Ask Sheri McGregor: Contacting estranged granddaughter


Ask Sheri McGregor: Contacting estranged granddaughter?

Dear Sheri McGregor,

I just found your site and your Books on Amazon, and hope that you might help  –  I am looking for advice on composing a first-ever email to my 20 year old granddaughter whom I’ve never been allowed to meet. I was denied all access of any kind and never even saw a photo of her until this past summer, when I found my granddaughter on Instagram.

Let me give a little background—

I am a 75-year-old military veteran and have been estranged from my son since the late 1980s, when his mother and I began divorce proceedings. It was an extremely acrimonious divorce that took several years to finalize. I tried to keep contact but, over the years, my son has expressed hate toward me. It became clear that my ex-wife poisoned him against me. I missed major milestones, including my son’s wedding. He has two daughters and although I reached out to my son often, I was not welcomed in any way. Once, I even visited his home, but no one answered the door.

Anyway, this past summer, I found my oldest granddaughter, age 20, on Instagram and sent a request to “follow” her. She asked, “Grandpa?” I thanked her for replying and told her that I hoped we could communicate. Unfortunately, she didn’t respond again.

There is no telling what stories she has been told about me. Wanting any kind of relationship with her may be a futile pursuit, but at my age, I am not sure how much longer I have left on the planet. My own paternal grandfather died when my father was just a boy. So, I never knew him and have always felt that I missed out. Maybe my granddaughter has a similar feeling about me.

Recently, I found out she was living away at college and located her email address.  Can you help me with the exact wording to use when I contact her? I’m including a draft email, not yet complete, for your review. Here is that draft:

Dear XX:

I am sure hearing from me is a surprise, and I hope this doesn’t cause you any kind of conflict. I’ve known of you since the time you were born, just a week after my own birthday, so I have always celebrated my own birthdays with you in my heart.

I’m hoping you will consider beginning communication with me. I’ve really missed not being a part of your life and I would welcome the opportunity for you and me to get to know each other directly, using whatever method you are comfortable with (email, handwritten letters sent via U.S. mail, over the phone, or via FaceTime).

I’d be happy to send you your own phone with its own new number that I pay for the monthly billing thus no way for any of the calls to be traced/discovered by anyone else.

Give this some thought and reflect on my intention and I’ll always be ready when you are.

I’ll end this with Love, Poppa … because that is how I have always felt about you.

What do you think, Sheri? Thank you very much for reading my letter and I hope you can help.


David P.

Contacting estranged granddaughter: ANSWER From Sheri McGregor:

Hi David,

I’m glad you reached out, and I do have some thoughts. While many who work with those affected by estrangement dissect their letters, I don’t typically offer specific wording as you ask. (See this excerpt from my latest book about that HERE). However, let me apply a broad brush, because there are many loving parents/grandparents who wish to establish a connection with those lost to them through parental alienation and estrangement.

First, just as you have said in your note to me, you may not get anywhere with your contact. There just are no guarantees, no matter how carefully you word things. For that reason, I would suggest that you consider altering your intention a little. That way, you can feel you have accomplished something good regardless of the outcome.

If this were me contacting a grandchild who doesn’t know me, I might consider what I could do to help her. Therefore, I might offer some information to her. This might take the form of a few photos of yourself and/or relatives from your side of the family, along with some brief historical information, links to genealogy sites with their information if those exist, or some interesting tidbits about their lives or even medical information if that makes sense.

In this way, perhaps you leave a legacy, imparting some knowledge that is helpful to her (now or in the future). I discuss the concept of leaving a legacy more in Beyond Done With The Crying More Answers and Advice for Parents of Estranged Adult Children. In your case, perhaps you could offer to answer questions or provide more information as well as convey your desire to have contact with her. By including something that you believe would be useful, informative, or helpful to her, then you could feel good about contacting her regardless of the immediate outcome. You’d be providing her a gift.

If this were me, I might want to tell a little about myself, too. Where I live and my interests, briefly. By doing so, she could see you in a perspective that is perhaps different than she has been told or has imagined. Perhaps your sharing may connect with her interest and spark further communication.

I would not offer to buy a phone that could be kept secret as your draft email implies. In my opinion, doing this could be construed in a negative light and appear devious to someone who has possibly been told bad things about you (as you mentioned believing may have occurred).

David, please take kind care of yourself. I hope that you will get your desired outcome of a relationship with your granddaughter. Whether that happens or not, I hope that by reaching out with a gift as discussed here, that you will feel peaceful about the outcome and satisfied that you have done something good for your granddaughter.

Hugs from Sheri McGregor

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55 thoughts on “Ask Sheri McGregor: Contacting estranged granddaughter

  1. Disheartened

    It’s been 14 years since both my son and daughter have estranged themselves from me. They are both married, and my daughter has 2 children whom I have seen only once since birth. Even that was a cool and stressful interaction with her.
    I am divorced from their father and I know from others over the years that he has filled their minds with negative and untrue comments about me.
    The reason I had been given for estrangement was “You should know, I’m not going to tell you”.
    I have another child who is married and has children who I see and interact with.
    Over the years I have called, texted, emailed, and sent snail mail. Mostly blocked and no response. Nor do they interact with anyone that associates with me at all, as even they are confused. I have only received one card returned as “return to sender”. I have sent the grandchildren small simple gifts (like games, candy, coloring books, puzzles, etc) through the mail. I address it to them from “grandmother” with my return address on the package or card and send it on birthdays and holidays. I never know if they receive the gifts other than mail tracking to the address, nor if they are opened, accepted, donated, destroyed, or thrown away. There is no way for me to know if they are aware that I had something sent to them. I have cried many times, gone to therapy, and talked with others in similar situations.
    I am forever hopeful, but the light of possibilities is certainly diminished. I don’t know how to keep proceeding without setting myself up for heartache over again each time. It’s not the grandchildren’s fault, but am I making it worse or should I do nothing? At this point and after years, how can I possibly stay positive and do the right thing when I don’t know what to do anymore?

  2. Maryann

    Dear David, I read your letter tonight, and I must say, it really hit home. So much what you wrote was very similar to my situation. I have a son who hasn’t spoken to me for a little over 10 years now. The hardest part at this moment is that I now have two little grandsons, who I’ve never seen. I would give anything to meet them, to hold them or to just see them for a few minutes. I do have some friends and family who occasionally send me pictures so I’ve had a few pictures of them over the years. The oldest one is 2 1/2 and the youngest is seven months old. I tried reaching out to my son, but all I got was hateful words and lies to,d to him by his father. After that, I cried for three days and accepted the fact that I love my son, but I do not like him at all. However, I would give anything to be a part of my grand children’s lives. Best of luck to you when you send your email. I will send prayers your way and positive thoughts that you will at least get the chance to meet your granddaughter in this life. You’re not alone. Sometimes to me that’s the hardest part. I feel like I’m all alone in this battle.

  3. Lynne

    This was the perfect day for me to read.this thread. It’s been six years since my daughter cut off all communication with me, with no explanation. She has a daughter who will soon be 5 and a son who will soon be 3 whom I have never seen or spoken to in their entire lives. Most of the time my head is in a good place. I know that if she wasn’t my daughter, I would not have worked so.hard to mend our relationship, she’s not a nice person. But today I was feeling sorry for myself and angry about the situation. It was good for me to put things in perspective, that even though it isn’t fair, it happens to a lot of good people. And I choose to focus on my oldest grandsons who are 18 and 16. I helped raise them and we are super close. They still give me hugs and find things we can do together and tell me they love me. My ED cannot take that away from me.

  4. broken heart

    i have been estranged from my 14 year old grandaughter (the entire maternal side has been) – due to parental alientation – her father has made sure she has cut us out of her life – I want to reach out to her in a letter but i don’t know what to say to her. It’s a complicated situation, one where she made false accusations against her step dad, saying he hit her (all investigated and all untrue), this narrative has been encouraged by her father and step mother and because i didn’t believe her, she has cut me out of her life as well, despite how close we were. Her memory has been manipulated to the point that i’m not sure she knows the truth anymore herself – my heart breaks for her, for what she has missed in our large loving family and for the challenges she will face in her life because of all of it. Her 15th birthday is soon, i continue to send presents with no response.

  5. Pat

    3 years ago our eldest daughter of three estranged herself from me and her family. Encouraged by her husband she wrote me a 6 page letter listing the wrong I’ve done to her while growing up. The words were not hers but his PhD embellished words!
    “I didn’t pay for her college”….we helped the girls with education expenses but,also, they had to work and take out loans.
    “The beach house wasn’t big enough for us to have our own room”.
    “You called me stupid and selfish and said that to my mother-in-law”. Never would I call anyone stupid!
    “I prepared gluten meals for her when I was supposed to know she was gluten free”.
    After having knee surgery we visited brought a meal, offered to help in any way. Her response” I’m not a child my husband can take care of me”.
    She made demands of me if we were to have a relationship: see a counselor, which I do for my own mental health, apologize for all that I did wrong and hurt her. I have sent cards, emails, texts to ask her please talk to me so I can understand her hurt and apologize.
    I’ve asked her if I could go to her counselor with her or separately. No response. How do we resolve anything if she is unwilling to talk.
    On top of all of this, at 44 years old, she had her first baby, our first grandchild, that we will never meet. We did drive to their home, 1 1/2 hours away, unannounced, right after the baby was born, fearful if we announced a visit they wouldn’t open the door. We didn’t expect to see the baby but wanted to be sure our daughter was safe.
    She finally came to the door yelling “where were you when I had a difficult pregnancy?” Where were you when our baby almost died?” We knew none of this. We only knew she was pregnant through a family member on Facebook. The MIL never shared this with us though she has been part of their life.
    When I said I love you she yelled at me “that I am toxic. Don’t talk to me”. She told her dad she loved him and when ready would reach out to him. That was 4 months ago. Nothing since.
    Why would her counselor not encourage us to meet in a counseling session. Mine did. My daughter didn’t respond to that suggestion.
    Our daughter has not be in touch with any family member on our side, only his.
    It’s embarrassing to even right this, let alone share with someone.
    I find myself so envious and jealous as I read/ see other “normal” families. Not meant to be. Thanks for letting me vent.

    1. Judy S.

      I know how you feel, my children won’t talk to me or tell me why this has happened. I’ve been going through this for 3 years now and while it does get easier if you are kind to yourself and not let what they’re telling you sink into your heart because they’re angry. And sometimes what they say is not what really happened, it’s just their version of it. You’ve got to! Find a way to get some peace. I did it through the Lord. Although it’s very hard, you’ve got to not think about them as much as possible. I know you feel like this can’t really be happening, but it is. Unfortunately it’s our reality. It’s not easy saying all of this, I want it all to go away also and go back to the way it was! I hope you find some peace and start finding things to make you happy so you can move on with your life and not let this abuse eat you up! Judy

  6. Janet A.

    Dear special grandfather – You are doing the right thing by reaching out and giving her an opportunity but she is young and only aware of what she has been told. Maybe consider writing her a brief note every week where she has an opportunity to connect with you and get to know you. Let her know how difficult what your life is now, how you missed out on your son, how times were in the 80’s etc.. and how things are different. Maybe offering a phone is much to personal and she is very loyal to her parents. If she is put in a position to choose, I think the choice would be loyalty unless she started to know you. Maybe your note doesn’t require any ask of her at present, just be who you are and recognize she’s now at college and how exciting a time that must be. Be a support system and maybe send her pizza gift cards/typical college stuff. I don’t know the answers – I only hope one day, I will have the opportunity to reach out to my granddaughter when she is in college as I will plan to as well. Much hope for your contact to be successful.

  7. Angela

    Perhaps grandparents that are rejected by their children could start an education account in the childs name and deposit birthday and Christmas funds into it. At least later in life those children will know they weren’t abandoned by them and were loved. I have an abusive alcoholic son that i severed relations with several years ago. He was physically abusive to his wife on many occasions and their marriage came to an end. Im fortunate that she and her son love me and i do a lot for them as my son does little. She tells people she got me as part of the divorce settlement. I have no guilt around my son. I didn’t raise him to be that kind of person those are his own choices.

  8. Faith

    There was an article yesterday in “The Atlantic,” titled “Dear Therapist: We’re cutting my husband’s parents out of our lives.” The article stated what could happen in the future cutting their children’s grandparents out of their lives. It made me angry, cutting a loving, warm relationship off. It’s just senseless. We no longer have any contact with our son and his family, however, a friend of mine lives in the same neighborhood as her daughter and her family. She does housekeeping, child care, and sports for her daughter’s family and she’s very stressed and tired. My husband and I have some peace and contentment, I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes. Too bad there wasn’t some where in between we could be.

    1. rparents Post author


      There is information in the new book (Beyond Done) about how much being a grandparent has changed in our society. Doing so much… your friend may be doing an “eggshell walk” of a different kind. 🙁
      Yes, a middle ground sounds like it would be NORMAL

      Hugs to you,
      Sheri McGregor

  9. Kate

    Terrie K.
    I agree with Toni D—very good advice! You’re absolutely right, if they’ll dump us once, they’ll dump us again–(if we let ’em). This all started when my daughter was about 28 years old. She’s now almost 52 & has dumped me more than once through the years b/c I kept trying to hang on to her & my grandchild—it was my fault for trying. I haven’t heard from them in years but I’m finally done–I would never ever trust her again. Just remember, once they show their true colors, we need to realize that’s who they really are & let them go. Yes, it’s hard to do but thanks to many wise parents on here, I’m doing so much better than I was a just a couple of years ago before I found this place (& Sheri’s books). Thanks so much!

    1. Debra

      I thought the same….if it happens once, it will happen again. My daughter dumped me when I really needed her, for one day after knee surgery, one lousy day. Just to stay with my dogs overnight. Then three years later. This time, it has been over 3 years. I tried calling several times, tried a couple emails and 1 letter. She got the fiel for the already low fire and it was on. For a while I sent gift cards to my grandson but have since quit that as well. It makes me very sad, but I feel is something I would have to do again. Not prepared to.

  10. Toni D.

    Terrie K.,
    You are very wise. I feel confident that your words have given strength and clarity to a lot of us, including me. Thank you for taking the time to share.

  11. S.

    Ohhhh Grandma Wendy

    I LOVE your story and so happy that you get to have a relationship with your grandbabies.

    My EC treats ne like your son does. Has absolutely no interest in anything but self. If i try to talk i get ignored. Whats the point! Can you tell me jow you deal with your son having no interest in your life?

    Your relationship with your babied is ALL I want.
    I just want to be grandma but their Mom wont gor that. My babies are new toddlers. Idk how i can be just grandma and let their mom go at the same time.


  12. Eeyore

    This is to those speaking about their grandkids. I’m in my second estrangement with my daughter. During this one she has married and had a daughter of her own. I have a few sources that send me pictures of her. I’ve started sending a weekly note to my daughter because I read about another mother who did that. I’m sure since I no longer send money that she throws them right in the trash can, but I just feel compelled to do that right now. My granddaughter is now 6 months old. The pain is made worse by the fact that her dad who is the one who filled her head with lie after lie gets to babysit the baby daily. So that means as she grows up, she will not even know that I exist. Like all of you, I don’t really have a specific reason she is doing this. Makes no sense. Prayers to all of you.

  13. emily38

    My comment is addressed to David but is meant for all hurting grandparents. I put myself in that camp with an exception. I would not say ‘hurting’ any longer about myself. Instead, I would say ‘once-destroyed, now restored.’ All five of my GC are not in my life.

    David, many years ago I went to my local bookstore. . There, I found quite a selection of available books designed for grandparents to tell their stories. Not for estranged grandparents, of course, but for all grandparents, which we are, estranged or not.

    I chose a book that fit my needs and then dedicated myself to filling in all its page, including adding photographs. I can hear some readers thinking…..oh that would be so much work, and it would be if the right commitment and positive approach to the record wasn’t there. I found the effort a way to add dignity and support to myself, both of which were sorely needed.

    I took one more step important to me. My legal papers state that nothing will be done, nothing, with my estate before all letters/addressed papers/these books are distributed directly to the named recipients. Everything is stored safely and well-marked. My estranged grandchildren will receive the books and it will be their choice to throw them away, if they choose. Obviously, I no longer daydream about actually reconnecting with the five of them. My feet are firmly planted in reality where I’m safe and healthy.

    I viewed this project as a positive one, as one worth my efforts, as a way to tell my grandchildren about their heritage, one including grandparents they did not know. Or might think they knew in whatever way the grandparents were presented to them.

    David, there isn’t any way to know how your direct approach will work (without a phone). But there’s a huge risk of rejection, reopened pain and even more damning silence. Only you can evaluate the willingness to open yourself to these.

    For other estranged parents reading, know I write as a 20+ year veteran of this journey, If I sound unfeeling, I am not. I’ve suffered too much and I understand. My wellness is what matters, only what matters now.

    I wish all of you well.

    1. Terrie K.

      Dear Emily:

      The one thing I did was understand from your words is that you have survived, gone on to the life you deserve and seem very healthy in understanding some things in life can be fixed and often times, some cannot! If we keep thinking we are at fault and try to repair damage then we are taking time away from our own lives and nobody is worth my life, including my estranged son who is 56.

      When people come to me so I can hear their story the one question I always ask them is: If this person was not related to you in any way would you still admire them enough to want to be friends with them!

      If you look at these people you need to ask yourself that question because no matter how they are in our lives or if they share our DNA it matters less than wanting a person in your life we can trust. I always tell people that I have learned a huge lesson and if my son came to my door to apologize for what he has put us all through, I would not open the door. I may sound hard as rocks but the truth and way I think is the fact that if you did this to me once and it took years for me to get my life back, who is to say you would not do this again when the thought struck you or I stopped dolling out money.

      You are the most important person in your life………………..

  14. Sunnyside2019

    Sometimes I wonder if, in the future, my Granddaughter from this ED will ever want to meet me. She is 7 years old now – 7 years of no contact with my ED . I wonder if this Granddaughter will see who her parents truly are as she matures and grows into adulthood. I do hope I get to meet her before I die. I am now 72 years old and don’t know, of course, how much longer I will be on this Earth, but it would be nice to be able to meet C before I die.

  15. Christina

    My grandson is about to turn 18. I haven’t seen him for 9 years. I always send him a birthday/Christmas card but never any response.

    My husband is going to approach him after school in the hope that he will acknowledge us.

    What do you think about this?

    1. Julia S

      I think if he’s about to turn 18 (is that the legal adult age where you are?) If it is I think it sounds fine, but not on the college premises I would have thought that this might run a risk, & with a note with how to contact you. I would say ask him how he is & that you’ve missed him, would love to reconnect etc.

    2. rparents Post author

      Hi Christina,
      I’m always a bit leery of surprise advances. Nine years is a long time. Half of his life. I think if you know the routine, see where he walks or whatever, then maybe just wave rather than rush over. But I am not advocating for a surprise like this. It may feel invasive or be upsetting. Do you know much about him? What if he suffers anxiety or has a health problem that a surprise if a long lost grandpa might trigger? Give this a lot of thought. Consider all angles. This might put the boy in an akward position with his parents. I don’t know the whole background…. If you do decide to follow through, then I certainly hope it goes well for all involved.

      Sheri McGregor

  16. Julia S

    This is really interesting for me. I think the advice to not send a phone is perfect because you don’t want to create more division. However I don’t know about a family history/photos/information at this early stage.

    I only say this because my daughter had little contact with her grandmother when she was younger – interestingly my mother in law’s choice – and my mother in law tried to establish some form of contact when my daughter was about 16. She sent a photo of herself & a note online. My daughter was unhappy about the lack of previous contact & with no explanation for this absence was not sure what to do with the photo. It seemed a bit insensitive to send this without explanation. Daughter did send a tokenistic gesture back but I don’t think that the contact daughter made was “good enough” for mother in law & she never wrote back. So nothing ever came of this sadly.

    I also felt that at her age, some teenagers, including her, wasn’t really interested in family history or photos. She wanted solid ground & I think it felt like it was all about her grandmother rather than her.

    Having said all that, I would think that the letter that this grandfather wishes to send is fine except for the bit about the phone, I get why he’s said that but it runs the risk of being seen as collusive & that won’t help.

    I wonder whether it would be wise to add that he’s there should she ever need him, he’d be interested in giving information about his life & would be thrilled if she wants to share any stories about herself & her life.

    I really hope that something comes back but would say that not everyone uses their college emails but it could be sent visit an online platform such as Instagram.

  17. Tracy

    I relate to each and every comment and David’s post.I too have a son and DIL who have completly cut me off from 3 of my grandchildren with the youngest one I don’t even know and all for no reason.My son gets mad over every little thing and pulls the grands away from me.It’s been over a year and I refuse to allow my son to do this to me anymore,the hurt is unreal and I can imagine what it does to the kids.My 4th grandchild lives with me along with his mom,my daughter.All my grandkids go to the same school and I found out my grands have been hanging out together at recess and my estranged grandkids told my other grandson they miss coming to our house and miss us and they know it’s their dads fault.This has made me feel better to know they miss me like I miss them.It’s very sad.

  18. Annemarie

    Dear Grandma Wendy,
    Yes. Not the way we would have chosen but we can sweeten this bitter cup. So happy for you. Even happier that your grandchildren get to know they are loved by you. Blessings❤

  19. Kathy Cash

    My husband and I of 45 years, have been estranged on and off from my oldest son, daughter-in-law, and 4 grandchildren, for 10 years now. In the past 6 months our son seems to be more angry than ever before. We do not know where all this anger comes from, but he claims we have not supported him in his current relationship. We have explained, in writing because he wont talk to us or see us, that we have tried again and again but get turned away for multiple reasons every time we try. The last time we saw them I was sitting across the table from my daughter-in-law, (don’t know why I call her that, she definitely doesn’t act like one) and I asked her, as sincerely as possible, how she was and what was new in her life. She answered with, I’m fine, and was silent. I turned my attention to my twin granddaughters who remembered me, and didn’t try again. I learned months later that she had just started a new job and was pregnant with their 4th child.
    That’s when I knew I was done trying to repair my relationship, or lack there of, with her. My sons continued and intense anger is what greatly concerns me. I do feel he is loaded with stress and discontent and can’t do anything with it other than to blame us. But the blame is unfounded in our eyes and he won’t talk about it. We have tried to tell him we would move on without rehashing the past, tried that 5 years ago and it hasn’t worked.
    I strongly feel my son’s wife has finally accomplished what she wanted all along, us out of their lives. Our twin granddaughters remembered us the past visit 8 months ago, but as young as they are, we’re certain they will soon forget who we are. I have been sending gifts at Christmas and birthdays, when we don’t see them, but do believe they probably throw them away, or take the cards off and say they are from someone else. So…why go to the emotional anguish of purchasing gifts that don’t get to them and they don’t know who they are from?? I think I’m done doing that, but will see how I feel when the next birthday or holiday rolls around. I was always the grandma that came with gifts in her hands and did arts and crafts with them.
    We also have a son with autism. The last time my older son saw his brother he used very terse words when the younger one asked if we would be together again. We are in the process of reworking our sons special needs trust so the estranged son is not involved. It’s so painful and crushing to the heart and the sole. Let alone what it does to your brain. Any suggestions??

    1. Effie

      Kathy, I just had to respond. I don’t think anyone has ever responded to me on here and I have been on for 7 years. I am sure people do relate though. I certainly do… My situation is pretty much a carbon copy of yours. the pain is horrible, and I have no clue either where the anger is from. They talk among themselves, but I have been stopped if I try to ask any questions about ” why “. They say do not start drama. but the mistreatment, isolation and intentionally planning new events (to leave me out of, just intensified when I tried to plan things for all of us to do. I have literally no hope anymore and feel as a Christian it is time to walk away from this very unthankful generation. My kids are all college educated and I really think that I am not wanted. Right now, I am spending as much time with my elderly father and honoring him. The pain is always close by though. I am sorry you’re going through this.

    2. Kb

      I am new to this website but have been reading posts/stories for a month or so now. My husband of 52 years and I were beginning to feel like the Lone Rangers out here, but now I see that there are way too many of us in the same or similar situation. We have two daughters in their 40s. One decided to rid her life of all “toxic” people, of which I am one. She does text my husband on rare occasions (I have been ok with that because I have always wanted to leave a line of communication open—I am rethinking that at this point however). Our other daughter is mostly not involved with us either. Largely depends on whether she’s in a good mood or needs something. We have 4 grandchildren and helped to raise 3 of them as their parents worked—our gift to them and one we loved giving. The roller coaster ride of trying to deal with this has been draining emotionally. After reading Shari’s book (half way through), I am feeling better about acknowledging that the time has come to move forward in my life. It is so very sad, however, that we all live in the same city with very little contact. Even the two oldest grandkids never call or come by to say hi and see if everything is ok. All of this to say, I can relate to sooo many of you. Thank you for sharing your stories. It really does help. I pray for all of us to find peace, contentment and meaning in these lives we have left. Blessings.

    1. S.

      Hello Effie

      I know exactly how you feel. Both of mine are college educated too. I feel like they becer want to be around me. When they are it is out of obligation
      And fake.

      I tried so hard and so many times to keep the 3 of us together like it use to be. Every time we done any kind of together it was a disaster….from family dinners just us to mini vacations.

      My father is in his 90s and i spend my time with him. You sound a lot stronger than me. I admire your strength.

      Hope… in hoping for a better relationship

  20. Lilo

    Thank you, Sheri for all of your support and great advice. It has been almost a year since we have seen our 2 grandsons. On Friday, my cell phone rang and I picked it up only to hear our youngest grandsons voice in the other end. We spoke for an hour and I cherish this encounter. Our oldest grandson spoke to us as well and told me he “Loved Me to the Moon and Back”, something I used to tell him often. I don’t know if this will happen again, but I know that the only thing that is certain is change. Although we miss our son, we have let him go and wish him the best in his life.
    David, my heart breaks for you. The pain of estrangement seems unbearable at times. Holding space for you on your journey.

  21. Linda

    letters like this always grab my attention because my two twin granddaughters are becoming teens and my desire to see them is huge. I think about them daily. Love between us will never diminish as we had a strong one .
    I hope one day I will be able to see them without the narcissist daughters hand grabbing them from me again.
    They will be free of controlled opposition eventually and she can never stop real Love
    I hope the original poster can soon be reunited!

    Keep us updated

  22. Anne

    Joseph in the Bible finally reunited with his family.. but it was Gods timing. Joseph could have “forced” himself on his family as he achieved much power, but He allowed God to work. That’s what I’m trying to do, I send cards, and gifts to my 3 grands for holidays and birthdays. (G/F controls ) so I hope to one day get an acknowledgement but it’s in Gods time.

    We do our part in the best way we are able and let The Lord do the big stuff.

    1. Mary

      It is SO hard to feel like a stranger with our 2 grandkids. Our son no doubt has poisoned their minds against us. He divorced their mother this year and I was hoping that would open the door for a relationship with them. We’ve had one video chat this year. Their mom picked up almost right away with another guy and that is where her energy goes now. I have written to them every month in the last 8 years and sent them gifts on their birthdays. It’s like communicating with air……..God has told me to let them all go and that has been so hard, but His ways are best and He can deal with them much better than I can.

    2. Cheryl

      I love that, let the Lord do the big stuff. My grandson just turned 3 and doesn’t know I exist. Or my parents or sister. ED has kept him from us. Holidays and birthdays are painful. I pray everyday for serenity. Those words help, a lot. God’s time, not ours. Thank you.

    3. Annemarie

      Love the story of Joseph. Great analogy on how to balance the letting God work and pursuing our loved ones. Gently. With God’s leading. Blessings❤

    4. Loni B.

      Anne, since you opened a spiritual door, I would add that it is comforting to know (if you believe this which I do) that none of us can really be separated from our Father-Mother God.

  23. Marni Hill Foderaro

    Dearest Sheri,

    You are such a beautiful soul!

    Your books Done With The Crying, Beyond Done With The Crying and your workbook have helped so many parents, including me, navigate their loss and heartbreak.

    Your newsletter and forum allow loving parents and grandparents to share and seek guidance. You are so kind to respond and offer such thoughtful insight.

    Once again, your reach out to your community came just when I needed to hear from a friend who understands. Today is my birthday. Instead of feeling sad about not even being acknowledged by my alienated adult children (going on close to a decade of missed milestones and missed everyday moments) I will celebrate my heart, my strength and values with love and do something special for myself.

    I appreciate you and all you do to provide very thoughtful and realistic support to others.

  24. Gail G.


    I am estranged from my adult related to his wife. We had a great relationship until this woman arrived in his life. I also lost my relationship with my grandson. We were extremely close as I was helping my son raise him. It hurts. I have two other grandchildren from their union. I have decided they are not my grandkids as it is easier.

    I recently had an MRI because of a concussion. The MRI showed a stroke and I shared it with my sister and older son. My sister took it upon herself to write my estranged son and share the information. My son sent me a formal email noting my stroke and asking what he and his wife could do to help, He also wished me a belated birthday. I thanked him for his email and gave him a brief update on my health. I am good…. but had a stroke at some time and I think it was related to a fall when I was hiking. I am dealing with memory loss from the concussions. Thanks for checking in. No reply to my email.

    Then his birthday came up and I wished him a happy birthday by email with no reply. For me, that was it..his email on my health was doing his duty. because he was shamed into it by his aunt. It hurts to be sent a fake email of concern that was insincere and based on only appropriateness.

    I just cannot take the hurt from him… the pretend concern hurt me even more. I feel I am better off being without this kind of relationship as it sucks the happiness out of me. It is one-sided, controlled by his wife, and I have to let it all go.

    1. Kb

      Gail, I understand about communication that is insincere. Our two daughters are not involved with us, one completely absent, the other around at her convenience or if she needs something. I have graduated to receiving a text on my birthday saying Happy Birthday. And flowers dropped off on Mother’s Day and a 5 minute stay from the other one. Pure duty or guilt or whatever with no love, care or concern. I’m one who believes if the only time you show up is for the funeral, please don’t bother. It’s too late by then.

  25. Annemarie

    Spot on advice Sheri! Yes,phone is well intentioned but the secrecy could be used against you David. After not seeing my son, daughter in law and 4 granddaughters in over a year, I had a short, sweet visit with them recently. The little beauties ran over to me yelling “grandma”. Be still my heart. Everything is far from perfect but I relished that short time. I have read Sheri’s book and honestly believe it helped me even get to this point. Someday, your granddaughter will appreciate your love and care. Wether now or after your gone. Love is never wasted❤

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Annemarie,
      I’m so glad you got those sweet moments. And I think you are so wise in savoring the memory of it. I also love what you said about love.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Grandma Wendy

      Dear Annemarie- I, too, have found some peace through Sheri’s books and Newsletter. After over 20 years of being estranged from my youngest son (now 44), I had an opportunity to meet my 3 grandchildren, a boy (9), two girls (5 & 7). My son granted me permission to stop by with a box of requested items from his grandfather’s estate and a short visit but without my husband. My husband is a gem and knew how much this would mean to me. He did meet the kids and my DIL when he came by to pick me up after my 2 and a half hour visit. I didn’t say much to my son since he wasn’t interested but I did get to play with the grands and we had a wonderful time. A plus was getting to know my DIL. I have sent several packages and birthday gifts and they have been acknowledged. I’ve come to terms with this may be the best I get but I’m delighted that my grandchildren know that I have always thought about them and will continue to keep contact. Counting my blessings, being grateful everyday and never giving up hope that change is possible is what gets me through each day. May you be blessed with many more visits with your grands.

    3. Nan

      I am estranged from my older son and narcissist DIL. And they took the 4 granddaughters with them. Prior to the estrangement the guards were very close to me. It has been like death to me. And I can’t imagine what it did to the youngest grand because we suddenly just disappeared. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of them. I send gift cards for birthdays and Christmas but have no way of knowing if they are used or even given to them. I pray daily for some sort of reconciliation, at least with our granddaughters.

      Thank you for the work you do, Sheri. Prior to reading your book I had no idea how common estrangement is. I felt a great deal of shame at the beginning because I believed I had to be the worst mother in the world to have this going on in my family.

      Thank you all for your emails and responses. It helps.

  26. MsExistential

    This is a duplicate scenario to my husband. Upon seeing his photo, the estranged great grand son expressed a question to his parents who is this and why do I not know his face. So plans were made many months in advance by his daughter to have his grandson and great grandkids visit him. Not directly by his grandson but by his mother. My husbands narcissist daughter. Know where this will go. Sure enough last minute issues and change in plans. We held stead fast to what was planned. Well fast forward a year and no, neither the grandson or his gr-grandsons mother have tried to mend the breach. My husband has now seen the light of his daughters malicious behavior over all so many years influenced by an exwife’s vile haterid. We agree the out come of reaching out may just add more hurt to the already bled dry heart. A valuable lesson that finally exposed his daughters deeds

    1. rparents Post author

      I’m sorry to hear of the disappointing outcome. Perhaps the realization it revealed is a positive thing for you and your husband in letting go. Hugs to you both.

      Sheri McGregor

  27. Sue

    Dear Sheri, thank you so much for your supportive, informative, and helpful suggestions, while navigating through these challenging moments in my life.
    I recently sent my son a large amount of money for his birthday and he returned the check with a declination because he said he could not accept it if he thought it would mean any expectations ofhaving a relationship. So, I resent chech with note saying “no expectations; just use in best of health and happiness and happy birthday, but always hope n prayers.” The note he sent was civil n kind, so it gave me some good feelings.

    1. rparents Post author


      You’re very kind to have done what you did. Now, spend some on yourself!

      Do something frivolous even if you can afford to.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Eeyore

      My daughter always cashed any checks I sent. No reply at all. I just stopped sending them. I feel like I’d been used enough.

  28. Deborah S.

    Sheri, That was great advice from beginning to end. I agree with everything you stated. To David, I am estranged from my daughter so I understand what it means to “love from afar.” Just perhaps there is something waiting in the afterlife that will “right” all injustices. I certainly hope so. You have been treated unfairly and I am sorry. However, I am also glad that you were ab;e to made a life for yourself and you DO have a legacy in all of the lives you have touched by living your life. Even if you do not get your desired outcome with your granddaughter, you life has NOT been wasted and you do have a legacy in others that will live on.


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