Adult children who hate parents: The ties that bind

adult children who hate parentsAdult children who hate parents: The ties that bind

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Thirty years ago, my mother’s sudden death left my father in a state of flux. When he moved to a smaller apartment, he asked what furniture we kids might want. Without thinking, I said, “Mom’s China cabinet.” I didn’t really have space for the walnut cabinet with its leaded-glass doors, yet something compelled me. We’d find a spot.

On the day we set it up, I remember feeling sick—and years later, I wished I’d never taken it. The China cabinet had become a dumping ground. The drawers were packed with odds and ends. The shelves behind the ornate glass doors were cluttered with seldom-used dishes. And the lower storage areas behind carved doors with decorative brass pulls bowed with items that had seen their day: A tough-to-clean waffle iron like the one my mother had cherished, a countertop quesadilla maker, and beautiful casserole dishes with insulated carry bags ready for potluck parties that, after my mother died, had dwindled to rare events.

I didn’t need or want the cabinet that neither fit my taste nor décor. Yet, the thought of selling or giving it away made my gut tighten and my chest constrict. I shifted it to another wall—where it sat for another five or six years.

At one point, I sat down to explore my compulsion and remembered my mother’s brown eyes softening with joy as she chose that cabinet from a furniture maker’s catalog. I was five or six at the time, and in those days, fine furnishings were still crafted to order in the United States. My mother had pointed to the picture with dreamy excitement. The stately cupboard would stand in the dining room of her first owned home—a roomy four-bedroom bought while still under construction. My father had done well for himself. With the high school diploma he had recently earned in night classes, a strategic mind, and a hefty dose of Southern-boy charm propped up by ambition, he had risen from maintenance man to executive and was appointed President of a large company. My parents’ dreams were coming true.

Home, family, security

That year, as the home we frequently drove by grew from bare studs to suburbs glory, my mom talked about having dinner ready when my dad would arrive, like clockwork, each night. In the picture she painted, we all sat down to eat the meals she’d lovingly prepared in her kitchen with its new, efficient appliances. Afterward, she’d do dishes while gazing through the over-sink window at her planned rose garden.

My mom kept the glossy furniture catalog open to that China cupboard. She would dream out loud of the dishes she’d trade for Blue Chip stamps to fill it. That China cupboard was just a piece of furniture, but it embodied a bigger ideal. Mom envisioned a home and security for us children that sharply contrasted with the rare bits she shared about her own fragmented childhood.

Shattered dreams

We were happy at first. We took family vacations to Yellowstone National Park and owned a boat one summer. But my dad’s success brought new demands and attitudes. He became involved with people and activities that drew him away. He was frequently out of town, and my mom cried a lot.

Even the neighborhood wasn’t all they’d expected. There were troubles there. Strange neighbors and happenings.

One night when my dad was away, my mother received a threatening phone call, and the wire to our lamp post at the corner of our lawn was dug up and cut. We kids were awakened to an atmosphere of fear and swept off to a hotel room. The next day, we boarded an airplane to another city to spend the summer with relatives. My family never returned to the dream home my parents then sold. We returned to renting, and we frequently moved. My dad’s career took a dive and my mom worked nights to make ends meet.


Reflecting on my mother’s shattered dreams and early death shined a light on my compulsion. Holding onto her China cabinet was a way to honor her dreams. A demonstration of loyalty to the mother I had so loved.

This realization came as a surprise. After her death, I had done a lot of work around wellness and following my own dreams. I talk a bit about that in my book, Done With The Crying (2016). The truth is many of us carry unconscious loyalty to people we have loved. Sometimes an object such as my mother’s China cabinet embodies their ideals or dreams. I was able to keep that China cabinet all those years, in my own “dream home” where I lived for more than three decades and raised my kids. Despite times of hardship, I fulfilled my mother’s dream—even while pursuing some of my own.

Loyalties? Or binding chains?

In my work with life coaching clients, we sometimes uncover unconscious loyalties that limit choices and hold people back. What shows up as an impulse buy of heavy, ceramic-clad kitchen pots in the brand your mom always loved may be tied to beliefs about a mother’s role, unconditional love, or the threat to one’s identity triggered by an abusive, rejecting adult child. Often, the body provides a clue. A gut feeling, nausea or tightness. A lump in the throat, a headache, or a constricted chest.

How do you feel about your teapot collection that started with the one your mom gave you when you got married? Maybe your now-estranged adult child added pots to the collection over the years. So, donating the pretty pieces you no longer have room for feels like dishonoring your mom—and giving up hope about your relationship with your child.

Sometimes, people unwittingly live out loyalty that limits their ability to earn—or keep—money. Gaining income triggers negative but unconscious beliefs about “rich” people, or goes against a family’s beliefs about who they are in the world. Ideals about being givers (not greedy), that “Murphy’s Law” (the idea that if something bad can happen it will), or that money is the root of evil (which is not what the Bible actually says) can wreak havoc, like an unseen and unconscious wrecking ball.

One of my clients, Suzanne, stored her immigrant parents’ bedroom furniture for decades, to the tune of thousands of dollars spent, because dumping the furniture felt like dumping them. They worked multiple service jobs and bought the bed set after becoming proud U.S. citizens and buying a modest home. Her parents worked their entire lives to give her a better life. They sold the home to keep her in graduate school, and they both died soon after her graduation.

Despite her advanced degrees, Suzanne worked at low-paying jobs and lived in rented rooms for most of her life. At age 59, she identified her inherited pattern of always striving. Keeping her parents’ bed set long after their deaths represented a form of loyalty that matched their devotion to her. Holding onto the furniture cost her money, freedom, and time. When she finally donated everything, turned in the storage unit keys, and said good-bye to the monthly bill, she secured a well-paying job, and eventually retired with a small nest egg in a home of her own.

Conditioning around money and success are frequently tied to inherited and limiting beliefs, or even to fears around who you might become. One father who, as a teenager, tagged along with elders of the Mormon Church to collect the tithing from struggling families, developed negative feelings about power related to money. He recalls people in poor circumstances jiggling coins from jars to give—and he vowed never to be like those elders. This father has given far more than his due to people he encountered his entire life—including adult children.

Wounds or excuses?

Today, I often see the concepts of limiting beliefs or unconscious loyalty being tied to labels such as the “mother wound.” The idea is that, as an adult, you’re carrying unconscious wounds from a mother who withheld approval or love. That wound, the theory reports, keeps you bound to old ideas of service and striving for mother’s love that can hold you back today. I don’t intend to minimize the pain of anyone for whom that’s true. However, in a society that enables victimhood and is all too ready to blame parents or even an entire generation for just about any weakness, failure, or unhappiness, labels such as “mother wound” demand caution and analysis.

In the past, children were taught the Biblical commandment to honor their parents. Even without the religious tie-in, a great many adult children still follow this ideal. However, the opposite exists.

Adult children who hate their parents: Do you owe them?

When I was a kid, preparing for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day was a big deal in school. Teachers valued the idea of honoring parents. As children shaped crepe paper rose bouquets or made plaster of Paris paperweights, we were reminded that our parents gave us life. For this fact alone, we were taught to be grateful. Life was precious, and we were to work hard, be kind, and do good things with the life we were gifted with.  Contrast that idea with emails I frequently receive from adult children who hate their parents. Some rant about parents who owe them. “They chose to give birth,” is the argument I hear. “They owe me everything. Forever.”

“I didn’t ask to be born,” is the reasoning used to validate the hate spewed toward parents minimized to the labels of “egg-” or “sperm-donor.” These adult children who hate parents are not grateful for life. The belief is that they are owed for their parents’ choice. If their parents weren’t ready to sacrifice everything for the child, even into middle age or beyond, they should have chosen to abort. In other words, they’d rather not exist than exist without parents who can afford to serve them, agree with their opinions, and do what they’re told.

I know this is difficult for some to read. It’s difficult for me to fathom, too. But reality has a way of waking people up. Not “woke” as our culture currently packages trendy ideas to make them sound good, but awake, as in aware of reality. Not all adult children who reject parents or go no-contact are this extreme. Yours may not be so callous. It’s also possible you’re not facing the truth. You decide.

Regardless, we can still “love” adult children who reject us. They are, at least in part, a product of modern culture with its me-first and victim mentalities. But we don’t have to buy into their blame, entitlement, or abuse. We can reflect upon and recognize where our own limitations, perhaps in the form of unconscious beliefs about unconditional love or family devotion, or fears about being alone, set us up for more hurt. We don’t have to accept the ideas of a society that excuses bad behavior. We can open our eyes and see clearly. We can “love” our adult children from a distance, hope and pray for change that will benefit them (even when we no longer want to reconcile), but disavow what isn’t ours to take on as blame or that hurts us.

We can recognize our loyalty to a mother whose broken dreams are embodied in a piece of furniture we don’t need or want. We can realize that an impulse to buy heavy pots in a brand our mother admired is triggered by a threat to our identity caused by an abusive adult child. Or even that we’ve given far more than our due because of old vows equating positions of power to taking money from the poor (and giving to others, including entitled adult children).

What loyalty are you holding?

I think my mother would have been glad that, despite one son’s rejection, estrangement, and other hardships over the years (we all have rough times), I’ve managed to find joy and live a mostly fulfilling life that honored her values. She wouldn’t have wanted me to hang onto her China cupboard in an act of misplaced loyalty that reminded me of her heartache. When a younger relative expressed an interest, I happily (finally!) passed the cupboard along where it was wanted. This much younger relative doesn’t have the history of my mother’s broken dreams—and she’s making the China cupboard part of her own loving family, security, and home. My mom would have liked that, too.

Loyalty: Genetic?

The science of genetics is growing ever brighter, tying one’s emotions to those of ancestors, and connecting the turning off or on of one’s genes to ideals and activities a person is exposed to. I talk about this some in my 2022 book, Beyond Done With The Crying. You can read in the book about the possibility of unconscious pursuits rejecting adult children may be playing out.

These ideas about genetics segue into unconscious patterns of behavior like the “always striving” and “giver” mentalities of the parents mentioned earlier. And even my “home, family, and security” conditioning, which, although a worthy pursuit, can have a shadowy side. In my case, my compulsion around the China cabinet was strengthened by negative history including my mother’s sudden death and my memories of her joy, dashed in the neighborhood where her dreams were shattered.

Who or what are you loyal to?

Adult children who hate parents leave human wreckage in their wake. Traumatic experiences that can influence parents who may cling to values that, although decent, loving, and right, end up hurting them and holding them back. Unfortunately, there are many voices out there that keep parents stuck, always striving to prove themselves as good parents (as discussed in my April 17, 2023 YouTube video here).

Have you been rejected? Perhaps you’ve been dehumanized by terms such as “egg-” or “sperm-donor.” Or, you’ve been assigned labels such as “toxic” and “narcissist,” which are often the projections of adult children who hate parents—and perhaps also those of irresponsible therapists who encourage them to blame the parents who gave them life (as was discussed in this article). Is it time to awaken to reality?

This article intends to prompt you to look at your own patterns, limitations, or loyalty expressed in unconscious ways. Are you holding onto things, beliefs, or pursuits that no longer serve you? Even the noblest of values can have a downside when taken to extremes or affixed to compulsions or fears that make no sense without reflection and insight. Are you caught in an unhealthy pattern of giving, clinging, or self-sabotage? Consider life coaching with me to identify where to break free, And, to help other parents, share your thoughts by leaving a comment here.

Related reading

Heartbroken parents: Are you to blame?

Rejected parents: Should you tell people?

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101 thoughts on “Adult children who hate parents: The ties that bind

  1. Kristy

    Hi all. Yet again we’ve had grenades lobbed over to us from our abusive son. Told we are some kind of stupid, insulted my kind and patient husband.. his stepdad.

    He wanted to call in and we told him we were sick…which we were with Covid. As we had been vaccinated he went on a rant and told us how stupid we were as our decision was different . We never discussed it with him as we knew he thought differently.

    Love and acceptance of family and friends shouldn’t be conditional on your vaccination status.

    We don’t judge anyone for having different opinions and never mention or disagree about different views on Covid, religion and politics. We just try to get on with life and find happiness.

    But anything or anyone who disagrees with him is thrown to the kerb. It’s been a painful 3 years with abuse and being denigrated on social media.

    It’s been a long time coming to acceptance that there’s nothing left to salvage from this family relationship but we have to walk away for our own peace of mind, health and hope our beautiful grandkids won’t be traumatised anymore
    being caught in the middle. They are teenagers and we’ve been close since birth so I know there is still a bond there and hopefully they’ll come and find us when they can

    You think as a mother that it’s right to stay connected to your child but often they are the ones that break the ties that bind…not us.
    We’ve been abused for 3 years now and we are done.

    I know you all understand and it helps to know we are not alone in our pain. Xxx

    1. Dee M.

      So great to sing along to Miley Cyrus’s “Flowers”! “Didn’t want to leave you, didn’t want to lie; Started to cry but then remembered; I can buy myself flowers, Write my name in the sand; Talk to myself for hours; Say things you don’t understand; I can take myself dancing; And I can hold my own hand; Yeah, I can love me better than you can…” All rights to Miley, of course.

      1. Sophia

        Right on! Every time I think or read the comment, “I wasn’t the perfect parent,” I flinch.

        Guess what? Our children weren’t perfect either! We all loved them through babyhood through the teen years & as adults, despite many things that may have caused us to question our sanity.

        They ain’t perfect and don’t get permission to define us as parents or as people.

        Let’s move on from counting our imperfections and theirs.

  2. Lynne

    I just found this book and this website. I’m sad for all of us and grateful to have a place to tell the truth. None of my 3 children allow me into their lives. It started with one – and he convinced the others to follow. During our last conversation (the typical, me apologizing for sins I’m not sure of and him telling me how much he hates me) he let me know that he was actively trying to get his siblings to also disown me. It worked.

    Something that I feel especially sad when I read others’ posts and even when I hear my own self talk – is all of us confessing to not being perfect. Of course we weren’t! It isn’t possible – we weren’t made to be perfect. If we did our best – even if at times the best wasn’t that great – then we are worthy of being loved and forgiven. It’s really that simple. As I type those words – I’m saying them to myself. I have such a hard time believing that I am lovable and forgivable. Losing my children has caused such a deep sense of insecurity.

    My children have been (and likely still are) in therapy. I don’t want to say that therapy is a bad thing or that people shouldn’t get council – but I do think that they have been given permission in therapy to cut off me so that they can find themselves. How very sad for them to think that way – how will they ever have a relationship of any magnitude if they believe that. I apologize for the long post – and am grateful to have had a place to write it down. Blessings to us all

  3. Carrie-Ann

    Just dropping by to express the Immense Gratitude I have For Beautiful Sheri…Her Very Being…Her Work…Her Books…This Healing Community…and Sheri’s Youtube Channel…Words cannot express the Respect…Love…& Appreciation That Is In My Heart…

    I also want to express Immense Gratitude For Each and Every One of You Here…Parents…Mothers…Fathers…Your Words and Lives mean so very much to me…This Healing Community Is Truly the One Place I do not feel so alone…In this ever-so-painful path of “estrangement” from One’s Adult Children…I keep reminding myself of the word “ADULT”…Free will works both ways…

    Sooo…I Wish Each and Every One of You a “Happy Mother’s Day”…Fathers also…I Wish I could give us all Justice, Fairness, and Release of Senseless Pain & Loss…It is like trying to make sense out of the “senseless”… Thanks to Beautiful Sheri…We can reframe the experience…I vow to have a Beautiful Peaceful Day…And Wish For Beautiful Sheri and Each of You Beloved Ones A Wonder-Full Day!!!
    May Beautiful Sheri…Each One Of You…Each Animal Being…and All Estranged Adult Children…Be Be Blessed In Body, Mind & Spirit…

  4. Diana M.

    Ann, I too noticed the many extra flowers & helium balloons scattered throughout the grocery store. I have been reading Sheri’s Mother’s Day posts & many of the replies to try and cope with my feelings. Its been 5 years of estrangement but dealing with the holidays is hard.

    However, one Mother said she buys flowers for herself & honors herself by remembering the ways she was a good mother. I like that idea – it puts the ball back in my court so to speak (& is what Sheri shows us in many different ways to do).

    Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and instead of dreading it, I already feel different with this new idea to think about.

    Take care

    1. WENDY

      I love this idea of buying flowers for yourself for Mother’s Day. One year I threw myself a birthday party . I invited all my treasured and honourable friends. We had a wonderful time. My neice made a fantastic professional cake.

  5. Ann

    I went to the grocery this morning and came to a stop when I walked into the store. The flower area is temporally expanded, filled floor to ceiling with plants, flowers, and balloons, for Mother’s Day.
    Also, I discovered that shopping on a Saturday morning seems to be family day. It was bedlam.
    I cautiously navigated around the flower section to get on with my shopping but it hurt.
    I don’t think there is a fix for this, nothing about losing our kiddos feels right.
    Worse, I was a good mother, clearly not perfect, but I don’t even know “why” the split.
    It has been many years and it still feels as bad.
    I try to count my blessings, many, but I miss my sons.
    I have much respect for those of you able to push through….hugs.

    1. Debbie S.

      Ann, I am not sure these kids/adults will ever feel any guilt. If there is no remorse now, don’t believe there will be in the future.
      I am going on 5 yrs. My girls took grandkids and left right after my best friend, my mother died.
      They did not even come to my house and spend the day with me or their grandmother.
      Still heart breaking. God has carried me through these years. Could not make it without my faith.
      Good luck and great big hugs to all. I will and you WILL get through these years.

  6. Susan A.

    It’s been well over 10 years for us…the exact amount of time that has gone by being estranged escapes me…I no longer keep track.
    At this point in time, what I am bothered by is the guilt that my children are going to wrestle with over all of this…now, or perhaps in the future, or when I am gone from this earth. I had such guilt after both my parents died together in an accident…how they left at a point of time in my life where I was rebelling and being a basic idiot…and they died before they got to experience me not as a selfish, self-centered young adult. That haunted me for decades…until I realized that my folks loved me anyway and that even though I let them down…they loved me.
    Even though I was a brat, I did not treat my parents like crap…it was my life that I chose to mess up…not theirs. My children do not have that reassurance that at least they didn’t treat their folks like garbage, like I did…and my guilt was deep…so what will their guilt be like?
    So sad…such a loss of opportunity on both sides…loss of children and grands…almost unforgiveable…almost.
    So we moved…we changed phone numbers and started over in a new place. The phone number change was not necessary…no one would ever call anyway…but for us…it was for us…neither my husband I desire a relationship anymore…have lost the willingness to reconcile…left us just moving on.
    It is okay, now. We have our Father in heaven, so we really do have it all.
    It is a horrible journey…I sympathize with all who are in this predicament and understand the emotional turmoils.
    It will be okay.

  7. Cynthia

    We are 3 Sisters, and the middle sister had troubled relationships with my parents, always. Yes, my parents were not perfect, but I loved my Mom fiercely, and tried to be the family “lubricant”.

    When Mom moved into independent living, 2 of us moved her. My oldest Sister and I had mostly lived near Mom and were very involved with Mom and her care. Mom was in great shape till she got breast cancer at 90. Middle sister came and got family treasures after the move (she didn’t help, showed up to grab the stuff). And got into a fight with Mom over the sterling silverware she wanted. She left in a huff with her car pack with Moms stuff and never spoke to her again. Mom called and wrote begging forgiveness and to speak to her before Mom died. Sister refused. She even tore up a birthday check Mom sent her and mailed the pieces back. Mom died heartbroken. Sister did not attend funeral.

    Oldest Sister wants to reconnect with middle Sister. I agreed as long as she wanted to see me. I would not show up in her state unwelcome. Turns out, she refuses to see me, but will see older Sister. My crime? Mom wanted me to have the sterling silverware, and pointed out to Sister during the blowup that I had been there for Mom, helped her move, and had daily contact with Mom.

    It is of note that middle Sister is estranged from her son due to an argument with his wife.

    It is hurtful to me to be banned from my Sisters’ life…. I have always been there for her and even flew to help her the day her husband died suddenly.

    Mom had a Wish jar and I finally threw it away as it was full of wishes that my middle sister would soften. Accept calls, etc. it never happened. I am so sad for my Mom that my Sister put her through this.

    Of course, I get no joy from the silver so am selling it. This post is because estrangements tear apart so many family members. I’m sorry for all of the Moms who are feeling this pain and wish you peace and comfort.

    My older Sister has been writing

    1. Kathleen

      If the silver has no meaning to u now Why not give it to the one who always wanted it w an invitation to lunch to come for it.It might be a new beginning.Dont forget to pray together

  8. Cindy H.

    I relate to your article and so many of the comments. My daughter cut me off 7 months ago. My crime was an eyeroll emoji I put on her newly ex-boyfriend’s Facebook post. They lived together for 7 years and suddenly they broke up. I was told to not have contact with him or his family any more. Now I’m untrustworthy, controlling and toxic. She won’t communicate with me at all. When I tried she text me I’m not to have contact with her through anyone by any means or she will contact the police. But she’s told my husband thru text I am to look in myself and have a full understanding of my “bad behavior”, she has done nothing wrong, our relationship will never be the same.

    She’s a mental health counselor with a Masters in Education. You would think she would know how to use her words and communicate.

    I’ve considered almost daily about committing suicide. Obviously I’m a bad mom even though she has sent me cards in the past saying how wonderful of a mom I am, posts on Facebook saying I’m a bad ass mom who is always there for her and her brothers. She has hurt me so deeply.

    I decided a few weeks ago to let her go. She can be in this argument by herself. She’s controlling, manipulative, lacks empathy, lacks a sense of responsibility. She blames everyone but herself. I don’t see any hope for reconciliation. This is a pattern of behavior for her.

    She didn’t think it through though. Someone said they sent their daughters memories she’s kept back to her daughter. My daughter will realize one day that she wants or needs something from my house. It will be too late. I’m not giving her anything back.

    I’m trying my best to move forward in my life but it is extremely difficult. I gave everything to my kids. Big mistake. I pray for all of you.

    1. Cynthia

      So heartbreaking. I’m so sorry you have been through this. But proud of you for finding your way and taking care of yourself. As Moms we are used to being selfless. It isn’t always appreciated. Peace to you.

    2. Linda

      Dear Cindy,
      Thank you for your most thoughtful reply to this article. I too, have lost my daughter- a very different circumstance but I am treated just like your daughter treats you. My son now has followed my daughter and I have been ostracized out of their lives for the past 2 years. The pain is unbearable. I am 62 and I spent my whole life trying to love my children. Yes, I am not perfect but I certainly did my very best to value and take care of them. I don’t understand any of this-
      I do truly understand exactly how you feel. Do not give up. You are NOT ALONE.

    3. Jane C

      I feel your pain. I wonder if they could see how malicious their behavior is they would turn from this insanity. I suffer unbelievable pain with no control to make this right. I love my daughters. They choose to reject me. I am heartbroken .

    4. Kathleen

      Look to the Lord Draw closer to Him in quiet in reading verses in talking out loud to Him and pray Anyway for yr kids and yourself then affirm who you are in Christ filled w the Holy Spirit a Daughter of the Great High King out loud in Jesus Name

    5. Diane

      Dear Cindy H.
      I was saddened by your comment and the fact that you would hurt yourself over your daughter’s cruel behavior. If I may share with you something I have learned when I really open my eyes to the truth about my son and his wife exiling me from their lives since September 2021. My son is a selfish, narcissistic, man boy that has a cruel heart. He wasn’t always this way, as a little boy he was sensitive and caring, loved animals, his nanny & Grandpa, Boompa and me. Something happened, maybe life’s hard knocks, but he changed and as we know, birds of a feather flock together. His wife, like him is an only child, spoiled and a Daddies Girl, little princess. Since he met and married her, she hung up on me, lied about why, and the two of them exiled me for two years. That was back in 2007, it took me making the first effort to patch things up and by September 2010, I moved to be closer to them after my fiancé and I split up. I tried really hard to be accepted by her and her friends, I never was invited to their house parties and only got to see my son when it was convenient for them both to be with me. They are both in their 40’s, no children and live to shop and eat. She is a social media queen, always the selfies, the beautiful hair, makeup and nails. I raised my son as a single mom, his dad and I were divorced when he was very young. I was hardworking, very thrifty, and made him work odd part time jobs if he wanted more than I could afford to give him. Over the years, whenever I spoke up or did not agree with him, he would hand up on me, walk away pissed and the both of them would shut me out for months, a couple of years, whatever. My heart hurt every single time, now, I give it to God because this is really not about me, nor do I have the power to make this fractured relationship better. I am imperfect, but I was a good mom to my son, have photos to prove it his wife as he calls her never wanted to see any of his baby pictures, I always thought that was strange. They live 4.7 miles away from me. My mom (nanny) lives with me. I took her out of a horrible assisted living facility she went to after a heart attack, she had lived with me for six years prior to her health scare. I have had 6 orthopedic surgeries, went through stage Iii cancer and struggle daily for myself and my 91 year old mom. He has not even seen her since last December and is not happy that she is back living with me. My mom did so much for him and his selfishness makes me sick. I pray to God daily that he would soften my son’s heart ❤️ Please, take care of yourself, do the best you can to live a good life with your husband, you mentioned you have other adult children, be in their lives and enjoy each other. There is a lesson in every blessing, and a blessing in every lesson ❤️ God bless you and your family

  9. Lorraine

    It’s been almost a year since I’ve talked to my Son. I have 2 children my Daughter is the oldest and I still have a close relationship with her and her children. To say I was devastated is a understatement. Like so many other comments I don’t know exactly why he has chosen to cut me off? It hurts so badly to love someone so much and to have them rip your heart out and not care at all. He is a Police Officer and went through a lot at only 26. He has been diagnosed with PTSD. But this has been going on since he met his Wife in college. Now he blames me for everything bad that has happened in his Life. I’m divorced from his Father and he puts his Dad on a pedestal. I was the parent that raised my kids as my ex was a over the road truck driver. I don’t understand and probably never will? Like the rest of the Parents in this situation. I pray we will find peace. I’m so sad because my Grandson will be 1 this month and I only held him once at 5 days old and was told I am not worthy of a relationship with him because I’m not the same Mom anymore. At this point I need to protect my well being and try to move on. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through.

    1. Karen

      Could be his wife influencing him . My Granddaughter has done this to my Daughter and I . I cannot see my Great Grandchildren because I support and Live my Daughter through the stuff my Granddaughter has put her through. Thankfully Washington State had Grandparents rites and we will seek help in the near future. My Daughter has to regain her mental health before she can stand strong in this fight for our Grandparents rites . I pray all comes out good for you .

  10. Tina U.

    My son chose a more extreme way of estrangement. He committed suicide. I don’t know what happened but I blame myself. I do hold on to his things, maybe I’ll let go when I’m ready. I have a friend whose son went no contact with her and she’s not sure why, but she said maybe it would be better if he was dead. I told her to not think that, he’s still alive so there’s still hope that one day he’ll come around just live your life and pray.

    1. Diane M.

      Tina, I’m so sorry to hear about your son. My own son tried to commit suicide several times, but failed. But it affected his brain. So now, he’s on disability with some serious mental health issues. He’s 50 and lives in a rooming house. He lives a very simple life. My closest friend’s son died of cancer. He would be the same age as my son and they played together when they were little. Yes, I do believe it harder to lose a child by death, especially by suicide. I hope you are getting some help with your grief. What a sad situation. My heart goes out to you. But please don’t blame yourself. We never know why someone would choose this. Take your time going thru grief. Take things slow and don’t get rid of his things until you are absolutely ready to. No need to rush. In the meantime, be extra good to yourself. I offer you my deepest sympathy. I hope you feel better soon. Take good care…

    2. Beth

      I’m so very sorry about your son. Please do not take on the guilt that it was your fault. Do not believe Satan’s lies. No mother is perfect neither is any children. He took his own life because he choose that way out. There was always help available but he choose not to take it. Please don’t carry this burden of guilt. Mother’s weren’t meant to carry the guilt that our adult children put on us. God be with you.

  11. Beth

    My only child went No Contact 3 years ago. No explanation, no dialogue – she just cancelled me. I have no idea what I did wrong to justify this silence and have come to realize it’s not something I can bounce back from. I purposely have no friends and cry every day. This isn’t a wonderful opportunity to celebrate new interests or connections; it’s a lifetime spent in solidarity confinement,

    1. Diane M.

      Beth, I feel for you. Grief can take many forms. I hope eventually you can make some good decisions that will better YOUR life. Maybe talk to a good counselor? I talk to mine still, twice a month. She, along with this site, has helped me tremendously. And grief comes and goes. I’ve been estranged from my daughter and her whole family for many years now. I have no idea why either. I have many good days now but I still have times when I fall back into sadness. I’m very selective of the women I become friends with. I was finally even able to share with some about my estrangement. They don’t judge me. Take baby steps. And do little things to make your life happier. It takes time and you will feel better eventually. It’s only been three years since your estrangement, it takes a bit more time to get over the shock and then the grief can come and go. I know I didn’t do anything specific to hurt my daughter and her family, knowingly. Give yourself time to heal and grieve. Life will get better. Don’t ever give up on YOU! It’s never too late to make some good friends. I’m 72, and just made 2 new friends that live in my apartment complex. In the meantime, be extra good to yourself. Be patient with this healing time, Beth. And get Sheri’s two books, Done With the Crying and Beyond Done With the Crying. They will be a Big help to you. Sheri writes from her own experience too. So she knows exactly how we feel. Wishing you all good things ahead. Many happier, good days. Hang in there, better times are ahead!

    2. elisa

      By cutting yourself off from friends, you are denying someone somewhere your understanding, your help, your prayers. Somewhere in this world there is someone that needs you as a friend. Do not cut good people out. Your daughter is taking the easy way out. By cutting you out, she does not have to deal with your aging, your illnesses, and she will probably get any inheritance there is. It is all about her.

  12. Joy

    My 42 year old son has a personality disorder and I have always been the one he tends to mentally abuse. He was on meds since college but anger toward me has never stopped. I have always loved and nurtured him . Now married with child I had hoped he would be nicer to me but continues to look for disagreement with anything. His stepdad and he were very close. Now he has no use for him. The last time he came over neither me or husband could figure out what he blew up about. He told us it will be a year to see him or grandchild. He lives in the same town. Our other son is the kind and helpful one. Raised the same I keep blaming myself. I turned 70 this year. I expected a card from him. Silly me! I now pretend he is far away in another state. I am happy he has a wife, good job and daughter. I will not let him get to me. My other son is close as is my daughter in law and 2 grandchildren. I will not take the abuse. I cant.

  13. Fluffykitty

    I’ve been completely locked out of adult ED life. We were very close up to the time she divorced her husband of 10 years. She then started seeing a man 25 years older and that was the beginning of the end. We’d occasionally text but now it’s nothing. For almost a year I’ve asked for old family photos she has with no response. She’s moved out of state, I found out by accident. I’m going to change our will and trust as no one has a way to actually contact her if something happens. I’ve seriously considered removing her as a beneficiary too. She’s blocked all other family members from her phone. She’s made it clear she wants nothing to do with me, her Dad or anyone else.

  14. Diane M.

    One thing I have recently decided was that if my estranged daughter and her family ever want to reconcile or reconnect, I don’t want to. It’s taken me a long, long time to get to this point too. I always used to say that the ball was in their court, well now it’s in mine. If I did anything to hurt or offend them, it was their responsibility to tell me so I could make amends or apologize. I even mentioned that to my daughter once. Her reply was, “in order for us to be close, we need time apart.” Really? You put time and effort into relationships, not keep apart. I’m 72 now, and it’s time to focus on me. I wish all of you a happy day. If you choose to celebrate Mother’s Day, do something just for YOU. I wish the best in life for all of you!

    1. Jody

      I’m so proud of you! And, that makes me feel so validated as I literally just did the exact same thing last week to my unmarried adult daughter. She has been controlling, bullying, and mean in this so-called “relationship” for far too long. I let it go on for so long because I was desperately hoping she would one day wake up and realize she was a tyrant.
      The only contact in the past 7-8 years has been by text and by her guidelines! I was NEVER allowed to ask her anything personal. We only spoke about TV shows and sent cute videos back and forth.
      After some back and forth texts of the ball is in her court, and her throwing shade back at me, I finally got to the point where I said to myself, “this is bulls**t! I’m a very sick individual and she is pure toxic! She is doing nothing to bring anything positive into my life and blames me for everything that has gone bad in her life…” Then I thought to hell with her. I’m truly really done!! And I feel like this weight has been lifted. I actually feel lighter. And… I feel good about my decision without guilt!

    2. Bodhi

      Diane, I completely agree with you. I’m also 72, and my daughter has been estranged for almost a year. No reason. She does have antisocial personality and moved in with a sketchy guy, that we never met. My husband chooses to keep in touch with her, very minimal contact. She is adopted, and only child. My husband was the lenient parent, but had much less to do with her upbringing. He tended to spoil her.
      Now, even if she wanted to reconcile, I’m really done. I have no interest anymore. My husband tends to blame me, but is finally seeing the truth. My daughter lies, and is so deceptive. She also works as a mental health worker, entry level job. I decided to just accept, and not talk about her to my husband. So at least I have my marriage, and he is slowly realizing that it’s not my fault. She had an amazing, affluent upbringing. I think we spoiled her, without intention. I am changing my will, she will not get everything. My husband still wants to leave her his estate. His choice. But I won’t reward bad behaviour.

  15. Teri A.

    Why does it seem that the Children that hate their parents are the ones that are in charge of making medical decisions on their behalf.

    1. rparents Post author


      You can change that. Seek legal advice and fix this. There are even forms online. Make sure you have the information with your choices on file with your healthcare provider too.

      You have rights.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Sheila

      Teri, I’m so sorry to hear about your situation but I totally understand. Until I reunited with my high school sweetheart and married this last year, my best friend was my medical power of attorney, NOT MY KIDS. I’m sure you’ve got a close friend that loves you and would be happy to make those decisions for you. I pray for peace for you in this decision.

  16. Dawn

    I too have been completely ghosted by my children. A daughter that I always had a tumultuous relationship with, now my son. We moved around a lot as a military family, I was often raising them alone for years at a time. Then the divorce and more doing it alone 24/7.
    I have cried so much over it all, wondered daily about them. It sounds like so many others in my situation do the same. I’m mostly done crying after all these yrs, done hoping, praying, wishing n waiting. Done wondering why and if they ever remember any of the good parts of me or fun things we did together. I’ve finally realized I need to finish my life living for me and my happiness. I put myself through college, got a boyfriend, landed my dream job, have a dog to spoil! I will just try my best to keep moving forward. When I die, I’m leaving everything to an animal sanctuary. At least I know the hard work I do now will not go unappreciated.

    1. Jackie

      I am so happy for you to have found peace and been able to have other people and activities to focus on. I am 65 and simply looked forward to being close to my daughter and dote on my beautiful grandchildren. Sadly, she has chosen otherwise and I cannot understand why. She’s a great mom to her child but something is missing within her. I know this as her mother. She guards all of her secrets well from me and it makes me so sad for her as her cruelty to me will come back to haunt her and it will be too late to resolve once I am gone.

    2. Trish

      U R #Not the only one going through this, I’m going through the same thing with my #2 Adult daughters, My son is my youngest child and he’s special needs, He’s a Sweetheart n he’s Loving and Kind, He’s still @ home, I Concentrate on my relationship with Jesus Christ n Taking Care of my myself and my son n other ppl that I meet❤️

    3. Toni D.

      Good for you -taking charge of your life. We deserve it, I think. Getting a dog is so wonderful. I don’t know what I would have done without mine through the years.
      Hugs to you!

    4. Jody

      Dawn, I think that’s admirable how you are going about moving on. I am in the process of finalizing my will. Originally it was going to be an 80/20 split 80 in favor of my son. I was only giving my daughter the 20% out of guilt. However, now that I have decided to truly end the relationship with the nasty individual, bully, ungrateful, daughter that cut me out of her life 7-8 years ago, why should I feel obligated to give her a dime!?!? I think I will still give my son 80% and donate the other 20% to research for some of the chronic diseases which I am suffering from. My son helps me out at home. Runs errands for me. Takes me to appointments when he’s available. His career is just starting, and he’s becoming less available, and I never ever want or wanted to be a burden on him. He needs to move on and have a life of his own! Friends. A family. Whatever it is he desires. I only want happiness for him. He deserves it all! Love. Happiness. And the money.

    5. Julia

      Good for you. I volunteer with a rescue group and we need every penny. If my kids continue to reject me, my money is going to the same.

  17. Sherry R.

    My first one cut me off 12 or 13 yrs. Ago. I begged for 10
    Years but it did no good! I saw,a shrink and took antidepressants. I gave up after those 10 yrs. It was too much for me. It was her decision and not mine.
    She didn’t desire to try at all. I blame myself ENTIRELY!!

    My middle one has cut me off but this time around i cannot and REFUSE TO TAKE THE BLAME. i would hear constantly how tired and busy her life is. I would hear over and over how far behind the father of her eldest child was behind in child support. I heard how difficult
    The child of her youngest was to deal with.
    She moved faraway from me 16 yrs. Ago.

    I bailed her and the youngest one out of financial difficulties yrs. Ago.

    I am 74 and tired of it all!
    I was a widow at 34 and never remarried. I raised all 3 a son whom was 4 and a half, two girls whom were then 3 and seven months old on my own. Parents and sister did not help but told me to remarry as quickly as i could.

    I am not looking for sympathy nor compassion from anyone.

    I live alone and ask no one for help, am quiet and just want a little peace in my few remaining days here on earth.

    My eldest, a son, seems to like me o hope. He moved out about 7 yrs. Ago. He lives about 45 minutes away from me. He is single at 45 and has never been married. He visits me about ever 6 to 8 weeks. I never ask him for anything. He calls me every 2 or 3 days or shoots me a text.

    If i had to do it all over again i would not have had any children in all honesty.

    I think i was an adequate mother and did the best i could. My husband died at 36 from cancer. It took me yrs. To just learn how to cope with his death.

    I think i deserve a little better from both gals but they hold and control the reigns and hold the power while i hold no powers at all am at their mercies and forgivenesses. I must have FAILED IN ALL WAYS.

    I am a devout woman of great Christian faith and pray several times a day snd read my bible and that’s my tale.

    1. Diane

      So sorry. I feel your pain deeply. Not knowing what crimes I have committed or what I’m guilty and charged with has been agonizing. I believe someday she will come around. In the meantime you are probably their only hope for salvation. An eternity of heaven or hell. Don’t stop praying for them.

  18. Ann

    Sometimes I wonder what these ” Therapists” our kids go to reinforce so they will get a paying client.
    I have to remember I was a somebody before my only son was born.
    He denied my husband abused him in his younger years-
    But I think he associates me with his Father’s Semi exposure to porn etc. in my hours at work.
    He cut me off but said he loves me.
    Sadly, we still love our child who is cutting us off.
    If I’d EVER KNOWN there was any abuse, I’d left my husband swiftly.
    Every time I asked him in college if his Dad touched him he’d get very angry for even asking!
    Now I realize it’s by association he judges me-…so I got cut out of his life??
    Wow- just wow.
    Molesters never wear a sign around their neck to do dirty things and groom their own kids.
    My husband had a Mom who neglected him…so he got exposed to bad things!
    I can’t know what nobody told me. No arrest records to warn me..
    The computer and video world I cast lots of blame on too!
    Find Peace in Jesus – as Scriptures predict these things will occur and get worse.
    Also, the WEALTHY in-laws get attention and time sometimes that the ” poor” parent are denied because they hold the Gold.
    Be at Peace-
    Pray for our sick world.

    1. Trish

      AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN, Sooooooo #True, #Jesus told us that These things WILL happen (MARK 13th Chp, #Luke 21st Chp, Matthew 24th chp, Matthew #10th Chp , #MICAH7THCHP, #2NDTIMOTHY3RDCHP❤️

  19. Donna H

    “These adult children who hate parents are not grateful for life.”

    This is an overgeneralization. I’m in an unique situation on this board. Lately i haven’t been participating because my daughter and I have become closer though I fear repeated patterns and fear there may be trouble in paradise in her marraige. As I’ve said before, she has a pattern of when she’s in a relationship, I become less important to her but that aside, it’s now time to speak about rejecting my parents to address this overgeneralization.

    Plain and simple, my parents were child abusers as in they beat us. As an adult, I had nothing to do with them and was determined that I would not subject my daughter to them. Oddly, when it came to my father, my siblings found no fault with this but when it came to my mother they gave me a hard time. But I remained adamant. I saw how she poked fun of my niece to which my sister (niece’s mother) and other siblings objected that’s because niece was born out of wedlock (sister became a teen mother at 16) but you’re married. My mother is virulently religious as in rabidly, not in a normal sense of belief. She is rather akin to the mother in Stephen King’s Carrie and I wish I was exaggerating. She has literally when angry at us screamed “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” I said she beat us and she’d treat her own grandchild like that. No way am I subjecting my daughter to that woman.

    I became very glad I didn’t and my siblings allowed I was smart not to after a couple of back-to-back incidents when said niece (first of her generation born in my oldest sister’s teens) had grown and just become a mother herself. First, my mother hauled off and hit my second youngest sister’s son, her grandson, who was five at the time. He too was born to married parents. My niece married a Vietnamese man and had a beautiful daughter not quite one who, took largely after her Daddy and looked Asian. This was my mother’s blood great-granddaughter but she went and called her a racial slur just two weeks after hitting the grandson. Fortunately, the baby was too young to be aware of the insult.

    No, I don’t hate my mother because I’m not grateful for my life. I hate my mother becuase I cherish and protect my life. We need to keep in mind that sometimes there are good reasons to have nothing to do with parents that are truly abusive. I have sympathy for so many parents who were not and still get the attitude but, please, don’t equate those of us who had good reason like that or make the mistake of thinking we hate our life with children who are merely ungrateful. That’s simply not true in the case where there is just cause to cut those ties.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Donna,

      Of course there are times when people must leave abusers no matter the relationship. You put quotes around the statement you’re saying is an overgeneralization. However, that isn’t sensible when used out of context to what was said in my blog post.

      I’m sad that you have endured so much, Donna. May you be well and peaceful.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Katherine

      Ditto. Same goes double for me. Both parents abusive, only daughter entitled and hateful to me . I will be in shock for the rest of my life.

    3. Hope

      Hello Donna H.

      Like you I am in a different boat than the majority on here. I still have a bit of a relationship with my grown children. When they act like I’m half part of their life im mot on this board.
      As soon as i get hurt from being ignored or disrespected i get on here. It helps to know its not just me.
      I found this site several years ago when i chose
      To distance from them. Ive always felt like i dont belong on here because im not going through what
      Most estranged parents are.
      For the most part i get ignored unless it benefits them. It is so hard especially when i know they were not raised like that.

  20. Ruth

    “But reality has a way of waking people up. Not ‘woke’ as our culture currently packages trendy ideas to make them sound good, but awake, as in aware of reality.”

    The term “Woke” has racial connotations. Are you suggesting that perspectives expressed by people of color are trendy ideas that are being packaged to sound good and not based in reality?

    1. rparents Post author

      No, Ruth. Not only have I never seen the term used with a racial context, but your question is offensive. OF COURSE NOT.

      I wish you kindness and peace,
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Lilly

      Probably not. So many people are tired of having know it alls try to impose their subjective ideas of what’s right and wrong upon everyone else. As a black person, I see this woke thing as more political pandering to these wanna be know it alls.

  21. Lisa B.

    Our daughter began by telling me that she would not have a relationship with her father. She says she was emotionally abused by him her entire life. It broke my husband’s heart.I hated being in the middle, loving both of them, and tried to make sense of the sad situation. She then added me to the estrangement. My husband and I have gone to counseling and invited her to join us. She will not. I have days when I am angry and others that are filled with sadness. I worry that I will become indifferent toward my own daughter. I also worry how a reconciliation can actually happen. Today is a weepy day….

  22. Linsey M.

    Lynn, my son estranged from me 12 years ago, the same year he married. I beat myself up for years, lost self confidence and still
    am a bit surprised when I think of how it all went down. The holidays still trigger me a bit but they are the holidays that honor me—Mother’s Day and my birthday. That sounds selfish but honest. Anyway, if I stay mindful consistently, I’m okay and can enjoy life. It’s work to stay mindful but so worth it. Sending hugs

  23. Michelle M .

    I have let go of the pictures, I mailed any childhood mementos and decided it was not my job to be the keeper of the memories. My friend advised me to take down the pictures as they would be daily reminders of the pain they have caused. After my second child decided to follow her sister and cut me off from her life. I honored her wishes. Somehow, I was still expected to pay her phone, insurance , and college. Store her stuff since the pandemic. She then threatened me with no relationship if I did not pay college. (BTW, I take it now out of her trust from my parents). I informed her I had not seen her in a year, we did not have a current relationship. Previously I was told, I bored her and she would rather sleep after taking her for a birthday dinner. When I gave her space, I was told I didn’t care. I have been told I yelled at her, slammed doors, and kicked her out as a kid. I divorced her dad when she was 12. She was diagnosed with ADD in college and put on adderall. While it is difficult to diagnose in girls, I really find it hard to understand as she was a good student and is in an engineering program. But I do see that she suffers from high levels of anxiety and stress. I see medical professionals blame this on the pandemic in this next generation. I think my daughter may be Borderline Personality Disorder. Both have similarities and the exaggeration and accusations, I believe come from this disorder. I had to question my very different view of events. My sister also would rage at times and is most likely Bi-polar. I encouraged therapy after the divorce and she finally went in High School. I know both my children blame me for the break up of our family. My ex made sure that I was to blame not his affairs or porn addictions. He would tell them I was trying to take their home away. I was crazy and menapausal. I have had to let go of a lot of material things. I guess I do know the reason for the break up but still does not make it easier. I also will no longer engage in her blame game and no longer will go down that rabbit hole. I no longer walk on eggshells. I know my truth and decided to enjoy my life. It is their loss. i choose to live my life in peace. I am letting go of them.

    1. Trish

      AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN, Sister, Just #Know U r #Not the only one going through this,,Me too, I had 2 Let both of my #2 adult daughters #GO , I left them in the HANDS Of The LORD, U have 2 DO the #SAME thing ❤️

    2. Julia

      I think my daughter has BPD too. She is also always wanting things as if we are in a normal relationship, despite only seeing me a few times in the past year. I ALSO have been accused of “yelling” (even when I talk quietly), and abuse, and on and on. CPS (same guy) came to our house twice – he told her to knock it off, that she has a very nice mother – he pointed out that I went silent when she was screaming abusively at me in front of him – and he told her that he was wasting his time with her and needed to go help kids with real problems. Lol. She didn’t understand. She’s a minor, obviously. So much stress about Mother’s Day – it’s been a few weeks of foul language in texts and threats about how she will or won’t participate. She doesn’t answer when I call, so we can only communicate through texts that she doesn’t usually answer, and that she misinterprets. Tired of tiptoeing around her. I don’t know who she is anymore, and I do not share her values. She’s being raised by her new stepmother and narcissist dad who came out of hiding a year ago when his new wife bought a big new house with him. They worship the ground she walks on. I’m vanishing so that someone else can be a target.

    3. Julia

      Oh, and my child ALSO tells everyone that I kicked her out. Her dad backs her up on that. For a while I was driving around town trying to get her from her boyfriend’s house where she would run to, with no adult supervision. I wanted her to come home, because I have legal custody and was very worried about her in that situation. But that doesn’t matter – her story is that I “kicked her out”. The police cannot enforce custody orders. They did talk to the boyfriend, and explained to him that I was rightfully concerned. His mom HID from me – I’ve never spoken to her after a year of dating, and that is fully her decision that I’ve tried to respect. The officers were young. I offhandedly said “I think the mom is hiding”, but didn’t really believe it. They returned to my car, and said that she WAS actually hiding, and they were so surprised. My daughter is upper middle class, has been given everything, every opportunity – doesn’t matter. She pretends she was raised on the streets, while living in an upscale neighborhood.

  24. Tina

    My story is like so many shared here. I guess the question I have is why don’t children tell us why they no longer want a relationship? My daughter is 28, which is the generation of enlighten young adults who know how the handle every situation, except how to communicate with their parents. No personal conversation or confrontation required, maybe just an email with a basic explanation.

  25. Patty T.

    This is all very interesting. I have not had contact with my daughter for 7 years this month. There had been struggles for a time in our relationship, particularly her thought that I love my son more, but her cutting me out of her life came with no warning at all. I thought my relationship with my son was so much stronger, but one year later, almost to the day, my son cut me out of his life too.

    My son is an artist and my house is currently decorated with his artwork. There are memories with each piece. Lately I feel like I should take it all down and put it in storage. People who come to my house comment on the pieces. I am so proud of this part of him, but most of my friends and family are aware that I have no contact with my children. I wonder what they really think about my displaying his artwork.

    Also pictures of my children. I remember my daughter counting pictures and was hurt that there were more pictures of my son out than of her. I have exactly the same number of pictures out for both of them. I don’t look at them anymore and wonder if I should just pack them away.

    I wonder if packing away my past as a mother (these things) would help me move forward. I do have good day sometimes now, but the really bad days can still overwhelm me. Are these “things” triggers?

    Much to think about!

    1. candleinthewind

      Sure they’re triggers. But as another mum posted, it’s not in our DNA to forget our children, deserted or otherwise. I have virtually no artwork or pictures of my estranged children anywhere in my home these days. Nor phone numbers. But much like deleting phone numbers for ex-lovers which I’ve sort high and low to find again, don’t assume there’s a simple way out of this. It’s much slower than that. The trick, if there is one, is to be kind to yourself. And that enables a kindness rather than a bitterness to others. But it’s a hard won fight. Happy days.

    2. Donna M.

      I think as adults, maybe we ought to give away most of our possessions. Or burn them. Since children seem to think of it as a burden or some misplaced loyalty?
      That way they don’t have to deal with all the “ junk” that had been collected during one’s life.
      After, it meant something to just us.
      The old bumper sticker on the back of a RV saying , “ I’m spending my child’s inheritance “, brings a big smile to my face.
      It seems so many children are so ungrateful in life except when it comes to “ mooching “ for money that they think we “ owe “ them.
      Most children have absolutely no respect for parents, no matter what we have done for them.
      I say, let them live from their parents. Parents have spent their lifetime giving a lot of themselves, only to be ignored in later years.
      Where is the love? They don’t have it for the most part.
      Parents should move across the country and change their phone number. We would get more peace that way .

    3. Trish

      AMEN,,Sister, I had 2 do pretty much the Same thing, When we Raised, Nurtured n took care of our children until they were #18 yrs old or Old enough to stand on their own, That’s #ALL we r Required 2 DO, I HAD 2 let my #2 adult daughters Go n I FEEL Soooooo #Much better because I’m going through medical issues n they are living their lives as they desires, I have a son who’s special needs, he’s my youngest n still @ home, I focus my attention on my relationship with Jesus Christ, my health and being there 4 my son ❤️

  26. Vickie B.

    Being dumped by your only child is heart wrenching but not a thing we can do. God loves us and he will comfort our hearts

    1. Donna

      My heart goes out to you…all three of my children deserted my husband and I.
      I lean on Jesus everyday. It’s devastating.

    2. Stacey H

      My daughter hasn’t spoke to me In 6 years. She has alienated most of her family. All I can do is hope she finds her happiness and of that means without me so be it. I think I. Her latter years when we are all gone she will have second thoughts on how she handled things. Ghosting with no explanation or reasoning told directly to me. I will always love her and those grandchildren I don’t have the privilege of knowing. That doesn’t mean I’m still not heartbroken.

    3. Lisa

      Yes it is. I think we should for a Nationwide group and protest against this and get some sort of law established for paretal and Grandparets rights in every State. This is becoming a pandemic full of heartache.
      We as Hildreth of the most high God can do this because we have Almighty God on our side! Let’s all get an online petition going!
      Who is with me?
      I have not seen my grandkids in 7 years and the live 10 minutes away.

  27. Bob F.

    Okay, this one was a good one! It was real and genuine!

    Also, thank you for introducing me to the concept of “unconscious loyalties”, gonna look into that…

    1. Loretta

      Holding on to the past or the past holding on to us. As I write this i am at my daughter’s house. (I flew across country to be here) A couple nights ago she indicated that -with reason – she had a traumatic event as a very small child….. About 35 years ago. I can not imagine how or who or when. But it makes s little sense. In her little girl heart she blamed me. I did not keep her safe. That distrust blossomed as a teen and matured in her adulthood. I rarely even had a babysitter as i greatly enjoyed having my children with me. My husband and I are both wracking our brains to imagine how this may have happened. I don’t know if understanding this can heal the rift between us, but I am hoping for some kind of relationship.

  28. Debs

    I totally get this and have all ready worked through the disposal of material objects.
    It hasn’t however totally changed my thought processes as an unexpected event showed me last week.
    I’m back in touch with my once estranged son and his children, the oldest has just turned 18.
    His ex wife and my daughter collaborated to rip our family apart and I have no contact with either through choice after mind numbingingly, repeated hurts.
    For a few weeks before his 18th I prepared myself or thought I did, for what may or may not happen on his birthday. We don’t live close by so cards and a cheque were sent plus loving messages on the day, on social media. Not a hint was given of any celebration planned.
    Later that afternoon, my social media was bombarded with pictures of his lunch party, with many people from the past, including my son, family friends, in fact everyone apart from us, his grandparents.
    To say my mental health collapsed is an understatement.
    All the old feelings of betrayal, hurt, loss of self esteem and shock and anger flooded back from 8 years ago. I thought I was prepared and I wasn’t and I realise now that I’m no longer holding on to the material possessions of our parents but, the unwritten rules they taught us of honesty, trust, loyalty and sharing. I can’t and won’t throw them away.
    I thought I’d moved forward with my life and feelings but I plainly haven’t and I don’t know where to go from here apart from building brick walls to protect me. Again.

    1. Vickie B.

      My 45 year old son attacked me threw me down on the ground and proceeded to start punching me before my grandson got in the way. I had a nervous breakdown. His wife of 27 years and my brother have destroyed our relationship. It’s hard to want to live. I’m 67 years old and pray for Gods mercy

  29. Bethann L.

    After my mom passed my father asked my ex and daughter to move in. He didn’t want to sell it. He was getting married to the wicked witch and bought a condo. My mother and I had a strained relationship. I was youngest of 4 by 18, 16 and 8 years older. From 12 on, my mother’s alcoholism increased. My father would just leave and I had to take care of her. Why I was adamant I go away to college. I came back, worked for my father, married and lived next door until my mother passed from a brain tumor. I had reconnected with her after college. Now living in my parents home 20+ years, having 2 children who want nothing to do with me, and a fiance who is willing to live in this home, I need to rid the things of my past. It’s difficult. I’m not thrilled getting rid of my children’s things. Everything has a memory. Life must go on.

  30. MJ

    These comments all hit home to me . From the time my daughter was born I collected mother daughter and father daughter figurines , when I mentioned some years back about having them for her she told me she did not want them that she had always considered them “mine” …. It should have been an eye opener then but it was several years later at the north of our grandchild which we were not included in that we were cut out no contact … fast forward that will be two years ago in august . Our hearts were broken , she is our only child. I have finally been able to stop most of the crying and we (my husband and I) are moving on with our lives but still not a day goes by that she has not crossed my mind. We were very close all through her childhood …. At least I thought we were . I echo the sentiment of others on here that we will always love her and if she ever wants contact we will be here but we will no longer hold our breaths that this will happen you cannot force someone to love you in return . Thanks so much for your letters and book and also comments from others that are also surviving and eventually thriving it is always encouraging .

    1. Donna M.

      It’s a shame parents endure the bad behavior of children these days.
      I don’t think some generations of kids have
      “ love “ in their hearts.
      My daughter was born this way. There was always something that was missing.
      No matter how much I tried to make her feel loved, she pushed away even more.
      I noticed she has no problem acknowledging me if she wants money.
      After 40 years of this, it is old.
      And the name calling… wow. Who is this child that never grew up?
      I think now it is our time to live our own lives.
      Don’t feel bad parents, it is not our fault they are like this. Even though they would love for us to believe it is.
      We are a broken society these days and I do not think this will get any better. Not in our lifetime.
      What a sad world.

  31. Layle

    Thank you, Sheri. Your writings are always eye opening. I hadn’t really thought of my current behaviors possibly being so closely tied to memories of my parents. I too, have that furniture, held onto so religiously, and not understanding my compulsion, especially knowing my only child wants nothing of mine after I’m gone.
    I do have a question for you, have any adult children, who’ve estranged from their parents, ever reached out to you? Is there any literature written specifically for these kids, that touches on any subject relating to estrangement in the event they may wake up one day and wonder about their own behavior? I’m asking because I feel like my own son may wonder one day (long after I’m gone), if he should have behaved in such a way. Hopefully there will be resources for those who have regrets later. Living with guilt is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Layle,

      I do get contacted by adult children. None, so far, that have regrets.

      I can appreciate your concerns here. Parents hurt to imagine their child’s regrets. We can’t control it though. And it is their lesson, if they do have regrets, for their journey. I hope holding onto that worry doesn’t hold you back … from enjoying your life to the best of your ability. So many folks wake up ten years or more into estrangement and regret wasted time.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Hope

      WOW! Your question!
      Before i ever opened my phone i was talking to God and i just said what about ALL the estranged adult children. I would love to read why they do what they do and how they can live as though the very people who gave them life dont exist. Then I read your comment.

      When did having a relationship with your parents become the last thing on your list in life if its even on the list! I just dont get it. I have always been there for my parents and i thought that was the best way to teach my own to be there for me.
      Boy did I fail.

      Layle I love how you ask about the whole other flip side of this heartbreak.

      Hoping for better

  32. Mikki

    Regarding Things like a China Cabinet: It’s been 20+ years since my sister died and 10+ years since my mother died. After their deaths I clung to Physical THINGS. Today, there are items that I can’t remember who belonged to who. I have an old valuable China Cabinet that has never fit in my home. I finally put it on FaceBook and asked if anyone wanted and a good friend spoke up and is taking it off my hands. While cleaning out that China Cabinet I threw away an item my grandmother made and a number of other things none of my children will want and that I have no use for. My memories of my mother, sister, grandmother are precious and I do love their old pictures. But one day no one will care about those. They are only physical items that get stored way. Get rid of them. Make space. You have memories. Write them down. Maybe some days someone will read them.

  33. Ceit

    I am in a sort of limbo, but then again, not. It’s been 10 months since my daughter cut me completely out ofher life & took her two boys with her. It was always a demanding relationship. I don’t know how many times I saved her but I loved her to her bones, so that’s what you do. She wrote to me eventually after I kept sending emails of how much I loved her. She told me what a toxic manipulative, physically & mentally cruel & abusive mother I had been. In the beginning the pain was literally unbearable. I apologised for what I could’ve & should’ve done better but all I got back was even more poisonous vitriol that took my very heart away.
    In my grief I leant too much on my son -who was always in my own head at least – proof that I’d got my mothering right. But for the last 6 months he has pulled away and for the last 2 of them, he’s been no contact. He wants some distance to sort himself out as the whole situation has exhausted him and when he ‘peels back all the layers’ he questions whether we ‘have anything in common at all’. Up till this I had thought we were close. This last year I have learned that I have to just let them go. Maybe my son will get in touch but who knows when. I love them both but something has shifted in me. Time will tell if it’s permanent – the rift & the shift. I am managing to keep on loving myself, at last after such a long year of cutting bitterness down where it grew and cruelly berating myself.

  34. Krystle

    This is a good piece of writing that has created my thoughts to jump around everywhere ….
    I am holding onto different pieces such as a mirror that I realised my brother has stored in his garage, my son grew up looking in that mirror, but interestingly it’s not to my taste any more, but even mentioning here is causing this nervous feeling in my stomach, I sometimes call my brother in a worried way checking that it’s still there, safe in his garage…. After reading your piece Sheri it’s making me giggle as to why on earth I am like it. I mean, it’s just a mirror right . Also this lovely clay piece that I brought with my son when he was younger, I’m actually holding onto it tightly, perhaps because I’m holding on my son & his childhood. Mmmm definitely thoughts to explore, & definitely anxiety provoking for me.
    I recently learned of “Helicopter Parenting”, a concept that children born in the late 1980’s to early 2000’s were parented in an excessive attention way, overprotective & act on their behalf. I instantly thought omg that’s me! But after taking time & thinking about it, there was other things about my parenting that doesn’t fit with that. It made me realise I’m still searching for the “why”… even though I have learnt to live a meaningful Life with the concept I may never know why. Of course Helicopter Parenting is a ripple effect of parenting in the 1960’s / 1970’s & socioeconomic changes … does that make me a monster… absolutely not!
    I have just come out of a “wobble”, my sleeping is much calmer, dreams are not focused around my son & grandchildren. I know this is something that’s going to pop up now & again, but thinking about all of this when I’m not on a wobble will help me cope more positively when those wobbles arise.
    My son is going to be 34 in a couple of weeks. Nearly 4 whole years since the estrangement. So much has changed for me in that time, divorce, financial security, growing confidence, my degree at university has just changed to a masters… it’s nuts in one way, I’m living my Plan B life (as I call it) & I suppose feel guilty for it, but for the first time in my whole life, I’m putting myself first & reaching my full potential. That has to link into loyalty somewhere!

    1. Danielle L.

      Hi and thank you so much for thinking of us Mom’s who are throwing to the wolfs about what I did and what he did is so far in the past that I don’t even cry anymore. It’s sad how my now 35 yr old son is totally out of my life I can’t cry anymore cause nothing gets done, my thoughts and prayers are with him always, it’s a good thing that I m living nowadays day to day and it is what it is, cause I can’t change anything, especially how he feels. I haven’t spoken with him in 3 years and I’m just ok with that.

  35. Yellow Rose

    I think this is a very well written and thought provoking article, Sheri. Thank you for publishing it. It is not easy to come to realities or deep thoughts about why we do what we do. Or to consider if our old patterns of thinking or behaviors are helpful to us or no longer helpful to us. It is rare that anyone says this kind of thing to estranged parents. It seems more likely the message is figure out what you did wrong to p*ss off the son or daughter so they walk away, write the amends letter, and then wait and hope and wait and hope. Your message is very practical guidance, I think. At least for myself, anyway.

    1. Jackie

      And I agree!! FINALLY someone is addressing this very serious and sadly trending issue of alienation, labeling, ghosting and cruelty against mothers and fathers by their adult children. I think that Ms. McGregor nailed it on several points and did it within a context of love and empathy.

  36. Julia

    I have given a lot of thought about material goods or photographs that I would love to leave my grandchildren, but in reality, they will be conditioned that we are people they should fear, their heads will be filled with lies. It’s doubtful they will reach out when they turn 18. The more years that go by the more I am letting go of leaving any material goods behind on this earth. Keeping it simple.

    1. Cathy H.

      It is funny too read this as I was thinking about my estranged daughter who estranged me 4 yrs ago, and took 3 grandchildren. That seems to hurt more then not seeing my daughter. My daughter did a lot of damage yet I still love her, not like her so much, but always love her. My son her brother says, mom is it okee to miss her. Yes of course it is. She had estranged a whole family, but the damage she did before she left still hurts to this day. And on top of that the damage to her daughter my granddaughter. I do my best to give it to God. She will always be my daughter, I gave birth too on a stormy day… her middle name is storm.

  37. Mary

    While I still love my only child, after 8 yrs of being dumped like yesterdays trash and attempts to destroy me in every conceivable way, I have made the decision to move on in life.
    I can’t predict the future, but at this point in time, I no longer long for “that conversation”, or “reconciliation”.
    At one point I may have wanted to explain or apologize for her version of life’s events, but now after almost 8 yrs of being rejected and dragged through the mud, I owe her nothing more than she’s given me.
    My loyalty is now to myself.
    Love her, wish her the best in life, but every day we are reminded that no one is promised tomorrow, time to get on with what life we have left with those that have chosen us.

    1. Sue B

      It’s been almost 10 years since my son, now 34, estranged. It wasn’t until about a month ago that I stopped blaming myself. My heart goes out to all moms going through this.

    2. Lynn

      It’s been 7 years for us, and I think about her more now, than when she was talking to us. I don’t know how to let it go. Any suggestions?

    3. Sophia

      Mary, you took the words right outta my mouth! I wish my estranged daughter well & I actually feel sorry for her. She has cut off ties with me & just about all family friends who love her. She will be 30, so she must think about her actions & their consequences. I stopped waiting for the apology or basing my value on anyone else’s judgment. Be blessed.

    4. Rae

      My younger daughter abandoned me 4 years after I left my home, house, friends and familiarity to move 100 miles with her encouragement to spend more time with my 2 grandsons, her and her husband and with older daughter who lives in same town. The first thing she asked me when I got here was to provide transportation for my grand boys to and from school. Just 2 weeks previous she had accepted a full time job. For 4 years I was their taxi their “sitter” and 24/7 on the call for any other needs. I was an active part of their life and we had many adventures together. The boys changed schools, had access to busing and I was out of a job. Come to find out, she decided she didn’t want anything to do with me but would NOT tell me why. My older daughter sat on the fence awhile but later backed her sister. For 3 years I haven’t been invited to any family events, large or small. I live completely alone in solitary confinement I call it. I did have a breakdown and they had me admitted to a psychiatric facility. I left there broken. Can’t afford to live here anymore and have no where I can go that I could afford. Like another writer I wish I hadn’t had children. You give them everything of yourself and suddenly you’re in your 70s wondering what happened. I truly don’t know. I asked for a reason and my daughter said “you piled shit on me for the last 20 years “. She’s 47 yrs old. I asked for an example and she wouldn’t answer me. A psychiatrist told me to “accept it “. Truthfully, and I know truth can be dangerous to hear but I see no solution and have no hope.

      1. Julia

        I had some admissions due to my inability to accept the rages and breakdowns and abuse from my daughter (I’m at-risk and do not have any support or the strong mental health to deal with it… PTSD sucks). Everyone asked WHY, and every time, it was triggered by my relationship with my daughter. I feel guilty even saying that. She’s just a kid. I have an older son too – NO admissions related to him, and he’s no perfect angel. But he’s within the normal range of behavior. I’m an adoptive parent… I learned some things that should make anyone cautious. My ex and his new wife are THRILLED to be my daughter’s favorites. My ex knows the background – he told me to never speak of it again.


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