John J. Stathas, Ph.D., LMFT
Recently Sherry and I had a wonderful weekend with both of our kids, and their kids, visiting us at our home here at the Lake. I relished the mutual sharing, nurturing, and fun that the weekend encompassed. When they left to go to their respective homes I was reflecting on the experience and how wonderful it was. We are a close loving family! So fortunate.
My relished reflection led to this thought, do most adults in their more senior years have a good relationship with their adult kids? And, how do the adult kids feel about their parents? Too often in my practice I am working with the two generations to heal emotional distance that has occurred over time or by a recent unfortunate situation or event.
This emotional distance can come from either generational side. The adult parents may initiate this wall or the adult children may feel the need to establish a rigid boundary. The reasons often are complex. I would like to list a few of the reasons that I hear in my practice.
- Money issues
- Inappropriate behavior, past or present
- Advice giving, not requested
- Inability to nurture or connect emotionally
- Alcohol or drug issues
- Inability to forgive and move on
Certainly there are other idiosyncratic reasons for generational emotional distance. This list could provoke some thinking of why such distance exists. Identifying the issues is the first step in moving toward reconciliation, once the awareness that such emotional distance exists. Often an experienced Family Therapist is needed to mend the rift that exists. A lot of frustration, anger, and hurt are usually present – and defenses are high. However, the positive outcome of such efforts is well worth it – especially as Father Time moves on.
For those of you who are as fortunate as Sherry and myself regarding such love and closeness – cherish it and continue to build on it. Each generation can benefit from such a close connection.
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates