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Thanksgiving Without Family: Coping Strategies for Estranged Adult Kids

Thanksgiving, a time traditionally associated with family gatherings, warmth, and gratitude, can be a challenging and emotional experience for estranged adult kids (EAKs). While the holiday season often evokes feelings of joy and togetherness, it can also intensify the sense of loss and loneliness for those who have chosen or been forced to estrange themselves from their families.

In this article, we will explore the unique struggles faced by EAKs during Thanksgiving, the emotions they may encounter, and practical coping strategies to navigate this time of year with resilience and self-compassion. Remember, you are not alone, and there are supportive communities and resources available to help you through this season.

The Weight of Family Expectations

For many, Thanksgiving is synonymous with family reunions and shared meals. However, for EAKs, the pressure to conform to societal expectations of family togetherness can be overwhelming. The messages propagated by media, advertisements, and even well-meaning friends can reinforce the idea that family should always come first, regardless of the past.


Recognising and Acknowledging Feelings

Acknowledging and accepting your emotions during this time is essential. It is okay to feel a mix of sadness, anger, and nostalgia. Understand that your feelings are valid and part of the healing process. Give yourself permission to grieve the family you wish you had and the memories you never made.

Embracing Thanksgiving Alone

Choosing to spend Thanksgiving alone can be a powerful act of self-care and empowerment for EAKs. Rather than forcing yourself into uncomfortable family gatherings, consider embracing the opportunity to create your own traditions and rituals. Treat yourself to a special meal, watch your favorite movies, or engage in activities that bring you joy.

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Practicing Self-Compassion

Give yourself permission to set boundaries and prioritise your well-being. Self-compassion is crucial during times of heightened emotions. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer to a friend facing similar challenges.

Creating New Traditions

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to follow a traditional script. Consider creating new traditions that resonate with your values and interests. Whether it’s volunteering, taking a nature hike, or engaging in creative projects, find activities that bring meaning to your holiday.

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Focusing on Gratitude

Despite the complexities of estrangement, finding moments of gratitude can be transformative. Take time to reflect on the positive aspects of your life, the people who support you, and the personal growth you’ve experienced. Cultivating gratitude can provide a sense of grounding and perspective during emotionally charged times.

Setting Boundaries

If you choose to engage with family members during Thanksgiving, establish clear boundaries to protect your emotional well-being. Decide in advance what topics are off-limits and know when it’s time to disengage from conversations that become toxic or triggering.

Connecting with Supportive Communities

Estrangement can be an isolating experience, especially during the holiday season. Reach out to friends, support groups, or online communities like Breakaway’s Reddit page r/EstrangedAdultKids. Sharing your experiences and hearing from others who understand can be immensely comforting and validating.


Thanksgiving without family can be a challenging journey for estranged adult kids, but it’s also an opportunity for self-discovery, growth, and healing. Embrace this time as a chance to prioritizse your needs, connect with supportive communities, and create your own path to gratitude and resilience. Remember, your worth is not defined by your family dynamics, and you deserve to navigate this holiday season with compassion and self-love. You are not alone in this journey, and there is strength in the EAK community. Let this Thanksgiving be an opportunity to reclaim your power and find gratitude in the midst of life’s complexities.