Monthly Archives: December 2015

Holidays for parents rejected by adult children

Sarah's yardHolidays for parents rejected by adult children, 2015 series: The questions people ask

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

The holidays are family-centric, so it’s no surprise that at this time of year, people ask questions. Family members and friends may be looking forward to their own plans, and talking about visits from their adult sons and daughters. When you don’t respond with your own, they suddenly remember your circumstances—and they want to help. So, they’ll ask parents rejected by adult children questions like these:

  • Have you really tried?
  • Have you guys gotten over the issue?
  • Has your child come around?

Such questions often reveal how little the person asking understands.

The first one implies the estrangement is simple. That if you only tried, you could solve the issue. As if you’re stubborn, and unwilling to bend. I know from the thousands of parents of estranged adults that this is far from the truth. The vast majority of parents of estranged adults do try, and very hard. Others are exhausted. The estrangement was a shocking blow, and undeserved after months (or even years) of effort, patience, and support.

The second question implies there was an argument or disagreement. But from my research, that is not often the case. How can you get over something you don’t understand, and your estranged son or daughter won’t explain?

The third one implies a sort of temper tantrum—as if parents rejected by adult children are dealing with two-year-olds rather than sons or daughters in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. These are not children anymore.

Just the other day, a friend looking forward to the holidays with her family asked, “Have you reached out at all?”

I know she meant well. Most of the time, people who ask questions do mean well. Their questions reveal how incomprehensible the predicament of parents rejected by adult children is.

As you know from this website, I talk openly about the problem of parents rejected by adult children. It plagues our society. One day, this heartbreaking issue will be better understood by society at large.

For now though, as parents rejected by adult children enjoy (or perhaps endure) the family-centric holiday season, it helps to remember that friends and families probably mean well. Sure, they may unwittingly trivialize the problem by assuming estrangement occurs because of an argument, immaturity on the part of an adult that’s let off the hook as a “child,” and believing the problem can be solved if we will only try. But to think otherwise implies that it could happen to them. And as kind and supportive parents who did their best, even parents rejected by adult children once likely believed estrangement wasn’t possible for them.

Remembering this helps me to respond objectively, and let the matter go. The other day, I replied honestly to my friend, “No. Not for quite some time.” And then I added. “But it’s okay. It’s just how things are right now.” And then I thanked her for asking.

My friend simply doesn’t fully understand. Perhaps just now, in the warm glow of anticipation for holidays spent with her own adult children and grandchildren, she simply can’t. I do know that at that moment, on a pleasant drive out to do some Christmas shopping, it wasn’t important for me to try and make her.

As parents rejected by adult children, you understand. Take a little comfort in the reality that you are not alone. While some of our family or friends don’t (or can’t) understand, the abandoned parentsthousands of people who shared their stories with me as I researched my book, and more who frequent this site each month do.

To those who comment here, and send me email, thank you for reaching out. Your kind words and sharing are wonderful gifts . . . for the holidays, and all through the year.

Related Articles:

2015 Series post 1: Be kind to yourself this holiday season

2015 Series post 2: Spirit

Do your questions keep you stuck?

Holidays: How to manage them


Holidays when adult children reject parents

holidays parents of estranged adult childrenHolidays when adult children reject parents: 2015 Series (post 2) Spirit

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

I know how sad and lonely it may feel for the holidays when adult children reject parents. This is the second in my short-post series for holidays, 2015. We’re all busy, and short posts may help.

Out Christmas shopping today, the traffic, the long lines, and a list of necessary to-dos weighed heavily. Maybe you can relate. Especially during the holidays, when adult children reject parents, the ordinary busy-ness may feel oppressive. But if you’re open to a little “magic,” insights to help you are all around. Here’s just such a moment:

Waiting in a long holiday shopping line the other day, I noticed the older woman in front of me. She cheerfully hauled her huge bags of sugar, chocolate chips, and Christmas ham up onto the counter for the cashier. She had a Christmas tree watch with a plaid band, shiny red shoes, red fingernail polish, a Santa purse….

Suddenly filled with joy, I complimented her spirit—-and she was thrilled.

“Oh, look!” she exclaimed, holding up her wrist for me to see her watch with the Christmas tree on its face. Then she pointed to the flaming candle motif on her bright red sweater. “I like to have fun with the holidays,” she said, her eyes twinkling.

“Are you sure you aren’t Mrs. Claus?” I teased, her cheery spirit catching.

She tilted her head. “Yes, I think I just may be.”

A moment later, with a hearty, “Merry Christmas!” she was gone. On to the rest of her holiday tasks, I suppose. Taking her lovely spirit with her to brighten others’ days.

Seeing her was a good reminder for me: the season is all about OTHERS.

As I hauled my own items up onto the counter, I couldn’t help wondering what sort of pain that woman has been through in her life. We all have troubles. Yet, with a cheerful spirit, and bright red shoes, she brings a bit of joy.

May we each find a way to be a Mr. or Mrs. Claus to some stranger who needs their spirits lifted. And may we also be open to seeing joy when it presents itself. Those people appreciate a little recognition.

Related posts:

Parents of estranged adult children: Reinvent Yourself

2015 Series post 1: Be kind to yourself this holiday season



Holidays When Adult Children Reject Parents

angry adult sonThe Holidays When Adult Children Reject Parents: 2015 Series
Be Kind to Yourself This Holiday Season

by Sheri McGregor

Holidays when adult children reject parents can be a time of sadness. Parents of estranged adult children can feel pressured to be cheery when they’re not feeling up to the task.

Are you expecting too much of yourself because of the holidays? When adult children reject parents, this time of year can be challenging. If you are feeling especially low, be kind to and patient with yourself. Perhaps change things up this year. Can you give yourself permission to:

  • do less?
  • change routines?
  • have a “small” Christmas?
  • buy gift cards instead of shopping for unique gifts?
  • let someone else host the party?
  • skip the big Christmas newsletter this time?
  • or whatever else feels right … ?

It’s okay, really.

If you are afraid of disappointing others, remember, there is disappointment in life—-and you are only a human. You cannot protect everyone. And it’s not up to you to make everyone else’s holiday bright at our own expense.

Related articles:

Holidays: How to manage them

Twas the night before Mothers’ Day

New Year Now

2015 series Post 2: Spirit