The failure of the parent-child relationship

The commandment to "honor father and mother" is deeply rooted in our society. Even people who no longer have any religious ties feel obligated to show this respect for their parents. But what happens when the relationship is so disturbed that the child breaks off the connection??

Irene Klunder investigated this question for the ARD series "God and the World. The result of her research is shown in the film "You are no longer my mother. When children break off contact", which the ARD will broadcast on Sunday at 17.30 a.m. broadcast.

After she started her work, Irene Klunder was surprised to find that there was hardly anyone who could not tell her a story about her topic. Quite the opposite was the willingness to talk about it in front of the camera. The disruption between children and parents is tainted with a great deal of shame, both for parents and children, the author reports. It is a social taboo. Parents feel they have failed, but children feel bad too.

For her film, Irene Klunder was able to win over Angelika Kindt, a mother who is affected, and Joyce Shintani and Dirk Vogel, a daughter and a son. Angelika Kindt received, as she says today, a dismissal by e-mail from her daughter Maya five years ago. She can't understand why her daughter broke away from her. A political science major, she published a book last year about what happened to her. With it, she wants to show other affected parents that they are not alone with their pain and grief and reports on her strategy to cope with this situation. After many discussions, musicologist and composer Joyce Shintani broke off regular contact with her mother. From that moment on, she felt better, reports the sensitive woman.

Sensitive film
She grew up in the USA as the daughter of an American mother and a Japanese father. What Joyce could not bear was that her mother is still unwilling to admit that her daughter was sexually abused by her father when she was a little girl. Musician Dirk Vogel broke off contact with his father ten years ago. He came to this decision because he could no longer tolerate the fact that the father had repeatedly shown him that he had no real interest in his son. He only needed him as an audience – at least that's how Dirk Vogel felt.

Irene Klunder has succeeded in making a sensitive film that treats the protagonists with respect. The author, who was awarded the Caritas Journalism Prize Baden-Wurttemberg in January 2011, listens to them, lets them tell their stories and gives them space to describe their pain, their powerlessness and their anger. One senses the calmness and patience with which she approaches these people. The author refrains from taking sides.

Irene Klunder takes on a social taboo, illuminates the problem without slipping into sensationalism or even voyeurism. Affected bystanders, parents and children alike, are given the opportunity to openly discuss their problems. That might give some a chance to keep in touch with each other.

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