Through increases in divorce and remarriage, the concept of ‘family’ has changed. Along with that modification, came an altering of what the definitions and expectations are that seem to be attached to ‘family’. Gone are the days when families included grandparents, cousins and uncles, etc. who ate at the same table and lived within the same city. We are a transient world and this has created, in many cases, a sense of detachment from those we love.

The often unspoken problem of estrangement and alienation, where adult children have chosen to stop or severely control communication with either a non-custodial parent or their children’s grandparents, is a relatively new issue in the field of mental health. The reasons for this life-altering and painful situation are varied, however, the results are clear.

Having mutually supportive generations, which grow by marriage and addition of children, has been the pattern of successful multi-generational families, tribes, communities and larger societies since the beginning of time. Grandparent alienation denies the natural ebb and flow of responsibilities, caretaking and love from grandparents to their children and grandchildren, but it also halts this progression in the other direction. These grandchildren and adult children do not grow from the benefit of loving and caring for an older adult.

The fallout from this issue is great. Symptoms of depression, sleep disorders, TMG, anxiety, and gastrointestinal issues are some of the problems that are seen when people struggle with this issue.

Individual and family therapy and self-help groups like Alienated Grandparents Anonymous can be helpful. For individuals who may be dealing with any aspect of fractured relationships, talking to one of our professional therapists can help. For more information, call 455-8500.

Nov 01, 2013 | Mental Health

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