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When Your Adult Child Stops Talking to You: 5 Things They Want You to Know

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As a product of a dysfunctional family, I find fulfillment in sharing my personal heartache to help others going through difficult times.


Why I Estranged From My Father

Like most, I've gone through periods of time not speaking to a family member. Sometimes it's because there is a disagreement and space is needed. Sometimes it's simply because life has gotten in the way and time is hard to find. Other times, a relationship has had its season and it's time to move on, with no hard feelings.

Unfortunately though, there is something more than a dispute or a one-time event that puts an indefinite pause on a relationship. What is that you ask? I am talking about a full-blown estrangement.

After many years of trying to have a non-toxic relationship with my father, I made the heartbreaking decision to cut him out of my life over a year ago. Below, you will find a list of things I learned. These are the things I'd tell him if we were speaking. Anyone reading this who is a parent in this position, please know that I write this article from a place of love. I'm not a victim all alone; my parent/father is a victim of it as well. There's healing and change that needs to take place on both sides.

5 Things Your Estranged Adult Child Wants You to Know

1. We Didn't Take the Decision Lightly

It is painful, it is hard to understand, and it seems to have just happened overnight, but odds are that the decision to stop talking to you was not taken lightly. It was made after many years and lots of thinking, soul searching, and failed communication. We did not just wake up one day and say to ourselves, “I want to torture my parents by never speaking to them again!” Something pushed us to this unbearable but unavoidable reality. And guess what? It breaks our hearts, too. But sometimes when relationships have gone in a certain way for so long, it can't be fixed with one or multiple conversations. Sometimes drastic measures like this need to be taken, and only from there can it maybe be fixed. Hang in there.

2. We Have Already Given You a "Second Chance"

...or third, fourth, and fifth chances. Odds are that we have talked and talked but never felt like you listened because you are used to us being “children.” We have tried to tell you what is bothering us (and you have expressed your feelings, too). Perhaps we were in denial that our issues were valid, but no more.

Also, as family, we sometimes think that the bond is unbreakable until we learn that it is not. Many of us have started to care more about how we are treated than who shares our DNA...that is not enough.

I understand too that as a parent, you have done all that you know to do, and it does not seem to work or get though our hard heads (and we have them, we can be stubborn). Give it time, give it space. Sometimes, the estrangement is just temporary.

3. We Also Have a Void That Cannot Be Filled

There are not many things more painful for a parent than losing a child, either physically or emotionally. But you must also understand that we, as adult children, also have a void. We wouldn't have cut our parent out of our lives if we didn't genuinely feel a threat to our emotional wellbeing. It is heartbreaking to us as well, because no other human can fill your void in us, either. However, we look at the estrangement as the lesser of two evils after things have gotten to a certain point.

But parents, please don't be scared by this. Just listen. Hopefully, we will listen to you, too, and there can be healing.

4. We Are Mourning, Too

Your child has stopped talking to you and you are in mourning. Guess what? They are mourning, too. That may provide comfort or make you feel worse, but know that it is the truth. The odds are good that, if we cut you out, we have been mourning a relationship with you for a long time, long before you long before you knew there was a problem. It is no one's fault—miscommunication happens in almost any relationship at some point. But there is no joy in it for anyone, estrangement was done out of extreme necessity and we wish it could be different.

5. We Still Love You

Just because we chose to move forward in life without communicating with you does not mean that we hate you. It means that we love you so much that we decided to just let you be despite what our ego wants. It means that we also love ourselves enough to not force something that will disrupt our lives moving forward with our spouses, children, our just ourselves. But what is good for us is also good for you. Live your best life without us as well.

Did Your Adult Daughter or Son Stop Talking to You? Or Did You Stop Talking With a Parent?

If so, please share your experience below. I would love to hear your stories. When I was really struggling, I found great comfort in hearing other people's similar situations. It didn't fix my problem, but it made me feel like I wasn't the only one. Whether you are the parent or adult child, I hope comfort can be found.

More Information

Below, I have included links to other great articles on the topic, for those struggling with their relationships with a parent or adult child.

One Tough Mother: Parental Alienation and Family Estrangement

5 Reasons Why Adult Children Estrange From Their Parents

What Not to Say to a Friend Who Is Estranged From a Parent (and 3 Things They Need to Hear)

You are not alone, stay strong!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: My daughter chose the man to marry within 3 months of meeting him. We helped make it as special as we could. Since getting married she has stopped talking to us. She rarely answers a call or text. I only try every other week or do to say hello and see how she is. My heart is broken because we were so close. Do I just leave my newlywed daughter alone completely?

Answer: I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having this issue. I’m not a professional, just an adult child myself. Without knowing what she is going through or what her reasons are I can't say for sure. If it’s not an abusive situation she is in where she can't contact you without consequences, she is probably doing it on her own accord and may need space.

Question: I am an adult survivor who has made friends with a couple in my apt. She is an MSW but retired now. We did clay work together and a week later she sent me a painted snake she had a made to make up for a misunderstanding. I threw up when I opened the package and feel violated by good friends. How can I address my difficulty with my friend without cutting off our relationship?

Answer: I am so sorry you’re having issues with friends of yours. I know it is never easy. I am not a professional. I am just an adult child of parents who I have had an on/off relationship. Troubled relationships of any kinds are never easy.

© 2019 Jess B


Keena kkt on August 03, 2020:

Thank you for writing this article. My father, Whom we have been super close all my life, had a disagreement last year. So bad, in fact. I hadnt spoken to him for a whole year. We live 45 minutes apart also....the disagreement was about my friends living on our property and my mentally ill brother getting in some bad trouble in involving a court hearing. Now, with this court hearing, the case worker phone interviewed my step mother( ex step) , my dad and me. The questions were to be the result of a guardian for my brother's finances and living situation. When the question about mental illness came up and if it was a repeated symptom in our family...i told her my father was also mentally ill. Schizophrenia actually like my brother. Well, this court sent each of us a copy of the prelim and....all our comments. So my dad read what i said. It was released an anger in him towards me that I never seen. He called my husband horrible things, my friends and my career ( former executive chef). I couldn't take the negativity. When the quarentine came i lost my job. I felt more alone than ever. My marriage is all over the place. As my husband had a stroke in February of last year and has been a very difficult person to be around, i just couldn't take it anymore not talking to my i went out to his place and visited him. In the bible it says to respect your elder and family. I heard it everywhere I went and saw people taking care of their parents...on tv, at the store in the the was a sign. I get it that not talking to a parent or parents happens...and lesson learned here. It has to be forgiven. It makes you a better adult and makes your family happier without living with the facts you are fighting with your parents. Be the bigger person and make things right. Think about the sacrifices parents make to raise us. Its sacrifices that you make to your own kids and how you would feel about this sort of action. Mend the wound...they could be gone before you get the chance...then you will have to live with it forever. Then it will happen to you when you are old.

My father and I are rebuilding our relationship. With me being unemployed and not working 70 plus hours a week, i have noticec alot of things that I have missed in life. Dont fall short of something you will regret.. .

Tosha on July 30, 2020:

To the lady whose daughter stopped talking after getting married.

I have an adult daughter. I would show up at her house and make sure she us not being manipulated and abused by that husband.

See what your senses tell you about her home and her demeanor. Slip her a bible and a "book" or two one with the inside pages cut out and secret bank card and a cell phone hidden it for just incase.

Lindsay on July 25, 2020:

My daughter has brought me in and out of her life but this time she has cut my heart wide open by telling the world she has chosen a woman that is in a relationship with her father to be her mother She invited me to her wedding then secretly had one without telling me asking my mother if I was aware of it , I have always thought of myself to be a caring mother who only wanted the best for my children , she was my first child I had her at a young age her father was locked up and I raised her with a step father who she states I chose over her , I have two other children with my husband I would never chose any one over the other . My heart is big and don’t feel I should ever have to chose , but I just want the World to know I love you Kerrin’ and no one could ever change that so no matter what I will always be the MOTHER GOD has chosen for you and will always love you but I respect your choice, Love mom and I hope you Dance

FeelingGood01 on July 24, 2020:

I dont talk to my father anymore for a few years because he is toxic. However we are still living in the same house. He feels like he is always right and always has the last say to everything. It’s so frustrating and disappointing that you cant do what you want and when you reason out he will tell you that you are disrespectful. Whenever I’m home I stay in an area in our house which I will not be able to see him. He just dont know how to listen.

About my mother, i just talk to her casually however i dont talk to her much anymore compared before. She protects my father like he is always right. I cannot explain my side whenever there are arguments because in the end they will make you feel I’m wrong.

Juliegirl707 on July 23, 2020:

I lost both my sons when I divorced my husband when I found out he had embezzled everything I had. I lost my home, got no child support, and all the while that I tried everything to stay on good terms with their father by not discussing what happened with my kids, he was stabbing me in the back. I have tried repeatedly to connect with my boys who are in their 30's but clearly they will never forgive me for divorcing their father. They even both got married without me being there. How do you have any chance of curing that pain?

walkingoneggshells on June 27, 2020:

I've read the 'silent treatment' is a form of torture and abuse. I'm 62. My 35 yr old daughter is married. She was a pleasure to raise, and never got angry. She's funny, smart, responsible, beautiful and never gave me an ounce of trouble or anguish...I love her very much. I divorced her father, (he passed away last yr) and since then, over the past 15 years, she has become angry at me and stopped talking for yrs at a time. This time its been 3 yrs because I chatted with an old hometown friend of mine on Facebook that happened to be the mother of my daughter's husband's x-gf. When my daughter gets mad, she refuses to talk, discuss, or have any kind of communication with me. This has been repeated over and over again over the time it was 5 yrs. I have been to see a counsellor for this and was told my daughter will find fault in everything I do or say, and will continue this behaviour unless she receives help. My counsellor even called my daughter to discuss this, and my daughter would not even talk to her or return her calls. She has suggested I forget about my daughter and go on without her in my life. I wish I could just sit down with her and have her tell me why she hates me so much, just let her talk, so I can understand. My 90 yr old mother has repeatedly told me to stop blaming myself, that I was and am a wonderful, loving mother. My daughter wont even talk to her! She wont talk to her brother either. (my son) I have given up on her, it causes me so much frustration and heartache I really don't deserve to be treated like this, by anyone...especially my own daughter.

Momof57182 on April 08, 2020:

My first born son and I were close, he went through a long stage of addiction, I was there trying to help him . He eventually got the help he needed. My son met his now fiancé at his meetings, her and I got along for the most part. Now that they have gotten their own footing etc, My din is angry with me, I’m not allowed at his home, he doesn’t answer my phone calls he tells me I’m a toxic mom. My heart hurts I feel helpless

Pam Bennington on February 17, 2020:

I have had the pleasure of having my 2 grandsons spend Friday night with me for 5 years now. We enjoy that time , I took a job and couldn't have them for 2 Fridays and then there was 2 Fridays it snow stormed and I didn't get them. Now my daughter and her husband won't let me talk to them on phone, won't let me go see them and won't let them come see me and I don't know why. The only way I can see my 8 year old grandson is at school lunch I go visit

I miss them so much

Samantha's Mom on January 23, 2020:

I am so grateful that you are explaining the perspective of the child. Thank you. I too have been guilty of the "Why me?" thinking as a mother of a daugther who has not spoken with me in now over four years. I am glad to read that you think she still loves me. This is what shakes me to my core. But, like you said, what she feels is more important right now. Thank you.

Jess B (author) from United States on May 28, 2019:

Thank you so much for reaching out! Im happy to know you through the power of writing. We will help people a lot, I know people just like us, helped me when i was at my worst. It is a tough thing when we question our parents intentions, as we are taught to believe they are always pure and unconditional. Some of us know a different truth, but we’re in it together. I wish you continued healing!!

Debra Roberts from Ohio on May 27, 2019:

Thank you for doing this...maybe we can both be helpul resources for others enduring this unfortunate behavior from those who we love and who are supposed to love us unconditionally. It is a terrible feeling to not be respected and turned away from and most days I wonder if I was really even wanted as a child. I guess that is only a natural feeling. I'm inserting your link now.

Jess B (author) from United States on May 27, 2019:

Hi Debra! :) You spoke about your issues with your mom so eloquently! There is such a pain when we as "children" have to do an estrangement. Knowing I wasn't alone was so crucial in my healing and I think it is great that we both share our stories with others going through the same thing, as it can be a very isolating, lonely feeling. I would love to create a link to your article in mine as well! They go hand in hand perfectly! So sorry for your situation, I truly understand, but I'm so grateful we can do good for others!

Debra Roberts from Ohio on May 26, 2019:

Yes, I am experiencing parental estrangement. I am sorry you are enduring this as there is no greater pain--aside from your own child cutting you off--because I had to cut off grandma and they don't see her abuse or how she has hurt me repeatedly. They see a lonely old widow and think I should just endure her wrath. I did it for decades and when my father passed and I was in the process of a divorce and remarriage, she unleashed on me and caused chaos at every turn. Here is my story: I would like to create a backlink to your article within mine :)

Jess B (author) from United States on March 09, 2019:

So beautifully said Elly! And so very true! As hard as this whole topic can be for so many reasons, it is wonderful when someone can truly understand. Thank you so much for reading my article. I wish you continued peace with your journey.

Elly The Autistic on March 07, 2019:

An excellent article...

The points you made about the Estranged Children hurting as well and that we have tried multiple times to 'explain' is particularly important to recognize. I have spent a lot of time researching this topic, due to my own estrangement from my 'family'.

On Estranged Children's forums there is an underlying theme of sadness and loss that We cannot get our EP's to actually "listen" to Us and our concerns. We are constantly cite being trivialized, minimized, our concerns outright rejected and at worse called '"fabricated" (a polite way to say we are LIARS). As you said, We get looked at like We are still 'petulant children' and they are the only 'adult' in the situation and therefore are "right".

EC forums are also full of Us saying that it isn't past behavior that has led to the estrangement or No Contact. It is the continued bad behavior on the part of the Estranged Parent.

On the flip side, Estranged Parent forums are full of people displaying the very behaviors We as Estranged Children cite as the reasons for going No Contact and when they are confronted they behave in all the manners We describe -- they just don't see or recognize it.

EP's believe their children (Us) are selfish, immature and need a "swift kick" to be brought 'back in line'. They think We are angry and hostile and No Contact is a way to punish them. They see any attempt at Us setting healthy boundaries as Us trying to "control and manipulate" THEM and their response is to dig in their heels. "How dare those kids of Ours tell US what to do!!!"

You are right. I have mourned the relationship I never had with my 'family' but more importantly I mourn the fact that my 'parents' are still alive and until they can treat Me as an EQUAL human to them, I must maintain No Contact. Sadly, I don't believe them capable.

Jess B (author) from United States on February 15, 2019:

Hi Amber! I am so glad it could bring you some comfort.

Amber Joy from Canada on February 13, 2019:

Thank you! I needed this!