4 Common Myths About Adult Child-Parent Estrangement, According To Experts

These myths are often rooted in a continued denial from the parent.

Adult Child-Parent Estrangement Cookie Studio | Shutterstock, Dean Drobot, dimaberlinphotos | Canva

The first stage is denial, and that is where a lot of estranged parents get stuck. Denial can create various false reasons why the estrangement has happened. Those denials backed by false reasons get repeated and shared across social media and gossip circles to quickly become urban myths. When viewed through the lens of abuse/abuser dynamics, the myths sound a lot like victim blaming.

Here are 4 myths about adult child-parent estrangement, according to YourTango experts:

1. The child lacks family values

One common myth about adult child-parent estrangement is that the child lacks family values. This misconception assumes that the issues leading to estrangement are trivial or could have been easily resolved with more effort. In reality, most people who decide to sever ties with a parent do so as a last resort. They often exhaust every possible avenue to forge a positive relationship. Ultimately, if these attempts continuously fail, they may choose to distance themselves for their mental and emotional well-being. It's important to understand that you can't force a healthy relationship if the foundational issues aren't addressed.


Erika Jordan, Dating Coach / NLP Practitioner

Son and estranged father buy into the myth fizkes via Shutterstock

RELATED: 3 Little Steps People Take Before Going No-Contact With A Family Member

2. The child is cruel and ungrateful

People often assume the child is ungrateful or mean! But all the clients I've worked with who were estranged were either loudly rejected by their parents for their life choices or had good, sometimes heartbreaking, reasons for choosing not to see them.


Dr. Gloria Brame, Therapist, and Author

RELATED: Why Going No-Contact With My Mom Was The Best Decision I Ever Made

3. The person wanting the estrangement is ripping the family apart

At first glance, the estrangement statistic seems dire. People want to paint it as "families being ripped apart" and "the dissolution of an institution." But, are these families being ripped apart? To me, it doesn’t seem so.

@thezaragreen The Shocking Truth About Why Your Children Will Leave You #Estrangement #ParentAdultChild #Family ♬ original sound - Zara 🟢

No, a lot of the choices to go no-contact are akin to a person grabbing a lifesaver off a floundering ship. It’s the smart thing to do if you’re being abused, hurt, neglected, or used. Not sure if you’ve heard this yet, but your presence is a privilege, not a right. Don’t let people abuse that privilege. You owe it to yourself to surround yourself with decent folks.


If other people can’t see that, they probably don’t have the empathy they should have. That’s a "them" problem, not a "you" problem. The sooner we rethink estrangement, the better off we’ll all be.

Ossiana Tepfenhart, Writer

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4. There's only one reason why the estrangement happened

Placing the blame on the parents may discount the many possible interactions that can lead to a disconnect between parent and child. No one kind of interaction is the root cause of adults choosing to separate from their guardians. If you ask the involved parties, each will likely believe the reason for the estrangement is something different due to nuances in how they interpret it.


Mother daughter tension might create myth about estrangement fizkes via Shutterstock

Parents tend to think that a break in communication with their child is a result of divorce, them not approving of their children’s mates, or a sense of entitlement. But the adult children think that parents’ toxicity, mistreatment, abuse, neglect, or lack of love and support are to blame.

Some potential causes of separation could be mental illness, narcissism, judging, immaturity, differences in value, beliefs, or morals, abuse, neglect, rivalries, manipulation, dishonesty, entitlement, favoritism, drugs or alcohol, role reversals, and so on.


NyRee Ausler, writer

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There are two sides to every story, and when it comes to parental estrangement there are often 20 sides or more, many of those sides are myths used to deny the reality of the past, often while continuing harmful behavior in the present. However, the reality is the child who has estranged the parent has suffered at a level to force the choice of going low or no contact because it is healthier than maintaining the relationship.


Will Curtis is a writer and editor for YourTango. He's been featured on the Good Men Project and taught English abroad for ten years.