation GRANDPARENTS
For parents who find themselves dealing with an estranged child:
“I wouldn’t say take the blame, but if your child has been estranged from you, something is very wrong there,” he said. “You have to start from the perspective of really trying to understand and making yourself vulnerable. Typically in our children’s complaints about us, there’s a kernel of truth.”
Don’t defend yourself
“It’s about your kid, it’s not about you,” Coleman said. “If you defend yourself you get into the right and wrong, it’s just going to escalate.”
It’s important to remember that all families are different. “You could be a good parent and feel like you did everything right and your kid could reasonably feel you missed something important about them,” he said.
Have empathy and don’t give up
The problem is silent because people are too embarrassed to discuss it.
“So many parents who are going through this don’t want to talk about it,” Coleman said. “They feel ashamed. They feel humiliated. And the kids as well, they don’t want to talk about it either.
“Nobody wants to admit it,” Coleman said, “but it’s a huge problem in our culture.”
Divorce can often cause a breakdown in the relationship between grown children and their parents.
“Divorce is probably the single most common cause that I see,” Coleman said. With divorce, children may see one parent as a winner, the other as a loser. “Somebody got hurt more, somebody got left,” he added.
Divorce can sometimes lead to parental alienation, where one parent negatively influences a child against the other parent so the child no longer trusts that parent or feel hateful toward them.
“Divorce is a very, very common cause of estrangement,” Coleman said.
Dr. Coleman is interviewed by Savannah Guthrie