6 Common Reasons An Adult Child May Go No-Contact With Their Parent, According To Experts

Here's a hint, clear harm has been done.

Adult child estranged from mother fizkes, ElNariz | Canva

They don't want to talk to their parent. There is a good reason, probably more than one reason, and that reason is not "just because" or "they are immature".

Here are 6 common reasons an adult child may go no-contact with their parent, according to YourTango experts:

1. They receive nonstop criticism

Constant criticism, frequent comparisons to their more conformist siblings, and efforts to control their choices will drive adult children away. The negative drama makes them feel diminished and unloved. Some parents refuse to accept that once their child becomes an adult, they are entitled to make their own choices and live on their own terms.


— Dr. Gloria Brame, Therapist, and author

RELATED: Therapist Shares 10 Things Adult Children Desperately Want To Hear From Their Parents

2. They never feel good enough

A common reason an adult child may become estranged from their parent is the feeling they are not good enough. This perception can develop from ongoing patterns of criticism or unrealistic expectations from the parent, leading the child to feel undervalued and inadequate. Over time, this can strain the relationship to the point of estrangement as the adult child seeks to protect their self-esteem and emotional well-being.


Clare Waismann, M-RAS- SUDCC II

3. They have different beliefs and feel judged and shamed by their parents

As our children are growing up they are constantly bombarded with changes in their environment and themselves. They seek answers and conditions that allow them to embrace the changes without feeling diminished and lost. As parents, we must be willing to go there with them without judgment, resentment, or shame (theirs or ours).

She places hand up for boundaries before going no-contact with her parent Nicoleta Ionescu via Shutterstock


If our children don’t feel like we can truly see who they are and who they are becoming, they will not feel or believe in our love no matter what we say. They will not confide in us if we are unaccepting or overly controlling. But, if we allow ourselves to witness and embrace their experiences, vulnerabilities, and transformations with transparency, care, concern, and genuine support, they will know they are loved because they will love themselves.

Larry Michel, The Love Shepherd

RELATED: Yes, She's My Mother — But I Cannot Have A Relationship With Her Without A Part Of Me Dying

4. They are tired of the competition

I never understood why my mother couldn’t find contentment within herself. Why did she turn everything into a competition? I was an innocent child who needed her mother to love and care for her. Instead, my mother gossiped about me and manipulated me. It wasn’t a healthy relationship for either one of us.


My mom and I never had a chance to form a real mother-daughter relationship. We never did things together like shopping or having lunch together. Most of the time, I actively avoided her, going out of my way to keep my distance. When she moved to a different state, I never went to visit her. The empty space within my heart longed for a mother’s love, but not from the one I had.

Glenna Gill, Writer and blogger

RELATED: 27 Percent Of All People Are Estranged From A Parent — But Why?

5. They have struggled with abuse

Honor thy father and thy mother, we were taught. As a Christian family, we read scripture at every dining table meal and sang Ephesians 6:1 as though it were a joyful song — "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." For us, the instruction was confusing. So much was obviously wrong.


After I left, I didn’t share my story often. I wasn’t virtue signaling on purpose when I faux-squirmed under real admiration from those who heard it and knew I chose to remain in contact with — even close to — my mother. Still, I tried to offer an emotional balance point to the horror of the story by pointing to the positive (me! so indomitable, right?!).

"Wow," they said. "I don’t think I could have a relationship with her after all that." I would smile serenely, pull from a selection of phrases tucked away for such moments: "In a way I’m grateful… (deep shrug, rueful smile) it made me who I am!"

That was true, but also slippery. Unconsciously, I deployed these phrases to guide the listener to the next platform. A cue: now that you’re aware of what I’ve overcome, isn’t "who I am" shiny and impressive?

Heather Hanslin, Writer, trauma researcher, and certified ADR Divorce Coach


6. They have been taken advantage of

A selfish or needy parent can push their adult child away when they use their child as unpaid servants and the adult child finally realize they need to put their own life ahead of their parents. 
When an adult child gets to a point where they feel like the only option they have is to go silent, the no-contact can be long-standing. In other cases, the break may allow the adult child to get clear what they need and they may reconnect only if the parent honors their new boundaries.

Marilyn Sutherland, Relationship and Commnication Coach


Childhood sets the foundation for the rest of our lives and relationships. Childhood is the anchor of our story. Sometimes, the story is tragic or traumatic, and that anchor starts to pull us underwater and threaten our safety. When an adult child cuts the rope connecting them to the anchor of a parent, it is often because that parent has not done their job, nor have they chosen to admit the impact they have had on the adult they helped create.

The work of resolution might take years, or never happen. If resolution is possible, it requires emotional stability from the parent which was often lacking in the past.

RELATED: My Childhood Trauma Followed Me Into Adulthood

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.