Monday, April 26, 2010

Absent children?

I just read this on "Motherlode," the parenting blog of The New York Times: "A recent poll in Great Britain found that one in 10 adults speak by phone with his or her mother just once every four weeks... Why are grown children so absent?"

If grown children speak so infrequently to their moms, think about how little they speak to their dads! After all, we know that in both Great Britain and the United States, it is more often fathers who are absent from their children's lives than mothers.

So, at least with fathers, my guess is that absent fathers breed "absent" children. Makes sense. But what is the explanation for children being "absent" from their moms' lives?

Interestingly, we know from research that father absence can also play a role. Bear with me...

Studies have found that children whose parents are married, have, on average, better relationships with both their mothers and their fathers. Further, children of divorce, when they become adults, are less close to both their parents than children whose parents remained married. How about elder care? Yep - children whose parents divorced are less likely to offer their elderly parents co-residence.

So, it seems that at least part of the issue with children absent from their moms' lives is that their fathers were absent from theirs (in the case of my illustration, as a result of divorce, which impacts about 1 million children per year).

This may sound like a stretch. What do you think?


  1. I would agree that divorce leads to more absent children and fewer interactions with each parent individually. The impact of divorce ripples for years worth of consequences that few appreciate at the time it happens. I think more emphasis should be placed on working together to heal relationship wounds early and work everyday to strengthen them.

    Thanks for sharing this, Vinnie.


  2. You know, until my dad got sick, I was an absent child - and my parents are still married. But, I was never really close to them, so it was just an extension of my current relationship with them. I agree with Steve - I think divorce could definitely affect that.

  3. "Children live what they learn." If they learned to be absent, to have poor relationships and not to stay in touch with family; Guess what they will do when they are older?


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