Rejected parents: Are you “guilting” your adult child?

Are you "guilting" your adult child

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.
Excerpted from her award winning book released Dec. 2021:
Beyond Done With The Crying More Answers and Advice for Parents of Estranged Adult Children

Are You “Guilting” Your Adult Child?

Earlier, I wrote about a time when my health was at an all-time low. After the
first year of silence, my son, Dan, had phoned. We had a friendly talk, and he
said he wanted us to have a relationship. He assured me he would call again
“soon.” That talk sparked hope, but when he didn’t call again, the fragile peace
I had worked so hard to gain dissolved. Scary visual disturbances led me to the
doctor who was mortified by my symptoms and bloodwork. The stress of the
estrangement was hurting me. I had to take charge. So, instead of waiting in a
sort of limbo as more months passed, I called my son.

When I explained that I’d been waiting for his call, that I’d been emotional,
and that my health had suffered, my son put me off. He was gruff and dismissive,
yet later, I wondered if he might have viewed my words as an attempt to
“guilt” him. That hadn’t been my intention, but the conversation haunted me.
There was no hidden plan behind my words. I’d been as direct as always. I
had laid out my thoughts and feelings to him. In all of Dan’s twenty-five years,
I had never tried to motivate him with guilt. My son knew how I spoke. He also
knew me. Him thinking I was trying to “guilt” him made no sense. So, why did I
ever think he might?

Don’t buy into the “guilting” your adult child opinion. . . .

When Dan rejected me, my self-esteem dipped so low that I second-guessed
everything. I searched for help and came across a mental health professional
who dissected the parents’ language in the letters they wrote to their estranged
adult children. Their words were analyzed for how they might be received as an
intention to trigger feelings of guilt. In desperation, I took the guidance to heart.
After an adult child’s estrangement, distraught parents flail in the murky
waters of their own identity. They may grasp at almost anything to stay afloat,
on a wave of hope that they can repair the relationship.

If you’re a parent who used guilt to motivate your estranged adult child,
you know who you are. Admit it. Then work on more than your language. Work
on yourself and how you interact with the people you love. However, if you’re
not guilty of this “guilting” your adult child behavior, then don’t let your anguish and desperation to reconnect stir self-doubt. Don’t take advice that doesn’t fit. Your child knows
you. Why would your speech suddenly be construed as an attempt to “guilt”?

Here’s another thought: If your words trigger adult children’s guilt, maybe
it’s their conscience knocking. Maybe your son feels guilty because he has
treated you badly or the guilt your daughter feels is her inner wisdom, confirming
that her behavior is wrong. Don’t make yourself responsible for another
adult’s feelings or behavior.

There’s an acronym for “Walking on Eggshells”

If you’re not a “guilter,” then guidance that assumes you are is nothing
more than Olympic level training to walk on eggshells. There’s an acronym for
that: W.O.E. Walking. On. Eggshells. Woe! It’s a fitting term for any relationship
where one party lives in fear, believing they may be one word away from
another estrangement.

For more information about advice, consult the box, also in this book,
Advice: Be Discerning, Not Desperate.”

Related reading

Estrangement: Parents, use weepy days for your own good

Parents are people too: Even when reconciling with an estranged adult child

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

60 thoughts on “Rejected parents: Are you “guilting” your adult child?

  1. Evelyn

    The last time we had contact by email my daughter wrote she wasn’t ok but did not want to talk about it. That was a month ago and since then I am wondering what is wrong, should I this should I that. Should I read into her message that she wants something more from me other then to accept the silence and distance? Is she testing me? Am I being manipulated? I am doing the egg shell walk again.

    My need is to reach out, let her know that I care. That I hope she is well. And I just did, with a short text message. If she reads something toxic into that, well, that is how it is.
    It feels good, like taking a tiny bit of space for myself too, instead of just giving her all of it.
    I do not have to stop being who I am, worrying about every step, afraid I might break something.

  2. susan m.

    Why not leave your money to them when you die? Well look at all you are saying about them , they would just be mad it wasn’t more!! they are spoiled and selfish , people!! . BECAUSE THEY DONT DESERVE IT!!! Give it to someone who tries to help other people , give it to a kind hearted stranger, to the fireman, police officers, nurses!! to a cancer organization that might help all of us someday, that’s why .

    1. Peggy C.

      Thank-you, Susan! Yes, this is something I have struggled with for years now. It’s been seven years since my son told me what a horrible person I am and moved out of my home, after asking him to pay the PG&E bill. He had lived with me for two years, in and out of recovery. I had never asked him to contribute, although money was tight. He was in recovery and that was all I cared about. Our therapist had been pushing me to make him more responsible for quite some time and he did have a decent income.
      I have looked into a Living Trust and even started creating one but they are very expensive and he has shown only contempt for me in the little communication that we’ve had.
      Due to several comments on this last newsletter, including yours, and reading Beyond Done With Crying, I’m going to look into setting up something with my favorite charities. Thank you all, I am finally getting it!

  3. Debi

    It’s been 4 years since my daughter and I have spoken. She has blocked me from everything, and has withheld any relationship with my granddaughter. It is devastating and crushing my soul.
    After reading through these comments they have made me realize that there is no hope at all. How do I just give up and move on? If my son did this to me, I would not want to exist anymore. No response necessary.
    Thank you for letting me vent.

    1. Christy

      I’m in the exact same situation. My daughter I can accept now because she treated me so badly but my granddaughter who I was so close to I’m sure she thinks I abandoned her and that breaks my heart everyday. I keep a box and put notes, birthday cards, holiday cards, just about anything in there. Recently a heart shaped sea stone from when I was at the beach and thinking of her. It’s in an envelope with a letter. It’s all dated and tucked away for when she turns 18. Honestly, time doesn’t heal all the pain, mourning doesn’t stop, but acceptance helps set your heart free. I know that I did all I could. In 13 years my granddaughter will know.

    2. Gina

      I don’t know, I’m going through the same thing. There are so many days I just don’t want to go on. I wish there was an answer.

    3. Dianne

      reading all of this, thankfully, helps me realize I am not the only one going through this deep ache. I miss my grand daughters so much and I miss my daughter so much and there is nothing I can do. I am working on moving on and some days I almost get lighthearted for a moment and it feels so good. …..and then BOOM, the ache and hopelessness returns.
      Mamas out there – we will be ok (I hope) – and I know I just have to keep telling myself this over and over to keep moving forward.
      Thanks for letting me vent, too

  4. Jennifer R.

    I recommend the books to anyone suffering. I wish I had these books when my journey began in 2007. I realize now that my daughter has a high probability of being a psychopath. My journey began with my daughter running away at the age of 17. I woke up and her bed was empty. The first thing I did was call the police who explained how things work. I wasn’t happy. I searched her room and spotted her phone. I called every number. That just gave me confusing information. I printed and posted 300 missing fliers around town with my husband and son (14). Nothing! I went deeper into panic mode. I watch Dateline and my mind was going crazy with grief. I hired a private investigator after four days. On the 7th day the police called and said, “we have your daughter come to the station.” My son, my husband, and I was interrogated for 5 hours. Then, the police looked at me and placed these horrible photos down on the table. Mam she says you did this to her. I never touched her. Yet I was looking at a child with bruises, greasy hair, and skinny. I had to hire a lawyer and go to court. The social services said you can have her back now. My husband said, “No! She may do a better job at lying next time and we go to prison.” It was so hard.. I was in shock!! The social services promised therapy and free college. We did home visits, therapy, and I wanted the police to find the person responsible for the bruises. The police said, “we found the person responsible… meaning me “. The therapy was not what I expected. My daughter ran away from the foster home on her 18th birthday. She had a baby 9 months later. I had no contact for a year with her. Once I heard about the baby I went online and found her address. I knocked on her door and asked about my grandbaby. My daughter acted like nothing ever happened. I went with it walking on egg shells. Long story short she had child number two. Moved to another state and got involved with a sex offender. She signed her children over to Florida. Florida had nothing to do with us and our lawyer. Now my grandchildren are adopted in a closed adoption. My daughter did prison time. She got out. We made the hard choice of letting her live with us. We bought her a car… In the end it was another mess. She refuses to talk to us and I have grown to adjust. Now, my son is 30 with a girl. He has decided I am a monster after a phone call I made. I broke down. Now, I realize it was a trauma response due to my truamatic childhood. My mom has schizophrenia and my father had nothing to do with me. I may not have been the best mom with the best marriage but I did the very best that I could raising them. Giving them all the love and things I never had. All I do now is cry and try to do things that make me happy. I hope our children never suffer estrangement with their children.

  5. Carrie-Ann

    Beautiful Beloved Ones,
    Just sharing a few words for your consideration, to use, or not to use…
    There is nothing that the SELF ESTRANGED ADULT child can say to you that will help your healing more than not talking to them at all. Trying to communicate only opens the door for more pain, abuse, gaslighting and confusion. Stay no contact…
    May Each One of You, Beautiful Sheri, & Each Estranged Adult Child Be Blessed In Body, Mind, & Spirit…
    In Gratitude & Friendship,

    1. Ann B.

      We’ve been trying for 22 years to have a real relationship with our son Derek. There has been communication, he has helped out with some mechanical issues we had. We paid him, I think the fair market value, every time. Yet I was so grateful, I bent over backwards to communicate my gratitude. There were a few awkward times with his children, our grandchildren. But, since Derek adamantly refuses to either acknowledge the estrangement, or discuss it in any way. I’m sure they are so confused about who we are, and why they’ve grown up without us. It was difficult to communicate our love for them, which is genuine. But now they are mostly adults themselves, we are stepping out of it. They do know we’re their grandparents. They know where we live, and have our cell numbers. They have their own transportation. We’ve always given/sent gifts for birthdays, Christmas, etc. There have been very few acknowledgements, or thank you’s. We’ve decided to end that. It’s incredibly sad. I hate it, but we live as normally as we can, and take each moment of happiness with our other two children and grandchildren who love us and want to be in our lives. Our hearts are broken, that scar will never heal, I’ll never get over it, I’ll miss him forever, and especially miss being his mom. We’re stepping out of his life, perhaps forever.

  6. Diane H.

    Ann H, hi, I guess there’s a choice we can all make in this situation. Either live a life where you experience the pain and sadness every day or one where it sits quietly in your heart and allows you to move forward as the newer, braver and assertive you. I did this by doing things that challenged or scared me, like being 54 and turning up to learn how to play tennis, studying to start a new career, biking instead of driving, learning the piano – Beethoven and Mozart and Bach prelude 1. They each took months and months, and I have not a scrap of natural talent, but I’ve impressed the hell out of myself!! It’s been my way to grow, to explore who I am if I’m not a mum. It doesn’t mean I don’t have teary days, it just means I have developed a deeper respect for myself. Also, I would have been lost if I hadn’t found Sheri and read the books. You women are my tribe and we are all around the world, I would have been wreaked without this site and all of you. Next week, at the age of 59 I’m starting my new career in real estate. I’m terrified, but I’m taking you all with me and I’m sure it will become part of the rich tapestry of my life and experience. So off you go, do something brave that you will smile about afterwards, you fellow warrior survivor!!

    1. rparents Post author

      Diane, I LOVED reading your comment. You go girl! You’re amazing and I feel all your beautiful energy!! Keep spreading your fairy dust. You are changing not only your world but for everyone you touch.

      Big hugs,
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Kathryn

      The Child can be guilty, and the parent should not hold it in. My Son and his wife are well off as her parents have millions and my son just bought a new one-million-dollar home. From the beginning I have not had any time with my son’s kids, but the wife’s parents and the God Parents have for all 16 years. They should be ashamed, it’s a situation where Mother-in-law and daughter in law are jealous of my son and my relationship. Wife has been rude when I visited and my son’s mother-in-law also. Dr. Phil always says no matter what problems between parents and child is always the Parents. He must think He and his wife are perfect parents. No parent is perfect. When a parent is wrong, they should admit it and make it right and same for the adult kids.

    3. Monika

      I love your attitude and will try to follow in your footsteps. Thanks For sharing your courage and how you deal with this tremendous pain. I am a year into it and just starting to find who I am at 66.

  7. Ann H

    I guess my husband and I are lucky to have found a therapist who says “you have nothing to apologize for; she is the one who cut off contact”. While I feel we probably do have things we could apologize for, I get her point. When a 37 year old adult refuses to communicate at all with parents who were loving, caring, and dedicated, I suppose it does say more about her than us. Our older daughter with whom we have a great relationship repeatedly says we were good parents. I’ve always wondered about advice regarding parsing every word of an amends letter vs. letting our estranged daughter know the damage estrangement is causing. I’m 68 year old and my husband is 70. We are acutely aware that we will never get this time back. I am losing my hair, I have fallen twice in the past month narrowly escaping a serious head injury, cry daily and have suicidal thoughts, and my self-esteem has plummeted. I am a retired nurse who was a skilled and dedicated professional woman, and estrangement has caused me to question my very being. It’s not a matter of “guilting” anyone. Part of being an adult is realizing what effects your behavior has on others. Having said that, at this point I would do anything that would help us to resume contact. But I do wonder how that can happen when there is absolutely no communication and she will not respond to our attempts.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Ann H.,
      I hope you can come to a point of peace, and choose to focus on your own kind care and treasure your days. Pining for an uncaring adult is hurting you … and no matter how much you hurt, it isn’t making her change. What can YOU change today to help yourself to have a good, peaceful day?

      Sheri McGregor

    2. susan

      Dear Ann, I understand you completely. however, we all did the best we could. Im sure your daughter’s lives are better than our own we as children, what more can we do? Move on, take the time to care for yourself now. You and your husband spent your lives caring for your family and you as a nurse for others. Now is the time to eat well, be well, venture out into the world. reach for something you enjoy. Forget about the children for once. It’s okay. We are all striving for love and to be loved. For myself I have learned to care for plants and my neighborhood birds. I call them each morning to breakfasted dinner. I believe you can share your love with the world around you. I also care for rescued dogs. Believe me, there is someone or something yearning to be loved by you and your husband. Don’t waste your time fretting over your grown daughter. Think of her as a kite, your running in the park holding the string, a gust of wind comes along ,let go…. be well, be strong, be happy.

    3. Sadie

      Hello, Ann. I’m a 71 year-old mom and it’s been over 4 years since I’ve seen my only child. We have tried to resume contact with her and I have apologized for anything we did that offended her. In return, she has written us horrible emails and has told us she wants no contact from us. We did the best we could raising her. She’s complained to family members about us and I’m humiliated having our dirty laundry made public. Time is ticking away and I wonder if we’ll ever see her again. Some days I’m resigned to the fact that this is permanent and I can deal with it. Other days, I feel like what is the point of going on. I hope we can find peace somehow. Take care.

  8. Patti

    Sheri, I just want to say thank you for your dedication to helping others who have become co-members of the journey through abandonment. I am newly on this path myself and if I had not found your books, I think I would have lost my mind. I recently finished “Done With The Crying” and am now part way through “Beyond Done With the Crying”. I am sorry so many of us are experiencing what I am now aware is almost an epidemic, but I’m so grateful for you and others who are willing to share your stories and how you have dealt with parent abandonment. I raised my two children as a single Mom. I worked hard in high-stress jobs and provided everything they needed and most of what they wanted. I paid for their college. As they have both proclaimed many times, I was their rock, nurturing, loving, protective and always there for them when they needed me. Sounds so perfect, doesn’t it? I still have a good relationship with my middle-aged son, but my 28-year-old daughter has abandoned me during a time that should be one of the happiest milestones of both our lives. She had moved back into my home for the past few years and late last year, became pregnant with her first child. She asked for her boyfriend to move in while they “saved” to get their own place. Despite all the beautiful accolades she’d often written in birthday and Mother’s Day cards, she began to paint a picture of me as a horrible person to her boyfriend. Soon he turned against me, and she became cruel, manipulative and controlling, often accompanied by verbal insults and accusations. Several months ago, after two hours of BOTH of them yelling and screaming every horrible insult at me that they could think of, including her saying that I was “toxic” and that she does not want me in her or the baby’s life, they loaded the car (that I had co-signed her on) and drove off into the night as she yelled back at me that she was “homeless” and it was my fault. After a few weeks, I left a voice message asking if she and I could meet to talk. She ignored that and any other attempts I made to reach out, except for an occasional one-word reply such as “yes” when I texted simply asking if she is okay. She and I had planned for my DIL and I to give her a baby shower. That didn’t happen. Instead, her boyfriend’s family gave her one and I was not notified or invited. I found out about it through dozens of photos and videos that he and his family posted on Facebook. I found out what the baby’s name was going to be through one of those videos as well. (They named her after HIS mother.) My daughter’s employer gave her another baby shower. Though her employer had been in my home many times, I was not notified or invited to that one either. I know now that my daughter assassinated my character to all of those people – his family, her coworkers and probably many more. She moved 1 ½ miles away from my house, and the baby was born. No one notified me when she went into labor, was in the hospital or after she and the baby were discharged. I found out almost a week later when her boyfriend posted photos on Facebook announcing her birth. It breaks my heart that I lost those precious moments with my daughter and granddaughter … Precious moments that I can never get back. The baby is four months old now and my daughter still has not mentioned her to me. Yesterday, my daughter texted me asking if I want to get together “today or tomorrow to have that chat”. My initial response was not only emotional, but it was also physical. I became sick to my stomach, my palms were sweaty, I wanted to cry, I felt strangely nervous, unable to fathom how I would initially approach her. She suggested we meet in a park. I postponed our meeting for a week to give me time to finish “Beyond Done With the Crying”. I know that in your book I will find insight that will help me prepare for our meeting. I don’t even know what I want the outcome of the meeting to be. I do know this … I’ve thrown away my “egg-shell shoes”. I will no longer walk lightly around my daughter to appease her or to avoid her yelling, screaming, crying tirades, horrifically volatile moods and onslaughts of insults. I feel certain that developing a bond with my new grandchild will just give my daughter a weapon to hurt me repeatedly. I don’t trust her with my heart. Having a distance from her for the last several months has given me an opportunity to reflect on the true nature of our past relationship. I have become aware of the long history of short seasons of “closeness” that resulted in me providing her financial support, transportation and/or a place to live. I am wiser, but at the same time I am confused. Oh, how I wish I could just sit down with a cup of hot tea with some of you Moms who have experience in navigating these treacherous waters and gather wisdom and insight to help me shore-up for whatever comes. Thank you, Sheri for two wonderfully written, deeply moving and immensely informative books! It is as if a hand reached out to me through the muck and lifted me up! Many blessings.

    1. Kate

      You have good reasons not to trust your daughter with your heart. She sounds VERY much like my daughter. I’ve gone through many years (over 20) with a daughter who has apparently always hated my guts. It took me a long time to finally realize that. I haven’t seen or talked to her in many years– I’ve tried in the past to do so. I thought we loved each other & in the past, I would’ve done anything I could for her. Several years ago she told her ex-husband to let me know that if I ever tried to contact her again, she would call the police on me. She told him she was “done with me!” I wasn’t bombarding her with letters, texts, or calls. Through the years she never answered me the few times I tried to call her and the 4 or 5 letters that I wrote to her were returned to me unopened. In my heart it took me a long time to give up on her–but I have finally done so. I just wish I had given up A LOT SOONER. Life is short & i wasted so many years. crying over someone who doesn’t know I’m alive or even care. And yes, your daughter would probably use your relationship with your grandchild as a weapon to hurt you. I know because my daughter destroyed my relationship with my grandchild. She’s told him (& everyone else) so many lies about me, that he now hates me too. I haven’t seen him in 4 years & don’t ever expect to again . That just doubled the hurt when he dumped me too. When they kick us out of their lives, there’s nothing we can do about it. You & everyone on here, please take care of yourselves.

    2. Kate

      I just re-read my post that I sent to Patti yesterday & it sounds SO VERY negative. (Although when we’re rejected by those we love—it is negative). There’s absolutely nothing good about it. But it’s how we handle it that matters & for many years, I did not handle it well. I guess what I should’ve said is to try to find something to be thankful for each day. I am 71 years old and still active so I volunteer whenever I can. That, along with taking care of my sweet pets, keeps me going. Today I am helping out a sweet relative who needs some help. And thank you once again Sheri because this forum & your books have helped me so much..

  9. Cindy M.

    My words do not trigger my adult child’s response, to her I breathe air, so I am wasting it and that apparently is a trigger! The amount of hate that pours out of her is despicable. I have a choice, NO I am not a punching bag EVER AGAIN. Her father gave me money to abort her. I chose not to. He beat me up and tried to strangle “us” to death. I married him ANYHOW. I will assume you can guess my family of origin had many atrocities. My child witnessed terrible beatings until I left my husband when she was 9. He told me in regards to the court ordered $932 child support monthly, “if I have to pay you that you can just keep her I don’t ever want to see her”. I backed down, as I could only think how hurt she would be. He is a millionaire and now hands her scads of money as long as she never talks with me. The last she used me was to drive her to Texas as her father instructed her to do (she moved). During the 35 hour straight through drive her dog bit the end of my nose off. We kept driving, no doctor and frankly ZERO concern for my welfare. Her husband is NOT ALLOWED to talk to me ??? How uncomfortable! When he does it is rude and mean. After my nose healed I made a claim against her home owners insurance to speak to a doctor about my nose, & then I never did follow through with having it fixed. I live with the scars, it reminds me how ugly she is on the inside. 4 times I showed up at her house (invited) for different events and was NOT allowed to use the bathroom (she told me to go to Lowes and made fun of woman in her late 50’s having bladder issues after driving 35 min “one way” to her home). This IS sadistic behavior. I look at it like this, people said to give her up for adoption when I was pregnant with her. When I divorced her father, I did just that… I gave her up. He said he would take her and he did. I am not going to waste another moment pretending I like her, I do not. Criminals would not treat me as poorly as she does. I have zero tolerance for people as cruel as them.

    1. Ann

      “I’m not going to spend another moment pretending I like her. I don’t”. Words that many of us who have been verbally and emotionally abused by our adult children feel, but we are not allowed to say, because then we are deemed the villain.
      I fully understand. Thank you for being brave enough to say it out loud.

    2. susan

      Please take care of yourself, why not contact the homeowners ins co. Please try to get your nose fixed. you do not deserve what has happened .

  10. Trish

    This article arrival is perfect timing. Yesterday I tried, once again, to contact my daughters 29 and 25. My 25 year old has been estranged on and off since she left for college. My 29 year old’s estrangement is recent, the last five months. I felt like a complete failure when my second daughter broke contact.

    Although I have apologized profusely to my daughters, so much of their anger is because I got sick eventhough my youngest daughter got sick first. My youngest daughter got sick when she was ten years old. She was hospitalized numerous times for severe headaches/migraines and pain issues and was mostly homebound during middle school. My daughter and I were eventually diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome. She had a surgery that helped her start high school and is now in medical school. However, just as my youngest daughter’s health issues improved, my health rapidly deteriorated and I eventually became couch bound. I could not stay upright without passing out for more than 7-8 minutes and my headaches/migraines were excruciating. I had to stop working. My youngest daughter says that I went from being “the best mom in the world” to “giving up.” I reluctantly missed many of her high school events.

    A neurosurgeon eventually figured out that due to the rare disease I have, the ligaments in my neck were not holding up my head and the blood supply to my brain was being cut off whenever I turned my head. I ended up having my entire neck fused. I also had several other joints that were dislocating or partially dislocating every day. This syndrome was affecting every part of my body and was very painful, but I eventually found treatment protocols that improved my quality of life.

    Since my husband rarely believed or supported me through the ordeal (he was furious off and on because I could no longer work or help around the house), we divorced after 30 years of marriage. Since my younger daughter’s health improved after her surgery, she believes that I cannot use “my health as an excuse,” so I have no defense with her. She honestly believes that I sat on a couch during her high school and some college years because I chose to.

    Although my health has improved from the days of being couch bound, I still struggle with chronic health issues . Still, I have carved out a life that works for me. My ex husband was a competitive parent and his mother was a competitive grandparent. They both always wanted to be the favorite to our girls. My ex husband undermined me all of the time. He replaced my role as his wife with our oldest when she was in middle school and then did the same thing with our youngest daughter when our oldest left for college. My ex made my illness a huge negative issue. At one point in our marriage, I wasn’t “allowed” to talk about illness (I know – controlling). I fully admit that I went down the “rabbit hole” when I was first diagnosed, because I finally had answers for medical issues that had affected me my entire life. My ex also went so far as to accuse me as being a medication drug abuser last year before oldest daughter’s wedding (I’m not) even though he didn’t know medications I take and we had not spoken in several months. He offerred to pay for my rehab if I would go immediately. (He’s a state judge who also runs a last chance drug court program) I told him my doctors at the top medical school in our state would be surprised to hear that my ex husband is the expert instead of them. It was one of his numerous methods of making me look bad.

    My oldest daughter is now angry with me because of the time I spent with my youngest when she was sick and in/out of the hospital. I feel awful that she is upset. It was a terrible stressful time and I knew I wasn’t able to give as much time to my oldest daughter. My husband and I ended up splitting duties most of the time, but now it’s coming back to haunt me. I brought in a counselor to try and help the situation. My daughter talked to my counselor and said she would find a counselor (she lives in a different state). I haven’t heard a word since April. My oldest daughter said she has been traumatized by anything medical related because of what happened with her sister and me. She is also upset that I’m not living an active “normal” lifestyle.

    I have apologized numerous times. Since my ex husband and daughters refused to read any information about the rare disease I have (my youngest daughter didn’t believe her diagnosis until a few years later) it’s easy to make assumptions about the life I should be living. I don’t know how to fix this, but I am a positive person so have tried to live my best life, but my daughters’ alienation hurts like hell.

  11. Diane M.

    First, I want to thank you, Sheri for writing. I always look forward to your newsletters and the responses of others. I used the term “walking on eggshells” often. I felt I needed to do that with my family and some friends. Now, I stopped. I matter too! I feel there is no more respect for the elderly nowadays. I’m now 71 y/o and feel I deserve a bit of respect from my adult kids and grandkids. Heck with them if they choose not to relate to me. It’s their loss. Yes, it still hurts at times, and I’m disappointed how things turned out, but I’m OK. No one knows how many years are ahead for us. We must value our lives and live them well. Our adult kids know where to reach us. The ball is in their court. We are GOOD PEOPLE and our estranged kids do not define us. Wishing you all many good, happy days ahead!!

  12. Susan N

    Ty for your email, Sherri. I am 75, my daughter is 52. She estranged from me 2 years ago. (We live in the same city). I have suffered both emotionally & physically. ( I do have another daughter with grandchildren, who are loving & supportive, however, they live many, many miles away, so I am basically alone now). I do have friends, but my heart remains broken. I never have known “Why” this even happened. When my dog died, she told me I could not have another, even though I look after myself well, in every regard without help. When I attempted to question her decision, I was hung up on, even though I was grieving deeply, only 9 days since my beloved dog had passed away. My burning question to you (generally speaking,) are many children who decide to estrange actually sociopaths? My guess it that they are, because they totally lack empathy. This is a burning question for me. I thank you in advance……

    1. Diana

      I am so sorry for your loss of your faithful fur friend my only son hung up on me in September of 2021, a year ago. It was not the first time, every time it happened I would be the bigger person to tell him & his wife I was sorry, not really knowing for what. We had a difference of opinions last year, he did not like what he heard so he hung up on me. I was always walking on eggshells around them, both are very judgemental, so as I write this to you, I need you to understand I believe in God, I did the best I could to raise a good son, I was divorced from his dad when he was 2 years old, he remarried soon after, was in the Navy and did not see my son but maybe once a year. The are both in their 40’s he never wanted children so I have no grandkids. I have been exiled from their lives, they live less than 5 miles away. No holidays, no Mother’s Day, birthday even when my 16 year old dachshund died in January, no card or text my heart is broken, he was the sweetest little boy ever❤️ we were so close at one time in history but all that has changed, I no longer know who my 47 year old man son is, instead of judging him or her, I just pray for God to soften their hearts I don’t have the best relationship with my mom, they see her on occasion, which I am happy about as she is 90. My sister has not seen her son in 12 years, or her grandchildren so it does happen to many families. We live in a throw away society, we are tossed away like we never mattered. I may have to accept that my estrangement could last a very long time as I am not selling myself out & being sorry for having my own opinion, I thought I raised my son to be better than that, maybe his wife’s parents did not. IMO, it’s cruel, selfish and unforgivable but I am not God, he is in charge, I really wish you all the best going forward, God bless

    2. susan m

      Susan you are 72, if your in relatively good health you don’t need your daughters permission to get another pet. Why not look into an older pet? I own a dogs and my friend and roommate has two also. We help each other. there are many pets longing for your love and care. They need YOU! why not a cozy cat or small lap dog. Make sure you have a fenced area for dog . know yourself, if you long to care for others perhaps a older pet is right for you. if your renting and in an apt. check the rules. only take in a pet that is convenient for your personal situation, if you become ill who will care for them. if you have no one, you need to focus on making a friend. if your health is precarious don’t take in a pet. However, many of us are pretty healthy and will live to be at least 83 or so. None of us will live forever, but for today we are alive.
      I live with another woman. I wonder why more of us don’t share our homes together. I would hate to live alone.
      I think many older, widowed or divorced woman should think about the benefits of finding a W friend, to share a home with. Lets look at all the benefits , save money, not be alone 24-7. companionship. learn to share and compromise. Hopefully, we become better people. If your very fortunate, and work at it , you may overtime have and become great friends.

  13. Jenny

    We adopted our daughter From Foster care when she was 10. My father set up college counts for both her and her sister. This daughter only used about half of her account. She has not spoken to us since January and just stated that she wants they have nothing to do with us. I am the trustee on the account and Don’t see any reason to keep the account in her name anymore. But I keep thinking what if, what if she comes back to us.

  14. Linda

    @Angela, I ended up in the ER after my daughter suddenly kicked me to the curb. I had an irregular heartbeat. This happened again when my 12 yr old dog died about a year later. I had two doctors tell me my daughter was killing me.
    They’re right.
    Stress and broken hearts are no good for anyone.

    1. Pat

      I know how this feels. I am so sorry that you are going through this. Yes, estranged children, and all that brings to us, is detrimental to our health in multiple ways. I have had to make the conscious decision to live. It is no longer a daily need for recognition which I see as growth, but deep down, I know that my son’s decision, 6 years now, has taken a toll. The sun is shining this morning; I will try to enjoy it. This is hard.
      Hugs to you.


    2. susan m.

      Dear Ann, I understand you completely. however, we all did the best we could. Im sure your daughter’s lives are better than our own we as children, what more can we do? Move on, take the time to care for yourself now. You and your husband spent your lives caring for your family and you as a nurse for others. Now is the time to eat well, be well, venture out into the world. Try to work at something you enjoy. I love gardening. be friendly at the grocery store, we are all lonely. Each of us has a gift.
      Forget about the children for once. It’s okay. We are all striving for love and to be loved. For myself I have learned to care for plants and my neighborhood birds. I call them each day to breakfast and dinner.
      I believe you can share your love with the world around you. I also care for rescued dogs. Believe me, there is someone or something yearning to be loved by you and your’s. Don’t waste your time fretting over your grown daughter. Think of her as a kite, your running in the park holding the string, a gust of wind comes along ,let go…. be well, be strong, be happy, be free unshackle yourself from them.

    3. Susan m.

      Linda, don’t give that power to anyone. . Especially your daughter. These adult children are just other people. People that apparently can’t or don’t understand us, parents.
      Did you know that:
      Parasites on a host body let go when they no longer need the host body. The parasite leaves the host when it can survive on its own. They have let go of us, perhaps we need to let go of them.

      I believe the doctors shouldn’t have said that though , it wasn’t helpful, or accurate. Your body’s response to stress was possibly the cause of your hospitalization. I will encourage you to let go of her for now and focus on getting stronger and healthier. Why not Join the YMCA. Many have low cost programs with our insurance programs. Silver sneakers is a prime example.
      Perhaps you can start a walking program for yourself, or invite a friend or neighbor. I personally find house work to do, wash windows , sew , knit, organize my garage or basement. Donate household items I no longer use. Find something constructive to do. Little by little your situation will improve, your home will improve also. Learn to cook healthy for you. Take care of yourself , be kind to you.

  15. Linda

    Yeah I don’t beg or get pushy with communication. But the one daughter she’ll text once in awhile. If I engage too much she shuts down.
    I figure whatever…. ( eye rolls)
    They’re like farts in the wind
    I’ve moved on because frankly they don’t care about nothing but what’s right in front of them. They’re plugged into the artificial things in this world not kindness, love and connection. < meta verse <. The world wants you to be addicted to AI machine aka the CERN. They want the family unit gone. And my family – They’re disconnected period!
    My oldest I never hear from her anymore,with the 4 grandchildren. She also won’t post pics online of them. She wants her family to suffer. I recently seen pics she posted with demon horns on her head she modified. The eyes as well and I thought gee imagine that . They tell you who they are and what they think of you. You need no more contact.
    Of course , I feel shame, guilt and hurt. At least I know I am human and I have a conscience someone has to you know ! If they don’t have the decency of being loving people kiss them goodbye you don’t deserve to suffer with them. I’ve mourned the death of my family many times over. I’m 53 and I’m going to live every single day as though it’s my last. Speaking of that I’ve attended many funerals last two yrs people in their 30’s and 50’s are going.
    Try to be your best and live your best. With love…

  16. Annemarie

    I have a 24 year old with autism. He lives home with my husband and myself. My son and daughter in law have cut us off several times over the course of 7 years. Back & forth. One of the things I requested was that they still connect with my special needs son. No sneaky intent. Send a holiday/birthday card. Visit him where they could literally drive to the house, I will stay inside and send him out. No contact with me. Nope. That would be ” phony”, they said. The temptation to put the judges robe on and slam the gavel is strong. It IS wrong. It is a cheap excuse. Guilting does not work with selfish individuals. It only causes the wall to go back up. My mission is my granddaughters. To sow seeds of love in their little hearts whenever possible ♥️

  17. Jennifer

    I was recently rushed to hospital by ambulance with non diabetic hypoglycaemia.The two ambulance officers told me it was a good thing I rang when I didas I was critical..Spent five days in hospital.When home I soon contracted Covid which was serious as I am immuno compromised.After I finally recovered I contacted my estranged son by text to tell him what had happened and his only reply was ‘You’re always so self-engulfed’.Was I guilting him?Not sure what others think but what I DO know is that I won’t ever bother him again.When people show you who they are,believe them.I have now instructions that he not be informed of my death.Wouldnt want to bother him.

    1. JANE

      I understand and agree with what you are saying. No matter what we do it is wrong in their eyes. I don’t want my daughter to know anything about my health or death because she has never been interested in it in the past. She can find out through the grape vine. And yes, it would be too much of a bother for her to know. Best of luck and I wish you happiness.

    2. Diane M.

      Jennifer, you really have been thru a lot! I used to contact my estranged daughter to tell her of any health issues or procedures I was having hoping that might soften her a bit and she might reply to my email. Nope. I don’t think I was using guilt to get her attention, but so wanted to reconnect with her. I was desperate. I finally gave that up. I’m having two eye surgeries in a couple of days and won’t even tell her. I did tell my son (for we have limited contact) and he was very supportive. But I can talk to him about other things too. My estranged daughter’s family is now her dad, her step-mother and step-sisters and brothers. I guess she really doesn’t consider me her family anymore. Sometimes our ex-spouses can give our kids false info too. I think we just have to let go of them and live happy lives of our own. Best Wishes to you and all who write here. We are all brave people to go thru something this painful.

    3. Jennifer R.

      When my drama and estrangement began I collapsed in the floor like a rag doll. I learned that I was born with “SVT” and my stress kicked into full action. Since then I have had two heart surgeries. I expected my daughter not to care, but it hurt when I realized my son didn’t seem to care. My last comment, to me, from my son he said, “I am not going to talk to you for awhile.” I needed some business information from him. He totally blew me off. After dealing with my daughter, two heart surgeries, walking on egg shells to keep them happy. I threw everything out the window and said, “you want to ghost me…maybe I will not be done ghosting you when you decide you need something.” I am tired of letting my children think that they can control me. I have removed them from my will and life insurance. I rather donate to a complete stranger than my children who don’t show any love towards me.

  18. Diane H.

    Maybe at the very beginning of the estrangement, when the feelings of shock and disbelief are at their height, I did use phrases like how could you and I couldn’t treat my mother like this, what about loyalty and I miss you so much. I guess that’s guilting from their perspective, but as time moves on and there’s zero communication, those phrases only live in my head. If I spoke with my children tomorrow, I wouldn’t use them. I’m very different now to that shocked woman of 3 years ago. I’m alot tougher and more self assured. A bit of a warrior survivor, if I may say so myself?!!

    1. Ann H

      Diane, what helped you get to that level? I sincerely want to know. It’s been 4 months for us and the grief is overwhelming. Thanks.

    2. Susan M

      Diane, I believe you are right, I am sure most of us are confused and in a world of disbelief when our adult children treat us so. I wonder how many of you have the impression that our children seem very immature also. For myself ,in hindsight I gave my children everything I could. I believe we may have spoiled our children and not realized it. We tried and succeeded to give them better lives than we had.
      However, nowadays , I know parents who pick their children up for tenth birthday parties in limo’s. when I think about the values they are setting for their futures it makes me shiver.
      our adult children, can’t be bothered with us OLD people who are sickly and falling apart. they also don’t want to hear it. Let’s decide now to take control of OUR lives and not go backwards. Go forward, don’t contact them at all , use the time left to be selfish !! yes, that’s right .think of yourself . When you feel better reach out , like Im doing now. Help someone else. Help an animal who needs YOU. Be aware of the time involved and commitment you are making to them. Please don’t take in a puppy , but older pets are available to love. Reinvent yourselves. You’re not dead yet. The best is yet to come!!

  19. Sunny

    We informed our adult estranged child that they were not going to receive an inheritance from us if they did not want to have a relationship with us. We did not do that in an attempt to “guilt” them into having a relationship with us, but just to state a fact of life. As more time goes on, we are changing the beneficiaries on our life insurance policies. This, to us, is just plain common sense. Why should someone who has rejected us, for years, benefit from us?

    1. angela

      I recently had a routine annual physical complete with an EKG. The results were so sudden and bad that I was rushed to the ER, then the cardiac unit. After many tests, including a cardiac catheterization, I was diagnosed with a heart condition called “broken heart syndrome.” It’s serious, and obviously caused by the stress of estrangement. My sister called my daughters to inform them. They sent flowers, but did not sign the card with the word “love.” Nor did they call or write. I e-mailed them that grief and stress was the cause, and they were a big part of it. It wasn’t using a guilt trip. They never responded. That’s when I wrote them off.

    2. Linda H.

      I’ve told me girls the same thing. Too late to take back what I said. I love my daughter’s and always will. My husband passed away 7 year’s ago and everything seemed so emotional I can’t remember all that happened. I will not change their inheritance because that might leave their minds in turmoil if I pass without seeing them again. Losing my husband has placed me in a world of loneliness. I would love to see my children and grandchildren, but I’ve come to a point in my life where if I ever see them again it will not be on their terms. I want to take care of myself before seeing them again.
      The point is, I will not be here anyway, so why not give everything I have to my children. I sure showing that kind of surprising love might change their lives and in effect changed my grandchildren’s lives for the futrure. Hearts and love can be changed by our actions whether we let anger go and think how they would suffer.
      My daughter’s were very spoiled and new they were always loved unconditionally. God has blessed my abundently and I help other’s when I can. Helping other families has helped me while being estranged from my family after the lose of my husband. They can have everything of mine because I love them. I will never tell them what I’m leaving them because I do not want them showing me love just because I’m giving them my everything. I want their love only if they want their mother. Not money.
      Long answer…in the End who cares who gets the inheritance. Let go and live with love in your heart. When I thought this way it really helped me in life itself. God Bless

    3. Sherry A

      Nice to hear that I am not alone in that decision. It has been three years for me after many years of having a rocky relationship anyway. I never knew why why son treated me so badly and don’t know why he has cut me off. My husband and I feel that if you want nothing to do with us in life then why should you benefit financially from our death. We will finally be changing the will soon.
      I will always love my son dearly, but I have suffered enough and have done my best to live my life after estrangement.

    4. Chris S.

      Don’t you think by doing that, that will just confirm their mistaken beliefs about us? I struggle with this.

      1. rparents Post author

        Dear Chris, one point of growth for Parents…. over time …. is that they think less about what judgments their adult children will make about them. It’s freeing not to live based on what someone who disregards you anyway thinks or might think about you.

        Hugs to you.
        Sheri McGregor


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *