Cutting out a parent


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Does anybody have experience in cutting out a parent or other immediate family member? I'm 27 years old and have recently come to terms with honoring my past tween/teenage promise to herself that if she made it into her adult years, she wouldn't have to have anything to do with the one who made her life so horrible (my substance abusing father). I've explained this directly to my brothers and my mother for the first time in my life. I was really the only one who knew about his substance abuse because I was the only one who he harassed while everyone else was asleep or away. It was a huge step for me to open up to my family, but I didn't feel like my father deserved to hear about this decision from me, and I didn't feel like I deserved to shoulder that responsibility being that I have very intense trauma and triggers even from seeing or hearing from him.

But as time goes on I find the situation getting more complicated, since my mom doesn't confront anything directly in her own life (including her marriage problems) and I'm finding that no one is going to tell my dad why I'm cutting him out except for me.

My therapist thinks that eventually talking to my father is something that I should do. I feel very torn about it, which is why I would love to hear different people's stories of how similar situations played out. Thanks for taking the time to read, and sharing your own perspectives.

Just to make a couple things clear, me telling my father myself would not be for the purpose of "telling him what he did wrong" or of wanting an apology. I also don't necessarily want my mother or brothers to "tell him for me." I simply want a way to be clearly separated so that there is a distinction for my boundaries. Maybe sending a mass email to my mother and brothers and explaining more of my trauma is an option to explore. Like I said, I would love to hear others experiences with this. Thanks in advance!


I'll give this a go. I cut both parents out.
I do not believe you owe anything to anyone after you reach a certain age. You are not required to have a relationship to your parents, your siblings or anyone- especially someone with whom you have a toxic relationship.
Full stop.
That decision is for you and your mental and emotional health.
You don't owe anyone an explanation. Just quit answering the phone. Don't go over. Don't respond. Don't leave a forwarding address.
Silence is louder than you will realized.

I say that because I got a surprise visit from both parents who tracked me down after a few years.

Since it seems that your parents live together, you are actually losing both relationships. That might be confusing to your mom. It might be confusing to your siblings but if they want to know, they can come to you. They can like it or not. They can confront their feelings on it or not.

My brother did finally.

Do not expect anyone to have a ton of sympathy for you. I don't mean that to be ugly. People in the wide world just don't operate the same way. I'm sorry. that's just the way I've found it to work. People think we OWE our parents something because we had to live with the misfortune that they had sex one night.

If you want to have an intervention for your dad, that's your business and yours alone but it sounds like you've been down that path already.

I know you said it was your dad but take a look at the toxic mom toolkit. Useful stuff even if the genders aren't right. Same ideas stand.


If you feel that writing something would help you delineating the cut, then you can do it. But for yourself. You don't owe them an explanation. He's had his chances and visibility it's just too late. Sometimes, it's just too late.

My family is harrassing me since I don't want to talk to my father anymore. At all. The more I go with it the easier it gets. Because it's comfortable. And by comfortable I mean it's the right kind of comfort. The one that avoids the toxic shit. Avoidance isn't all maladaptive. When you're avoiding the actual epicenter of pain and toxicity it's something completely reasonable. And it's not even that easy. So you can congratulate yourself to manage to even get there.

I wanted to explain myself but I think that even with the explanation they're just so used and acceptant of it that they just are like oh he is like he is and don't see that there are certain points of no return in the pain. That you can't destabilise yourself to that extent for the sake of a principle. Families are good until they aren't. Blood ties my ass. I have much healthier relationships with people I did choose because they were healthy and I could be healthy with them. And it's difficult and difficult everyday because I had to learn this by myself. Now please just out of my life.

I did keep my parents on and off at an arm length but for my father I'm just so over it I don't even care anymore. Indeed it doesn't need to be ugly. But you can just drop it. It's your right to have a decent life. The man has harrassed you and caused trauma to you, here is a consequence full stop, you don't owe him soothing his feelings about you. When you cause harm your little feelings about it can just go f*ck themselves. I mean you can work through them but don't expect the person you've abused to help you out. People have their chances to correct and repair, always, but for themselves if the victim/survivor decided not to interact because it's reasonable to do it so. If it gives you closure to write, it's good. If you don't give a damn, that's okay too. It's now your time, your story, you aren't just the child of that person, you're you.

You have the right to do what you need and want. You'll be surprised how fast you evolve when you aren't in the reach of those who have harmed you in the first place. Pete Walker has a long collection of accounts of this. It's shitty and it's not always linear, but the effects of being free are just massive.


Over the years I have gone no contact with my entire family. And I did not 'talk' with any of them about it. I didn't feel any obligation to tell them why. It would have only led to the discord that caused the no contact to begin with.

It IS ok to disagree with your therapist by the way. Not in a combative way, but simply the fact you made a choice and are ok with the way you are handling it.

You have support here if you decide to take care of yourself because we understand why.


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i have done it too, but in a weird way, backwards.

My siblings disappeared from my life as I grew up, and my parents removed themselves from my life, by retiring hundreds of miles away when I was barely of legal age. I wasn’t invited.

i worked for years to create and maintain family relationships with these physically distant people. Later, when my past exploded into PTSD in my 40’s I had to make the decision to cut them out, or really in more practical terms, to stop going to them. If they want me, they know where I live.

i think not having them as a young adult made it hard in many practical ways, ie earning a living and making a life on one’s own, but I cannot say that in my case the effort I made to try to keep the idea of family alive was worth it. I could have done more helpful things with the time and resources I used for them, and those precious hours gained me little. They do not possess the necessary social and emotional maturity; after all, they came from the same household.

you have to make your own choices, but I think it’s okay for you to cut them out if that’s what you decide is best for you. And it doesnt have to be dramatic, you dont have to make some announcement to them. Just start living a life away from them in whatever manner works for you, and let things unfold as they may.


Hi, thanks for raising this topics. Its also a very present topic for me at the moment!
I really think there is no right or wrong. As every situation is different, every family, every surviver.
My father did remove me from the family when I was 20. But didnt tell anyone! My mom still calls me lier here!
We had a complete break up for a year. Started contact over (because I talked to a lawer about my situation). From that time on it was a constant arm length on and off. My father died 2008 - it was some kind of relief. :-(
With my mother it is still the same arm length or off, but never officially announced. At the moment more off which is ok for me. Its better for me than anything else. But sitll didnt make my decision to finally cut it off.


With the exception of my mother, I cut off my entire family and friends, moved 1000 km away, changed my name, and just lived my life. Even maintaining a relationship with my mother was questionable at that time, and I made a conscious decision to try that one out for a bit and cut her off too if it stayed toxic. I made no announcement about it, didn't provide any explanation, I just stopped calling/writing/emailing... if any of them wanted to maintain a ''relationship'', wanted to contact me, they could find me (especially before the name change) and be the ones to make an effort. It was the right decision for me, and allowed me to move on and make a new life for myself.

ETA - I have 1 friend from that era, who knew me before the name change and who I've told a good bit about what happened. I have 1 friend who knows I changed my name, but not what it was or anything about what happened beyond that there are dangerous people in my past, and thinks I'm in some sort of witness protection (or something). When people ask, I just vaguely say that I ''lost'' my family, and move the conversation along.
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That is indeed a very interesting fact: if they want they can mantain a relationship.
But in my case for example: my mother just always blaimes me for "not calling". Especially in the presence of other "as she never let her see in my house"... like that.
But dont she just call? if SHE wants to have the relationsship with her daughter she could easily call. But its just about blaming me! I guess a lot of ppl here knows this kind of bahaviour.


I’ve recently shut off my father (and my mother as a consequence). He was being overly dependent, manipulative and abusive. He was constantly emailing and texting me, making all kinds of crazy demands. (He wanted me to leave my wife and move in with them, for example.) And he was always blaming me for not being in more contact with him. So, ceasing to call him didn’t quite do the trick. I had to block him.

It’s been a bliss. And I haven’t felt guilty. I’m not planning on having this as a permanent state of affairs, but for a couple of weeks it’s been really good.