Estrangement between parents and adult children: Feeling stuck

estrangement between parents and adult childrenParents of estranged adults wonder: Is the relationship over for good? Will our son or daughter ever return to us? Or even (whether you want it or not): Will my estranged adult son show up on my death bed?

The painful ambiguity that goes with estrangement between parents and adult children can cause parents to remain in a holding pattern, with their lives in limbo.

Physical estrangement, psychological presence

Your adult child is estranged but present in your thoughts. So much time, energy and love goes into raising a child that we’re bound to think of them. That’s why family gatherings, holidays, and other special times can hold an odd tension between present and past.

My husband and I still live in the home where we raised all of our children, so reminders of our estranged adult child abound. When my family is together, the psychological presence of our estranged adult son looms, kind of like the proverbial 400-pound gorilla. Much of the time, we pretend it’s not there, but it sits in the corner nonetheless, beating its chest.

Estrangement between parents and adult children: common feelings

In a 2011 article in the journal, Families in Society, University of Newcastle research discusses estrangement between parents and adult children. Parents can feel stuck, not knowing whether their adult son or daughter will return or not. The ambiguous nature of estrangement can complicate the experience. But the questions and feelings shared by many parents of estranged adult children are normal.

You are not alone. Still, knowing that other parents have a similar experience doesn’t automatically make the feelings any easier to deal with. So, in light of the ambiguous nature of estrangement between parents and adult children, how do you manage the uncertainty? You can find help with this article: Dealing with Uncertainty.

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