Content warning: parental abuse.
Deciding to cease communication with a parent is a difficult decision to make. It’s not one that comes easily and, speaking from personal experience, it often leaves the decision maker battling an internal stream of unrelenting questions and guilt – ‘Did I make the right decision?’, ‘Would it be easier if we were still in contact?’ and ‘Is this all my fault?’.
When people learn that I have no contact with my mum and am in minimal contact with my dad, I’m often asked why. When I explain myself, I’m usually met with the same response: “But they’re your parents, hopefully, you’ll get over it soon”, and I’m left feeling invalidated, to say the very least.
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It’s rare that I’m met with understanding, rarer still to be met with unfettered support and while I’m steadfast in my decision, I often wonder why people are so quick to question the validity of my experience. Is it too much to hope they would instead consider what a parent would have to do in order to push their child to cease communication completely? This shift of perspective is something I find myself seeking from the majority of people I share my experience with, usually only receiving this approach from those closest to me.
Choosing to stop communication with a loved one can feel extremely isolating and I often find myself feeling guilty for my decision, having not initiated contact with my mum since January 2022 (prior to this, we were no contact for three years between 2017 to 2020). To resume no contact was a choice I made after being repeatedly emotionally abused by her while she was intoxicated, with no acknowledgement on her part of the situation.
Growing up, I was continuously gaslit into believing the abuse I faced “never happened” which would often leave me questioning my own reality; a familiar pattern I’ve been unlearning since I became an adult and moved out of home.Although having no contact with my mum now eliminates the likelihood of this reoccurring, my decision brings with it its own set of challenges I face daily.
Not having the support of a parent to validate my experience means I regularly find myself wondering if my decision has been an overreaction to a situation I’ve falsified in my head; a common thought for those who have experienced parental manipulation. I know the decision I’ve made is the best one for me but I still grapple with feeling isolated because of it, so I spoke to three women who are also currently no contact with a parent about their own experiences.
Christine*, 24, she/her
How long have you been no contact with your parent/s?
I’ve been no contact with my dad for three years now. I do not visit him and avoid all opportunities to see him in person. I also don’t reach out to him via text message/phone calls/emails etc.
Did you feel supported in your decision to go no-contact?
Definitely not at the start. To others, it seems bizarre that I would want to be out of contact with a parent. I have been persistent in my desire to not elaborate on the decision and as a result, people tend to avoid the topic with me (but to be honest, the questions haven’t stopped completely).
What are you learning about being no contact with your dad?
The social stigma is something I haven’t considered until recently; I have been making new friends in full-time work and getting into more serious relationships and telling a new colleague/partner that you aren’t in contact with a family member who lives in the same city as you is a tricky conversation to have! As a result, I rarely talk about my family with my friends/colleagues and I often wonder if I am perceived as more detached/impersonal, when in reality the opposite is true!
What advice would you give someone who’s currently considering going no contact with a loved one?
You need to know that you are not a bad person for making this decision. You have the right to look out for yourself emotionally and go no contact with certain people if need be. I have not regretted the decision and while it’s been difficult, it has been beneficial for my well-being.
Sandy*, 28, she/her
How long have you been no contact with your parent/s?
It’s been 17 years since I had a relationship with my father. We don’t speak, we don’t have a relationship. He hardly knows anything about me and I the same of him.
Do you find yourself having to explain your decision to cease contact?
Yes, often to people who have very different family connections. I find it incredibly difficult and draining to explain to someone who has ‘healthy’ family relationships why I don’t speak to my father, and why it has so many ripple effects even now. I use humour to lighten the subject, but even that is so draining because I’m then using my energy to make someone else feel comfortable with my situation.
How do you want to be supported by your loved ones when discussing your experience with this?
I want to be seen and heard, in a safe energy where I know I won’t be abandoned.
Alexandra*, 25, she/her
How long have you been no contact with your parent/s?
I was no contact with my mum for three years between the ages of 20 to 23 (2017 to 2020) and I’ve been no contact with my dad for most of my life.
Did you feel supported in your decision to go no contact with your parents?
People definitely had mixed opinions when I cut contact with my mum. Most family friends or people who helped raise me very openly did not support me. I did feel supported by some of my friends, but mainly those who had similar experiences in their families. As for my dad, I definitely remember getting comments when I was a kid like “But he’s your dad, you have to love him” but I kind of brushed it off [as] just [people] not understanding.
What have you learned from this experience?
This experience has taught me a lot about where I struggle to implement boundaries in my relationships and how to be more confident [in] identifying and resetting those boundaries. I feel like I have the insight now to be able to identify when my behaviour reflects as anxiously holding onto an unhealthy relationship or sabotaging a healthy relationship. Being able to relate that back to my relationship with my mum helps me to understand the situation more clearly and have more compassion for myself.
What did you wish the people around you knew about your decision to go no contact?
I just wish they knew the gravity of how difficult it is and how much it affects every aspect of your life. Although it was the best thing for me and made me so much happier to be out of contact with my mum for that time, it was definitely not a situation I would willingly put myself through if it wasn’t 100 per cent necessary.
How would you like to be supported by your loved ones when discussing this experience?
It just really means a lot when people ask about it. I know can be hard because you don’t want to bring up triggering thoughts or bad feelings so I know why people hesitate about bringing it up but even if it’s just something like “Hey I know this (significant day) is just around the corner, how are you feeling?” or “We don’t have to talk about it but I just wanted to see how your feeling about (your loved one)”. It can really mean a lot.
*Names changed for privacy reasons.
The No Contact Rule is a protective strategy used to cut ties with a narcissist, sociopath or manipulator. No Contact involves stopping all forms of communication and contact so that the narcissist, sociopath or manipulator can no longer abuse you. It's an extremely effective strategy and works well when done properly.Is it wrong to cut off a parent? ›
It's also possible that, even if your parent has good intentions and has addressed their own issues, continuing a relationship with that parent may still feel too triggering for you, Spinazzola says. If that's the case, you have every right to cut ties.When should you cut contact with your parents? ›
This might be true if you think the other person is too dependent on you for emotional or financial support. Research shows the most common reasons people cut ties with family include: Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or neglect. Poor parenting.What is no contact with toxic mother? ›
Going no contact isn't a magic solution to dealing with a toxic parent; you'll still have complex feelings to process, cultural stigma to contend with, and other family members who may not understand your decision. When you're considering no contact, try to make the decision that's best for you.What does a narcissistic mother do when you go no contact? ›
She may resort to emotional blackmail, guilt-tripping, or even recruit other family members to pressure you into retracting your decision. In more severe cases, the narcissistic mother could orchestrate isolation within the family against the child who has initiated the no contact rule.Is it OK to cut off a narcissistic parent? ›
“Going no-contact is the best option when several areas of your life are being destroyed by maintaining your relationship with this person. This may be your physical health, emotional or mental health, financial health, spiritual health, or social health,” says Cummin.How long does parent child estrangement usually last? ›
Of those interviewed, 85% were estranged for a year or more. Half of the respondents had no contact for four or more years. Kylie Agillia's research of 35 individuals with parent-child estrangement lasting from 1 month to 39 years, with the average separation lasting nine years.How common is mother daughter estrangement? ›
In a survey of over 1,000 people conducted by BetterHelp, 28% of the respondents reported being estranged from a family member, with mothers and daughters being the most commonly estranged family members.How do you say goodbye to a toxic parent? ›
- Practice ongoing self-care. Dealing with a toxic parent is taxing and often traumatic. ...
- Know that you're not alone. Group therapy, if you can access it, is an extremely valuable resource. ...
- Explore your options. ...
- Clarify your intentions. ...
- Allow yourself to let go of guilt.
What Is Cold Mother Syndrome? Cold mother syndrome is a mother wound in which a mother cannot deal with her child's emotions.
Toxic parents create a negative and toxic home environment. They use fear, guilt, and humiliation as tools to get what they want and ensure compliance from their children. They are often neglectful, emotionally unavailable, and abusive in some cases. They put their own needs before the needs of their children.What is vengeful mother syndrome? ›
What is Malicious Parent Syndrome? Malicious Parent Syndrome (MPS) is a type of vengeful behavior exhibited by some divorcing or separated parents. It occurs when a parent deliberately tries to place the other bad parent in a bad light and harm their child's relationship with them.What is the psychology behind toxic mothers? ›
Toxic moms may suffer from mental or psychological disorders that affect their ability to meet their children's needs. They may also have been victims of toxic parenting themselves, and are repeating the relationship patterns they grew up with.What is a toxic mother like? ›
Common toxic parent traits include a lack of empathy with their children and inconsistency in expressing love, understanding, and warmth. This may be because they came from similar toxic families. Unfortunately, a lack of empathy can lead to a poor bond between mother and child.Does the no contact rule work with kids? ›
How do you keep up no contact when you're in my situation?” Natalie says: No Contact (NC) is a little trickier when kids are involved, however, it is far from impossible and comes down to boundaries and rules. For a start, no more sex. Don't beat yourself up over it and get back on the NC saddle.Does no contact work when kids are involved? ›
No contact is still effective in helping you get your ex back when kids are involved. But it becomes more of something called Strategic Contact.What is the most effective no contact rule? ›
Usually, the no-contact period must extend for at least 30-60 days. During this time, there should never be calling, no texting and no engagement on social media platforms.What are the exceptions to the no contact rule? ›
Exceptions to the No Contact Rule
For example, you'll need to stay in some form of contact if you have children together, work for the same company, or continue to spend time with the same circle of friends.