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"Only 51% of US parents have an "amicable" relationship w/ACs": Smithsonian mag

Started by fantine, October 17, 2013, 09:14:42 am

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Hard to believe this statistic, but in this month's Smithsonian magazine (Oct 2013), page 18, the statistic reads: "51 --- Percent of US parents who say they have "amicable" relationship with their AC."

WOW!!!  :o

Is anyone else as shocked by this as I am? (no source was given)

This surprises me for a few reasons:
1. For this stat to appear in a magazine of such repute as Smithsonian is telling. If their editors consider it newsworthy, then it probably touches a lot of their readers.

2. The percentage (51%) is far lower than I thought it would be. I really would have thought that this figure would have been in the 70s or so.

3. If this stat is accurate, Luise may find a whole lot more folks who are interested in being a part of this forum!

4. This stat makes me wonder if it's cool for ACs to claim that they are estranged from their parents.



I would have thought it would have been higher too.  I know it seems that this was becoming more prevalent, but I still wouldn't have guessed that high.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


I'm not really that shocked.  I probably wouldn't have guessed as low, but I can totally believe this.  It's 51% of parents saying the relationship is amicable.  I wonder what the AC say.  I've always thought the big happy family image was overstated.  Lots of people come on here and other sites absolutely amazed that so many others face similar problems.  I think in the past it was easier to hide the estrangements.  When your AC live hundreds or thousands of miles away, in the past it was a no-brainer that you had little contact.  But with social media and (relatively) cheap air travel, it's not so easy to hide.  I think this is one of those things that haven't been talked about in the past so it seems like there's a sudden epidemic of family estrangements.  Unfortunately, if this has been a widespread problem for awhile, that doesn't make it easier for the individuals suffering through it.  On the plus side, when a problem comes out in the open, it's easier to find support and help if not a cure.


I'd be interested in what people in the 49% group thought had caused the estrangement.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Quote from: Pen on October 17, 2013, 02:16:20 pm
I'd be interested in what people in the 49% group thought had caused the estrangement.

Good question, Pen. I'd bet it was somehow the mother's fault, as our society seems to enjoy "mother blaming," regardless if it's accurate.


It's been awhile since I've posted, but still keeping up with all of you, absorbing from the comments what might help me heal.
HS, appreciate your thoughts here, because in my mind, it seems like everywhere DH and I go, a "big, happy family" is within view. OR, I hear about other families vacationing together for a few days.
Twice a year, we make a trip to the beach, and always invite our AC, their spouses and GKs to come visit. But they never take up the offer. It breaks my heart as I watch other families making good memories b/c that's what I want. And there's nothing we can do to make them want to come. Just don't understand it. I'm beginning to believe that my AC's generation is just self-centered, it's all about them, not caring for the older generation, who helped them get where they are. Seems to me, the harder I try to keep my family closely connected, the farther apart we become. And it doesn't affect DH in the same manner as it does me. He doesn't even think about it, but goes on his merry way, enjoying his hobbies. I have lots to learn, WW!


I think I can go along with the generational thing.  The couple across the road from us are in their 80's so their 6 kids are in their 50's and 60's..  They are always hosting big yard parties and gatherings at their homes with their kids and grandkids.  Yet those of us in our 50's and 60's seem to have a hard time getting OUR kids to visit or be civil. 


I thought this statistic was part of a story on families, but it is a sidebar statistic to a group of stories on conflict.  It didn't give the source or any details on the survey.  I wonder how many parents were surveyed.  Did they have to respond amicable or non-amicable, or were there several other choices?  I think it would be interesting to know if the AC of the 51% would agree with the assessment and if the AC of the 49% would also agree.  I know I spent the first few years of living a few towns away from my ILs thinking everything was fine only to discover they had building resentments.  I originally searched for this article online (to no avail), but found another article by another magazine that said 90% of parent-AC relationships have conflict - there wasn't much detail on the source of this number, but it seemed to be referring to significant conflict, not just the conflict you see in practically every relationship.  A few other articles cited the US as being the leader among nations in parent-AC conflict.  Those stats seemed to come from a survey or a little under 2700 parents in six different countries. 

It would also be interesting to know how the respondents defined amicable.  It's not like parents and AC are either bosom buddies or totally estranged.  What one family considers amicable might be a nightmare to another.  The problem arises when what the parents view as amicable the AC view as horrible and vice versa.  If both sides think visiting/talking/texting three times a week is good or if both sides think visiting/talking/texting three times a year is good, you have an amicable relationship.  Many of the stories here illustrate situations where neither side is right or wrong, just each side has different expectations.  (Of course, there are many stories here where on side is being absolutely rude/obnoxious/unrealistic/abusive - I'm not Pollyanna by any means.) 

Shiny, extended family vacations look good on paper, but they can be a minefield.  There could be a host of reasons why your AC don't accept your invitation.  Could be they are not as fond of the beach as you are.  Could be they have limited vacation days and have other ideas on how to best use them.  They may know of situations where a vacation turned into a veritable warzone in the family.  I have a friend who didn't talk to her sister for several months after the sister joined my friend and her kids on a vacation.  (as much as I love my friend, when she told me the story, I was about 85% in sympathy with the sister - but don't tell my friend that!) Since beach visits aren't working in making good memories, look at other opportunities.  Sometimes our best memories occur in the day-to-day monotony of life, not on the holidays or vacations.  Good luck.   


well, I'm not that surprised either even though I thought it would be higher....seems like we're surrounded by peeps who seem to have it all together...or want it to appear so.  This reminds me of that quote:

"Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle"

? J.M. Barrie

"When you allow life to flow... without struggle... your Soul is restored."   ~z2z~


You are right, firelight, that many people want to give the "projection" of having a rosy life, when the reality is far from it.

I love that Barrie quote -- so true.


HS: thanks for your thoughts as they give me insight ... especially your comment:

   "Sometimes our best memories occur in the day-to-day monotony of life, not on the holidays or vacations."


I do have a theory - a mistake I made in raising my indifferent children. I was raised in a large family where Dad and Mom fought, the kids were beat and there wasn't much money. I think this was probably a bit common at the time. My generation (I'm 60) started parenthood with the mindset that my kids will have everything, including a nice mother. I was so accommodating, they grew up thinking I was a door mat. Think we overdid it and gave too much and now we want something from them we didn't ask for ourselves from them - respect.


So much pain caused by the ones you love. Its heartbreaking to say the least. And I'm sorry for anyone living in this nightmare.


I don't think there is a single person here who would have chosen this hellish situation. However, I think we find ways to cope. I've been dreading the upcoming holidays for quite some time. I've decided that I am going to send DS a TG card. Then if the silence continues, I'll send him an x-mas card w/a little gift card to whatever thing --- iTunes or whatever --- and just call it done. I've made my holiday plans and they do not include him.


Dedicatedmom.  You hit the nail right on the head.  I think that too.  Respect seems a thing of the past.

Billy Graham said it best:  A child that is allowed to be disrespectful to their parents will not  have true respect
for anyone.