Being estranged from your parents sucks — but it happens.
Reddit user u/bridge2235 recently asked, "People who have adult children that don't talk to you, why do you think that is?" Many responses were sad and upsetting but often completely necessary.
1. "It's because I fucked up and neglected the relationship. I wasn't the father she deserved. It's that simple."
2. "Mom here. My 23-year-old hasn't spoken to me in four years. It was completely my fault. I've struggled with addiction (alcohol), and I was bad for most of her childhood. I hope to be able to apologize to her someday. But I completely understand and respect her decision."
3. "My adult children (25 and 23) do not communicate with their father at all. Long story short, he remarried about a week after our divorce was final, and he and his new wife went on to have children of their own. Over time, his visits with the children became more infrequent and stressful due to his wife's distaste for me and my children. He has had no contact with the kids in over three years; his previous attempt was four years before that. My youngest says he will never forgive his father for replacing us all with a new family and forgetting us. The oldest says it's just not worth chasing someone who has no interest. Personally, I'm sad and angry on their behalf. He divorced me, not them."
4. "My stepdaughter is an addict and mentally ill. Her son was placed in our custody by the state three years ago at 13 months old, and she has never made an effort to regain custody. Her rights were terminated last year, and we adopted him last month when the state gave us the choice. She has hated us since he was placed here and has convinced herself that we stole her child. She's only contacted my husband when she wants money, which he won't give her, making her hate us more."
5. "A woman at church requests prayers every week for her children to speak to her again. She claims to have been the best mother, and one by one, all three of her adult children and, thus, her grandchildren stopped speaking with her. But she did 'everything right': fed, clothed, and put them through school. Which, to me, sounds like the bare minimum that you're supposed to do as a parent, not 'everything,' but okay. I got to know her, and she is an abusive narcissist and nothing short of pure evil. All the red flags you'd expect are there. But every week, it's 'Pray to Jesus for me, everybody. My evil, ungrateful children.' Blah, blah, blah. I'd like to hope she is just clueless, but I understand she is sick and probably doesn't know how horrible she really is. I feel awful for her kids but am thrilled they were strong enough to break away from that hot mess."
6. "Their dad gave an ultimatum: If they wanted to have a relationship with him, they had to have no contact with me. My middle child agreed to those terms."
7. "I was very deep in resolving my trauma when my kids were growing up. I was often distant and emotionally unavailable. I wasn't the parent they deserved. It is the greatest sorrow of my life; I did to my kids what my mom did to me. I can't be sorry enough."
8. "My daughter went through a traumatic event when she found out her mom was having an affair with a junkie. She was furious at her mom for destroying the family. Her mom flipped out and threatened suicide to our daughter's face, blaming her. At that moment, everything shifted, and our daughter became the nurturer of her mom, who regressed into childhood — a complete switching of roles when my daughter really needed a mom. She couldn't be angry at her mom (fearing she'd kill herself), so I became the target. We talk, but it's so terse and superficial that it's close to noncommunication. I'd like to talk through what happened, even in a therapeutic setting, but my daughter says that's off the table."
9. "I am 39 and rarely talk with my mother anymore. Anytime I do, she has to bring it around to Republican talking points, and no matter how often I change the subject or just express that I hate hearing that shit, she won't fucking stop doing it. I don't think she fully knows how completely impossible it would be for me to ever believe in any of that bullshit. She thinks I'm almost there but just have yet to see the light. She's also wildly paranoid in general and always has ridiculous theories about her neighbors plotting against her that are just so depressing to hear. I tried to be a good adult son with her. I used to call her once a week. I flew out to her city and visited twice yearly, even though she had never visited me in the 20 years I've been on my own, except once when she needed a place to stay for her sister's funeral. She's just completely lost in a world of delusion, paranoia, and narcissism."
10. "My mother started having an affair with my old high school friend after we bailed him out of jail. They started drugging my dad's vodka with Ativan during the affair to make him pass out. I caught them and went to report it to the police. They then contacted my mother, who was a psych doctor, and had me taken away for evaluation and held in a psychiatric facility for 'delusions and threats of violence.' I was there until my dad collapsed, broke seven ribs, and tore some ligaments from the fall. I begged the people in the psych ward to inquire with his doctor about doing a toxicology report so they'd see unprescribed Ativan in his system. Sure enough, he was drugged. I got released from the psych ward the next morning. I threw my mom and her new boyfriend out. I got my dad sober. My mom ran away with her boyfriend, and I later found out he beat her to within an inch of life. But my mom is scared to press charges because she thinks he'll come back."
11. "I had post-traumatic stress disorder and didn't deal with it. In short, I was a shitty dad."
12. "I don't talk to my parents because they don't make an effort to talk to me. Why should I give them the time?"
13. "My sister doesn't speak to one of her kids. They have gone through the spurts of not talking to her. She expects too much of people. She's very entitled. She doesn't follow through on commitments. (She still owes me a wedding quilt she started — I've been married for 43 years now. ) She's always the person who is hard done by. Nothing works out for her. She wants to be taken care of, that's all. She thinks she should get to spend her money as she pleases, and someone else should subsidize her lifestyle because that's what she wants. She has burned through all her options and is on the verge of homelessness. She's manipulative and a taker. She doesn't do anything terrible — no drugs, booze, or gambling — and appears sweet and caring. But she really believes she's owed much more and she shouldn't have to do anything to have it."
"She apparently abused her son, who had taken her in. I have no clue what she did or didn't do, but it was enough that he booted her out. I'm sure there were conditions set in place when he took her in, and I'm sure she ignored the conditions and did as she pleased. Why do I think that? Because that's what she did to me. She always has her 'reasons,' and everyone else is unreasonable. It's that old nut about doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting a different result. I feel bad for her, but man, she just keeps throwing herself off cliffs."
14. "Kind of off the main point here. I had a child I gave up for adoption at birth, primarily because I was a single mother with a 4-year-old. I worked. I was always tired. It was the right thing. Fast-forward 12 years, and I'm surprised by a knock at the door. It was his adoptive parents. And wham, all the trauma, pain, and confusion came back because they felt he would benefit from knowing me. He didn't. I became anxious about the relationship, and he eventually quit coming around. I think I was a disappointment to him, and I'm sorry. He has not stayed in touch despite his now-distant attempts. I haven't tried in three years. He's happier, and so am I."
15. "I have four kids. My two oldest aren't living with me. My oldest daughter talks to me some. My oldest son wishes me dead. I made many, many mistakes when my kids came back to live with me. (My ex-wife lost custody.) My eldest hated my long-term girlfriend. My daughter was right — she was terrible, and consequently, so was I. My daughter left to go back with her mother, as she was not doing well here. I understand, now, why. My LTR made my eldest son's life miserable too. During that time, I broke up with the girlfriend. It was too late. My eldest son left to be with his mother and sister. I am sure that my ex-wife is not helping this matter, but he is mad at me, and I know I made some pretty bad decisions. I have accepted the fact that I may never have a relationship with him ever again."
16. "My father would say that my mother lied and manipulated us into taking her side during the divorce. The truth is that he boasted to me about pulling a gun on her to 'teach her a lesson' and then didn't understand why I thought that was unacceptable. I haven't spoken to him in the decade since that discussion."
17. "I wasn't there for them the way I should have been. I had a stillborn and began having mental health issues with depression and was eventually diagnosed bipolar, and ended up leaving the girls with their dad. I don't blame them."
18. "My mother told me, three weeks after I lost my father/best friend at 14, that he told her on his deathbed that adopting me was his 'greatest mistake.' It has stuck with me my whole life. I'm 38 now, and know it wasn't true. But that narcissistic bitch can rot in hell."
19. "I have a distant cousin whose parents fired him from their very successful family business because he refused to take his wife and children to their church and worship the way they did. In retaliation, he and his wife refused to allow his parents to see the grandchildren. They sued. They lost. They never were able to see their grandchildren and eventually died. He ended up with the business by default, not by the will. They lost decades of being with their grandchildren just by being stubborn. Nobody in the family had anything to do with them during the last 35 years of their lives, and they were miserable. Fuck them. Parents, if you fuck over your children, don't expect ever to have your grandchildren."
20. "I am a parent of a child who does still talk to me but rarely, and I fully accept that it is my fault. I was an immature parent and made some bad decisions in addition to being inconsistent with my parenting. I am also on the spectrum, but that’s something I didn’t find out until a few years ago, when my son was diagnosed. I know I wasn’t great, and I understand my daughter and I try to give her space."
21. "I know this wasn’t the point of this post, but I am the grown child. Five years ago, on Thanksgiving, no less, my mother told me that my wife and I are bad parents because our daughter is an only child. Then she followed it up by saying my wife graduated from a terrible high school. Not sure where that came from. She then topped it off with an ugly, racist remark about my (white) sister-in-law being married to a Black man. Lastly, she said I was not allowed to tell my wife any of this. That lasted about 45 seconds. And that was the end of that."
Have you ever had to cut off contact with a parent? Do you know someone who has? Tell us what happened in the comments below.
Note: Some of these entries have been edited for length and/or clarity.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.
Dial 988 in the US to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386. Find other international suicide helplines at Befrienders Worldwide (befrienders.org).
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger as a result of domestic violence, call 911. For anonymous, confidential help, you can call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat with an advocate via the website.