Why Does My Estranged Child Cut Off Everyone?

It’s sadly common that when an adult child cuts off a parent, he or she stops talking to siblings, grandparents or other dedicated friends or members of the family.

Why do they cut off everyone and not just the parents?

In general, it has to do with the psychological fragility of the estranged child: If you’re very confident in your beliefs or perspectives, you can tolerate views that differ or diverge with your own. You can hear a sibling say, “I don’t think Mom’s that way.” Or, “We were never abused.” Or, “Sure, they were far from perfect but they did a lot of things right, cut them some slack. They’re your parents.”

A healthier person would be able to hear that perspective, perhaps get annoyed, but agree to disagree with the person who’s stating it, whether it’s a sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent or family friend. A more fragile person develops a more black and white construction of reality because he or she is too easily influenced by others.

For the same reason that they may be vulnerable to getting into a cult-like relationship with your SIL, DIL, or a real cult, they are unable to hold onto their own perspective and can’t tolerate the grey.

This also explains why those adults who are psychologically fragile have to reject the parent in order to find themselves.

5 comments on “Why Does My Estranged Child Cut Off Everyone?

  1. Um, ok. Deep breath.

    When an adult child explains to his estranged parents that they can no longer meddle and criticize his life, many times the parent retaliates because the parent is in pain and feels a sense of loss.

    Hence the “he is slipping away” comments.

    If the parent refuses to accept that the parent-adult child relationship has to change (a 40 year old married son does not want his mommy to tell him how he spends his holidays, for example); then the parent equates their feelings to facts.

    Feelings equal facts to disordered persons. I am hurt so you hurt me. I am sad so you betrayed me.

    Now it is not the adult son’s job to make mommy happy and secure. That would be emotional incest and very dysfunctional.

    Regardless, the upset and hurt mother proceeds to cry of her heartbreak to other members of the family. Yes, it’s manipulation. Yes, specifically, it is a smear campaign.

    Bring on the Flying Monkeys. Relatives chastise the adult son: “after all your mother has done for you, how ungrateful are you not to allow your mother to run and control your life! Yes, you are in your 40s and you should have a vote in how you spend your holidays. But your mother’s feelings are more important than yours! Failure to see that means you are disrespectful and immature.”

    So the adult child can either allow his busybody controlling mother to have the final word on how he lives his life and pray that she dies soon in order to be independent.

    Or he can be his own man, be independent, choose how he wants to spend his holidays and let his relatives shun him because his mother needed her allies to bully her son into compliance.

    Ta da! The adult child is cut off from everybody.

    Yeah, must be the adult child’s fault. Yep.

  2. Ummm your perspective of those who choose to cut off communication is simplistic and fails to acknowledge or consider the dynamics of each individual and family dynamic. I am sorry but broad generalizations as are presented on your blog border on malpractice.

    • Lynda, I bet your kid is ignoring your for a good reason and you’re just petty. Your statement fails to describe all parent-child relationships as well. It is super ignorant and perhaps more ignorant than the last comment you tried to retailiate.

      This article fails to show the real reason why kids break off from parents. And it’s rather simple: you yourself pushed them away. Parents never want to take responsibility or apologize and therefore, an estranged relationship is rarely fixed without them trying to.

      I hate to say it, but it’s mostly the parent’s fault in many cases I’ve seen. Even if the child has anger issues, YOU (or your partner) are the cause of it. The fact that you can’t take responsibility and want to take down other who stand up from themselves against their parents is pathetic. Why don’t you worry about something more your level, like a book club or maybe going to see a therapist who actually wants to hear your bullshit?

  3. If your son/daughter cuts you off, as mine has, how do you get them to respond to you? My 21-year-old son is in a manipulative relationship and was told by his girlfriend that he is not allowed to speak to any of his family. We (his parents) have asked him to leave our home several months ago because he states he is so unhappy as he states but refuses to leave because “he has no where else to go.” His girlfriend (3 years older) lives with her parents and he is not allowed in their home (because her father does not know about their relationship). He ignores us and disrespects are house rules (to be kind and respectful). What is the next step? Do we make him leave (throw him out)? Won’t that make matters worse? Will we jeopardize everything? PLEASE help!

    • Please accept my bluntness in speech as being sent to you with loving intent, okay:
      Firstly, you must recognize that your son IS responding to you! Ask yourself and find your best idea for his actions, as they are.
      Second, you need to keep YOU AND YOUR SON, your relationship, and this your situation, as first and foremost, your ONLY concern. Meaning, leave the girlfriend (and anyone else) out of it!
      Next, as the heartbroken and loving parent, you sit with your son and have a conversation–begin by expressing your genuine desire to right this situation, your doubt as to what to do next, your fear that you may make matters worse–then be quiet, patiently wait, and pay very close attention to his response to the feelings you just shared. Your son will at least be giving you the most honest answer you could possible get… one without any undue influence, anxiety, disapproval, etc, and/or your expectations as to how he should respond and behave. He may ignore you and not respond, he might act disrespectfully and answer you, or he may surprise you! Whatever…
      Lastly, you will now be able to make a final decision as parent, having acted in a caring and respectful manner, and without any negative emotions left an issue to prolong the trouble, no doubt or regret. Yeah!
      P.S. Hopefully all will go well with my suggestions, but please remember that I am no expert. In the future you may feel more confident at resolving this (and other similar situations) with your newfound and exemplary parenting skills:).

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