What to do when an adult child no longer wants to be in a relationship with you???

I’ve had to give this question; HOW DO WE MAKE CONTACT WITH AN ADULT DAUGHTER WHO HAS NO RELATIONSHIP WITH US?  This was presented to me by a follower a while back and I’ve had to give it a great deal of thought.  I’ve taken my time in responding to it for two reasons.  1)  I’ve not had to deal with a potential mentally unstable child, and needed to meditate on whether or not I think that would have any bearing on how you handle it and 2)  I wanted to dedicate an entire post to it.

The parent child relationship is such a delicate dance.  As you know I have three, and we don’t all get along the same.  They each have their individual personalities, and their own ways of dealing with conflict.  I have one that is a classic “stuffer” doesn’t ever want to deal with any conflict, like ever, at all.  Another who is what you might classify, like myself, as being a bit of a “shit disturber” up for a fight on any topic at any time of the day.  Then our other girl is a bit of a hold her feelings back, get secretly angry, and then unload her upset on you all at once, sort of person.  Knowing that all three handle conflict and upset differently means that I have had to parent them all in their own way.  This has never been more true than when I’ve had to fight with them.  Fighting with each of them is significantly differently than the other, and the damage or upset we can inflict on one another is also different because of how we fight, the things we say to one another in the heat of the moment, and how that lingers.

You all know that no two relationships are the same, this is not something new I’m sharing with you.  Each person is their own unique person, and with this comes the fact that we’re not all going to get along.  Those of you who have followed me for some time now, know that when I was younger I barely had a relationship with my dad, my mother was a single parent, who selflessly gave up pretty much everything to be our primary caregiver.  As you can imagine, there was a ton of drama that came with that, and we weren’t always easy on her, or very nice.  A single mom raising three, strong willed, neglected by their father, a daughter who had suffered sexual assaults, kids on her own?  It wasn’t always pretty, and even as adults, to this day my mother and I still go long spats of time without communication.  Sometimes people just rub us the wrong way, sometimes we just need a break, and sometimes our pride is bigger than our hearts and we allow our feelings about a situation to determine how we are in, or out of the relationship.  Every family’s reasons for estrangement is unique, just as the conflict that drove you there is.  There is no cookie cutter answer about how to make things right again in a family, only the people on the inside have an inkling of what it might take.

So, for me to give you educated advice as to how you can get your adult daughter to allow you to make contact with you, I’d have to know your family, your history, the pains, the personal affronts your daughter might still be holding on to that enable her to feel justified in being estranged from you.  Obviously I don’t have these details, so I can’t advise you how to specifically go about putting things right.  But, I do know this, and this works in any, and every conflict resolution I’ve ever been a part of.  Humility.

Be humble.

Be the first to say you’re sorry, even if you don’t even know what you’re saying sorry for.  Humility never loses.  There isn’t a person on the planet who will not accept an apology no matter how long overdue it may be in their mind.  If even in your mind you don’t think you owe her an apology, and judging by how you shared that she was abusive, and destructive in your home, you probably feel that you don’t.  I can completely relate to feeling like the slighted one in a relationship breakdown, but, also being the first to humble out, and extend an olive branch.  The only thing saying sorry does when you’re not the one responsible for the relationship breakdown is hurt your pride if the other person doesn’t accept it.  If you go out of your way, and say sorry for to your daughter, for your relationship being in the toilet, and she remains radio silent, and continues to want nothing to do with you, chances are you’re pride, and your parents love for her will be bruised further.  This will undoubtedly sting.  There’s also a very good chance that this is what she’s been waiting for.  So why wouldn’t you be the one to pick up the phone, or drive to her home to let her know that you love her, that you’re sorry, and you want her back in your life??

I’m of the opinion; nothing ventured, nothing gained.  And it is your flesh and blood we’re talking about here, how many more years do you want to spend without her?  Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.

That my friend is a question only you can answer.  But if it were me, and it were one of my girls I would be at their door so fast apologizing for whatever was my part in the breakdown of the beautiful bond between mother and daughter, and I wouldn’t leave until we were both in tears, with arms wrapped around one another, vowing to never let that be our fate again.

I hope my advice encourages you to do the same!

Good Luck,

xo SB

2 Comments

  1. My daughter and I are going to New York together next month; it’s a trip I know I’m going to cherish forever.
    Thanks for the brilliant insights, Shantelle.

  2. You are right to say nothing ventured nothing gained. The longer you wait the harder it will be. Tell her you love, nothing else really matters, keep trying.

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