Dealing with Flying Monkeys: Strategies for Estranged Adult Kids

Parental estrangement can be challenging on its own, but when estranged adult kids (EAKs) have to deal with the interference of flying monkeys, the journey becomes even more complex. In this guide, we will explore the concept of flying monkeys, their role in estrangement, and most importantly, effective strategies for EAKs to cope with these manipulative individuals.

Understanding the Flying Monkey Phenomenon

In the context of family estrangement, “flying monkeys” refer to individuals who act as enablers or messengers for the estranged parents or toxic family members. These individuals willingly or unwittingly take on the role of a proxy, attempting to pressure, guilt, or manipulate the estranged adult kid into resuming contact or reconciliation with their estranged family.

Flying monkeys can come in various forms, such as other family members, close friends, or acquaintances who maintain a relationship with the estranged parents. Their involvement can be emotionally distressing for EAKs, as it often feels like an invasion of their boundaries and undermines their decision to establish distance from the toxic family dynamics.


Recognising the Manipulative Tactics of Flying Monkeys

To effectively deal with flying monkeys, EAKs must first recognize the manipulative tactics these individuals employ. Some common tactics include:

  1. Guilt Tripping: Flying monkeys may use emotional blackmail to make the estranged adult kid feel guilty about their decision to distance themselves from the family. They may convey messages of sadness, disappointment, or even false concern to evoke a sense of obligation.

  2. Gaslighting: Flying monkeys might attempt to distort the truth or invalidate the estranged adult kid’s feelings and experiences, making them doubt their decision to estrange and question their perception of past events.

  3. Playing the Victim: Flying monkeys may portray the estranged parent as a victim, claiming that they are hurt and deeply affected by the estrangement. This tactic aims to elicit sympathy and pressure the EAK into reconnecting.

  4. Manipulative Requests: Flying monkeys might make seemingly innocent requests for contact or information, but their underlying purpose is to pave the way for reconciliation attempts on behalf of the estranged parent.

  5. Social Pressure: In some cases, flying monkeys may attempt to use social pressure, involving mutual friends or community members, to coerce the EAK into breaking the estrangement.

Setting Boundaries: A Key Defense Against Flying Monkeys

When dealing with flying monkeys, setting and maintaining firm boundaries is essential. EAKs should be clear about their decision to estrange and communicate those boundaries assertively. Here are some boundary-setting strategies:

  1. No Contact Rule: Establishing a no-contact rule with flying monkeys is often necessary to protect emotional well-being. Block them on social media, set email filters, and change contact information if needed.

  2. Prepare a Script: Develop a concise and assertive script to respond to flying monkeys when they attempt to contact you. Reiterate your decision to estrange and request that they respect your boundaries.

  3. Avoid Justification: Remember that you do not owe flying monkeys an explanation for your decision to estrange. Avoid engaging in lengthy explanations that may be used against you.

  4. Seek Supportive Allies: Surround yourself with supportive friends, therapists, or support groups like Breakaway’s Reddit page r/EstrangedAdultKids, where you can share experiences and strategies for dealing with flying monkeys.

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The Power of Emotional Resilience

Dealing with flying monkeys can be emotionally draining, but developing emotional resilience is crucial in navigating family estrangement. Here are some ways to build emotional resilience:

  1. Self-Validation: Remind yourself that your decision to estrange is valid and necessary for your well-being. Trust your instincts and prioritise your mental and emotional health.

  2. Emotional Expression: Allow yourself to process your feelings about the flying monkeys and the estrangement. Journaling, therapy, or talking to understanding friends can help you process and release emotions.

  3. Self-Care: Engage in self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Taking care of your physical and emotional well-being will help you cope with the challenges of estrangement.

  4. Focus on Growth: Use the estrangement journey as an opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. Reconnect with your passions, interests, and goals beyond family dynamics.

Empowering Yourself and Moving Forward

Dealing with flying monkeys can be a daunting task, but empowering yourself with knowledge and strategies will help you navigate these challenges with confidence. Remember that you have the right to set boundaries, protect your well-being, and create a healthy future beyond toxic family ties.


Finding strength within yourself and connecting with supportive communities like Breakaway’s Reddit page r/EstrangedAdultKids can be instrumental in healing and embracing the life you deserve, free from the manipulation of flying monkeys.