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Rev Dr August Abbott
Rev Dr August Abbott, Adult Etiquette Pro
Category: Etiquette
Satisfied Customers: 7627
Experience:  40 yrs: Etiquette teacher,Formal event officiate, announcement author, minister
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FAMILY ETIQUETTE QUESTION: When an immediate family member

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FAMILY ETIQUETTE QUESTION: When an immediate family member (i.e. father / mother / sister / brother ) who is an adult at 21 and decides they do not want to communicate with one or more or even all of their other immediate family members and in essence, "drop out" for a while, the family may not legally have rights to require the member who is dropping out to give an explanation for their shutting off all communications, or to give a time as to when they plan to re-emerge and begin communicating again. But in the court of family love, consideration, and proper treatment of one another, cannot an immediate family member at least expect some kind of explanation for the dropping out or a timetable for the drop-out's re-emergence? In this situation, the 21 year old wants to explore their new powers as a full-grown adult and believes this allows them to do "anything I want to do" as long as it is not illegal. So they believe they owe not one scintilla of gratitude to their parents who committed their lives to rearing and supporting this child, and such ingratitude extends to their feeling they have no appreciable obligation to explain to immediate family anything about where they are, their well-being, or any other detail about their life when they have dropped out without explanation. Is this correct or justifiable behavior on any level when there has been no abuse of the 21 year old growing up and only love & support. The 21 year old has suffered from AD/HD their entire life which could have an impact on their personality and view of themselves as to their place in the world or within any group as a "family".

Hello again and thank you for your patience. You always present such a common sense approach to situations and intelligent deductions. Unfortunately, the 'human factor' is a wild card that doesn't follow common sense or, I'm afraid, intelligence. This you know and it's being proven with this 21 year old adult-child.

You need to take a moment to reflect at how sure you were about oh so many things when you were 21. How incredibly smart you thought you were and how you knew the answers to questions no one ever asked. Why, at 21 didn't we all know the simple, absolutely workable solution to pretty much all of the worlds problems? Oh the things we didn't know we didn't know.

Like this adult-child had to fall a lot before he figured out how those chubby legs worked; like he used the wrong words and cute mispronunciations to communicate before he learned how to really talk; like he had to suffer through the slings and arrows his peers threw for whatever reasons and he surely thought his life as he knew it was over and yet, there he is, out the door without a look back and seemingly without regard to the same people who got him up on those chubby legs, taught him how to communicate and supported him through the tough times.

And you have to let him go just like you have gone through your own life. We didn't choose to be here; we had parents who made the choice to bring us here. So it's they who owe us a living, so to speak, until such time that we are old enough to be on our own. Families have to trust that they raised their children right and even though there's a period of seeming ingratitude or disregard, all we can do is wait (for them to come to their senses?).

Sometimes it may never happen, for whatever reason(s), but that's not the norm. Let him work out whatever he needs to work out. Let him age a little more and learn that he's not as smart as he thinks he is. Some of us come to that realization sooner than others; some - never.

In the meantime, don't push or pull. Send a card on holidays; make a phone call on special occasions to

share a story and always make it clear he's missed, would be so welcome at any event or even just to drop in for no reason.

Trust not so much in him right now, but in yourselves.

So the bot***** *****ne is that you're right to feel how you feel and even more so his parents; however, he can't be forced to fit a mold that right now he's clearly making a break from. Carry on as usual, resist the urge to call him out on the carpet and just wait.

It's really all you can do.

P.S. - warmest regards ***** ***** mom and those struggling with the inexplicable behavior of this youngster

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you for your well-written and considerate response which came more as advice how to handle the situation rather than understood rules of Etiquette, if there is any body of knowledge that establishes a standard for etiquette between family members. I have already backed off in attempting to have any more contact with my son who decided to start snubbing me without warning, without opportunity to even discuss why, but truly just power-tripping after he had done the same to his older sister 3 months prior and is now indiscriminantly continuing such treatment to others in the family that don't deserve it. He has bitten the hand that feeds him and will soon learn the consequences. He is hiding behind the laws of government, so anxious to exercise whatever new powers or freedoms he has gained at turning 21, and proclaims he owes me no warning or explanation for cutting off all communications with me after a lifetime of positive and loving relations, albeit mostly separated by distance after divorce when he was 4 years old. I even went so far as to change the laws in my state to make visitation by webcam an automatic additional option to standard in-person visitation schedules so as to end the campaign of denigration my Ex had brought against me, illegally denying all my visitation by telephone or in person (Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS.) I discovered webcam visitation to be the compromise my Ex could live with and that effectively ended my son's PAS but I also visited in person whenever I could, literally sending over 80% of what I made for my children's support which at least my son, never appreciated. After emancipation at 18, there there were no custody orders to mandate visitation but still we continued for 3 years in good relations until this past year where he fell out of good relations, either alienating himself or via my Ex and her very abusive, drunken and profane Paramour, both of whom did all they could to thwart my son's good relations with me, and I believe it has once again, worked. But my son was hiding behind laws of government to say he owed me no warnings and no explanations for dropping out and disappearing. And while on that score, he may be accurate, I knew there was the court of common decency and proper treatment of loved ones who would rule differently that his dropping out without explanation or projected time of re-emergence was truly an offense againse another immediate family member, if indeed just a moral offense. And even more so for a young adult studying to be a Youth Pastor with their very expensive private college being paid for in part by his father who he now decided he could cast off without warning or explanation, more likely embarrassed to communicate because he actions made no good sense and he did not want to have to explain his mistake in judgement. So I was not asking here for advice on how to handle him -- I was asking if there were any rules of etiquette within the family which would point to what he was doing was a violation of those rules, and in his field of religion, even a breach of two of God's 10 comandments to not lie and to honor one's parents, neither of which he has done, now decending into libel and slander against me to spread lies about my actions to merely have communications with him, defaming my character to many others in his efforts to turn the attention away from him as the offender and supposedly me as if asking to speak with him were a breach of law or "harassment", and it is not. So as per the rules of etiquette within the family, has he broken any in this exchange if only a moral offense but not a criminal offense?

Unfortunately, the rules of etiquette do not specifically address familial behavior proprieties; however, you're right that he is violating one of the rules that as a youth pastor or as anyone professing to uphold the teachings of both Abraham and Jesus: Honor thy father and thy mother.

These are not the 'ten suggestions', they are commandments and they do not have 'except for' wiggle room or legal precedent exceptions. As a legal, degreed (not internet) minister, I stress the three easiest words to say and hardest words to live up to: "no matter what". Do the right thing... no matter what. Honor your father and mother... no matter what, and so on. The "no matter what" means - no matter what the other person is doing or saying or threatening or has done or might do. So it doesn't matter if you were the worst father ever, if this young man is professing to live an honorable and faithful life, he is failing; he is being dishonest with himself first and everyone around him, whether related or not.

One cannot be dishonest 'just a little bit' and it's alright. Even if no one else knows about the dishonesty every time he presents himself as a pious man, he lies again.

So with regard to etiquette I'm afraid he is simply displaying bad form by being closed mouthed as to why he's made this questionable and mean spirited decision; however, his biggest transgression is hypocrisy.

That said, sadly, morality cannot be legislated.

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