As your children mature and gain independence, they tend to need you less and less, which can be quite tough to deal with for some parents. One hurt mother has found herself in this exact situation, revealing she hasn’t seen her married son and grandchildren for over a year.
Writing to The Telegraph’s advice column Dear Graham Norton, she said: “Growing up we were always close. Then two years ago he got married. Although I live about an hour’s drive away, they have not visited for over a year and I have not been invited to stay with them.”
The mother — who single-handedly raised her son and daughter after their father left — said his in-laws, however, are regular visitors, adding they’ve been on holidays together.
“I have two young grandchildren who I hardly know and I am heartbroken,” she wrote.
The mother said she’s very generous with presents and has never interfered, adding: “I know they lead busy lives – and the last thing I want to do is to come between them.
“I have just waited, hoping my son would realise what he was doing. But I realise now that isn’t going to happen. Is there anything I can do?” She asked.
Norton – the same Graham Norton who hosts the popular BBC celebrity chat show — sympathised with the disheartened woman, advising her the explanation is probably much more innocent.
“It sounds very much as if your daughter-in-law is the social secretary of the couple and you have slipped off the agenda,” he wrote. “It doesn’t show her in a great light but at the same time let’s not escalate it into anything more than an oversight.”
He advised the mother to visit them for the day or to invite them to her house for lunch or tea. Alternatively, he added: “Maybe find a quiet moment, just the two of you, when you can remind him that when he was growing up, you were all he had. You are delighted now he has so much more, but he mustn’t forget that now you are the one that needs him.”
Dealing with estrangement and conflicts within your family can be an emotionally draining and heartbreaking situation. Sadly the anonymous woman is not alone in her suffering, and a study, published in Psychology Today, found that 7 per cent of adult children say they’re detached from their mother, and 27 per cent were detached from their father.
Additionally, the Australia Institute of Family Studies cites 2012-13 survey findings that almost 30 percent of children who have left home have face-to-face contact with their parents less than once a year or never. A further 16 percent see their parents just once every three-to-12 months.
The reasons adult children cite for this detachment can vary, from a past family dispute to hurt over a separation, right through to the perception that their parent is overbearing or that they are uncomfortable with the role their parent plays in a grandchild’s life.
But a very common theme – whatever the reason – is a lack of communication and understanding over why the child has estranged themselves. While they may insist they’ve explained their reasons to their parents, the parents themselves may not understand or even believe they’ve never been told.