Estranged Parents

of Adult Children

 
 

There seems to be a silent epidemic of adult children who are 'divorcing' their parents and refusing contact with them. Despite having been 'good enough' parents who provided love and support, these parents are suddenly being told: 'I am done with you'. The parents’ trauma is compounded by a lack of knowledge in the professional community and the lack of social support due to the invisibility of the estrangement.

This site is an attempt to help parents in need of information and to provide clinicians  clues about their suffering. The word ‘clues’ is not used lightly as many parents have sought help from clinicians who had never heard of estrangement of adult children and who kept assuming the parents were at fault.


Estranged adult children are individuals who all of a sudden do not respond to email messages, do not return phone calls and stop coming over. When the parents attempt to visit and have a face-to-face talk, the door is slammed in their face or the police called.

In the great majority of cases, there was no sexual abuse involved, there was no estrangement from either parent during the childhood years, nor was there any safety concern. The great tragedy is that most parents thought they had a good relationship with their adult child and are completely taken by surprise by the estrangement. The child also cuts himself or herself off from the other siblings in various degrees.


Clinicians may be familiar with teenagers or children who have refused to see a divorced parent and continue to do so in their adult life. Often, the blamed parent is the one who initiated the divorce or is the one who moved away to start a new life. On the other hand, adult children who estrange themselves may not make divorce the issue.


When a child dies, there is an announcement in the papers, at school, at church or at work. Friends and family bring food, write condolence notes, observe rituals. When a child is estranged, nobody knows about it unless the parent chooses to share that information. Because in the beginning the parent is so stressed with lack of sleep and grief, it is easier not to tell anyone that a child is rejecting one’s own parent. Some parents keep the estrangement private; others try to share the situation with their friends or colleagues, too often met with “Why don’t you try...?” meaning “What did YOU do?”

In fact, many parents will say that their child was brought up to be considerate of others, respectful of parents and generous. They will add that there were no obvious signs, while the child was growing up, of the estrangement to come: he or she was not different from the other siblings in the family regarding love or consideration of others.





 

For parents who hurt, for clinicians trying to help their journey.

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