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How to Deal With an Adult Daughter's Estrangement

by Jaime Vargas-Benitez

An adult daughter's estrangement can be difficult on a family. Hurt feelings, anger and frustration may dominate the relationship between daughter and parent. It is important to communicate feelings and resolve issues when possible. It is also important to resolve issues personally in order to live a happy life whether the daughter participates or not. While a parent cannot force an adult daughter to be part of the family, a parent may take ownership of personal actions that led to the estrangement. This may be the catalyst to rebuilding the relationship, or at least bringing peace of mind to the parent.

The Root of the Problem

A daughter pulls away from a parent for a reason. Perhaps the daughter felt ignored or mistreated as a child, or she may not care for the parent's new spouse. When a parent understands why a daughter has pulled away it may help with resolving the issue or coping with the situation the way it is, advises psychologist Beth McHugh in her article, "Coping with Estranged Adult Children." Attempt to communicate with the daughter by calling her, or send an email asking for a meeting. Let her know the objective is to hear her feelings and thoughts, not to fight.

Be Open to Compromise

All relationships require some degree of compromise. Parents compromise a lot when raising children, but that should not stop when a daughter has grown. Even if a parent does not agree with the estrangement, or even understand it, offer compromises to the daughter in an effort to regain her presence, advises professor of human development Karl A. Pillemer in his Huffington Post article, "Parents of Estranged Children Offer Advice." Perhaps offer an apology for her feelings being hurt in the situation that caused her to become estranged.

Own Your Actions

An estranged daughter may feel she was wronged as a child or teenager. Perhaps siblings received more attention, or she felt misunderstood during adolescence. It is important to own personal actions that hurt the daughter to the point of removing herself from the parent's life, advises clinical psychologist Jan Anderson in her article, "What to Do When You and Your Adult Child Do Not Get Along." By owning behavior the parent not only validates the daughter's feelings, but also exemplifies personal responsibility. This may remove the hostility between parent and adult child, allowing for peace between the two if not a full reconciliation.

Seek Counseling

When a daughter removes herself from a parent's life it may be emotionally trying for both parties. While a parent cannot force the daughter to reconcile, the parent can seek counseling in order to gain personal peace with the situation, says pastoral counselor Patricia Jones, in her article, "Parents of Estranged Adult Children." Counseling may aid the parent in understanding the daughter's feelings and actions. Counseling also provides an unbiased third party with whom the parent can discuss issues and gain tools necessary in coping with the estrangement.

About the Author

Jaime Vargas-Benitez has been a parenting writer since 2010. She has worked in the child wellness field in various roles for over 20 years. Along with the experiences of raising her own kids, she has been privileged enough to participate in the raising of hundreds of other children as well.

Photo Credits

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