'She's brainwashed.' 8 parents on why they are estranged from their children.

Content warning: This story includes descriptions of child sexual abuse that may be distressing to some readers.

Estrangement isn't as uncommon as we might think.

Recently, 11 women spoke to Mamamia about what it's like being estranged from their parents.

Since then, lots of parents have come forward to share their own experiences with estrangement, and no two stories are the same. 

Watch: The journey through loss and grief with Jason Rosenthal. Post continues below.

Video via TEDX.

Here's what eight parents had to say.

Jess* has been estranged from her daughter for three months. 

"My daughter got herself mixed up with a guy who is a manipulator and toxic. He's not physically abusive to her, but controls her in other ways. He convinced her that we don't care about her or do things for her. She's 20, and he's 29. 

"She is brainwashed and has this warped perception of what us, as her parents, are actually like. Apparently we aren't supportive because we won't let her boyfriend bring pot into the house. This is just one issue.

"It's important to know that [some] parents try everything to ensure the estrangement doesn't happen. They [might] work their butts off, get their child counselling, or pay for access to other services to try and have a better relationship with their child. Sometimes this is a lost cause. Their child would rather believe in garbage and not have to work on themselves.


"We are always working towards reconciliation. That will only happen if the boyfriend gets out of the picture though. We are monitoring his behaviour through her siblings and have police contacts also watching to make sure she doesn't become another DV statistic."

For eight years, Lucille* hasn't seen her child.

"It stems from interference from other family members. I've realised that once lies have been told, you can't come back from it. It's been eight years now."

Robyn* has been estranged from her daughter for almost a year.

"I think it all began earlier - a culmination of [her] turning 13 and then just not being able to manipulate me or get away with things. It's like a switch flipped at 13 and I had no say in the fallout. She's made up a story in her head about what happened (I kicked her out of the house - not at all true; we had a fight) and my ex and his wife have reinforced the story and made me out to be an evil, uncaring, unloving mother who doesn't want her. Subsequently, she won't even engage with me.

"She is an identical twin. Her sister and brother live with me. I have had sole custody since the split with their dad seven years ago. Both she and her sister have spent the last six to nine months expressing their emotions on flip sides of the same coin. I knew the teen years weren't going to be easy... but I NEVER contemplated this situation."

For five years, Rachel* hasn't seen her son.

"My child became involved in drugs. He started with weed, which extended to LSD and such, and now I genuinely don't know what type of drug or how many he is addicted to, but it's clear that he isn't sober.

"We haven't talked in so long. It [was] painful for the first three months and [has been] emotionally exhausting since. For five years now we haven't seen each other. The last time I spoke to him was two years ago on the phone to let him know his grandfather had passed away. He didn't even bother coming to the funeral. He is still in communication with my sister (his aunty). It's tough. I just wish he could get clean."


Kate* hasn't seen two of her three kids for over a year now.

It all started when my mother died. She had quite a lot of money and a large estate, so when it came to reading the will, my kids all expected some money. But it was all left to me - and some to my eldest daughter. The youngest two kids didn't get anything. 

"I said to the kids I would give them some of my own, but their reaction was so, so disgusting. Looking at it pragmatically, neither had bothered to visit their grandmother in the few years prior to her death. So she figured she would leave some of her money to the grandchild who had cared and made an effort.

"In the end, it all pretty much blew up in my face. My husband and I had a big fight, the two youngest got involved. [He] and I repaired things, but my youngest daughter and son still feel like it was somehow my fault that they didn't receive any inheritance. Now it's been over a year since we last spoke - plus we live interstate - and it's put this incredible strain on the whole extended family. All over money."

Jacinda* has been estranged from her son for six weeks. 

"He went to stay with his paternal grandmother and father for a week. He then decided he didn't want to come home and cut off all communication with me. I've tried to reach out to him, but he refuses to speak to me. His grandmother and father have also blocked my number.

"I have rules, routines and structure. I believe in age-appropriate chores and not getting things for nothing. They have no rules [or] routine and he has been able to do what he likes, when he likes. He's been purchased gaming consoles, expensive clothing, shoes and is waited on hand and foot. What teenager wouldn't love that? 


"I have sole custody of my son. I spent five years and thousands upon thousands of dollars going through family court. Seven years on and I'm now told that despite having sole custody, my orders are now no good because the magistrate will give more weight to what he wants. I feel like I'm grieving the loss of my child."

For almost two years, Joanna* has been estranged from her daughter.

"A few years ago, my daughter went through quite a difficult season after sharing with me that her brother (who had since finished school and left home) had behaved inappropriately towards her when they were much younger. I felt like I was supporting her the best way I knew how, seeking professional support where necessary, and she told me often how grateful she was for everything I'd done. At her request, what was going on was not shared with her dad who lived in another state. Gradually she began having some difficulties at school and wanted to leave (she was 14). She resented me for trying to engage with the school and get her more support, and decided at that point to tell her dad everything. 

"He put the ideas into her head that the way I handled the past year had been all wrong and that she should go and live with him on the other side of the country. I let her go, thinking she would realise soon enough that that life would not be the answer (living in a caravan in the bush and being homeschooled). Unfortunately, it made things worse... she has not wanted to visit me or have me visit her since.

"Today we communicate mostly by text - she does say she loves me but never says she misses me. I tried to arrange seeing her over Christmas last year, but she declined. I guess we have a surface-level relationship, but I feel completely devastated at not being a part of my almost 16-year-old beautiful daughter's daily life.


"This type of estrangement brings grief that is so hard - I feel like people must look at my situation and think I must have been a terrible mother or done something completely awful to drive her away. I feel like a failure too and can barely look back on her younger years without sadness and regret anymore because of my feelings. I would do anything to have her back and not a day goes by when I don't feel that heavy pain deep in my chest of missing her."

For three years, Sara* has been estranged from her son. 

"Around the time of COVID, my son fell into an Internet hole fueled with QAnon conspiracy theories, and anti-vax rhetoric. It drove my husband and I up the wall. We came at it quite heated, saying he was an idiot for believing that rubbish, especially considering so much of it was very 'white, male power' ideology. I think that approach pushed our son further away, which now I regret.

"It's hard when you see someone you love move into a train of thought that is so overtly wrong and dangerous. It's been around three years now, and we've just become so distant. It's really tough for my husband as well."

Are you someone who has experienced estrangement from their child? If you would like to share your own story, you can do so in the comments section below. 

If this brings up any issues for you, contact Bravehearts, an organisation dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse, on 1800 272 831.

Feature Image: Getty.