Estrangement from a loved one is difficult, and even more so when that person is your daughter. Letting go of your relationship doesn’t mean you love your child any less. Sometimes, the best way to heal from the hurt of estrangement and make room for a possible future reconciliation is to let go of the relationship for the meantime and allow your child the distance they need from you.
At this point, your child the best indicator of what your next actions should be. They may tell you to stop contacting them or they may say that they need space but will reach out again in time. Other times, boundaries may not be as clear, and you will have to decide the best action to take for your own well-being.
Estrangement is difficult to navigate and it’s difficult to know whether to keep trying or to let go. This article gives some points on estrangement which may help you decide if it’s alright to let go of an estranged child.
Signs That It’s Alright To Let Go of an Estranged Daughter
Your Daughter Has Asked for No Contact
If your child has asked for no contact, the best thing you can do is to honor their request. Know that this was not an easy decision for your child to make either. After all, you were the person they relied on for physical and emotional support for a significant portion of their life. Choosing to cut ties is an emotional decision that has probably affected them just as much as it has affected you.
By honoring their wishes for distance, your child will feel more respected. It also leaves space for emotions to calm down and for your relationship to become less inflamed.
Your Attempts at Contact are Ignored
If you find that your phone calls, texts, voicemails, and emails are consistently left unanswered, it might be time to distance yourself. Eventually, you will have to accept that you have done all the reaching out you possibly could to make amends and reconcile.
Letters and Gifts Get Sent Back
If letters and gifts you try to send to your child or your grandchildren come back to you with a “return to sender” label, it might be time to stop. Being constantly met with rejection is frustrating and painful. Other times, inaction speaks just as loud as action. Letters may remain unanswered and gifts may go unacknowledged, and you will have no idea whether the things you sent were ever even opened or just thrown out.
Your Attempts to Reconcile Are Met With Anger and Hostility
If your attempts at reaching out end up aggravating negative emotions between the 2 of you, letting go is probably the best action you can take not only for your child but for your own mental health as well.
Picking at old wounds keeps them from healing properly. You need to let it be for the time being and give your relationship with your child the time it needs to heal on its own.
You are Being Threatened With Legal Action
Although somewhat extreme, it is possible that continuing attempts to contact your child can make them feel encroached upon, despite your good intentions. Violating a restraining order can have serious legal consequences, and could even further hurt your relationship with your child.
What To Do After Letting Go
Having someone who used to be a constant part of your life suddenly cut you off is a major life change that no one should go through alone. Estrangement is a powerful source of emotional and psychological distress which can sometimes lend itself to depression and anxiety
Reaching out to family and friends will allow you to build a strong support system. Talking to other parents of estranged children will help remind you that you are not alone in your situation.
Getting professional help is important too. Aside from having a strong support system, a therapist can help you better manage the changes and cope with the strong emotions that often come with estrangement.
Focus on Yourself
As a parent, it’s completely natural to worry about your children, even if they are already independent adults. Keep in mind that your child will reach out once they are ready to reconnect with you. They will reach out if they need you, and they will reach out when they want to hear from you again.
Instead of pushing for a reconciliation that isn’t meant to be just yet, let go of the relationship for the time being and focus on improving and healing yourself first. Accept any fault you may have had in the estrangement, forgive yourself for them, and work to become a better version of yourself.
Remain Open To Reconnecting
As much as it hurts, you need to be able to forgive your child and let go of any resentment you have towards them for cutting you off. Learn to accept your relationship with your child for what it is at the moment, but keep yourself open to the possibility of reconciliation.
Remember that reaching out is your child’s decision to make. Your only job is to keep your door open for them and to let them know that you will be there if and when they do decide to reconnect.
Having a child estrange themselves from their parents is a painful experience for both parties. Oftentimes, the best thing parents and children can do for each other in a situation like this is to give each other space to breathe and sort out their feelings.
As a parent, you will naturally want to do everything you can to make amends with your child. However, continuing to reach out after they have made their wish to distance themselves often has the opposite effect. Honor their request for distance and use the time apart from your child for your self-reflection and personal healing. It will do more towards a potential future reconciliation than any phone call, email, gift, or letter will.
Remember that estrangement isn’t always permanent, and letting go for now doesn’t mean you have to let go forever. With time, your child may decide to reach out, and you can begin working towards reconciliation and rebuilding your relationship together.