“I am blocking my mother and no one can tell my not to”. “Why can’t I cut off my parents?”
Cutting off parents is something that seems to be prevalent in today’s world. At the head of this table, are millennials and Gen-Zs.
Try intervening and they fire back with questions like “why can’t I cut off my parents when they are being toxic”. Or you may hear “it is taking a toll on my mental health, I need my sanity”.
On the other end of this table, are traditionalists who believe that cutting off your parents should be unheard of. If they are Christians, you will even hear the “Honour thy father and mother” Bible verse and deemed sin to cut off toxic parents.
Which begs the question, should people cut off their parents/families from their lives? Is it appropriate? When is it ever appropriate if at all?
Recently on Instagram, I came across the story of a 30+ old lady who had cut off her mom due to emotional and verbal abuse that continued even to that moment.
The said mother had openly harassed her child on social media for choosing to run an online African store instead of “going to find a husband to marry and have kids like her cousins”.
In another event, was an Indian lady who separated from her family because her father had consistently raped her since she was little. Her mother did nothing and as soon as she was old enough, she left the family and never looked back.
Another is the case of a man who cut off his family due to their constant abuse of his wife. Hence, he banned them from his home.
One more instance is a lady whose parents although they are passed, is estranged from the rest of her immediate paternal family due to lack of emotional and psychology support after the death of her parents.
In addition, they became abusive and aggressive due to her choices to seek out her maternal family, and reunite with her mom and brothers. Oh and this last one really is me!
Lately as more cases of people cutting off their parents come to light and the reasons vary, one cannot help but wonder, is this becoming a trend?
Is it something fashionable maybe or are there LEGIT reasons where one can (or should) cut off their parents from their lives?!
To set the record straight, we are not talking about people who are estranged from their parents for clearly being in the wrong! If that is your case, this is NOT for you! Just be humble and go apologize and turn from your evil ways.
Family dynamics can be both beautiful and challenging, shaping our lives in profound ways.
However, there are situations where individuals find themselves contemplating the difficult decision to cut their parents out of their lives, as you can see from the different stories above.
This choice, although deeply personal and complex, can be driven by various circumstances and emotions. So, let us explore some of the reasons why people may make the challenging choice to sever ties with their parents.
- Toxic Relationships:
One of the most common reasons individuals choose to cut ties with their parents is due to toxic relationships. Toxicity can manifest in many ways, such as emotional, physical, verbal and sometimes sexual abuse (as was in my case).
Neglect, suppressive and manipulative behaviour are additional factors . These patterns can deeply affect an individual’s emotional well-being, self-esteem, and overall mental health.
Some parents have been the single factors of suicide and depressions among their children. From raining curses on them, to insulting them, and even being violently aggressive towards them.
The problem is as kids, they may not see a way out of the abusive relationship, but as soon as they have the ability to leave home, many of such persons would take that option and never look back!
When the child (now adult) leave homes, such toxic parents may stop their toxic behaviour, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. Like in the case of the young woman whose mother constantly called to rain insults on her and pressure her for not being married.
In such instances, keeping a great distance may be a necessary step to protect oneself and establish healthy boundaries.
- Irreconcilable Differences:
Sometimes, significant differences in values, beliefs, or lifestyle choices can create irreparable rifts between parents and their adult children.
These differences might relate to religious, political, or cultural beliefs. Who to marry can also be a factor of issue.
I am sure we all know at least ONE person who cut off their families due to the pressures from their choice of spouse.
In other instances, it could be choices such as career paths, relationships, or personal aspirations.
Growing up, one of the pressures I saw lots of my friends experience was the pressure of “you have to be a medical doctor or an engineer”. It was not fun watching these friends struggle through school or life as a result of these pressures.
I had a friend who after years of not making it in medical school or related field, switched to study accounting and started running his own business. Today he is a successful businessman- his parents are now proud of course! We all know stories of people in similar boat.
Or like another social media story where the parents are mad at their daughter for starting an online African grocery store. These types of issues and stress caused by parents often leave the kids (even as adults) feeling like they ever measure up.
Many people wonder why they suffer impostor syndrome when they accomplish great things- I believe this is at the root of it.
When you are repeatedly told you are not enough and would amount to nothing, you will always question yourself and think you are a fluke when you somehow manage to amount to something.
Who better to leave us feeling like victors or victims if not our parents. If when growing up, winning and being celebrated was alien to us, when we do win, we question- who are we to win? And how the heck do we even begin to celebrate that win?Anita Adefuye
When attempts at communication or compromise fail repeatedly, individuals may choose to distance themselves to preserve their own happiness and authenticity.
No one wants to keep trying to PROVE themselves to their parents as adults. Especially when they have constantly tried to prove themselves as kids. It is tiring and after a while, they would rather not want to deal with such parents anymore.
- Unresolved Childhood Trauma:
Childhood experiences shape our lives and impact our relationships in adulthood. Unfortunately, not all parents are able to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children.
Trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, or death of a loved one, can result in deep-seated emotional wounds.
In some cases, the pain associated with these experiences can become too overwhelming, leading individuals to choose to distance themselves from their parents to prioritize their healing and well-being.
Being the kind of parent who sweeps traumatic experiences under the rug, rather than dealing with it effectively is as terrible as if you were the perpetrator of the event.
As adults, some have given their parents benefit of doubt and time to have the conversation of what happened as children, but the parents may not be coming forth.
Several research shows that traumatic childhood events impact up to adulthood. So while an adult is trying to deal with a mess a parent may have caused, the last thing they need is that adult continuing to cause more harm.
Be rest assured, if your adult child is giving you time to have the conversations of the wrongs done as kids, and you are being evasive or claiming rights, they might soon be cutting you off.
- Substance Abuse and Addiction
Parents struggling with substance abuse and addiction can create an unstable and unpredictable environment for their children. Living with a parent who is actively using drugs or alcohol can lead to feelings of fear, shame, and instability.
In order to protect themselves from the damaging effects of addiction, individuals may decide to distance themselves from their parents until they seek treatment and establish a sober and stable lifestyle.
Now I am sure before anyone would want to distance themselves from their parents for this reason, there must have intervention attempts which may have fallen on deaf ears.
- Continued Enabling or Co-Dependency
In certain cases, parents may exhibit patterns of enabling or co-dependency that hinder their adult children’s growth and development.
These dynamics often involve parents who struggle with their own issues and DEMAND/BURDEN their children. This could be emotional or financial burdens.
The adult children may eventually recognize that their own well-being is compromised by the ongoing cycle of co-dependency and choose to establish healthier boundaries by cutting ties.
Now there is nothing wrong with supporting ones parents. It is 100% Biblical and cultural. But there is a healthy support and unhealthy ones.
Unhealthy expectations set by parents on children have caused some to go into criminal activities, prostitution and other vices.
Or even the sheer expectation with comments such as “after I have trained you, this is how you pay me”. These types of comments make the supposed ‘unconditional love of parents’ questionable.
The question that continues on my mind as I write this is, are any of these reasons really tenable enough? I don’t know.
Personally, there are many times I look back on when I resolved never to contact my paternal family again. It was not for lack of forgiveness (heaven knows I have nothing against them).
But here’s one thing I can tell you. Abuse can very quickly become intergenerational. And any intentional parent (which is what I am) would want that abuse to end with them.
And you often can’t help someone else if you don’t first get better. In my case, I want to give my children better and protect them from the never ending insults I received.
The decision to cut parents out of one’s life is a deeply personal choice. This can stem from a wide range of complex circumstances.
It is important to approach these situations with empathy and understanding, recognizing that every individual’s story is unique.
Severing ties with parents may be challenging and emotionally taxing. However, sometimes it becomes necessary to prioritize one’s own well-being and create a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Truth be told, it takes two to make the relationship work. Something I have come to learn is that some parents often do not want to take responsibility for their actions. Nor would they admit their wrongs and take necessary corrective steps.
This only makes things harder for an adult child is desperately trying to make amends. Have you had reasons to be estranged from your parents but didn’t? Please share how you managed to do that.
Question for YOU
If you are estranged from your parents, what caused it? Are you planning to reconcile with them? As for me, I would love nothing but to be reconciled to my paternal family. I just can’t take one more conversation about who did or did not do what. Neither do I want my kids dragged into that.
There are some things I have realized I could have done differently, and I will share those next week. For parents who would like to be reconciled to their kids, I will also be sharing what you can do.
But it took me a journey to realize these. In the near future, I might even take steps to being the reconciliation journey. And someone may find it useful too. Watch this space!
Before I go, let me leave you with this. We often quote “Honour your father and mother…” sometimes as manipulative ways to get our children to do our bidding. But did you know the same Bible says:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”Bible Gateway– AMPLIFIED VERSION