How Long Does Parent-Child Estrangement Usually Last? 4 Determining Factors

 / 

, , ,
how long does parent child estrangement usually last

Becoming a parent is a demanding job. As your child ages and gets into adulthood, the relationship changes though. A parent’s relationship with their adult children can change and become estranged. The most common form of parent-child estrangement is the result of children abandoning their parents. But what factors can explain this and how long does this parent-child estrangement last?

Parent-Child Estrangement: What do parents need to know when adult children cut them off?
Nine years, average. Five-plus years for mothers, seven-plus for fathers. Less than five years, in most cases. All of these timelines have appeared in various research studies on estrangement between parents and adult children. None is definitive.

How Long Your Estrangement From Your Child Lasts Will Depend On Several Factors.

And while only one of these is within your control, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Factor 1: Your Child

Your child’s temperament and circumstances will affect the length of estrangement. Let’s look at each of these.

Temperament

If your child is particularly soft-hearted or family-oriented, she’s more likely to look for reasons to reconcile. If he’s particularly stubborn, independent, or apt to hold grudges, he’s a harder case.

How well your child’s personality meshes with yours is another element that appears in the “temperament” column.

Circumstances

Your child’s circumstances play a larger role than you might think in how long the estrangement will last.

Busy young adults can easily put troubled relationships with parents on the back burner. They don’t have extra time or energy to spend working through things with people who remind them of the past. They’re naturally oriented towards the future⁠—new relationships, careers, living situations, opportunities, etc.

What might have taken a good, long conversation or two to work through could take months or years to resolve. This is because of the fact that adults’ priorities typically don’t include moving “backwards,” i.e., closer to parents. Even if they love you, building an independent life takes precedence for most healthy young people.

Related: Why You MUST Cut Ties With A Toxic Family Member

Factor 2: Pressure

You may be surprised to hear this, but estranged adult children experience near-constant pressure to reconcile with their parents. There are two separate types of pressure on your child.

Social Pressure

Your child lives in a society that values family. Socially speaking, it will never be “comfortable” for your child to be estranged from you. Pressure to reconcile may come from your child’s spouse, in-laws, friends, coworkers, and even casual acquaintances.

When people find out your child doesn’t talk to you, many will encourage them to reconcile. It’s common for people to be uncomfortable when others cut off their parents. These folks will often make your child feel judged as ungrateful or unfeeling.

Internal Pressure

There’s often uncertainty around estrangement, even in those who initiate it. “Am I a bad daughter?” “Was I asking too much of my parents?” “Am I right to stay away?” Far from being on a power trip, estrangers are often plagued by insecurity surrounding their decision.

For many, it would be easier to reconcile and not have to struggle with these thoughts. The longer it goes on, the more exhausting this can be.

Related: Parental Alienation Syndrome: What Is It, And Who Does It?

Factor 3: Time

The passage of time changes everything. Time can heal, or at least soothe old wounds. It can usher in perspective as circumstances change and tables turn. There are dozens of wise old sayings about this. Suffice it to say, it’s impossible to step into the same river twice.

You and your child will both be different tomorrow than you were yesterday. And the more tomorrow pass, the more room there is for change.

Anger may have flared between you and your child in the past. But in time, memories will start to fade around the edges. Anger will ease off and reveal the hurt feelings beneath. Again: Perspectives can and do shift.

All of this happens only as time passes. You can go ahead and curse time for being a thief. But also remember to celebrate it as a helpful friend. I’ve heard of estrangements finally ending after more than 30 years. Time can work miracles.

Factor 4: You

Last but not least, what impact can you have on how long your child remains estranged? Plenty. And that cuts both ways.

It’s important to remain calm when your child initiates cut-off. Acting from emotion usually leads to poor results. While you may not be able to speed up reconciliation, you can always slow the process down, and the best way to impede progress is with impulsive, emotional behavior that serves your needs while ignoring those of your child.

Contacting an adult who has asked for space is a good way to force them further away from you. It will also prolong the estrangement since the request for space remains unfulfilled as long as you’re reaching out.

If you haven’t been asked for no-contact, your calm and loving response to your child’s distancing behaviors may help to draw him or her back into the conversation. You need to understand what went wrong, and how you can address the problem as The Parent.

No reconciliation will last if it’s not followed up with positive changes to the relationship. The best thing you can do with the time that’s been forced on you is to learn how to understand and address your child’s emotional needs.

People don’t estrange from parents on a whim, or just because someone else wants them to. If your child is willing to put distance between you, there’s something there for you to understand.

Related: What Is Positive Emotional Detachment: Definition and Meaning

Parents And Personal Growth

In most cases, there’s something invisible to the parent, that bothers the child about the relationship. For rejected parents, deep introspection and intentional personal growth can bring such issues to light. The better you understand yourself, the better chance you have of understanding your child.

Here are a couple of things you can do to enhance Factor 4 while you wait for the other factors to work on your child…

1. Don’t contact an adult child who’s expressly asked for no contact.

As I already suggested, it won’t go well for you. The most likely response will be either negative or none at all. You could easily prolong the estrangement unnecessarily.

2. Practice emotional literacy.

Far from being just distractions, emotions are the very basis of our quality of life and our enjoyment of relationships. If you’ve been disregarding or disrespecting the role of emotions in your life, it’s time to change that stance.

Related: Why Grown Kids Tend To “Ghost” a Parent’s Wedding

3. Notice how you feel.

Learn to embrace and tolerate every feeling you might have. Once you start paying attention and honoring your own feelings, you’ll understand and respond to others’ emotions with greater ease. Practice constructive wallowing.

4. Cultivate social support.

Your child isn’t there for you right now. But that doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Seek the company of people who accept, understand, and love you. This is not a nice-to-have. It’s a need-to-have, for your physical and emotional well-being.

5. Get therapy.

If you’re not already in therapy, find a compassionate counselor who can help you understand your history and current experiences. Getting clear on these will not only make you feel better about yourself but will put you in a better position to understand your child when the time comes.

You are the fourth and final factor in how long your estrangement will last. The other three might bring your child back to you even if you do nothing. But reconciliations that occur without an intentional change in the parent usually fall back into estrangement eventually.

Do whatever you need to heal and grow as an individual now. It will help you get to the bottom of why the relationship faltered in the first place. You’ll also become more adept at solving any problems that need solving between you and your child.


References

Lucy Blake, “Parents and Children Who Are Estranged in Adulthood: A Review and Discussion of the Literature,” Journal of Family Theory and Review 9 (December 2017): 528.

Richard P. Conti, “Family Estrangement: Establishing a Prevalence Rate,” Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Science 3, No. 2 (December 2015): 34.

Kristina Scharp and Rachel M. McLaren, “Uncertainty Issues and Management in Adult Children’s Stories of Their Estrangement with Their Parents,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 35, No. 6 (2017): 812

Written By:Tina Gilbertson
Originally Appeared On:Psychology Today 
Republished with permission
How Long Does Parent-Child Estrangement Usually Last pin
How Long Does Parent Child Estrangement pin
how long does parent child estrangement usually last pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Responses

  1. FRANCINE MARCIEL Avatar
    FRANCINE MARCIEL

    I thank my daughter and I will
    always be estranged . She has told me on meny occasions she wants to destroy me and the older my grandkids the worse she didn’t need a babysitter anymore. She told me she doesn’t want me to stay away she wants me to commit suicide or Die miserable alone. If I try to leve our small town I will only have the clothes on my back. She has went to grate trouble destroying every relationship for friendship I ever had with anyone her and her best friend have manipulated my grandkids my oldest grandson dared to disagree with her when he was 15 so she had her husband break his hand while his brothers held him down. I asked her why she didn’t just tell me to stay away if this is how she felt about me and she told me “where’s the fun in that.” If you’re wondering what I did to her as a child to have that much hate I got my teeth knocked out and my jaw broken in front of her .dad was that abusive and he blamed me for everything if he’s someone just broke his shoelace it was my fault and I guess at some point she believed it. At this point I just want her to stay away from me.

Leave a Reply



Up Next

Identify When Your Kid Needs You The Most With The 9-Minute Theory

Nine Minute Theory: Most Important Minutes Of Your Child

Are you a parent who wants to build a better relationship with your children? Then welcome to the Nine Minute Theory. This game-changer in parenting has been making waves among moms and dads everywhere.

Sara Martinez, a mother of a toddler, scrolls through TikTok looking for advice. Out of all the comments flooding her screen, one catches her eye – the 9 Minute Theory.

She does some digging and what she finds not only brings her closer to her 19-month-old daughter Millie but also relieves some of her ‘mom guilt.’

So What Is The Nine Minute Theory?



Up Next

10 Helpful Benefits Of Reading Aloud to Your Child!

Helpful Benefits Of Reading Aloud to Your Child!

It’s no surprise if you often overlook the necessity and the benefits of reading aloud to your children in our hectic schedules. Understanding why is it important to read to your child is crucial to bridge this gap. 

This way it helps in so many interesting ways that can help a child to learn and grow.

This is why we are here to show you how awesome the benefits of reading aloud to your child are and give some tips on making it an extraordinary part of your family time.

Get set because we are going to discover why reading books out loud is like a superpower for kids. We will touch on some benefits of reading as a child, understand feelings better, and perform excellently in education.

Therefore take your favorite book cuddle up with your littlest



Up Next

How To Deal With Toxic Relatives: 6 Effective Tips To Follow!

How To Deal With Toxic Relatives: Effective Tips To Follow

In all likelihood, we will come across a few toxic people at some point in our lives: they could be coworkers or bosses; boyfriends, girlfriends or exes; friends or acquaintances; neighbors who won’t say hello – the list is endless.

However, familial relationships are special among these categories because of our shared blood.

Therefore, it can be especially hard to deal with toxic relatives since we usually feel like we’re stuck with them forever. That is why I will provide you with 5 ways on how to deal with toxic relatives. 

This disorder can seem normal and feel safe going down. I’ll also give you five clear signs that you’re dealing with a toxic person! So let’s begin.



Up Next

Redefining Motherhood: 7 Mom Trends You Shouldn’t Feel Obligated To Follow

Popular Mom Trends, That Need To This Mother's Day

Some popular parenting or mom trends can be both helpful and tricky. They can make you feel like you’re part of a group, sharing in each other’s ups and downs. But sometimes, they’re more about following trends than what’s best for our families.

This Mother’s Day 2024, make it a point to learn why some trends need to go everywhere in this day and age where social media reigns supreme – promising simplicity, efficiency and style.

But not all trends were created equal; some need to be retired immediately. And here are seven mom trends I think have over-stayed their welcome – and why you should bid them farewell too.

Related:



Up Next

What Is Storge Love And How It Shapes Our Deepest Connections

What Is Storge Love: How It Shapes Our Deepest Connections

Love is the closest thing to magic. While love can often be conditional, unconditional love can make us do the craziest things and also completely transform us for better or worse. However, there is a unique and often overlooked form of affection known as storge love. But what is storge love?

Imagine a love that blossoms within the comforting walls of familiarity, nurturing bonds that withstand the test of time. A love that is born, not from passion or desire, but from a deep sense of connection and shared experiences. This is the essence of storge love that thrives within the realm of family relationships. 

So today, let us understand what is storge love, explore the characteristics of storge love and shed light on the psychological perspectives on storge love.



Up Next

How To Know If Your Mother Hates You: 8 Not-So-Subtle Signs

How To Know If Your Mother Hates You: Not-So-Subtle Signs

Have you ever found yourself wondering if your mother harbors some deep-seated resentment, or even hatred towards you? If you have, then I know that it’s a really tough pill to swallow. How can your mother hate you, and most importantly, how to know if your mother hates you?

Today, we’re diving straight into the realm of family dynamics, exploring the question “why does my mother hate me?”. We will try to understand the signs that give away her true feelings for you, and which may indicate if your mother’s love has taken a dark turn.

Let’s uncover 8 revealing clues that might just help you make sense of the complicated bond you share with your mom. Explore how to know if your mother hates you.



Up Next

How To Successfully Go No Contact With Toxic Parents? 8 Tips To Follow

Best Tips For Going No Contact With Parents Who Are Toxic

In real life, is there an unfollow button for people, especially parents? If you are going no contact with parents, below are 8 tips that could help you make up your mind.

The hardest thing you’ll ever do is close the door on your past. It will also be the most empowering.

You don’t just wake up one day and decide to cut your mom or dad out of your life – it’s a decision that comes after years of trying everything to preserve the relationship.

But something in you finally snaps – you see that the cost of this connection is too high, and maybe for the first time in your life, you choose yourself.

Related: