How To Get Through Mother’s Day When You Don’t Speak To Your Mom

Recent research shows that nearly half of LGBTQ+ youth are estranged from at least one member of their family. This situation doesn’t change for adults.

I haven’t seen my mother in over 23 years. I came out at seventeen and ran away to escape my abusive household, and haven’t been back since. I’ve met other queer people through my activism for current/former homeless LGBTQ youth who have also broken contact with their families. Some were rejected and others estranged themselves for their own mental health. Many queer people struggle with Mother’s Day because our moms weren’t always (or ever) loving, safe and supportive people in our lives. Regardless of the situation, if you have a negative association with Mother’s Day, you aren’t alone. 

Recent research shows that nearly half of LGBTQ+ youth are estranged from at least one member of their family. This situation doesn’t change for adults. LGBTQ+ adults are twice as likely as our cisgender/heterosexual peers to not be close to immediate family members. On top of this, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+ making queer youth significantly overrepresented amongst populations of homeless youth. Even for those of us confident and proud of our decisions to cut our mothers out of our lives, Mother’s Day can be a tricky time of year to navigate. The idea of the loving, caring, perfect mothers seem everywhere from overflowing card sections in stores, to casual conversations of people asking what you are doing with your mom for the “holiday.” It can feel awkward to share in these moments that your mom isn’t in your life. However, breaking free from toxic families of origin, and building our own lives is part of our collective strength and queer cultural legacy. 

For some queer people, recreating our lives without connection to our moms is something we can find solidarity and connection around. Are you feeling uncomfortable or worried about Mother’s Day? Here are some strategies for making the day less stressful or triggering. 

Take a social media break – Mother’s Day is a time when a lot of people are going to post about how wonderful and loving their moms are on social media. If that’s going to be difficult for you to read and see, it’s okay to take a break and log off for the day. Before logging off, you can make a post about why you won’t be around online if talking about your experience feels empowering to you. Or, you can just take the day for yourself without explaining your online departure. 

Speak your truth – Being a queer person without a relationship to your mom isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Sharing your story about not having a relationship with your mom can help other queer people who also don’t have relationships with their moms feel less isolated. Naming your truth of having a mother who has harmed you can be empowering and also help forge connections with other queer people who have similar lived experiences.  You neve have to share your experience, but doing so can help you (and others) feel less isolated.

 Be in community – If Mother’s Day is upsetting for you, try to find ways not to be alone. Make plans with other queer people in your life who also don’t have relationships with their moms. Spending time with your friends and chosen family is a great way to distract yourself from the weight of today. Try to keep yourself busy with activities you enjoy and that make you feel seen and affirmed. You may want to avoid locations likely to be centering Mother’s Day events (the brunch specials are never any good, anyway). 

Even if, like me, you feel like cutting your mom out of your life was the right decision, that doesn’t mean  Mother’s Day is easy. If you are triggered on Mother’s Day, try to remember that you’re not alone.  More queer people than you might suspect are estranged or have cut ties with their families of origin. By being open about these experiences, we can help to take away the stigma regarding this experience. Most importantly, by connecting with other queer folks who share these experiences, we can support each other and make holidays like Mother’s Day a little less hard for all of us.


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