One of my parents (parent 'B') was consistently unreliable in terms of emotional support and educational development when I was growing up; they never wanted to spend time with me and I often felt like I was a burden to them rather than a son. During college when my parents divorced 'B' put my other parent, (parent 'A') whom was always there for me and whom I cared deeply about, into a major bind and filed for bankruptcy, which placed 'A' with all of our family's debts. Furthermore, because 'B' filed for bankruptcy, and 'A' was buried in debt, I then had no way have a co-signer for loans, and I thus suffered many difficulties in college: at times I became malnutritioned, and I was intermittently homeless. Now I have just graduated with dual degrees in Mathematics and Physics, and I plan to pursue a PhD at UCLA (which is very well-funded by fellowships/scholarships). Now 'B' wants to reconnect and seems like they actually want to be a parent, but I don't have any interest in connecting with them. How should I handle their approaches? For instance, 'B' will call me weekly, but I haven't answered for the past 3 weeks and either just cancel their call or let it go to voicemail, is there something more productive I can do?

One obvious idea is to tell 'B' how I feel, but I don't even feel comfortable sharing any feelings with 'B' because of how they have neglected me in the past.

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about relationships not parenting.
    – DanBeale
    Jun 2, 2015 at 8:29
  • 5
    @DanBeale It's about a parent attempting to reestablish a relationship with a child, which I think has been considered on topic (I'm not sure if I'm misremembering, though, and I'll go browse meta)
    – Acire
    Jun 2, 2015 at 11:26
  • @Erica - I think I'm misjudging OPs age as being much older than they are.
    – DanBeale
    Jun 4, 2015 at 11:33

4 Answers 4


You are not required to have a relationship with anyone you don't want to. Full stop. You've made it through some rough times by working hard; you're allowed to feel what you feel towards this person, and act in whatever way is best for your mental and emotional health.

If you wish, you can tell B that you do not wish to have contact now via letter/email/voicemail. Or you can just ignore the contact attempts: block the email addresses (or have them dumped directly into a junk mail folder that you then empty without reading), block the number the call is coming from or use something like Google Voice to catch and redirect it without you even having to know it's come in, things like that.

There are many, many forums where persons who have cut off contact with a relative or parent go to vent; one that I frequent is Metafilter. Feel free to go there and connect with others in similar situations.

Not that you need it, but you have the permission of this random Internet stranger to love yourself, and to cut off this person from your life.


I'll address what other answers didn't seem to yet.

I don't even feel comfortable sharing any feelings with 'B' because of how they have neglected me in the past.

Not sure if you mean that you just don't want B to know how you feel; OR that you don't mind if they know but you don't want to go through the process of telling them?

If it's the former, then simply don't say anything above "I have no interest in having anything to do with you. If you don't understand why, think. Good bye".

If it's the latter, a solution is to type up what you want/feel, as a blog post (as the co-founder of StackExchange is wont to preach at times, writing on Stack Exchange is blogging, so you basically already made a good start). Then either post it in private and mail to B; or post in public and mail B the link. No need to explain person to person.

Another way of doing this more constructively, is to raise the cost on B to connect to you. Right now, their cost is "3 minutes for phone call". Tell B that if they want to reconnect, they FIRST have to make good all that they hurt - e.g. compensate A for the costs of the debt fully; etc... If B aren't fully serious about this, they will run for the hills. If they are serious, you and A come out ahead - while this won't cancel your hardships, it will help you have easier life going forward.


Some people have really awful experiences of their parents, ranging from criminal levels of abuse through to mild misunderstanding, but most people just don't understand that.

In this situation you've clearly said that you have no wish to get back in contact with your father. That will be hard for him to hear and to live with, but that's a problem for him to sort out. He does need to respect your wishes. You could write a short but clear, firm, note telling him that you have no wish to re-open contact with him and asking him to stop trying to communicate with you. You don't need to give any explanation. (This note would be at most an A5 (half a letter size) page.) If he continues to make attempts to contact you there are technical measure that you can take - block his number, for example, and eventually legal measures.


Please stop trying to contact me. I really do not want to try to regain any kind of relationship with you. You can send stuff to {someone you trust, eg your mother?} but I am unlikely to ever read it.

I will be likely to view any further attempt to contact me as harassment."

Sign it and date it.

This step will help if you do ever need to get court orders to stop contact.

It will be difficult for other people to understand this. So you might want to develop a short phrase to stop the conversation.

Them: "Hey, you really should at least try to talk to your dad"

You: "Well, I went through a lot of bad stuff because of him. I'm okay now, but it was lousy at the time, and thanks for the concern but I really don't want to talk about it. Now, how about them {SportsTeam}?"

This lets them know that it's severe, that you're fine now, it gives them thanks for asking (which helps lessen the sting a bit) and diverts them. It's modified from words that people with visible disabilities sometimes use.

There are support groups for people who deal with abusive parents and you may like to see if they have any relevant information.


To the other excellent answers here I would add this:

You do not owe B an explanation. If they start asking "but why?" and "how could you do this to me?" then you should cut the discussion off with something along the lines of "I don't want to discuss it. Goodbye".

If you start trying to explain how past events make you feel then you open the door to lots of relitigation of past events and claims of "but it wasn't like that" and "you don't understand".

The only way to win that game is not to play.

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