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How to Deal with Estranged Adult Kids When You Did Your Best

By Marie Morin August 20, 2023 Family

Dealing with the estrangement of adult children, especially after putting forth your utmost effort as a parent, is undoubtedly one of life’s most heart-wrenching experiences. Being disconnected despite having dedicated years to their upbringing can leave you questioning yourself and your choices.

If you face this challenging situation, remember that your journey is unique to you and your emotions are valid. While there’s no quick fix for healing such wounds, there are steps you can take to find inner peace and lay the groundwork for potential reconciliation.

Acknowledge Your Efforts

As parents, we often hold ourselves to impossibly high standards, believing we should have been able to prevent estrangement. Remembering parenting is a complex journey, filled with highs and lows, is crucial.

Each child’s path is unique, and external factors significantly shape their choices. Reflect on the positive aspects you’ve nurtured within them and acknowledge the efforts you’ve invested. Understand that you did the best you could with the knowledge and resources available to you at the time.

Validate Your Feelings

Estrangement triggers a whirlwind of emotions that can feel overwhelming. The sadness, anger, guilt, and confusion you’re experiencing are all normal responses to this situation. Allow yourself to grieve the connection you once shared and the hopes you had for the future. You permit yourself to process and healthily work through your feelings by validating them.

Let Go of Blame

The instinct to shoulder the blame for a strained relationship is common, but it’s essential to release this burden. Various factors beyond your control shape your child’s choices and actions. Remember that they are independent beings with their own experiences and decisions. Let go of the notion that you’re solely responsible for their current state of mind.

Understand Their Perspective

It’s essential to consider your adult child’s perspective on the situation. Some estranged adult children may cite perceptions of abuse, toxicity, or betrayal as reasons for their departure. While hearing such claims is challenging, please take a moment to reflect on their feelings. Self-reflection doesn’t necessarily imply agreement; it demonstrates empathy and a willingness to understand their viewpoint.

Reach Out with Openness

If you believe the time is right and feel comfortable, consider reaching out to your estranged child. Approach the conversation with an open heart and a willingness to listen. Express your desire to understand their perspective and find common ground. Be prepared for reactions – they might be receptive, hesitant, or resistant. Regardless of the outcome, taking this step shows your commitment to healing.

Seek Professional Support

Dealing with estrangement can immensely affect your emotional well-being. Seeking professional help, such as counseling or therapy, can provide a safe space to share your thoughts and feelings. A trained therapist can offer guidance, tools, and coping strategies to navigate this challenging period. Their objective perspective can shed light on dynamics you might not be able to see on your own.

Prioritize Self-Care

In times of emotional distress, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity. Engage in activities that bring you joy, purpose, and a sense of fulfillment. Connect with friends, family, or support groups to share your feelings and experiences. Surrounding yourself with a supportive network can remind you that you’re not alone on this journey and can provide much-needed comfort.

Cultivate Forgiveness

Forgiveness can be arduous but holds immense power in the healing process. Forgiving doesn’t mean condoning hurtful actions; it’s about releasing the grip of resentment that weighs you down. Start by forgiving yourself for any perceived shortcomings as a parent. As you progress, consider extending forgiveness to your child, recognizing their humanity and the complexities that influenced their choices.

Stay Open to Different Outcomes

It’s natural to yearn for reconciliation and envision a complete restoration of your relationship. However, the path to healing might only sometimes unfold as you hope. Be open to the possibility that your renewed connection might take a different form, one that might not immediately resemble the past but still holds value and potential for growth.

Focus on Personal Growth

Estrangement, while painful, can also serve as an opportunity for personal growth and reflection. Channel your energy into discovering new hobbies, pursuing unexplored interests, or enhancing your skills. Embrace the chance to reconnect with your identity outside your parent role. This growth can lead to a deeper understanding of yourself and your aspirations.

Every Situation Is Unique

Most importantly, remember that every parent’s perspective and process is different. Your view of the information presented here may not fit your situation. I hope parents and adult children can move toward healing and finding joy again.

Some set boundaries and don’t see their family members for a while. Others may have hope that the relationship will improve. But, whatever your family member decides, you can still do your best to process your grief and find a path to a fulfilling life.

The information and suggestions in this article are meant to support and encourage as they have done with many adult children and parents in my practice. Doing our best doesn’t mean we are perfect; it means we did what we could at the time with the resources we had.

In conclusion, navigating estrangement with adult children is an intricate journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to heal. While there’s no guarantee of reconciliation, remember that your growth and well-being matter deeply. By taking these steps, you’re honoring your resilience and paving the way for a future grounded in peace and acceptance.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What practices have helped you move forward? What do you think is most important for your healing journey?

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This is a much better article than the previous ones on this subject. The only aspect I see missing….is sometimes it is dangerous to continue the relationship and accepting that a relationship may not be in anyone’s best interest.


Agree, drugs and alcohol turned my son into someone I no longer recognize. He completely drained me emotionally & financially then left me with a destroyed house I’d bought for him to raise my grandchildren. It’s been 2-years and I have zero desire to let him back into my life, or at least until he can get clean and own up to the truth.

Carmen Peters

I experienced that with my youngest son.


Hi LZink:
Thank you for writing. I agree when adult children have drug and alcohol dependence it greatly complicates and informs what parents need to do. I am glad you have created boundaries with your son. I wish you the best.

Christina Bryant

My heart is with you.I really feel your pain.


Thank you for saying this.

Although I miss her, her dad poisoned her mind to h8 me for no other justified reason except his unjustified h8 for me because I wouldn’t terminate her when I was pregnant with her.

The spiteful things that she has said and done to me are past unforgivable.

Thanks to him I’ve lost both of our children.

I no longer can believe that a God would allow such evil to flourish in that of my ex husband.

Josephine Dickson

I feel your pain and have this situation with 4 of my 5 adult children.and one of the 4 took his life 20 yrs ago…i know my ex still refuses to accept responsibility so hve given up but my heart is low and i miss my children. Thinking of you .


Oh, do I feel for you! Both of my children disowned me with out so much as one conversation to let me know why. Plain and simple this generation sucks! The abuse I have endured at their hands is no different than a mother abandoning her children without explanation. So sick of the sensitivity being endlessly extended to Anyone for such poor behavior!

Nikita Desai

I feel ur pain being a fellow sufferer.

Christine Taylor

I agree that it’s happening more with this generation. My son & I aren’t talking. He has me blocked 100%. Had to do with missing jewelry. I have tried & tried to repair. I have many friends also with estranged kids. It’s heartbreaking.


It is so hard. My son hasn’t spoken to me in two years. He was very emotional abusive. He came to my home and threatened self harm. So I called the police. He was was arrested for criminal damage and trespassing. His friends shame me for what I did. I feel so alone.


One day they will crawl back past death to say sorry… hopefully!

Lori W

Kathy, I am sorry for your loss. Just as parents are not responsible for their adult children’s behavior, neither is God responsible for the evil deeds of his earthly children. Read James 1:13 and Job 34:10 in the Bible. Although God is allowing evil to exist, he will not allow it indefinitely. Psalm 37:10,11 & 29. Kind regards.


So true


My in-laws did the same to me, but it is my faith that gets me by. I am getting counseling and doing things fulfilling.Staying close to my husband.

Paula Bennett

I’ve experienced the same.. may we find a greater goodness to fill our hearts and minds


Dear Kathy:
I am deeply sorry that your kid’s dad alienated your children against you. It is so sad to have your kids hurt you terribly. I hope you are getting support and are staying close to those who love and value you.

Shirley Crosby

My husbands oldest Son has never stayed at his Dads house one time since the day he was 20 making good money dad and younger son starving, asked him for 100 a month and lives in Vegas has never stayed 1 night thinks he’s too good

Shannon Willett

I have lost my two children because of my ex husband too. He is a narcissist and he didn’t like that I left him. I kept my marriage problems to myself and I didn’t tell people what happened which the biggest thing was his cheating constantly. Stay out all night with other women. I have not talked to my kids in 3.5 years and I cry everyday because I miss my grandkids terribly. I write them letters regularly. I take packages for my grandkids to their house when they are at work and sit them on their door steps. I can’t get past this it hurts too bad. I know God will make him pay for what he has done but for now I sit in pain.

Nikita Desai

I am going through EXACTLY the situation! My husband has put both my girls against me. My elder daughter has not spoken to me in 3 years. I messaged her and recently mailed her too but no reply. She has changed her country hence change of number which her father refuses to gv me. Earlier she had blocked me on her previous number.
Younger one is also influenced by her and calls me ONLY when she needs something and then cuts the conversation short…..she works in another city. I have a toxic relationship with my husband but stayed with for the girls but they blame me for staying in a bad marriage. I did it for them coz financially I was not stable enough to leave with the kids and loved them too much to leave them with a narcissistic sociopath! As a result they had a very good education and have high level jobs. Wouldn’t have been possible if I lived in a small city with my parents. No acknowledgement forget appreciation. My husband has put them against me.


They would have blamed you for leaving too if you had done. If they have this type of personality, you can’t win whatever you do. My ex, their father put us through hell, I had no choice but to go it alone. I worked hard and they had everything they needed, but I think they are punishing me for not putting up with him and staying. If I had, they would then have seen me a weak and his bad influence on them would have been a disaster. I saved them from him, but they punish me


Hi Barbar:
Thank you for your kind comment. Thank you for pointing out that I did omit that certain relationships are too strained and dangerous to continue. I believe I have written about that before. I agree that acceptance is vital in these cases.


I wish someone would write an article supporting parents of mentally ill estranged adult children – How does one cope with the pain and guilt of deciding not reconcile with them anymore times because you’re afraid of them and they just steel from you, use and hurt you when you do.

Vanya Drumchiyska

Hello Patty.
Our blogger Marie Morin, author of this article, has also written an article on the topic you suggested. You can read it here
Thanks for reading!


I feel your pain as I deal with an adult child and grandchild that are mentally disabled. I would really like that answer myself. I trust in the Lord and turn it over to him…

Carmen Peters

I believe that it’s all a mental illness. It just manifested in various ways.


Hi Patty:

Thank you for writing. I have this same experience and feel the only way to handle it is day-by-day, trusting that you and your adult child will be okay. It is easier said than done, but the anxiety about what you should and can humanely do can be overwhelming.
My process has been to focus on the family I can relate with and to pray for my son.
It has been a balance of trust, acceptance, and letting myself off the hook. I can only do so much, and so can you. If your adult child scares you, your only alternative is to ensure you are safe. We can only help our kids if they want it. Needing to rescue them can be a slippery slope. I hope this helps.

Allison Kendrick

I have that problem, but I am mentally ill too, although I am medicated. But I really did my very best to raise my children, making sure that they had all of their needs and a lot of their wants met. Meals from scratch, lots of love, and always being in their corner.


Marie, you have written many articles for 60 and Me regarding estrangement and I have read every one. I also read all the comments. Today I am meeting with my daughter and a new therapist to try, at least on my end, to find clarity and to hear and understand exactly what I have done to cause such hatred. Through my own therapy, journaling, reading and meditation I had to learn to forgive myself, accept what is and understand that this is my daughter’s journey. My job is to continue to love, take care of my husband with Parkinson’s, to be joyful and happy, engaged and relevant and to be available with loving arms when and if my daughter seeks me out.

Sandra Lee

I have discovered that us moms, are convenient punching bags. My oldest daughter would get snappy with me. I grew tried of that treatment from her, so finally, I called her on it. She exclaimed to me “go ahead and take me out of your will!” which had never even once entered into my mind. We didn’t speak for month on end. I reached out to her a couple of time apologizing for my part in the incident, but she held fast to her anger. I finally just released that burden from my own heart. I trusted that eventually, she would come around. She did, after a healthy but older Co-worker dropped dead, while out running one afternoon. She finally woke up, and called.

Allison Kendrick

I lost my husband at the same time all of my children decided to reject me. Because I was expecting to join them on the land they had bought with the sale of the land under our burnt house, I was essentially made homeless by their actions.

Carmen Peters

I chose not to make any more effort. I’m tired and I’m old. The way I see it is that their rejection of me is their loss. I don’t think I care anymore.


same here, done crying losing sleep and blaming myself, time to take care of me, but still cannot stop hoping…


After 4.5yrs of caring & trying to reconnect, on my end, to the point of pleading & begging … I too have given up now & have resigned myself to the fact that I will never hear or see my child again.
They have made the choice to not communicate with me in any way. Not mine! So it’s their loss.
I know my worth! I know I did the very best I could under all the stressful situations I was under. I know that their perceptions are skewed by their father, his family, & their own delusions.

My mantra for the past year has been ….. “Only joy, peace, & happiness is allowed to enter into my life!” If something or someone doesn’t bring that into my life, it’s gone to me.
So now I have to release my child from it for my own sanity & welfare.


Dear Diane:
Thank you for sharing here. I am grateful you have been doing the work of moving forward. Forgiveness is a powerful practice that helps everyone. I hope that your meeting with your daughter went well. Please keep in touch and let me know how it went.

Herminia Villegas

Thank you for this article. It is very painful indeed to have children that do not want anything to do with you. I am always wondering what I did wrong but I know that I tried very hard to give them a better life that I had and maybe I went too far. I am at the end of my life and I understand and accepted the situation. I love them and pray a lot for them.

Carmen Peters

Same here. I have no idea what I might have done but now I’m thinking I don’t care anymore. I haven’t heard from my daughter in six months and amazingly, it doesn’t hurt.


Dear Herminia, Thank you for writing. I hope you can stop wondering what you did wrong at some point. I do not know a parent that hasn’t missed the mark in one way or another. These same imperfect parents did their best with the resources they had at the time.

Adult children distance for many reasons, and it does not always mean their parents did something wrong. Some adult kids need space to figure things out for themselves. Others decide to focus on some events and land in their pain. Some adult kids have had extraordinarily challenging and painful childhoods and distance out of necessity. There is a spectrum of experiences.

I know that many parents grieve, forgive themselves if needed, and decide to move forward so they can continue their lives. Very few don;t still pine for their kids, but they move into a new future knowing that their lives have meaning and purpose.

Wishing you the best.


I appreciate the article. I hink it is the first thing I have seen regarding parents of estranged adult children. I wish for more.

Marie Morin

Hi Pete
Sixty and me has excellent resources on estrangement.
Thank you for writing.
I wish you well.
Warmly, Marie


Please provide more information.


I totally agree! I am in many support groups and when they welcome new members is astonishing to see the enormous amount of estranged people joining! Please help us with more information and guidance


Where are the support groups?


My son has to learn the hard way know…i tried really hard…i became sick….he moved out with his girlfriend and her mom….now ..they are brain washing him…i hope I taught him enough to be smarter..

Carmen Peters

Yes… It’s ‘a thing now. As as the numbers of adults dump their parents it convinced me that it’s a social thing.


I agree. Toxic is the new “go word” for anyone that doesn’t agree with them. What used to be just a difference of opinion has now become a toxic environment. Children, you poured your whole life into. Forget that you are human and you make mistakes. They don’t know how to forgive and move on.


Amen, this is so true. If you do not agree with what they want or think is right they will reject you.

Allison Kendrick

From what I’ve read,I have to agree with you. It does seem to be a growing trend.

Linda Mansfield

I feel it was whatever the public schools were brainwashing our kids in the late 80’s to early 90’s that caused so many to disrespect their parents today. I have never seen such extreme number of kids in their 30s cast their parents away as I have these past few years. Both my son and my daughter has done this to me, and their reasons are so delusional. They said because their childhood was bad, excuse me, I was 20 when I had them, and they didn’t come with a manual so I did the very best I could. I provided for them with a clean and beautiful home, always had their friends over that I would think of them as my own, I always cooked for them, drove them to school and picked them up every day not one of them ever had to take the bus or be latch key kids, and I told them I loved them every day of their lives and yes, I disciplined them when they needed it. I believe that’s when schools were teaching them about the Dare program basically spying on your parents and telling them to report your parent if they found anything, I believe that’s when they started giving power to kids by telling them that if your parents spank you that’s child abuse. Public schools are brainwashing our kids, just look at what they are teaching our kids in schools today and how many boys are wanting to be girls and vice versa. It’s some sort of experiment being done through public school curriculum.


I read, highlighted and reread, “Done With The Crying” which helped me so much dealing with my estranged daughter. the author is sheri McGregor


This estrangement by our adult children seems to be a frightful trend in today’s society. I believe part of it is their access to life skills information, that used to be sought after from and supplied by older, more experienced, family members, is now instantly available from the internet, a/k/a Uncle Google or Auntie Siri! It’s so, so sad and it will have a great deal to do with the eminent unraveling of our once great nation.

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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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