30 Parents Explain Why They Aren’t On Speaking Terms With Their Adult Children
According to psychologists, polarized politics and a growing awareness of how difficult relationships can impact our mental health are fuelling family estrangement.
Although research is limited, most break-ups between a parent and a grown-up child are thought to be initiated by the child, Joshua Coleman, psychologist and author of The Rules of Estrangement: Why Adult Children Cut Ties and How to Heal the Conflict, told the BBC.
Interested in what the ones going through these hardships think about it, Reddit user Bridge2235 made a post on the platform, asking "People who have adult children that don’t talk to you. Why do you think that is?" Below you will find some of the most upvoted replies they've received.
From the other parent perspective. 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 because 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 3 years and his previous attempt was 4 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.
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 for most of her childhood I was bad. I hope to be able to apologize to her someday. But, I completely understand and respect her decision.
My children are low contact. I feel it's fair. Their mother has BPD. She was violent and abusive. She has gotten help but she still hurt them. I did not protect them. Them not being around me is justified. They should be angry. We f****d up. They didn't do anything wrong and they need to heal as they see fit. Kids not being around their parents have valid reasons. Most people just can't accept it.
My mother told me, three weeks after I lost my father/best friend at fourteen, that he has told her on his deathbed that "Adopting me was his greatest mistake."
It stuck with me my whole life. I'm 38 now, and know it wasn't true. But that narcissistic b***h can rot in hell.
There's a woman at church and every week she asks for prayers during prayer requests. At first I thought it was kinda cute but it's over a year later and she always asks for prayers that her children will speak with 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 - she fed them, she clothed them, she put them through school. Which to me sounds like the bare minimum that you're supposed to do as a parent and not "everything", but ok.
I gave her the benefit of the doubt but then, every week, another piece of the puzzle would come out. She tried calling but her numbers blocked. She tried to find them on social media but she's blocked. How strange, she says she was such an excellent mother, why would they block her? She tried reaching out again and received a handwritten letter on why she should never contact them again, but we never heard the contents of the letter. We were just supposed to pity her and have sympathy and assume that these entire separate groups of people were evil and were doing her emotional harm.
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 very, very bad for her kids but very happy they were strong enough to break away from that hot mess. It almost brings me physical pain now when she asks for prayers that her kids will talk to her again, because I know all she wants to do is resume hurting them.
I was very deep in resolving my own 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.
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 my wife and I are bad parents because our daughter is an only child. Then 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.
My daughter went no contact (off and on) for a couple of years when she became involved with a psychopath who gaslighted us all and brainwashed her into believing her dad and I were the bad guys.
We were out of our league, never having dealt with something like this before, and mostly helpless in it.
It was the absolute worst thing we've all ever gone through. Aged us, still sickens me to think of it. Thank goodness she got away from him and, although she suffers from PTSD because of it, she is now OK and we have reconnected.
I understand there are toxic parents, and I understand that is the reason many people go no contact with them (for self-protection). Please, be absolutely sure that the relationship is totally not salvageable before calling it quits because so much hurt is hard to bear.
My own parents are total Fox Brains, but I put that aside and just don't engage about politics because the parents I love are still in there somewhere and I won't give up on them.
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.
Their dad gave an ultimatum- if they want to have a relationship with him, they had to go no contact with me. My middle child agreed to those terms.
My step daughter 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 the 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 ever since he was placed here and has convinced herself that we stole her child. She only contacted my husband if she wanted money, which he won't give her so that makes her hate us more.
My son hasn’t spoken to me in over 10 years. He had behavioral issues as a teen. I took him to doctor after doctor to get him help. He ended up in a partial hospitalization program. He had them fooled for weeks that there was nothing wrong with him, but one day it all came crashing down. After that, he deteriorated quickly in that program. We had come to the point where he was either going to full hospitalization, a boys school for troubled teens, or he was going to be arrested for assault. His father, whom he only saw maybe twice a year, didn’t want that and said he wanted to take custody of him. The program would only let that happen if my son was enrolled in a comparable program with his father. Father said “of course”. Didn’t happen. My son grew up and was a terror to his father and had little to no contact with me. He got arrested a few times. After one particularly bad fight with his father, he got kicked out. After a few months, my son contacted me, on Mother’s Day. He told me he was in the Marines and was done with basic training and was going to be given an assignment soon. I’ll never forget how proud I felt of my son then. Shortly after, I get contacted by the Marines, asking if I knew where my son was. He went AWOL the day after Mother’s Day. After a few years without contact, he contacted me again. Said he was doing much better and wanted to visit me. I said yes. I should’ve known when I had to pay for his bus ticket that he wasn’t better. He stayed with me for a few days and I thought all was well. Not so much. Two days after he left, I got a call from my credit card company. He stole my card and put $1600 of AIR SOFT PISTOLS on it. I was given the choice to pay it, or call it fraud in which case the credit card company would press charges. I called it fraud. I haven’t seen him since. I’m still his friend on Facebook and have seen that he poses as a wounded Iraq vet. That is disgusting and shows me he hasn’t changed at all. That’s why I don’t talk to him.
I know of a distant family 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 anyway by default, not by the will. They lost decades of grandchildren just by being stubborn. Nobody in the family had anything to do with them the last 35 years of their lives and they were miserable. F**k them.
Parents, if you f**k over your children don't expect to every have your grandchildren.
Mine doesn't because I won't give him any money because it just enables his addiction issues.
I'm 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 s**t, she won't f*****g stop doing it. I don't think she fully appreciates how completely impossible it would be for me to ever believe in any of that b******t. She thinks I'm like almost there but just have yet to see the light. She's also just wildly paranoid in general and always has this ridiculous theories about her neighbors plotting against her that are just depressing to listen to. I really 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 per year despite the fact that she has literally never come to visit me in the 20 years I've been out of the house except the one time when she needed a place to stay for her sister's funeral. She's just completely lost in a world delusion, paranoia and narcissism.
I wasn't there for them like I should have been. I had a stillborn and began having mental health issues with depression and eventually dx bipolar and ended up leaving the girls with their dad. I don't blame them.
I tried my best but I just sucked at motherhood. It’s been over 10 years, she’s in her late 30’s, and I see no hope for a reconciliation.
A better question might be: how do you deal with the guilt and emptiness and sadness?
I grew up in a retirement community. What I’ve noticed was it’s due to a few things. The parent is intolerant of their child’s life choices. That can be everything from drugs, religion, politics, racist ideology(parents), who their kids married etc. Sometimes it’s the parents unpleasant personality from either some personality disorder or just plain being an a*****e.
Some kids usually stay away cause they feel they’ve disappointed their parents and are hiding their life from them.
The majority of the issue is usually do to an unpleasant parent.
I had a patient (she has since passed RIP) who didn’t talk to her youngest daughter. We were very close (saw her 3x a week) so I asked her why she thought her daughter distanced herself away from her. She simply said that they were too alike and they butted heads, even over little things. She did admit that since they distanced themselves from each other, she has had more peace and she thinks her daughter does too.
Not sure if her daughter went to her funeral, although in my head I’m hoping she did. She died from COVID.
I am the parent. My, now adult, children and I do not have a relationship and have gone years without speaking to each other. This began after their father took his own life. I moved on and began another, which is my current, relationship and they are still grieving the loss of their father. It was too soon for them.
We are in the beginning stages of family therapy and I am hopeful that we can learn to have a healthy relationship with one another.
Please take care of your mental health. Our world shattered that day.
This is really hard to write down. I will never have words to convey all that was lost for so many people because of his death. If I ever get the chance to have a relationship with my children again, I will have healthy boundaries while showing them how much I love and care for them.
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 due to immaturity. 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.
I was a pretty s**t dad. 2 of my 3 adult children don't talk to me. I've been working hard on becoming a better person and I hope someday we can reconcile and work to build relationships.i love and miss them desperately but I l know they're dealing with their own mental and physical health issues and that's the most important thing. I'm not going anywhere and I'll be here if and when they're ready, no matter how long it may take.
My sister doesn't speak to one of her kids. They have gone through 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 - married 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 homeless. She's manipulative and a taker. She doesn't do anything terrible - no drugs, booze or gambling - and appears to be very 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 took 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 over and over but expecting a different result. I feel bad for her but man, she just keeps throwing herself off cliffs.
My son (31) rarely if ever calls. I try but he rarely answers. He makes big money and is into travel for music festivals so he’s busy. We had a really solid relationship up until he went off to college and his fraternity bros became his family. I miss him.
I have 4 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. (ex wife lost custody) My eldest hated my LTR 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 eldest sons life miserable too. During that time I broke up with the LTR. It was too late. My eldest son left to go 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 I may never have a relationship with him ever again.
I wasn’t the best father. Even though my kids wanted for nothing all through their time before leaving home I had my own issues when they were young and was distant and emotionally abusive. When I realized what I had been doing it was too late. As they grew up we had no common interests even as I supported them in theirs, they avoided me unless absolutely necessary for things they needed for projects or school. Counseling helped, but emotionally they have no connection to me at all. I don’t hold anything against them. I know it’s on me. I hope they can have healthier relationships with their kids if they have any.
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 w a 4 yr old. I worked. I was always tired. It was the right thing. Fast forward 12 years, I'm surprised by a,knock at the door: it was his adopted parents. And wham back came,all the trauma and pain and confusion, as 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, in spite of now distant attempts. I haven't tried in 3 years. He's happier and so am i.
Parent. It’s because I f****d up and neglected the relationship. I wasn’t the father she deserved. It’s that simple.
My daughter went through a traumatic event when she found out her Mom was having an affair with a junkie. Daughter was furious at her Mom for destroying the family. Mom flipped out, threatened suicide to our daughter’s face, blaming her. At that moment, everything shifted and daughter became the nurturer to her Mom, who regressed into childhood - a complete switching of roles when my daughter really needed a Mom. Mom wasn’t safe to be angry at (for fear she’d kill herself), so I became the target.
We talk, but it’s so terse and superficial that it’s close to non-communication. I’d like to talk through what happened, even in a therapeutic setting, but daughter says that’s off the table.
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 a decade since that discussion. To this day, I believe he was contemplating murder-suicide or family annihilation.
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