Next: Shouldn't Facebook make it easier to stay in touch?» Also, Coleman says, the high divorce rate means fewer children see themselves as part of an unbreakable family unit.
"I think partly it's due to my decision to let him live his life, and partly to his own understanding and growth.
"I spent time with him around the holidays," Deborah says with a broad grin.
"Looking back on it," she says now, "I saw that while I was going through my divorce, Marcus needed more emotional support than I was able to give." She called Marcus and apologized, and he responded.
"I seem to have moved forward with my son," she says.
For reasons she still doesn't fully understand, Marcus stayed with his father on school breaks and seemed to call his mother only to chastise her.
"I'd be walking down the street with tears streaming down my face, cellphone to my ear, listening to Marcus telling me all the ways I'd failed him," she recalls.
"I'm afraid I'll never see my only child again." Experts say that Deborah's worry is more and more common.
"In my therapy practice, I've seen a significant increase in parents whose adult children have cut them off," says Mark Sichel, author of Healing From Family Rifts and a licensed clinical social worker in Manhattan. D., received so many requests for help with intergenerational conflict that he launched a six-session seminar, available via telephone or Web, for estranged parents.
And in that moment when I told them my truth and stood up for myself as a man — that's when I became an adult." But even if a family splintering is fed by a child's immaturity, experts agree that the best way for parents to facilitate reconciliation is to change their own behavior and take responsibility for their own mistakes.
(See box "When Your Kid 'Divorces' You" for additional tips.) When Deborah Jackson was able to do that, it opened a crack in the door her son had slammed in her face.
"Today, people decide whether to remain close or distanced based on how immediately fulfilling the relationship is.