We live in a society where not speaking to your parents is Taboo.
In exchange for life, food, shelter, education and their brand of love people are taught to love their parents unconditionally. When a person decides not to have a relationship with their parent they are scrutinized. If you explain why you have gone “no contact” with your parent, you are met with comments of guilt, reminders of religious principals, and looks of disapproval. Making the decision to stop speaking with a parent is a painful one. It’s not an easy decision to make, but many make it because not speaking with a toxic parent is less painful and healthier than speaking with them.
You may be that mother – or father – wondering why your adult son – or daughter – does not make the traditional Sunday call, or has chosen not to allow you to see their children. Parenting is a challenging journey and in some cases you may have continued toxic patterns passed down to you from your parents. These patterns are not easily detected especially when you are actively engaging with parenting. It does not mean the effects aren’t lasting and your adult children may be working through them. Here are a few reasons why your adult children may not be speaking with you.
YOU ABUSED THEM: The term “abused” has changed over the years. What you considered basic discipline possibly handed down to you by your parents, has been proven to be abusive and leaves mental and emotional damage. In 1965 children did not wear seat belts, and smoking while pregnant was acceptable. We have evolved and we now know these are very damaging behaviors. Likewise, we are currently learning the phycological affects of mental and physical abuse has on the brain development of a child into adulthood.
Your adult child probably understands that you parented from a place of not knowing. (When you know better you do better). What your adult child needs from you is for you to acknowledge that you hurt them and perhaps you can both work on recovery together.
YOU DISMISS THEIR PAIN: Your adult child may have tried to share their pain with you but you waived it away, multiple times, with a phrases like “I did the best I could!” or “You had a much better life than I did!” You are not honoring your adult child’s journey. Their own life and how your decisions may have affected them.
As a parent it is painful to accept that you may have unknowingly passed down negative behaviors to your children. It’s hard to admit that you were not the “perfect parent.” Ignoring, waiving away and denying their pain is not helping your relationship.
YOU HAVE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES OR ADDICTIONS: In either case, your adult child has had to deal with the fallout of your illness or addiction. Everything from traumatic events to verbal abuse, your adult child remembers these traumas as they get older. If you are not sober or aren’t treating your mental health issues your adult child has decided that they must have boundaries so you don’t do them(or their children) anymore harm.
If you are sober then dealing with the fallout of your addiction is difficult but very necessary in order for you to have a relationship based on mutual respect.
YOU STAND IN JUDGEMENT: Your adult child has created their own life and you don’t accept them for who they are. You don’t honor their individual journey. You judge them so harshly, they have decided their life is better without you in it.
SOLUTION: Go to therapy, discuss your family dynamics with a licensed therapist and they may help you identify personal issues that may help you navigate your relationship with your adult children. It takes time, listening to your children as they share their pain is very difficult. You may have loved them but you may not have loved them the way they need or needed to be loved by you. That is not an accusation, it’s a fact that they may want and need you to acknowledge.
14 thoughts on “Adult Children Not Speaking To You? These Reasons May Be Why…”
I feel like this was my life growing up .. My parents separated when I was 10. My brothers (then 13 &15) stayed with my dad while my mum took me & moved in with her 18year old boyfriend. Whilst at the time I wasn’t completely aware of the whole situation it didn’t take long to figure it out .. My parents separation was a bitter one . I remember being quite scared .. My mother & step father were verbally nasty about my father & when he finally got a new partner it got worse .. They turned me against my father & I rarely got to see my brothers . By the time I was 12/13 my step father was beginning to groom me . Talking about certain inappropriate things & touching & laying on me . Years later after I spent years pandering & tiptoing around their needs & wants I got married to a wonderful man & had my first if 3 children .. I am truely blessed .. Unfortunately their negativity was still impacting my life . They never accepted my husband & did everything they could to ruin my relationship .. From negative comments to having ex boyfriends ring me up in hope that my husband would answer the phone . I decided it was time to come clean about things with my mum regarding my step dad .. I wasn’t surprised when she told me she didn’t believe me .. Her choice .. Our relationship took a downward slide since then .. That was over 20 years ago now .. We’ve had sporadic contact with moments of niceness .. Then they get nasty again .. So I made a choice .. I chose me .. Their actions do not define me or who I am . I am blessed to have my now grown family .. I am happy & content . Whist I miss having a mother figure in my life I was blessed to regain contact with my dad & brothers & beautiful stepmum(who has unfortunately passed away from leukaemia). So I focus on the positives in my life which is many .. Thankyou if you made it to the end of this essay & thankyou for your lovely written article ..
Dear Kelly, I hope you are still doing well and working towards your journey for peace 💜
What a wonderful and insightful article. I hope that the parents who read this are able to step back and take it in as a tool to help and don’t focus on feeling “blamed” or “at fault.” I know with my own experiences with my mother she often gets angry and feels like my sibling and I are trying to “throw her under the bus.” She is quickly defensive instead of hearing our story. And that has caused lifelong rifts. While my sibling and I still speak with our mother, we don’t do it very often, and see her even less. Her defensive anger when the subject comes up only pushes us further away. Good luck to everyone who may read this, child or parent. Love each other, be kind to each other, but most importantly be kind to yourself.
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Thank you 🙂 “Be Kind” is such a basic human principle, taught in our primary years. Somehow, people forget it along the way.
Thank you for your thoughts!
For so many comments by those who don’t want to be judged seems a lot of judgment going on! Since when is loving and caring about someone considered poor parenting?
Hello Lynne thank you for reading and commenting.
With my adult son and his wife it seems to be just the opposite issue – hard to know for sure, though.
He doesn’t want to talk about the past or about feelings. His wife enforces that.
I’ve been in recovery from addictions and mental health issues – major depression and PTSD – for decades now. I’ve tried to communicate – written letters – suggested counseling – tried talking. It is been at the point for the past 5 years that we have not spent any time together even on the holidays – their choice, not mine, and I have only one grandchild, their 17 year old daughter who will graduate from high school this spring. When she was younger we had a very close and frequent relationship.
On my own behalf I will say I turned myself inside out to be respectful of their family home, time and space, never went to their home uninvited and was considerate and concerned and always helped in anyway I was asked unless there was a (rare) conflict. I’m not perfect, there are probably issues with them that I am not even aware of – hard to gain knowledge when one side will not communicate.
At the end of 2010 I had a “meltdown” and spewed all my frustration and anger that had built up over the years as a result of my feeling neglected, unwanted and used by them. They lived 5 miles from me and were a big part of my life until then and my granddaughter was 12 the last time we spent holidays together. I send her cards now and then and for holidays and she has my phone numbers. I only hope the love and closeness we shared over 12 years will be remembered pleasantly by her and that she may decide as an adult that she wants to have me in her life again in some way.
The adults make their own choices and I’ve come to accept the sad way it is for me. They also decide for their daughter but that will change when she leaves home, though what she will want I don’t know.
I was very wrong the end of 2010 when I spilled out all over the pain and anger that had so long been stuffed and it all got triggered by something so trivial – the needle that breaks the proverbial back.
Yes I am committed to my recovery and live my the best way I can and have made huge improvements in my life and other relationships. I did make amends to them for what I did. They’ve initiated no contact with me since then though I have talked with my son a very few times on phone to check in on them – to which he was very amenable. My daughter-in-law carried it to the point of turning her head and going in opposite directions if we ran into each other in public. After about 3 years of that I made a point to approach her simply to say hello if I was walking by a place where she was – only a few times and at least she responded with one word. But that is that. She learned angry silence and grudge holding in her childhood – that is not something my family does. I feel badly for my son caught in the middle of that, but I do understand his standing by his wife as she is his family now. I only hope my granddaughter will be wise enough to communicate feelings better and not to suffer the consequences of family pain in her life.
So, for me, the winter holidays are very sad. I turn my attention to my elderly mother and the rest of my family and try to help others who may be alone and lonely.
Thank you for this article – though I don’t think I learned anything new it has given me food for thought by reminding me of some things. All I can do is look at myself and change myself to be the best I can be.
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Congratulations for your recovery, that is not an easy battle.
I’m very sorry your family is torn, but keeping your sobriety as the main focus is very important. Reaching out to extended family is a good thing. Go where you are welcomed.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and please visit us from time to time. I post fun stuff too 😉
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Your son isn’t being cruel to you. You admitted that you struggled with addiction and mental health issues for many years. It would be absurd to think that those problems didn’t have an extremely negative impact on your ability to be a safe and loving parent. Your son doesn’t trust and most likely rightfully so. I applaud you for getting treatment for your issues but you can’t undo the damage you’ve done to your relationship with your son and his family. It’s his decision on whether or not to have a relationship with you. Regardless of how much that hurts you, you need to understand that you caused this situation and need to respect where he stands.
Jason, you didn’t read correctly. Thanks for your comment though!
Reblogged this on Silver Girl.
Thank you 🙂
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Thank you for this. I went NC with a couple of my parents on October 13th…I had already been seeing a LT since Labor Day. But…as things progressed with my doctor…I started to notice MORE AND MORE often when my MN parents would question my perfectly sound judgment on matters that ultimately didn’t effect them one iota. I wasn’t just met with sarcasm and surprise…I was met with disgust and unfounded criticism of my choices. After it happened 3 times in less than two weeks, I just cut the crap. I had thought about doing it for YEARS. Five years to be honest. But, back then we had JUST started our own family and I was more worried about THEIR grandparent feelings rather than my own ME feelings. What a light weight I was back then. I have been through a lot since then and the older I get the less patience and tolerance I have for people who question my motives, my wisdom, and my actions that truly only end up visiting consequences on ME. I tried to explain to one of my MN parents why I went NC…and I was met with excuses and invalidation. I am starting over my NC clock and never restarting it. I feel happier, freer, less judged….my life is night and day. I have never been so scrutinized in my life…and by the person who is supposed to love me “most”. Screw that lol… I love me more than they do. Now. FINALLY. My children have taught me that I am worth the effort of loving myself. No one else was hitting it home to my heart. Not like they do.
I hope you enjoy your Christmas. I know I sure as hell will! =)
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Thank you for sharing your journey. Don’t ever forget, you’re being BRAVE when you choose you.
As yes! Our children are teachers of love, if we are willing to learn.
Enjoy your holiday, free of drama. Enjoy the peace you have worked hard to achieve!