Family is complicated. Anyone who has experienced a tense family gathering at the holidays knows that family drama is the worst kind of drama. Most of us, however, are not celebrities with fame and fortune thrown into the mix and these factors make celebs even more prone to complications with their relatives. Because these private and personal matters spill out into the public’s eye, it’s often hard to resolve things quietly if at all. Many relationships sour and the damage isn’t always easily fixable. We hope the old saying “time heals all wounds” is true for some of these celebrities who might wish to repair things. We understand that some situations and misdeeds are unforgivable, but we do hope all of these celebs are in a good place and at peace with things. Here are 25 celebrities that have a bad relationship with their parents.
25. Ariel Winter
The Modern Family star Ariel Winter had some drama with her real-life family starting in 2012 when she was just 14-years-old. Things reached a tipping point that year and Ariel’s mother, Chrisoula Workman was accused of abuse and Ariel was removed from the home and legal guardianship went to her older sister, Shanelle Gray. After a 3-year legal battle, Ariel finally became legally emancipated. She tweeted at the time, “I am now officially emancipated!!! I’m really lucky I have an amazing support system and lovely people in my life who have given me the support and guidance to have been given this wonderful opportunity.”
24. Brie Larson
Actor Brie Larson made a splash in the film Room that came out in 2016. That same year, while doing press for the film, Brie revealed that she drew from her past experiences to inform her performance in the film. She a mother who was being held captive with her son. At the age of 26, she said she hadn’t spoken to her dad for ten years.
“When legally I didn’t have to have visitation with him anymore, I jumped on it,” Larson explained. “As a kid, I tried to understand him and understand the situation. But he didn’t do himself any favors. I don’t think he ever really wanted to be a parent. It wasn’t until truly recently that I realized that’s why so much of my work was so volatile.”
23. Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie’s family drama with father Jon Voight got ugly and was very public in the early 2000s. But the drama started in the 1970s after Jon and Angelina’s mother, Marcheline Bertrand, separated. They were estranged for decades and tried to mend things. Then, Jon insinuated that his daughter had “mental problems” and Angelina claimed that he had cheated on her mother. They did not speak for six years, but after Angelina had kids they slowly tried to rebuild their relationship.
Rapper Eminem was extremely vocal about his disdain for his mother, Deborah R. Nelson-Mathers. In songs, “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” and “Without Me” he alleged that his mother had been abusive and addicted to drugs. The lyrics were so incendiary that Deborah filed a defamation lawsuit against her son. The case was settled out of court in 2014 and Eminem would later apologize in his song, “Headlights.” While the drama was all very public, we don’t know if Deborah accepted the apology or if things are better between them.
21. Macaulay Culkin
In the 1990s, Macaulay Culkin was the biggest child actor in the country. He amassed a small fortune from his acting career that became a point of contention between his parents, Kit Culkin and Patricia Brentrup during their divorce proceedings in 1994. This resulted in the actor becoming legally emancipated from his parents in 1996 and him opening up about his father’s abusive behavior towards him. To this day, Macaulay and his father are still estranged with Kit even stating publicly that he didn’t consider Macaulay a son.
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20. Selena Gomez
In 2014, singer Selena Gomez made a series of life changes including splitting from boyfriend Justin Bieber and then firing her manager, Mandy Teefey. Mandy wasn’t just Selena’s manager, she was also her mom. The two did not speak after the move and their relationship has remained strained ever since.
19. Justin Bieber
Speaking of the Biebs, in 2015 Justin Bieber told Billboard that his relationship with his mom, Pattie Mallette, was “pretty nonexistent” following behavior that he described as his “stupid phase.”
He elaborated, saying “I was distant because I was ashamed. I never wanted my mom to be disappointed in me and I knew she was.”
Fortunately, the two have resolved their differences. However, Justin’s whirlwind romance with Hailey Balwin did not impress mom.
18. Jennifer Aniston
Friends star Jennifer Aniston famously had a strained relationship with her mother, Nancy Dow. Nancy was a former actor and model and was very critical of Jennifer and her career. In 1999, Nancy published a book From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir that made things much worse. The two did not speak for years after it was released. In spite of the strain, Jennifer paid all of her mother’s bills in her final years before passing in 2016. Although Jennifer looked after her mom financially, Nancy wrote her out of the will.
Jennifer told The Hollywood Reporter, “She was also very unforgiving. She would hold grudges that I just found so petty.”
British singer Adele stays reasonably private about her personal life, but that changed in 2017 at the Grammys. She thanked her manager, Jonathan Dickins, for his years of support and said, “We’ve been together for 10 years, and I love you like you’re my dad … I don’t love my dad, that’s the thing. That doesn’t mean a lot. I love you like I would love my dad.”
Adele’s biological father, Mark Evans, left her mother, Penny Adkins, when the singer was just 3-years-old. They had tried to form a relationship but those hopes were dashed when Mark spoke to the press in 2011 against her wishes.
16. Oliver Hudson
Many people mistake Kurt Russell for Oliver Hudson’s father because he’s been closer to him than his biological dad, Bill Hudson. The actor’s mother, Goldie Hawn, separated from Bill in 1982 and shortly after got involved with Kurt. Oliver has been mostly estranged ever since.
15. Kate Hudson
Just like her brother, Oliver, Kate Hudson also feels that their father abandoned them. The celebrity brother and sister shared a photo of each other with their dad on Instagram in 2015 for Father’s Day the caption of the photo reads, “Happy Abandonment Day.” Like her brother, Kate thinks of Kurt Russell as a dad.
14. Katie Cassidy
Actor Katie Cassidy is probably best known for playing Black Canary on the show Arrow. What most people don’t know is that she shares a last name with the late David Cassidy from The Partridge Family. Katie really knew her father and was raised by stepdad Richard Benedon and her mother Sherry Williams. Katie has never spoken ill of her biological father. But, David told on himself in an interview with People in 2017.
“I’ve never had a relationship with her. I wasn’t her father. I was her biological father but I didn’t raise her. She has a completely different life.” David explained, “I’m proud of her. She’s very talented.”
13. Demi Lovato
Singer Demi Lovato became estranged from her father Patrick Lovato in 2007 and they didn’t speak for years. Patrick passed away in 2013 from cancer. Demi expressed her frustration with her father through songs like “Daddy Issues,” “For the Love of a Daughter” and “Father” alluded to mental health issues, substance abuse, and physical abuse.
In 2018, Demi’s mother Dianna De La Garza published a memoir titled Falling with Wings: A Mother’s Story. In the book, she describes the abuse she suffered from Patrick including losing a finger before Demi was born.
12. Ariana Grande
Celebrity brother and sister Ariana Grande and Frankie Grande haven’t spoken much about their relationship with father Edward Butera. In an interview with Seventeen, Ariana described the rift beginning in 2013 and by 2018 things hadn’t improved much. In her hit song, “Thank U, Next” she sings about the drama, “One day I’ll walk down the aisle, holding hands with my mama. I’ll be thanking my dad ’cause she grew from the drama.”
11. Leighton Meester
Actor Leighton Meester is probably best known from the TV show Gossip Girl playing the sassy Blair Waldorf. The young actor was estranged at the time. Constance Meester, Leighton’s mother, was actually in prison for drug trafficking when Leighton was born. Her father was also in jail at the time for drug-related crimes. The couple split after they were released from custody. But, the drama did not end there. In 2011, Leighton was very successful and ended up suing her mom for money that was intended for her brother Alexander Meester. Leighton had given money to her mother for her brother’s medical expenses, but Constance allegedly spent the money on cosmetic surgery for herself. The judge sided with Leighton and blocked Constance’s attempt at a countersuit.
10. Drew Barrymore
The iconic Drew Barrymore was an extremely successful child actor, appearing in blockbuster E.T. when she was 7-years-old. The actor grew up fast and ended up having substance abuse issues before she was even a teenager. By the age of 14, Drew legally emancipated herself from her parents who also had drug and alcohol dependency issues. Drew has had an extremely complicated relationship with her mother, Jaid Barrymore, whom she didn’t speak to for years. In 2017, they did spend Mother’s Day together. We hope things have continued to improve.
9. Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera describes her relationship with her father Fausto Xavier Aguilera as “nonexistent.” When Christina was 6-years-old her mother Shelly Loraine Kearns divorced her father and has since claimed that he was physically and verbally abusive. Fausto denied the claims of abuse and his brother went on to tell reporters that the relationship was strained because of Christina’s fame.
8. Heather Graham
Actor Heather Graham had a falling out with her conservative and religious parents after she took the part of Rollergirl in the film Boogie Nights. The part is an adult performer who works in the adult film industry. The film was released in 1997 and became a hit launching Heather’s career. However, Heather’s parents were not pleased and they have not spoken with their daughter ever since.
7. Emma Roberts
Actor Emma Roberts does not have a relationship with her estranged father, Eric Roberts. Her mother, Kelly Cunningham and Eric separated when Emma was an infant. Eric’s sister, Julia Roberts was estranged from her brother and even funded Kelly’s legal battle for custody of Emma. Although they don’t have the best relationship, Eric did defend Emma after an altercation she had with a boyfriend in 2013.
6. Tracy Morgan
In 2012, comedian Tracy Morgan revealed that he didn’t have a relationship with his mother and most of his family. He said, “As of this moment, I’m estranged from my own mother and most of my family, and I’m not sure that’s going to change much. I’m not saying why, I’m just saying that’s how it is. It’s okay though. I’ve gotten used to it. I’m an island, kind of like Antigua: hot and humid, definitely a destination of choice if you want to get freaky or just kick back. And pretty isolated.”
He’s light on details, but we appreciate the candor.
5. Meg Ryan
In 1991, Meg Ryan decided to end her relationship with her mom after she was publicly criticized by her mother Susan Jordan. Susan didn’t approve of her daughter’s marriage to Dennis Quaid. In response, Meg did not invite her mother to their upcoming wedding. Then, Susan claimed her daughter had had an affair with Russell Crowe. Needless to say, there was not much of a relationship left to salvage at that point.
Susan loves talking to the press and she later told People, “It’s a painful business to be estranged from your child.”
4. Courtney Love
Rocker Courtney Love spent several years in foster care and completely cut off from her parents until she legally emancipated at the age of 16. To this day, Courtney does not speak to her parents or her maternal grandmother. As Courtney became a parent herself to Frances Bean Cobain, she struggled with addiction. Frances was separated from her mother and was put in the custody of her father Kurt Cobain’s mother. Fortunately, Frances and Courtney have resolved the issue and have a great relationship now.
3. Tatum O’Neal
Actor Tatum O’Neal has been estranged from her father Ryan O’Neal for the majority of her life. Ryan is also an actor and a former boxer. They tried to reconcile their differences on the TV show “Ryan & Tatum: The O’Neals” that aired on OWN in 2011. The reunion was short-lived and Ryan revealed that after the show had ended that he and his daughter were more at odds than when they started.
2. Kelly Rowland
Singer Kelly Rowland and her father have not spoken since she was a child. Kelly’s mother, Doris Rowland Garrison, divorced Kelly’s father Christopher Lovett when Kelly was just 6-years-old. Christopher suffered from PTSD after serving in the Vietnam War and turned to alcohol. He became abusive and Doris decided to make the best choice for her children and leave the relationship.
1. Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan has not had an easy time in the spotlight. As a child actor, she gained fast success and appeared in a number of films that made her star. There has been a lot of drama between Lindsay and her father Michael Lohan over the years. In February of 2020, Michael was arrested for allegedly assaulting his ex, Kate Major. Lindsay’s mom Dina Lohan commented saying that she’s “seen it all before.” This is only the latest instance of bad, criminal behavior by Michael.
In a 2006 interview in Vanity Fair, Lindsay described her father as abusive and an alcoholic that “anguished her.” Over the years they have tried to repair their relationship but have failed time and again.
If one thing is clear, it’s that showbiz is hard on families. This is especially true for child actors and their parents who often act as managers. Family relationships are complicated enough by adding the elements of fame and fortune to the situation it often gets even messier. It’s a shame that so many of these private mishaps are publicly mediated. However, it’s a good reminder that celebrities are people too. They don’t have picture-perfect lives like their Instagram profiles would have you think. People are people and family stuff is tough. We wish the best for all of these celebs and their families.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 25. Ariel Winter
- 2 24. Brie Larson
- 3 23. Angelina Jolie
- 4 22. Eminem
- 5 21. Macaulay Culkin
- 6 20. Selena Gomez
- 7 19. Justin Bieber
- 8 18. Jennifer Aniston
- 9 17. Adele
- 10 16. Oliver Hudson
- 11 15. Kate Hudson
- 12 14. Katie Cassidy
- 13 13. Demi Lovato
- 14 12. Ariana Grande
- 15 11. Leighton Meester
- 16 10. Drew Barrymore
- 17 9. Christina Aguilera
- 18 8. Heather Graham
- 19 7. Emma Roberts
- 20 6. Tracy Morgan
- 21 5. Meg Ryan
- 22 4. Courtney Love
- 23 3. Tatum O’Neal
- 24 2. Kelly Rowland
- 25 1. Lindsay Lohan
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