The word family seems to be written in to each of our minds as something that is supposed to be positive, supportive, and safe. I don’t ever remember being told or schooled on what a family is or even what my family should look or feel like. Yet, I have a very strong and lasting feeling of what I wish it was or want it to be. I think everyone has that same experience. Family estrangement is never factored into anyone’s model of possible outcomes. But it happens and more often than we think. It happens more often then it should.
Reality is that families come in many different sizes, personalities, mental and physical health and levels of cohesion. How many children and how far apart they are born makes a difference on the level of energy the parents have for each child. Whether the parents are young and not ready for a child, or if they really are very independent and never wanted children matters for the amount of safety the child will feel. When the child is an adult, he or she may decide it was unsafe enough to not return or stay connected to the parent.
Mental or physical health of the parents or child factor into how the members will attach or connect with one another during the life of the family. A parent, child or other sibling or extended family member can be estranged because of mental illness. This may be the ill person’s doing or the innocent family member who estranges because they don’t know how to cope with the illness. A child with mental illness may either cling and even use a safe parent or cease to communicate with a parent altogether because of the illness.
Sometimes children estranged from a parent because the other parent, or other relative including a step parent, coercively denigrate a targeted parent. Sometimes this outcome is the opposite of what you may anticipate. A loving parent may be rejected in preference for the parent that was more narcissistic. A child wants both parents to love them so they strive for the lost love from the narcissistic parent rejecting the safe parent.
More to come, but here is another good resource to help you understanding the devastating effect of Family Estrangements. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/domestic-intelligence/201512/the-persistent-pain-family-estrangement