Social Question

Pandora's avatar

Why do some young adults today feel it necessary to totally forget about their parents once they become independent?

Asked by Pandora (29488points) March 19th, 2010

Is it just a phase they go through until they are more settled?
Or are they just selfish or too busy?
Can you ever be too busy to spare a few minutes worth of conversation at least once a week with your folks?
BTW, I don’t mean this question to be those who were neglected as children. I get turn about being fair play.
Is it just that our society is becoming more selfish or are parents just living too long and its time to put them on a raft and pushed out to sea because they are outliving their usefulness.

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36 Answers

cheebdragon's avatar

Just be happy they actually became independent.

The_Inquisitor's avatar

Maybe they’re just excited to finally be independent. How long has it been? Just give it some more time until they are settled down.

Drawkward's avatar

It seems like a normal part of growing up, If I surveyed my peers, I would expect that the levels of this happening are just about where they were years ago.

lillycoyote's avatar

It was a phase for me, maybe a long one, but when I turned 18 I couldn’t get far enough fast enough, so I went to college 3000 miles away, and my parents were paying for it so I understand now that I wasn’t totally independent, but I thought I was at the time. My relationship with my parents was a bit strained and a bit distant until I was in my mid-thirties and then we became very close. And I’m very glad about that, very glad. Now that they are both gone, I miss them terribly but really cherish the time we had and am eternally grateful that I wasn’t so stubborn that I let them die without really getting to know them and love them. If you are lucky enough to have good parents no one will ever love you quite the way they do and no one will forgive your flaws and defects quite the way they will.

phillis's avatar

Interesting Q, Pandora. Some of this is subjective. What a parent sees as desertion might be a college grad taking a well-paying job offer far away from home. Is that desertion, or is it starting your adult life?

I’m not, in the least, insinuating that you aren’t smart enough to know the difference, but perhaps parents in the throes of depression from a child who “abandoned” them might not be seeing things the way they really are.

As for kids who really DO abandon thier parents, I attribute most of it to the natural process of defining (to themselves) who they are, once and for all. It is a necessary part of separating their identities from those of thier parents. We’ve all seen what goes awry when a son cannot separate himself from his mother, and becimes a “mama’s boy”. He has all kinds of peer relation problems and his people skills are atrocious. His marriage suffers tremendously as the two women vie for the spotlight, while the man cannot develop a spine to tell his mother he has a WIFE. It’s an ungly picture.

In the end, they do find thier balance. We all love to have a place to go home to. The psychological bonds developed within a family are always stronger than one thinks. The prodigal son returns home.

lillycoyote's avatar

@phillis I don’t agree that when children “really DO abandon (my emphasis) their parents” that that is at all a natural and necessary part of defining one’s own identity. Can I perhaps assume that you may not have really meant “abandon?”

Pandora's avatar

Perhaps, I don’t get it because although my mother and I did not have a good relationship when I was growing up, I never forgot the good times. I know that she loves me and till today I still call her every other day to see how she is doing. Even if we argue, I just see it as difference of opinions and bound to happen in any relationship. She can really fustrate me at times but I know there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for me if I asked because I am her daughter and she loves me. She did the best that she could in providing for me and I’m sure as heck not going to forget her because I don’t need her any more for financial support.

Pandora's avatar

@lillycoyote Perhaps abandon is too strong a word. More like neglectful indifference.
@phillis, Not college. I mean when a person stops all communication all of a sudden for several weeks after moving out. And when you call they seem bothered and come up with some lame excuse to hang up.
I was discussing this matter with several relatives that are all going through the same thing.
I hope your right about the prodigal son or in my case daughter.

phillis's avatar

@lillycoyote I did mean it, in the context that I understood the question. In light of Pandora’s new comment, I can see I misunderstood. Some parents indeed feel abandoned, even if they really aren’t. And in some instances, abandonment is precisely what happens.

@Pandora I understand now what you mean. I am so sorry, but I do not know what would cause a young person to do this without knowing the dynamics between you, which is highly personal (I don’t expect you to go into detail, especially publicly). Had I known this was what you meant, I wouldn’t have answered. I feel I’ve let you down.

lillycoyote's avatar

@phillis I don’t really think “neglectful indifference” towards one’s parents, if one had “good enough” parents is really even a part of the “natural process” of defining one’s own identity. It just seems that if you can’t define yourself without neglecting, indifference to or abandoning people then it might be time you reconsider what makes up your identity, what makes you the person you are.

Edit: I wrote this before I saw your last response, phillis, now I am going to have to start all over I think.

casheroo's avatar

Well, I live with my parents and even without that, my mother and I talked on the phone every day.
I feel bad for my mother in law, it’s not often that we talk to her or see her. My husband works a lot, and I do try to visit her with her grandson, but then I had another baby and haven’t gone out to see her. She is so ready and willing to help though, which means a lot.
I sort of feel like she may feel that I “stole” her son, but we’re just living our lives and not doing it intentionally.

Pandora's avatar

@phillis You didn’t let me down. I should’ve been clearer.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have been more focused on my own life, and selfishly forget my parents. I usually sent birthday cards after the fact, and often forgot Mother’s Day. They are passed on now, and I occasionally wish I could send them an e-mail.

Sometimes we get focused on other things and forget to keep other family members appraised of our where abouts, such as safe arrival at a trip destination. It works both ways.

Pandora's avatar

@YARNLADY Its amusing in a way that in this day and age of so much communication devices that people can’t seem to put down for a second (cell phones) or can’t pull themselves away from (computers) that a person can’t remember to communicate with family members. Sure we all are guilty of not calling sometimes over the years because we get rapped up in whats in front of us at the moment, or we forget certain dates, but if someone calls me and makes time to talk to me and I’m busy then I will make the time to call them back. Especially if the relationship is an important one.

phillis's avatar

@lillycoyote I should say so! Had I taken that personally, that would have looked like a suspicion of doubt upon my character, placed publicly. Perhaps your “answer” button has a hair trigger :)

@Pandora Thank you. As usual, you are generous. I got your PM and will respond shortly :)

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I think it’s an adjustment until they become comfortable on their own and no longer threatened by parental pressure.

Judi's avatar

All three of my kids needed a time to stretch out and figure out who they were on their own. The first two have settled back and want me around as much as possible (The free babysitting might be the big draw, but I delude myself into thinking it’s my wise counsel.) The third is still out there, keeping me out of the loop, and trying to figure out who he is. He’s getting married in the fall and I’m sure when the kids show up he will like me around more too.

Pandora's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Interesting possibility. Thanks for your answer.
@Judi, I suppose that is a possiblility. I guess I didn’t go through that because I lost my father at 18 and realized how fragile life is and not to let time slip by. Hope she doesn’t wait till either myself or her father are dead.

rooeytoo's avatar

I didn’t think anyone ever left home anymore. There are 40 year olds still at home with mom and dad, saving up for a place of their own. Yeah right!!!

Pandora's avatar

@rooeytoo Thanks for the laugh. :)

Haleth's avatar

Young adults who are just starting out can be self-absorbed. They also have a lot of new things going on in their lives. I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent (I’m 22) but when I first left for college it was one of the most exciting times for me. Between being in a new town, meeting all new friends, a much busier class schedule, and newfound freedom, there’s a lot going on. But I kind of thought the world revolved around me and forgot all about people at home for a while, which was selfish. Meanwhile, parents have learned to be conscientious and giving toward their children… sometimes so much so that the child can take it for granted or even think their parents are being intrusive. And when a child moves out, things become a lot quieter at home for the parents. It sucks that your daughter isn’t talking to you much right now, but it isn’t personal… that’s just the way kids and parents are toward each other at this age. Once she gets a little more settled, things will probably go back to normal.

Pandora's avatar

@Haleth, Thank you for you candid response. I hope your right. Perhaps I’m being too sensitive because I didn’t go though this with my son. He has always kept in touch. There were times when he was extremely busy and wouldn’t call for a while but he would eventually contact us and appologize for not being able to call or even admit he forgot. I guess I raised them the same and expected her to be the same when she moved out.

escapedone7's avatar

My parents have my number and can call anytime they want. It is usually them calling me rather than the other way around. They know they are always welcome, I have an open door policy with relatives. My father drops in and stuff randomly. But he then tries to “daddy” me. Last time, he noticed the headboard on the bed was loose, moved the bed to look at it, and ordered me to sweep under my bed. Then he stood and watched me sweep. I felt 12.

My mom, she calls but all she does is ask a barrage of questions. Really really nosey or pointless questions, sometimes to dig in other people’s business or mine or just to be weird. She had an aneurysm so she has an excuse but… omg.

“Have you seen your brother lately? Has he been with that girl again? You know the skinny one? Whats her name? Her mother lives in Ohio right? WHat’s she doing here? Do you think she has aids or something? She looks too skinny. Do you think she’s on drugs? Have you seen her teeth? I hope she’s not on drugs. How are you doing for underwear? Do you still have the orange ones I bought you for Christmas? What do you mean they were too big. Well give them back then I will give them to… You threw them away! HOw could you do that to me! I shopped for 3 days and those were 100 dollars before they were marked down to 50 cents. You always were spoiled. You never wear anything I get you. What about that purple mumu with the yellow polka dots? Are you listening to me? Have you eaten today? What did you eat? What kind of food is that? I heard that Roland Smith is having an affair with the librarian. Have you heard anything about that? How old is she anyway? What do you mean you don’t know how old she is? You go to the library all the time. Haven’t you asked her? What do you mean you have to go? You never talk to me anymore! By the way I need you to clean my basement, paint my ceiling,stain my deck, mow my grass, and bring me a bucket of chicken. Bye bye. Love you!!!!!!!!”

My end of the conversation is just “I don’t know, I don’t care,.I guess, I think so, yes, no, yes, no, uhm… do you ever stop to breathe? ”

I am considering relocating to Tanzania.

escapedone7's avatar

If you get lonely I’ll give you her number. She needs a friend.
I really do my best. But at least I’m not mooching off them. I care and I will really be broken hearted when they are gone. But I also don’t relate to them well, and need to have a life of my own. It’s a balancing act. I’ve never gone weeks without talking, but sometimes they do drive me bonkers.

Just_Justine's avatar

Some parents put their whole lives into their kids and get very little back, some put bugger all into their kids and get too much back. It’s all dependant on the relationship they have, or the type of personality the child has. I heard once a parent that has done well, brings up an independent child, who only contacts the parents infrequently. It is a selfless job, we get to have their devotion when they are tots. After that, off they go. Hopefully. Some you can’t get rid of and continue to sponge off you and ask you advice and then not take it. Or only phone when there is “drama” and expect you to sort it out.

Parenting is the most selfless act imaginable. It’s all about giving and expecting nothing back.

I’ve been around old age homes for years and so many “kids” have dumped their parents.

But on the positive side, your kids sound young? I think they are just enjoying “me” time. Perhaps doing things they need to do and don’t want to discuss with mom. They are selfish yes. They may settle and contact you but when they settle it is often with a wife, or a serious girlfriend then their lives revolve around that their own family.

Some kids are very close to their parents or caring all the way through.Its often luck of the draw the kind of person they are. Not always to do with how they were brought up. I only know this because I cared for my folks till they died. They would not have won any parenting awards.

Long story short. Dont expect much, realize they have moved on, and also will eventually let go, its the process of becoming their own individual selves. There are too many variables to this scenario to give a better answer.

Pandora's avatar

@escapedone7 Parents tend to do that when they have to carry on a conversation on their own. Its not being nosy so much as trying to get more than a grunt from the person on the other side of the phone. See, I’m not the type of person to ever call someone more than maybe few times. If I feel I am buggy you than I stop and the ball is in your court. I believe that a relationship has to be held up on both ends. I’m never so desperate as to force myself into someones life. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. I have 4 siblings and out of the 4 there are only 2 that I speak too. The other two were too much of a bother. With one, I just let him go because he would get verbally abusive when drunk, which was most of the time. The other one wouldn’t speak to me for a year or two an then surface for a few seconds, catch up and say we should get together and then never get together and then disappear for another 2 years. I told my family, when I drop dead for them not to say anything. When he calls they can tell him oh, to reach me dial, C-E-M-E-T-A-R-Y.
For me, any relationship is 50/50. I never was the type of person to do more than that. I might stretch it a little more for my children because they are the only kids I’ll have but it really is impossible to have a one way relationship. That is called stranger.

mrrich724's avatar

Maybe they weren’t necessarily neglected but have some personal or subconscious resentment, and now that they have the option, they are choosing not to talk to the parent.

The other, more optimistic thought I have is that they just need time to explore their “adultness” which may not include calling mom for a check in every other day. Give ‘em a lil’ time.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I wish I knew. I suspect it has to do with trying to build a life, and how time-comsuming that can be.

neverawake's avatar

they’re imbeciles.

Berserker's avatar

My mom hates me and my dad’s dead, the hells man haha.

Either way, I didn’t forget them.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Sounds as if your mother is trying to live her life through you.

dazedandconfused's avatar

I wonder the same thing sometimes. I’m in my first year away at school, and I know I miss my parents, not going more than about five days without talking to them. I know people who haven’t talked to their parents in two months. I can’t imagine that. It’s not that they had bad childhoods, but just that they don’t want to/can’t be bothered to/aren’t interested in talking to their parents. I don’t understand it at all. I think people are just too selfish at this point, at least, to bother checking in with the people who raised them (and are often still supporting them).

Pandora's avatar

@dazedandconfused Great answer.:) I don’t think it always so complicated. Sometimes the simplest conclusion is the right answer.

YARNLADY's avatar

My Mother-In-Law solved that problem by calling her children every single Sunday night of her life, at precisely 6 pm for Daughter, and 8 pm for Son. She has done this for at least 40 years and still going strong.

lillycoyote's avatar

I think your relationship with your parents changes over time. Mine did. There is kind of an ebb and flow to it.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because they have not yet found a healthy distance. In time many will.

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