We asked 12 women why they're estranged from their parents. This is what they said.

This story contains references to sexual abuse and might be distressing for some readers. 

Becoming estranged from a parent is often the result of years of abuse, neglect, or cruel and toxic behaviour. It takes courage to step away from such a core relationship and it can be a difficult decision to make.

To understand the complexities of estrangement, Mamamia heard from 12 women to find out when and why they chose to cut a parent out of their lives. 

Here is what they had to say.

1. Caitlin* has been estranged from her father-in-law for over a decade.

"My husband, Dan* had a very difficult childhood thanks to his father who prioritised spending his paycheck on alcohol and cigarettes over supporting his mum and his siblings. 

"His dad was violent, abusive, and incredibly controlling. But to the outside world, the family presented as very normal, always fronting up to church each week or having friends over for dinner. 

"When I first met my father-in-law, he instantly disliked me for taking his son away from him. He would say nasty things to me or pinch my arm when no one was looking. He refused to see our children if Dan wasn't with me too.

"It all came to a head about 15 years ago when he got the family together to 'apologise' after a major health scare. He then twisted it around saying he shouldn't have to apologise because bad things had happened to him. 

"After that, Dan and his sisters broke all contact with him and only saw their mum occasionally.  


"My mother-in-law eventually moved away from him too, and Dan has spent some time feeling angry at her for not protecting him or his sisters as kids, but I believe she was a victim of his control too. She didn't know any better." 

Watch: Five lifestyle hacks to help with your anxiety. Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia.

2. Jackie* was estranged from her mother on and off for three years.

"I was estranged from my mum, but we reconciled three years later. It was Mum who pulled away from me.

"In general, her reasons were because I was childless and I didn't go to all the niece and nephew school and sports things because I wasn't interested enough.

"But it's not just me. My mum does this to my siblings and I cyclically. She does it to friends as well. So the details don't really matter. It is incredibly hurtful even when I am on the inside. I still remember what it felt like to be on the outside and I can't forget that it happened."

3. Noelene* has been estranged from her father for 20 years.

"I have not seen or spoken to my father in near 20 years and neither have my sisters. My father was very toxic, violent, and had many other issues.


"The thing that surprises me is people question your decision to have no contact - I would have loved to have a dad that cared and loved me but that was not the case. The residual issues that come from that are hard to deal with even as an adult."

4. Sara* has been estranged from her mother for 10 years.

"I've been estranged from my mother for approximately 10 years. There's a lot that led to this situation, but ultimately it was a lifetime of conditional love, extreme neglect, and emotional and physical abuse. Everything was always on her terms.

"I went no contact with her after she didn't turn up to my wedding. I do believe she's narcissistic and that realisation has helped my healing journey. There was no big fight; I just stopped making the effort, and I never heard from her again.

"She's never reached out or tried to meet my children, she bad mouths me to people I know, and I've had so many people contact me telling me I'm 'evil' and 'cold-hearted' for not allowing her to see her grandkids. 

"It's all so exhausting and hurtful but I've learned to move on and even though I'm open to reconciliation, I don't believe it'll ever happen, even now that she is dying from cancer."

5. Abby* has been estranged from her mother for 22 years.

"I've been estranged from my mother since I was 27. I'm now 49. As a child, my mother was an alcoholic. She was violent and verbally and emotionally abusive. She also neglected my medical needs and molested me. 

"Despite all this, as an adult, I was willing to maintain a relationship with her. However, the older I got, I realised how toxic she was. 


"She has never acknowledged the ways she has harmed me, even when I've confronted her. It's hard for people from healthy, functional families to understand why someone would become estranged from their mother. But children will put up with A LOT before taking that step, and it generally only happens when it's the only way to safeguard one's emotional, mental, and physical health. 

"Many of us who are estranged are doing the important work of breaking the cycle of intergenerational abuse. So whether we are raising our own kids or simply engaging in healthy friendships/romantic relationships, it's an important accomplishment. I'm doing great and very happy with my choices."

6. Jo* has been estranged from her father for many years.

"My parents had me young and divorced young. My dad remarried pretty quickly and had another family. He maintained contact until my teens after which it dwindled. 

"I've come to accept that he's just a bit of a sh*t bloke, and that's not about me. He always forgot my birthday, never called me, and happily let the relationship slide. 

"I keep my kids off the internet so he can't learn about them and he's not referred to as their grandfather. It’s taken a long time to get to this place of acceptance."

7. Ellie* has been estranged from her father for five years. 

"My father and I have always had issues. We had no connection and no trust. My parents divorced when I was five so I literally have no memory of my dad growing up. He moved states after they divorced, which meant I barely saw him. Then he would forget my birthday, Easter, anything special. 


"I would see him once a year from when I was eight years old and when I saw him, he would tell me that I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t smart and intelligent like my older sister, and I wasn’t athletic like my brother. (I was a runt of a kid. I think I represented weakness to him.)

"He was quite dismissive of me. If I visited, he wouldn’t spend time with me. He would leave me to sort myself out. When my mum died, he didn’t leave work to tell me. I found out at school, and I was told to go back to school the next day. 

"It was a long journey cutting off this relationship. He was avoidant and neglectful as a parent. And he has chosen to never address this. He would make me feel so unloved that I had no choice but to stop having any sort of contact with him. 

"My brother and sister have much better bonds with him. Though they weren’t parented any better, they were loved. It hurts that they have better relationships. 

"I'm 40 now and when I tell people that I’m estranged from my father, they don’t really bat an eye. I think once you get to a certain age, most people realise how complicated and messy families are. Plus, when I explain some of the details, most people understand. 

"My dad doesn’t express any regret to me. We currently speak around once a year and I have no plans on ever seeing him again."


Listen to the latest episode of No Filter with Mia Freedman. Post continues below.

8. Cate* has been estranged from both parents for many years.

"My dad disowned me when I was 18. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder two years earlier. He wasn’t medicated, and he lashed out badly. I asked why he was so angry and he said I wasn’t his daughter anymore. 

"With my mum, it was a slow progression. She made me feel guilty for everything. Having a birthday was a guilt trip as she couldn’t afford to buy presents, yet she always had enough money for drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t until the birth of my third child at 37 that the penny dropped and I realised how much she had emotionally abused me. 

"She would take money from me, she would blame me for everything, and if I tried to get her to get help, she would threaten to kill herself. She had sex with men in the bed I slept in while I lay there as a child. She told me I was lying when I disclosed being sexually assaulted and only believed me when others came forward. She gave me away more times than I can count. The first time was when I was only three years old, and she literally handed me to another family.

"I realised I had to cut ties with my dad for good when he became increasingly violent and threatened to kill me. With my mum, it was becoming a mother myself that made me realise how much love I had missed out on. I now understand that I’m lucky to be alive and I’m proud I’ve walked away from them. 

"I will protect myself and my children from that life. I am proud of who I am and I have an exceptional relationship with my children. I feel loved. I am a primary school teacher and I use my deep knowledge of trauma to help me be a better teacher."


9. Kari* has been estranged from her mother for 13 years.

"I had a lightbulb moment at 21. It was the result of a combination of things over time including the fact that she was always the victim. She also spoke badly about people like my step mum who was not a bad person, medicated me as a child, and stole thousands of dollars from me as an adult to spend on herself. 

"It's like I suddenly saw her as just a person, not my mother, and I realised I had to move out. I packed up my things, left my key there, and I've never looked back.

"She has never apologised. I very much believe that just because you have a child, it doesn't make you a mother. Family is what you make it."

10. Beth* has been estranged from her father for years

"My sisters and I decided to go 'no contact' with our father. My parents were divorced when I was 10 and my mother experienced domestic abuse. My father ended up in jail after kidnapping my mother and we lost contact, but decided to revisit the relationship again in our 20s.

"After 10 years, it was evident he hadn’t really grown as a person."

11. Alannah* has been estranged from her mother for seven years.

"I have not talked to my mother or seen her in person since 2016. The last straw was when she texted me to say she couldn’t make it to my wedding as she was going 'overseas'. She was going to an island off Brisbane. 

"My two older sisters have also cut her out of their lives. I believe she has an undiagnosed personality disorder. She has no ability to access empathy, is a compulsive liar, and was emotionally abusive and neglectful. 


"Sometimes when a person has no ability to step out of their delusions, you need to cut ties. I am so close with my sisters. We were pitted against each other for most of our lives until we cut off our mother and realised we were a victim of her manipulation. Not all people should be parents."

12. Abby* has been estranged from her mother-in-law for years.

"On my very first date with my now husband, he described his mum as difficult. I would later learn that she had been emotionally abusing him for most of his life. Gabe's* father left her when he was four and his older brother was six. Years later, his dad apologised for leaving them with her, but he had to get away. 

"When we first met, I thought things where tracking along okay. We were married within two years of meeting and had children quickly. The first big issue came when I fell pregnant with our third child. 

"My friend asked my mother-in-law if she was excited about being a grandma again. She said, 'No, I am not. I didn’t have three kids, I don’t think it’s necessary to have three kids, and I don’t believe my son wants a third child.' I was in shock. That was the beginning of the end. 

"My husband is in constant shock that no one has ever called her out on her behaviour. She believes it’s her right to say whatever she likes.  

"After some financial issues, we lost our house, and the kids' lives changed overnight. Things had been okay for a few years, and she offered to buy us a house but not where we wanted to live so my husband politely declined. She then told everyone that she offered to buy me a home, but it wasn’t good enough for me. 


"She told my husband he was nothing without her, he’d never be anything without her, nor he would he ever have anything without her. By now she had been trying to drive a wedge between my husband and I for year and years. She has sent countless nasty emails over the years saying I'm evil and many other awful things. 

"When my daughter was 17, my mother-in-law bought a unit in and moved her in. I was sent a message that I was never allowed to step inside. She also bought her a car and took her overseas. The estrangement was complete. She was now using our daughter to divide us.

"I have spent 20 years crying over why she hates me so much. I have never been disrespectful or yelled at her, I have just been me. My husband has always stood by me and we finally have our now 24-year-old daughter back after my mother-in-law realised she couldn't control her." 

If you need to speak to someone about estrangement or abuse contact Lifeline on their 24 hour crisis support line 13 11 44.

While these women are known to Mamamia, their names have been changed for privacy reasons. 

Feature Image: Getty.

Want to get the most out of your day? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!