Cases of parental abuse and irreconcilable differences in terms of values are often behind this phenomenon
The racist comment at Sunday lunch was the last straw for entrepreneur Tatiana*, 31, for choosing to walk away from a part of her family. I am married to a black man and I have a black daughter. It wouldn’t be right to expose them to live with someone who is prejudiced just because that person is my father,” she criticizes, acknowledging that other issues are already weakening the bond between her and her father. He is very religious and very strict. She does not deal well with certain choices of mine, such as Cut my hair and tattoo.At the same time as he was behaving ethically at home, I discovered, as a teen, that he was cheating on my mother.Since then, our history has been one of many conflicts and disagreements.And what was no longer good became unsustainable after the birth of my daughter. , who is now 8 years old,” he comments.
In the context of a relationship that has been gradually deteriorating for years, Tatiana in 2019 decided to block her father on social media and avoid contact with him at family gatherings. I confronted my father after hearing the racist comment in front of my husband and daughter. And when I said I wouldn’t admit to this kind of situation, he retaliated vociferously over power, turning what could have been a conversation into an all-out brawl. Then I understood that maintaining relations with him would only stress me more and more. I even spoke to him again, on the phone, when I explained my reasons. After that, we never spoke again.”
Although there is no definitive quantitative research on the recurrence of stories like Tatiana’s – where adult children choose separation within the family because they believe that by being away from their parents they will maintain their mental health – this phenomenon appears to be increasingly common in Western countries. In fact, it is an event so common that there is actually a term used specifically to describe this type of experience. This is the English expression “break”, which can be translated as “divergence” and which is generally used to say about situations in which a person breaks up or begins to avoid their social group and to speak specifically of individuals who, in order to remain emotionally stable, cut off contact with one or more of relatives.
This phenomenon was detailed by Carl Andrew Belmer in Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How To Mend Them. Cornell University, in the United States, conducted a study in which it was concluded that more than one in four Americans have distanced themselves according to a report by the BBC, a state-owned media company in the United Kingdom, a similar study was conducted by Stand Alone, a British organization Dedicated to family disintegration, which has reached conclusions similar to those of Pelmer: According to the survey, the phenomenon affects one in five families in that region, and the article also tells that scientists and therapists in Australia and Canada also claim to have observed a “silent epidemic” of family disintegration. .
It is clear that estrangement is also becoming more common in Brazil – despite the country’s culture of delaying children from leaving their parents’ home, even with their own income. In addition to being culturally rooted, this extended stay likely reflects a social context in which emotional and financial independence takes longer to establish. But, even in the face of these factors, people face the inconveniences, challenges, and pain of leaving their parents’ home before they are fully ready. And these people do it knowing that this situation will promote more mental health — even if it is not an easy and safe path,” analyzes clinical psychologist Samuel Silva, adding that the topic was brought up by two of his patients in psychotherapy sessions held last Monday. -market.
“In general, the inconsistency of worldviews and the impossibility of dialogue and respect among the people who share them stimulate this voluntary isolation,” notes Samuel Silva, arguing that it is not necessarily a problem in which family members think differently. He notes that “the problem lies in the authoritarian imposition of these views, because it generates violence and prevents the construction of an identity of its own.”
The psychologist believes that the concept of emotional detachment can also help in understanding how this process occurs. “People who identify their families as places of exclusion and violence can initiate a self-reported process of emotional separation from these people so that they do not suffer so much when the time comes to effectively break that bond. It ends up as a psychological defense mechanism,” he adds.
Another reason that frequently leads to estrangement is the occurrence of emotional, verbal, physical or sexual abuse by the father or mother. According to researcher Carl Andrew Pelmer, divorce is another frequent influencing factor when a child, as an adult, is pushed to choose a side or begin to deal with conflicts—whether financial or emotional.
Social psychologist Claudio Paixao Anastasio de Paula adds that differences in cultural, political, and religious values also seem to contribute significantly to distances—particularly in the context of the increase in polarization and the re-emergence of conservatism observed in recent years. “I note that there is an effort to avoid these distances in terms of strategies, such as deliberating about not touching on some sensitive topics. However, I note that these alternatives have not been very successful in many homes,” he comments.
Rethink the family
In addition to direct drivers, there are also broader social transformations that may be behind this phenomenon. A case for building a less romantic understanding of what it means to be a family.
“The belief that the family, no matter what, is a space for love and acceptance is highly toxic and is dismantled. From this belief, many people end up succumbing to abusive family relationships and feel guilty for thinking about questioning or severing these bonds. Love and respect are not guaranteed. Because you are in a family relationship, because these traits have to be built and lived through in daily chores,” assesses psychologist Samuel Silva.
In the midst of discussions about the romanticization of relationships within the family, there are also currents that suggest expanding the concept of the family. A line of thought that Silva adheres to.
Some time ago, a treatment client said that relatives are not family members. I agree. A bond of blood and/or responsibility does not necessarily constitute a healthy family relationship. To be a family, there has to be respect, care, sharing, affection, support, growth… I like to think that home is where we feel happy. The family, then, is the one who brings home. It’s not about blood, it’s about taking care. For example, LGBTQIAP+ people often experience exclusion from their families of origin and find homes in other people. The idea that our friendships are the family we choose is a great truth and a wonderful path to our well-being,” he says.
Fees and bonuses. Silva believes that an important advantage of this process is the exercise of independence and self-love. “Removing ourselves from what makes us sick is a liberating and courageous attitude toward good mental health,” he suggests. However, he understands that experiencing estrangement is not without consequences. “Perhaps the biggest loss is the feeling that I don’t belong. A person may feel that his or her origins no longer exist and experience an existential void. In this case, it is good to remember: where we come from, but more importantly what we build from our origin and the paths by which Take it from here,” he concludes.
on their skin
Considerations of Psychologist Samuel Silva, Specialist in LGBTQIAP+ Public Service, Dialogue with Nurse Marcus*’s Experience, 24. “I decided to move away from my father when I realized that there was no respect between us and his comments were toxic to me. Although we are a family, I understand that he If a person doesn’t respect me and my space, I have to put an end,” she says. “What prompted me to choose to walk away was the fact that my parents did not provide me with emotional support, as well as attitudes of prejudice and discrimination, which were major clashes between us,” he says.
“I’ve taken these issues to therapy and tried to deal with it in different ways, but I feel he should also go to therapy, but he doesn’t get out of prejudice. None of the approaches I developed with my psychiatrist worked, so I walked away to keep myself,” says the nurse. Recently, he has come back to try to get closer to his parents, which has given him the opportunity to closely follow his life. “In January, I decided to open up to him and introduce him to the person I loved, but he said that he was not ready and that he would prefer not to know about my love life, and that he would prefer not to meet my boyfriend,” she laments.
Although he believed that alienation was good for his mental health, Marcus maintains that for him, that decision remains difficult to maintain. “It’s bad ‘not having a father.’ I like to share in my daily life the anguish and happiness as I do with my mother. But just thinking about his rudeness and the weight of his judgment makes me turn away,” he says.