Parents of estranged adult children ask: Why?

Your Adult Child is Estranged, Parents ask, “Why?”

adult child is estrangedWhen something as momentous as an adult child leaving the family occurs, it’s completely natural to ask, “Why?

Asking the question over and over again is normal after an adult child is estranged. After all, for most of us, asking why? has always been a way to find answers, connect with other people, and explore the world. Asking why? is a fundamental part of the human experience.

But the question can be tiring for the people who stand by us as we go through the emotional trauma. Our adult child is estranged, and we can’t understand why this happened, why our adult child left, and why he or she won’t let us in to try and solve the puzzle.

Our loved ones may not have any answers, and they may want us to accept that there simply is no way to explain the estrangement. They might worry we’re blaming ourselves. And in time, they may grow tired of hearing about our pain. In our continual quest for answers as to why our adult child is estranged, we may even tire ourselves out.

But embracing the question, Why?, can be part of the healing process that goes along with human nature and our need to find meaning. Ignoring the need for an answer may be more stressful than examining the responses that come up as you attempt to find reasons.

For a much more complete discussion about how asking why? can help, see  the article,
Help for parents of estranged adult children – An Adult Child’s Rejection: Asking Why?, which is filed under the “What Parents Can Do” navigation category.

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7 thoughts on “Parents of estranged adult children ask: Why?

  1. landy

    I am a broken mother. I have lost both my beautiful daughters. It’s worse than death itself. Its the living death. I grieve every single moment of my day or my night. I cannot continue and pray to God to take me home.

    1. winlin

      Landy, I missed your post because it was not in the community section. Join us and post regularly, it helps .I am sorry you have lost both daughters and I understand your pain. We all have felt like life has become unbearable. But it is possible to move on. Just as life does move on after a bereavement. I know it is hard to believe but you will recover. Sheri has lots of goodadvice. If you come into the community and read some of the old posts then the newer ones you can see how others have moved from despair to reclaiming their lives. Sorry I have not welcomed you sooner.

  2. rparents Post author

    Dear Landy,

    I’m feeling for you in this horrible situation, and can empathize with your feelings. A great many parents may at one time or another feel hopeless, and question what their life has been all about when the people who have been so important to them walk away. I’m so very sorry for your pain.

    I hope you will reach out for support near you. A friend or family member, a neighbor maybe. It might also help to talk to a clinician trained to help with feelings, grief, loss, and depression.

    Try searching for “help line” in your area. You can do this by using the phrase in quotes, adding a plus sign, and then your city or region name.. As an example: “help line”+San Diego
    Use your own area/city.

    Talking can help.

    You may also find help through a church organization (you mentioned praying to God), even one that’s not your local outreach.

    Sometimes, there’s a door just around the corner that we never dreamed would be there. A new focus for us … and something that this experience has prepared you for. I don’t know you, but I bet you have gotten through other tough times. What did you do to get past the pain and move forward? Just one tiny step in the right direction moves you forward, even an inch at a time.

    Is the sun out and golden? Do the trees look hauntingly beautiful against the backdrop of snow? Are the dewdrops clinging to the grass like tiny rainbow prisms as the light hits them? Did the neighbor wave? Find something to recognize for its beauty, and take a moment to appreciate that. If you have a pet, hug it up! He or she is counting on you and full of love for you.

    The website here is not intended for “crisis intervention,” but there are many websites and telephone numbers out there for free assistance. For instance:
    1-800-273-TALK (8255) .

    You might find this article helpful:

    Landy, I hope you will feel a little brighter soon.

    Sheri McGregor

  3. penny

    Dearest Landy;
    It is like a death, but worse. Everyone feels compassion for a parent who has lost a child to death. With our situation there is always the unspoken question “What did she do to have her child reject her. Was she abusive , addicted, or a liar?” I try to never discuss it and only my closest friend and my other daughter know everything about it.
    I hope for the best for you.


  4. Noreen

    I visit this site everyday without fail for the strength I need to keep moving forward. It’s helping. I’ve also decided to start seeing a counselor. I don’t think I can move forward quick enough. I know it takes as long a it takes. After 10+ years of agony from having my only child, who was my life, my heart and pride the love that I gave so unconditionally slowly withdraw from me, I need the additional help. It would take all day to write about how she used my love to keep doing things that hurt and humiliated me would open the wound all over again. Now she’s having a baby, that I already love so much, but, also know will be a way to inflict more pain on me. The wedding almost killed me as now remarried we were not allowed to invite anyone to sit and enjoy with. Having most of the people there not know I was her mother, for her stepmom to stand up in my place at the church. I sank so deep that I dropped to 89lbs.

    I done having an open place in my heart to have her fill it with anymore pain. Maybe others would choose to go alone (again) and not have anyone talk to again. I find the strength here everyday to keep my heart safe and I’m making progress in finding a new way forward. And, I will make it! I almost let this thing kill me. So thank you all and I’m so sorry for all of you and the undeserved pain inflicted. Many of you have been punishing yourselves for much longer than the 10 years I made it through. Please keep the positive posting going – it give me such strength. For those of you who r just starting, like me, telling the story’s may help and this is a good place to vent. But, remember; every time you tell the whole story, you’ve opened the wound once again, Let’s find a way to heal together. We didn’t deserve it – no one deserves this devastation. Lets begin to see the light. I’ve blocked my FB page and email. The only way to reach me is to call. But, I will never be disrespected by her again. If I’m not treated with the love and respect I know I deserve than there’s no place for her in my life. Maybe one day….but no more dwelling.So thank you all for sharing. Right now you’re my only support and you’re keeping me going.

    1. Greta

      Sounds like you’re on the right track Noreen. Making decisions that protect you’re heart and your privacy. You know what helped open my eyes? I made a list of all the really unpleasant things I won’t have to do if I don’t put up a fight at her ‘dismissal’.

      Things like, I won’t have to grovel and plead with her to try and save this miserable situation. I won’t have to spend three days dreading making that call or any other call to her. Or I won’t have to write one more birthday or Christmas check that she’s never thanked me for in the past. Come up with as many like that as you can. Write them down so you can see them and study them.

      I did that and along with all the other issues that go along with the crummy relationship that was developing, it was pretty easy for me to recognize that I should feel relieved really, that she dumped me. Yes,I did say that, I’m relieved that she dumped me. Knowing her was just not worth it. She just made me either unhappy or just plain uncomfortable.

      The list helped me be honest with myself.

  5. Darlene

    I am in the same, sometimes unbearable pain. The estrangement from my 30 year old son came out of nowhere. We had always been so close. I am disappointed each time I wake up because it just means having to survive another day of pain.
    I somehow get through each day, and hope that in time he will call. So I wait, try to stay busy, and do my best to be a loving wife to my wonderfully patient husband, I know he is also mourning the loss of our only child. We have no control over our children once they become adults, so we must just accept their choices and let them know we love them. That’s all we can do. Keep them in our hearts and hope they come back to us and try to take care of ourselves while we wait. I direct my attention to others that are in need, and that helps fill the void.


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