Why do I feel guilt?

rejected by an adult childEmotional well-being series.
Innocent Guilt: normal after conflict

by Sheri McGregor

One mother rejected by an adult child recently wrote that she felt “guilty.” She also said she had wondered what she did wrong but couldn’t identify much. So, was her “guilt” valid? Let’s take a look at guilt, a common feeling associated with the loss of an important relationship – – and when there’s conflict.

Guilt when rejected by an adult child: Should I have…?

Many of us are familiar with the guilt that can accompany the loss of someone we love in death. It’s common to wonder if we spent enough time, wish we’d have said how important they were to us, or even feel responsible in some way. When rejected by an adult child, we feel a similar loss, with many of the same questions.

Did I spend enough time with my son? Did I give my daughter too much freedom? Did I show him enough affection? Provide her enough structure? Cook the right foods? Tell him I loved him enough? For moms whose children have rejected them, the list of questions can go on and on.

Rejected by an adult child and left to puzzle

In interviewing mothers rejected by an adult child, it has become clear that very often there is no open conflict over a tangible act, omission or offense. Many mothers rejected by an adult child tell me they don’t get it. They did their best. They nurtured their child’s interests, cared for their physical needs, read the bedtime stories, sponsored the sports teams and memberships, helped them learn to drive, apply for a first job. . . .

These parents of estranged adults thought all was well. Everything seemed fine, and then one day, something changed. They received a note or phone call requesting no further contact, or were given a cursory explanation such as, “I need my space.” And then silence.

Some mothers say they first noticed a sort of cooling off. But busy caring for younger children and/or working full-time, they didn’t immediately react. After all, their adult children had lives of their own, and were often busy with their own work and even with their own growing families.

In some cases, the cutting off itself is what leads to conflict. When moms question what’s wrong, the adult child lashes out with accusations, or says things like, “You were never there for me!” When pressed for specifics, the adult child refuses to talk, strings together curse words, or simply walks away.

Situations are unique, but often parents are left to puzzle. Despite repeated attempts, there’s no explanation given. Without a chance to hash things out, there’s no chance to make amends if necessary, and move forward with a clear understanding what went wrong for a better future relationship.

In trying to no avail, parents get tired. We look back on our parenting, many times with other adult children who tell us we did fine, and conclude the problem doesn’t lie with us.

Why guilt?

Most parents rejected by an adult child initially react with a feeling of guilt because we’re so floored at our adult child’s cold behavior that we believe we must have done something wrong. Then, even when we critically self-examine and see that we did our best, other people accuse or dismiss us.

An uncle raises his brow. “What happened to make her so mad at you?” The questions carries judgment.

A co-worker avoids eye contact. “I can’t imagine that happening,” she says. The statement seems to carry accusatory conclusions.

A friend says, “It’s just a phase.” His words show that he lacks an understanding about the tenacity of the problem.

We can feel all alone. We may continue to question our parenting skills. And a vague sense of undefined guilt may edge our thoughts.

Unresolved conflict and guilt

Part of the problem may be the conflict we don’t understand. Left without solid answers, the conflict is unresolved.

A recent article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Applied Philosophy examines the concept of “innocent guilt,” which occurs after conflicts. This guilt without cause is experienced by people who are not responsible for wrongdoing. The article explores philosophers’ writings that connect feelings of guilt to people who aren’t guilty. When they’re still suffering, victims of wrongdoing experience guilt as part of the aftermath of the conflict. Ethical persons suffer “innocent guilt.”

Parents of estranged adults know all too well the ongoing nature of their suffering. The grief, sadness, anger and other emotions common to the situation can persist. Part of what we experience as “guilt,” may be an ethical response, a completely natural emotional reaction to the conflict itself.

Our values and the outcome

Another reason why a sense of guilt may be common to parents rejected by an adult child is because, for many of us, a twinge of guilt serves as a reminder of our core values. Many say that twinge spurs them to do the right thing in any number of situations.

Loving parents, like the mom who said she felt “guilty,” have values that made them conscientious parents who did the right things. But if they did the right things, then what went wrong? It’s a paradox.

One mom spoke with a sense of pride when she recounted the way she raised her children (now estranged). The outcome dismays her. “You don’t expect to fail at motherhood.”

Relieving the suffering

The Journal of Applied Philosophy article highlights a need to work at relieving suffering that’s related to innocent guilt. For me, helping others via life coaching, creating this website, hearing other moms’ stories, and writing about the subject to help other parents rejected by an adult child has been a big part of my own healing process.

In a future article, we’ll explore more about feelings of guilt that aren’t justified, and ways to overcome those feelings. For now, know that by seeking information, you’ve taken a positive step. Youre moving toward recovery from loss, and moving past the pain of this isolating experience. You don’t have to endure this all by yourself. Leave a comment below – – I’d like to hear from you.Or reach out by taking the survey to help parents of estranged adults. You can also share your story, or join the community forum. Be sure to sign up for the email updates so you’ll never miss an article (scroll up to find the sign up form, at the top of the right-hand column).

An abstract of the article about innocent guilt can be found here.

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61 thoughts on “Why do I feel guilt?

  1. Candy

    I just read the article on guilt and of course so many of the points hit home and I have read them and know them, but don’t really “know” all the information relayed by the articles. I find that I seek out those who re affirm my position, but I really don’t know what my position is. I can’t get my son to really talk to me even thru email. His last remark to me was ” you said you were sorry for everything so I guess I will have to work things out on my own on this end, but I don’t see any use in talking to you.” I made an overall I am sorry remark for everything I ever did and for those things I didn’t know what I did. That didn’t sit well because my son must have some specifics he is raging at me about which I can’t seem to get out of him. I am not a nagger but I will ask and get rebuffed. My son doesn’t want me to see him, his wife or my granddaughter. I have not pushed this in spite of the fact Illinois has a grandparents rights law. I wouldn’t do that to him or my granddaughter. The last remark my son made to me via email was that I didn’t realize how much my having two PhD’s galled him while he is working for Abbott Labs, paying for a 638,000 dollar home, wife not working and saving money for his 9 year old daughter to go to college. He said he has always wanted to get an MBA but didn’t have money or time. I told him that he had never mentioned that before and that if my 401K hadn’t disappeared totally on Sept.8, 2008 I would have paid for him to go to school. When I spoke to my therapist, he said, he knew of many men and women who work full time and go to the University of Chicago’s week-end program for MBA. I haven’t written to my son because he said he doesn’t want to hear from me, so I am afraid of him and that this estrangement will never end. I still have an illusion or perhaps a delusion that one day we will be talking again. In the meantime, my granddaughter grows further and further from me. Before this break, I babysat with her every week-end, went shopping with her, played “tent” hid Easter Eggs etc. now nothing. I am sorry, it’s is just so sad and I blame myself for so many things and for all those things I don’t know I did. This is so sick. I am a Clinical Psychologist and have worked in Africa, South America and in numerous states in this country with children, vets missing limbs, pain etc. and here I am so full of knowledge and am a complete failure. Thank you for listening. Candy

    Reply
    1. rparentsrparents Post author

      Hi Candy,

      Your pain comes through very clearly. I’m sorry you’re facing this.

      In light of your statements toward the end of your comment, about blaming yourself even for things you can’t identify because you don’t know, and your statement that you are a failure — I want to say that a few other things come through as clearly as your pain and distress: That you are a caring, intelligent woman/mother, and that you have made a difference in many people’s lives.

      Sheri

    2. Candy

      Hi you all,
      Well it is a year later and I am still rejected by my son. We have not communicated at all. Well, actually, I have sent birthday cards to him and my granddaughter and daughter in law with no reply. I have thought about him until I am blue in the face. But there is much less anxiety and anger within me. I miss him and I especially miss my granddaughter. I find I ask mutual friends about her and what she is doing and how she looks. Any kind of answer makes me happy. I am releasing my anger, disappointment in my son and in myself. Don’t get me wrong, I still have some really bad days and I cry in the car on my way home from work, but I find I am living in the present much more now. The past is always with me and I still want a relationship but I have learned about myself is that I have much to offer others and to myself. I just can’t have everything the way I want it to go. I am not a failure and I realize I did the best I could. Oh how I wish I could have been the mom my son wanted but I can’t meet his mark. I am sorry about that, but I do matter. Thank you guys for listening again. Candy

  2. Equinox2014

    Dear Candy and Nancy,
    Unfortunately I know exactly what you are going through; I have been alienated from my son for over a year now, and this includes my three grandchildren, his wife, and her family whom I have known well for about 40 years. Candy, my situation sounds so similar to yours; except that my son is not angry about my achievements and he is not in need of money, having married a young woman who had a large inheritance. At times it feels as though I want to stop living (not that I want to kill myself; there is a difference between the two), but I am stuck because choosing to not live would mean making my husband, two other sons, and three other grandchildren very sad and what would that accomplish? So we are stuck having to continue going forward with this horrible pain in our hearts, unable to escape it or to ease it. I too blame myself for not understanding how deeply troubled he was earlier, and am sad that we couldn’t talk it out. All that aside, I know that nothing that transpired between he and I was reason enough for him to decide to not let me see my grandkids. That is just plain cruelty, to both his own children and to his mother. When I can step back and see that behaviour for what it is, I am reminded that there is probably a deeper personality problem here than what we think – possibly a borderline personality disorder, along with possible drug or alcohol abuse. We may never know the entire story; all I can hope is that I will be present emotionally and mentally for my husband, two other sons, and other grandchildren.

    Reply
    1. Rosie

      Hello Equinox
      I can identify with your comments. The guilt I burdened myself with for so long was robbing me of the enjoyment of my other children . Both assure me that their brother has issues that we are unable to help him with. Sad as it is I have to get on with my life.

  3. MJmom

    Dear Parents
    I certainly don’t deny your feelings of hopeless and sorrow. I was once there too. I was so wrapped up in feeling e very thing was my fault and that I deserved what was being given out by my oldest daughter. Her seething rants, cursing, trying to convince other family members what a horrible person I was, must be some how all my fault. After all she is my flesh and blood and certainly she wouldn’t do this to me if it weren’t true. But she did. For reasons no one knows. No one. So I took the abuse. Until one day I woke up. It was like a nightmare that followed you around and you finally say to the demons “no more”. I am at peace with myself and I will never be ripped apart again. By no one!! Once I took control I had to accept the fact that I was happier without her in my life. I did not need her to be at peace. I need those who loved me to give me peace. I reflected on what a horrible human I must be to let her go. After all she is my child. But after all I am her mother and that was okay to make my life miserable. I gave her life, now I give her unconditional freedom from me. I am happy now. I am whole. And I wish her love and peace too. The whole stepping away has made her reflect. She wonders why I seem happy , she wonders why I don’t make contact. She realizes the ball is in her court. She must make the move. Not me. Not ever.

    Reply
    1. Lostmother

      I too took so much abuse from my son. The words he called me, I couldn’t even repeat here. It was all so painful, and it is still. He also alienated my daughter. I am exhausted and tired, but I’ve decided to never again allow anyone to treat me like this again. I too have decided to give them unconditional freedom from me, as I feel they will be happier without me.

    2. Mary Jo

      Dear Lostmother
      You are stronger because when you love someone so much you have to let go. They then can reflect on what their part is and was. They can no longer project on you. My daughter came back to me. What she was shocked with was I no longer was her mental punching bag. I could walk away without a tear or regret if it looked like things were going a bad way.. I could be happy without her. I function, I love and most of all I do not regret or remorse. I am the captain of my own heart and soul. My choices are sound and no one can ever pound me down again. If my daughter chooses to come back, it will be under my terms. Never to be abused again.

    3. mandy

      Hi, there
      but now
      I too have 3 estranged children from a previous marriege, my ex -husband did a great job in poisening my childrens minds against me, me and my children were very close when they were little and we both had a say in their upbringing, now they are all in their 30s and they dont want to know me, when they use to come around it was because they needed something, and they expected me to always come to visit them even after they stopped contact, one time my little granddaughter from my eldest son turned around and told me she didnt like me , she was only 4 at the time, that broke my heart but i know its the parents talking in my absence and my grandaughter just repeated what she heard…she always used to say i love you nana, last christmas i couldnt go to their house to drop the presents off, so i told them to come and pick them up and i was told not to bother and not to send any presents down to them, since then my son hasnt been in contact, my daughter hasnt spoken to me for 5 years and my other son has stopped calling…..what do i do ?? i have stopped the tears and i just get on with my life i love my children but enough is enough.
      This year i wont be sending any presents
      since they grew up they have never sent me a birthday card or christhmas card and on my daughters facebook page she has wrriten that she only has a dad…..why?? i guess they will go on blaming me for all the misfortunes in their lifes…..but i have broad shoulders and i still love them.

    4. Sandra

      Thank you for your comments. I feel like you were speaking about me and my estranged daughter. I especially appreciate your remark ” I gave her life, now I give her unconditional freedom fom me”. I wish her love and peace, too. I will no longer tolerate her unwarranted abuse.

  4. motmatela

    this is the first time I’ve openly talked about my situation with my son. He has ADHD but now that he’s over 30 it doesn’t seem to be as evident he has that. It had caused him to be at odds with family and most people he came in contact with. Broken relationships until his mid-twenties usually caused by his cheating. He always seemed to want to pick a fight with “me” over “something” or tell me what I didn’t do for him. I kept friendly with an ex-girlfriend of his that I became to love. He was going to marry her but then he cheated and took up with the lady he’s been with for the last 5 years. She is older than him and can’t have children. She makes a ton of money and my son can afford all the toys he wants. They don’t have friends, he’s lost all of his old friends. They just work and spend time with each other. My son wasn’t thrilled I kept in contact with the ex but it didn’t seem to come between us. Actually any disagreements we ever had only lasted 2 days at the most. He couldn’t stand for me not to talk to him or him to me for any longer than that until he met this woman. She made a big deal of me still speaking to the ex and was always finding fault with me no matter what I said or did. Never took any responsibility for her part in anything. We’ve been estranged about 1 1/2 years now. He told me he can’t have a relationship with me because his common law wife will make his life hell and he doesn’t want the hassle from her. Also it’s his girlfriend he said I need to fix things with and he doesn’t know how I could possibly do that. I found out from my husband my son had made a comment to him that he didn’t love me. I spoke to him about that and he just denied it. Though he didn’t say he did in fact love me. I believe he did say it. My heart is in bits! I shouldn’t have kept in contact with his ex. I did tell him I wasn’t in contact with her for a few years now. Thought that would make a difference but no. I feel somehow there was something I could have done more to make his common law wife “tolerate” me at least. I hate myself sometimes!!! Feel I failed him and I’m the biggest disappointment to him. I guess the guilt is I think I made my son not love me anymore? It’s all my fault. My daughter has moved out of the country which has added to my pain. Her and i do talk and text etc. but it’s not the same. I’m really feeling abandoned. I was a doting mother, we always ate our meals together as a family. Even after they moved out they came back for family meals. Actually my son until he met this woman ate regularly with us at dinner time. He’d come by for late night talks with me. I remember my son taking me to meet her for the first time, we had been out doing errands together. She said “oh mother and son hanging out together how cute”. I didn’t like the tone and thought at the time I think she’s not going to be very accepting of me. I’m finding out now she is trying to talk him into moving to the other side of the country. Another guilt is while I miss my son so very much and I want him back in my life more than anything it’s a relief not to have to see or hear from his girlfriend. I’m free of her criticisms and wanting to have things her way all the time. To be truthful I guess his criticisms as well. I have more peace in my life but I don’t have my son.

    Reply
  5. Barb

    Thank you for all the responses. My heart is very heavy today and it’s comforting to know that I am not alone in feeling this way.

    Reply
  6. Mary Jo

    Hope all are doing well. Barb, I feel so sad for you that your heart is heavy., Always remember you do not deserve harsh treatment from your children. If they don’t respect you that is their loss and only their loss . I demand and give respect. I want no one in my life that can’t do that. My daughter understands that now and complies, She knows my life is really happy now and I don’t need her to complete me. I think she thought my world spins around her. It doesn’t and now she realizes she can never be the daughter she once was. She can’t erase her words and actions.
    She needs to prove herself through being kind and respectful. Values she once knew, but thought they didn’t apply to her.

    Reply
  7. CC

    In our case, we found out through a counselor, we went to with our daughter, that our authority as parents had been undermined for years, from the time she was a pre-teen, by 2 relatives we loved and trusted. When these relatives were confronted, after our daughter cut us off 19 years ago with their assistance, they simply said they wanted to help her. After all, she was over 18 was their excuse. To this day they still have her in their lives and have done nothing all these years to encourage her to come home and allow us to be her children’s grandparents. Their excuse, it’s her choice. They refuse any discussion. We have moved on, as advised by that counselor all those years ago, to raise and love our other children ( and now grandchildren). Even though we know now she was running away from her issues, and not us, it still stings and we still question. The estrangement makes no sense at this point.

    Reply
  8. healingnow

    Thank you so much for this article on “Innocent Guilt”. It has been so hard feeling shame and guilt and, at the same time, knowing in my heart that I was a good, loving mother who never intentionally said or did anything to hurt my child. Just the opposite, in fact. Not saying I am perfect ad did not make mistakes
    Reading that this is a part of the grieving process, I can so relate. People who have someone whom they love die often feel this way … they say “if only I had … or “if only I had not … then none of this would have happened. I think it is a way of trying to achieve control over something one has no control over. After all, if it is my fault, then I did it and I can fix it.
    I would also like to add that people who are abusers don’t feel this way at all. They abuse, feel no guilt, and even blame the person they have abused. They do not apologize and do not feel bad. To feel bad, you have to have a conscience.
    Does anyone have any links or more information on this topic? I have googled it and cannot seem to find anything.

    Reply
  9. SCM

    My daughter has taken me out of her life for 25 months now. The pain and grief I have only God knows. Her husband is a nice person but doesn’t reply to my emails either. They have three precious children whom I’m not allowed to see not even through Skype. These are the only grandchildren I have; besides I am in my seventies and there isn’t much time left. Don’t know how to reverse this situation except pray, pray and pray that the Lord will intervene and get us out of this mess. My daughter was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in her teenage years.

    Reply
  10. Mary Jo

    It has been a long time since I have visited . Sadly the stories remain so sad. I don’t know what I can possibly say to comfort you, except I have been there. I m now well and finally happy. What made this metamorphosis is simple. I woke up and said to myself “you have two choices. You can live or just lie down and die. Get it over with because no one, not even your estranged daughter wants to see the mess you’ve become. You can sit in self pity, question everything, say I could have, should have until the sun goes down. It won’t change things.,Let’s face it, we did our best. Did we fail at something’s? Absolutely!! But does this give anyone the right to tear our lives apart. Only if we allow it.
    I was selfish. I put my well being ahead of a self centered spoiled beat. I accept no disrespect . She can and now does seek me out because she knows I tolerate only respectful behavior. I was willing to release her in order to save myself. I am a better person because of this and I feel no guilt. I freed myself to love again and not be afraid if someone rejects me. I am only human. And so my lovely friends are you

    Reply
    1. Marina

      I just wanted to say …. thank you.

      Your comment about “two choices” brought clarity to me in one of my darkest moments.

      Thank you.

  11. Mary Jo

    Merry Christmas to you all! Hope you find love and happiness in whatever you do. Dwell on all the good you have in you and dismiss any negative thoughts for just one day!

    Reply
  12. Avigayil

    I want to thank everyone who made a comment here. Your voices made me realize I am not alone and that other women are feeling this deep hurt and abandonment. I especially am interested in the innocent guilt. While I was not the perfect mother and made mistakes I always tried my best. What makes a daughter and a son abandon their mother? I am working through this grieving process of my estranged son and daughter. So I figured since they both do not talk with me it must be my fault right? No, because they both have such different personalities. I get so sad when I remember them as children and we were a family. Their dad died three years ago so now I am on my own. I wrote down one thing I read here and will use it in my healing. The quote is “I gave her life now I give her unconditional freedom from me”. I am trying to get to this point. God bless all of us and help heal our hearts.

    Reply
  13. MJmom

    I hope your journey is full of hope and happiness Avigalil. There will be times when it will feel overwhelming. But know if you can separate yourself from doubt and guilt, the world is a wonderful place. I have been there. It wasn’t easy but I will never go there again. I did my best.And you know, even my estranged daughter sees that. She no longer downgrades me because knows she can’t. I will not allow it. Maybe she couldn’t respect me, because I didn’t even respect myself. I don’t know if she will come back to me. It won’t be the same. It will be up to both of us to make it better. If she does not, I will miss her, bare no grudges and appreciate what I do have. I hope you find that road also if that makes you happy.
    Best wishes Mary Jo

    Reply
  14. denvergrammy

    Hello I am going to print both replies so I can read them each day. Thank you. When I read them I smiled, sometimes I forget what that fees like.

    Reply
    1. Cand

      Dear Denvergranny
      I have read and re read all the same postings as have you and I, like you are going to print both replies and read them each day. What women we are and will continue to be, right??? Candy

  15. Candy

    Hello all,
    I needed to write to all of you. I re-read all of the replies I printed out and had a strange event today. I had outpatient surgery this morning and when I was registering the person asked if I had any children. I thought for a moment and said “no.” The thoughts that flooded thru my mind were, it is easier to say no to having children than explain; next, I thought, I don’t have a son any longer, even tho in my heart of hearts I want one back. Tomorrow is my birthday, my surgery went well and I miss my son. No cards, no calls, but strangely, I have a bit of peace tonight. I believe I have closed a door slightly. I think I have been able to put a bit more “happy thoughts” from Sheri’s wonderful words, into action and thought today. This is odd for me because I tend to overthink events, but tonight I am not and I have some acceptance of myself as a good person, good wife and a kind person who loves unconditionally but I can accept my foibles and strengths. Sorry, don’t want to ramble. Thank you all for your feelings. I have them too!

    Reply
    1. rparentsrparents Post author

      Candy,
      I’m glad you are feeling a little more at peace. Please take care of yourself during your recovery from surgery–and have a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

      Thank you also for your kindness about my words. It feels good to help!
      🙂

      Hugs,
      Sheri McGregor

  16. Tired of it

    What do you do when you have a daughter that seems to thrive on hurting you? I wonder as I read this, which is better? Being totally rejected with no communication or seeing a child that brings nothing but anger and how much you messed her life. She’s had an abortion (I wasn’t aware of at the time), thrown in jail in which she told the cops she didn’t have anyone. As a result my 2 beautiful grand daughters, ages 2 & 4 were thrown in foster care. We went to court to battle for these girls and because they had 2 different fathers, they were separated. We were able to bring the oldest home with us. She has given us so much joy, but the crap we put up with from her mother and my ex-husband is almost unbearable at times. For some reason I’m the reason my daughter is the way she is!!!! My Ex poisoned by kids against me. My son barely speaks to me civil and I have to walk a very thin line or he punishes me by backing away. I hate this weekend!!!!!’ I hate Mothers Day!!!! I get to hear my now 9 yr. old granddaughter try to figure out what neat thing she can do for my daughter for Mother’s Day!!!! My daughter barely gives her the time of day! She gets to be Disney mom while I cook, clean, take care of her sickness, hug her tears and help with her homework and show up for all of her school functions! Can you tell I’m just angry! Somebody help me make sense of this!!!!

    Reply
    1. Lynn

      There is no sense, to any of it other then possibly a generation that learned to live in a disposable society. the bible speaks of time when the Love of many will Grow Cold. Life is not fair. Our children are reminders of those in the bible who went to throw stones at the women and Jesus stated ” who among you will throw the first stone, who of you is without sin?” In time, these immature selfish adult children may or may not drop their stones, they may go one feeling the need to be the victim. Because the one who claims to be the biggest victim often gets to be the biggest bully. I just know for myself, I refuse to live under the abuse anymore. There have been studies showing from 1999 a growing epidemic of abuse of parents but not much has been done about it. I’m sorry for all of your pain and duress and pray our prodigal sons and daughters will eventually see the light. None of us is without sin and certainly none of us is perfect including them.

  17. Jen

    Sadly there are all too many of us. When I started divorce proceedings, my youngest was very supportive of me. My eldest had been distant for some time, but she had started a new relationship and I thought she was all wrapped up in that, and didn’t think too much of it. Maybe I should have, maybe I should have said something then, but the retrospectroscope is a marvellous device! MY daughters got together and after that my youngest was as bad. I had no moral compass because I was divorcing their Dad, I had waited till they had completed their education they were 26 and 23, old enough to be adult I thought. Basically I was a terrible Mum. One accusation was that as a teenager my eldest went to school without breakfast. Yes, indeed occasionally she did, when she wouldn’t get up out of bed around 16-18 yrs old, she had to get to school, and didn’t have time. Not quite sure why that is my fault or why its heinous enough to hate your Mum. Their Dad happily fanned the flames of “evil mother” it probably made him feel better, he even admitted it had brought him closer to them! Anyway its been 4.5 years now, I send Christmas and Birthday cards, they have subsequently moved and I don’t have their addresses, so I emailed birthday wishes etc. I sent numerous letters and emails, reaching out, and sent another one yesterday, crying out from the heart and apologising for all these terrible things I had done (which I still am bewildered about). Well they had already unfriended me from facebook, and as a result of this email they now blocked me. I can’t continue the rest of my life shadowed by this burdon, its not healthy and its not fair to me or those around me. So I have decided to let them go, maybe think of them as though they died while they were still my lovely girls, they can’t take my memories away. It feels like a death, but unlike a normal death where you know you will never see them again, there is hope. This keeps the grief alive and fresh like a vampire, which is a good analogy, as it drains you. So despite all the advice of “keep contacting them, never give up, apologise for everything, world famine, natural disasters, anything, this will be the beginning of reconciliation” sometimes is just isn’t. Its like self harm. Sometimes one just has to get on with one’s life. The alternative is to live our your years, blighted, hurting and never healing.

    Reply
    1. Marina

      Jen, your words “It feels like a death, but unlike a normal death” touched my heart. I am amazed that a site such as this exist. I have felt so alone with an agonizing pain. It’s sad to know that other’s are experiencing the same kind of pain but at the same time I have found some measure of hope. I now know that I am not totally alone in my agony.

    2. kay

      Jen, I have described it almost the same as you many times. I lost a daughter 22 years ago. Kelsey was 5 and in kindergarten when she died. The pain was and is beyond what I can describe. I still had 2 beautiful daughters living and so went on with my life. Now, these 2 have both become estranged from me. One for 5 years, the other only this year. I have said to those closest to me that as hard as it was to lose Kelsey, this is harder in some ways. Kelsey is gone and I have to accept that and move on. There is nothing I can ever do to change that or bring her back. But my other 2 girls are still out there. It leaves me with a constant burning feeling that “I must fix this!” that “there must be something I can do”!!. Sadly there seems to be nothing I can do. your words really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Crystal

    Is it normal when someone ask if I have children I just say no its easier than saying yes but I haven’t seen her or spoken to her in 14 years. I know she has 4 boys I hope she is happy. I just feel like people judge you as a bad parent/person If they know your child doesn’t have anything to do with you.

    Reply
  19. DAMom

    Thank you all for your posts I feel so enlightened reading your stories and its helped me from feeling so alone. I too have an older daughter who behaves much like MJmom daughter with the fault finding, unforgiving vindictive behavior. She was always using her younger brother to gang up on me and then early teens she started becoming reclusive, I tried to encourage her to do things involving people, when she got accepted to a four year college (one hour away from home) I did the unforgivable and insisted she take advantage rather than hide out here and go to community college. Fast forward she got her degree we were puzzled she did not bond with or make one friend other than her boyfriend who she’s known since high school. They have been together five yrs, when we first met him he was a nice guy and polite. He is now her “defender”, the first episode took place a couple years ago when she stormd out on a dinner with her father and I regarding her paying back her loans …half an hour later I receive a text from boyfriend that her dad’s a jerk, I’m abusive and what f**ing horrible parents we are to our daughter. Forgive, forget and move on right…well it happened again and right around that same time (recently) I came across an in depth explanation & test for paranoid personality disorder…100% describes my daughter’s behavior over these years and while in a way it is a relief that I understand it doesn’t change the sick dynamic w boyfriend who plans to be a part of the family…as told to me in a threatening manner by him….REALLY?!?! Just like MJmom I woke up one day and I’m free~I brought her into the world and honor both she and future hubby’ s freedom from both me and her father. Trying to love her through it /feeling guilty has allowed sick dynamic to continue. On. And on. And on. It is time to stop, lose the guilt and move on .

    Reply
  20. Mialeesa

    I am crying so hard at this moment that all I can say is Thank You.
    I found a place that understands. Please be there tomorrow and not be a dream.

    Reply
    1. Marina

      Mialeesa …I agree, while it’s sad that other’s are sharing such pain. It’s supportive to find that you’re not the only Mother on the planet that has a heart that is shattered by their children.

  21. Suego26

    I am glad I find this site. It hurts to see parents who are suffering, but knowing I am not alone is helpful.

    My son, daughter and I were very close. Even when my son was an adult just out of college he lived with me and we always had a good time. He has a wonderful sense of humor and when my daughter was visiting I would lay in bed at night and smile as I heard the two of them in the living room catching up and their laughter as they talked. I knew I was blessed. I used to tell my son he’s always had my heart. I love both my children; he and I always had a special bond. My daughter is ADHD and we’ve had conflicts and gotten over them; while my son was very academic, she hated school. Polar opposites, but we all got along, until my son met his g/f.

    He moved in with her and they used to come over and visit sometimes. My daughter and I tried to embrace her into our family, but she was different. She seemed to get her feelings hurt to easily over stupid things such as not liking a comment on Facebook..at least this is how it started.

    My daughter’s husband left her with my only grandchild after he got out of the Army in 2014. She and the grand-baby lived with me for almost a year while she sorted out her life. My life was also turned upside down and I become very depressed. I called my son one night crying and just saying how hard it was to help my daughter cope and grieve and to also help with the baby while I was working full-time too.

    During this time my son’s g/f accused my daughter of being a bad parent and she started making waves that my grandson should be taken away. They even came to my home and confronted my daughter which led to yelling, even some shoving, and my son walking out the door with his g/f saying “F-you” to both of us and we’d never see him again.

    After that incident which was more than 18 months ago it’s been downhill. I have tried to reconcile with him, but my efforts are thwarted by this g/f. She has called me screaming at me, calling me names and my daughter names, and unfortunately I let human nature take over and I reacted by telling her she was crazy and out of control. I called her a few names too. Of course this did not bode well with my son and it has further damaged our relationship.

    We didn’t spend Thanksgiving or Christmas together; even though I bought and sent he and his g/f gifts they were rejected and sent back to me.

    He reached out to me a little over a month ago stating he wanted to talk. He chose a park and we met with g/f in tow. He had a list of things he wanted to go over. I was excited and nervous thinking this was going to be what we needed to get us through. He read one item off his list and we discussed it. Then his g/f brought up my grandchild citing his safety and some poor choices she felt my daughter was making and I should take him away from her. I let her rant on this for 15 minutes and kept telling her my grandson was fine. In Florida we do not have a grandparent’s right law. I kept telling her I could not just take the baby away, it wasn’t my right, plus my daughter and her ex-husband share 50/50 custody and if I felt there was an issue my grandson would go to him. I then asked her if we could table the discussion so I could continue talking to my son and let him go through his list. Instead she became furious, picked up the car keys and told my son, “let’s go”. As she left she said she would be calling CPS

    I begged and pleaded for my son to not leave, but he deferred to her.

    That night I could not sleep and I wrote my son an email telling him if they contacted CPS that it would be very damaging to our future relationship and that it would create more stress on me, plus financially I would seek the counsel of a lawyer. In closing I stated that it spoke volumes about his relationship with his g/f that he allowed her to talk to me in such a manner and that he allowed her to prevent us from discussing his issues.

    The next day I received a phone call from his g/f screaming at me about that comment. She was so out of control I could not understand half of what was being said, but she did start calling me “fat” and a crazy psycho. I finally hung up.

    I wish I could say it ended there, but she posted stuff on Facebook about me and my family, and continued to text hurtful things such as, “I am snuggled next to your son. I guess I won.”

    Did I respond nicely? No, unfortunately I said a couple of things back to her fueled by irrational anger.

    My son called and told me that I would not hear from him any more and to not send them gifts at Christmas, his birthday, etc.

    If I feel guilt it is because of how I reacted. I became childish and stooped to her level. It may not have made a difference either way, but I hate that is how I responded to her.

    He and my daughter also do not speak, but she and I are okay. I get to watch my grandson every other week while she works at her new job.

    I still cry frequently. I miss the son I used to know, but I realize he is not the same person any more. It hurts to know how much control his g/f has over him and I wonder if he will ever recognize her destructive behavior. He has also lost good friends from high-school due to her, but yet he allows it.

    He is 28 and my daughter is 26. I am 57 and I worry about if this will ever end. My daughter misses her brother too, but there is nothing we can do at this point.

    I guess what I don’t understand is the fallout now includes his grandparents (my mom and dad) and his aunt’s, uncles and cousins who had nothing to do with any of this.

    That is my story, and reading other stories on here and comments do help me to cope. It’s not easy though, because I do know why this happened and unfortunately I am dealing with a person that doesn’t even know me, but thinks I am crazy. My self-esteem has been affected, and I have questioned myself as a person, wondering if I am as bad as they say I am. I am working through a lot, but I have to focus on what I have now and just remember the good times.

    Reply
    1. Lissy

      It’s interesting that your children’s ages are close to mine. My son is 28 and my daughter is 22. Don’t let your son’s girlfriend hurt you. We must have our own lives and sometimes that means setting boundaries are the toxic people, even if they are our children. My son has put me through a lot, too. I am 54 years old. Although I still cry, I am determined to go forward even if he and I never talk again. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our kids, it simply means we aren’t going to be abused by them. (Emotionally and verbally.) Always remember, you aren’t alone…it helps….

    2. Bewildered1955Bewildered1955

      Suego26, your story and mine are very similar. I wish I could say this was my first time around with him estranging himself but it is the second. At this particular time he and his new wife have stopped harrassiing me by email and text, and even phone, so I’m feeling a bit of relief mixed with the ongoing heartbreak that I am trying very hard to reconcile with. I hope I can bring some help to someone else here and I am comforted to know I am not alone. It’s very sad to know there are so many of us in need of such a site and support, but grateful you’re here!

  22. Seeking Peace

    My 48 year old daughter cut off her father and I about 3 years ago and I’ve spent a lot of time since then feeling rejected, ashamed, angry and confused like so many parents here. I blamed our daughter, her husband (who I felt was influencing her) and her therapist. I said I didn’t have any idea WHY she’d cut us off so thoughtleslessly (I felt). I was so stressed I got sick and had to see two doctors for my blood pressure. I felt that our daughter didn’t care how much she was hurting me.

    Then about 6 months ago a friend brought me to a Buddhist retreat, and I spent a week in meditation really thinking about things. Someone there that I shared my story with asked me in a very kind way to look at what my part had been in the cut off. This made me so angry and I wanted to blame my daughter for her cruelty but the person just gently directed me again to see things from my daughter’s perspective, to really look at what she’d told me was causing her to cut us off (she actually HAD told me, MANY times that I was being so critical of her, always finding fault, never happy with what she gave me of her time etc. and there were other things she had also shared with me about wanting our relationship to feel good to her). So I realized right then that it was my pain at seeing that my daughter’s requests (communicated clearly to me over many years) were ACTUALLY TRUE AND RIGHT that caused me to blame her & turn my own shame at myself back at her. And then I acted even more unkindly towards her! SHE WAS RIGHT and she had a right to not want me in her life after the ways I’d treated her!!!

    As soon as I saw this I was able to look even deeper & see even more of where it was my own actions that caused this rift, not my daughter at all. SHE HAD ACTUALLY TRIED AND ASKED ME TO P,EASE MAKE THINGS BETTER FOR YEARS BUT I DID NOT CHANGE!!! my daughter had also called me a “narcissist” which hurt a lot & I got really defensive & figured this came from her therapist not her, but again when I really sat with that and did some research on the internet I can see where I actually do have a real problem with empathy.

    After the retreat I called my daughter and apologized to her and told her what I’d learned. I didn’t expect her to return or forgive me but I knew I had to dig deep and make a real apology to her, one where I looked at MYSELF and my wrong actions instead of blaming her which was my habit in the past.

    So my point is maybe feeling guilty is not a terrible thing. Maybe there are things our children have said that we did not hear or brushed away, maybe our children are not wrong. My daughter and I Are healing now & trying to move forward. It is slow because she still has a hard time trusting me but I understand that and just want to keep showing her that I’ve changed. My life is so much richer and happier now not just because I have my daughter back but because I think we are really building a relationship now that feels good for both of us.

    Much peace to all those here who are still suffering. I hope this gives you hope that there’s a different path when you can swallow your pride and look truthfully at yourself.

    Namaste

    Reply
    1. rparentsrparents Post author

      Seeking Peace,
      Thank you for your thoughtful post. Having heard the stories of more than 6,000 parents, it has become very clear that the vast majority very honestly soul-seek. Sometimes there is pride involved, but more often, parents of estranged adult children have “swallowed pride,” as you say. Often, they have done this for many years, trying to get along. Most of them have tried on their child’s perspective as well, or even multiple perspectives, many many times … and find that even when they try to change and fit the child’s want or need, they are rejected. Sometimes parents are jerked around like a toy in a dog’s mouth.

      I’m happy for you, that you were able to see yourself from your daughter’s perspective, and that her perspective has helped you to grow. Since your daughter’s perspective is accurate, then kudos for you for trying to change. You have a kind, self-examining spirit like most other parents who visit my website. I wish you much peace as you pursue a relationship with your daughter! Other parents will find their peace on another path, that makes sense in their individual and unique situation.

      Much happiness to you, now and in the future.

      Sheri McGregor

  23. Lissy

    It’s nice to know that I’m not in this big boat alone! My son is 28 and an alcoholic. He lived with his father growing up (his dad made more money), and we no longer talk. His dad died, unexpectedly, in 2010 and my son just thinks I’ve done everything wrong. Contrary to what he thinks, I did the best that I could. His father succeeded in turning him against me and it’s shown itself in the past several years. The whole thing is a huge mess. My son may also have some type of mental illness. He definitely has a depression problem and won’t seek help for that either. Even though I had him part-time, I paid child support on him and got him whenever I could. (Which included 600 mile trips once a month.) He was taken to get detoxed in September of 2014 and couldn’t even write his name. On top of this, he has a bad heart and I didn’t know how bad his heart is until I found out when I took him in. During it all, I had to go it alone. There was some support system, but not when I took him in to get detoxed, when it was needed the most. It’s been my fear he will harm himself or harm others. When I contacted the police, they sent a mental health counselor and thought he’s fine. We used to live in the same apartment complex, but not anymore. It’s better for me to live away from him at this point. All he’s done is cause me more unneeded pain. On the positive side, I have a daughter. (They have different dads.) She’s been a blessing to me and helped me in many ways. She does talk to her brother, which is ok. I am at the point that it’s time to give up on him. Being in my 50’s, I simply can’t let him destroy my life….

    Reply
  24. M K B.

    A great site where one can learn from experience of others
    Who feel hurt becoz Adult children have lot of regrets and do Not want
    To know , specially me , the Father, and the Mother, us bracketed for no
    Fault of hers. Well, we Live , Learn , Make Mistakes and then when rejected
    Start living in a different Mode. Life goes on and the world looks miserable.
    But the misery is self created becoz you become victim of your own faults
    And stupid emotions.

    Reply
  25. Kay

    I am reading these comments through flowing tears. I am at the beginning of my alienation from my 16 year old son and I am at a loss as to what to do to prevent what has happened to everyone here from happening to me. Three weeks ago was the start of summer break and my son said he wanted to spend more time at his dad’s…. I haven’t seen him since. I have texted and called and asked to see him but he refuses. He will not give me any reasoning behind this just that he is making this decision on his own and has nothing to do with his dad. He keeps saying that over and over so of course, I know it is his dad that is behind this. Since Thanksgiving of last year my son has been making comments about his dad and my daughter and how it isn’t fair that she won’t see him. His anger and resentment of his sister has grown exponentially over the past 6 months. She is 18 and has stated many, many times that she would love to spend time with her dad if it was just her dad…. but her dad refuses to see her if his lover, a man, can not be there. My son doesn’t believe her. My daughter truly hates XXXX and wants nothing to do with him so that has led to an estrangement with her dad. Now my son is not seeing me because that’s what my daughter did to his dad ( he let that slip once in a quick conversation) but now he will not admit that. Now I am starting to feel guilty about not forcing her to see her dad more and maybe I have brought this on myself. My ex’s partner is an evil, deceitful, cunning, and fake person and my daughter saw that so I felt I had to back her up when she didn’t want to be around him. I know that it was best for her and I will always know that but was it best for my son? After reading all these stories I am losing hope that I will ever have a normal relationship with my son again. Any advice to avoid your outcomes would be greatly appreciated — I need Hope!

    Reply
  26. Jeri

    I thought I was alone. Reading these comments makes me feel better and worse all at once. Better because I now know I’m not the only one to be going through this. Worse because it’s devastating to realize what I thought was a bad patch in our relationship, may be the new normal to which I have to learn to permanently adjust. Six weeks ago and completely out of nowhere my 32 year son told me I was a horrible mother, and essentially stopped all communication. Up until this happened, I thought we had a pretty solid relationship. It wasn’t always perfect, but I never dreamed something like this would ever happen. I am crushed, confused, embarrassed and empty. I haven’t talked about it to many people because I’m ashamed and afraid he’ll be misjudged. I’ve never been in so much pain, and it feels like he knows this and is doing it intentionally to punish me. There is no other parent or partner causing this. What’s worse is he’s alienated himself from the entire family as well. I’m very worried about his mental well-being, but I can’t help because he’s cut off contact. I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me and I can’t catch my breath.

    Reply
  27. Annie

    Jeri,
    Your feelings are normal. Try to remember you cannot control his behavior and you are not the cause of it. For whatever reason; may be his life isn’t going according to plans, whatever, to blame others is not taking responsibility.
    Sometimes we blame the people closest to us. I hope and pray as I do for all of us who are hurting and devastated that one day they come forward and show some humility and realize the hurt and pain they’ve caused. Meanwhile you need to do everything you can to take care of you. God bless you, Annie

    Reply
  28. Christine

    Jeri and Annie, I’m going through the same thing. My last phone call and e-mail to my daughter was ” Can we get over this rough patch, it’s terrible for the whole family.” I added some quote about living in the present because the past is the past. And the reply I got was an angry itemized list of wrongdoings that I have committed. And she said the “rough patch” has been her whole life. Again I’m being blamed for everything wrong in her life. I’m worried that she’s so isolated and controlled by her husband that she’s lashing out in terrible pain. That was July 4th, and I haven’t called her since, except to get clothes sizes for my grandkids. I removed myself from all social media to minimize triggers and to keep positive as the holidays approach. Her birthday is next week and I always sent her something special. But really, she’s never reciprocated much more than a quick text/phone call on mine. It’s hard to pull back on giving and loving too much. I think career moms forget how to look after themselves. Still feel crummy and consumed with guilt as I write this…

    Reply
    1. Janer

      Hold on – there’s no communication except for her sending you the clothing sizes of her children? No, no no. I think it’s okay to do as this wise blogger advises. Let it go. Figure that all mothers are evil. Oh well. Next story. It’s just the way it is. None of us should ever have been “career moms.” Not ever.

  29. Annie

    Christine, I know, it’s pitiful how they can make us feel. After 3 years, I know I haven’t deserved this
    and it’s on them. I believe my son in law is an assesory to the crime. He has done this to his own mother for years. I don’t think they appreciate the
    value of the extended family. He wants his family
    all to himself. The giving always comes naturally to
    me too. I want them to have that special something
    but I’ve pulled back on that as I think now they come to expect it and I’m tired of feeling used. I know
    I derserved to be of value to them. So I give to others now. Those that truly love and appreciate me for who I am. Maybe that’s something you may want to
    consider. Thank God for Sheri and this website so
    we know we’re not alone in our pain. As most everyone expresses on this site; we never expected this to happen to us. I have chosen to give it to God
    He will provide. I certainly don’t have any answers.
    And I’m not going back for more abuse. It’s not what he wants for me; Mother or not.
    Take good care Christine of yourself. We’re not very good at it as mothers, I know. But you are important too. And I know you’ve been a good parent. I’m just afraid our children have become narcissistic sadly. I raised my daughter to be a loving, giving human being. She’s been influenced. I have no control over her behavior. Hugs and prayers, Annie

    Reply
  30. Hope

    I have been reading everyone’s comments and noticing many similarities to the strange journey that so many families seem to be experiencing, including mine. My situation was a direct result of the influence of my ex-husband over the kids. After the divorce, I heard from several friends that my ex had been “trashing” me in front of the kids even before we split up. He would go out of his way to create his version of the family history, and my kids believed it. Everything, and then some, was all my fault. My kids were told that they didn’t have to listen to their mom and he would promise them gifts and seemed to actually be taking pleasure in destroying our family relationship. I had been a stay at home mom and had a loving and wonderful relationship with both kids. I was always there for them when they were little. I had to go back to work when my ex stopped paying child support. Then it was my fault that I wasn’t home. It was a matter of control. I had finally told my ex that I wasn’t playing his control games any more. Done. He couldn’t get on with his own life. He was miserable and needed to make everyone else around him miserable. He continued to attempt to control me through the kids for years after the divorce. Sad. Very sad. It has taken a tremendous toll on the kids and their relationship with each other and with me. My kids would swear at me, scream at me, unimaginable what they have said. My close friends knew what was happening and it was helpful to hear them say, “It’s not your fault. You did the best you could raising them. You were a good parent.” No parent is perfect and sometimes what a parent might see as a minor thing is perceived completely differently by a child in the family. Divorce is hard on families, but it certainly doesn’t have to turn into this. I have talked with counselors and they had said to me at the time, just get on with your life. You can’t control others. It is almost like a grieving process that you have to go through. Sometimes it is very hard and sometimes you cry. A few years ago I came across information on “parental alienation”. The description fits our family situation. Both kids would not speak to me for several years. I continued to try and contact them every few months, and on birthdays and holidays. My daughter would very seldom respond to my phone message or text after several years of no response. It usually very quickly became a verbally abusive assault on me. I was a terrible mother, I couldn’t even call myself a mother, I was pathetic, …. and on and on. I didn’t bring up my kids to treat people like this. I am very concerned that there is a mental health issue to this (for my daughter) as well. I really don’t know how to help her. My daughter sometimes comes to visit, rarely is it calm and normal. The visit/outing can go all to hell in a matter of moments. It is as if she has a hairline trigger to anger. I am not allowing the verbal attacks and abuse. The phone call is over or the visit is done. I don’t spend time trying to teach them as I did before. It’s just too exhausting. And nothing changes. “It’s your behavior, you’re responsible for it, you’re an adult.” It is so hard stepping back from parenting. But it is less hard than being verbally abused. It is very difficult to try and explain this to someone who doesn’t know you very well. I recall telling a casual friend once. They looked at me and basically said, “Families don’t behave that way, it must have been your fault”. I rarely talk about it, except with very close friends.

    Reply
    1. Sheila T

      I WAS A FORMER SUBSCRIBER OF YOUR ARTICLES. I DESPERATELY NEED SOMETHING THAT CAN HELP ME. IT HAS BEEN 10 PLUS YEARS AND I AM SINKING LOWER AND LOWER IN QUICKSAND THAT IS ENGULFING MY ENTIRE SINCE OF WELL BEING THAT I HAVE LOST WHEN THIS HORRIBLE UNSPEAKABLE ALIENATION STARTED. IT STARTED SOON AFTER MY SON’S MARRIAGE. WE WERE GIVING NO CONCRETE REASON,FOR THERE WAS NONE, WE LAST SAW OUR GRANDDAUGHTERS WHEN THEY WERE 8 AND 10 YEARS OLD. WE HAVE NOT HAD ANY CONTACT WITH THEM NOR THEIR MOTHER WHO HATES ME. THE OLDEST GRANDDAUGHTER WHO LOVED US AND TRUSTED US COMPLETELY ASKED ME,IF WE COULD HAVE GIRL TALK? IT WAS INNOCENT. SHE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT HER FRIENDS DEVELOPING BREAST AND SHE WAS NOT. I TOLD HER YOU HAVE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE. I WAS IN YOUR EXACTION SITUATION WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE. I OFFERED A SUGGESTION,WOULD SHE LIKE ME TO CHECK AND SEE IF I COULD FIND A DANSKN BRA OR SOME TYPE THAT WOULD HELP HER FEEL INCLUDED AND NOT LEFT OUT ON THIS VERY IMPORTANT CONCERN AT HER AGE. IT WAS A STRESSFUL PROBLEM FOR ME BACK THEN TOO. SHE WAS THRILLED AND SAID,OH GRAMMY WOULD YOU PLEASE DO THIS FOR ME. I DID SAY YES,BUT WE HAD TO ASK HER MOTHER FIRST. THE NEXT MORNING SHE CAME TO ME AND SAID FORGET IT,I CANNOT WEAR ONE. I SHOULD HAVE NEVER ASKED YOU,FOR BOTH SHE AND HER SISTER WERE TOLD,BY THEIR MOTHER AND I DO NOT KNOW IF MY SON EVEN KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS SUBJECT. THAT THEY WERE TOLD UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WAS SHE ALLOWED TO REPEAT ONE THING THAT WAS SAID, OR TOOK PLACE IN HER HOUSE PERIOD. I QUESTIONED HER AND SAID OH,YOU ALREADY MENTIONED THIS TO YOUR MOTHER. MY POOR GRANDDAUGHTER REPLIED,NO GRAMMY I DID NOT MENTION THIS. MY MOM WAS LISTENING OUT SIDE OF MY ROOM. ANYWAY,I MENTIONED THE CONVERSATION I HAD WITH HER DAUGHTER, SHE WAS LIVID AND TOLD ME THAT THEY WERE HER CHILDREN,THIS WAS HER HOUSE,AND IF I COULD NOT FOLLOW THE HOUSE RULES,WHICH I DID NOT KNOW THEM ANYWAY. BUT,SHE TOLD ME,I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU DO CONCERNING THIS MATTER. WELL,SHE DID-SHE HATED THE FACT THAT I HAD A VERY CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH MY SON AND SO DID HIS FATHER,, MY SON IDOLIZED MY PARENTS, HE WOULD EVEN DRESS UP WITH SOME OF THE SAME THINGS MY DAD DID. LITTLE THINGS LIKE MY SON BOUGHT A CAP THAT WAS EXACTLY LIKE WHAT HIS GRANDFATHER WORE. WE ALL HAD A DEEP LOVING RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MOM AND DAD AND MY 2 CHILDREN THOUGHT THAT THE SUN ROSE AND SET ON BOTH MY MOTHER AND FATHER. WE WERE EMOTIONALLY ABUSED WHEN WE DID VISIT THEM. THEY LIVE IN MARYLAND AND WE LIVE IN NH. OUR DAUGHTER-IN-LAW MADE FUN OF US CONSTANTLY IN FRONT OF THE GIRLS. SHE USED THE LOWEST FORM OF ABUSE ON US IN FRONT OF THE GIRLS, SHE ACTUALLY ENCOURAGED THEM TO CALL THEIR PAPA WHILE THEY WERE VERY YOUNG TO “BIG FAT LAZY PAPA” NO LITTLE GIRL AGES 2-4 WOULD EVER THINK UP SUCH A CRUEL AND DEMEANING THOUGHT TO CALL THEIR LOVING GRANDFATHER. IT WENT ON AND ON. WE WALKED ON EGGSHELLS CONSTANTLY FOR WE WANTED THE GIRLS IN OUR LIFE. I ALWAYS WOULD BUY BIG BAG’S AT THE DOLLAR STORE AND FILL THEM FULL OF THINGS THAT HAD TO DO WITH VALENTINE’S DAY,EASTER, ST PATRICK’S DAY AND HALLOWEEN. MY DAUGHTER IN LAW STOOD IN HER KITCHEN WITH THE GIRLS PRESENT AND MY HUSBAND WAS SITTING IN THE FAMILY ROOM WHICH IS OPEN CONCEPT TO THE KITCHEN. SHE ACTUALLY TOOK HER FINGER AND PUSHED IT IN MY FACE,AND YELLED AT ME,SAYING, “‘QUIT SENDING MY GIRLS JUNK” IT WAS SO NEAT,THE YOUNGER GRANDCHILD STOMPED HER FOOT ON THE FLOOR AND SAID, “WHY NOT?” I LIKE IT…. IT HELPED THE EMBARRASSMENT THAT MY HUSBAND AND I FELT. MY MAIN FEAR IS NOW THAT I HAVE NOT MOVED FORWARD, AND I THINK OVER THE HOLIDAYS IT JUST BUILD UP AND I JUST COULD NOT GET PAST THE FACT HOW MUCH HURT AND PAIN I WENT THROUGH. IT IS NOT LIKE I HAVE NOT BEEN THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS WITH ONLY MY HUSBAND AND MYSELF. WE HAVE EXPERIENCED YEARS OF THIS TREATMENT OR LACK THERE OF. I HAVE NO INTEREST IN WAKING UP EACH DAY TO THE SAME OLD SAME OLD. I SEE A THERAPIST,BUT I HAVE ONLY BEGUN SESSIONS WITH HER. I BELIEVE I HAVE HAD 3 MAYBE 4 SESSIONS WITH HER. DURING THE HOLIDAY’S AND LONG WEEK ENDS WE LOST TIME, SHE CALLED ME TODAY AND I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT WITH HER ON JANUARY 12. I AM TRULY WORRIED ABOUT MY HEALTH AND NOT HAVING A SINCE OF WELL BEING FOR SO MANY YEARS. I LOOK FORWARD TO NOTHING..YET,I KNOW THAT WE ARE TRULY BLESS BY OUR LORD AND SAVIOR AND HE HAS PROVIDED US WITH MIRACLES I THOUGH WERE IMPOSSIBLE, WE ARE BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS AND HAVE A CHURCH FAMILY THAT IS AMAZING.. WITH GOD,NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE,,WE HAVE EXPERIENCED THE MOST WONDERFUL MIRACULOUS MIRACLES AND JESUS HAS CARRIED ME MANY MANY TIMES, I WAS PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY SO WEAK,YET I GOT THROUGH IT,BECAUSE JESUS LOVES ME NO MATTER WHAT, AND IS ALWAYS THERE FOR BOTH OF US. WE ARE THANKFUL AND GRATEFUL FOR ARE AMAZING TRUE REAL ALIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD. I HONESTLY FEEL THAT IS WHY I AM HERE WRITING THIS MESSAGE TO YOU AND I AM SO SORRY FOR ANYBODY THAT HAS WALKED THIS WALK OF UNENDING GRIEF. GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL WHO SUFFER FROM THIS UNSPEAKABLE TORMENT. MANY MANY YEARS AGO,MY YOUNG PRECIOUS GRANDCHILD ANNOUNCED OUT LOUD.. BE BRAVE GRAMMY BE BRAVE OVER SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED SO LONG AGO. I HAVE NEVER FORGOTTEN HER WORDS,NOR WILL I EVER. I WANT TO BE BRAVE..GOD HELP ME TO BE. IN JESUS’S NAME-AMEN…

  31. PLZ

    It’s the New Year, and after yet another text to my 19 year-old daughter, wishing her the best, telling her I love her and begging her to think, I have once more been rejected. Harshly, meanly. Accused of thinking about myself and money. Of ignoring her and her older sister. Our “family” has exploded when I made the decision of leaving my husband after some 20 years of verbal abuse that left me depressed, without any self esteem and drained. I waited until my daughters were old enough to leave their father and move from France to XXX, where my eldest daughter was born and where she wanted to live and try to make a living as an athlete. I reconnected with my first boyfriend, pure coincidence, a widower with 2 children of his own. A successful lawyer, he decided to invest all his personal wealth into a business for my daughter and her boyfriend. Although off to a good start, after 1 and a half years they burnt out and returned to France, leaving us with the business to carry on and my youngest daughter who, at 17, “begged” me to let her be an elathlete like her sister… I didn’t want to, despite my passion for the sport. I was accused then of not listening, of comparing her to her sister, of not trusting her… So I caved in. I supported her, encouraged her, told her how great she was, how helpful she was. But it’s a hard job, 365 days, rain or shine… Her passion dwindled and again my spouse and I were left in the cold … Lost everything, every penny we worked for for 30 years. He declared bankruptcy. I went back to work earning a rather poor salary. My spouse cannot find a job in spite of his credentials. So we are renting a small place and my youngest daughter did not want to live with us. I tried to tell her that even when she changed ideas, I always supported her… But nothing, she doesn’t seem to “remember” these “details”. Yes, I have been depressed: when my eldest went back to France, when we lost house and everything we worked for, when I couldn’t pay bills or put food on the table. Yes, I was angry at my daughter for many reasons including not committing to the 5 year plan we had made and leaving after only 1 and 1/2 years . Yes I was angry with my youngest for not listening to me about the sport world (to which she replied ” and why in the world did you listen to a 17 year-old?”. I was depressed and contemplated suicide and yes, my daughters were aware of this.
    I’m devastated because I’m sincerely sorry if I did something wrong in their eyes, but I also try to show them how their memories might be clouded, and pointing out everything that was done that was meant as encouragement and support…
    Our youngest has not just cut me off, but also her sister, and my family. My idea of a wonderful, recomposed family has evaporated. I don’t see for whom do I exist? I dedicated all my life to my daughters, putting their needs, their wants, their dreams, their desires their happiness well ahead of mine, only to be told that I did everything wrong.

    Reply
  32. Hislittlelamb

    One of the things that is hardest for me is to enjoy activities I used to enjoy. I feel like, “what kind of cold hearted mother would carry on as though everything in life were just dandy?” I feel like I should wear sackcloth and spread ashes all over myself. I’ve been punishing myself. Not eating. Not sleeping. Not taking care of myself.
    I used to enjoy Ballroom dancing. I even paid for lessons for my daughter when she was a young girl. Yet, I feel I was too involved in my interests and pursuits and not involved enough in her life, her interests & pursuits as a child as it should be. Now, those things that took me away are bitter and I’ve lost all desire.
    Some guilt is valid. It doesn’t justify abandonment, but it does give me more empathy for how she could be feeling, what drove her to do such a thing, and what could eventually be reconciled.

    Reply
  33. Jane

    I think that we feel we ought to receive what we give in life. Unfortunately, that view is framed entirely by what we wish it to be.

    As much as I’ve given to my son, post-divorce from a man who never felt for me or them (by omission)–

    I think he still gloms on to white-male-privilege (why wouldn’t you?).

    If he chooses a life w/o me, so be it. I love him more than he’ll ever know (& gave up an astonishing amount to simply have the responsibility to raise them) but if he wants to leave- it is his choice.

    Reply
  34. Colleen

    My oldest son disowned me after I had breast cancer. His reason being that I had stressed him out and given him migraines but no support with them. Even though I had cancer. Later when I told him I had two further lumps that needed biopseys he called me an attention seeker and that conversation was our last. I have texted to apologise for whatever I have done which to be honest I don’t know. I feel guilt everyday. I go around in circles with the what ifs and what have I dones. I have spent the last year completely distraught about the whole thing. I feel I am being judged unfairly. But I know now that I will never speak to him again or forgive him for the agony of this last year. I can no longer allow him to make Me feel worthless. His behaviour as led me at times to question my sanity. I do not wish ever to see him again. Yes I feel bad about that but I have to put myself first.

    Reply
    1. rparentsrparents Post author

      Dear Colleen,
      You do need to keep your strength. I know that many who read your note will relate, because I have heard similar experiences from among the thousands of parents who are estranged from adult children.

      Please take care of yourself. It’s good that you spoke out here, and the strength in your post will help empower other parents who read it.

      Thank you. And HUGS. Big hugs,
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Bewildered1955Bewildered1955

      This last estrangement occurred right when my son was supposed to come stay a weekend to assist me following total knee replacement. He had just met a woman online and wanted to bring her with him. I thought it would be best if she didn’t come. For one thing, he would have been doting on her and not helping me, and I’d be put in a position to host both of them. So basically the fight was on. He ended up marrying her within a month of meeting her and has basically turned away from his family again. (He estranged from us for 2 years in his previous marriage but had even recently said he’d never allow that to happen again. Obviously that was not sincere.) Since this is the second time, it’s more difficult for me to blame the woman although in both cases, they have or are contributing. My son is jeopardizing his relationship with his children because the new wife has only minimal supervised visits with her own children. You can’t blame his ex for wanting to protect their children. My son wants to say I’m against him but I am for my grandchildren. I don’t think she should be allowed around them unsupervised, and at this point, question his ability/willingness to protect them. The way he re-entered my life previously was when his wife filed for divorce and he needed help. Then he came to me. I suspect this will be the same, but I’ve told him that professional therapy would be needed for us to resume a relationship. I’m struggling with the loss of my son, but I’m really trying to focus on taking care of myself and not allowing anyone to treat me as he has and is. I told him that I brought him to adulthood. The rest is up to him. And that’s how I’m trying to see it.

  35. Janer

    I think I’m quite okay with the estrangement. I think I’d be pushing myself to feel badly, wretched, on the floor, etc. But it’s hard not to adhere to social custom and think this is the worst situation since – I don’t know what. What’s so serious. No one is ill or has died, thank goodness. It’s just time. The Norman Rockwell paintings were always posed. That wasn’t real life. Why choose agony because of some notion of how things are supposed to be? Who says? Are we adults, or are we — I’ll keep this as “I” – am I an adult? Yes. Is my daughter an adult? Yes. Well, then. I never thought that offspring owed parents grandchildren – and there aren’t any – I never thought that children owed there parents anything, except for respect when it was deserved. I say this, but while I’m dealing with this, some crappy words come out that must come right out of some false ‘textbook’ of how things are supposed to be. Did I raise an individual who was individuated, or did I raise an individual who was always supposed to be some version of what I wanted. The former. It’s okay. The only pain comes from ego, really, and absurd social norms that really don’t apply to anyone.

    Reply
  36. Amanda J.

    Thanks so much for this website Sheri it’s good to know I’m not the only one. My story is slightly different in that both my adult kids were taken into foster care aged 4 and aged 7 respectively 6 years apart due to my mental health problems and child protection issues (both kids’ fathers were violent and there was alcohol and drug issues too). They are now 20 and 23 and want nothing to do with me. Even though I stayed in their lives after they went into care when it would have been so easy to walk away given the crap the social workers used to give me and the things that I was falsely accused of with no basis in fact. I went to every visit every review meeting every family therapy session in short I jumped through hoops to try to make up for failing them when they were both small but sadly all to no avail. My youngest cut off from me almost 4 years ago having told me a whopping great big lie about her Dad (who I am still friends with) and me confronting them about it. And recently my eldest rejected me on seeing how sick with COPD I was at Christmas. He has got himself a girlfriend who sees me as a threat and who I believe has had a big influence on him. Apparently I’m the worst mother I could ever have possibly been and unless he sees a significant ‘improvement’ in me he doesn’t want to know me. He also told me lies and made false promises and when he was confronted about it by me he did the same thing to me as the other one did. I now haven’t seen my eldest for 6 months and it was his birthday a few days ago as well. I didn’t send a card or a gift or money as I used to, because I’m so bloody hurt and angry and yes a little guilty too. But on reading your article Sheri and seeing all the other replies the guilt is now lessening. I did the best I could under very difficult circumstances for bloody YEARS and whatever mistakes I made with my adult kids when they were small I feel I’ve more than paid for, over and over and over again. But apparently its not enough and never will be. Yes both of them have severe mental problems themselves. And apparently that’s all MY fault. I’m in absolute bloody BITS but I am so grateful for this website and for knowing now I’m not alone and there is a way forward.

    Thanks Sheri!!! Keep up the good work.

    Manda

    Reply
  37. Brokenandconfused

    Hi all,
    Its 2018. I’m new here. Reading these stories just break my heart even more than it is already. The pain is palatable here but so is support for each other and encouragement to keep giving life all you have. I have three daughters. We were all victims of divorce as well over 20 years ago. The reason I say “we” is that my daughters were very much victims and “pawns” for an ex husband to use against me. To say he was “emotionally unavailable” does not even begin to cover it. The mental and emotional abuse was plenty to go around for all of us. My daughters were 3, almost 5, and 8. My ex used to line them up on the sofa during his visitation and READ

    Reply

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