Family Estrangement

Families become estranged for many reasons and each person has individual reasons for breaking contact

Around one in five families experience some kind of estrangement from a relative or their families. Families become estranged for many reasons and each person has individual reasons for breaking contact. Stand Alone identifies common themes such as coming from families with strong and rigid ideologies, breaking contact after significant family events or abuse within the family. Estrangement can feel isolating as you are not part of the ‘happy family’ social ideal.  You may feel wary of others and worried about relationships you have with others.

Estrangement may give you a sense of relief and freedom, it may bring feelings of guilt and sadness, and it may be a confusing mixture of many feelings. Estrangement and family problems are more common than you think and it may help you to confide in a close friend or partner, particularly if you are struggling.


Student Counselling are able to offer support for family problems and coping with estrangement.



University holidays, particularly at Christmas, can be a difficult time for many students who are estranged or have difficult relationships with their family. During this time remember to look after yourself, let a friend know what your plans are and ask them to check in with you online or by phone occasionally. Remember that not all students return home for the holiday and not all students celebrate Christmas. In preparation try and find other students who are staying during the holidays, you may want to contact the Student Life Team who organise events for students who are staying in the area during the holiday.



Although attempting reconciliation, particularly at certain times of the year like Christmas, may seem tempting think carefully about what is right for you and perhaps seek further advice from Stand Alone. They have further advice on their websites if you are thinking of reconciling with your family.


Occasionally estranged family members may want to make contact with you through the University. We have a strict parental contact and data protection policy which ensures none of your personal details are divulged to anyone contacting the University. If you have concerns someone may be attempting to contact you please come in and speak to us in Founder's West 170 or email us.


Stand Alone provides more specific advice and support for students including:

  • Help and support with providing evidence of your family estrangement for Student Finance England
  • Accommodation and bursaries information
  • Find out more about their research on family estrangement
  • Online support
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