Parents Estranged from Adult Children

Over the years the topic of parents being estranged from their adult children has come up during conversations with clients, friends and family. Recently a friend mentioned a book she came across called “Done with The Crying” by Sheri McGregor. My friends often find books on numerous grief topics for me to read.

When I think of parents who are estranged from their adult children, I also think of the ramifications of disenfranchised grief. This is grief that is often unspoken or shared with others and can be due to a variety reasons. Disenfranchised grief adds another layer to how individuals grieve that is often heavy and lonely.

As I continue with this topic, you may see yourself or someone you know who is in this situation. Some people who are estranged from their adult children experience a gamut of emotions. Disbelief, sadness, overwhelmed, shame, regret, hope, anger and more are feelings that surface for parents. Not necessarily in that order or warranted.

A parent may feel that others will judge them if they share their story of their adult child disowning them. Hmm to the point, there are people out there who do act as judge and jury over others. The parent may have no idea why their child has done this and to be ridiculed by another is difficult. Chances are the parent is already wracking their brain to go over every scenario in their life where they might have gone wrong.

I do not know about you, but I believe we can be our own worst critic.

Often, the adult child does not tell the parent their reason for no longer being a part of the parent’s life; which may also extend to the siblings. Left out to dry, parents have no way of correcting the situations if they do not know the reason why this has happened.

On the flip side, an adult child may perceive an event one way and the parent does not know this. Opportunity to reconcile is often nonexistent for decades if ever.

Hope for contact with their child may be futile for a parent; which can cause them to be stuck in a lonely reality and giving up on life. Their child may not know this, nor care.

I will use the statement my great grandma said to me many years ago, “This life is for you too.” If you identify with being a parent estranged from their adult child or children you are not alone. You can process this loss and yes, it is a deep heartfelt loss, but you can learn to have a joyful life again.

As a resource, you might consider the book mentioned above and check out www.RejectedParents.Net (2023) for more supports or seek counselling.

All the best,

Barbara Gillett Saunders
Grief Counsellor/Thanatologist