After years of nurturing and providing to your son, now the time has come where he finally lives on his own. The first few months were easy. You are catching up with your son’s new life on a weekly basis. But after a while, you start wondering, “Why my son doesn’t call me anymore?”
Not getting any call from your grown son can feel like an estrangement and break your heart. While it is totally understandable that you feel the importance to catch up with your children, sometimes you just don’t get enough of it.
In today’s world of instant and constant messaging, it appears that you’re not the only one who suffers from a lack of calls from their children. Yes, it does seem unfair.
Especially when you try to reach out and your son rarely picks up the phone. Strangely, when you invite yourself to his place, he seems to be always busy with his cellphone.
Why is that?
This article will cover the reason why your adult child doesn’t call you as often as he used to, and how to fix it.
Why Do Children Abandon Their Parents?
Abandonment seems like a harsh term to describe your son when he doesn’t keep in touch with you after a long time of absence. However, the feeling of not getting a positive connection from a family member can be damaging to your mental and physical health.
Not picking up phone calls can be a sign of deeply-rooted problems. Or, your son is just busy with bustling daily life.
Alas, it seems unfair that you don’t hear any updates about your loved ones. Even worse when you’re hearing about them from outsiders. It appears bad in the eyes of others, it certainly doesn’t leave any good feelings.
“I wish my son would call me more…”
You are not alone.
People nowadays are easily reachable and accessible by cell phone 24/7. But there are reasons why grown children around the world avoid using this resource to talk to their parents.
Before going into a quick judgment, let’s see what the statistic says about this question below.
How Often Should a Grown Child Call His Mom?
According to research done by CBS in 2016, calling their mothers once a week isn’t enough, say half of all Americans.
Twenty-four percent of Americans think a grown child should call their mom at least a few times a week. The same amount of respondents thinks that they should call at least once a day.
While 35% of Americans think that calling their parents once a week is enough, the other 12% think it is okay to call your mom once a month or less.
Statistics on How Often Should a Grown Child Call His Mom?
|At least once a day||24%|
|A few times a week||24%|
|At least once a week||35%|
|Once a month or less||12%|
In this matter, the grown children are divided into several categories. From your past experiences, inspect which category your child falls into. It is possible that the reason your son doesn’t call you is that you two are expecting two different frequencies.
While your grown child thinks that calling once a month or less is completely okay, you’re expecting him to call at least a few times a week.
This can actually create perspective distortion. You may think your child abandons you because he calls less often and it may feel like he doesn’t call you anymore. While in fact, you two are just not on the same page.
5 Reasons Why Your Adult Child Doesn’t Call
From your perspective, you’ve been a loving parent. In return, your son should call you to check on how you’re doing and make arrangements to see you on the holidays. But instead, your son just stopped communicating with you.
He doesn’t answer your phone calls, emails, or text. And even though he lives close by, you haven’t seen him in months. It makes you wonder, why?
#1 They’re Busy
As parents, it is understandable that you’re distressed when your son has distanced himself from you.
However, the reason behind it could be very simple: he is busy.
Keeping a balance between work, family, and social life drain your son’s energy. The last thing they want to do is calling home and talking to you.
Once they arrive at home, there are duties and responsibilities awaiting them. Whether a partner who needs affection, children who expect quality time, or simply a household chores that should be done.
Apart from that, the reason why you rarely receive a phone call from your son is that he is currently facing problems.
Men tend to withdraw and work things out all by themselves. They’re more private about feelings or emotions. There may be a situation that needs to be sorted out. And these personal issues that need to be resolved often make him self-focused without giving an inch of thought to the feelings of their loved ones.
#2 They Don’t Get What They Need From You
Adult children face a lot of things nowadays, from stressful work, relationship issues, a friendship that hits a rough child, to crippling debt and mortgage payment.
When your grown son is in one or more of these situations, he may reach out to you and talk about it.
But beware, according to Psychology Today, he may not be looking for any advice. Instead, they simply want their pain acknowledged and receive motherly or fatherly support. Being understood and able to express their feelings without getting any judgment.
Your child comes to you for comfort, not advice. If you cannot deliver that and keep giving advice when you’re not asked, it could be the reason why he doesn’t call you anymore. At least until his problem is sorted out.
#3 Repeating Cycle
Now, let’s start with you. The reason why your son doesn’t call you anymore could be one of the following cycles that keep repeating.
- You’re a high maintenance parent. This means that you are a needy parent who needs a heavy dose and constant love and attention.
- Tech-gap. This might not be entirely your fault. The younger generation has shifted the way of communication from calling into texting, email, voice mail, and posting on social media. If you’re not using any of those, you’re missing a perfectly delightful way to talk to your child.
- Annoying habits. Some grown children have to deal with their parents’ annoying habits such as negative comments, ignoring boundaries, crossing a line, criticism, and favoritism.
- It’s always about you. Did you only talk about yourself when he called? Did you get defensive when he expressed his feelings?
If those possible reasons keep happening from time to time and you’ve done nothing to prevent the cycle, it is quite self-explanatory that your child does not want to talk to you anymore.
#4 Unmet Expectation
A common complaint that grown sons have is that their parents are still treating them like children and constantly trying to tell them what to do.
Another is that their parents are intrusive. Mentally, or financially. Sometimes, what parents perceive as emotional closeness is viewed by their children as parental neediness.
Often, when parents are in financial distress, they turn into their children for help. Yes, once or twice is not a problem. It starts becoming an issue when parents are showing dependency and relying on their child’s income to solve their financial problems.
In a world that is more complex and demands great effort to overcome challenges, grown sons or daughters expect parental advice and help, not the other way around.
Your grown son needs more mental support than ever when he is facing a world that is constantly changing and giving him pressure to perform.
#5 It’s Not Your Fault
I write down this reason because I know that parents aren’t always the ones to blame.
“My son doesn’t call me anymore, what have I done wrong?”
Well, perhaps this is not about you as an individual. It is very likely that your son has distanced himself not only from you but also from the rest of the family.
Perhaps, it wasn’t caused by anything you have said or done. When your grown son is hardly reachable, chances are he is currently facing some issues.
Most daughters like to discuss with their parents when a problem arises. On the other hand, men tend to withdraw themselves from family gatherings and try to work things out by themselves.
It doesn’t mean that your son abandons you or doesn’t love you anymore. He just made himself unavailable for the time being and tried to resolve the issues. And it is not your fault.
Emotionally Distant Children
The reason I wrote this point down is that I want you, as parents, to have a wide perspective on this issue. Not only is a rare phone call caused by cognitive dissonance. Your son may not call you because he is emotionally distant.
Some children are doing this by choice because they want to remove themselves from an emotional situation.
This can be the case with your grown son when he is greatly upset about something that has been done or said to him. As a result, he chooses not to engage with you or other family members.
Your son may detach their emotions due to traumatic events, such as parents’ negligence or abusive upbringing.
When your grown son has been through any major traumatic events in their lives, he may develop emotional detachment as a survival mechanism.
According to Healthline, children require a lot of emotional connection from their parents or caregivers. When it’s not fulfilled, children may stop expecting it and begin to turn off their emotional receptors.
This can lead to depressed mood, inability to show or share emotions, and behavior problems.
If you’re afraid that this might be the case with your grown son, talk to healthcare providers. They may be able to see when your son is not emotionally available to others and start offering treatment.
What You Do When Your Child Won’t Talk to You
After taking some time to reflect, you may now be able to identify what causes the problems. If you don’t get any ideas behind the reason your son distances himself from you, don’t worry. Here are 7 steps you can do to repair the parent-child relationship when your son doesn’t want to talk to you.
#1 Set an Agreed-Upon Expectation
Verbalizing your expectations can help address the unspoken things. Having a meaningful conversation about emotional needs and what it means to stay connected may bring greater results in the long run.
Stay non-judgmental and find a private time to work together. Focus on what you need from your son rather than pointing fingers and making a list of what he does or doesn’t do.
Listen to his perspective and give valuable feedback. Be careful with how you voice your emotion and feelings, especially when you disagree with what your son is saying.
The Atlantic gives an example when you are focusing on what you did for him in the past, this can be perceived as rejection and denial. Your son may think that you’re not interested in hearing what he thinks.
Rather, try to elaborate his statement with questions.
For example, if he is saying, “I didn’t think you were there for me,” do not resist it. Instead, validate his feelings and then follow your sentence with questions. Take this for example, “I am sorry to hear that. Can you tell me what makes you feel that way?”
This will develop into a positive and meaningful conversation where both of you start talking about emotions and unexpressed feelings. From there, you can work your way up to get on the same page about expectations.
#2 Communicate Your Needs to Your Son
Some parents assume that when it comes to children’s duty to their parents, grown sons already know what to do.
Well, guess what? They don’t.
When he is genuinely overwhelmed by responsibilities–job, spouse, children–he does not have time to put you into their schedule. Let alone asking what you need.
Some grown children assume that you will call them when you need them. Zero calls mean zero problems are happening at home. But it’s not always true, is it?
Communicating your needs to your son can be tremendously helpful. Especially if you need constant updates about your son’s life, family, or his children. Telling them that you need to see your grandchildren can also help your son to put you in his schedule. Offer what you can do to get your needs fulfilled.
Now, your son may not be open to this idea initially. But the more you refrain from communication and play the waiting game, nothing is magically going to happen. You have to make a change in this relationship and it starts now.
#3 Take the Responsibility to Reach Out
“I haven’t heard much about that one son of mine. I wonder how he’s doing. Maybe I should call… or maybe not?”
Along with communicating your expectations and needs, parents need to be the ones who initiate conversations. Separate yourself from most parents who think the duty of maintaining the relationship lies on the children’s shoulders. Do your part and be the first one to reach out.
Catching up with parents can be the last thing in your son’s mind when he has responsibilities. Especially when your son already has a family of his own, your position as parents will slowly deteriorate if you are always waiting at the end of the line.
Nurture the family relationship you have with your son and his family as you would with a close friend. Keep in touch, spend quality time together, and try to connect.
Dedicate yourself to resume the valuable ties between parents and children. Don’t let it wilt over time.
#4 Refrain From Complaints & Guilt Trips
“Why don’t you call us anymore? Is a simple check-up call too much to ask?”
Instead of uttering those words, you can try to construct your sentences with much softer and caring words. Refrain from complaints and guilt-tripping your grown son by igniting a conversation that shows your love and empathy, rather than anger.
Take a look at this example below.
“We haven’t heard much about you lately and I wonder whether we’ve done or said something to push you away. I know our relationship as a family has been hitting a rough patch and we regret that we weren’t the parents you needed us to be. But we are working on our way to get there and we’d like to hear more from you so we can do better to support you.”
There are many reasons why you haven’t heard anything from your son. Perhaps he’s struggling with addiction and avoiding you is seen as a means to avoid treatment. You don’t want to further the damage by igniting a fire.
#5 Send Enticing Invitations
Inviting your son home for dinner, offering him to take care of his children so he can have private times, or sponsoring his family to a holiday park can be seen as an effort to mend the broken parent-child relationship.
Starting with sentences that acknowledge their struggle and offer a temporary solution can soften the tense situation that makes your son avoid calling.
Here’s an example, “I see that this problem is putting you in a lot of stress. Why don’t you take a break and have downtime while we take care of the kids?”
Even if your son neglects any communication with you, it is worth trying to resume the conversation by offering help. Your offers may go straight into voicemail, but persistence and patience can break the hardest rock.
#6 Respect the Boundaries
As we all know, parents are not entitled to know everything about their grown child and then just decide to take part in it. Some topics are off-limits, such as dating status, religion, physical appearance, finances, even politics.
Every person has different boundaries and it is your child’s job to utter what’s okay and not okay to discuss in a loving and calming way. As a parent, you’re not supposed to perform mind-reading and just happen to know what’s comfortable for your grown son to discuss.
However, not all kids are verbal about asserting boundaries. If you notice that his tone turns sharp around certain subjects and your child repeatedly tries to shut down part of the conversation, then you know that you’ve hit the boundaries.
Some signs could be that he is replying with short sentences, gesturing discomforts, or changing the subjects.
Work together with your kid to determine what topics are safe to create comfortable conversations for everybody.
#7 Keep Going
I know there is going to be a lot of work to be done that requires persistence and patience in order to resume the broken family relationship. I don’t expect you to fix it in a day or two.
Chances are, it won’t be easy. At some point, all you can do is keep going.
Nevertheless, hold the door open for your son to return. Make yourself more available to him and his family. Show a willingness to be involved in your son’s life.
Just keep moving forward. Find ways to be together. Whether it’s family gatherings, social events, or as simple as morning brunch.
When the time comes and you do spend time together, pay close attention to the dynamics. Put your effort on noticing what’s making him laugh and smile, and do more of that. Focus on what you do that triggers good feedback from your son.
Abandonment can be a result of major traumatic events, parents’ negligence or abusive upbringing that manifests into a child’s mind. This perpetuates the perspective that parents estrangement by the children is justified and further causes a distant relationship between the two.
Or, simply because you as a parent have said or done things that hurt your grown child.
As a result, your son doesn’t call you anymore. He doesn’t want to get in touch with you. Not with a call, text, email, or even a mention in social media.
Take these simplified steps to fix the wounded parent-child relationship and I wish you a reconciliation that will tighten the ties.
- Statistics say that 12% of adult children in the United States agree that they should call their parents once a month or less. Understand the statistics and see which categories your child falls into.
- Identify the reason why your son doesn’t call you anymore. It can range from a point where he is simply busy, unmet expectations, you’re not providing what he needs, repeating bad cycles and habits, up to the fact it is simply not your fault.
- Remember that your child might be struggling with emotional issues that need professional help. Avoiding any contacts can be his way to stay under your radar and avoid treatment.
- Start working on repairing this valuable relationship. Communicate your needs and expectations. Work together to make sure that both of you are on the same page.
- Be the one who initiates calls. The duty of maintaining parent-child relationships is not only in your child’s shoulder. Both of you need to do the work in order to make the family relationship work.
- Refrain from complaints and any guilt-trips you’ve been keeping at the back of your mind. Instead, construct your sentence to deliver your love, empathy, and care to your son. He may not instantly open up about the thing that’s bugging him. But he will slowly start explaining what’s wrong.
- Invite your son and his family for dinner in a restaurant. Offer help to babysit the kids while so he can have downtime. Be creative on what you can do to get him to talk to you.
- Discuss what topics are comfortable for everybody to talk about. Your son may not say anything. So, notice if his tone turns sharp at certain subjects or he tries to shut down parts of conversations. Work together to assert boundaries.
- There is lots of work to be done. Your son will not turn to you overnight. Find Keep going and find ways to be together. Pay close attention to the dynamics and hold the door open for him when he is ready to mend the relationship.