Abusive adult children influence parents’ self-image

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.





Abusive adult children: a scary reflection

Have you ever looked in one of those magnifying mirrors that highlights every imperfection? Fine facial hair looks forest-thick, and skin pores appear as large as craters. But there’s a value in looking closely—even if, as a friend says, “Those magnifying mirrors are scary.”

Whose Mirror?

The perverse opinions of abusive adult children can make parents see themselves in a warped mirror. One that distorts them so much they no longer recognize themselves. This might have happened over time, or overnight.

abusive adult children“All I could see were my failures,” recalls Barbara. “My own daughter told me I ruined her life, and she had a million detailed memories of how I did everything wrong.”

Imagine waking up one day and seeing a monstrosity reflected. That’s how parents can feel when an adult child’s abuse includes blame, accusations, and twisted memories.

In the beginning, Barbara spoke up. “It was as if my daughter woke up one day and had brand new memories,” Barbara explains. “She recounted her life with a black cloud of doom over her head, and the cloud was me.”

Because the vast majority of parents want their children’s happiness above all else, they reevaluate themselves through the son or daughter’s perspective. They’re willing to look at how their choices may have been seen through their child’s eyes. All parents make mistakes. Also, it’s possible a child didn’t understand a parent’s choices, the motivation driving them, or what might have been happening behind the scenes. Those sorts of things can be discussed and worked out by willing parties.

Unfortunately, of the one hundred or more emails I receive from parents of estranged or abusive adult children each week, many of them have tried—unsuccessfully. Barbara certainly did. Offers for mediation, counseling, or to just sit down and talk, have been met with such things as flat-out refusals, silence, or more abusive rants.

Seeing the real you

Many parents are surprised to find that there are so many like them who have suffered from cruelty, abandonment, put-downs, and endless blame. And because it’s a controversial subject, they’ve been afraid to tell anyone for fear of judgment. Or, as is often the case, they’re keeping quiet to protect their adult child’s reputation.

Barbara knew she had done her best. She’s like other parents whose self-image can get lost to a flawed reflection provided repeatedly by abusive adult children. I routinely hear from parents convinced they’re failures, deserving of the pain or abandonment their sons and daughters inflict. After all, they reason, if they were a good mother or father, their children would love them.

They may try everything to maintain a relationship. Barbara’s daughter threatened to keep her grandchildren away, so she walked on eggshells.  “If I said anything out of line, which could be anything depending on her mood, then the tirade would begin.” Eventually, Barbara’s then 36-year old daughter began posting lies on Facebook about her. At the time, Barbara was recovering from surgery. At her breaking point, she replied, publicly asking her daughter why she’d lied. The postings were deleted, but Barbara’s daughter went no-contact. “It wasn’t the first time,” says Barbara. “But it has been the longest estrangement so far.”

With a health scare that became a turning point, Barbara knew she had to make a change. That’s when she began to look for help. But after years of warped opinions from an abusive adult child, she had little self-confidence.  “If I raised this person who turned out to be so cruel, then how could I be a successful mother?” she asks.  “My daughter had reminded me what a failure I was every chance she got.”

Take a closer look.

abusive adult childrenWhen suffering parents discover my book, they tell me they’re shocked to read so many experiences that mirror their own. And although it’s sad to know there are so many suffering, the knowledge is also heartening. They’re no longer alone. In reading other parents’ accounts, they get a clearer view. They see themselves in others’ stories, and recognize they were also good parents who did their best.

Once parents have a clearer reflection, they can explore positive changes to help themselves move forward in their own lives. One of the first steps is to look more closely at how much an abusive adult child has affected their lives. The inflicted suffering entails more than sadness and grief. Bitterness, lack of confidence, anger, fear, and anxiety have often crept in. In Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children, there are many exercises, and one designed specifically to help with this vital step. Holding the magnifier up to examine changes in themselves is one of the first steps to making positive, concrete plans to regain confidence, find meaning, and happiness again.

Take action.

One woman who found this website and my book after 20 years of grief described her life as a “living death.” Now, she’s glad to have found a way out of the roller-coaster of emotions, the shame and sorrow, and to stop crying and to start celebrating life.

abusive adult childrenBarbara says it’s too late to reconcile with her daughter. There has been too much heartbreak, and her daughter has refused any sort of counseling or mediation. “I miss my grandchildren,” she says, “but I’m hoping to one day see them again.”

Barbara’s expresses the sentiment of many grandparents who, due to estrangement, have lost touch with precious ones. But I sometimes hear from grandparents who have received their wish. There’s a knock at the door one day, and it’s a grownup grandchild with that same sweet smile, wanting to reconnect. When that happens, you’ll want to be ready, so take care of yourself. As one grandmother recently advised, “Get dressed and put on lipstick every day.”

Don’t wait and hope, mired by inaction that only adds to your grief. You can clean the mirrors of guilt and shame and see yourself for the loving parent you have always been. Like thousands of parents who are learning to accept what they cannot change, and see their goodness again, you can be done with the crying. Take action for yourself and your happiness by reading more of the articles at this site, getting Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children and committing to the included exercises. Subscribe to my email newsletter (below) and take the survey. By taking action, you can be like so many parents who have recovered from the sadness and pain caused by abusive adult children, on-and-off or full-on estrangements. Treasure your life. You can find happiness and meaning again.

Related reading:

The Turning Point

Rejected parents: Should you tell people?

Parents: Have you had enough?

Elder Abuse Statistics

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81 thoughts on “Abusive adult children influence parents’ self-image

  1. DJ

    I’ve had talks with all of my children about their life growing up and the mistakes I made. I’ve never shied away from that. But lately my daughter has been really critical of me over every thing I do or say. I feel
    I am on eggshells around her. She interprets things that no one else sees. We can have a gathering of family and everyone will have a good time and a day later I’ll get a message saying how I disrespected her and yet no one there saw anything remotely like that. I am not a disrespectful person at all. I’ve never been abusive. It is not my nature. I’ve been very supportive of her and have helped her financially many many times. Never making her feel bad for asking or even mentioning it after the fact. Lately I hear that she is going to my other kids and saying things like don’t talk to mom about what I talk to you about. My son says he thinks she’s doing that because she knows what she is doing is wrong but I don’t know. She has had a very bad year with mental health and relationship issues so I try to be understanding and show love. But this is getting to the point where I’m tired of being her punching bag.and feeling emotionally abused. So hard to know how to deal with this.

  2. Cheryl

    You know after years of suffering and crying and a break down resulting in health worries that affected me greatly. I have googled key words hoping to find some place like this . Where I could read other people’s stories and feel less alone .only today I somehow searched using the right words and I found this wonderful place. Mothers and fathers sharing with openness and being so honest . I even thought that you were all talking about the same adult child as me lol. Only I’ve read and re – read the posts . Now I can say with confidence that I’m not the only one who feels like this . The hatred the blame ,the way they say they are ashamed of me etc.All 3 of my kids have yelled things at me but they would apologise and be remorseful. All except one who continued and tries his luck to hurt me time after time . The abuse and lies he tells to make others believe I am the worst parent ever .He has hurled abuse at me , belittled me in front of family, friends and neighbours .my 2 other young adult daughters didn’t want to be around while he was so abusive .i was losing my self even my relationship was suffering . My son would bully my partner, even lash out at him . He was so filled with hatred and anger he would smash things uo umin my home . I felt like it was me and I started to get severely depressed and I went inward on myself . Asking myself was it because I had no money and was always struggling . I couldn’t afford the branded clothing and trainers he wanted. Christmas time ( I’m talking about when he was 14 – 16). I became a shadow of my former self. . It didn’t stop he oukd nake fun of how I looked called me ugly on a constant daily basis. My daughters saw how he upset me and that he upset then to . Yet I was sinking I was being ruled by my own son . Age 17 , 18,19,20 he remained the same and I was very ill and I’d lost my brother and my mum. I would to stand up and be the mother I knew I was and I loved each of them. I did my best , yet my son hated me .I felt I was losing my mind . At 21 he has stopped and he may insult me badly in anger . Only it has got less and less and its done so much damage to me as a mother . I was looking back, living in the past , until in the end I felt worthless I felt guilty for things I’d never done . Just it made me hide away and become timid and not wanting to talk . I was usually a strong woman but this boy had lived of me even though he has a great job .he would see me struggle and I wouldn’t ask him for a penny because I didn’t want to be the brunt of his abuse again. Now I have picked myself back up and caught my breath a little .Now reading all these parents going through the same .it’s made me feel a bit stronger and less alone .maybe one day I’ll be able to givee some of you advice or some tips on how to get hold of this abuse and deal with it. I was a coward.but also a victim , I let his insults and anger and hatred take over me . I let him get away with to.much gave him the impression that I am guilty of being a terrible.mother . I let him stay at his friend’s house a lot because I wanted to heal . I let him rule.me in many ways and I feel.despair.at how much he made me deeply depressed.keep strong guys

  3. Sally M.

    I realize that perspective is reality. I also know that my daughter’s perspective is wrong. However, I know that I can’t argue with her because like my husband says, you can’t reason with crazy. So what do I do? Just let this 37 year old demon continue to abuse me? I don’t see how this will ever heal. I am going to get your books.

  4. Lisa

    There’s no question to me that when an adult child abandons a parent it IS abusive UNLESS it’s warranted by the parent having been abusive to the child, but that is not what we are talking about here.

    We are definitely living in a culture of narcissism with a ” take them or leave them” attitude towards parents. No gratitude whatsoever. Just a total air of entitlement.

    When texting is so easy to do, requiring next to no effort or time, even THAT falls by the wayside into the “I don’t have to bother” category, which also is the same as the “I simply don’t care” category.

    Parents have been demoted in a big way. So disrespectful and quite frankly downright scary for parents who had hoped that their family would always stick together and be there for each other. Um…not so much!!

    And the days of letter writing: gone. When people actually took the time to write their thoughts to each other, maybe pick out a special card to send, actually address an envelope and put a stamp on it. Stamp? Stamp? What’s a stamp?!! Oh, sorry, I wasn’t listening. Was just texting one of my friends here. What did you say? Hey, I’ll get back to ya, like never.

  5. Dolly

    Dear Lonna,
    I so related to your comments. I also suffer from fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, neuropathy and several other health issues and am an empath as well.
    My son chose to estrange us two years ago when my husband has a stroke. He’s always been self absorbed, arrogant and spoiled. He tends to treat his friends much better than us and I feel he has always wished he had different parents.
    We spoiled him and gave him the moon.
    ” These are the times that try men’s souls.” No words could ever adequately describe the crushing pain we all feel in our tender hearts. May God have mercy on us all and bring comfort to us after we have sacrificed so many decades of our lives only to be unappreciated and abandoned. Thank you for your post. It really moved me.

  6. Lonna G.

    I know beyond a shadow of doubt that God placed this website right in my lap! Honestly, I don’t know how I even ended up here, so in my mind, it had to be Divine!

    I feel just like so many other posters: (1) you realize you’re not alone in this horrible situation, thinking you’re the only mother in this world whose children just up and left with no explanation!! (2) finding the same exact situations, the same exact emotions, thoughts and feelings – I feel like I’m “ok” for the first I’m “normal” for the first time in over 2 years and (3) feeling the strength of others who have declared enough is enough!!!

    The silence is deafening! One daughter reply’s to NOTHING I send -text, email, fb message and she and two granddaughters all have new numbers-to see you opener what I sent and I’ve apologized profusely (for things I hadn’t even done) and have literally begged her and one granddaughter (on instagram messenger, which again, I see she opens) – but NEVER A SINGLE WORD IN REPLY. It’s heartbreaking, demoralizing, maddening and DISRESPECTFUL!

    The other daughter, when she chose this last time to reply (again I groveled and begged) wrote me back to say that she’s still hurt with me and isn’t ready for a relationship and picked my message apart and flipped everything around to attack me. She called me a narcissist, told me I’m toxic and their lives are better without me and that people around me have no clue how I really am. ????? I’ve always been told I’m an empath, I carry the burden for others, I love too deeply and open the door for people to mistreat me, super sensitive, very emotional, but I’ve also had 5 back surgeries, fibromyalgia, neuropathy and neurological issues, PTSD, depression/anxiety, etc so I know my health is playing a huge factor in all of this – I rarely leave my house, I hurt every single day, I have mobility issues…AND I’ve missed baseball games, cheerleading competitions, etc. I know beyond a doubt that plays a factor. But, they’re only seeing the negative. I have gone to games, I’ve gone to their houses to help clean and organize, I’ve picked the kids up from school and ran them to Dr appts and practices and I have never said no if they needed me to babysit, or for that matter, anything they’ve ever needed. I just don’t get it!

    The most painful part of everything is believing the theee of us were so close and all of us got along great only to now know that they’ve harbored anger and resentment long enough for them to suddenly and out of the blue, shut me out of their lives.

    However, I now feel like I just need to stop…stop reaching out, stop groveling, stop begging, stop wishing and hoping that “today will be the day” that they will wake up and miss and love me enough to reach out. But, as others have stated, I don’t think I’ll ever trust or be comfortable enough to ever let my guard down for fear that the same would happen again since I don’t know how we got here because neither will answer my questions or explain.

    To all of my fellow mama’s that have made me understand that it’s ok to let go and live a happy and fulfilling life – thank you!!! To all of my fellow mama’s still struggling with the pain and depression, we need to find the strength to do whatever it takes to realize that our ED’s and ES’s do not deserve us and we don’t deserve their BS. Let’s choose to focus on the positives in our life and change our mindsets and expectations! We deserve to be happy. God bless each and every one of you and please know that we didn’t make the decision that put us here – our children did – and I now realize that I cannot change their thoughts and feelings, I can only control mine. I also know that family isn’t just blood – it’s about finding and embracing people God outs in our paths and they love us for us!!

    Sheri McGregor – THANK YOU for starting all of this and for your articles and providing a forum where us mama’s and daddy’s know we’re not alone and where we can express our thoughts and feelings with people who understand and don’t judge. I’ll definitely be checking our your books!!!

  7. Bev M

    I relate to so many here dealing with the grief and hurt of being horribly treated by their adult child. My only child, adult daughter( 33) lives 3000 miles away. I’ve tolerated her abuse, demeaning and disrespectful behavior that started shortly before college and esclated since. I was a single parent that was very fortunate to have parents that helped me and all of my siblings( all since estranged- from me and each other, after Mom died) and all their adult kids. I was able to have my own business, work when she was in school, at night when she was sleeping etc.. allowing me to be a stay at home Mom. She stongly agrees she had an idealic, happy childhood and wanted for nothing. The aside, was her father who chose to disappear when we divorced when she was almost 7 and no longer apart of her life again. She claims she barely remembers and “can’t miss what she never remembered” but I believe that impacted her as an adult. She’s denied, not been willing to deal with that loss, how it impacted her or any issues. My mother died December, the year she graduated college, tuition paid in full by her grandparents. She, as each other grandkids inherited very substantially. At 32, she received all & will never have to worry about money for life, unless she loses it. She learned of the inheritance after my mother died when she was 21 and was given it all a few months ago but always had economic privilege and opportunies. She was given all of the time, attention etc.. that my parents -as too busy working to build a successful business could give us, so we could have all the many opportunities they seriously lacked. Perhaps one of the only things we agree, is she had a nearly perfect, very happy childhood and she said I was a great Mom. But, as a parent to an adult “she said, “I s***.” My response, was I never intended or “signed on” to “parent an ADULT child.” She and I were close and she could confide most anything until college. My mother’s health went into major decline her senior yr. of hs and died Dec, after she graduated college. After college she moved for an internship crosscountry. When My mom died 20 of Dec, that year, she was irate that the funeral was not until 5 Jan and she had to stay longer. She was so enraged I couldn’t change the date to sooner (as 15 + cousins,sibings and others needs involved.) She had just met a “love” interest before Mom died and so enraged she could not return immediately, she literally kicked me in a rage. When she did return, she trashed me to the new BF, told me I was toxic and contacted me ( to whisper Merry Christmas from in the bathroom of her bF’s mother’s house, the next 4 yrs.) and barely a word, aside. When they broke up (just after 4 yrs.) she was back in touch. She brought her new bf here the past few Christmases. She visited 2x without him and it was hell on earth. I now ask she bring him because she makes a huge effort to be nice when he’s present. But when she speaks via phone, visited alone and when he’s not present, she cannot contain her anger and resentment but refuses to discuss or go to therpy with or without me. It’s been sooo bad since xmas and the in betweens and outright hateful visits alone that I can’t handle it anymore. It has now been 12 yrs. and I love her but she’s destroying me with grief and pain for the endless verbal abuse alternating wih silent treatment & extreme passive aggression and keepingin touch out sense of obligation, or more likely appearances for bf, who has no idea just how horrid she is when he’s not here. She’d NEVER behave that way in front of him or any because she acts like a belligerant, mean spirited rebellious teen. Thoguht it would pass but has only escalted. Many attempts to try to get her discuss her anger but only raging tirades or stuffing it and refusal/avoidance. I learned I have cancer and she is SO PUT OUT. When here on holiday offered to help with a few things here and when she went back. I needed it and let her and she wrote angrily that I”expected” her help. She offered I accepted and now she resents it. I am struggling hard with having cancer in 2 places and told I need surgery and treatment for both. During covid, I lost my closest friend, 2 others moved far and I was isolated much of the time and still am. Lack of support and people, other hardships and changes, realizing I’m unlikely to EVER have a good relationship with her in my lifetime if I even see her again. She told me to “hire help” ie; rides to treatment etc.. I am struggling with depression, grief and she makes me feel like the most horrible mother, taks down to, acts superior and wields her power over any and all contact like a gleeful weapon. I am torn, I want her in my life and I cannot handle the pain of her sporadic emails and nasty calls. Iam having difficulty functioning at all, much less going for cancer treatments. I would rather just die and be at peace. I’m beaten down, broken and isolated and have become so disconnected during covid that I can’t even imagine getting through this, much less alone and so sad I can’t stand the pain or knowing I will never have a good relationship with her again, IT’ been 12 years and not a “phase” she will outgrow anymore, as I hoped and held onto when I knw she seriously hs no capacity to care or get past whatever she refuses to deal and that’s me, as I “s***” as a parent of an adult, especially one that I love but don’t like the “brat.!”

    1. Karen

      Your kid may be a monster. It is not you, it is her. I am so sorry you have not enjoyed a good relationship with a person you raised well.

  8. Cathy

    I didn’t realize there were others like me.My son had it rough growing up.My being a single Mom,his Dad married to a child abuser. He saw my x abuse me,and became abusive towards me. He is now in his 30s.I’ve done everything to help him stay on his own,even paid his bills for the last 9 months,when I nly offered to help him 1 time. So now he just takes off work and all his checks have been spent 2 days after he’s paid, sense he met a girl.Then he calls me cry’s,yells,always tells me not to ever speak.Then has the nerve to ask for more money.I’m on social security now,haven’t had one dime left to spend on my self.This takes everything out of me.Never felt so near death in my life.I try so hard,it’s just gotten worse,now it seams I have his gf to take care of,instead of my self.

    1. rparents Post author


      It pains me to hear this, a grown man bullying his mother. Please start to take better care of yourself. He is younger and has earning years in front of him. Get the support you need whether that’s social, legal, etc.

      Hugs to you, dear one.
      Sheri McGregor

  9. Sonia

    I’m done with this abuse from my daughter & her husband. This includes outrageous lies & slander.

    I’m not permitting that to affect my life any more. I’m
    Planning my next stage of life without this nonsense.

    Her loss.

    Done with the games & the manipulation.

  10. Simone

    I’ve been abused by my daughter for many years, she’s 26. Living at home, never worked, can’t do collage, depressed and has bad anger issues. she takes pleasure in continuing her verbal abuse even when I’m crying, pleading her to stop as it’s causing me chest pain. She carries on, the last 14 years have been hell. With her episodes making me feel like I’m about to have a mental breakdown. Makes me feel like I want to die. It’s bad. She has autism, not diagnosed, and she has taken over my life. I haven’t been able to have a relationship with other people or a romantic partner. She can’t stand me giving time to someone else. She twists everything around, and question my own reality. I broke and sent her my moms this evening. I’ve tried to be supportive , understanding, but she won’t change 26 years old. I need to feel guilty, as I’ve tried to do everything to help her. But she won’t help herself. If I don’t break free now, I fear I will have a heart attack. Kill myself due to the constant abuse. 14 years has really taken it out of me. I hate her. And I can’t bare to be with her. I need to have the courage to not feel guilty to cut her off . My mental health, my heart can’t take much more of this. I’ve given her so many years. But nothing has changed. And there’s nothing more I can do for her. Told her I can’t live with her anymore. ( We’ve been here before, but she comes back offering to change) ( maybe 20 times) but this is the last time. For my life I need to cut ties with her.

    1. Joly

      I really feel for you. I have 25 years old daughter who who is very verbally and emotionally abusive as well. She will not take any responsibility for anything and decided to blame me for all her issues even though like yourself , I have done everything to raise her to be kind and respectful. My daughter is quite intelligent. Just came back from Europe where she completed her masters degree . The 2 years when she was away helped me to slightly recover from the guilt and emotional stress i carry from her constant gaslighting and verbal out downs but she is back, moved back to my house not invited and continues to insult me and criticize in my own house . I told her to move out numerous times but she will not do that . I am contemplating calling police but I don’t want to hurt her future. She is planning to attend medical school . It is a nightmare to live with her and she loves seeing me cry, it almost charges her up. I have been seeing therapist for many years and read numerous books on abuse and personality disorders and I am almost certain, my daughter has cluster B personality disorder . My husband who is retired, lives part time away and is not dealing with her either. He promises me to get her out but fails to follow through . Raising our daughter who is manipulative, entitled and cruel caused our relationship to fall apart. We also have a 22 year old son who is completely opposite to my daughter : sensitive , emphatic and caring . When I question my parenting, I am being reminded by friends and family that I can’t take the full responsibility for how my daughter turned out because my son grew up in the same environment and does not act like her. Reading posts and stories of people with similar experiences helps, I often question myself and wonder where I went wrong .

    2. Emily

      Hi Simone,

      I’m so sorry that you have had to cope with this very difficult situation. My daughter estranged from the family over two years ago. She was very challenging as a teenager and in her early twenties. I came to believe that she might have undiagnosed autism after reading a book by an autistic adult who had not been diagnosed until after she had children who were on the spectrum. I have wondered if other parents have experienced abuse or estrangement by adult children who may be on the spectrum. You are right to take care of yourself. I wish you the best. You deserve a life!


  11. Dec

    I am uncertain of where it began but I’m certain it needs to stop, I just don’t know how?
    My son is only 17 we are UK based, so legally classed as an adult. I think he’s always been in tune with my emotions and aware of how to manipulate me, my realisation came 3years ago… but I’ve lived in denial, adament that I am to blame, surely to receive these nasty evil endless tirades of emotional abuse I must have went wrong in every way he is telling me I have.
    But I sit and ponder, I know I’m not perfect, I’ve over and under punished, I have made wrong choices for the right reasons and always done what I thought was best. I raised my oldest two alone, I was young but I gave all I could, cooked and played, loved and showed pride, attended school events and treated my kids when I could, worked with professionals and school. I asked for help when I was drowning but here I am, being portrayed to anyone willing to listen as an abusive monster. I loved with all my heart and now I need to love from afar. Now I see a pattern, he left early this year because I told him to get a job or apply for college. I have worked for the entirety of their lives to provide what I could, a safe and warm home filled with love, times were tough but I provided and I felt after a year of him leaving school and making no effort to help himself I had to put my foot down, so I did and he chose to leave. I was happy when he left, I wasn’t walking on eggshells, my older daughter 13 wasn’t being verbally abused or put down, I wasn’t worrying about loud music or a messy house or stressing him out in the home i provide for my family, the home is now calm but I worry, about drug abuse, him surviving and managing to live a good life. But I am mostly happy. I have a young child 2 whom he uses as a pawn, everytime I have a public event where hes aware of my happiness, he contacts me, the very next day asking to see my youngest child, never any other time. I don’t instantly jump to his demands or tell him all is forgotten so I receive abuse, im told my youngest will see me one day for who I am, i am called awful names such as an inbred and sworn at etc etc etc. I see his pattern, im not allowed to be happy or attend anything fun without him tainting the happiness with a tirade of emotional abuse and threats on occasion. I love my son but I can’t seem to get past this abuse from him and find it hard to like him.
    I came from an abusive family, I was before his conception in a very abusive relationship (not with his father), I recognise what I see in him, from previous experiences and I worry for his partners, I worry for my oldest daughter and I feel lost. He’s still so young but yet old enough to know better. Do I grieve his loss now because I refuse to allow my girls to tolerate abuse from anyone sibling, child partner, or friend, no one is entitled to abuse anyone, or do i stick it out to at the very least be able to help his future partners, children etc?

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Dec, There is no excuse for abuse. It may be a very difficult action to consider, but you could block him or otherwise make yourself less available after those public events when he knows you’re happy. What right has another adult to commit such meanness against another?

      HUGS to you, dear Dec. I’m glad that you have some happiness and that you have some relief from the abuse.

      Sheri McGregor

  12. Kirsten

    I have come to a point where I do not want to live this nightmare the rest of my life. I have not got the strength anymore. I need to ease this grief. My pain is overwhelming. It doesn’t allow normalcy anymore. My job suffers. My world suffers. Is there happiness? I can’t find it.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Kirsten,

      I’m so very sorry that you are feeling overwhelmed. I know that many parents have felt the way you do and have fought through it to move forward and find a new beginning and contentment. Please know that you are not alone. Having said this, it’s also necessary for me to mention that while this site is a supportive environment, it is not intended or equipped to help those in imminent danger. Reach out locally for assistance, and know that help is available. Comments at this site are not monitored 24/7 and this site is not moderated around the clock but there are groups, organizations, and individuals who run websites, “warm” lines, and hotlines at all hours. Look for help in your local area. Also, here are listed a few organizations around the world for crisis assistance here: https://www.rejectedparents.net/about-helping-parents-of-estranged-adult-children/crisis-info/

      Hugs to you, Kirsten.

    2. Christy

      I feel the same. I have become suicidal in the last year. I’m nothing more than an ATM and a maid to an entitled 23 year old. He steal soo much money from me that I can barely keep my utilities on or pay rent and I make over $100k yr (because I work 60-70 hrs a week desperately trying to pay $800/month in rent while he steals everything). He lies to everyone and tells them he gives me all the money from his part time job where he make $150/wk. Last night I asked him to go to the store to get a few things, he came back with a $40 bag of taco bell, 2 packs of cigarettes, alcohol, etc ..another $100 out of my acct. This is daily. I cry every day I’m on the verge of a breakdown. I still have 2 young children and they don’t get anything like what he got as a child because he spends all the money. His 9 year old sister didn’t get a birthday this year bc of him. I hate him and it would be a relief if he disappeared off this earth forever.

      1. rparents Post author

        Dear Christy,

        You can “evict” him. Get legal help or police assistance (ask them how). You need to take care of yourself and your minor children. He is a grown man … and with so much money gone, pronably has some form of addiction.

        Hug your other kids and dump the trash (sorry for saying this so bluntly). It is time to clean up. Without a safety net, he might change.

        Hugs to you,
        Sheri McGregor

  13. Heather

    I would love some advice from others who have found a way out of the dark pit depression that pretty much stops life when a child you were extremely close to suddenly ‘turns’.

    I am not able to reconcile the difference between an amazingly close relationship to now being verbally attacked on the few times we talk; the gaslighting, the warped memories.

    I’ve done all the things – offered therapy together, offered to pay for her therapy, she is on my car insurance and uses that as a form of forced proof of love to keep her on it, though I want her off. She uses my grandchild as a weapon (haven’t seen her in 7 months now, other than once for gift giving – because gifts and money are the only way she will respond.

    My life has pretty much come to a standstill; the depression keep me from moving. Literally. My life has become a 6×6 area of living on the couch and peeing. Then I’ll get a happy phone call and feel envigorated, then the just attacks again. It’s to the point I don’t want to continue on. How do I get out of this?

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Heather,

      I’m so very sorry that your daughter has chosen to be so unkind. You really must recognize that you don’t deserveher abuse and then work toward your own healing. If you don’t have my books, get them … and work them. Don’t let someone ungrateful, unkind, and abusive destroy you.

      I think writing this note can be a turning point for you. Enough is enough.

      Take back your life, which is a precious gift to treasure. Invest in yourself now. You deserve your own kind care.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Sharon O.

      I too experienced the same. It’s nothing that I ever expected or ever wanted. Yet it is. At a low moment I recognized that it was sink or swim time for me. I didn’t want to fall into a depression and lose the rest of my family and my own life. So I chose to swim. Every part of my life I dedicated to “making it”. Sheri’s books were the first part of saving my life. Her words just all made sense and when something is True you just know it. Next I started down a path that I long knew I needed to explore but was just to lazy to do….I found a spiritual teacher (not a particular religion). She resides in my home city so I’m blessed to meet with her in person. Her name is Jean Walters and I recommend checking out her books. She helped me so much to understand the bigger picture of life, how to move on, and most importantly how to live, love, and laugh again!
      I also collect inspirational quotes that resonate with me. Often I read them and allow the words to lift me up and remind me that I am enough. You are enough too! Your child has lessons to be learned in their life. No amount of energy on your part will create the change he or she needs. They must do it themselves. In the meantime, you and me have lives to live! Dive deep inside and find your Truth. You can do it!! 😉

    3. Deanna B.

      Oh wow…. I’m in day 10 of FINALLY saying no more my daughter is 30beatiful 5yr old granddaughter. Your description describes mine exactly I feel lost empty and deeply sad, she wasn’t only just verbally abusive she was also physically abusive she would hit me very often and the rage screaming spitting in my face I’m single 57 and lost

      1. rparents Post author

        Dear Deanna, I’m relieved that you said “no more” to abuse. It is disorienting to take a stand but with commitment to what is just for your wellness, with practice, with time, and with support, you will reach a better situation and feelings.

        Hugs to you.

        Sheri McGregor

    4. Connie C.

      Hi Heather, this is me to some extent. I know the hurt and depression you feel. I’m left out of family celebrations, pictures, and social media as if I am dead. I did participate in a mental health program called Bounce Back (in Canada). It has helped me a little to sit down and make a plan of how I will get through the issue at hand and empower myself. Even if our children seem to be taking everything we have away from us, we can control our reactions, it can take time, but we don’t have to rush to react. Try writing some of your issues down and making a list of all of the things you could do to address what is happening and feel better. For me, it’s avoiding my kids’ social media and just focusing on my grandchildren. Best of luck to you!!

    5. Jeannie

      Dear Heather,
      I can’t tell you how much your post has helped me tonight. I went looking for information on my dilemma today and found this site…STUNNED that I am not alone in this. I had no idea.
      But YOUR post is one that I could have written myself…It absolutely validated and described what I knew has been happening , but kept trying to deny, kept thinking it was me or my fault (like my daughter tells me). It’s been so mind-boggling, crazy-making. But I know I feel strengthened to know: her memories ARE warped!! She DOES gaslight me! She preys on my self-doubt, and counts on the fact that I will take the blame. Even when we’ve been together, she accuses me of doing things in that encounter that are just not real. To everything I say, she is dismissive and disdainful. Everything I say is wrong.

      But the biggest hurt is that at one time in her early adulthood, 20’s, she was my best friend. So kind, compassionate. I used to say that as a mother, I lucked out. We used to laugh so hard our stomachs hurt. Then she turned. Our dog died 9 years ago and she couldn’t grieve. She stopped visiting me. She also had a toxic boyfriend who was critical of everything and of course of me. He had a big influence on her.

      It was never the same. Every visit we have- and there are not many- turns into a disaster. I swallow the abuse over and over until I finally end up telling her to leave, crying . “Boo-hoo,” she then says, “you’re such a victim. Grow up..” etc etc.
      I, too, have lived for those rare phone calls or texts that seem friendly and normal. I still pay for her phone. But hope gets dashed quickly.
      I know it hurts and it is hard, but please know that what you wrote was life-saving for me. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It gives me so much strength and validation.
      Come out of the pit!! Please. She doesn’t define you. I will say that, in spite of this sorrow, which I have held in secret shame until now , I have built my life and can feel good. It is why I decided I had to limit our contact because each encounter would set me back and throw me into self-doubt, despair. Like it did yesterday.
      Promise me to do something to make yourself happy tomorrow. An ice cream cone, a pedicure, anything! You’re not alone. And thank you. so much.

  14. Karen C.

    My daughter and I had a tiff on the phone and I said maybe you just don’t want a relationship with me. That was 18 years ago. I was told never to contact her and I made the mistake of sending her an email and she really let me have it. I finally got over the stages of grief of losing her and stopped welling up with the thought of her. I found this website by mistake and wished I had found it earlier but it is helping me now as I have been living with my 48-year-old son who is an alcoholic. He is very successful financially but a very unhappy person. I moved in with him while he was remodeling a guest house on his property that I was to live in. That was 4 years ago as he is such a perfectionist he had to do all the work himself. They say that construction is one of the most stress-inducing things there is. He has now become very surley and verbally abusive. I’m so thankful for the internet and people like Sheri who have helped me find a way to be happy with my life and to figure out ways to cope with unhappy people. I’m glad I have memories of when he loved me and we had a good relationship. I don’t want another estranged child in my life but I guess it could happen.

    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you for sharing your story here. I hope it’ll all work out with the guest house and your son. Regardless, please make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Put your needs on your list. Do little things for yourself to help keep your spirits up. You’re obviously in a tense atmosphere! I’m glad you have those good memories too.

      Big hugs to you, dear Karen.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Karen

      My daughter cut us out of her life a yr ago. We had been told from others for yrs she didn’t like us didn’t want to talk to us. She moved two hrs away to have a relationship with my alcoholic sister. Daughter told us she moved to have relationship with my sister not,me. She said, she couldn’t wait to sell all of our property and put us in nursing home. I have reached out many times met with wall of silence. The depression is staggering. I have cut her out of our estate it all goes to my niece. I have boxed all of daughters pictures up. What do I do with them stick them In a closet or leave them on her door. Some days I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up

  15. Lynne

    My husband and I have a 23 year old college grad who recently told us he disowned the both of us and left to go live with his friends. The irony is that I feel like laughing about this jester. From what I’ve read of the post, I am not alone and I feel both comforted and disturbed. It was obvious from the time he was less than a year old that he was different from his peers. He was stand-offish and not knowing how to interact with the other children. He was not diagnosed with autism spectrum ever. In fact, he seemed more aware of not acting wrongly so as to not embarrass himself. We have a video of him reading a soft book with pictures. My husband filmed it incognito knowing he would not want to be filmed. He was so cute in the video but when he found out he was being taped he got very upset saying, “NO NO NO”! He was 1year and 7 months old. We both thought that was abnormal for that age. Am I wrong?
    While raising him it was a struggle to get him to do any tasks be it minor little tasks. I am not exaggerating when I write that he has never done a task I have asked of him from the get-go. To this day the things that standout are the verbal, mental and emotional abuse along with the fact that I can count on one hand the times he has ever helped to clean the house. Yes, I yelled at him when I couldn’t take it any more. Yes, I did get very frustrated with him. I definitely made mistakes.
    I knew he had social difficulties from the time he was a toddler. That is why we gave him every exposure to the many different activities from sports to theater to art school to musical instruments. I even volunteered as a parent in a classroom while paying for the private pre-school so that I can understand him better. I did things for him that any parent would do to give him a normal socialization and always it wasn’t easy for him.
    He got in to very prestigious university in the East and he seemed happy for once. To be frank, I was constantly on edge as I was used to him finding hyper flaws in every thing and experiences. I figured out that he had a pattern of every 2.5 to 3 weeks he needed to unleash the frustrations he had collected and that meant I was going to be the audience and the target. This pattern repeated from the time he was in high school until he disowned us.
    I broke the pattern of him drawling me in under the guise of him wanting my thoughts on a particular matter hat he wanted to complain about. It then would devolve into him turning on me, pointing out that all was my fault, calling me vile names, accusing me of the abuses that never happened and how I owed him everything he felt he was due. I took his tirades out of guilt and the sense of utter failure. I thought it was what he needed and as a parent I needed to acknowledge his pain. When he told me I had no original thoughts and that I was only a husk, I asked him if he was saying that out of anger or if he actually believed that . He very calmly said that it was his belief. That was the moment I understood I had both given him the validity and the permission to to treat me like the husk he could fill with vile. I realized I had only one purpose in life for him and that was to be his empty vessel to be filled every few weeks with his shit. That was the last day I spoke with him and that was a week before Thanksgiving 2021. I stopped talking to him knowing there was nothing I can contribute to better him not out of revenge.

  16. Vienna

    I am so grateful to all of you and Sheri McGregor!!!
    I have been “not living” for 17 years as a result of my adult daughters estrangement. Sometimes I wake up in the morning sad tht I woke up! The pain is debilitating as well as the thought I was a horrible mother!!!! I loved my two children more than anything and I tried to be a good mother.
    And to think my daughter has found a “new mother!” There are no words to describe that pain…
    Interestingy I have let go of all my siblings and their families because it’s so sad for me to watch the mom’s and kids getting along! I can’t bear that. And most importantly it’s embarrassing because I feel like a failure as a mother …. Aww it’s so sad …..
    AND THEN the most amazing thing happened…. I was doing some research lol and I stumbled upon Sheri McGregor!! Yesterday actually… I have to tell you something … I spent yesterday crying… IM NOT ALONE! I’m certainly not happy under the circumstances tht we meet, however I am beyond joyful I’m ok. . Knowing I’m not the only one has allowed me to say.. “DONE WITH THE CRYING”.. I am getting old now and I want my trimester lol to be beautiful and peaceful. I am exhausted!!!
    Thank you everybody for coming forward and telling your stories… I give myself permission to enjoy my life now!! Wen I fall I will gently remind myself “everything is ok” and I wish only the best for my two adult children!

    1. JanPhyllis

      My gratitude for Sheri, the rejected parents site and everyone who writes their stories…….THANK YOU!
      The difference everyone has made in my estrangement from another son is POSITIVE!!!
      I am in the unfortunate position of being the outsider, the estranged one? My husband is the accepted one! He will NOT
      Stand beside me, unacceptable to me after 53 yrs of marriage!!!!! It has 100% changed my
      Feelings for him!!! The outside of me to him is just maybe
      Close to before his betrayal but inside I feel nothing…..
      only emptiness!!! Betrayal!!!!
      Being handicapped it is a difficult situation? But I will survive!!! Some set backs occasionally but I will survive, especially with all you wonderful people and of Sheri!
      This situation has also increased my faith and prayer sessions with our Lord and Holy Mother!! Something else that keeps me moving forward!!!
      With all this help I feel very fortunate and again thankful!!!!

  17. Christy

    Your stories are so similar to mine. ES has been so explosive since his teens I told him to leave. His father my ex had to put him up in one of his rental houses.
    I copped abuse from his father and no way was I taking it ftom the son. His father was so abusive to all of us and in the end we escaped ftom him after fearing for our lives.
    My beautiful husband and I are banned from their lives and as others…have experienced lies have been posted on FB..
    It’s his way or the highway and after a number of estrangements from him we are done. No way will we bow down to his bullying ways anymore.
    I guess facing up to what kind of person he is has helped us to move on. There’s been other incidents which have been very worrying to us but walking on eggshells was the only way to cope with him. Bit it’s over now.
    As Sheris book title says we are Done With The Crying.
    Our peace of mind and life which my husband and myself have to come first.
    We will always love him and our grandchildren and hope they will find us one day. We know they love us.
    My ES on the other hand will never reconcile with us. He is so ruthless and it’s probably for the best as we don’t trust him any more.
    Sorry if my words seem harsh but the pain has been intense and now we are taking our lives back and moving on.
    Blessings to everything going through this. I hear you. Xxx

    1. Sally

      Hi Christy,

      I could almost have written your comment! My experiences are so similar.

      Especially the abusive ex. There is no question in my mind that the toxic other parent has created the template for the shocking behaviour of our children. It’s very sad that when we escaped domestic abuse it followed us in the form of our children.

      However, I take strength in this. As we once escaped abusive men for our safety we now have tp protect ourselves from similar behaviour from their
      children. It’s the only healthy way forward. You are not harsh at all just clear sighted and smart
      Go well sister,
      with respect Sally

    2. Debbie

      I just found this site thru pure desperation..
      Thinking of all the ways I could cope I had not one.
      I haven’t spoke to my youngest daughter , she 35 , for a year. We had her 5 yr old twins
      Thru Dcf. She blamed us. Now it’s pay back time and she is witholing the twins from us to punish us, but she is punishing them., we have spent half their lives caring for them in our home. And now I just can’t stop crying. I’m going to let you finish the rest as it’s too upsetting and raw to talk about it. Thank you

  18. Beth

    I have a question for all those parents in the same situation as me. What do you do – if anything – about a daughter in law who has no qualms in telling your own children that she can’t stand you? My son has been married to her for 20 years, they have 2 children kept at arm’s length from me and my husband throughout their lives, never invited to birthday parties and even told by my son that we cannot come because I would ‘cause an atmosphere’. Over all this time she has been alternately ‘friendly’ when it suited or disrespectful (which is most of the time). My son has been using drugs and once tried to commit suicide, he is no longer the son I knew. The current situation is that my son and daughter in law are no longer talking to us. She is done with us apparently, but that doesn’t stop her bad mouthing me to my other children (two daughters) when she gets the chance. My elder daughter, thank God, will have none of it, having been cut off by my son and his wife for 5 years but now daughter in law is all friendly. My younger daughter has always been friendly with DIL and I feel that part of her actually listens and takes on board what DIL says, certainly her attitude to me has changed since we learned of my son’s addiction and the subsequent cutting off of me and my husband. I need to know whether I should try and do anything about this or simply absorb it as I have done everything else over the years. I must admit that it hurt to learn she ‘can’t stand me’, though it explains a lot about her behaviour, but the real hurt is that she thinks she can use those words to my own children and not expect to be challenged.

    1. Gene

      Beth…Very similar circumstances for my entire family in regards to a manipulative and hateful DIL. As long as your son is content to lead the life in which he finds himself, there’s nothing to be done. If you try to “fix” the ongoing situation you will likely only make it worse as he’s already made up his mind that she makes all of the decisions in their marriage. As long as your son knows that he is loved unconditionally by his extended family the situation that you and I find ourselves involved in will change someday. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next year. Maybe in 5 years. But it will change. Hang in there.

    2. Sophie

      Tell her you’ll do what grandparents do. Just show up with presents in a room full of people. If she continues to smear you take her to court. See how she reacts. Tell your son to grow a pair. I’m so sick of what I read here. Time we stood up to these spiteful so called adults.

  19. Sonia

    Well, this is truly an odd comfort to be in such company of parents, Moms. I thought & felt the exact same things. I have a very capable, left-brained daughter very successful in the world. Our visits have been me flying to see her and while there I walk on eggshells. She’s said she wants directness not my drivel. So I try to speak short to the point sentences. Those are then judged as stupid & weak points nothing to do with the issue at hand. We are polar opposite in personality and chosen lifestyles. I was proud of her opposite strengths and wow has she done well for herself. But her personal failures & difficulties some how end up my fault. She has recently told me that she has to drink in order to make a phone call to me or to take endure on from me?! That cut like nothing I have ever experienced. I have tried like the rest of the moms herein to email, text or call to start a conversation to reconcile or mend fences. She turns it down or off as she tells me some people just cannot be fixed. That if I really loved her then I would know what she needs, like her father does. He dropped her & her brother at 11 yrs old and then popped back in to her life at about 22…she is now 31. I am the reason her marriage failed, I am the parent that has never been there for her. Me? I love my daughter but I cannot sacrifice my mental well being or emotional health anymore to her guilt and flawed recollections. I have to be a mind reader now? Know what she needs without being told what the need is? I am growing older. I am tired. Embarrassed and ashamed to tell anyone of the words said to me as a mother. And I often told myself ‘Look see, she is the evidence of the kind of mothering you did.” That reality hurts that I produced such a person? But why is it that I am expected to take credit for all choices that did not turn out so well for her but I don’t get the credit for the successes she has made? I get full credit for all the immature, inabilities, bad choices and failures in her life but no credit for the successes – well isn’t that convenient. My heart hurts, my mind hurts, my body aches as well. This type of pain I would wish on no parent, ever. Tears do not wash away their mean words. I am told not to defend myself that one day she will see. I am told to defend myself or she will not ever learn to respect me – that this is why she is so mean to me…I am at a loss.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Sonia,

      I’m so very sorry that your daughter has made these choices and is vicious toward you. Take care of your health. Emotional pain really does hurt physically….

      Isn’t it convenient for your successful daughter to blame you for her drinking and various failures?! Must be “nice” to have a scapegoat so you don’t have to look in the mirror and see yourself and your faults.

      Give yourself credit where credit is due. Right now, shift to your own life and satisfaction and happiness and meaning. No one has the right to revise history and hurt another (maybe especially a loving parent). Give her a break. You’ll be giving yourself one too.

      No need to make any announcements about it. She would likely find a way to twist it anyway.

      Don’t worry about the future right now with her. Just worry about yourself. You deserve your own kind care. If you don’t have my books, get Done With The Crying. There’s a second one but I recommend the first one first.

      Hugs to you dear Sonia. What will you do with your saved air fare?
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Su

      With an angry grown child nothing you say will be the right thing to say.

      If I even open my mouth to respond to anything that is being thrown at me..I am ” being defensive’. You are right, it is a no win situation. It is a lose-lose situation for all of us.

      Although I am happily single and have been for most of my life, when I read about the Mom’s with estranged children but with a great first or second supportive husband I do always feel a twinge of envy. How I wish I had someone to help me pick up the prices after having some abuse hurled at me from my 43 year old son…abuse that has never ended since he was 23 years old, abuse that is fortified by..you guessed it..a daughter in law who has asked that I never speak to her again and a son who is in lock step with his hateful wife.

    3. Sarah

      Some of what you’re sharing sounds a little like my daughter. I have had the feeling of being set up, being tricked. Some of her communications are not in good faith.

      Every communication we have as people has a purpose. I sometimes think our adult child’s purpose is not in good faith. It goes beyond blame. It can become bullying and gaslighting. We have to be on our game and call out lies, not in self-defense, but almost to take the offense. These aren’t children. They are adult children. I have sometimes thought (in my strongest moments), okay daughter, you want to play hardball? Buckle up. Two can play. By that I mean outright asking: what is the purpose of this conversation? Venting or problem solving? And if the conversation gets rude, we’ll have to resume it after cooling off.

      There is no reason we should allow another adult to be so disrespectful. It serves no purpose.

    4. Shannon D.

      If you wouldn’t let a stranger treat you that way, you sure as hell should never accept that from a child to whom you gave your all. This is about an imbalance of POWER in the relationship. Tell her she is an ungrateful brat and that you will not accept anything but respectful behavior. PERIOD. Then move on. I have come to terms with the fact that I AM NOT repsonsible for the adult my son has chosen to be. Each of us on this planet is responsible for the choices we make and for making ourselves happy. We raise our young children, but they do NOT belong to us nor are they a part of us. We are the vehicle that they pass through on their journey. God puts each of us here for a reason. We are unique individuals. YOU KNOW you were loving, kind, and caring to this person. You chose to do that and what a wonderful person you are. She is making horrible life choices right now. Take your power back and ignore her. The best revenge is a life well-lived. Go see people who appreciate you and are glad to see you come through the front door. Go make friends. It does hurt when we expect certain things to be a certain way, but life is always full of surprises both good and bad. Take care of you. Go do things you like. Stay away from her and let the burden lift off your shoulders. You are a special and important person and do not deserve abuse of any kind. Hurt people hurt people. When she she’s she has no power over you to hurt you things may change. OR maybe they won’t. Maybe she has narcissistic personality disorder. In that case, not much you can do. Whatever happens, you are not the cause of the choices a grown person makes. God commands us to honor our mother and father. She will have to expain herself one day. Hope she decides to turn it around. Take care of you.

      1. Sally M.

        Oh my goodness!! This is the best response I have ever heard!!! Thank you so much!!! My 37 year old daughter was gang raped when she was 20. She was also sexually abused when she was a child. She has 4 little girls age 6,4,2, and 9 months. All of a sudden she has started mistreating me and calling me MOTHERRRR that sounds like Darth Vader or that she is possessed. She has told me that I traumatized her and made her shake. She has told me that I have issues and doesn’t know how to help me. She has told me that we can never have a mother daughter relationship. She yells at me and tells me I am rolling my eyes at her. She is gaslighting me. I have cried and cried. My husband (her dad) does not really get what she is up to but has told me that he is on my side. I have broken my leg and when she came and brought her girls from 5 hours away to visit, she didn’t even ask how I was doing. It is weird and I wonder if she has some kind of personality disorder. I have let her take out her anger on me since she was gang raped 17 years ago. I was a good mother. I love her. All I ever wanted was to be a mother and was elated when she was born. There’s much more to this story, but I would be here forever trying to tell it. I am just thankful for this site. I was beginning to think I was crazy. I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with her yet…..Wish I could tell you everything she has done to me, and all I have done for her. I was there to help her for all four births of her babies. She just treats me like dirt. This new thing that we can’t have a mother daughter relationship because I have issues is really hard and crazy making for me. Thank you again!!!

  20. Elisabeth

    I feel such shame and remorse and guilt for leaving my teenage sons behind with the father when I separated from him after twenty-five years of marriage. He was not willing to go to counseling or to take blame for his part of our failed marriage. I felt taken advantage of, ridiculed, and disrespected by my husband and my older son. When I left them all behind, I needed a break and time to get my life in order before taking on the responsibility of my two strong-willed sons again. The first year separated from them was messy, chaotic, and painful for them and for me, but I did try to visit with them, but their hearts were broken, and anger and bitterness took root. Year after year we all had our ups and downs with visitations, holidays, birthdays, and getting used to living away from each other. Now, my older son and his wife have completely alienated me and deny me the joy of seeing my grandchildren. My younger son still stays in touch occasionally, and I’m thankful for that. But I miss my older son and his family terribly. I think my daughter-in-law and my bitter ex-husband poisoned my son’s mind or rubbed off on him. Up until a few years ago, we had a good relationship. I take responsibility for hurting them all and wish things could have been different for all of us. But, now it’s been several years and I fear that I will not see my older son and grandchildren again. No matter how much I cry and say I am sorry and beg for forgiveness and ask for a conversation to try to reconcile, my texts, emails, and phone calls are met with silence. Karma?

    1. Elizabeth

      I’m in a similar situation. Took my then 13 year old daughter from my mentally abusive husband of 20 years because he started blaming her for our problems. I could take the abuse, but once he attacked my daughter, I was gone. My son was 5 months away from graduating. I thought for sure once he did, he’d come with me. He didn’t. Now I’m to blame for everything. Kids in their 30’s and now daddy is the good guy going through a second divorce and they feel sorry for him. I cry every day. I’ve said I was sorry as well. Taking antidepressants and will talk to my doctor tomorrow. My faith in Jesus is the ONLY thing besides wanting to be with my grandchildren holding me together. I will pray for you.

    2. JanPhyllis

      We are calling our offspring adult children!!!! Nope they are not children after 18 yrs of age, and they are most certainly not adults!!!!!!!

  21. Misty

    I’m in this situation now. I’m 44 and my daughter is almost 21. Her father mentally and emotionally abused me for 17 years. We’ve been divorced for 10 and he never makes time for her. I’m not a perfect parent, I was sexually abused when I was a child and have been diagnosed with complex PTSD. I’m in therapy every week, working on myself but my daughter hates me. I do everything for her and she accuses me of gaslighting her. I’m really starting to question everything about myself because nothing I do is right. Her stepdad loves her as if she were his and they have a really good relationship but lately she’s been avoiding him. She literally takes everything out on me. It’s really hard because I have no one but her. My mother and father are still alive but I have no relationship with either. I just want to run away…

  22. Kimberly

    My daughter started verbally abusing me when she was about 14. Her step-dad to whom I was married to at the time encouraged her behavior. I was abused both physically and mentally as a child and she even used this against me one day when I tried to talk to her about her obvious anger and disrespect towards me. She actually mocked the whole situation and what had happened to me. This has all affected me in a horrible way, where I feel like I have to justify my actions in every way. My son and I have always had a very strong bond, but about 4 years ago, he also started this disrespectful behavior towards me. Whenever I try to confront him about it, he of course does not see that he is being abusive in any way and blames me, or says I’m exaggerating the situation. We live together and he has left several times just to move back again. The last time he left, I was doing super good. I had money to spend and didn’t have to feel guilty every time I bought something for myself. I came and went as I pleased and I was really enjoying being by myself. Once again. He called telling me he was sorry for the way he treated me and I let him come home. Actually I drove from Florida to Texas to get him. At first it was great. Then, slowly he started slipping into his bad habits. And when he wants his behavior to be accepted. He calls his sister. So they both gang up on me. Since he’s moved in. I struggle with money since he’s been back. I feel trapped.. He recently took my vehicle and stayed gone without telling me where he was even though I had the day off and had plans of my own.. Anyways, during a last argument we had, I told him that he could move out if things were so bad with me and he said we were roommates and that since he didn’t change his address he didn’t have to move out. He and my daughter act so much like their stepfather and their biological father in the way they abuse me. I want to say that they are sociopathic narcissists. But it sounds so cold for a mother to say such a thing. I never wanted to move to Florida in the first place. With rent so high, I can’t afford to move. I just feel stuck. I have no family that I can count on and I feel embarrassed to tell my friends what is going on. I keep asking myself if it really is my fault. I honestly don’t know what to do at this point.

    1. rparents Post author

      No. They’re bad behavior is not your fault. You do not deserve abuse. Shake off the soot of the abuse and see yourself for who you are: a good person, a caring mother who has hoped for good and whose kindness has been exploited..

      Hugs to you dear, Kimberly.

      Sheri McGregor

  23. Gina A.

    Hello all, So grateful to have found the site! I have two sons and three daughters. Their father left us and was a crack cocaine addict. I did try very hard to be a good parent, raised my children in church, always listened to their problems, and talk to them a lot, taught them mini life skills, and left them as hard as I could. I was not perfect. My oldest son rejected me several years back, route me several emails and there were phone calls with him telling me I was not a good mother, and that I was scarred from losing my mother as a child. I attempted, As well as one of his sisters did, to reconcile and help him in anyway we could. At this time he had isolated himself in a cabin in the woods, no car no money. Was very sad and I could see that he was hurting terribly but was also afraid of approaching him. One day a sheriff came to my door and gave me the news every mother and father dread, he had killed him self. Now my younger son currently 31 years old, is and has been a drug addict for about 10 years, and occasionally abuses me verbally, then becomes this ““ nice guy“ when he need something. If I tell him no, he rages and threatens. A couple of weeks ago he called me and told me that he thought I needed to die and he was going to make sure it happened. He said I was a Satanist like him and belonged in hell like he was going to hell. I could hear him speaking in the background to other people and asking if one of them had the gun, and where are the keys to the car. I knew he had friends that could drive him because he had showed up at my house a week prior demanding to get in and get his things. Also, I discovered he very well may live within A satanic church recovery group. (They exist google it) I immediately called the sheriffs department after this phone call and they are now trolling my neighborhood throughout the days, and a friend sheriff is trolling it at night. I refuse to live in fear, and I’m seeking help from others who have been in similar situations mostly for comfort but also for direction. Right now there are two things I know about this kind of situation. One – when your adult children depend on you past the age of adulthood, they still need you and you help them anyway you can, they grow to resent this. I believe it is stronger in boys. This has led to many problems in my relationship with my sense. Two-when you draw a strong boundary as I have and have told my son that I have, as in you’re not allowed to come into my home you are not allowed to be near my family you are not allowed to meet your precious one year old nephew. This also creates extreme anger and a desire for retaliation.

    I’m eager to read this book and so grateful for this site!

    Gina A

  24. Stephanie J.

    I’ve been cut out again. My god this hurts! My oldest son did it 5 years ago now. And now my daughter. But, I did recognize the abuses that were pretty much the same as what my son had done years ago. The twisted memories were a shock and exact words used against me in an argument with my ex husband 20 years before, almost word for word! I was shocked as I took this trip down memory lane! The name calling and deliberate attempts to tear me down were exactly the same. I, of course, tried to argue back that things weren’t the way she was remembering, but I now realize that I cannot argue, that her perceptions were hers, as twisted as they are. With my daughter this cycle has happened time and again over the course of fifteen years. My oldest son was out of the blue and something I never saw coming as I was trying to reestablish a strong relationship for the sake of my granddaughter who had cancer at the time. Thank god she recovered so maybe I can still see her when she grows up.
    I think it’s interesting how the rules of engagement keep changing with these kids. He/she sets a rule, then when you show a willingness to comply, the rule gets changed thereby making it harder to comply. Thieve rules could be what to say, how to say things or whether they will travel or you, you never know when you’ve broken the “rule” until it’s already happened because it was never actually told to you. You end up frustrated and completely bewildered as to how you got from point A to B!

    1. Ann

      I agree. I cannot keep up with the changes. First come with us then don’t have expectations. I am not allowed to call because she’s very busy. So I never call. I was injured and did not call and told I should have called. I was told to bring my dog then reprimanded because I brought the dog. I feel that my daughter is constantly searching for ways to criticize and when there are no reasons she invents them.

  25. Maria-Therese T.

    I feel so sad that so many of us mothers are going through so much similar things! I have been estranged from both daughters and a highly abusive son for 4 years now. I have learnt that their drug abuse and abuse of me will never end without professional help which they will never take. I have also read Sheri’s book ‘Done with the Crying’ so many times which has helped when I can’t cope with the loss. We all did our Best we really did! We can’t change anyone not even our Adult children. If they refuse to accept accountability for their actions and behaviours then we have to take very good care of ourselves now. Its been hell, and if I am honest I would never want to experience that hell again. Enough is enough. I would like to give every mum here a massive hug!! Please give yourself the love, care and respect you deserve. Love and hugs to everyone xx

  26. michelle

    Hi there:

    I am shocked to find out my daughters say myself and their step dad were/ are emotional abusive. We did our best as parents, and sheltered them from when their father just didnt bother to show up for visitation.
    I always told them they could do anything, be anything with dedication and hard work. I really though we had great relationships. That we could talk about anything. Im appalled and hurt at this new revelation. I have only ever wanted them to be successful and happy and feel a part of t heir life. for the past 2 years, they ignore my texts, avoid my calls, and do anything it seems not to be around me. its hurtful and I feel like I cant even say anything as it would be misconstrued as manipulative, abusive or I am playing a victim. Im confused, hurt and honestly I do feel like a fool and a failure.

    1. Sally

      I just read a post that my adult daughter put on FB trying to help her friend going through a divorce by creating a go fund me on fb. In this she went on to say she was abused and that het mother was a narcissist. Those accusations are totally not true but have been reinforced by an alcoholic father that was not around until late teens filling her head with twisted memories. I was extremely hurt at first but now just numb to the whole thing.

  27. Kath

    I am sorry really sorry to read all of the above… 8 read some and wanted to sat just stop giving in say get out leave me alone… But I also have a problem that I am guilt maternal ridden about. I have a Son who has spent the last 20years ignoring me..won’t answer the phone ever… . Each of his past girl friends practically did the same… He’s borrowed 40 thousand off my mortgage.. Said I could have it back the year after as he was into financial house stuff… But the job ended… He couldn’t give the money back… He took over my mortgage payments and his 40k..My mortgage was, only 17 k… . When I asked to see the papers I found out he had put me on a payment of £200 a month… And he was on zero pay back… Basically I was paying the lot… So that was, a lie… I sold the house made a profit and payed his 40k off… No thanks Mum… Its, set me back on being broke and the house chouce I can’t live in now… He’s with me again at the mo while he saves for a deposit… So I’m NOT taking rent from him… He’s has, a beautiful room, he goes to work, comes back and drinks God knows how many cans of strong beer and smokes I think pot… Sudennly he began to become dominant… The dog needs to behave… The paperwork is still on the table… Now its full on you ruined my life you donr care your poison… You name it he has, said it… My Darling Brother has just died and I am dealing with this grief but he is still relentless. I do not know what to do… This morning I told him very angrily as I have had enough that he’s totaly disrespectful and ungrateful and that hasnt even answered his phone for years… Only when he wanted something… I’m wondering if what he’s smoking is causing his change in personality.. As the ferst week or two he was lovely? I hate upsetting my Son by fighting back… But I can’t live like this he’s so abusive… All I said the other day was what would you like for dinner Darling and that was it…

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Kath,

      It’s an awful picture you have painted here. An aging mother. An inebriated, loudmouth son (who’s a grown man). It’s very difficult when you want to help. As you have described though, he has supposedly been saving money. Perhaps it’s best that he use some and get his own place. It is not right for a man to abuse his mother’s kindness and generosity. It is not right for a son to abuse his mother. It is not right to abuse.

      Sheri McGregor

  28. Liz

    My only son, who I raised without any help from his father has been a problem child. He was ADH and was put on medicine. Although he was very smart and did well in school I know now there was something very wrong. He got into alcohol and drugs and almost killed himself when he got off the heroin and crack. For five years I did not hear from him and I went on with my life. Then he contacted me and I again opened my heart and soul up to him. Because of his mental illness he gets involved with very bazar relationships. From what I understand he has abused every woman he becomes involved with, physically, emotionally and sexually. He lost a very good job because of his insanity and began living with me. We bought a house together and for ten years he only worked part time jobs. As I previously said he becomes involved with seedy people, because he has no self esteem. I worked and did not know what was happening until it was too late. At first the relationship was with the neighbor’s mother and gradually the mother pushed him into a relationship with her mentally ill drug addict daughter who is so crazy she can only have supervised visitation with her kids, which are both in special education programs due to her drug use while she was pregnant. My son finally secured another good job. These people began taking over his life and his pocketbook. Completely brainwashed him and got him to sign all his benefits over to them and then tried to get the house which we co owned. They even tried to forge the house title. When I tried to get him to see that he was being used he moved into a rooming house. He now works three jobs and supports this woman’s drug addiction. I have not heard from him for over a year but every so often this woman sends me a harassing email stating “I may be a pig, but your son loves me”. I guess she wants me to know she is still in control. I have taken everything out of his name. I wanted to sell the house but he will not sign unless I pay off the loan he took on the house and give him half the money from the sale. I refuse to give him a few more $100’s to squander on this “PIG”. Because of the mental illness and his fear that I will 302 him he stays away from our home. He has anger management issues and has threatened me. The shrinks said he can not be around me. When I recently cleaned out his room I found Satanic things, guns and knives. I guess I have been in denial as I never thought he would hurt me. It is very stressful and it hurts, especially around the holidays and when I see him and he drops his eyes. I know unless he goes back into treatment and takes the medicine nothing will change, however he feels nothing is wrong with him. These people have him convinced that I am a terrible mother and everything wrong in his life is my fault. I do not know what more I could have done for him I sent to the best schools, paid for college, bought him cars and paid all his expenses for years. I am so afraid that he will marry this woman and wind up loosing everything.

  29. Dolores F.

    I have held off going with my turning point plans because my abusive adult daughter is also a psychiatric NP and a good one as an adolescent specialist, also is a long time faithful member of AA. One on one with her is “civil” but when others are involved the put downs begin. I am a retired registered nurse who went back to work to help put her through private school and graduate school. As a widow with health issues we worked out a “business” deal that seemed sensible, at the time for me to sell my modest home and build a “place for Mom” on her property along with a pending divorce. Much more to the story…holding on to the hope as a medical professional she will change. Any advice appreciated ASAP.

  30. Carolyn

    And because it’s a controversial subject, they’ve been afraid to tell anyone for fear of judgment. Or, as is often the case, they’re keeping quiet to protect their adult child’s reputation.
    “If I raised this person who turned out to be so cruel, then how could I be a successful mother?” she asks. “My daughter had reminded me what a failure I was every chance she got.”
    Sheri’s words describe my thoughts and fears and feelings of failure and guilt, and I am very appreciative to hear the words from someone else and to know I’m not alone even though I would not wish this situation on anyone else. This month will be the first year I have not sent a birthday card and check to my son, and it’s very difficult. I have been sending cards and checks for birthdays and Christmas and getting no response. The lack of response I can deal with, but the berating in between has become too much. I think this year I can let it go. I hope.

  31. Cherise

    I am so thankful I found this article! I have dealt with my now adult daughter being abusive and volatile for years. I have lost relationships with a large number of my family and friends because of the lies she has told. Even innocent trips to the mall or going to coffee are twisted to fit the narrative she wants for the person she is talking to. Things escalated yesterday, when I went to see her after six months of estrangement. She had told the woman she was living with some horrible lies about our past. This was not shocking considering ur past but then this woman became volatile and explosive, call me a child abuser and thrown me out of her home. This took place in front of her three grandchildren and my three young children. It is absolutely devastating to know that others are going through this, but I take comfort in knowing I am not alone. The shame and guilt over this is indescribable. While my daughter does suffer from multiple psychiatric conditions, there is no excuse for the behavior. The hell she has put so many people through is mind blowing and I fear what will happen next.

    1. Sally

      I have been there, it is so painful.They will force you in a situation where they have told lies about you and then those persons will look at you with disdain and hateful looks and all the time you are unaware why you are being given an evil look for no reason.

  32. Michelle


    My mother is deeply fearful of losing her adult children. It has not happened yet and I tell her as often as it comes up that she will not lose me – I can’t speak for my brother. What I find is that she is fearful of engaging in the family drama for fear of losing one of us. I find my brother and his wife do not respect her decisions and do what they want in her house, including bullying her guests and acting entitled. I asked her to consider talking with someone to help her through. It hurts to see what was at one point in time a beautiful, strong, powerful woman become so fearful, lose her confidence, and question what she wants out of life for fear of being alone. Not sure if you have addressed this before. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

  33. Sherry S.

    My son cut me out of his life in November 2019. It came out of no where and he did it through multiple texts. It got so ugly and nasty that I was concerned he had had a psychotic break. I asked to see him so we could talk it through, and he said that would be a very bad idea. He verbally attacked my husband (his stepdad) and accused him of all sorts of deviant behaviour. Since then (it is now September 2020), he has left nasty voice messages, even though I have his number blocked. He reached out in an email saying he wanted to talk with me, but he would have nothing to do with his stepdad. I tried to make him see that his treatment of my husband was unfounded, and then he blew up at me again. Months later he reached out to my mother, and arranged to have lunch with her. She said they had a wonderful talk, and went for a lovely walk in the public gardens. He told her he felt remorseful and wanted to smooth things over with both me and my husband. I felt hopeful. Yesterday I got an email of twisting the truth about what happened and he ended the email with ” You deserve no apology. You deserve a gun in your mouth.” I am broken. It has been a long, hard journey with this child. We have seen him through 5 years of drug abuse. I just don’t know what the next step should be.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Sherry, You have seen him through a lot and he continues to abuse you verbally and twist the truth. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to give yourself the loving and kind care you have always afforded him. Take steps to be involved in your own life, and let him figure things out in his. You can love him but refuse to put up with abuse. Being someone’s mother does not mean being someone’s rug.

      Hugs to you, Sherry. You’re not alone.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Deborah

      Sherry I am so sorry and I do feel your pain. My situation is similar, supporting our son through drug addiction only to be then blamed for it., and blamed for everything else in his life …. Abusive texts and emails … in the end I decided to cease contact with him, very very hard to do, especially Christmas and birthdays. It has eased slightly and my anxiety lessoned, he does contact if he needs something but I keep it brief. I dread seeing his name on an email or text and wish I could control the fear. I keep thinking he can’t be like this forever (he’s 33). For me, less contact or no contact is the way until he figures everything out for himself ..

    3. zlamana

      Just a quick note- I feel your pain. My firstborn started acting out in high school. At this time, he crashed his first car and did not show any remorse. The first two years of college were a disaster – after spending most of his ” school money,” my kid returned home with a gallery of fancy alcohol bottles ( because they were his memories).
      Then it was military ( very short-lived – court-martial and a lot of money to defend him ). He crashed his second car ( both paid for by my husband and me). Instead of coming home, he stayed in “the big city” and got a job as a bartender in several clubs and casinos. He drank and took everything and anything. He often called me, and quite frankly, I was happy because I knew he is at least alive.
      Over time more drinking – he lost all the right jobs. Traveled to another city for some bartender event – got drunk ( high?), hit a policeman – was thrown in jail (more money to get him out ). He stopped paying his rent and asked me for money… ( and got it). Well, he did not pay rent and subsequently was evicted. ( I have no idea what had happened with all his possessions). In January, he met a girl who is also a bartender and moved in with her into the apartment. After six weeks, he moved again to a house that belongs to the mother of the girlfriend. I was told that the girlfriend is estranged from her parents, and the father is currently in jail. After my son started living with his girlfriend and mother, he became very verbally and emotionally abusive. He was asking for the money from his school fund (which is a long time gone ). He was telling me to start selling stuff because he is reinventing himself, etc., etc.
      What else ?- he was calling and referring to the events that never had a place ( Like, for example-story about me and him smoking pot in front of the house and having a good time). He recently called and told me that I am just high, and I am probably doing cocaine…
      Well… My husband and I are very straight – I never had in my life smoked one joint. ( I do not know how marijuana tastes like) . I have never tried any other drug. ( two beers at the time or two glasses of wine is an extension of my intoxication.
      There is also some religious / nationality related team that was recently brought up. ( I came from another country ) . After my son met the girl, he asked/told me to apologize to the girl because ” people of my nationality” abused the people of her nationality.
      I know I am vague here – but I do not want to go into details right now.
      Now – we are not talking.

    4. Rebecca S.

      OMGosh Sherry, I’m so sorry to see what your son said to you. My 43 year old ED told me that she would come to my Apt. and punch me in my f@@King throat if I ever called her honey again. (I called her honey in a text) I regret that I texted her on Jan 2, 2021 and asked if we could patch things up and start this year off right…she went right into it again and called me all kinds of name. Telling me what a horses@@t mother i was and am. Why do I keep going back for more. I’m done. Wrote her out of my will and am going to go on with my life. (she also got one of my other daughters to reject me.) Beyond done. At least I have two other children that seem to like me, but, I’m waiting for the other shoes to drop. So done! God bless you Sherry.

  34. Val

    My daughter in law bullied me for 11 years-then forced my son to ‘dump’ me-over 4 years ago.-all I heard from her-was DUMP DUMP DUMP- She bragged about ‘dumping’ her own father-saying it was a ‘challenge’= even ‘fun’-she said-then would tell me how i will be ‘DUMPED’-and that it ‘will hurt’ she put me in double bind situation-and i did what she wanted-when she blackmailed me I still-got ‘dumped’ anyway-SHE ACTUALLY MADE AN EVENT OUT OF IT-smiling, happy-she was enjoying the pain she was-and still is-causing me.I am ADHD-so to her-that makes me an easy target-low self esteem to begin with-i found out i have a heart problem-a bad one-but instead of helping-I was kicked when i was down. Her manipulation and all the lies she said about me-alienated me from my whole family-I thought they would-at least one of them-be behind me-they know-and believe that shes lying about me-shes a overt BULLY- who brags about the fact that she was the meanest of the mean-in high school-and how fun it wos-when she hurt others.Then my son began bullying me too-and I was ‘dumped’.[her exact words] I cant stop crying-still 4 years later. im devastated-havent seen my grandkids-for years.People seem to believe-that its no big deal-but to me-my lfe-is over-and has been for over 4 years. i have nobody now.

    1. Linda

      I have experienced similar situations in my life and I have asked my self why? Do the stars have something to do with it? Was I born during a bad time in the galaxy: one bad thing after another happening and the effect it has on me. It is amazing the sadness and the tears and how it takes over my life. What I have learned is that the person (s) causing my pain is winning if I allow that person (s) to do so … At some point you have to understand that it will not change, you will not win, you will not get what you want and you have to, value your life, the human being you are and move on. I am old and the conclusions I have come to are: you have to learn to roll, you have to learn to pick your battles, and you have to take care of yourself. It is not easy and there will be days when you will fail but pick yourself up and try again.

    2. Cheryl S.

      You have yourself! Pick yourself up and move on! Find things in the world that make you happy and do them. Go on vacations. You didn’t mention if you we were married, but if you are do fun things together. Do not let someone like that take your life away. If you are not married, go on line and start dating! You might just find a family who will love and respect you and you can start to heal, and feel wanted and needed again.


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