When your adult child rejects you: First steps to getting past anger

First Steps to Getting Past Anger
When Your Adult Child Rejects You

by Sheri McGregor

when your adult child rejects youDevastated parents who have been estranged by adult children experience a multitude of emotions. Particularly for moms, anger is one of the most difficult feelings to understand, accept, and move beyond.

As occurs in many of the situations parents have related to me, one mother, Doreen*, recently told me that her estranged adult son refuses to explain why he has rejected her. He won’t work toward reconciliation either. Doreen is normally a calm, pragmatic individual. She says other people often turn to her for advice. Suddenly, she feels powerless.

“I can accept that I’m sad,” Doreen said. “When your adult child rejects you, sadness is normal. But I’m angry, too. And that feeling took me by surprise.” She expressed what she called “rage,” toward her adult son who has treated her with indifference for several years. Over the last six months, he completely estranged himself. Doreen is hurting, and experiencing anger she doesn’t know how to handle.

“I want revenge,” Doreen admitted. “And I hate myself for feeling that way.”

Doreen’s emotions are similar to those of other parents’ who express their anger then harshly judge themselves. We often associate feelings like rage and revenge with violence, so experiencing those feelings can be scary, and may seem as if we’re losing control. Doreen put it this way: “What kind of person have I become?”

Obviously, anger is an important topic. In some situations, anger leads to violence. Displaced anger can cause people to act in ways that damage other relationships, or are unhealthy to themselves. We might find ourselves yelling at the dog, slamming a door, drinking more alcohol, or snapping at somebody close to us. While the many aspects of anger are important to be aware of and examine, this article speaks only to better understanding our feelings about our anger, and looks at first steps to dealing with the emotion.

When your adult child rejects you: Why is anger so troubling?

For most of us, expressing anger was never encouraged. In childhood, an angry outburst may have resulted in a time-out. We may have been sent to our room, asked to sit in a corner, or told to control ourselves. Rather than being taught ways to channel anger, and express it safely and productively, we may have been taught to repress anger. As a result, in adulthood, feeling anger can be uncomfortable – – particularly toward our own child. This may be especially true for women, who may have been told to “be nice,” or that expressions of anger weren’t “ladylike.”

When your adult child rejects you: Understanding your anger

If you’re angry over your estranged adult child’s rejection, recognize that you’re not alone. When your adult child rejects you, one reason for your anger may be a sense of powerlessness. Many of us have tried to understand our grown sons’ or daughters’ actions. We repeatedly reach out, attempt to reconcile, and get nowhere. Years may pass. We get tired. We’re still hurting. And we’re weary of lying awake at night, our minds running an endless loop: What was it I did? What can I do now? How can I make this right? With no real answers, no satisfaction for our efforts, and no end to the emotional torture in sight, anger builds.

How we perceive the reason for the rejection can influence our feelings, too. Research reported on in the July, 2013 Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people who blamed a rejection on their incompetence became angry. Those viewing rejection as less personal and based on a lack of warmth experienced more sadness.

Linda*, another estranged mom, told me she knew she was a good parent. She is like so many of the parents who contact me, recounting school involvement, a stable home environment, time spent with their children cooking, cheering their sports events, and so on throughout the years. Even so, Linda insisted she must have done something to cause the estrangement. “It’s always the mom’s fault,” Linda said, insisting this is true even though her estranged daughter won’t explain, and her other adult children feel their sister is wrong. Linda is angry.

While raising our children, moms and dads routinely accept children’s foibles, and move forward with the patience and understanding characteristic of loving parents. We view our children as inexperienced, so rise above the situation.

Later, when our children grow up, desert us, and leave us powerless to change a situation we don’t understand, we’re confused, and we become frustrated. Many of us come to realize that despite our efforts, the state of affairs isn’t changing. This takes the focus off us and our actions, and places responsibility squarely on the shoulders of our estranged sons and daughters. We now realize that they are in control. And they choose actions that hurt us. This realization can make us angry.

When your adult child rejects you: Anger and guilt

For many of us, anger doesn’t feel good. Anger can bring on guilt. These are our children after all. People we have loved and nurtured. Does our anger mean we no longer have unconditional love for them? Are we failing at the vital basics of being a decent parent and human being? Not necessarily, but anger toward our adult children may be difficult to express in a healthy, open way. We may fear judgment, or judge ourselves. Seething anger may even bleed into our other relationships, bringing more hurt and pain.

Here are a couple of ideas: Find a place where you can openly discuss your feelings, such as the online support forum for parents of estranged adult children hosted here. Join the forum.

You could also join the facebook page, help & healing for parents of estranged adult children.

Overcoming anger: Acceptance can help

When your adult child rejects you, coming to a place of acceptance in several areas is crucial to leaving anger behind and channeling it wisely as you move forward. Reflect upon and expand the areas outlined below to apply them in your own life.

  1. Accept that you’ve done your best. You deserve a happy life. To successfully move on, we must accept that despite doing our best, at least for now, we can’t change the situation. We can reach out, but until an estranged adult child wants to reconcile, we can’t make it happen. Accepting that our efforts are fruitless allows us to shift focus, put our efforts in people who reciprocate, in activities that bring us joy, and in a future we can affect and play a part in. Beyond our role as parents, we’re people, deserving of happy, satisfying lives.

2. Accept that you can only control yourself. Take charge where you can. As mature adults, we’ve likely had lots of experience at finding immediate solutions. We learned to shut the door on our teenager’s messy room. When our spouse was always late, we may have adjusted our schedule, or incorporated earlier start times to accommodate the bad habit. By accepting that we can only control ourselves, we free up energy for solutions that help us feel better now. We can take down family photos that remind us of an estranged son. We can box up for storage, or even dispose of items left behind by an estranged daughter. We can then put up artwork that inspires us. Making new and productive use of the space is liberating.

3. Accept the need to forgive. Do it for your own happiness. You may instantly react with anger at the thought of forgiving. If that’s you, perhaps you’re one of those people who can call forgiveness something else. Perhaps you don’t feel a need to forgive, or perhaps you don’t want to. If forgiving doesn’t feel right, let this tip go and don’t worry about it. But if you’re open to the idea of how forgiveness may help you, read on. Forgiveness can be complex. We may be angry or blame people who are involved with our adult children. Forgiving someone who has wrongly hurt us can feel unjust. But forgiveness isn’t about guilt. We can blame someone but still forgive them. To read more about this, see my article: Why forgive? Forgiveness isn’t about the other person. Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. In a study published by the National Institute of Health in 2011, researchers found that forgiving freely, particularly without requiring an apology or admission of wrongdoing, resulted in high levels of life satisfaction. Holding forgiveness hostage to some act or condition was associated with psychological distress and depression.

For some more concrete ways to deal with your emotions and move toward forgiveness, see my article that discusses ways to move on when your adult child rejects you.

When your adult child rejects you, anger is normal. Acceptance, and a take-charge attitude placed where your efforts can make a difference will help you take steps to leave anger behind, and move confidently forward in a new and happy life.

*Name changed to protect privacy

Related Reading:

Anger: A positive energizer? Or an easy fix?

Why forgive?

Rejected by an adult child, why do I feel guilt?

Five ways to move on after an adult child’s rejection



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60 thoughts on “When your adult child rejects you: First steps to getting past anger

  1. JFK1957

    This is the first time I have ever been in a forum, and I am not sure if this is where I express my thoughts and feelings about this subject on anger and rejection. This is a timely article for me, I am barely getting through the shock of estrangement from my 2nd Son. Now I am not only hurt, I am angry with myself because I have the feeling of regret that I ever had children. I haven’t heard of anyone else express this most disturbing of thoughts. Until this estrangement, having had my sons was the only thing I felt good about myself and my life.

    The anger is spilling over into my marriage, as I feel frustrated that my husband (who is not even my sons father) can not “help”. Very unreasonable of me. I am starting therapy today to get help with my anger issues and all the various aspects of rejection. I have not been doing well on my own with this transition. The decision to seek help has been the only thing I feel good about.

    I appreciate this timely article. (If I am not participating in the forum in the proper way, can someone let me know?)

    1. 1denvergrammy

      This is the first time for me as well. One year ago my 40 yr old daughter moved out of state with her new husband, but without her daughter who is 12 and her son who is 16. I am so angry at her as are the kids, we haven’t spoken since Sept. 20013 including birthday, Christmas etc.
      I am so angry because she left the kids and they are so hurt but I don’t know how to get around it. She hurt my babies so much and I don’t see that being repaired….ever. I see the kids almost 7 days a week, and help as much as I can before their dad picks them up and I will do whatever it takes to do whatever needs to be done. Thank you.

    2. joy

      Your comments really hit home with me-I, too; have had the thoughts of wishing I never had children. It was not supposed to be this way. So, what I’m saying is that your thoughts are very normal. And so glad youre getting counseling because it really helped me. I am in my 7th year of estrangement-still hurts, but it does get better. Just don’t get “stuck” like I did. Bless you!!!!

    3. Mischel

      I have 2 sons. The oldest 23; HURTS me the most. He has relapsed again. There father died 6 years ago a sudden death- heart attack. I wonder, how selfish. I wish it was me who have died rather than be the witnessed of our son’s doing. The pain comes and goes away. Then it comes back pulls you under its harder to get back up. Its in my chest. It’s hard to breathe.

    4. Mo

      You are not the first person to have said having their children/child is a regret. I wish I had adopted from an orphanage instead. I don’t regret the child at all- I regret the relationship or lack of love between us and the constant reminder that it is all my fault. I apologize wrong. I speak out of turn. I don’t try enough. I try too much. I’m never going to stop being a bad mom in this kids eyes and she’s 27. I told her she was punishing a ghost that no longer existed- my younger self. I have 20 good years left on this planet & I don’t want to ever give up on the relationship but I think I may have to step back and work on the memory books instead & perhaps only mail her letters that are full of love. Being around her live is so heartbreaking. We are parents for life but where is it written that we have to be a punching verbal bag for all our past sins long repented of? You know what’s the trickiest part? When the revenge alien briefly leaves them and they give you a small nugget of hope and sense of ease in the relationship. Then suddenly, it’s all back to the old demons once you make s single mistake and don’t respond petfectly to their disgust at your human fail. I wish someone would’ve told me that if it’s getting better don’t get use to it- it rarely lasts when only one side is trying and the other side is taking.

    5. Effie

      Your doing ok. I know its hard to figure out forums.. me too….. I have had huge amounts of anger….. I am in counseling too. I am learning this is grief… betrayal from family has to be the hardest of pain… How are you doing now?

    6. S. Barfield

      My son has rejected me, he had a lovely big wedding last year which i wasn’t invited to. A couple of days before this i sent him a message telling him about my heartache at what he was doing. I said it hurts so much i wished he had never been born. A year on he is having his first child, my grandchild, and i will not be allowed to meet it, ever. I feel suicidal, he is slowly killing me

    7. Barbara

      Hi. Someone recently asked if I was happy i had children. I said no..
      It just fell out of my mouth
      She was shocked….so I understand there is so much pain and sadness with estrangement
      I d not believe people understand unless they have been there.

    8. Jane

      I have felt like this too about wishing not having kids, but if I hadn’t had the first one who has hurt us, I couldn’t have had his brother, who has been loyal and loving, ..
      We did everything for my eldest son and his girlfriend, now wife and we are the worst thought, they he slander us saying we ripped them off, when in fact we paid half of their debts and gave them somewhere to live. It is a long story, but we are heartbroken …now they are having a baby and I don’t think his bitch of a wife will let us see our grandchild… I think we have to let them go and concentrate on the one son I have left, as the eldest is ruining our lives and stomping all over our feelings at every opportunity …they are spoilt and ungrateful and I do not recognise the son that I brought up and loved…I think only God can fix this so I have to leave it with him….

  2. rparents Post author

    Hi Julie,

    You have left this as a “comment” on the article on anger. That’s fine to do. Because you mention the “forum,” I wasn’t sure if you meant to post there. The forum is a separate area on this website, where people can discuss issues and seek support. You can access it here: http://www.rejectedparents.net/forums/forum/support-for-parents-of-estranged-adult-children/ (It is also accessible via the “community” link in the nav bar at the top right of the website).

    Sounds as if you are taking positive steps to deal with your anger and other feelings. I hope you will find some support here, and also in the forum.


    1. Maggs

      I am dealing with a son aged 31 he has been problematic all of his life. He is unhappy angry aggressive and disagreeable- he can’t maintain relationships. Or friendships. He lives with my mother rent free and is unpleasant and surly towards her. He is quick to anger and has a nasty tongue. I want him to leave her home but she is scared something bad will happen to him. He surrounds himself with crooks and unsavoury people. I love him him and I worry for him as he is so wreck less it I just do t know how to help him as he wont help himself. I know deep down that he loves me but keeps lashing out. Feel heartbroken

  3. Cindy

    Timely for me as well .my long time spouse and father of my children passed away almost three years ago . I had spent many of the 28yrs taking care of him so, when died I was lost .I finally recovered started living and found a wonderful man .we’ve been married almost a year . my son seems fine most of the time .my daughter on the other hand, seems to go up and down .she has a seven yr old daughter who is my joy .when my daughter gets upset with me she tends to hold the child as well .my daughter is currently pregnant and very moody , to the point of exhaustion .I never know what to say and she definitely gets to hurt my heart .I sometimes feel like she wishes I was the one who passed away .she rejects you and then pulls you back . how do I feel with that .

  4. pete

    its strange to read so much activity here, as if this is a common problem in society. My situation seems unique though-in two ways. 1: hes not my own kid, hes my nephew, who we raised as our own. full custody and very little if any parental contact. 2. the day he turned 18 he told me to fuck off and stay out of his life, then moved out. most of the other adult kids here are a little older and some seem to have contributing issues that manifest their own unique situations.
    what drives a kid to bleed someone dry? greed? hatred? distrust? Anger? I sure wish I knew. Like most of you here I find myself accepting full responsibility for something that i don’t know. I sacrificed my own family for the sake of someone else kid, and now its haunting me. Hes done everything he can possibly do to drive me into a suicidal depression at 250 mph and seemingly laugh the entire time. From a substance abusing biological family, i tried so hard to shelter him from that. The day he turned 18 literally, my world changed forever. it was my own Set 11th. He told me to fuck off and stay away. plain and simple. Some say it was because I cared. Some say that at the age of opinion (age 6) he was already whom he would later manifest. His destiny was determined long before I tried to help. Living in a small town, he gave up his job of two years so he could become a drug dealer. He gave up his home with my wife and I to live on couches at Friends homes. hes just about dropped out of high school-his A’s all turned to F’s, perfect attendance turned to 101 unexcused absences in 4 months. I blame myself. Don’t ask me why. I should have done something differently, Anything. I should have listened, To someone. Anyone. I see the result now and I’m sick everyday. I feel like I created a virus in a test tube and released it to the city. hes become his father. A pathological liar, a thief, and a drug dealer. A high school drop out, unemployed, and receiver of public assistance. I hope his drugs don’t kill someone else’s kid, and as much as it hurts to say this, I just want him to move far away, out of my town and out of my life. that’s what would be best for everyone, especially my wife and daughter who have stood by throughout all of this. Someday I will write a book about rejection by your teen. Until then, I’m grateful that I found this blog and seeing I’m not alone.

    1. Lee

      I just found this website and read your story. It is compelling. You tried to do the right thing to help a lost child and he turned on you. I hope I grasped the situation accurately. My biological daughter bled me all of her life even beyond college. I divorced her deadbeat dad but allowed him and his family access to her until he decided to cut ties with his family and only child (my daughter) and disappear into the ether.

      Time goes on, a couple of years ago several things converged. My daughter, with the benefit of a great college education is partying it up 300 miles away, she maintained contact with me as long as I was married to the stepfather who helped me support her outrageous spending habits. He left. Now I’m disabled. Her father’s 53 year old unmarried doctor sister commits suicide, my daughter calls me to go tend to my ex mother in law who now foots the bill for my daughter’s follies. I extricate myself from that situation and my daughter cuts ties with me.

      The message here is I believe genetics plays a huge roll in personality. She is my daughter but her narcissism, selfishness and callous disregard mirror her father in every way. I had custody of her from birth but she still is a carbon copy of her worthless father. She is my only child, she’ll be 29 next month, she cusses me like a dog even calling me a f……ing martyr once.

      Yet I love her, I miss her, she has ruined my life. I wish I were dead. It will certainly make her happy and she is so sadistic knowing she contributes to my pain in every way she can makes her happy. It is as if she is possessed.

      I’m sorry for you and your family. I hope you write that book and shed some light on these sick lost children. Maybe more discussion will help alleviate some of the pain for those of us suffering.

  5. Dana

    First time I have seen a site like this. Just knowing so many going thru the same thing has given me a sense of hope. I got passed the anger and guilt a few years ago but I can not get passed my broken heart. I went on Facebook to see if I could follow them and my beautiful grand babies to ease the pain but it made it worse

    1. Annette

      Dana, looking at Facebook will make things worse sadly. It is like the knife being turned again and again. I know it is so difficult but if you can stop looking at Facebook it will help ease the pain with time. I am to be a 1st time grandmother soon and I haven’t even been told. My daughter was the most wanted and loved child but to no avail. She simply hates me with a passion so I have to left it be now.

  6. Annette

    This is also the first time I have been on this site. I am 6 years out of my husband kicking me out of my home because he wanted other women after 40 years together. Our adult daughter and son have taken his side and refuse to speak to me. They will not tell me why and the thing that hurts me the most is that they have accepted his 3rd world illiterate bar girl into the family and she is younger than both of them. The hurt can be unbearable at times. I did want to die because of the grief because my ex husband and my 2 children were my life. I never went out and I just stayed home for the 3 of them. Now they don’t want me at 65 years of age and it is very lonely while they all play happy family. I am to become a grand mother for the 1st time soon and I have not been told. My daughter hates me more than my son but I could be wrong. I have obviously done something very wrong to deserve such treatment.

    1. Mo

      The hope for a family later in life is crushed though it is a very normal expectation to want to belong to your own people and see it grow through the years. I cannot change the past. I cannot feel sorry for myself either. That would be self destructive and only make the loneliness worse. What I can have is a new day each day I wake to get something that makes me feel joy. It will have to be the little things and for me to have big-time gratitude for what is working in my life. I’ve vowed to stop complaining about my kids and where they have failed me. When someone hears it, they hate it. When they hate it they will eventually avoid me- I would them! So it creates a bigger empty place in my heart to have people leave it because I complain about something I can no longer resolve. I have to move forward with what is real in my world and does return love. I never blame the kid though- I just know when enough is enough.

    2. rparents Post author

      Beautiful, Mo! In essence, your note in reply to Annette captures the spirit I have always intended for this site (and to a degree my book). Of course it’s natural to feel the devastation of an adult child’s estrangement, to try to make things right, and to be terribly sad. That’s a given when something as deep and shocking as a son or daughter in whom we have invested so much love rejects us. Even complaining about it is natural, but you’re right, there comes a time when it’s counterproductive. A time to move on in your own life, and be happy and grateful for all that you do have—and honor that beautiful, smart choice.

      Thank you for your comment here–and I wish you much success and many who will return your love. — Sheri McGregor

  7. christine

    I’ve been estranged from my daughter on and off for several years and I don’t understand it or really know why. Of course I think about it a lot and wonder about the things I did wrong as a parent. We did reconcile once, when I said I just wanted to see her and wouldn’t ask any questions about why she had cut me off, but after a while she cut me off again. Its very confusing and heart breaking. She has three children and I’m missing out on them. I also went onto facebook to see photo’s of them which rips me apart. There was also a photo of my daughter, her family and her husbands family all smiling and I felt very jealous. I’ve had cancer and she did come to see me twice while I was having treatment, then nothing. She told another family member that she’s decided she no longer wanted a relationship with me. I have not heard from her since.

  8. Maria

    I have just ordered the book Done with the Crying on Amazon as I desperately need something to help me with my heartache. I have been estranged from my two adult daughters and my beautiful grandchildren for the past 9 months and I have just found out I have a new baby grandson who I doubt I will ever meet. The pain and heartache us parents suffer is unbearable, I have photographs of my grandchildren all over my home, I cry every single night and day, I am exhausted with crying myself to sleep each night. It truly feels the pain will never leave. How on earth did we deserve this? We did our best as parents but it was never enough. I see families enjoying their time together, and feel so hurt I will never have the same joy again. I send all you loving parents, all a huge hug and prayers that one day we will mend our broken hearts somehow. Godbless you all x

    1. Donna

      You need to lessen the photos in your home. Please empower yourself to move out of this negative space taking up residence in your heart & mind! The child you raised is not the same child doing this to you. Learn to mentally separate the two, and you WILL feel better! Surround yourself with positive images, and realize this doesn’t define you. Volunteer at an animal shelter!! Stay away from family oriented places. Get tough by telling yourself that YOU matter! I’m betting your adult child will see u behaving differently and get in touch with you. Somehow they tapped their sadistic monster inside and they felt terrified being the boss of mom or dad. Realize it’s THEIR mental issue albeit a nasty unfair outcome for you. Pull the rug out from under their controlling your relationship and get well! Love & Hugs…

  9. Lee C.

    My daughter and I were as close as you could be. She hit the young adult (17 ) year with a passion. Our closeness disappeated. I became angry and exasperated by her selfishness. Then one day she left and went to her father who she hated and had refused to see for 4 years. He grabbed the opportunity. No reason or explaining, no contact. I am beside myself with anger and hurt. She was my everything.

    1. April

      Happened to me too…her father tried to leave us saying he didn’t love me or the kids. I screamed at her for her and her boyfriend financially abusing me, so she took my granddaughter away. It’s like it’s okay for them to abuse you but as soon as you confront them, you’re the bad guy. Don’t get me wrong. I shouldn’t have screamed at her. But when your adult child AND her boyfriend are living with you while making 1500 more a month than you AND you are still paying their bills… give me a break. My parents would have tossed me out before it got to the point of me screaming. I’ll accept my part in my our relationship but I won’t tolerate disrespect at the level it was being handed out

  10. Katherine

    A friend led me to this blog, and this is my first time posting anything on this site. My husband I have been estranged from our son and his wife since they got married 3 years ago, just like that! Now they have a baby, a little girl. We didn’t even know about the birth until I found out through a mutual friend a few months after the baby was born. We cannot claim even to be grandparents as we have no relationship with this innocent little child – our only grandchild. They live in the same city as we do which makes it even harder. My son has not responded to one single phone call, email, text, knock on the door, Christmas card or letter, and has also seems to have cut off any friend or family member that encourages them to speak to us. It’s the most hurtful heartbreak I could have ever imagined from our son, who was so close to us for 28 years, then got married and broke off all contact. Lots of thoughts go through my head, things we should have or should not have said or done, and I pray a lot, but don’t get any answers – other than to take care of myself and try to find happiness in my own life and marriage. That’s probably the answer that God is giving me and what I need to do. Holidays, especially Mother’s Day, is the hardest for me, and now instead of looking forward to holidays, I am relieved when they are over. I really appreciate the sharing of others on this blog and the article that a good friend sent to me a few days ago. For others on this blog, I am wondering whether anyone has read the “Done With The Crying”, and if they found it helpful to their situation. Thank you.

    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Katherine. Welcome to my blog. I sure hope you will find it useful. I’m sorry about your situation…. It’s a painful one. You mentioned my book—I hope if you choose to read it and use the tools it contains, that it will help you to move forward in a peaceful, happy, and meaningful way. There are positive comments from readers about it here and there on the site. You could read amazon reviews as well. They’re here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/reviews/0997352205/ref=cm_cr_dp_mb_btm?ie=UTF8

      You and your husband take care of yourselves, Katherine. There’s a good life to live!

      Sheri McGregor

  11. Serenity57

    I have three adult children who have cut me out of their lives. All of the above comments hit so close to home for me. I too, have wished I never had them in the first place. But, they are all happy, productive human beings. They just chose to leave their mother forever. Two of them have moved away, but one is close by, my daughter who has four children. My grand children. It has been months since I have seen them, and I only see them if I am buying them something. I have been disabled due to a surgical mistake and my health leaves me mostly home bound. My youngest daughter even told me she couldn’t stand seeing me this way so she decided not to see me. The oldest has so much anger towards me, what did I do? give him too much? I just had another surgery and one of them stayed in the hospital for a while, but I have not seen her since. it was like she did her duty, and then was done.
    This is not how I thought my life with my adult children and grand children would be. I need help getting past all of the sadness.

    1. todie

      Hi Serenity. Your story sounds close to mine. My 4 children have nothing to do with me either. Their Dad was an alcoholic and died five years ago. They made him a hero and I became the enemy. Reading this blog is helping me .not to feel alone. I have been told that this is a phenomenon for many. So thanks for sharing.

  12. Annie

    It is pitiful indeed. We may never have answers and understanding as to why our own children have forsaken us. My heart goes out to everyone hurting as it’s the worst betrayal anyone can experience. We know we are not alone and it seems it is a new phenomenon sadly enough. Our hope is that our children will one day come to their senses and show the respect I’m sure we all deserve and in the meantime we need to try to move forward and realize our self worth. As one wrote; history often repeats itself and perhaps one day if this should happen to them, God forbid, then they may begin to realize the damage they’ve done. I was a loving Mother who struggled as a single parent much of the time. I know in my heart I absolutely did the best I could and always with love and sensitivity to their needs. Sometimes it’s the influence of their spouses that creates such narsacistic, selfish behavior. Not something we’re likely to change for we can only be responsible for our own actions.
    For me it helps to try to wake up with a grateful heart and see the good in others. After 2 1/2 years I am done with the crying and it took me that long. Everyone is different. Be kind to yourselves. Read Sheri’s book and find strength in your faith and in the support of the people who love and appreciate you. I also find comfort in great, positive quotes I see on FB and other media. Love and prayers for all of you. You will survive it and you’ll come out stronger. God knows your heart.

    1. Eva R.

      Dear Annie,
      Your comments ring true for me: why the betrayal? I had no idea there were so many of us, and so many of these adult children turning their backs on their mothers and fathers. My dear husband suffers as I do. Yet, we both realize with conviction, this will NOT sabotage our happiness and future joys. There is too much in life to appreciate. Daily, we send our love to each of our estranged children. Yes, God knows our hearts, and that is our greatest comfort!
      Thanks so much to each and everyone for reaching out and sharing.

  13. Kathy

    Annie, your post of August 20, 2016 has a lot of wisdom for me this morning. I have been estranged from my son for over 3 years now, and I’m still not over the crying. This past week has been just awful for me. I was triggered by some advice given by a well intended friend. That same night, I googled my son and found a new work number for him, which I then proceeded to call. I heard his voice mail message, and honestly, it was so nice just to hear his voice. I left a message for him to call me, but I shouldn’t expect him to call me back as he never does. I have been beating myself up all weekend, as I am thinking that every attempt to contact him just pulls him further and further away, and I feel so, so sad. Gratitude plays a big role in my life, and I’m also working a 12 step program. There are many people including other family members around me who love and care for me deeply, That should be enough… but it isn’t. I have a faith, and God is helping for sure, too. I will read Sheri’s book. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Carol

    I did everything for my second oldest Daughter, from helping her move several times, to paying her rent when she couldn’t afford it. Now, she says she is remembering being molested as a child by her Uncles, my Brothers, and she is blaming me because my family is sick.

    I feel the anger, the hurt, at the thought I might never again be free to take my only two Grandchildren to a movie, or a hamburger again, and I want to scream.

    I will never understand this, but I can’t continue to be hurt by this. My heart has to become hard on the outside, but not inside, just to protect myself. I didn’t realize how common this kind of thing is and you all have my sympathy because I understand how it feels.

  15. Patricia

    4 years ago my daughter and I had gotten into an argument, for 7 months she wouldn’t have anything to do with me and would not let me around my grand children.I begged for us to have a relationship with her.We became close,but I walked on egg shells afraid I would mess up.Now it has happened again.She became upset with me,we quarrled.She told me she didn’t respect me she never has,told me to f_ off.I have tried to reconcile with her and she told me she doesn’t want a relationship with me ever again,leave her children alone,and get out of her house.I have learned,you cannot br someone’s punching bag and you cannot make someone have a relationship ii they refuse.I will miss my grandchildren and her.Never give up hope but refuse to let my life stop because I know I’m a good person.I can only pray for the situation

    1. rparents Post author

      Patricia, you are so right about refusing to let your own life stop despite another adult’s rejection (and abuse). Thank you for sharing your thoughts here for other parents/grandparents.

      Sheri McGregor

  16. Lynne

    All the comments resonate with me hugely. My son is 29 and doing a psychology degree. He has had a strange take on life since he was a baby which has always baffled me. His father left soon after he was born (and hasn’t seen him since) and when he was 5 I married my present husband. I’ve always loved and supported him unconditionally but have been at a complete loss to understand almost anything he does. He has now stopped communicating with me. He just blames my husband (who also bends over backwards to support him) for everything and won’t accept that his father leaving might have had a deep impact. I feel totally devastated. I spoke to a counselor who said this is par for the course for psychology students in their first year. I’m trying to remain positive but it’s hard. Part of me wants to chase after him and part of me wants to tell him to grow up and get over himself.

  17. Effie

    I cant believe there are so many of us… I hope others will read my story… its in the What to do section… I
    have really struggled with not contacting anymore… Keven Leyman ( author) says do not contact them at all. Wonder what most moms do…
    Today my daughter drove right by me…. Somedays I am soooooooooooo angry at my …. some days I think I am dying from grief and pain… I really want to not reach out anymore… How can I go from what I thought was a really good mom to this monster…she is portraying?? If I were a monster I wouldn’t be here…I would be anywhere but here looking for support… Prayers to you all ladies…

    1. Kathy

      Hi Effie. I, too, struggle with not contacting my son any more. I resolve to stop, then wonder if I stop trying to contact him, maybe he’ll think I don’t care anymore. That my son has never returned any of my calls in over 3 years should be confirmation enough that he wants nothing to do with me, but I still doubt myself. I hope that you have good friends to talk with you. That has really helped me. One thing I know for sure, being estranged from a child is a burden that us mothers will carry through our lives. My prayer for you and for me too is that time, and putting a priority on enjoying our own lives will help to ease the pain. You definitely are not alone.

  18. Victoria

    I have twins, boy/girl. At 14 my daughter went to live with her dad who owned a mini-mansion and ing round pool. Only spoke to me when she needed money. I always gave it to her, it was the only time I got to see her. Then their Senior year of high school, my son, had a mental breakdown and threatened to kill my now husband for asking him to sit with me for a few minutes after I got home from surgery, he was running to the pharmacy for pain meds, husband disconnected the internet so he would sit with me and my son lost it and tried to break into the gun cabinet to kill him when he returned. I made my son go to his dads house to calm down. A few days later his dad showed up and picked up all my sons things and my son will not speak, talk, text email….last thing he said was F**K *FF. His sister is now allusive too. I wish I would have never had children because I had no idea that children could/would ever do this to a parent. I always knew parenting was a thankless job, but I never imagined I would someday wish I had never had them because they hurt me to the soul. I love them and wish them happiness. I pray they never get hurt like they have hurt me. I have thought many times of suicide, they were my life. I went through many cycles of IVF and fertility treatment to have them. They were great babies, toddlers and young kids, as soon as puberty hit they started getting more private, I understand that’s totally normal. But by 16 they were getting mean and it vamped to uncontrollable with the gun incident. I forgive them both. I am lucky to have 3 step children and 3 grandchildren who adore me so I feel very blessed. But I’d give everything I have to have my children’s love back or at least know what I did to merit this shut out.

  19. olivia

    what a sad club we all belong to. mistakes i know i made them but to be told you are an abuser, s thief and an adulteress by my son who is now an alcoholic, had emotional problems and married a woman in even worse mental state than him . they have no friends and very few family members who they speak to. after years of verbal abuse i blocked all contact for over a year. then attempted to make contact. it was a disaster and it is now clear he really wants to bully me and play mind games. not sure what rewards he is receiving. recently with another bad encounter my husband and i have stopped trying. after many months i will write a will that might just leave a small amount to him. will leave everything to my other child who has kept us in his life, allowed us to enjoy our only grandkids and will help us as we get older. i still think to disown a child is the worst reject you can do…. but as they say….. they burned the bridge and then wonders why you don’t visit……. with not one pleasant moment in years…. I will re burn that bridge if he tries to rebuild it. i have about 20 years left and i will no longer be a abused person.

  20. Suzanne A.

    God created Lucifer a perfect beautiful being and his heart was lifted up in pride. It is called the mystery of iniquity because it truly is a mystery how a perfect amd loving God was lied about and accused of being vindictive, arbritrary and self absorbed… the very attributes of Satan himself.

    I too suffer with adult children who curse and reject me. If God who is the perfect parent has children who curse, accuse and disrespect Him–to the point of murdering Him on a cross….. then we must understand the mistreatment of our children is also a mystery. We must not blame ourselves.

    The Bible perdicts that in the last days children 2 Tim. 3:2 and Matthew 10:21 with dispbey and betray their parents. It is a sign ov the end.
    Our only weapon is the power of prayer.
    God promises that when we pray according to His will He will do it. He spoke and the world came into existence… His promises are true and as good as fulfilled.

    My favorite passage is Isaiah 42:16 because God promises to bring light out of darkness and to make the crooked things straight….that means the mistakes i have made as a parent too. In Him we can trust.

    Remember that God’s great heart of love is spurned by wicked men everyday and His Holy name cursed multiple times. His heart is in anguish too from the rejection of his children.

    I never imagined in a milliion years this would be my lot. I too am devastated and have to move on and try to make a new life for myself and in the meantime i will pray to God and leave my children to the Good Shepherd who leaves the comfort of rest and food to seek the lost from His fold. He will not return home until He has found his sheep, our lost sons and daughters. He will bring them home.


    1. Lise

      Thank-you Suzanne,

      I too am a strong Believer and know well these verses you reference. It is amazing to me, in my lifetime, to have witness to so many fulfillment of prophecy – knowing these Scriptures about families well, never once thinking it would be me! It does help to make sense of it in a way, big picture. I do believe the enemy of our souls is harder at work nowadays than at any other time in history – past and future – because he is having a rage fit, knowing his time is now short. Prayers for us all on this site.

  21. Leah B.

    This website has been very affirming to me. Thank you.

    This is what I think – firstly, yes it hurts, but my daughter is not mine to own. I have loved and raised her to the best of my ability without any support from my family or a partner.

    For me, I have a bottom line – that she is happy. If cutting me off is part of her happy place, then I could wish no more for her and respect that decision. Only when I put all of my expectations to one side of what I think a mother-daughter relationship should look like, can I be content with that bottom line.

    For the past 8 years she has controlled when she wanted me in her life and when she didn’t. I deserve to be happy too. And for me there is no joy in being manipulated into her life, only to be cut off without any discussion. No one should have the liberty of pulling and pushing another person away when it suits them. She has recently married and had a child. I was not invited to the birth or the wedding.

    I refuse to be hurt over anyone’s conscious attempt to hurt me. In fact when I saw members of my family that I know she does not like, respect or care for at her wedding party, it meant nothing to me that I wasn’t there.

    I have raised both of my children the same and loved them equally, if she chooses to be jealous of her sibling’s relationship with me, again, beyond my control. I am not angry or resentful. I do not sit by the phone. I do not allow her to use technology or social media to communication with me because that has been her weapon of choice.

    She will see and speak to me when she next arrives on my doorstep and live the consequences of making the effort to have a relationship with me, or not. One thing I am certain, I will not maintain relationships that are not reciprocated – I deserve better, she is an adult, and must know by now that the relationships worth honoring are MUTUALLY respectable and reciprocal.

    I think women are famous for losing themselves to motherhood. My youngest is 16 and he will move off to university in the next couple of years. I trust that I have taught both my children strong values, ethics and morals – therefore I am confident they will work through all their issues in life, whether that includes me or not.

    To all you mothers who are in pain, please, set yourselves free from those chains. What your children need to see is you living your lives to the best of your ability and thriving. This is the example we as mothers are destined to set regardless of whether our children our in our lives.

    1. DebCRN5

      Leah, you hit the nail on the head! I have been reading all the comments and was just waiting for this response. I too have been rejected by my 35 yr old son and his wife. It has been almost 1 yr since his wife and I had a disagreement while on a family vacation about my 14mth old grandson who was crying and looking towards me for holding because I was his caregiver for half the week for the last 9 mths.She was jealous of my relationship with my grandson. He loved me very much as a grammy and she has a very cold attitude. She made no bones about letting me know her philosophy in life… ” when Im done with you, Im done with you” which I heard her say in the past about people who cross her, but never imagined I would wind up in that category. She immediately cut me off, blocked me on facebook and wrote me an 8 page letter of how horrible I am , talked unbelieveably disrespectful to me via text and now will not talk or text me at all. The worse part is she has totally brainwashed my son. He has bonded with her and to be her saving strong husband, proving to her and her family what a wonderful supportive husband he is, he cut me off with her and spoke to me in the same manner. Of course, now I couldnt see my grandson anymore and the thought of all this made me suicidal. I gave them thousands of dollars to make their lives comfortable. My son had a wonderful life growing up. He was a happy loving little boy. I believe having sons is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. If you dont get a nice dil…you are screwed. This girl is mean to the core. She has ruined my whole family. They threw my other son out of their life too. She wants nothing to do with us and he is going right along with it. To top it off, my husband became disabled 3 yrs ago and my son was helping me with things before this happened. Now he says ” Im not your personal assistant” …doesnt answer my texts or calls and responds only when it suits him and its cold.He could care less about us. Its all about her and her family. She never responds. I turned to therapists, God, church, my friends, whatever I could do to stay sane. One thing for sure, you dont want to keep beating a dead horse…people do get turned off over it. So, I stopped talking about it….I read 4 books on estrangement…to understand this ” phenomenum” or the ” silent treatment”…as our family does not behave this way. Then I read Sheri MeGregors Done with The Crying book and with the help of God and her book, I got my act together…….Here is what I did….
      I picked myself up, decided I am going to be happy despite them, I would not allow them to destroy what life I have left….and stopped bothering them. I basically in my mind took back the control and threw THEM out of my life! Good riddens to that crap! Im not living on egg shells. Thats for the birds! I hate that I had to do that..I love my son….I miss my grandson terribly…but I too have boundaries that dont allow people to treat me that way. I have been told by my friends and church members I am a miracle in changing my attitude from 1 yr ago! I attribute it all to reading scripture, being around nice, positive people and getting away from meaness and disrespect from 30 yr olds…I also went as far to elimimate this son from everything in my will. He does not deserve a thing. I have forgiven them, my anger is quelled by God, but they will not benefit from my death…. I also had tobaccept the fact that my grandson is the innocent casualty here…but they will have to live with that and answer his questions when he grows up and experiences a life changing event when he inherits everything…he just may want to know who this grammy was…and maybe what goes around comes around to these ungrateful children. I did write them one letter before I stopped communicating with them telling them I loved them but I cannot be a part of this treatment. I told them I will continue to send my grandson gifts and what they do with them is on them. But I intend to take pics of every gift and put it in my journal to my grandson so that he will know his grammy always tried to be there for him. They can answer to all that. I also cannot believe her mother didnt step in to advise her to stop this…surely she could imagine how horrible this wpuld be if it happened to her…but she has all daughters and no sons….she has no clue what this is like, so she does nothing to help me mend this. Well….the good news is….it worked. After 6 months if this nonsense, my son contacted me to have a relationship with just my grandson and I have sern him 5 times in the last 5 months….which is fine with me. Yes I would love to have a normal family spontaneous family relationship that we all dreamed of when we had our children, but this is good enough for now. I too have wished I never had kids because this pain is worse than anything I could have ever imagined. But, it is all a state of mind. I had to talk to myself and God to get to this point and it hasnt even been 1 yr yet….I went threw Easter, Mothers Day, and Mem Day with a hurting heart…but made sure we did other things and connected with other wonderful people. Save heart parents….you can get threw it by changing your mindset and attitudes, read, read read, educate yourselves….and believe in Gods will.

  22. Annie

    Eva R,
    I’m glad my post from last year resonated with you. Just so sorry you too are dealing with the loss. You have faith and a great attitude and it will see you through. Coming here is a life line for so many of us. It helps to talk it out with those that live it everyday. Hugs and blessings to you and your husband. Take good care of you. Annie

  23. Bobbie

    Leah B. I admire your strength and I will follow your wisdom…
    I am so happy to have found this website! Sadly I join all of you in your pain. My wounds are deep and too recent to put my pain into words just yet…. I need a forum to vent and gather understanding- is this the right site for what I need?

    Appreciate your help and advice…
    (Glad to see I’m not alone)

  24. Robin

    I bought this book on Kindle tonight, and decided to visit this site to see what it’s all about. My situation may be a bit different than others; I actually know why my son hasn’t spoken to me in over 5 years. I was married to his dad for 17 years, and had a 3 month affair at the end of our marriage, which our son found out about. I’m not proud of that. I was a very kind, loving, nurturing, hands-on mom, as I’m sure many of you were – and are. Last July I married the man I had the affair with (I had been divorced for 4 years at that point).
    I also have a daughter. We’re not as close as we used to be, but she’s not estranged. She’s the youngest. But my son..It’s gotten worse over the years. He used to pick up the phone sometimes, although he never wanted to see me. Then he stopped answering his cell, and would occasionally respond if I texted him. Now it’s just silence. I’ve come a long way in dealing with the pain of losing him, but I still have a hard time sometimes. I’ve isolated myself from most of the people I knew. I had a great deal of support from my best friend. We were friends for over 30 years since high school, but she passed away suddenly in September 2015. That’s been super rough. I’m turning 50 in July, and am looking at it as a new beginning, a fresh start. I’m going to head back to school to become a nurse. Everyone needs a purpose, and it’s all the more important when you’re dealing with estrangement. Love and light to all, xo

    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Robin,
      I’m sorry for the loss of your friend (as well as the estrangement), but what an inspiration that you will see 50 as a new start. Why not?! I’m sure you’ll make a FABULOUS nurse. The things we go through can make our wells of empathy very deep … you’ll pull that into your work and help people. As you say: Love and light!
      Sheri McGregor
      P.S. — I hope you like my book!

  25. June M

    I am so thankful to have found this blog. I have 32 year old identical twin daughters who I am estranged from, and a third daughter, 30, who I have been estranged from but we have reunited. One twin has my two grandsons, and it has been since May, 2017 that she won’t let me see them. Not seeing the boys is what is breaking my heart! The way she has treated me for the past year, even when SHE had asked me for help, etc., I really do not care if I see/interact with her, I just miss my grandsons so much!
    I am sorry that there are so many of us in this situation, but I am glad to have found a place to connect and to not feel so alone. I am taking heed of those who have written of moving forward and moving on. I am at a point now that if my twins don’t want me to be in their lives, I won’t be. I have apologized to them for mistakes they feel I made as their mother, and I have asked for forgiveness, but it doesn’t seem that they really want to forgive and move forward. I might just have to forgive and move forward without them.
    Sometimes how each twin talks to me, I wouldn’t talk that way to my worst enemy. I do not deserve that kind of verbal abuse.
    I am seeking out a therapist, and I am fortunate to have a wonderful husband. He is my girls’ stepfather, and he does not deserve their vitriol either.

  26. Donna

    I think it is disgusting that an adult child has the audacity to go no contact with their parent! There was one big mistake made in the upbringing if that parent didn’t instill in their child the concept of cherishing their mother and father. Sadly that parent is now grieving. The adult child who is now a parent herself should know better. If there was some abuse occurring than this is a different story, but most likely these are 25-33 year olds who are simply being belligerent brats. Ya know–If there was some logical answer and perfect equation to soften the pain like if someone opened customized venues to allow young people who have no family, even homeless kids, to meet up with those parents estranged from their own children or grandchildren– perfect! I have found that keeping busy and not talking about the brat is the best distraction! Purge the photos, but keep a couple just in case lol. Make SURE they get wind of your action from their sibling. We give our lives and devoted ourselves to raise these kids of ours who have some nerve! What a narcissistic generation! Yes, I’m in this situation myself, and my son had the most incredible love and support, including a huge chunk of money for college leaving us holding the payment on the line of credit from our home– if that’s not motivation to be ticked off at him, I don’t know what else is lol but seriously– I DID do the omg no!!! and cry for weeks and now I’m about fed up. When you empower yourselves to live your life and move on, these narcissistic spoiled brats will likely come back. One blog I read said to start traveling abroad ($$) and let the brats hear about it…soon they’ll realize your spending their inheritance! They won’t tell you why thy are angry with you because their reason is bogus! I also want to put it out there that I’m betting the majority of these estrangements involve only children or first borns…just a guess:) Go forth and PROSPER!! See a therapist too…

  27. Deirdre

    Sorry, this is BS … you ARE allowed to wash your hands and grant these ungrateful little sh!ts their heart’s desire to inexplicably sever their relationship with you. Amen.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Deirdre,

      Yes, of course. This site is all about moving on in your own life, and doing so in a way that’s healthy and happy. Adult children are adults, and rejected parents have every right to happy and fulfilling lives.

      Sheri McGregor

  28. GrizzlyMom

    Two years ago, I was sent an awful f–k off email by my son on Mother’s Day of all days. My son is no dummy. The Mothers’ Day email bomb was calculated to have the maximum meanness impact. It came out of the blue and initially felt like I’d been blindsided by a hit and run car. I felt like I’d been punched from behind in the side of the head. I cried. Of course, I cried. My anger comes and goes. Guilt, as is mentioned above? Nope. I know I was a good mom. So does my son. I know this estrangement is about my son and his unresolved issues with his father, not me. And so, I have moved on. The sad this is that I know I will eventually hear from my son again, but his action has forever changed how I feel about him. There is only this cold place in my heart now when I think about him. I wish him and his family well, but it is my own life and my husband’s life that I am concerned with now.

  29. Kate

    The hardest part for me is the continual blame and rage . My son tells me he will punish me forever for his father being an addict and leaving . My new husband is a wimp and never stepped up and no matter how hard he tried the only things that he focuses on are the negative. I have headaches a lot and anticipate his critical voice which comes in waves like a batterer . I bear it because I carry so much guilt about what happened to him as a little boy but its wearing out now because it feels so toxic and unhealthy. He has left a few times and ‘ cut’ me off but seems to need to return to ‘ batter ‘ me. I am at the point where I must set a hard boundary and stop it – i fear he will leave again if I am not the target of his rage but I think it will be better to set the boundary and see what will come of this rather than recycle the same patterns of abuse. I have been a good mother to the best I can with awareness that I have had shortcoming and made mistakes but my life has been about always trying to be better – but nothing is every good enough and I need to start taking care of myself which i hope over time he will see as part of his wellness too. Its a hard road and very stressful but how long can one endure harsh negativity- its been years and so now it must come to an end.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Kate,

      Sometimes, the only way out is to say “no” or “no more,” and then take care of yourself.

      Hugs to you.
      Sheri McGregor

  30. Anne

    I do like hearing your stories-We are estranged from our son-and its due to his toxic wife (well and he lets her) they both get drunk and actually kicked us out of their house and my son started to hit his father! Like you all-I can no longer take the abuse. We have been excellent parents-private school-paid for college-gave cars-helped moves-bought a washer and dryer when they needed it and my two grandchildren-I have kept-spent money doing fun things-have always been there-My son has been brainwashed by her evil ways-she was adopted and never fit in and never knew her father. She has not respect for family or family values. All my traditions, family, holidays-have been taken from me-they have actually done some horrible things to us-and much like you all-I cannot take it anymore-living the lie-walking on eggshells around her-and she did what I said she would-wont let us see our grandchildren-they cant call and we cannot see them…they think they are punishing us-when they are really punishing the children. Im like others-I wished I had never had him and he makes me so angry-my feelings have changed for him (and that makes me angry) I hope this book will help me to let go of what I thought and live what is real now-my younger son is a dream and respectful and loving and he had ended his relationship with my son due to his behavior of violence toward my husband.I know some is the drinking but I don’t know him anymore.


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