Adults ‘four times more likely to be estranged from their fathers than mothers’

(Alamy/PA)
(Alamy/PA)

Adults are over four times more likely to be estranged from their fathers than their mothers, according to new research.

A new study found 26 per cent of fallouts involved fathers, compared to just six percent with mothers.

The phenomenon can be partially explained by traditional parental roles, with men being the breadwinners and women looking after the household, the study claims.

Overall adult children were less likely to be cut off from their mothers as they had spent most time with them.

Lead author Professor Rin Reczek, a sociologist at The Ohio State University, said: “Mothers are the primary caregivers to children in our society.

“So it makes sense they are more likely to stay close with their children.”

Daughters were 22 percent more likely than sons to be estranged from their fathers, but slightly less likely to be cut off from their mothers.

Professor Reczek said: “So daughters are more likely to stay connected with their mothers and sons were more likely to stay connected to their fathers.”

But distancing is only temporary for most with 81 and 69 percent of estrangements with mothers and fathers ending respectively.

The first study of its kind suggests family feuds are more complicated - and less permanent – than often assumed.

Prof Reczek said: “One of the messages is estrangement between adult children and their parents is fairly common - especially with fathers. But these estrangements tend to end eventually.”

The findings are based on an analysis of 8,495 mother-child and 8,119 father-child relationships in the US spanning 40 years.

Parents were interviewed regularly from 1979 to 2018. From 1994 their adult children reported on closeness. Those with no or very little contact counted as estranged.

A variety of relevant factors including gender, race and ethnicity and sexuality were identified, said Prof Reczek.

Separations often occurred soon after the children became adults. The average age from mothers and fathers was 26 and 23 respectively.

Professor Reczek said: “Early adulthood is full of transitions such as college, new jobs, marriage, parenthood, all of which can help lead to estrangement or, in some cases, protect against it.”

Adult children who had been married and divorced were more likely to be estranged compared to never-married adults.

Having their own children reduced risk of estrangement from fathers, but not from mothers.

Parents who were older and employed - and fathers with higher levels of education - were less likely to have separations from their children.

Professor Reczek said: “It may be when parents are employed and fathers are highly educated, they can provide more support to their adult children and that puts less strain on the parent-child ties.”

Adult children may be less likely to be estranged from older parents because they require caregiving.

A variety of relevant factors including gender, race and ethnicity and sexuality were identified, said Professor Reczek.

Black adults were 27 per cent less likely to be estranged from their mothers than their white counterparts.

It’s in line with research showing black mothers are a uniquely stable feature in US family life, say the researchers.

But lack and Latino adults are more likely to report an estranged relationship with their fathers than white adults.

The study is published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.