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What Would It Take For You To Disown Your Own Child?

Monday, 21st November 2011

What Would It Take For You To Disown Your Own Child?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately.
And not because I am thinking of doing a midnight drop off at the local orphanage….

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Yes I joke about selling the monsters on eBay.
They’ve even seen me open up a listing and start typing, but even they know I’m joking and could never part with them.
I get the cheeky grins and the “you will not mum, you love us too much”….. Hmmmm


So what would it take for me to actually disown my own child?
I really don’t know that I could.

We all have rough days. Rough weeks, rough months and sometimes there are the phases that you wish never existed at all.


There’s not a part of me that could tell you that I could live without any of them.
Each one of my children make up a piece of my heart and to take one piece away would leave me empty and longing.

So how do some parents decide to shun one child out of the family?

I mean you have parents that give their children up because even they know themselves it’s in the best interests of the kids.

You have parents that have to deal with the fact that their children have committed hideous and unthinkable crimes, leaving them with no other real choice.

There are the children that insist on leaving the family home far too young, leaving the parents feeling lost and like failures.

And then there are the parents that fake a perfect life.

They pretend that everything is hunky dory, when in fact its not the case.
Their child starts to head of the rails a little….. They continue to pretend everything will be fine….
Then the chaos begins.

But instead of pulling their ‘perfect’ family unit together, they throw the child out of the house for fear of embarrassment to the family, for fear of corrupting younger siblings.

This situation I cannot understand.

As a parent of a large family I often wonder what the elder kids will show the younger ones when they reach their teens. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be some nonsense and tomfoolery.

But being a close knit tight family, I cant imagine there would be a moment where I would be totally ashamed of my own offspring in such a way that I would disown them.

Yes, kids go off the rails.
Yes, they can get themselves into awkward and horrible situations.
Yes, they are unpredictable and prone to doing the opposite of what we tell them.
Yes, there are some lessons that life needs to teach them.

But often as I have seen, heard and read about, it is these children that are shunned and forced out of their own homes that go on to commit crimes, involve themselves in a life of drug and alcohol abuse and much worse things.
Not always, but it’s common.

No matter how bad my child had pissed me off, I’m really not sure I could watch them go through all of that just to ‘teach them a lesson’.

Often the child that plays up and gets themselves into a bit of nonsense, is the child that is crying for your attention. That wants to be noticed, that is tired of being left out and ignored.

Nothing grates on me more than the parents that pretend.

So while these parents go about their fake and obviously meaningless lives, their outcast is damaging others.
They don’t mind, it’s not really their problem, because they are PERFECT….

And in their PERFECT world, their child will learn their lesson and come home with their tail between their legs.
Doubtful, very doubtful. The longer they’re left the bigger hole they dig.

This article is solely my opinion. I don’t think I could ever do it.

Every single one of us parents is wired differently though.

I would love to know your thoughts and feelings on situations like this one.

Have you been in this situation?

Could you do it to your own child?


    Written by:

    1. karen

      Wow Jac, something my 24 yo and I have discussed, knowing friends of hers that have been outcast from their families, for drugs, alchahol, pregnancy, sexuality, and there is NOTHING she could do that would cause this for us, even murder! Horrible thought I know but I couldn't cut her off, she is a part of me well and truly. I think responsibility is often a problem of parents these days and its very sad when they don't seem to know where there children are or what they are doing, respect for us as parents would help too. thanks for your great thoughts, hugs karen

    2. I guess this is a case of you don't know what you would do until it happens to you. I can't imagine a situation bad enough that would warrant disowning your own child. However as an adult, my father made the choice of not having anything to do with myself or my sister because of the influence of my step-mother.

    3. I can't imagine shunning my kids. But then, I'm the opposite of the Perfect Illusion. I lay it ALL out on the line. Mostly so other people know they are not alone, like I felt for so long. I'm the one making people uncomfortable because I blather on about mental illness, depression, suicide and special needs kids. But if that means just ONE person seeks help, or feels not-so-alone in their darkest hour, then it's worth all of the side-eyes, and lost "friends". My family is not anywhere near perfect, but removing a part of that family would surely make it worse, not better.

    4. My parents were faced with this when my brother was a teenager. He got into drugs pretty badly and got very violent. He broke into their house a number of times, had horrible rage outbursts and even "threatened" us by laying down in the middle of a highway while we watched in tears screaming for him to get up. EVERYONE around our family told my parents to cut him off. They begged my mother, who was so stressed it was almost killing her, to "disown" him. They never did. Never. They took the abuse, and always told him they loved him and were there for him... even if he wasn't listening... he would one day hear it. He is now 30 years old and *almost* normal. We still have rough patches with him... but I swear that if my parents had listened to the people around them back when he was a teenager... he wouldn't be alive today.

    5. When I was 20, my parents asked me to leave home (ie. kicked me out) because they didn't like my then fiance. It only took me another year to see what they saw and I ended it. I was really hurt at the time, but I worked through it with my parents and we now have a stronger relationship. In this instance, it worked out, but I don't know if I could do that to my own children.

    6. It always saddens me when I hear of families fragmenting like that. I could never not be there for my children

    7. Like Tina, I think this is something you wouldn't know how to deal with until it happened. I too have joked about giving my children away or swapping them for a friends better behaved child, but honestly right now, they could do no wrong in my eyes and they will always have a home with their Dad and I. Always. Very interesting question though Jac. I wonder how parents of a child molester feel about their child? As someone who has survived child abuse I don't even know how I would react to that.

    8. I agree with TIna in that I don't think until you are in a certain situation you really know how you'd react. That said, it would have to be something pretty bloody bad for me to disown my child. Not sure I ever would.

    9. I don't know that I ever could... but if things got so awful, and nothing had worked (and wise friends and mentors agreed) then I would definitely consider sending them to stay with other family - uncles and aunts. But just boot them out on the street? Never. On a similar line, I do know that if I needed to, I would definitely call the cops on them if they were being utterly stupid and doing illegal things. Would totally break my heart, but I would.

    10. Kara

      I think it's really hard to judge families, when you don't fully know the situation. I could never imagine disowning my children and I hope there never comes a time where we become estranged as it would break my heart and I do believe in unconditional love and forgivness. However that being said I did have a family situation where my cousin was forgiven over and over, he did horrible things all under the influence of drugs or his need to have drugs and it came to a point where his family were at breaking point, he was an adult by this stage and although they never disowned him they just felt they couldn't give him anymore chances...but they had no illusions of being a PERFECT family, although they tried their best, sadly it doesn't have a happy ending either...but that's another story. So no I would never disown my children, but I wouldn't judge those that have.

    11. In all honesty, and maybe by looking at me now you wouldn't think such things would happen to me but...I sort of went off the rails once - in my parents books I did. I stopped listening, I started rebelling and breaking rules. To me those are rules that are normal for any teenager who has been bound for too long to break. At their wits end, they had a discussion with my paternal grandfather. At first they thought of putting me to stay with my grandparents. Great - handball the problem child to someone else why don't you? Then my grandfather suggest to....put me in a "halfway house". A house for delinquents. A place where these kids are sent to because they had committed a crime. What was my crime? My crime was bringing a guy home and getting caught. They didn't even bother asking why I did it. If maybe I had been in dire straits and had no choice but to do it. I attempted to end my life..and funnily enough they didn't even noticed. I ran away, stayed with a friend for a day and then went back home. Even when I ran away for so many times, do you know what my mum regarded it as? Me staying over at a friend's place. Sad but true. I hope I can be everything for my children. It's hard to be a parent, but we bring them into this world, it's OUR job to take care of them. Be there for them whenever we can.

    12. I love this article jac,as you know i have been to hell and back with 1 of my kids and i would and could never disown him i dont care about what other people think or say alls that matters to me is that i keep trying to help him through his problems and to let him know that i will never ever give up on him and believe me its worked.....god knows were he would be now if i would of turned my back on him x

    13. steve

      awesome read. i have 4 foster boys who i love more than anything and treat as they are my own kids. their parents dont give a crap where they are, they lose one kid, they have another. i cant really think of anything that would make me disown my boys. my oldest boy had quite a horific upbringing before he moved in with us, and even though we have had him for 2 years he still does things that absolutely infuriates me. my friends and family know what a challenge my kids can be but they also know theres no way i would ever "get rid" of any of them. our job as parents is to teach our kids and guide them and not piss em off out on there own if they do something that could potentially embarass us. people who do that shouldnt have kids in the first place

    14. linda

      your right until you face that situation you cant know, disown is strong a word and not one i would ever use or do, ive raised my kids to be open and honest and so far that has done us well. however i have recently last year in fact faced a whole heap of crap with my teen daughter even to the point where she moved out for a month (unfortualtly sometimes you need to play the if you want to have the advantage of being an adult then you need the responsability of one too card) i made plenty of mistakes during that time and have been honest enough to admit them but in the end we worked things out and she is better for the expeirence(she also come to relish on her own how her actions affected her siblings too ) (she is home and respects the rules once again) as she is the oldest im sure we will face a whole heap more crap before the beloved 3 more on the adulthood but i cant see myself ever disowning them. the biggest lesson i learnt was to always admit when you are wrong and apoligise for it, you'd be amazed how much communication you get from teens if they feel that you make mistakes too and are able to more past it.

    15. I think some parents disown their children because the parents lack constructive coping and parental skills or are repeating a family pattern. My father disowned me for 20 plus years. I never did drugs, never got pregnant, or anything mentioned in this blog. He was narcissistic, so it was all about him. His older sister was disowned for getting pregnant, so I think it is a larger pattern. I also think the word "disowned" is used far too loosely. You mention adult children with problems, and then it's perfectly reasonable to cut those people off financially so that they are not being enabled. But cutting them off financially and withdrawing love are two very different things. If any parent really understood the damage that shunning does to a child, they would never do it.

    16. disappointment

      I am not a parent myself, but I definitely been a child that many parents would want to disown. and thankfully, my parents never did that is why personally I think being a parent is hardest job you can ever have you have to be able to love your kids unconditionally, and even then, such a deep love has the potential to hurt you in a way that you can never imagine kind of like catch 22 if you ask me parents with kids who are " normal" should count their blessings.

    17. Disowning Mom

      I am a mother who has disowned her son. He's not into drugs. He's pretty responsible. And he doesn't steal. The problem was, I loved too much. As a single parent, I gave him everything I possibly could. We had been through so much that we were always a pair against the world. I mean, there was a time he had gotten in trouble with the law, and I was even ready to do the time for him if it came to that. I would have done anything for him. All he needed to do was ask. My husband and I even gave him a house with $50,000 equity built in, paid for his college. Nothing could ever come between us - or so I thought. Enter the witch. Somehow or another some woman that he's not even dating got hold of his brain and turned him completely against me. Why she hates me so much, I have no clue. She doesn't even know me, but she's done such a number on my son, so much so that he even laughed when he heard my dog that I dearly love was dying of cancer of the liver and spleen. I could go into quite a few other even meaner things he's done, but you get the idea. It's just pure, evil hatred. I could understand it if I really had done something against him, something egregious. I spanked him when he was growing up, and that's the meanest thing I've ever done. Where I went wrong was, I made life too easy on him. Now he's got this idea in his head that I've never done a thing for him. That's the big complaint. Well, you could say that it's just a phase he's going through, that one day he will realize just how much he's been bamboozled by this witch, but he's crossed the line. You never let anybody get in between you and family. You never turn against family, period. I could have put up with murder or any other horrible crime he committed, but this has ripped me to the core. Well, now he doesn't have to worry about it anymore because his only family has just erased him.

    18. Michele

      To the author: I HAVE cut off my children. It becomes necessary when my life is threatened. I have elderly parents who would hate to have their daughter kill herself, so at some point, I have to think of them. Imagine if your current wonderful husband suddenly changed. Literally changed within a few months. He becomes addicted to every narcotic substance known to man, fakes disability, and stays at home everyday shooting the neighbors' beloved pets. He gives your young kids guns to play with -- UNSUPERVISED. He agrees to watch the 2-year-old while you're at work, but you come home and the child is missing, for 2 SOLID HOURS (he had wandered down to the street to a neighbor's house). Hubby starts shooting into your neighbor's homes. You're trying to get his parents help you admit him to rehab -- this inflames him, he files for divorce, calls the police on you and has you arrested after HE chokes YOU, then changes all the locks on the home. He takes the kids -- YOUR kids -- to his sister's house and begins to feed them false memories of horrible things that YOU supposedly did to your beloved children. 2 months later, your kids despise you. They have formed a team against you with their "loving" father as the ring leader and their primary goal in life now is to make you miserable. They refuse to see you. They scream at you for the horrible things you supposedly did to them. They won't listen to you because you are a "liar" and a "witch." These are the same 3 children who loved you and called you mom just 8 weeks previous. It's not only you they refuse to see, but your entire family.....your parents are devastated. $60,000 and 9 attorneys later, you lose custody of your kids to your drug-addicted ex because his dad is wealthy and paid off every attorney you retained to act on your behalf. The torment continues, only now, you're being accused of child abuse and they have opened a record on you. You're kids threaten that if you make them visit again, they will have you thrown in jail. After 4 years of hell, being flat broke, and wondering what the hell happened to the life you knew for 15 years; you decide to pull it together and fill that shattered heart of yours with college degrees and cement. You have 3 good years, then here comes the middle child, now 18, begging to have her mother back. She hasn't asked me how I've been doing, or how my family is; but did let me know she no longer likes her step-mother and wants me back in her life. On her Facebook page, she has ONE person listed under "Inspirational People" -- "my daddy" it says. And yes, she has caught her dad lying to her numerous times, but it doesn't matter.....I am still the one in the wrong. I've been suicidal over this sick game I was tied up in for over 4 years, and just when I get back to a semi-healthy place, here comes the child whose false stories had DHR open an investigation on me. I've reached the point where I will take out a restraining order against her if she keeps coming to my home (I do not answer the door and have her phone number blocked). I've had minor bouts of depression off and on in my life, usually over normal life events (like the death of a grandparent and the drug-addicted condition of my husband those last 2 years I was with him), but I've had a persistent bout of major depression the last 7 years that is not responding to any medication or counseling. While I am no longer suicidal, I am broken beyond repair. Society's laws did not apply to me, and were twisted to take my children from me. There is no sense in the world, and I no longer wish to be here. To allow my former child, now a selfish adult I do not know, to come back into my life, would be my early death. I am only 41 and still have my own elderly parents to think about. Before you think you know your life and your children, think again. It can all be gone in the blink of an eye.

    19. Vikki

      Sorry this is an old post but I hope that somebody will read this - I honestly believe that the worst thing a parent can do is cut off their child. I mean emotionally - often it is necessary to financially cut of a child. But to disown a child and claim that child was never yours in the first place... I cannot imagine a single situation that could warrant a good parent doing this. For a child to have their parent, a person who has cared for them, raised them, known them inside and out for at least the first portion of their life - turn around and say they want nothing more to do with them - this is heartbreaking. Please - if anybody is ever in this situation - stop and think. Your child may need to live on their own, or move in with family members/friends or go through a youth programme, even jail. There may need to be a compromise. You may hate something your child is doing or an attitude your child has. But please don't ever emotionally disown them. Be ready to answer the phone for them, give advice for college applications, be at their wedding. My parents split up and both decided they want nothing to do with me because I'm "dirtied" by being "half the other parent." I'm 17 and living with friends now. It hurts more than I can say and I beg that nobody every puts their child through the same situation.

    20. Anonymous

      My father disowned me just a few hours ago, I know I'm far from a perfect daughter and at 21yrs of age I am still trying to find my own place in this world, but I would never EVER disown either of my parents, even now after all the painful things he said to me like wishing my cousin was his daughter and not me, I still love him as my dad. He told me hurtful things like, not wanting me there at the hospital when he is on his death bed, he told me I'm a screw up and that I embarrass him and my mother, he told me he wants me out of the house by next month and that if I were to pass away suddenly, he wouldn't shed a single tear. My parents are the only to people in this world that matter to me the most, I always show my love and appreciation for them as parents emotionally but according to my dad, that isn't enough. I have to have a degree and a career for him to love me. I feel like both my parents only care about status and image, simply being for them as a loving daughter isn't enough. And my mother? Well she just sat there in the kitchen nodding in agreement with him so I guess she has passively disowned me too. I really don't know what to feel right now, I have stopped crying and I had my little burst in my journal, but I just feel lost now, my parents don't love me at all, now I'm just a person who happens to be living under the same roof. All I want to do right now is complete my studies so that I can move out asap. My heart has definitely been ripped from my chest and stepped on repeatedly. I have been a little depressed for a few months from unemployment so this was just the cherry on top. Being disowned by my parents whom I love unconditionally is just a shockingly sick feeling, I really don't see how I'm going to ever get over this. But thankyou Jac, you have shown me that unconditional love from a parent towards their child still exists, your children are the luckiest little munchkins in the world :)

    21. I agree with many posters here that you can not judge another's family until you walk a mile in their shoes. While it is sad and tragic to have a broken family and for a parent to disown particularly an adult child, trust me there comes a time when the parent can't fix it anymore. Self preservation is more important than subjecting yourself to mental verbal or physical abuse from an adult child. There are children who truly do bring this upon themselves.

    22. CK

      I have disowned my daughter recently. We moved across the country, and I know my 33 yr old daughter blames me to a large extent. While certainly not a move that benefited my personal needs, it was time to put my family first. Schools are great. Husband actually likes his job that pays him more. Boys don't have to share a room. But I had planned on coming back to do my work there and to visit her and my grandson. Tickets there aren't expensive, renting a car isn't horrible - but spending more than $100/night is almost undoable. Whenever my (or my husband's) family came to visit, we put them up as long as they could visit, whenever they could come. We had people sharing rooms, sleeping on couches, occasionally pitching a tent. When my mom was released from the hospital with just 3-4 mos to live, we took her in though she was incapacitated (we changed dirty diapers, cleaned wounds, etc). She got well enough, we threw her out after 6 mos. She lived another year +. Yet, my daughter will not allow me to stay with them. I have helped tremendously around the house but can't ever do it right. I buy all the food when I was there. it's not like she has said I could stay some days of the trip. Nope - the 2 bedroom house is too small. No discussions. I've just had it. After all this time of raising her (partially alone) and putting her through college, bartending school, and still giving her money, there is no help she is willing to give me. She has pitted my husband and I against each other. Anything she says, he accepts and says she needs to do. But he can stay there - I can't. I understand that he visits 1-2x's/yr for a couple days and I stay about 4x's for 2 weeks - but I was never given the option of just staying a couple days. So obviously her excuse of the house being too small doesn't hold for him. There's no way he did as much housework - but that doesn't matter. He didn't even buy his grandson a bday present until he was there 3 weeks late. They have bonded against the wicked, selfish angry mom. So I stopped pretending this relationship is any good. It doesn't work. I'm tired of being the monster. I'm tired of feeling unwelcome. My mom was very sick on my birthday. My sister said she struggled half the day and passed away 4 hours after. It actually makes a difference that she died the day after, that I don't have to think of her dying then. That's what I think a mom is - someone who WON'T die for you. But that only works if you're the daughter who helps her to live to that point.

    23. o

      About 4 years ago my dad disowned me and kicked me out of his house after I graduated high school because I didn't want to join the military for 6 years and collage for 4 years after the military. I'm not a military sort of person, I only wanted to go to college. He wanted me to go because he thought it would "cure" my aspergers but I and everybody else is just fine with the way I am. He harassed my mother and I for years afterwards. He blames her for me going away and not doing the military but she had nothing to do with it. I can see why see divorced him. My father is a sad pathetic manipulative person. He somehow stalks my Facebook even though I have him blocked he's hacked into my old Facebook account. He says I'm not his daughter no more and gave everything I had to charity. I'm so much happier without him in my life but no matter how estranged our relationship is I still miss him. I have nights where I just want to contact him but I know if I do he will still be the same person. It took me a long time to get used to not having him in my life no more. I have nights where I can't sleep and even though I'm happy he makes me feel like there is something wrong with me. No Child should ever have to endure this from their parents. I was never a bad child growing up I knew kids who I went to school with who actually did bad things and their parents still talk to them. Maybe one day in time we will makeup but I don't ever see him changing.

    24. Nancy C

      Well my brother murdered my dad and raped me and my sister, but before all this he was on drugs & hanging with all the wrong people. Everyone around my mother told her to kick him out & to disown him, as they would see how abusive he was towards all of us and rob us every chance he had. She refused to and now she Cruz wishing she would've down something to protect the family. My dad tried to protect us & kick him out but our mother would threaten him, if he left she would go too. So in this case, do you think kicking him out or disowning him would've made difference?

    25. Lisa

      Whether or not a parent disowns a child lies not in the situation and the dynamic of that parent and that child. There is no right or wrong answer. There is only an answer. When my daughter was small, I could never have imagined making huge choices that would force me to put her out of my house and eventually obtain a restraining order. I feel horrible every day, but I know that it was the right answer for the situation at hand. She made very bad choices, associates with low level criminal type people and has become an incredible liar and drug abuser. She takes the largest part of her anger out on me all the time, even when I have tried to help her obtain the goals and things she says she wants to obtain. Whatever time will allow will determine where this relationship should go, but I am not going to allow myself to go down with the ship. So before people judge parents that had to make these life changing moments, and before you tell myself, "I could never separate or disown no matter what" be sure you have a very good idea of the "no matter what" that can come along.

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