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Nurturing Bonds: A Guide for Parents Over 60 on Forgiveness, Boundaries, and Adult Child Estrangement

By Marie Morin October 22, 2023 Family

Parenthood is a journey filled with joy, challenges, and unexpected turns. One of the most heart-wrenching challenges some parents face is adult child estrangement. In this article, we’ll explore the transformative power of forgiveness, the importance of setting boundaries, and the key elements to navigate this delicate terrain.

The Power of Forgiveness and Self-Reflection

Begin with forgiveness, a balm for the soul. It doesn’t condone past actions but frees you from the anchors of resentment and anger. By choosing forgiveness, you open the door to healing and allow yourself to move forward with grace and peace.

Forgiving yourself is a profound act of self-love and acceptance. It involves acknowledging past mistakes without allowing them to define your present or dictate your future. Embracing self-forgiveness opens a pathway to personal growth, resilience, and a more profound sense of inner peace.

Remember, the door to healing swings both ways. As you open it to forgive others, swing it open to forgive yourself. This self-compassion becomes the cornerstone for genuine, transformative healing and paves the way for a future filled with grace and understanding.

Self-reflection is the companion on this journey. Take a moment for self-reflection. Acknowledge your role in the estrangement. Self-awareness is the first step toward reconciliation. Forgiveness isn’t about forgetting but choosing to journey forward, unburdened by resentment. Embrace the opportunity for personal growth as you navigate understanding, compassion, and the renewal of connections.

Empathy and Compassion

Seek to understand your adult child’s perspective. Empathy becomes a bridge to comprehension, fostering an environment of healing. Show compassion not only to your child but also to yourself. You can build a personal connection by leaning into the foundation of compassion.

Setting Boundaries

Forgiveness takes center stage in the intricate dance of healing and reconciliation, but it doesn’t mean abandoning the principles of self-respect and well-being. Establishing clear boundaries is the unsung hero of this narrative – crucial for rebuilding trust and nurturing a healthy relationship moving forward.

While forgiveness is a powerful and transformative choice, it doesn’t entail surrendering to mistreatment or abuse. It’s essential to recognize that boundaries are not walls to keep love out but rather fences that define a safe space for both parties to thrive.

Communicate openly about your expectations and be willing to engage in a dialogue that respects the needs and concerns of everyone involved. Boundaries, when set with compassion and clarity, serve as guideposts for navigating the complex terrain of relationships.

Open Communication

Initiate open and honest communication, free from blame or accusation. Share your positive feelings towards your adult child and be genuinely interested in their perspective. Validation of their emotions, even if you don’t entirely agree, can pave the way for mutual understanding.

Seeking Professional Help

Consider family therapy or estrangement coaching as avenues for constructive dialogue. A neutral third party can offer insights and guidance that may be challenging to achieve independently. Professional help provides a safe space for both parties to express themselves.

Patience and Persistence

Rebuilding a relationship is a marathon, not a sprint. Exercise patience and persistence in your efforts. Celebrate small victories, no matter how incremental, and acknowledge progress even if it seems slow. Every step forward is a step toward healing.

Learning and Growth

View this experience as an opportunity for personal growth and self-improvement. Recognize that forgiveness is an ongoing process with occasional setbacks. Learn from these setbacks and use them as steppingstones toward a better future.

Hope and Healing

Hold onto the hope of reconciliation, but also find contentment and joy in your life, irrespective of the outcome. Healing is a journey that involves both individual and collective efforts. Embrace the process, and let hope guide you toward a brighter, more connected future. In some cases, reconciliation is impossible, mainly when there has been abuse. However, the decision to choose healing is available and essential for all individuals as they do the work to intentionally move forward to find joy and purpose in their lives.

Many of my readers have communicated their disappointment and anger regarding the choice of their adult child to distance themselves. Your perspective and how you grieve the relationship status is valid.

My hope in this article is to foster hope and clarity to those who find themselves wanting something to change. Obviously, the only change we can control is our actions and perspective on any challenging matter. For those who find themselves wanting relief from the distress, forgiveness extended to others – and if warranted to the self – is a meaningful and effective means of improving one’s quality of life.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you struggled with forgiving your adult child or parent? What about forgiving yourself? If you could go back, what would you do differently? Please share your experience of forgiveness and how it has helped you to move forward.

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Often you post articles about adult children separating from parents but what about parents who choose to break the relationship.


I have experience of that. My husband’s mother cut him off when he was 24 because he was getting married to me and his father went along with it for a peaceful life as he was a doormat.

We had to get married secretly in a registry office with 2 witnesses because she was threatening to turn up at our wedding and make a big scene. I am ashamed to say this, but when she died 4 years ago it was like a huge cloud had lifted from me as the situation had gone on for 35 years. Whilst my husband by no means has a close relationship with his father (they never did father/son things together) his relationship with him has got better since his mother died.


Hi Linda:
Thank you for sharing your experience. I understand how you must have felt a great relief. How sad that your husband’s mother was so cruel. Mothers cut off their adult children; sometimes, it’s because of differences in values and beliefs. Your story highlights the practice of disrespecting an adult and imposing control. I appreciate your
joining the conversation. Warmly, Marie Morin


I totally understand that. My father was an overbearing narcissist. I was 26 years old when he died and it felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.

Jo schmo

When parents divorce while the children are still young, and then proceed to choose to obey new spouses who view those children as baggage or competition for themselves, while forbidding any real conversation about the decade or more of blaming the child because it makes the new spouse happy, and the child eventually grows and fully understands the selfishness of their parent and their whole act becomes transparent, what hope could there possibly be for reconciliation?

They view honest fact as abuse because they know very well who they chose, and they must employ brutal denial and forbid the topic entirely because they know how immature and outright wrong their choices were.

Please stop letting these abusers off the hook. They fear legal retribution, and the resulting loss of money more than they fear death. They chose strangers over their own children for nothing but greed. They obey these strangers when told they must abandon their abused children, for their own good of course.

This frequency of divorce, abuse, and then estrangement is NOT normal and has never occurred at this alarming a level. It’s not that “we are talking about it now” it is quite simply that a certain generation of people committed much more abuse and abandonment than any other generalized group of people in all of recorded history.

But they have all the money, property, and authority. As a result they can legally force those depending on them to accept the abuse, or get out of their house and good luck paying $800+ on rent alone to make it.

Our parents knowingly chose greed, sex, and strangers over their relationships with their children, and now they can buy the high ground and demand we forgive and forget and never bring it up again or we are abusing them.

I’m not religious but acts like these are punished in the Bible for this very reason. Oh but biblical references are abuse unless it’s absolving those abusers. I’m sorry but there is no hope for most of us but to wait for them to die so we may finally begin our lives.


I can’t speak for other parents but I understand that my choices had consequences and the possibility of estrangement was real well before the big D occurred. I also know that for a relationship to work, it requires a 100%, 24X7 commitment from two partners who put the good relationship over themselves. One side can’t fix both sides.

In my case, my kids were already out of the house and off starting their own lives. Sure, they would visit for the holidays, and store their belongings in our house, but effectively they had grown up and moved on. Our family unit was only a proximate family a few days of the year yet I believe they selfishly wanted to pretend “home” still existed. In recognizing this, I also recognized that my spouse had long since emotionally moved on to a new comfort that treated me like her sibling, not her spouse. When this failed, she started buying companion dogs while looking for a gay man to befriend to talk about stuff she had interests in. After much therapy, I realized I could stick around and be marginally happy or I could bail and work on myself for a better life, even if that meant being solitary.

Let me tell you, life is too short to spend it with someone who doesn’t really love you, doesn’t respect you, may abuse you physically or emotionally and doesn’t have your back when you need them. The scariest part was admitting the truth which is we all have options and all choices have consequences; it’s our life after all! In my case, my energy is much better spent being a better person and surrounding myself with much better people than I had before.

As far as sex goes, I never knew love and now that I do, I’m very happy, but the sex is almost irrelevant, it’s the true feeling of being loved that matters. What also matters is I did this to be the best I can be, not just for me but for my greater family, my friends and for my kids if they so chose.


Hi Jeff:

Thanks for sharing your story here. What stands out to me is your statement “Life is too short to spend it with someone who doesn’t really love you, doesn’t respect you, may abuse you physically or emotionally, and doesn’t have your back when you need them.” 
I agree wholeheartedly. I am glad you have found love.



Hi Jo:

Thank you for sharing your experience with your parents. This must have been very painful and difficult for you. The result of childhood harm and abuse can never be adequately addressed in one article or comment. In many instances, it is inappropriate to consider reconciliation. Forgiveness is a personal choice; the individual sometimes learns that carrying the hurt from what others have done is too significant a burden. So they let it go. Everyone gets to decide if they want to let someone off the hook. They also determine if they want to be in a relationship with them. Forgiveness is more for the one harmed than for the abuser.
We all get to choose how we will move forward.

Warm regards, Marie


I can only speak from the experience I had. When my ex and I divorced, I went out of my way to make sure that he was able to keep his visitations because he had a hectic schedule at work. I didn’t date for almost 3 years after the divorce. When I started dating, I met a man, I fell in love, and started what would turn out to be a nightmare. He was neglectful to his child, (same age as my daughter) verbally abusive to his family, and lied to me. My son kept telling me he was no good, but I didn’t listen. I was so messed up from my marriage I did anything I could to try to fix this relationship, including ignoring my daughter when she made claims of sexual assault. I was so wrong for that, because she left me to live with her father. So I moved out and got a place by myself. My daughter came back to me when I needed help after a surgery and she never went back to her dad. My son and I have a decent relationship, but my daughter and my relationship has been tumultuous at best.
I have always found a way to survive on my own and that I kept my daughter from having a solid relationship with me. Now she is married and had a baby girl. She has cut ties with me. Her husband tries to keep in touch because he strongly believes in family. But I fear there may be no fixing anything because she keeps reliving the past, and I keep trying to distance myself from it. I don’t know how we will fix it, but it won’t happen in our current state.
By the way, my ex was abusive physically and emotionally, so when my daughter had enough of his behavior, she alienated him for 5 years. When she got the call that he had died, it really got to her that’s he never got back on touch with him to fix things or at least say her peace.


I have two adult, estranged children. My oldest, 31, has been estranged approx 8 years, since my divorce. My younger, 27, just ventured into his own journey without me. At first, it ripped my heart out and stomped on it. Now, I’m fine and wishing them well in all phases of life.

This is a very comprehensive article and it is spot on! Thanks for affirming this truth.


Hi Jeff:
Thank you for sharing and your positive feedback. I am sorry about what is going on with your two adult kids. I love that you are doing better.


Estrangement means no contact. He abandoned me with no explanation. I was a very good mom and made sure he had his emotional and physical needs met. How can I forgive myself? I did a wonderful job. If I did something wrong how could he just take off and not try to fix whatever it was that he did not get. I am not a mind reader. I tried believe me. I see young people write that the parents are to blame. A child would never leave a good parent. Well husbands leave good wives. Is the wife to blame? Should she look back on how she would do things differently with the husband? Does the wife need to change because she was not a sufficient wife? In estrangement there is no “open communication” How can you share positive feelings with your child when they are gone? This article about estrangement (no contact) does not make sense.


Hi Shari:
Thank you for your feedback. Your son abandoning you with no explanation must have been a horrible experience for you. In answering your questions, some estranged arrangements have minimal contact and occasionally speak or text. Not every estranged adult child goes “no contact.” Estrangement includes physical and emotional distancing.
I appreciate your comment.


Agreed article that’s not make any sense and it’s not helpful. I am in the same position as you are. Single mom who raised my son by myself and did a great job sending him to college etc. I have no idea what his resentments are. There is no room for good communication when your child is not willing to have a dialogue. The hardest part for me is how to stop his abuse when we occasionally meet or talk.? This article is not giving any suggestions at all it just blah blah blah blah.


While I’ve forgiven my mother for her narcissistic abuse, in part because I understand the trauma she suffered that caused it, her inability to see it and unwillingness to respect my very basic boundaries prevent me from being in relationship with her. I suspect many adult children must walk away for the same reason and it’s very difficult for both parties. Part of the problem though is if the parent is on the extreme end of the narcissist scale, they have zero insight and always blame the other person.

Joan hand

I think that the reverse is true too. My 59 yr old daughter is narcissistic and verbally abusive. I bear remorse bc I understand how she develop d this way. Her behavior is a result of divorce and abandonment of father.


Hi Joan:
Thank you for sharing your story here. I appreciate how empathetic you are regarding your daughter’s behavior. I think it is equally important to extend empathy towards yourself. Your comment highlights the complex nature of adult children and parental estrangement. How very sad that she had this experience. I understand that you bear remorse. I believe many parents did the best they could, indeed, they did not anticipate their child would be abandoned by their father.
What could you have done to change his actions? I hope that you exercise forgiveness and compassion for yourself. I hope your daughter finds the hope she needs.
Warm regards, Marie


Hi Sherry:

Thank you for your comment. I agree that some parents who can not find their part in why the relationship disintegrated may likely be on the high end of the narcissist scale. I appreciate your empathy for the trauma your mom suffered. I am sorry she has been unwilling to respect you and your boundaries. Thank you for sharing your experience.

The Author

Marie Morin is a therapist and wellness coach at Morin Holistic Therapy. She helps women develop a daily self-care routine, so they overcome perfectionism and limiting beliefs and be their most confident selves. Marie is a grateful blogger and YouTuber. Find out more at and contact her at

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