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When family members stop speaking to you, everyone loses. There is collateral damage you don’t count on.

Looking back, I realize there was a trade-off when I left my entire family. Sadly, I didn’t feel the consequences until years later.

If you are considering breaking away from your family, I am sorry you are even considering this option.

It is a horrible decision and not one to be taken lightly. No child wants to walk away.

Second, I ask you to count the cost. Consider what is at stake. If it is possible, wait and take a step back. Try to set boundaries.

If your family members won’t adhere to your boundaries or you are in a toxic family system, I totally understand. (By the way, there is a difference between a difficult relationship and a toxic relationship.)

Sometimes, you are forced to walk away to save your health, or you are in danger emotionally or physically. Additionally, you may need to protect your kids.

RELATED: How to Set Boundaries with Family Members the Right Way

However, before you put the final nail in the coffin of your relationship, make sure you understand what you will lose because some of the effects take years to manifest.

By then, it is too late to repair a broken bridge across a vast canyon. Sadly, when family members stop speaking to you, it is hard ever to go back.

RELATED: How to Move On From Family Estrangement: 5 Ways to Heal Your Heart

When Family Members Stop Speaking to You: 3 Things You Lose

When family members stop speaking to you, there are at least three things to consider. When I walked away, I experienced all three. Additionally, I had no idea I was going to trade one set of problems for another.

You will most likely have some of the same issues if you decide to do the same thing.

1. You Lose Time When Family Members Stop Speaking to You

When family members stop speaking to you, time is lost

My kids lost their grandparents at a crucial time in their life. I left the family when my son was 15 (9th grade) and my daughter was 11 (5th grade).

When we reconciled, my son was 22 and a senior in college, and my daughter was 18 and a senior in high school. My parents completely missed my son’s high school years.

See also  How to Stop Living in Fear: 7 Ways to Overcome a Fear-Based Life

They never got to see him play baseball, celebrate his awards, meet his girlfriends, or watch him walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma.

It was even worse with my daughter because they missed all of her growing-up years: elementary, junior high, and high school. This time can never be regained.

My kids were growing and changing so much that my parents didn’t even recognize them when we returned.

estranged from family book

You can find Estranged on Amazon or in your favorite digital store.

Now that my kids are adults, they are busy. It is hard for them to take the time to see their grandparents.

We can only move forward from here, but that time gap can never be regained. I never wanted to be estranged for seven years. It just happened. Time got away from us all.

2. You Lose Resources When Family Members Stop Speaking to You

When family members stop speaking to you, resources are lost. I no longer had the wisdom of older and wiser family members who could help me.

So many times, I wished I could have picked up the phone and called my mother and other family members, perhaps to talk about something important or nothing at all.

There is something reassuring about hearing the voice of a family member on the other end of the line who loves you no matter what you say or how bad it gets.

The only bright side is that it made me run to God for everything. And He does not disappoint.

He hears and knows all the pain and disappointment of your life. Furthermore, He alone is the only one who completely understands and can change things.

RELATED: Feeling like a Failure as a Parent? 6 Tips to Overcome

free printable scripture cards pdf

Get your FREE PRINTABLE SCRIPTURE CARDS PDF to remind you that God is bigger than your situation.

3. You Lose Family Connection When Family Members Stop Speaking to You

When family members stop speaking to you, family connection is lost. There were seven years worth of holidays, birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries we missed participating with extended family.

The holidays were tough because I did not have relatives to celebrate with on that special day.

I didn’t just suffer; it hurt my kids, too. They missed seeing their eight cousins together at one time, which was one of their favorite things to do as a family.

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All of this went away after we left. It broke up not only my family but also the other families.

Nothing was ever the same. Now, all my cousins are adults, as are my kids. It is next to impossible to get us together on the same day. Some of the kids are married now and have their family holidays.

Unfortunately, the family connection wasn’t just lost with extended family; I also set an example for my kids to walk away from me someday, possibly.

I have spent an enormous amount of time in prayer, breaking a stronghold that has been going on for several generations. Don’t be fooled; your kids are watching what you do more than what you say.

RELATED: 7 Powerful Ways to Increase Your War Room Prayer Strategy

How Common Is Family Estrangement?

Family estrangement is more common than you think. Sadly, people are embarrassed to talk about it, so it stays hidden in the dark.

I had no idea that several of my close friends were struggling with this very issue until I started talking about my family problems. Ironically, I had known these friends for over fifteen years, and it had never come up in conversation.

If you are feeling too much shame to talk about your family estrangement or rift, I suggest you get into counseling or find a mediator. Perhaps talk to a godly friend who knows your family and the way you interact with each other.

The important thing is to start working through your feelings. (Often, dysfunctional families don’t allow emotions to be expressed.)  Don’t stay in the shadows grieving alone. There are things you can do to move on from where you are right now.

RELATED: Supercharge Your Life When You Forgive Those Who Hurt You

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When family members stop speaking to you. Flowers in the background.

What Causes Estrangement in Families?

Estrangement is not an easy thing to unravel. In my research, I have found nine things that cause families to split apart.

Some families are guilty of doing one or two behaviors, while other families, who are more toxic, do all nine.

Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store to read about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family.

It also gives 15 solid tips to help when your family refuses to talk to you. It’s time to break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.

See also  6 Tips When You Feel Like You've Failed as a Parent

When family members stop speaking to you, what do you do? Comment below!

Are You Struggling to Have a Healthy Marriage? Do You Want to Change Your Spouse?

Get Marriage Interrupted: How to Deal with Unexpected Conflict as a Couple and Stay in Love on Amazon or any digital platform. This book has humorous and impactful insights for anyone experiencing marriage conflict.

Included is biblical advice to help couples develop new behaviors and strengthen their marriage with healthy boundaries. With over 30 years of marriage experience, there are practical tips to overcome old behavior patterns and rekindle a marriage relationship rooted in God’s love.

family estrangement

Got Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!

Are you struggling with family issues that have resulted in a family rift or a family estrangement? Are you feeling a sense of shame, anger, or rejection?  Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.

In it, I share my own experience of a seven-year estrangement from my Christian family and how we eventually reconciled. Furthermore, I provide practical advice to help you navigate your family issues. Don’t let the pain of estrangement hold you back. Allow God to assist you in healing, no matter what has happened within your family. Remember, there is always hope to be found, even when things seem to be falling apart.

A farm scene with a farmhouse upside down sitting on a grass field with a lake in the background. Creating Family Memories Book

Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family so you have more time to be intentional with your kids. It includes a schedule, too. You can get it at your favorite digital bookstore.

Join the group Christian Family Living on Facebook

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the Christian Family Living group. This is a place for Christian women to freely talk about parenting, marriage, faith, family, and culture. Being a Christian is hard! Let’s do it together. Most of all, a sense of humor is required. Got memes? Bring it on!

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Author

Julie is a wife, mom, teacher, author, and blogger. She writes about Christian family living, marriage, parenting with a touch of humor.

56 Comments

  1. I have lived in a toxic relationship my entire life. My brother robbed the grade school with some friends and stole teacher paychecks, at the age of 11. By 11, he was drinking. At 15 he robbed a gas station at knifepoint, crossed state lines. As a teen, he stole my pay from cleaning and babysitting. It was never his fault and many time my parents came to his rescue, letting me know I must have “lost” my pay once again. After the last robbery, he went to private school, after all, the robbery was not his idea.
    When my brother became older, his accusations were worse, his threats of physical violence almost becoming real. Alcohol and drugs were his constant companion. DUIs, weekends in jail-there was always a reason for his behavior. At 8 1/2 months pregnant, I jumped off my parents porch to avoid being beaten by his girlfriend, who was drunk.
    Each and every time I reasoned that if I was just a little nicer, I could make things better. I, was the problem. I insisted my children and my husband accommodate not his bad behavior, but mine.
    After a hit and run, involving the death of a motorcyclist-my brother finally went to prison for 15 years. My parents said he was being made an example and it was not fair. After prison, and currently on parole, my brother worked for my business. He alienated customers, clients, good friends, vendors, all because they were “taking advantage of me.
    He carries a gun. He wrecked my rental truck. I’m pretty sure he was drunk and/or high. I had to lie and say I didn’t know who caused the accident. I backed away, until the dust settled.
    After not having him work with me for 4 months, it’s still my fault, if I only meet him, he’ll let me know why my staff and friends should not work for me, and he’ll teach me a lesson I won’t soon forget.
    And you think I’ll miss out? I don’t think so.
    New security cameras, new alarm system, restraining order in place. As soon as I can move, I will. I will not regret this for the rest of my life.
    Narcissism is alive and well. I’m just sorry I made my family think this was “better to have a relationship than not” in their lives. I have a lot to make up for with my children and husband.

    • Heavens. This is a nightmare. I often talk about toxic relationships, and this certainly seems to fit the bill. There is a big difference between forgiveness and restoration. One is a choice (forgiveness) we do because God commands us. The other (restoration) is earned by trust, repentance, and change. We don’t have to allow toxic and unsafe people into our lives. Or excuse their horrible behavior. Jesus didn’t. He called them vipers, son’s of Satan, etc. When families continue to cover and make excuses, that’s called enabling. It actually helps perpetuate more bad behavior because there is no repentance. I suggest you read Gary Thomas’ book When to Walk Away. There are certain people that should never be in our lives. I hope you stay far away from your brother if this is truly the kind of man he is. My article is more about dealing with very difficult people, not criminals.

  2. My oldest daughter is 35 and she has 3 daughters of her own. I don’t agree with her lifestyle but I deal with it because I love her and my grandchildren. However, 18 months ago she decided to cut me out of her and the kids’ lives. I have no idea why as she refuses to speak to me. I tried going over there to see her in person and she blessed me out and wouldn’t let my husband and me see the kids. My heart is broken and I know the kids want to see us (ages 11, 11, and 13). This is such emotional torture.

  3. Jeremy Thompson Reply

    My mom is still talking to me and I would like her not to be talking to me anymore and to stay out of my room and stop with this ridiculous bug nonsense there’s no bugs.

  4. Thank you for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further post thanks once again.

    • Good article for good family advice. Unfortunately I have nothing left. I never want to give up on family no matter what. But it is their will not to hear me speak or to speak to me. They all just flat out don’t want to know me even on social media. All my friends on FB are people I’ve never met from poor countries who need donations. I do a lot of sharing the love of our God in heaven and only those that hear the word of God will have interest. I love the truth and many of my family members have made it clear that they do not want anything to do with it. I have three grown daughters and one of them does not know the name of the synagogue I attend but she is upset and tells me to stay away from it because it is a cult. My husband causes me if having a boyfriend there to stop me from going. I always ask my husband to please come with me but he always refuses. I told my daughter that the messianic synagogue that I attend helps the less fortunate in the community but nothing I say helps them to understand the love that comes down from heaven is beautiful. So I just don’t understand what to do to help them because I love all of them and I want all people everywhere to hear the good news and receive eternal life. I have never thought in a million years I would ever experience a situation like this. I believe family should stay together but they have chosen to shut me out of their lives. All that is left that I can do is pray and ask for prayers for breakthrough for my family to receive Jesus (Yeshuah) into their hearts and that we all love one another as Jesus loved us. In Jesus holy name amen!

      • Oh, my goodness. I am so sorry. I am so glad that you have found the saving grace of our Messiah. Actually, your Messiah! It sounds like you are Jewish and your family has rejected the Messianic synagogue and you all in one fell swoop. Jesus said the you would be rejected because of Him. You are truly living this out. I encourage you to continue to pray for them. God can reach them through other people, dreams, and even something as simple as a written word. In the mean time, find other believers to pray and do life with you. It will help you as you walk out these lonely days. I am praying for you right now. That God would touch your family and show them the way to Jesus (Yeshuah).

    • Thanks for your comment. Estrangement is a hard topic to talk about especially if you are a Christian because Christians are supposed to get along. Unfortunately, we don’t always. Plain and simple. But there is hope when God intervenes in the mess.

  5. One month of total estrangement and its Christmas shutdown along with my own shutdown. What do I feel? An ache so deep its hard to describe, a sense of betrayal, being lost.. and guilt. The reality is that it isn’t an overnight decision…or a decision at all. It’s almost like when your mind runs out of will or resource, and your family doesn’t seem to do anything about it either. There is a shutdown and disconnect that even I can’t control. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anybody.

    • AM, I am so sorry. I understand how you feel. God hasn’t left you. The emptiness is real and the pain is deep. Lean into God. He is the only one who can help you get through this. A family may fail you but God will never fail you.

  6. Have you talked with your adult children about their feelings of missing out on family time and memories for seven years that was beyond their control? I was just wondering if they have feelings of resentment towards you for keeping them from their extended family.

    • Yes, we have had long conversations about it. I think they have handled the situation with grace and understanding. They knew that I was forced to leave because of my health. And they saw how fast I recovered after I got away. We are all glad to be back with the family as it is the best thing to not repeat it another generation.

    • GeckoGirl68 Reply

      My sister and I no longer speak; my mom died three years ago and the last time we spoke was on my birthday in 2020. I call my dad as much as I dare, he’s a super private person and doesn’t want to talk to me everyday. I’m thankful for my mother in love(law). I still have a mom who loves me unconditionally and for all my flaws.

      • Gecko Girl, I am so sorry about your mother. And, subsequently, your sister and you not speaking. Perhaps it’s time to reach back out to her. Obviously, you would want to pray about it. I know this is a difficult situation. Just hearing her out would help at least knowing why she won’t speak to you. Or maybe you already know. I know that God is a God of miracles and restoration, as this is his perfect will. Sometimes people aren’t safe though. That’s something only you can decide. Many blessings to you.

  7. Was there anything your parents/ family could do to repair the relationship quicker?

    • I think it took the full seven years for me to heal emotionally. Neither side felt they did anything wrong either. Stubborn pride dragged it out. Thanks for comment.

  8. It sounds like you suffered through the estrangement yet it took 7 years to reconcile. Why did it take so long? Thank you!

    • I wish. God was working on both sides. I’m actually writing a book about the whole thing. The way God put us back together was nothing short of a miracle. Thanks for your comment.

    • I am so glad that what I am writing is meaningful. Thanks for saying this. I always wonder if anyone is reading!

  9. What a timely post. Yes I am taking a minor break from some of my family members because they are cliquey so I am keeping my distance until further notice.

      • Hi its joe here. I lost my mum 2 years ago but before she died she was living with my older brother for 4 years then she had to go into a nursing home as she had dementia as it would of been difficult for my brother to cope so my mum picked the nursing home she wanted to go into and all the family were ok with this and she was happy and made friends. But as time went on some family members started nit picking on things they weren’t happy about in the nursing home and they would phone the older brother and arguments started then after being in the home for a few years my mum unfortunately ended up in hospital with bad bed sores and succumbed to to them but before my mum died i managed to spend time with her in hospital and read the bible to her and sang to her and also cried but one of my siblings previously wanted to take my mum out of the home to look after her which i dont think she realised she wouldn’t have coped looking after her so this brought a lot of arguing and talk of any money my mum had and when it came to my mum’s funeral some family members just stood together not talking to myself and other family members and they haven’t spoken since my mum was first in hospital and there doesn’t seem to be any reconciliation either but i do pray for my whole family everyday.

        • Joe, I am so sorry about this. This is a very difficult situation. Money and care of an older parent are very big issues. Control also seems to rear its ugly head in these situations. The only thing you can do is work on yourself. Ask God to help you remember any times that you acted badly, and then ask for forgiveness. When you change, it forces others to change. Perhaps your broken heart is the door to help usher in some conversation. If you don’t feel you have done anything wrong, you can just work on forgiveness. God commands us to forgive even if we never get back into a relationship. My prayers are with you. Family estrangement is hard. But God is a big God. He can work miracles.

  10. I’m in that situation as my parents don’t communicate with me because of religious differences. My oldest is 4 and met her a handful of times, net my second twice in the nicu and hadn’t met my son till October I believe of 2017….. He was almost one. I wish me and my mom were close but we aren’t. Well written post.

    • Oh, that’s so hard. They are losing out out on precious memories with beautiful people. This breaks my heart.

  11. I am sorry that your family was divided for all of those years. But it’s important to see some perspective. It may seem easier, but you also have to consider what you’re giving up.

  12. I am so glad to see someone writing on this subject. Growing up I was extremely close to my mothers’ side of the family but barely knew my father’s. It’s a sad thing to go through as children but also as the parents.

    • Yes, it’s not a subject people talk about because it’s so personal and very sticky. I’m sorry for your loss. Really they are the ones who lost out.

  13. So many factors I never really considered – I am grateful to have a family I love being a part of, but know so many people aren’t quite as lucky. It breaks my heart that you and others have to go through this. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Very sweet of you to say this. I believe God uses all things for His good. Hopefully, I can help others with this issue. Thanks for reading.

  14. I totally agree with this post. When I was a teen I waned to leave my family so bad, I felt like they were boulders on my shoulders. Shortly I realized that I needed them and they were only trying to help. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Lavanda,
      I have read several of your blogs. Thanks for reading mine! I am glad you haven’t left your family. Hopefully, you can set some boundaries and keep the relationships. Take care.

  15. I completely agree that you lose a connection with your family once you stop talking. It is so sad that this happens these days.

  16. I believe, Family is the only important thing in life. whenever we fall in life, only people support us is our family. Nicely written the importance of the same. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  17. Family is so important but so is cutting toxic people from your life!

  18. Thanks for sharing this post, it is a reminder we should spend more time repairing or maintaining our relationships than holding onto anger

  19. You are so brave to talk about this kind of topic. Some are having a hard time to admit that there’s a problem within the family members. This will help a lot. Communication is the key. Keep sharing.

  20. This is powerfully written. I agree with you; unforgiveness will eat away at you. I strive to choose forgiveness not just for the other person, but for my own well being.

  21. What an awesome post about how important the family unit is. I notice that the connection or family ties so much stronger in other cultures. We can choose our family but we can definitely cultivate those relationships.

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