Adult child’s rejection: Emotional and social fallout

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Things aren’t always as they seem. Neither are people. In the throes of disbelief, shocked by an adult child’s rejection, a parent may feel all alone among their peers. How can any mother feel like herself when her whole world seems to have fallen apart? How can a father feel secure when everything he’s ever worked for is trashed?

When we’re emotiadult child's rejectiononally exhausted—and even physically fatigued from the loss of sleep that can go with an adult child’s rejection—we can start to doubt ourselves. And how much more so when the son or daughter we love puts the blame on us, maybe even saying that we’re crazy? Or telling others we are.

Alone among our peers

When we’re feeling so low over something as devastating and embarrassing as an adult child’s rejection, we tend to isolate ourselves. Confused, perhaps even doubting ourselves, we may not have the energy to try and explain what’s going on in our lives. But we also know people might notice that we’re not our usual selves. Afraid of questions, we might start to avoid social situations. We might also fear judgment. How can we share something so awful?

Esther—one of the dozens of mothers whose stories I relate in my book, Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children, felt like this:  If I still wondered what I did wrong, how could I expect other people not to wonder?

When we’re feeling uncertain and uneasy, socializing can be difficult (after an adult child’s rejection, that may be putting it mildly).

When your own son or daughter doesn’t believe you’re a good parent, tells you you’re crazy, or accuses you with memories that don’t match your own, even telling friends you trust and feel close to can feel scary.

Isolating the abused is a tactic out of a very old playbook. So is pinning the fault on the victim. That’s what abusers do. They excuse their own behavior by blaming another.

Abuse?

Whether or not you consider your adult child’s rejection a form of abuse, it’s important to recognize that at a time when you’re emotionally wrought, feeling as if your whole world and everything you’ve ever worked for has disintegrated, you’re at risk. Isolation, self-doubt, and self-blame, are common among parents of estranged adult children. But you need to know—you’re not alone.

Talking about your adult child’s estrangement takes a plan.

When we’re feeling out of sorts, in shock, and embarrassed, it’s difficult to believe we’re not the only ones enduring such devastation. But the truth is, we don’t always hear about adult children who come from caring families rejecting them. Just as you may feel like the freak show among your peers, others might also be keeping quiet about their personal pain.

In the book, I share my own story of shedding the shame of my son’s estrangement. In doing so, I regained a sense of freedom, and reclaimed a strong identity. Being open about the situation also paved the way for me to help other parents of estranged of adult children.

If you tell others about your adult child’s rejection, you may very well be judged. Faces tighten. Arms fold. Emotional walls go up. The expected reaction often does happen. But as is explained in Done With The Crying, you can also steer the response, just as you might with some other sort of tragedy you choose to share.

Whether you borrow from other parents’ “ready responses” in the book, or use them as jumping off points for your own, it’s always easier to socialize when you feel prepared.

You might be also be surprised how many people can relate. As one mother discusses, until she opened up, she didn’t know that some parents who were a little standoffish also had estranged children.Turns out, those parents who were hard to get to know were suffering their own private despair—just as she once was. “I ended up helping them get something horrible off their chests,” she says, “which made me feel better too.”

Even though socializing may be difficult, the general advice after trauma is to mix among people, keep commitments, and get on with life. You may very well need to protect yourself, get your bearings, and regain some self-esteem. My experience, and that of other mothers shared in the book, can help you take small steps forward, steer others’ reactions to your own benefit. Remember, there’s no need to make big scary leaps. Even the tiniest of steps help you build confidence, and move you forward—in new directions, or simply back to your old self and life.

Available through popular booksellers. Ask your local bookstore to order this book for help for mothers of estranged adult childrenparents of estranged adult children for you. Or order online. Kindle lovers, your version will be available soon.

Not in the U.S?  — you can still get the book. Ask your local bookstore, or order at Amazon.ca or Amazon.com/uk

 

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68 thoughts on “Adult child’s rejection: Emotional and social fallout

  1. Heather

    So glad to have found this group. Struggling at the moment. My son married a girl that I have really tired to love, and forgive. Recently when she decided to join the Army National Guard and go away for basic and OCS school for 17 weeks, I did everything to support her. I was told to stop writing her letters, she wanted nothing from me, that she thinks I am a joke. My son almost had a complete nervous breakdown while she was gone, and would call me daily breaking. I thought I was going to have to go to him and put him in the hospital for help. He had issues with every area of his life, his job, his wife, he was loosing it. He shared how she had cheated on him previously (this is a short term marriage only 5 years) and how she was doing it again while in OCS. I said some bad things about her during these calls, sometimes to get him to snap out of it. She graduated, came home and yes you know it, she is living with him for the time being and he told her every last word I said. Not only will she not speak to me, neither will her family. They all, naturally, hate me. She has turned everything she did into a story of it was me who said the bad things about her, not owning one thing she did. My son is sort of being a sitting duck, saying she is his wife, his life, he tells her everything, etc. I feel so betrayed by him. He is in counseling, These are the tactics she always pulls, it is always piled on someone else, she never looks inside. He has even told me that she does not apologize. I now have very limited contact with my son, and honestly don’t know how to move this forward. She will do this all over to him again, as she will be leaving within the next year for 17 more weeks of further training with the Army. One thing that will be different, I will never say a word about her. I also cannot just be a whipping post for him to call up while he is having a break down either. It is tragic. I feel so much for him and his soul, but he has set himself up for pain. Meanwhile, I am trying to move it forward with my own life. It is hard, I raised him alone since he was 12 when his father, my husband, died, and we have an extremely close bond. This issue is not just my daughter-in-law, it is his as well, for betraying me and my confidence to her and for what, I wonder what he gained? I see what she gained, the ability to take the blame off of her behavior once again. I just don’t know what to do with this entire situation.

    Reply
    1. Mimi

      Hi Heather,
      Your DIL sounds like she will never ever change. She is probably creating the same types of drama wherever she goes, sucking in unsuspecting victims, chewing them up and spitting them out. People like that don’t save their bad behavior for one person. They share that evil ugliness with all the people they encounter.

      I know you feel betrayed by your son. But, at least you know he loves you. That is something to hold on to. Maybe you could tell your son that his lack of keeping your confidences has most likely resulted in a permanently destroyed relationship with DIL. DIL will probably hold a grudge forever. Explain to son that what he did was destructive for extended family unity. Maybe your son will be truly sad to realize this and apologize to you.

      It’s possible that you will need to eventually go ‘no contact’ with DIL just to get peace in your life. I hope you find a way to work things out so that you are not tormented.

      Someone on this site offered another parent some good advice: pour yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee and eat some chocolate That’s bound to make you feel better.

  2. Lynne

    My oldest daughter is estranged from her dad, sister and myself. Why? We have no idea why. On top of this, my mother in law of 32 years betrayed me, her son and youngest granddaughter. She lied for 9 months that she was talking to her. Instead, she was secretly planning my eldest daughter wedding. All who were invited were told to keep it from us. Why? Again we have no idea. Now she may be pregnant.
    I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep and constantly crying. Even thinking about leaving this world so the pain would stop. My heart was ripped out of my chest, stomped on by them, thrown in a grinder and then thrown in my face.
    I realized that I had my husband, my youngest daughter and myself to live for. I matter. That the estrangement from my first born was not the end of the world. That life will go on.
    I still love my first born. I always will. I have forgiven her, and my mother in law. I will never forget or trust either of them. We know and God knows the truth about all the lies being told and believed. I pray everyday that the truth be revealed. I pray that she grows up and puts her child’s well-being first above her own. For I know we will never know, let alone see any grandchildren. Even though she lives 10 miles from us.
    I am embarrassed by all this because we live in a small town. But my husband keeps reminding me that we need to hold our heads high. We did everything we could and we know truth.
    Surviving stage 4 cancer and going through this pandemic, I’ve learned that life is precious. To live each day to the fullest and not take it for granted. To enjoy life and be happy again.
    Thank you for writing “Done With The Crying” and having this forum. Knowing that other parents have experienced what we are going through, gives me hope that it will get easier.

    God Bless

    Reply
    1. Kealoha

      Lynne, First & Foremost….Congrats on surviving stage 4 cancer !!! Thank God
      Second, I am deeply sorry for your angst & torment. I also am a Mother going thru the pain of an estranged grown child ! Actually 2 now, as recently my Daughter has started to act like a hurtful, spiteful , angry woman towards me. I refuse however to tolerate it. It hurts me deeply ! But I have started to feel as though I cannot & will not allow her or her brother to cause me heartache, constant crying & feeling so bad . Especially when I go visit my Grandchildren & feel like I have to consistently walk on eggshells whenever I am in her home , or even around her ! Well pray, pray & hope I guess

  3. Kirstie

    Personally, I am done with the crying. I am no longer allowing my son to control my feelings. I’m in charge of how I feel. My son is an alcoholic, his wife an enabler. They have a 2 month old baby boy that I write to in a journal every day. It is important to me to tell him he was thought of and loved by us every day. I have nothing negative to say to him about his parents – it’s all just family history and love for him. For my son who hates his family so much we were puzzled as to why his son’s middle name is that if his paternal great-grandfather. This however tells me that my son is still in there somewhere but the shame and anger of alcoholism holds him way down. There is always hope that he will resurface but I don’t hold my breath. I have 2 more sons who I don’t place in the middle and even encourage them to keep a relationship with their brother. They love him – he’s their big brother – but they also see him clearly. I trust them to do what they feel – I don’t need defending as I’ve done nothing to warrant this type of treatment. I’ll be here if my son is ever able to claw his way out of alcoholism and out of his evil narcissist in-laws control, but I’ve realized that this is on him. He has to choose to be better.

    Reply
    1. Linda

      Hugs and hugs. I can only just hug you up!. The inlaws can be so vindictive. I know it really hurts when they are and often ensures such hate is passed down from generation to generation.

  4. Sandy

    I never thought of the word replaced, but zI think it fits..My daughter hasn’t spoken to me or called since she left 3 years ago. She texs and was nice at first. But now its mean and nasty words.i think she’s bitter of her own lonely life now,but she chose it.
    I’ve begged, I’ve bought and now I’m done trying to get her love. She has a friend that she loves like a mom. The has her on a pedalstil. So when I read replaced it fit me to a tee. I have to learn to accept I don’t exist anymore in her world. Hard but I’m learning to be alone,all alone. Better no memories then all bad and hurtful. I don’t deserve it.

    Reply
  5. Jan L

    Janet
    Usually I’m called “Jan” but I see there is someone else with that nickname so I am just using my full name.
    At present, this is the 3rd estrangement from my very twisted son. By t he time he was pre-teen/early teens, he was already into pot smoking, running away and setting fires. This type of thing was totally not something I had seen in my side of the family and to this day I do wonder about how the “genes” got so messed up….his father’s side with mine. Looks like his father’s side “won out”….ugh. Anyhow, the guy was diagnosed with ADHD , at age 6, then from his pre-teens/teens he was diagnosed with Bipolar. Not many years later, he was written-up with Conduct Disorder.
    We tried everything….public school just couldn’t handle him anymore and so we sent him to the private schools for emotionally troubled (but smart) kids. He just refused to learn like most kids do and he dropped out of school in 10th grade. He has never summoned the guts to take the GED test and get on with his life! He can’t take working for anyone and his children’s mother left him long ago. They have 2 children and he gets to see them on weekends. He seems to be cyclic in his bizarre wood swings…he’d bully, focus on crazy untrue things, and bash me anyway he could, online.
    So, being a card-carrying member of AlAnon (which I highly recommend) I have refused to let that continue. On the second estrangement, I emailed him and said ‘Enough! Find another target.’ This time, he crossed my boundaries in a way that, so far as I know, he has never done before.
    That has caused me to completely distance myself from him again, only now he has lost any trust that I had for him.
    Sometimes, I wish I had 2 children instead of one….what are the odds that a younger sibling of his would have had the same twisted personality disorder?! But, it is what it is, and so I choose to continue to move forward in my life….I have various interests and those keep me busy. I heard a phrase somewhere, awhile back, when someone had said about their kid: ‘I brought him into this world, but I am not going to let him take me out of it!” That says it all for me. He will be 30 next year and it certainly seems that he will not maintain the proper psychological help he needs and has no desire to hold down at least some sort of job. I sure didn’t have any idea this was all coming, when he was born and he was so cute!

    Reply
    1. Lynne

      I relate so well with your story. My son who is now 47 years old was also diagnosed as a child with ADHD. Later in life he was diagnosed as bipolar. So many hard years of trying to get him the help he needed. There has been total estrangement now for over 3 years. He is in my thoughts and prayers everyday. But I know I no longer want his constant problems and drama in my life. I am getting older now and will not allow him to rob me of my peace. I hope you are able to have peace in your life too. Don’t let anyone mistreat you. Praying for you this day.

    2. Blümchen

      I so relate to all the stories since at the end of the day it all boils down to rejection by your own child ; which simply breaks your heart !! I
      I have dealt with this mostly in silence for the last 8 years but started to come out of my shamed deeply hurt self 2 years ago ;
      I knew there had to be something out there where I could relate to others and i am so deeply grateful I have found that !!
      Ordered the book ; but just relating to others means so very much ;!!!!
      I am single my family besides my son lives in a different country so it can get quite lonely at times ; but I am trying to make friends with loneliness since it is part of the human condition anyway …..
      Sometimes my son does text for holidays and then I have so much hope just to be ignored again for month on end !
      I decided for myself to practice loving detachment ; stopped reaching out ; my door remains open for him but it takes both people to make a relationship !!!
      Constantly have to remind myself HE is an adult and I have NO control over His behavior !!!
      Grateful to all you wonderful rejected mothers out there
      Much love
      Blümchen

  6. michelle m.

    I feel that it is so easy these days for parents, spouses, to become a part of the “cancel culture.” My ex cheated with my bff of over 40 years. Our families grew up together. It was the third time that I knew that he cheated. I ended it with her first. Which made me a target for the “silent treatment.” My oldest was 16 and youngest was 9 at the time. I was the parent and my ex the Disney yes dad . I endured emotional abuse by my ex and my daughter. Yes, I felt like a paycheck and maid for over two years. I sadly left due to emotional abuse and silent treatment rather than the affair. I walked on egg shells for the past eight years with both of my children. The oldest was a constant criticism, and picking at every thing I did. She followed boyfriend after college to another state. The only time I heard from her was money. Text on Mother Day too busy text later. After reading a series of these, I sent don’t bother. Recently, went through similar situation over a demand for money from younger child. I knew I would have some backlash before her sister’s wedding. But not like this. I am guessing she needed money for wedding in Caribbean for her sister and to pay taxes on inheritance from my parents. I was not invited. Former BFF sat with ex and his fiancé at the wedding. His fiancé and her kids have replaced me. I would have been an inconvenient truth.
    What I have learned over the past eight years, I dealt with incredible loss . Death of my parents, my loss of relationships with spouse and infidelity, my bf, and my children. I was angry, hurt, and let people abuse my people pleasing boundaries. I know I made mistakes along the way. But, I have forgiven them and myself. I started therapy, working out at a gym, meeting people at church. I bought a crap house and like it have restore it and myself doing hard work. I have learned resilience and humility. I no longer stand up for these people or make excuses. It still hurts and the week of the wedding was hard. But, I had great parents that taught me how to be strong and self-reliant emotionally and financially. I know that God is looking out for me and when I was really down, he continued to come through for me. I think letting go of any expectation going forward helps to eliminate future disappointment. My Jonathan Livingston Seagull moment!

    Reply
  7. Debs

    Hi all. My love and understanding goes out to you all. Here I am 5 years on from the estrangement. The losses I have suffered are much the same as yours but I’m coming out the other side. I realised that I was crucifying myself for people who didn’t really care and who for thirty years I had given everything I could and, bentover backwards. Maybe that was the problem.
    I have siblings who I have talked to and listened to many times over the years about their problems and worries and yet none will talk to me about mine. All the time I needed an ear and they were deaf and indifferent.
    I finally made the decision to break free and have little contact now with them or my children, one son lives with us due to health, the other son I haven’t seen for five years, nor our grandchildren although I have limited phone contact and my abusive self centred daughter who splashed it all over social media that we are terrible parents and she wished we were dead, has got her wish, she’s dead to me also.
    I’ve had a breakdown, I’ve cried, I’ve grieved, but I’m still me, I can still have a life, just not the one I hoped I’d have. Be strong. Much love to you all.

    Reply
    1. Pam

      I’m a widow now 12 years. My oldest daughter says to much drama in the family, she is and was the drama. She said the same thing that I’m dead to her.
      I’m 64 years years old and have been retired 9 years. All I ever wanted was to have both my daughter’s love and respect. My youngest daughter gets upset with me if I keep asking her why her sister is this way and she tells me “I don’t care and I don’t know”, they have been off and on estranged from each other too. I’m at a point in my life I just don’t care anymore.

    2. Lori

      Thank you so much for your words. I, too, am five years on from my daughter’s rejection. Have not seen my grandchildren in all that time—including the third child who was born in the middle of this mess. It’s unthinkable. That she would completely reject our loving family.
      For the first two years, I felt I was constantly on the edge of hysteria. I’d have to pull my car over to the side of the road if it hit me while I was driving. I’m much better now. She hasn’t ruined my life.
      I’m not so sure about the lives of her husband and children. I think she is ruining their lives. There’s definitely mental illness there. When I think of the children—that’s the hardest part in all this. I can’t help them. My hands are tied. If I try to contact her or her family, or have anyone contact them in my behalf, she will prosecute me. She’s reported my attempts to connect with her to the police. I’ve been warned.
      So the phase in my life of being her mother is over. I was a good mom, 24/7, for over 30 years. I have thoroughly lived the life of being a mother. And now it’s over. I can live with that.

    3. Julia

      I feel as if we are living a very similar life. I have been dealing with so much abuse from my 35 yr old daughter! Habitual liar, jumps from relationship to relationship and uses my grandchildren as pawns! July 11th was my breaking free date! I refuse to grieve for a child that is very much alive. I have cried, lost sleep, waked the floors for too many years. Her constant verbal and emotional abuse have taken their toll.

  8. Lindalulu

    I saw the word crazy there. Yep my daughter said that. The daughter who was sweet growing up. Pretty sure I didn’t speak a long time after that . Which I felt bad not saying goodbye and hopping on a plane as her and husband slept but the abuse in their house was too much for me. I even cried myself to sleep one night before she had the baby. This time they both treated me bad. I’m done with him , he lies , he steals and has a violent temper. We’ve been there 3 xs well last time I flew out on my own but never again. The first time I didn’t learn but 3 rd time I did! They live with his alcoholic dad who also has a multiple personality I think but he actually treated me the best this time. I witnessed both my daughter and husband yelling at him and calling him the most vial names ever !! Just m f this and that. I thought wow if they call him that am I next ?? My visit was the worst ever this time. I couldn’t wait for baby to come and be done with the mess which is sad so sad !!. I feel for my grandchildren born into this mess. Her husband called the 2 yr son a bastard. His dad also has one &1/2 legs and babysits for them!! He doesn’t want the situation himself. As I left he said I hope you don’t expect my son to get up and take you to the airport! My response was nope that’s why Uber is on their way. ! And he said well at least you get to leave ! I have another child they expect me to raise! I can’t barely go up and down these stairs on my own! He has a 1/2 million dollar robotic prosthetic leg. And I’m ashamed they use his disability payments for a house bought thru fraud loan using that and they only have $9.50 hr jobs on a house valued at $385,000 . Used another persons credit ? Her husband changes jobs like underwear. He tells my daughter he lost his job bc the boss is a jerk won’t give him hours and won’t pay him. Or that he quit . Quit over 5xs I know of? No probably fired him. He also claims he’s a mechanic but only makes $9.50 a hour? I’m thinking tire assistant. Regardless, don’t let them call you crazy. It’s demeaning yes but you deserve better! My other daughter I swear is demonic! She said I’ve never helped her – lie. Never babysat- lie. Never cared- lie. Said I abused her- lie. It’d take a book to tell you what kind of trouble she’s been in. I’m also ashamed! I don’t do Facebook any more but her Facebook consists of a lot F this and F my family. It’s daily. She’s played the victim she’s played the game I’m sorry mom I’ve changed. She always goes back on her word. This time is the last. I haven’t seen her nor 4 grandchildren for 4 years. Really broke me. Couple years ago for 4 days her and her new man texted me horrible abusing messages. They were disturbing. Consisted of me being a horrible person horrible grandmother, threatening me to not posting pics of the grandchildren which I would faithfully on their birthdays. My response to him was oh really well your mom isn’t the children’s real grandmother except last child maybe you should tell her this instead! I shouldn’t of said anything. But for days of abuse. The last words were leave me alone if I’m so bad! Just all so unbelievable it’s like a nightmare with them! And I still keep asking myself where did I go wrong !!??

    Reply
  9. Jan

    I recently saw some friends with whom I discussed the estrangement from my daughter. They were incredibly supportive and had both gone through estrangement with their daughters for extended periods of time. Their support meant a lot. They also agreed that I had done all I could to avoid estrangement, but now it was up to my daughter—the problem was hers and I needed to get on with my life. It helps me to talk to others about my situation, and those conversations have been met with compassion and understanding by most. Although I miss my daughter and her family and although I have been deeply hurt by her, I am moving forward, making plans and doing things that make me happy. I am also focusing on the positives in my life and those things for which I am most grateful. It helps me in moving forward knowing that I am not alone, and that there are so many others who share in the pain of estrangement from their children.

    Reply
    1. Marge

      I agree with Jan. Who gave my daughter the right to ruin my life by her actions!?!? No one because I won’t allow it. God gave me a life—He expects me to live it to the fullest!!

    2. rparents Post author

      Marge, yep, you and Jan have every right to live and ENJOY the beautiful life you have been given! No sense in squandering a gift.

      May ALL parents find fulfillment and joy despite what some others do.

      HUGS, great BIG HUGS,
      Sheri McGregor

    3. Liz

      This is my first time writing. After many attempts to fix the estrangement with my daughter, I realized I had to stop trying. Still, it is very hard. Thank you for the reminder that the problem is my daughter’s to fix.

  10. Elizabeth

    One of the hardest parts in my situation (not total shunning yet…but almost) is that I have wondered since, about many choices in life that I made. I wonder if the kids ever think about how we did NOT HAVE TO have them in our day…not only birth control but anyone could wash a kid down the drain if they wanted. It was a choice to have them. It was our choice to take care of them to the best we could, no matter the cost to us in all possible ways. (I do not blame them for what it cost either…no one’s choice there). But we have always sacrificed for them and tried to help them. But I think the best way I have learned to deal with days like birthdays etc is to have absolutely no expectations whatever, except maybe as to what food I want to have that day. It does help. It does make for a much happier day. My husband is with me however and those alone have a much harder thing to endure. I do hope that you who are alone will find at least one person, and I suggest a good friend, to share something with special on those hard days, if that will be helpful. It is a good thing, esp. since covid, that some of us were already living moreso in isolation. I think the adjustment has been easier as we were mostly already there. It is a strange thing to be grateful for…but with our situations with the kids, we simply must find different ways to be thankful…and ways to change our lives. Some changes in our lives, it is probably safe to say, we would never have made except the choices of the kids made it so easy to do. If the relationships had been what they should have been…we probably could not have changed some paths. I read someplace, regarding this strange problem these days, that we are all on our own journeys and since our journeys are this way, we have to assume, that for whatever reason, it is meant to be our journey. Also, in my opinion, a good way to look at it. And for us, all of this makes it easier to think of the next life and imagine what all that might be there. To know that the hurtful ones HERE will NOT have the say THERE at least…all their selfishness won’t count in ways it might have in this life. I often wonder about the babies I miscarried…and what it will be like to be with them!!

    Reply
  11. Lynn

    Feeling abandoned today by my daughter who found the identity of the anonymous sperm donor and 33 half sibs. She was thrown me away going on 7 years. I have tried everything to win her back, but refuses to budge. I found this interesting article on “silent treatment” that helped me understand who it works. It’s about taking power, but not in a good way. Thank you Sheri for creating this site!! I log in every holiday. https://exploringyourmind.com/silent-treatment-psychological-abuse-disguise/

    Reply
    1. Leana

      Thank you Lynn for the reference link. That was a very helpful article for me to read this morning. I struggle with what I did that was so wrong. I did plenty of things wrong, but so does the whole human race. I am not unique, and I tried to be a good mother, even though my childhood was sheer hell for myself. I am sorry I could not overcome whatever issues I had and be the perfect fairy mother they wanted. LIke the fairy god-mother in Cinderella, making all your dreams come true with a wave of her wand. I tried my absolute best. I suspect it’s not me. My son has said to me, “It’s not true mom. I was there.” They seem to be living in a world of lies, that others tell them and that they tell themselves so that they don’t have to feel any sense of compassion or kindness or loyalty to the mother that gave them birth.

  12. Melanie

    When this started for us almost 7 years ago, we did not talk about it; we were ashamed. As we met more people experiencing this, we opened up about our estrangement. Now, on FB, I offer encouragement to my “FB sisters experiencing the unimaginable “ and I let them know they are not alone. I end every post with the words: It is well with my soul. I have let it go and we have moved on from the perpetual state of doubt and shame.

    Reply
  13. Celeste

    Dear all, my husband and I just spent a week in Oklahoma helping my daughter because she asked us to come and help with the 2 and 4 year old . We ran around like crazy for her taking the kids everywhere and my husband fixed a ton of things at her house she and her husband can’t afford only to be told we weren’t doing things right. She works from home and the kids weren’t being fed dinner till 9 at night or bathed early and put to bed. She ripped her father apart and made him cry. She ripped us both apart. We only go for the grandchildren so we can see them. I don’t know why we still go but to see our grandchildren. We love them so. I don’t understand how she became such a monster. I’m sure she’s told her friends all about it and now we will go through another period of silence and the bandaid gets ripped off again. Thank you for your sharing your experiences. I never thought it would happen to us.

    Reply
    1. Lindalulu

      Sounds like my daughter. The trips I made to see her the only thing she did was fight with her husband . Yelling and cussing. Most of the time I’m finding they deflect their anger on us because they’re miserable. Not an excuse either. I didn’t want to but I pulled way back. Probably too far but eventually they’ll see we cling to the grandchildren then they’ll rob us of them. I believe strongly my oldest daughter became extremely jealous how the grandchildren loved me. I would make plans and she’d ok it. I get there and she said I sent them somewhere for entire weekend. I was driving 300 miles one way . :///. I eventually gave up being rejected repeatedly. I wish you the best I understand!

  14. Genevieve1

    I’ve been answering any questions about my daughter with “oh, everybody at our place is fine”. It’s a very generic answer but I don’t want to tell anyone except those closest to me about what’s happening in our family. Regardless of how angry or disappointed I am with her behavior I don’t want other people to think badly of her.

    Reply
    1. Su

      I think your approach is very smart. Time matches on and eventually I believe that if we speak badly of our already unhappy and troubled children ,it will come back to bite us. I say, take the high road, and later if they nature a bit maybe they will live to understand the hurt they are causing you. Or maybe we’ll just die first. Either way, it is important not to get sucked into a vortex of their illusions or the stories they tell themselves

  15. Linda

    When talking about family, I only share things about me son. But, occasionally someone will say, “don’t you have a daughter”? I feel ashamed that I have a daughter that has no contact with me. It hurts to talk about her but when I explain that I don’t have contact, normally the person is either going through the same experience or knows someone. It just amazes me that this has become the ‘normal’. I think it’s just easier to blame someone else for their mistakes or bad choices. Who better to blame than the ones that love them the most and will always love them. It really is abuse and their abusive words are forever branded on our heart.

    Reply
  16. Debra H.

    My son has been estranged from me since he was 11. He is now 28. At this point, I have lost hope I will ever see him again. I am grateful a woman I volunteer with told me about this website.

    Reply
  17. Rise

    Thank you for this article……….
    After 2 years of the estrangement from my daughter, it is still difficult when I encounter someone who causually asks how she is doing, not knowing that she has not spoken to me or seen me for so long.
    I have learned to casually say she is fine and we are all fine, especially if it’s someone I may not see again for a long time. I have also learned to lie to relatives who call to just ask if we are all ok, etc. especially with Covid, they are just asking about our health. It’s easier with most people to just say we are all ok and let it go rather than go into the whole story and then be bombarded with questions etc. and have to relive it all again. I just know there are only a couple of close friends that I can really talk to who will listen, especially one who also is estranged from her own daughter.
    I find it really amazing and enpowering to see myself handling it like that……….I never thought I could!!!!
    There is freedom in letting it be………..
    AS Jan Kabat-Zin says …”It’s not a matter of letting go; we would if we could. Instead of “Let it go,” we should probably say, “Let it be.”
    Since, I just recently joined the site, I just cannot believe how many of us are in this situation…….all have some differences but so many similarities…….there is so much empathy and understanding here…….
    I hope and pray that we can all continue in strength and find happiness in a life beating to a new drum!!!
    All the best to all!!!!

    Reply
    1. Blümchen

      Let it be ; I just love that !!!!
      My new slogan !!
      And I agree with most people it is just easier not to get into details since they want to analyze and figure out why this happened and give advice on how you could fix it which is what I have done myself for 8 years
      Enough is enough ; I wouldn’t enable/ allow any other adult to treat me this way; from now on that includes my adult son
      He lives in another state and hasn’t come to visit in 8 years
      I used to visit him ; staying in a hotel etc ….
      I wish him the very best and he has my number should he choose to call which he does very infrequently ( almost like dangling a carrot ) and then prolonged silence …
      Let it Be !!!!!!!!
      Thank you
      Blümchen

  18. Christine G.

    I am completely estranged from my daughter. For three years now. But this is also the 3rd time she had “stopped speaking with me”. This time was very different as she put her dissatisfaction with my parenting skills in writing via email. She is not a parent so I did find her email ironic. But at that moment, after I read her hurtful email, I knew I was done with HER games. I’ve always walked on eggshells during her upbringing as to not embarrass her, or so she said. I was the mom who would go broke, max out my credit card to make sure she and her husband got every expensive item on their Christmas list, just so I could have her love me, temporarily of course..I started noticing a trend with her after the 2nd instance. But I wanted to test my theory. She was a beautiful child that I adored. But the adult she has become, I can do without. I send her peace and love in my prayers every night and then I’m done with it. My heart has been broken, and will never be the same. Mourning a live child that chooses to abandon you is a painful, daily occurrence but I have too much to do in my life. I do think about her but I don’t look for her or expect her. On a final note, I have often wondered if she would casually show up at my house, like nothing ever happened, as she is known for that and never having to apologize for any wrong doing, and just get out of her vehicle, walk up to me and I say…You must be lost, I have no idea who you are. And then she drives away, again…..round 4?

    Reply
    1. Shawn

      Oh my goodness! I feel like I wrote that myself. It is the same words I have spoken to people and to my daughter. I will not walk on eggshells any longer. And I fully know the rounds of silence. I don’t know what round I am on though. She also wrote me an email. Keep your head up and work on you and I was told don’t worry about her. Easier said then dine!

    2. Sandra S.

      Thank you for this Christine, your experiences mirror my own so much. Now that my daughter is 29,
      I’m working on thinking about her behavior towards me as a choice she makes as an adult and an educated woman. She has chosen to behave towards me in a way she is familiar with, and I have chosen not to accept it.
      As adults, we choose how to both behave towards others, and how we respond. If I’ve learned anything from my daughter’s verbal attacks p, accusations and dismissiveness, except when she wants something, it’s that I can still be a ‘good mother’ by showing dignity and self-respect in the face of adversity.

      Stay strong, you sound like a really lovely person. She can’t change that, only miss it once it’s no longer there.
      Sandra

  19. Beverly

    I completely understand. My grandsons don’t know I exist. They call my former husband’s second wife grandma or something.

    Reply
    1. Nancy

      Sad to say but I know how you feel. My son and daughter-in-law have kept my twin grandbabies from seeing me because of a disagreement my son and I had. They are now 15 months old. I was with them for a couple days a week during their first year but haven’t seen them since Christmas. So I’m not only grieving my son but I’m also grieving my grandbabies. Needless to say this has caused me deep pain and heartbreak. I’m wondering what the lesson is in all of this.

    2. Fila56

      My ex’s new wife, my grandkids’ step grandmother, has replaced me. They never knew me and probably never will. My daughter wrote me off 5 years ago, for what reason, I don’t know, but my ex celebrates this parental alienation, I am sure. . He had a hand in this outcome but my daughter is a big girl now with her own mind and so, this is her decision. I send her love and prayers for all good. And I must Let It Be. I have a good life and I I tend to live it as truthfully and as peacefully as I can. We, the alienated, are good people. But we must choose to be kept behind bars or to find a way out the side openings. I choose to go out the side and live my life journey. I accept this. It is what it is.

    3. Cathy C.

      Same for me! I found my son’s work email on- line, and asked him to take his kids to see my parents who are 87 and 90 (pre-pandemic). He replied that I was harrassing him (this was only email I ever sent), and he will take legal action if I try this again. Last line was to never contact him again. Sad! He never went to see them.

  20. Nadia

    My heart goes out to you all. Both my children (Girl)aged 27 and 19 (boy) have been so disrespectful and abusive towards me even though I sacrificed everything for them and am left with no partner, no job and depleted of all funds and my health because of them. I’m now on my own for the first time and I feel hated and isolated. My son has been influenced by his girlfriend and is being controlled by her. I feel so hated I feel suicidal.

    Reply
    1. Virginia S.

      Dear Nadia, I have lived all the emotions you feel, ALL of them. I survived, some days barely, but I made it through. The estrangement with my three sons occurred immediately after my husband died within five months of a cancer diagnosis. My loss was tremendous. When my husband was diagnosed, I left my job that I loved to take care of him. Five months later he passed away. Within a year I sold the house we lived in for 31 years, and during all this my sons felt it was a good time to tell me they didn’t love me. We had been a happy family and caring parents. You know what it is like. Every time I drove by a semi trailer, I thought about ending the misery. I could have dug through the grief of losing my husband, but the intentional loss of my children was almost too much to bear. I was embarrassed to talk with people about it, so I was extremely isolated. Now I know it was supreme selfishness of my sons to unload on me, especially at that time. I have lost respect for them, but I have also grown and gained self respect. I went to counselling, journaled and prayed daily for peace, and got involved with volunteering. I am okay, and you will be as well. Time blurs the memory of the sharp pain, just like childbirth. God bless.

    2. Derryn

      I note the date you posted was a while back so hope you are OK. Both my husband and I felt suicidal but we got through it. I went for counseling and now take antidepressants. We are having Limited contact with our son and grandson so things can change with time. What my son did to me was elder abuse. The boys called the cops on us twice and one of them told them off for wasting police time. He also referred us to victim support. I still feel anger and hurt deep down. I’m not sure if that will ever go but despite bad health I’m living in the moment as much as possible. I still feel anger towards my sons partner who denied us contact with our grandson from day one.

    3. Su

      I felt suicidal for the very first time ever in my long life ( even with many many adversities throughout my life), when my daughter in law sealed the estrangement between my son and me by telling me she never wanted to see me or speak to me again ( she is everything to my son and has out him into a horrible no choice situation).
      So the whole suicidal thing was very interesting to me. I have felt hurt, ashamed and angry at myself many many times, but had never ever felt so bereft that I wanted to disappear through suicide.
      I guess, I just tried to negotiate the whole thing one day at a time by doing the absolute simplest, least harmful things I could. I found a feral pear tree full of pears a block from my house, knocked on the door if the property owner and asked for permission to pick the pears. Then I went home and spent a few days making year jam and pear salsa. Those simple few days got me just past the suicidal time and then very slowly I came out if it.
      Even if you are poor and have no money, you can clean some falling fruit off a feral fruit tree.

    4. Sandy V.

      Both my boys now adult men have treated me with contempt.

      I think as parents ” we love to much ” leaving no protection for ourselves and i liken it to master and pet dog. When you abuse a dog it often comes back willing to still love you, wanting to please you and lick your hand, wag its tail and roll over always hopeful that you will smile, laugh, and cuddle it like you did when it was a new puppy, however much you now kick it ..hope still lingers. I have felt like that dog especially as my son’s knew that i always forgave them no matter what they did because they got away with so much over the years and yes, i was always happy to support them and to make excuses for the dreadful way they behaved and the dreadful way they treated other people cos for them, it was normal. I should not have been shocked when i found myself at the receiving end dumped and discarded nothing left to offer them, used up and washed out.

      My ex husband is till being used mainly because he has jewellery contacts but he fears being alone, i had no choice in the matter as i now try to build a new life in my crone years.
      The real problem for me started when my youngest son got married and they gave birth to adorable bright shiny new toys that they didn’t want to share with anyone not even grandmother. I started to fight to see my grandchildren other than being the free pet sitter, house sitter, baby sitter, cleaner, cook and gardner in short, i just wanted to be part of the family without the slave label attached to my leg.

      I would urge you all to think how much you allowed yourself to be used (like a dog or even a door mat) also re read old diary or journal entry’s in an effort to look back at all the red flags and rug pulls you ignored as i did along the way, it will allow you to see what has brought you to this point, it helped me out of a very deep depression.

      But, I still don’t know how i got from there to here.

      Sandy xx

    5. Leana

      I just wanted to thank all of you and especially Virginia S. for her comment. I have a similar story, I got divorced and six months later my husband took my daugther right out of my house, and then the other daughter simply walked out and both daughters have not talked to me since. The pain is enormous. The childbirth reference was great. My second daughter’s birth was extraordinarily painful and traumatic for me, I’ll never forget the pain and horror of it, the shock of the experience I felt after. Children have an enormous power to bring happiness or sorrow. Thanks for your story Virginia, I feel for you.

  21. Lynne

    Thank you Sheri for this good message today. As an estranged parent I know so well the times of just not wanting to be around people. With all the rejection I went through so many stages of grief. It has taken time to be a happy person again. I no longer feel shame or a need to hide in any way from my situation. This New me came with time. I first thank my Lord. Only the Lord defines who I am. Second I thank people in my life…a loving husband others in my life who extend much love to me. Thank you to Sheri Mcgregor for all she has done. I know her message for all of us who are estranged. This message is that we are very deserving of a good and happy life and to take good care of ourselves. There are so many of us now. No need to feel shame or go into isolation.

    Reply
    1. PJ

      My daughter, age 30, distanced herself from me at age 11. Since then, she hasn’t shared anything with me, and stopped wanting to be with me. Sometimes I see God’s hand in this. “See how she ignores you. That’s how I feel when you don’t spend time with me.” I have become a stronger Christian and I believe in moving forward. I have lots of friends and students (I teach at a community college) who love me. I am so grateful for that. I’ll never stop praying though for my daughter to want a relationship with me.

    2. Yvette

      Lynne,

      I am so thankful I found this website as I drew the conclusion that I was the worst mother in the world for not wanting my daughter to have anything to do with me after all the sacrifices I have made to give her the best childhood I ever could. The last year and a half both of my parents have passed away so I am very familiar with grief. I’m working on changing my belief system and reparenting myself.

      The articles written for estranged parents on this website are so valuable. I simply cannot thank Sheri and this website enough for showing me I am not alone in this world.

      Best wishes.

  22. Carasa

    my 20 year old daughter recently moved in with her boyfriend’s family
    this is the boy who has never come over to meet me or show me any courtesy
    I wonder why HIS family is so great and I’m such a loser
    as a widow it hurts so much because I have no one to turn to
    thankfully I found this group

    Reply
    1. Cheryl

      Hi Carasa, I’m so sorry and I feel the same way. I’m divorced so I’m alone too. Both of my adult children seemed to be looking for an excuse to put me out of their lives. I walked on eggshells for as long as my son has been married. My daughter, I have helped her financially as much as I was able. She married a woman and everytime she called or video chatted I was more than supportive. If she fell in love with a toad is supported her. But I placed a tiny blurb on fb how I believe in the bible, she went off in message just berating me. Her partner was just awful to me in messenger. I’ve never even met her in person. So daughter blocked me immediately and told my son who did same. It’s been 6 months and I’m sure it will be years before I hear from them.

  23. Meryl W.

    While I do know 2 other abandoned mothers, every family is different.
    I am the only one abandoned by an only child. I am the only one abandoned in favor of my daughter”s in laws. And I am the only one threatened with arrest.
    Without doubt, the worst of this abandonment, is knowing that I have not only been abandoned, I have been REPLACED. My daughter calls somebody ELSE “mom”.

    Reply
    1. Marlis

      I understand how you feel because i am in the same situation. Not completely estranged but rare visits only as her mother in law is Only “mum and grandmother” who is important
      I have already become a stranger to my Grand kids. My husband was the greatest granddad you could wish for. I am doubting myself even though i have always done my best. That i know for sure. Now i am tired of trying and hoping. Sheri’s comments keep me going and have given me a new outlook.
      We do not deserve this treatment no matter what.
      A mother should always be treated as a mother. We are denied that. It really hurts being devalued.
      I wish you all the best

    2. Leeann S.

      I was abandoned by my only child too. He lives with gf and her mother, in Tucson. That’s all I know. I don’t know if I have grandchildren. I understand your lonliness. it is hard to trust or care after this kind of heartbreak.

    3. Derryn

      Oh I feel so sorry for you. That’s exactly what my son did. They had a baby and her mother came over from another country and moved in. That’s when our problems started. We were denied contact with our grandson. They just live 5 minutes away so it’s really hurtful. We weren’t even able to visit our son with out an appointment. The hurt I felt about being replaced nearly killed me.

    4. Ashamed

      I’m also abandoned by my 2 girls. The girls I sacrificed so much for. I was a young single mother with no support or help from anyone. And my girls didn’t make it easy for me when growing up. Always put me down, talked back, and demanding. Didn’t lift a finger to help me with anything. But I didn’t quit. I went the distance for them. I thought maybe one day they will realize how much I love them and did for them. But now when they are all grown up they want nothing do with me? And not just that but telling lies about me that I was a terrible mother? I feel shame, humiliation and want to hide from people. I feel like everyone is judging me. I feel lost, confused and hopeless.

    5. rparents Post author

      No! Ashamed, the shame is all theirs! You did everything you could. Take kind care of yourself now. You deserve it after all the hard work you put in.

      HUGS,
      Sheri McGregor

    6. Sharon E.

      I was threatened with arrest for just calling. All the adult children signed it too. This was just after my daughter told us we must leave this cute little house they rented out to us…..as it was falling apart. We painted and re-rugged etc. fixed it all up. Then the axe came down. How many of us knew the axe was going to fall, just not when? At least my curiosity is still alive.

      Sharon

    7. Marlis

      It is a pretty lousy feeling being “replaced” by another woman. You would think that being a mother gives You a status but apparently not. My daughter prefers her inlaws and they not having a daughter have replaced me. It is not a complete abondement. It is just that we always come second place. Whether it is visits, being with our grandchildren etc. Over the years i have often asked myself why but i have accepted it even though it still hurts sometimes.
      Maybe she just does not like me that much as a person and i cannot force love. In the old days children stood by their parents almost no matter what. But many children nowadays have become selfish, intolerant and cold.
      Time has come to be selfish ourselves, to look after ourselves and our needs (for the sake of our selfrespect).
      I am lucky and still have my husband. We intend to make the most of the rest of our lives with or without our children. We have made a lot of sacrifices when they were children, given them a good and stable Home and it is their problem that they dont Seem to appreciate it.

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