If you landed here, you’re probably in a justifiable snit about grown children who ignore their parents.
Maybe one of your “precious darlings” is behaving like an “arrogant brat.”
Or perhaps things are more dire, and you’re worried your child has fallen prey to an unsavory cult or problematic partner.
Whatever the case, you’re frustrated or scared by your adult kid’s lack of communication — and perhaps their disrespect.
According to relationship expert Simone Bose, increasing numbers of children are pulling away from their parents.
Sometimes it’s justified; other times, it’s not; and we’re unpacking in all below.
- Signs That Your Grown Child Is Ignoring You
- 9 Reasons Why Some Grown Children Ignore Their Parents
- What to Do When Your Adult Child Ignores You
- How Often Should a Grown Son or Daughter Call Their Mom?
Signs That Your Grown Child Is Ignoring You
Is your child purposefully ignoring you, or are they just busy? Consider a few things.
- Career Track: Is your child at that point in their career where they must put the pedal to the metal, grinding day and night? If so, cut them some slack. It can be challenging to grab 15 minutes to chat with your parents when a demanding boss is breathing down your back.
- Dating Life: Are they seeing someone new? No, people shouldn’t forget about everyone else in their life when they start dating someone. But let’s be honest: It happens to the best of us sometimes. If they’re in a new romance bubble, reach out to them and let them know you’re thinking of them. That may be all it takes to snap them into thoughtfulness.
- Hanging Out With a New Crowd: Has your child started hanging out with a new group of people? While it’s important to let your children live their own lives and make their own mistakes, it’s also okay to do a little due diligence to ensure your child isn’t falling prey to a cult or something similar. These situations can be tricky, and each is unique.
- Needy Behavior: Can your grown child find your number when they’re in need but “lose” it when they’re not? If this sounds all too familiar, you’re likely dealing with an entitled child. Don’t blame yourself. Many of the “best parents” end up with ungrateful kids. It happens. Sometimes they grow out of it; other times, they don’t.
- Social Media Activity: Do you follow your kids on social media? Are they regularly posting but can’t find time to contact you? Also, do they acknowledge your comments on their posts? If so, it could be that your child is ignoring you. On the other hand, they may believe everything is fine because you’re interacting online. To many young millennials and Gen Zers, that’s as good as talking face to face. So talk before jumping to conclusions. It may just be an intergenerational misunderstanding.
- Recent Fight: Have you recently gotten into a row? If so, your child may be burning off steam and not yet ready to chat or make up. If it’s been less than a month, don’t sweat it.
Ultimately, it comes down to your gut feeling and your child’s behavior.
Interestingly, even though some twenty- and thirty-somethings may want to “walk away” from their parents, financial links may bind them. According to this survey, nearly 25% of millennial parents still pay at least one of their adult child’s major bills.
9 Reasons Why Some Grown Children Ignore Their Parents
We’ve discussed things to consider when you and your child aren’t communicating as much as you’d hoped. Now, let’s explore reasons why grown children may ignore their parents.
1. Death or Abandonment
Children who felt abandoned at a young age due to parental death or neglect may pull away from their parents as adults. It’s a defensive response. People in this situation often erect giant behavioral walls to deflect emotional pain and suffering.
2. Misguided Grasp at Independence
Do you remember how you were in your twenties? Okay, maybe you were the 0.00000000000001% of people who had their practical and emotional life 100% together by 18.
But for the rest of us, early adulthood was a testing ground punctuated with mistakes, dumb choices, and figuring out who we were and who we wanted to be.
People navigating this life stage often get it all wrong and take things to extremes. Misguided grasps at independence can get chaotic, and things break. And when it happens, some children blame their parents for the resulting mess.
3. Unresolved Anger and Resentment
Sometimes it’s wise to let sleeping dogs lie. But brushing familial issues under the carpet is an atrocious idea.
Problems don’t die and disappear under the proverbial rug; instead, they metastasize and grow stronger. If a situation reaches a breaking point, your child may shun you.
4. Unaddressed Abuse
Parenting is challenging, yet some folks have children before they’re ready. In worst-case scenarios, abuse rears its destructive head. If the issue is never addressed, adult children may reach a point where no contact makes the most sense for them.
Addiction is vicious, and it has the power to tear families to pieces. Firm boundaries may be necessary if you or your child went through a dark season of substance abuse — or are still going through it. On the flip side, a child in the grip of addiction may be avoiding their parents.
6. History of Manipulative Behavior
Does your child have a history of manipulative behavior? Were your selfish adult children also self-absorbed tweens and teens? If so, their current behavior may just be a symptom of their personality.
Again, don’t blame yourself if this is the case. “Good people” end up with manipulative children all the time. But if you want to salvage the relationship, addressing the roots of your kids’ issue is probably worth the effort.
7. Irreconcilable Political or Religious Differences
We prefer to avoid discussions involving politics and religion (#GoodAdviceGrandma) — but both subjects are oft-referenced reasons for familial fallout. Some people feel so strongly about their beliefs they can’t maintain relationships with family members who fall on the opposite end of the spectrum.
8. Third-Party Influence
One of the most heart-breaking reasons families fall apart is because of third-party influences. A hyper-controlling or narcissistic partner could be isolating your child from loved ones. Or a corrosive cult may be warping their minds.
In these cases, spotting red flags early on and intervening before things explode is the best route. However, it may cause considerable friction, so prepare for better or worse.
9. They’re Entitled, Spoiled, or Thoughtless
We all like to think we’re lovely, kind, and generous. But, in truth, we’re all a tad less spectacular than we believe. It’s a trick of the brain linked to survival instincts.
Why do we mention this uncomfortable truth? Because your child may be lacking when it comes to consideration and thoughtfulness. It doesn’t mean they’re terrible people or you were a bad parent. It just may be one of their quirks that needs addressing.
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What to Do When Your Adult Child Ignores You
Your child is ignoring you. Now what?
Is hounding them the answer? Does trying to wear them down make sense? Or should you ghost them right back, thankyouverymuch!?
The answers, of course, fall somewhere in between. And notice we said “answers” — in the plural. Because every situation is unique, contoured by your family’s dynamics, individual personality styles, and past experiences.
So consider each option, then assess which options are best for your situation.
1. State Your Case and Let It Be
If your child is ignoring you, but the relationship hasn’t devolved into outright estrangement, the common sense option is to state your case, explain how you feel, and try to schedule a talk.
In these cases, avoid being overly emotional — though it’s good to be a bit vulnerable. For example, you may start with something like: “Hey, honey. Unsure what your schedule is like lately, but I miss you and would love to talk. Do you think you could find some time for ole’ mom?”
If your child gets back to you within 48 hours, you probably have nothing to worry about; your kid is likely going through a busy period.
But if they don’t say a word, you may have a more serious situation on your hands. At this point, consider writing your child a longer letter laying out your perspective in detail. Establish boundaries and outline your expectations if you feel like you’re being used.
Again, try not to be too antagonistic. Let patience and decorum guide your words, but don’t be a pushover, either. Before sending it, consider having someone else read it to ensure it strikes the right tone.
Once the note is on its way, do your best to let fate take over. Don’t fret and toil until you hear something. Be confident that you stated your case clearly, hope for the best, and continue living your life.
2. Give the Relationship Space
Romantic relationships are the only ones that may benefit from a bit of space. If you sense your child is irritated or annoyed, and your communication is currently frayed, consider taking a step back without saying a word. You needn’t make a production out of it — just give your child some time to work through whatever they’re battling.
Of course you want to jump in and save the day, but part of parenting is giving your children the space to learn their own lessons and develop solutions.
3. Maintain Other Relationships and Give it Time
Talk with friends and family members if your kid isn’t communicating. Don’t fall into a pit of melancholy. After all, your child’s lack of contact may be the result of something innocuous and in no way a negative reflection of their affection.
So spend time with your pals while they work through whatever is plaguing them. Staying active will keep your mind from doom spiraling; plus, you can ask for advice from the folks who know you best.
Unfortunately, this won’t work if you’ve routinely neglected other friendships and have directed all your energies into your kids. If this describes you, consider trying a platform like “meetup” to find groups that may intrigue you.
4. Contact Them Frequently
This idea only applies if your child is under the influence of a malevolent third party. In these instances, constant contact is essential because you never know when they will “snap out of it” and need a way out.
But we won’t lie: The emotional strain can be too much for some folks. Continuously sending unanswered messages can erode your mental health if you don’t prepare yourself and seek support throughout the long haul.
Also, remember that a boyfriend you don’t like is not the same as a boyfriend displaying signs of malignant narcissism, sociopathy, or abusiveness.
5. Try Mindfulness Exercises
Mindfulness is no longer a fringe activity left to hippies and new-age adherents. Respected scientists have weighed in with peer-reviewed, double-blind studies proving that meditation, yoga, and journaling positively impact our neural systems and cognitive function.
So if you’re going through a rough patch with a kid who’s ignoring you, give mindfulness a shot. Many people start off skeptical and discover a new passion.
6. Set and Stick to Boundaries
When tip-toeing through a minefield to maintain some semblance of a relationship with misbehaving adult children, it’s time to break out the boundaries. Assess the situation as objectively as possible. Determine why you feel disrespected, used, or ignored. Then, determine what would make you feel better and communicate your thinking to your child.
Please don’t read us wrong. We’re not suggesting you send your kid a demand list. That’s the opposite of a good idea. But communicating where you’re at keeps the proverbial lines open.
7. Remind Yourself of Interpersonal Truths
Sometimes, remembering a few universal truths can subdue runaway thoughts and prevent you from diving into a pit of depression. So what maxims should you keep at the fore of your thoughts when dealing with a child ignoring you?
- You can’t control other people — no matter how strong the urge.
- Relying on your children for unhappiness is a dead-end proposition. It’s fine if they’re a source of happiness, but they shouldn’t be the only ones.
- Nothing is permanent, and this, too, shall pass.
- Ultimately, you have considerable control over how you think and view things. While toxic positivity is terrible and something to avoid, don’t discount the fact that you choose your orientation and outlook.
How Often Should a Grown Son or Daughter Call Their Mom?
Every relationship has its peaks, valleys, and histories. As such, it’s impossible to give a definitive number of times adult children should speak with their moms.
So instead, let’s examine a few schools of thought.
- Every Day: Daily check-ins work for some families.
- Once-a-Week: Once-a-week is a popular method. Typically, it’s on the same day around the same time and becomes a ritual. This schedule is a great balance between everyone having their own lives and remaining close.
- Once or Twice a Month: Busy folks may opt for a once- or twice-a-month call frequency. Or it could be a matter of familial introversion or personality style. Regardless, monthly and bi-monthly calls work for scores of families. Others, however, find it a tad distant.
- A Few Times a Year: Barring logistical hurdles — (your child is conducting an anthropological field study among Amazonian tribes, limiting access to phones and computers) — parents and children who only check in a couple of times a year probably have some emotional beef, even if it’s never been explicitly stated.
Don’t forget that relationships shift and change — as do people. Today’s reality may not be tomorrow’s.
We get it. Being ignored and feeling underappreciated is no fun. Try to remember that the stats are on your side, and you’ll likely reconcile soon. In the meantime, lean into your life and enjoy the scenery.