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Estranged family relationship

Community Member

Hi there,

I have been estranged from my father for several years. We have never had a bad relationship, in fact we had a fantastic relationship when I was a child, however it slowly fizzled out as a teenager and now as an adult we do not talk. I do not recall an exact moment that lead to us to being estranged, and for years I struggled with how this happened and blamed myself that I didn't try hard enough, but later I came to tell myself it was not my fault because I was a child in all this as a way of coping and went about my life.

However, today I gained a new perspective. I decided to open old messages and realised on multiple occasions over the past several years he had reached out to catch up, however I had ignored these messages. This might sound strange, but I do not remember this happening. I had been telling myself that he was not making an effort for all these years but today I realised he was - it has completely shaken me and made me feel awful. I fear I am entering the cycle of blaming myself again for our non-existent relationship.

I'm not sure what to do now. At first I wanted to reach out, but upon pondering it more, the thought seems so scary and brings up so many emotions. I worry that I am not ready and will not be able to sustain the energy to build the relationship, as I've tried this in the past and it had fizzled out. At the same time I'm fearing rejection that he may not wish to give the relationship another go.

What should I do? I feel like I need to work through some emotions surrounding this, especially as this relationship has been impacted by my parent's divorce and new family units. I have never been to a therapist/counselling and I'm not sure if that is the best solution for me. I have found reading books written by psychologists helpful in the past, and feel reading other people's similar situations may help too. Looking for suggestions on what action to take next, and any recommended reading material. Thanks 🙂

2 Replies 2

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Wanderlust123,

It made me sad to hear that you and your father are estranged. It particularly made me sad to hear that you are both estranged not by any major issue that happened, but just that it somehow happened in your teenage years and then seems to have largely been perpetuated by a misunderstanding.

I think that deep down you know what you need to do, but fear is preventing you from taking that step. You need to reach out to your father...He likely felt the same way that you are now when he reached out, and then to have you not respond must have been a blow. If he doesn’t wish to give the relationship another go (which I highly doubt as he made multiple attempts), then at least you can rest easy knowing that you tried. Or if you try and it fizzles out again then you are no worse off than you are currently. He was a loving father when you were a child, my guess is that he is quietly heartbroken by this whole thing but just doesn’t know how to find his way back to you. If you feel that you need to see a psychologist to talk things through then that is a positive step.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Wanderlust123~

Living alone, or estranged from family members has its own long term losses, and as someone who had no choice, was effectively kicked out, I think of what I've missed over the years, though not with those particular parents. It has made me try to draw closer to my offspring and be more tolerant and more loving. Maybe I've partly succeeded.

I can think of no better course of action than to print out your post and send it to your father. It shows regret at past failings, the fact he did want to rebuild matters, a solid foundation when you were young and your desire to try -though only in a measured way as you do not have the confidence you could handle anything full-on.

An understanding parent will not only feel heart-warmed you want to try, but also sensible enough not to push too much.

Do you think that might be a reasonable thing to do?

At the same time living as someone whose parents have divorced does tend to leave a scar, and it's quite possible some counseling or therapy may make you more comfortable and worry less over failing relationships.

Please come back and let us know your feelings about things