Is Severing Ties with an Abusive Adult Child Ever Justified? A Faith Based Perspective

At Waypoint Wellness & Performance Coaching, we recognize the profound difficulty and emotional turmoil that comes with considering cutting ties with an adult child due to abuse. Unlike other relationships, the bond between parent and child is unique and deeply rooted in love, patience, and forgiveness. Our goal is to explore this sensitive issue through a systematic conversation, drawing on professional insights, timeless biblical principles, and the importance of finding support.

Understanding the Impact of Abuse

Abuse, in any form, leaves deep scars that can affect generations. When faced with the reality of abuse from an adult child, parents often find themselves torn between the need to protect themselves and other family members, and the enduring love they hold for their child. It is a complex and heart-wrenching dilemma that requires careful consideration.

Seeking Professional Guidance and Support

In such challenging situations, seeking support from qualified professionals is crucial. An experienced coach or counselor specializing in family dynamics and trauma can provide invaluable guidance. They can help you navigate this tumultuous journey with empathy, understanding, and strategic planning.

The Importance of Finding Support

Finding support within your community, whether at a church, synagogue, or other support groups, is essential. These communities can offer a sense of belonging and understanding, providing emotional and spiritual support during this painful experience. Participating in support groups, attending coaching sessions, or engaging in faith-based activities can help parents feel less isolated and more empowered. The profound impact of having a support system cannot be overstated—it offers a space for shared experiences, collective wisdom, and mutual encouragement.

Biblical Insights: The Prodigal Son

The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) offers deep insights into parental love and forgiveness. In the story, the father allows his son the freedom to make his own choices, even when those choices lead to destructive paths. Importantly, the father does not chase after the son but instead waits patiently, keeping the door open for reconciliation. When the son returns, the father welcomes him back with open arms.

This parable teaches us a vital lesson: we should not chase an adult child who is willfully walking a destructive path and causing harm. Instead, we must establish strong boundaries and communicate the consequences of their actions clearly. When you say “no,” mean it.

Differentiating Between Toxic Relationships and Parental Bonds

It’s crucial to differentiate between severing ties with an adult child due to abuse and removing other toxic people from your life. The relationship with an adult child is distinct, requiring a different approach characterized by patience, gentleness, forgiveness, and love. This relationship is where you model Agape love – unconditional and selfless. In other words would you treat and deal with your abusive adult child differently than the abusive neighbour down the street? The answer is YES. For your adult child the door will be open to them when they are ready to take responsibility for their behaviour, where on the other hand you do not have to allow the abusive neighbour back into your life even if they change their ways.

Setting Boundaries While Keeping the Door Open

While setting boundaries and verbalizing your experiences are essential, maintaining the possibility of reconciliation is equally important. Accepting an adult child back into your life after they have recognized their mistakes and are actively working towards restoration demonstrates the transformative power of love and forgiveness.

Finding Balance: Love and Boundaries

Under no circumstance should parents allow themselves to be abused. There is a crucial difference between showing love and allowing abusive behavior to continue. Sometimes, the most loving thing to do is to maintain a loving distance with appropriate boundaries. This approach ensures that parents protect their well-being while keeping the door open for reconciliation when the adult child is ready to make significant and sustainable changes.

Breaking Free from Gaslighting and Shame

Parents must understand that they are not responsible for their adult child’s abusive behavior. Often, an abusive adult child may try to convince the parent that the parent (s) are the reason for the nastiness. This is gaslighting and brainwashing. It is not the parent’s fault that the adult child is behaving in despicable and deplorable ways. The adult child is responsible for everything they do and say and that includes their abusive behaviours. So, parents do not feel condemned as your adult child wants to offload their guilt and shame. Do not accept it. You did your best and forgiveness is always available whether your adult child wants to forgive you or not. The Bible states, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Living in shame and regret is part of the abuse cycle, and it’s time for parents to break free. Adult children need to be held accountable and not coddled, while parents should hold out hope for a future with repentance.

Moving Towards Healing and Resilience

Navigating the complexities of an abusive adult child requires adherence to biblical principles of grace and forgiveness. By seeking guidance, setting firm boundaries, and remaining open to reconciliation, parents can traverse this challenging journey with faith and resilience, trusting in the healing power of love.


Ultimately, the role of a parent is to model the love of God. While it’s essential to ensure strong boundaries, it’s equally important to emphasize to your children that the door is always open for a healthy, safe, and loving relationship. Patience, gentleness, forgiveness, and love must be your touchstones. When your adult child is ready to return and work towards a respectful and loving relationship, you will be there, ready to embrace them with open arms.

  • To reach out to George or Lesley for support in navigating this difficult question go to the contact page by clicking. Here
  • For further reading check out, “Navigating Grief.” Click Here
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