A December 2021 article on the BBC Family Tree website showed up on my Twitter feed this morning. There is a growing phenomenon of adult children selecting to detach from their parents. This is beyond estrangement or discordance. In the UK, estimates are that 1 in 10 people have a permanent rift with a family member over Brexit. In several studies in America(Cornell, Wisconsin and Stanford in California). 1 in 4 of those surveyed reported irreconcilable differences with a family member. The adult children cut off their parents and the rift originates over differing values (if no due to blatant abuse). So, you don’t like your parents’ choice of candidates or their opinion about the Department of Justice or their intellectual laziness about climate issues or Russia invading Ukraine. This is a reason to divorce a parent?
It seems deeper than this. And more rigid. For generations, the young have challenged the old. New ways and new thinking supplant the old. Imagine the generation that first proved the earth was ROUND and their parents were doggedly committed to the flat world view. So, the hippies challenged their prim, middle class suburbanite parents. And then the hippies became parents and invested in 401K and start-ups and became millionaires. Their kids now blame them for all that ills the planet. greed and capitalism run amok. This is normal generation outrage and disgust. But we’ve entered a new level of friction.
Maybe we’ve leveled up on everything. We don’t just fight with our parents and roll our eyes – we amputate them from out lives. The earth isn’t suffering from an El Nino but ever-accelerating climate change that’s headed for a crisis. Its not just litter but there is a patch of garbage floating in the pacific that is so huge, it is altering the temperature of the ocean and the currents of the deep seas.
Humans have exponentially accelerated change and it is at a speed we cannot accommodate or adjust. So, just amputate. We cannot figure out how to feel or love or forgive or enjoy or truly, deeply, genuinely KNOW ourselves, much less other people who are in our closest and most intimate circles. So, jettison them away and collect new, superficial, easy, kiddie-pool associations. Right?
Don’t do what is hard. Do what is easy, right?
I hear in this discourse the call to follow the harder path. It is a paradox. The harder path – to love, forgive, accept, trust, remain open-hearted and vulnerable – is ultimately the better path, the reward, the blessing. Nothing truly good, worthy, valuable, cherished, is EASY. Ever. To grow a human being, it takes 40 weeks. And then a lifetime.
If some alien species did an National Geographic special on the human creature. Our courtship, mating rituals, nesting, birthing and the care of our infants, toddlers and children. How we function as a herd, the aliens would observe that we – as a species – never stop tending to our offspring. That we have favoritism and acknowledgement of those to whom we are blood connected. And it is complicated. And remarkable. And spectacular.