The Average Member of Estranged Parents' Forums
On forums for estranged parents, the average poster is:
- Female. Many forums are entirely female, and forums with male members rarely have more than one or two, total.
- Aged 55 to 70. A significant minority are 70 and above. Older members are more likely to drop in, ask a question, and leave rather than becoming regular commenters. There's also a significant and active minority aged 45-55.
- White, Christian, and U.S.-born, with a sizable contingent from the rest of the English-speaking world.
- Working class to middle class
- Has 1-3 children aged 18-45, with a significant minority of children under 18 and a smaller minority aged 45-55.
- Divorced, often more than once. The divorce rate is much higher than average.
- Remarried, often more than once. The current record is six remarriages.
- One or more previous husbands were abusive, but the current husband is not.
- May have spent several years as a single mother.
- Parents were/are abusive, with particular focus on the mother.
- May have been estranged from her mother earlier in life, but is not currently estranged, or was not estranged at the time of the mother's death.
- Had/has a close relationship to her mother.
- Has not been to therapy, and is distrustful of therapists in general.
The "chain of pain" is strongly in evidence. Abusive parents gave birth to abused daughters, who bonded deeply with their mothers and stayed by their mother's side in adulthood despite ongoing abuse. The daughters found themselves drawn to abusive men and recreated the abusive home of their childhood. However, they vowed to be better parents than their own parents were. Although they thought they succeeded, their own sons and daughters now accuse them of abuse. As Rosa, a commenter on the Love, Joy, Feminism blog said,
I do wonder if that's not the key for an awful lot of parents who are surprised and appalled that their children have grievances with them. If they were beaten down by terrible parenting and never saw themselves having the choice to leave, and they did better by their own kids - less violence, more love and support - they may end up with kids who are able to enforce boundaries and demand respect as adults better than they could themselves.
That could feel terribly unfair - I didn't beat you with a belt, we only spanked! And we required you to do well in school, instead of demanding you drop out and make money for the family. And in return you tell me I was still violent and controlling?
The focus on mothers and daughters is inevitable given the composition of estranged parents' forums. I'm not trying to pin all the blame on the mothers; if anything, the few men who do post appear to be even less stable, more controlling, and more demanding than the women. But the male sample is tiny and the female sample enormous, so it's impossible not to focus on the mothers.
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The analyses on this page are my own opinions and should not be construed as medical advice or statements of absolute fact.