Estranged daughter refuses my efforts to reach out

I have an estranged daughter based in Australia. No matter how I try to reach her, she refuses to reply in spite of my apologies for having said hurtful words to her while growing up. How should I untie the knot?


At The Well

Li Ping says

Dear Perplexed,

Your daughter’s refusal to reply could be due to a few reasons. She may still be hurting and unwilling to forgive. Apologies—while important on your part to demonstrate taking responsibility—do not automatically lead to healing. She may also not trust that you have changed. Finally, she may have moved on from the relationship and be unwilling to risk being hurt again.

May I suggest the following? Firstly, keep praying for the Lord to bring healing and reconciliation. He hears your pain and is the only one who can change hearts.

Secondly, give your daughter time and space. Forgiveness is given, not demanded. Communicate your remorse for the wrong you have done, empathy for the hurt you have caused, but also your willingness to wait for her to reconnect when she is ready. Reduce the frequency of your communication with her. When you do contact her, convey words of affirmation and blessing without demanding a response.

Finally, reflect on whether there were other actions, beyond your words, that might have hurt your daughter, and what personal work you might need to engage in, perhaps with a counsellor, to be in a better place to forge a healthy relationship with your daughter should she be willing to reconnect.