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What Kinds of Parents Are Less Likely to Be Estranged?

By Marie Morin April 15, 2023 Family

Parenting is a complex and rewarding journey that comes with its own set of challenges. As parents age, they may wonder what kind of parents are not at risk for estrangement from their adult children. While every family and every relationship is unique, certain traits of healthy parent-child relationships can help prevent estrangement from happening.

Traits of Healthy Parent-Child Relationships

These include open communication, mutual respect, healthy boundaries, and self-reflection. It’s important to acknowledge that no parent is perfect, and we all make mistakes. What’s important is how we respond to those mistakes and work to improve our relationships with our adult children. This article identifies what kinds of parents are typically at a lower risk for parent-adult-child estrangement.


Effective communication is one of the essential traits of healthy parent-child relationships. When parents engage in open and respectful communication with their adult children, they can better understand their child’s perspective and communicate their thoughts and feelings.

It’s important for parents to actively listen to their children, speak kindly and empathetically, and avoid belittling remarks or criticism.


Parents who support their children’s choices and provide emotional and practical support will likely have positive relationships with them. Support means being there for them during tough times, celebrating their achievements, and respecting their decisions, even if you don’t always agree with them.


Healthy boundaries are essential in maintaining solid parent-child relationships. Parents who respect their child’s independence, avoid over-involvement or control, and allow them to make their own decisions will likely have good relationships. At the same time, parents must set boundaries for themselves and communicate them clearly to their children.


Parents willing to self-reflect on their behaviors and seek help when needed are more likely to have successful relationships with their adult children. Self-reflecting means taking responsibility for mistakes, apologizing when necessary, and being open to feedback and criticism.

But I Was a Great Parent! Why Me?

It’s important to note that even parents who have exhibited these traits may still experience estrangement from their adult children. However, these characteristics can help reduce the likelihood of it occurring. There is no such thing as “perfect parenting,” and just because mistakes were made does not mean that your parenting warranted estrangement.

While certain behaviors and situations may increase the likelihood of estrangement, ultimately, what warrants estrangement is a personal decision that depends on each family’s circumstances. For some, it may be a significant breach of trust or an ongoing pattern of abusive behavior. For others, it may be a disagreement about a particular issue that is deeply important to them.

Each person’s experience and perspective are valid, and what one person may find unacceptable, another may be able to work through.

When Good Parents Get Kicked to the Curb

Many of my writings address parents’ need to address the concerns of their estranged adult children. Research reports that adult children hope for their parents to take responsibility for their harmful behaviors. Many adult children desire a relationship, but only if their parents have changed.

The is a multitude of reasons and great complexity of variables that participate in the ambiguity and painfulness of the estrangement condition. The breakdown of familial ties is deeply heartbreaking since the support of relatives has the potential to be so nourishing.

But what about parents who were imperfect but did the best they could? Parents who provided emotional and practical support and were still cut off? In fact, some parents qualify as being highly stressful for their adult children and yet their kids still come see them and hold their hands in times of need.

Sadly, some parents have been unjustly accused of behaviors that did not occur. Sometimes, adult children receive therapy, air their hardships and grievances, and blame their parents of offenses. Hearing only one side, the therapist might encourage cutting off so that the adult child experiences less distress.

In some instances, adult children with histories of mental illness, which can include addictions, blame their imperfect parents and decide to cut ties. While it is unwise to generalize, it is reasonable to recognize that not every parent has warranted being harshly treated.

Just as some parents invalidate and refuse to accept their adult child’s version of their pain, some adult children have treated their parents brutally.


As parents, maintaining positive and loving connections with your adult child is what we all hope for. Maintaining these relationships even while they are creating their own families can seem challenging. With open communication, mutual respect, healthy boundaries, and self-reflection, you can help prevent estrangement and maintain a strong relationship with your child for years.

Suppose you are struggling with estrangement or communication issues with your adult child. In that case, it may be helpful to seek the assistance of a therapist or counselor specializing in family relationships. Building healthy relationships takes time and effort, but there is always time to start.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

If you are estranged from your adult child, was it your decision or theirs? Have therapists encouraged you or your adult child to cut ties with each other? Have you considered yourself a good parent?

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The message in this article is: if you want a relationship with your adult child never criticize or offer advice, praise everything they do, and be prepared to provide funds whenever they need them and don’t expect to have any of your actions reciprocated.
For any Healthcare professional to promote such thinking is shameful. I thought we were supposed to promote respect for the individual.
We would not accept such a one sided relationship with any other person in our life but we tolerate it from our children, perhaps because we are threatened with the label of ‘bad parent’ by such articles or for some, the even more painful fear of being denied the company of their grandchildren.


The people here saying they were a good parent are in denial. My toxic abusive mother is in her 90s and has never admitted any of the horrible things (as many outside people have commented to me, without my asking) she has done to me. My mother never will. I hate her and wish I’d estranged myself in my teens rather than my 60s. I might have had a chance at a life.

PJ Thompson

In my current opinion, I think that professional in many jobs and professions are full of do do. I’ve seen many of counselors/therapist in my lifetime and most of it was a serious waste of time and not only that but the BS they stated and stood on they didn’t live at all. Secondly, I think my naive very young adult/teen has gotten extremely bad advice with warped one perspective of a lot of left out information to make it seems way bad. Without any of the positives put in. Making my daughter ashamed and reluctant to believe she was raised well and that her only parent-single mother went all out for her and she was given the moon. Yet she wants more and since her needs for more out warrant what she had she ran away and left me high & dry. No concern for me in any way. I could write so much. But there are teachers, counselors, youth, parents and just about anyone that will throw a parent (especially a female single parent) under the bus and would never do it to a couple, a man – even if he was a single parent. And I will stand on that statement all my life to my last breath. Women are often women’s own worst enemies. Sad but true.

Last edited 1 year ago by PJ Thompson

Dear P.J.
Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry about what happened with your daughter. I agree; many professionals harm their clients by advising without all the information. People are prone to making mistakes; therapists are no exception. Some are committed to providing care that helps their clients grow and gain relief. Warmly, Marie


Really not an acceptable title…or mindset. Our children will do what they will, and when they become adults, all bets are off. To target parents as the responsible parties is simply and absolutely erroneous and cruel. All kinds of things impact our children, from spouses to friendships to jobs to money to their own mental health, especially in response to such stimuli…and how we raised them can so EASILY be put aside for these other aspects of their lives. It may not matter that you were the only parent around when they were growing up; as adults, they will choose what suits their interests and needs, and it may not be that parent. Add in friends with other lifestyles, followed by insecure spouses with their own family issues, and it’s a recipe for who-knows-what….then jobs and money are HUGE influences. No, this is not about “what kinds of parents”; in fact, you may meet ALL of the above “criteria”, but none of this matters if your children change 180 degrees. And they do. They can become everything you DIDN’T teach them to be- cruel, judgmental, selfish, mocking, blaming, self-absorbed and self-centered beyond comprehension… hateful, eve…while you remained the loving and supportive parent. So enough of the parent blaming. Many of us are really tired of this BS.


Dear Chakrahealing:
Thank you for sharing your opinion here. I agree that many parents do their best and still get kicked to the curb. I appreciate your honest critique. This article intends to inform and certainly not blame. Many parents have asked this question out of frustration feeling hurt about what happened to their adult child. All the best, Marie

S Will Crawfo

After my youngest son and husband died within 5 months of one another, I was solely on my own for the first time in my life. I had gone from my mother’s house to a married house. Our oldest son got married early(age 22) and our youngest was a drug addict until he died. My husband had gone through multiple joint surgeries and kidney stones, and wouldn’t let anyone else help take care of him. When they died, I felt release and relief, for them and for me. My oldest son is a big “controller”. When I reconnected with a childhood friend I’d known for 65years, and flew out to Texas to spend some time with him, my son and DIL and grandchildren went ballistic (this was after two years had passed. My son blocked me from his phone and FB, my DIL reamed me out in front of the kids, my son told me I was crazy. I spent 6 weeks in Texas and they were LIVID! Told me I should have dated him for 6 months while they got to know him. Kept saying they were not ready for me to date or sell the house, and I abandoned them when I did sell the house and we bought an RV & living in it full time & traveling.
My feelings were that I had had someone tell me what to do all my life, and I didn’t need their approval or their permission to move on. They wouldn’t let me talk, just told me what they wanted. They refused to call him by name, and now, he says he will never meet them….and I don’t blame him.
He and I went to school together, moms were grademothers together, grandparents were friends and grew up in the same country community, etc. I had met his wife when they came to my aunt’s funeral service, and seen and spoken with him a few times over the years at high school get togethers. His wife hides with cancer during Covid and he knew I had lost my son and husband the year before, and called me to see how I was coping as he was grieving his wife.
That is our story. He and I are very much alike, and he is so respectful and kind. He puts me first in everything. He has travelled and worked all over the US and is taking me to see so many things that my deceased husband refused to do.
My granddaughter has finally reached out. She is 20. She said she is pissed (sorry about the language), but she loves me and misses me. But she can’t tell her parents as they are so angry. My 15 year old grandson refuses to speak to me. Acting just like his dad. He says I traded my family for another, so he was out.
Yes, I went to therapy after the deaths, and yes, my now husband and I wen to counseling before we married. All told us to live life ( we were 71 when this started) and be happy together. His children have been great. (Thank goodness). But I miss my grandchildren and want them to understand that I can’t live my life for them exclusively and sit and wait for them to need or want me…I have never been loved / treated as well as now.
Am I looking for approval or criticism as Inpost thisZ? No. I do wonder if anyone else has estranged children because they chose to change their lifestyle that didn’t agree with what their children thought they should do.


Dear S Will Crawfo:

Thank you for sharing your story here. I am so sorry this has happened to you. In answer to your question, I have heard of others whose adult children were verbally unhappy with their parent’s decisions. I am grateful that you have found someone who is kind and loving.
I wish you the best, Warmly, Marie

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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