Counselling & Psychotherapy for Women Suffering with Trauma, Emotional Eating & Not Feeling Good Enough.

Coping with Mother-Daughter Estrangement: Navigating a Silent Christmas.

Adorned with twinkling lights and festive cheer, the holiday season often becomes a poignant reminder of the intricate dynamics within dysfunctional families. For daughters grappling with estrangement from their mothers during Christmas, the void can be an exceptionally painful experience. The decision to estrange from one’s mother does not come lightly, it signifies a recognition of the deep enmeshment and toxicity within the Mother-Daughter relationship, and the need to establish boundaries and self-care for one’s well-being. This blog post will support you in coping with Mother-Daughter estrangement at Christmas.

Grieving the Loss & Disenfranchised Grief

In my psychotherapy practice with women who have grown up with emotionally unavailable, neglectful, abusive, invasive or narcissistic mothers, estrangement is sometimes the only way the adult daughter can separate, individuate and become her own person. This decision never comes lightly and is an extremely painful process that evokes a unique form of grief called disenfranchised grief. Disenfranchised grief refers to grief that is not openly acknowledged, socially validated, or publicly mourned, often leaving individuals to navigate their sorrow without the expected societal support or understanding.

The void left by the absence of a maternal connection, even if the relationship is toxic, is acutely felt during the Christmas season. Mother-Daughter estrangement is especially difficult because it is alien to friends and family as to why one would estrange from a family member at all, let alone one’s mother. It is crucial to recognise and be open to the grieving process, allowing oneself the necessary space to mourn the deep loss of what could have been. Understanding that your feelings are valid, it’s essential to permit yourself to grieve the absence of the nourishing and nurturing mother that you may never have had.


Navigating the path of estrangement necessitates a complex journey marked by acceptance. This form of acceptance doesn’t entail condoning or justifying past behaviours; rather, it involves acknowledging the reality of the situation. It’s about accepting that your mother may have suffered trauma too and accepting that your mother may not change. In my experience as a therapist who has witnessed this many, many times – parents rarely change unless they seek introspection through their own long-term depth psychotherapy. Acceptance of this can be an extremely painful but freeing process. Sometimes it opens the door for a different relationship with mother. Sometimes it doesn’t. Acceptance is a process and your emotional health and well-being deserves priority.

Tara Brach has a book and a talk here about Radical Acceptance


In the face of estrangement, practicing self-compassion becomes a crucial component of the healing journey. Be gentle with yourself as you navigate the complex emotions and challenges that accompany estrangement. Allow mindful reflection and gentle self-talk to become a part of your daily routine. Embrace self-care rituals and acknowledge your progress, celebrating the resilience and strength demonstrated throughout your healing journey. By doing this, you are essentially building a healthy internal mother whereby you can ‘mother’ yourself and your wounded younger parts and inner child that still live inside of you.

Embracing Nature

You may have a history of self destructive and or self protective behaviours that are now keeping you stuck or causing you harm. Resist the temptation to numb the pain of estrangement with habits such as emotional or binge eating. Instead, try cultivating positive coping mechanisms, such as immersing yourself in the healing power of nature. Why nature? Because it is accessible to almost everyone, it costs nothing, it is a mirror to your inner and outer lives and it is a coregulator for your nervous system. Taking long walks in peaceful natural settings, will help to ease emotional burdens. Whether through a solitary bushwalk, a mindful stroll in the park, or engaging in outdoor activities, nature can be a source of solace and rejuvenation. Here is my list of 30 Nature-Inspired Alternatives to a Dysfunctional Family Christmas.

Spending Time with Your Family of Choice

Estrangement, while creating a void, also presents an opportunity to redefine the concept of family. You might decide to surround yourself with a family of choice rather than your family of history. Chosen family provides the emotional sustenance needed during a time traditionally centred around familial connections.

Introspection and Self-Love

Estrangement from family, and from mother during Christmas calls for deep introspection and a commitment to self-compassion. Grieving the loss, accepting the reality, and creating new traditions with chosen family become pivotal for healing. Nature, offers solace, and serves as a reminder of the cyclical nature of life.

In the silence of estrangement, find the space to nurture your emotional well-being, honour your trauma recovery journey, and embrace the possibilities that lie ahead. And remember…the decision to step away from a neglectful or abusive mother and a toxic Mother-Daughter relationship is an act of self-love.

If you want to heal from your early childhood trauma, join the wait list for my Inner Child Course.



Picture of Jodie


Sydney Registered Clinical Psychotherapist, Therapeutic Counsellor, Trauma + Eating Disorder Therapist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20+ years, Jodie has helped 100s of women transform their lives. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!



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