Estrangement and Holidays: Navigating the Seasonal Challenges

The holiday season is often portrayed as a time of joy, love, and togetherness, but for many estranged adult kids, it can bring about a unique set of challenges and emotions. The image of the perfect family gathering can be a painful reminder of the fractured relationships they have with their parents or other family members. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of navigating holidays as an EAK and offer coping strategies to help you find peace and self-empowerment during this time of the year.

The Pressure of Societal Expectations

As the holiday season approaches, society bombards us with images and messages of happy families coming together to celebrate. This can intensify the feelings of isolation and sadness for estranged adult kids who don’t have a picture-perfect family to gather with. The pressure to conform to these societal expectations can be overwhelming, but it’s essential to remember that every family dynamic is different, and it’s okay not to fit the traditional mold.


Coping with Feelings of Loss and Grief

Holidays can trigger feelings of loss and grief for estranged adult kids who have severed ties with their parents or other family members. It’s normal to mourn the relationships they wish they had or the family they never experienced. Acknowledging and allowing these emotions to surface is an essential part of the healing process.

Setting Boundaries

During the holiday season, there may be attempts from estranged parents or family members to reach out or reconcile. While this can be challenging to navigate, it’s crucial to prioritise your emotional well-being. Setting firm boundaries and deciding what level of contact feels safe and comfortable for you is essential. Remember that you have the right to protect yourself from any further harm.

estrangement guides

Finding Support

The holiday season can be an excellent time to connect with friends or create your own chosen family. Surrounding yourself with supportive and understanding individuals who respect your boundaries can provide a sense of belonging and comfort during this time.

Practicing Self-Care

The holidays can be emotionally draining, so it’s essential to practice self-care and prioritise your well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as meditation, journaling, spending time in nature, or pursuing hobbies that you love.

Shifting Focus to Gratitude

While estranged adult kids may experience pain during the holidays, shifting the focus to gratitude can be a helpful coping mechanism. Expressing gratitude for the positive aspects of your life can help counterbalance negative emotions and foster a more optimistic outlook.

Dealing with Invitations and Questions

During the holiday season, you may receive invitations to family gatherings or face questions from well-meaning acquaintances about your estrangement. Decide in advance how you wish to respond to such situations and remember that you are not obligated to disclose personal details.

Celebrating Alone or with Chosen Family

Spending the holidays alone or with chosen family doesn’t diminish their significance or value. Embrace the freedom to create new traditions and celebrations that align with your values and desires.

Seeking Professional Support

If the holiday season becomes particularly challenging to navigate, seeking support from a therapist or counselor can be beneficial. A mental health professional can provide guidance and tools to cope with the emotional complexities of estrangement during this time.

estrangement guides


Navigating the holiday season as an estranged adult kid can be emotionally trying, but it’s essential to remember that you are not alone in your experiences. By setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and seeking support, you can navigate the seasonal challenges and find healing and self-empowerment during this time of the year. Remember that your well-being is paramount, and it’s okay to prioritise your emotional health and happiness.