Author Archives: rparents

About rparents

Sheri McGregor holds a Master's Degree in Human Behavior and is a life coach. She helps parents move beyond loss of estrangement through this website, and with her book,, Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children (more: www.rejectedparents.net/book-for-parents-of-estranged-adult-children/ Currently, Sheri is not taking any individual coaching clients. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter--she has some projects in development you'll want to know about.

Rejected parents: In trying times, “check in”

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

adult son hates meSeveral years ago, I created a self-monitoring kit for a mental health organization. It was based on the concept of “checking in” with yourself each day. Testing the wind, so to speak, but about your own feelings. (Or is that “tasting” the wind, like Gingersnap is doing in the photo?) When it comes to nurturing our well-being, awareness is important. In troubling times, awareness can be a first line of defense. So try checking in.

During this Covid-19 pandemic, or any stressful time (such as estrangement), try “checking in.”

Notice your how you’re feeling physically and emotionally upon awaking and at checkpoints throughout the day. By noticing, you can then take steps to take care.

If you awaken worried, take note. Ask yourself if there is anything you can do in this moment to solve the worries? If not, is there anything you can do on this day, this week, and so on. Jot down any insights. Then, thank your mind for trying to work things out for you, and give yourself permission to let the worries go.

Check in later in the day, too. Are you unusually grouchy? Are you sniping at other people or gravitating toward Internet doom and gloom. Check yourself. Also, consider what may be fueling your feelings. Be careful of your media diet. While it’s never good to bury your head in the sand, it’s also not good to fill up on hype or hysteria.

Are you thinking about how much it hurts that your estranged adult child doesn’t bother to see how you’re doing, even in such a scary time? It is hurtful, so allow a few moments to feel those emotions. Cry or vent (a little) if you must. The intensity of the feelings will pass. And how you respond can help them move along.

Take good care of yourself

Sometimes, a negative mood, fitful sleep, or physical issues are best managed with good old fashioned TLC. Even if you’re staying in, get up, groom, and dress. You’ll feel better when you catch a glimpse of a tidied-up you in the mirror (rather than a slouchy robe and food-coated teeth).

Eat purposefully, too. When we’re stressed, it’s easy to reach for the chips and chocolate. Anything in moderation, but be sure you’re giving your body what it needs to thrive. You’ll feel better emotionally when you’re running on healthful fuel. If you’re checking-in with bodily complaints, take heed.  Indigestion: Could it have been all those mixed nuts? Sore lower back: Could it be from too much sitting? Connecting physical symptoms with behavior can help you gain awareness toward positive change.

Exercise is another way to care for yourself. Sitting around can feel paralyzing. Make your house and/or yard a walking track. (Try singing while you walk. Beats ruminating about everything you cannot change.) Try standing on one foot and then the other. Sweep the floor, clean the walls, vacuum your car. Exercise doesn’t have to be a standard fitness routine. Just get moving. All the better if what you do has a purpose (my car is filthy right now).

Get a dose of social connection

Confined to home in Italy, neighbors strummed guitars and sang from their balconies. Their social distancing while socializing nurtured a basic human need.

Reach out to friends by telephone or email daily. Share a coffee break by phone, or at lunch with a friend on Face time or by phone. Wave to your neighbors and your mail clerk. If you’re video conferencing from work, allow a few extra moments for each of your associates “check in” about how they’re doing personally before the work starts. If you go out for essentials, chat with the store clerk (they’re extra busy and stressed right now, too).

Members of the support forum here at RejectedParents.Net value the social support of fellow members. Internet forums abound. Do you want to do more gardening this year? Maybe it’s time to join a planting forum. Are you planning to restore a classic car? There are forums with like minded individuals who have lots of knowledge to share. Planning an RV trip? You’ll find a forum for that … and just about any other subject. Think for a moment: What do I want to do or learn? (Check in with yourself.) Then take action.

Look for the beauty

Whether that means physical beauty such as a sunrise, sunset, or blooming flower, or the beauty of the human spirit such as neighbors helping neighbors, seek out the good. Although the ugly is so often pointed out, there is also beauty—-take note, let it infuse you with compassion, joy, and a sense that all will be right with the world again.

In Done With The Crying, there are numerous strategies to build a happier spirit, take care good of yourself, and regain your footing when estrangement has tilted your world. During times of uncertainty (this Covid-19 pandemic qualifies!), turn back to some of those strategies.

What are you doing to help yourself? What can you share to help other rejected parents? Please leave a comment.

Related Reading

Dealing With Uncertainty

When the world is scary: bend and twist

Parents abandoned by adult children: Shape your “new normal”

Covid-19 pandemic

Pandemic: When the world is scary, bend and twist 

By Sheri McGregor 

Right now, with Coronavirus in the air and on the airwaves, I’m working on relocating. Not the best time to be moving hundreds of miles but life doesn’t always go as planned. Of course, if you’re familiar with estrangement, you already know that. Whether you’ve only just been rejected or are years or even decades into the cut-off, the uncertainty of the times can make life scary. Some of you may be wondering about your estranged adult children, hoping they’re doing okay, or that this crisis will bring about a change of heart. Maybe you even call and ask because as a parent, you feel the need, but then are miffed when there’s no response or a very lukewarm or self-centered one. Or, you may have called so many other times that now, even if you’re wondering about your estranged adult child(ren), you refrain from reaching out.

Let’s leave all of that aside for the moment. You can only control yourself…. And even then, amid this Covid-19 scare, it’s a good idea to remain calm and flexible. That’s what this post is about.

Daffodils and you 

One thing I’m looking forward to after my move is the new climate where daffodils will thrive. Imagining their sunny faces on the gentle slopes of my new backyard has been a safe spot for me when the news of quarantines and stricter guidelines for social distancing has made me anxious. Thinking about planting daffodil bulbs had me doing some internet research. I learned that the flowers have a secret: daffodils can bend and twist. When storm winds blow, they’re flexible. They even dance! 

The poet William Wordsworth knew this and wrote about daffodils just as I imagine they will be at my new home. You can read his talk of them in his poem: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud . By the way, is his name a pseudonym? It’s too good to be true for a writer! Isn’t it? 

Long ago, Wordsworth wrote about something today’s scientists study. Researchers at Duke University are fascinated by the daffodil’s ability to twist and flex. Turns out the blooms have another secret: they turn their backs to the wind. The researchers put the flowers in a wind tunnel to discover that the force is strongest when the flowers face the wind. No wonder daffodils turn away from the storm. It’s a little like the idea I recently shared in this article: going with the flow.     

How can you bend? 

Staying supple is more than just a mental exercise. If you’re isolating at home, this would be a good time to consider your physical flexibility as well. The body and the mind work together. Even if you already have a good exercise routine, consider trying Feldenkrais. You can read more about it in a guest post at my other website written by a friend: Learning to Move Freely 

As you try this gentle movement, you may also find your thoughts and activities getting organized (in this time of world chaos due to the Coronavirus, or anytime). With that thought in mind, let’s consider a few other ideas to stay calm right now. 

  • Consider what you can control rather than what you can’t. Your response to any crisis makes it tolerable or not.  
  • Focus on the precautions you can take rather than worrying about possibilities that prompt anxiety and stress. Living in fear creates stress in the body that can hurt you physically. Learn to soothe your anxiety with a few deep breaths, guided meditations (look on YouTube), or a cup of relaxing herbal tea. A couple that I find useful are Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer Tea and the Yogi Tea Relaxation Varieties.  
  • Come up with a few calming phrases (this too shall pass; we’re going to be okay; this is just a blip) and repeat them as needed. Or turn to a spiritual reference that gives you strength (Joshua 1:9, for instance). 
  • Limit yourself. A steady diet of news can make things scary. Tune in enough to see the latest guidelines or local information that can help, but don’t make the news a meal. Just as you consider what’s best to focus on in the wake of an adult child’s estrangement, prescribe yourself something helpful now 
  • Keep calm and carry on. Be extra careful. In times of stress, becoming distracted is common–and may be dangerous.
  • Use your time wisely. Many people and organizations are offering free services right now. Museums, lessons, even the opera. See the resources list below.  

This too shall pass 

Do take precautions. Wash your hands often, stay at home as much as you can, and practice social distancing. Stay abreast of news at reliable sources such as the CDC , NIH, Cleveland Clinic, or Mayo Clinic. Or maybe you know of a reliable local source to keep up to date on the Covid-19 pandemic in your own community (a good idea).

Beyond that, make the most of your time. Laugh as much as you can and enjoy your life in the present moment. Right now, when the world can feel uncertain and cause added stress, think of daffodils—and maybe even dance! Daffodils do. 

RESOURCES FOR TIME WELL-SPENT AT HOME 

Metropolitan Opera streaming for free

Georgia Aquarium Live Cams

Open Culture (free online classes, movies, books and more.

National Park Tours online

What will you do with your time at home? Let others know what you’re thinking about and doing during this time of social distancing by leaving a comment.

 

Happy New Year 2020

A reader sent me a link to this beautiful New Year’s blessing for the New Year, and it is too touching and wonderful not to share. I hope you will be as touched by the video and the beautiful music and sentiments I was. Hint: It’s even more moving if you allow it to open full-screen.

May we all have a joyful 2020 filled with love, beauty, and peace.

Hugs to you from Sheri McGregor.

Related reading:

Estrangement in the New Year: Blanket of Snow

New Year New Attitude

Freedom for a new era

Put On Your 2020 Vision

 

When your adult child wants nothing to do with you: Is it time to go with the flow? 

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

when your adult child wants nothing to do with you

Photo by Gëzim Fazliu from Pexels

Have you read about that man in Munich, Germany, who floats to work every day? He got tired of the stops and starts of traffic, the long waits that got him nowhere fast, and the road rage. This man, Benjamin David, did something different. He looked to what was in his environment to help him, decided on a plan, prepared himself, and plunged into the river. Now, he floats along with the current each day—and it delivers him effortlessly to his workplace. He goes with the flow. 

Maybe it’s a stretch to compare this man to parents rejected by adult children—or maybe not. Especially as estrangement drags on, it can feel like we’re stuck in a sort of traffic limbo. We may be the recipient of anger we don’t deserve, or get angry ourselves. The tiniest breakthrough can get our hopes up and then drop us into a pit. Like when the cars go from a standstill to a crawl and we breathe a sigh of relief… only to get snagged in another snarl of traffic up ahead. 

CHANGE DIRECTIONS 

Like this man who made a change for the better, parents rejected by adult children can assess their situations, realize they’re getting nowhere, and try something different. A realistic analysis is the first step to a solution, and new direction that drives progress.  

Parents around the globe continue to send holiday cards or gifts yet remain estranged.  As the holiday music jingles and the messages of family and restoration abound, they feel a mix of obligation, hope, and confusion. They start to ponder whether to reach out again this year.  

They may worry that not reaching out may be used as proof they don’t care. Or that a heartfelt message of love will be viewed as a manipulation tactic to “guilt” the son or daughter into responding. Grandparents who want to make sure their grandchildren know they’re loved face a dilemma: How can they choose gifts for the special family members they no longer know? Or worse, will their gifts given to innocent grandchildren be subverted to the trash bin?    

WHEN YOUR ADULT CHILD WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU:
START A NEW ERA 
 

As this year comes to an end and a new one begins, I implore you to consider what one of my adult children who is not estranged recently said about estrangement from the sibling who is:  

“We’re about to start a new era.”  

We really are beginning a new era, moving into the third decade of the millennium, and far beyond the time when our estrangement from one adult son began. It’s a new era for our family as a whole, with fresh starts, changes in direction, and a time of renewed joy. Being stressed over something we couldn’t change has no place in our family’s future.  

How about you? As 2019 comes to a close, can you ring the holiday bell to end an era of heartache, and think of the season as a time of rebirth and joy? 

GET OUT OF THE TRAFFIC JAM 

Make decisions that move you forward rather than keep you stuck. If you’re pondering whether or not to reach out this holiday, reflect on a few critical questions. Consider using a pen and paper to fully explore your thoughts. Ask yourself: 

  • Whether or not my estranged offspring has ever replied, has my reaching ever made a difference? 
  • If I’m worried about how my behavior will be construed or misconstrued, what are my fears specifically? Do they make sense? Or are they keeping me stuck? 

Don’t Stress 

There’s an old story about a woman whose daughter asks her why she cuts two inches off each end of the roast and throws them away. “That’s the way my mother did it,” she says. Curious, the daughter asks her grandmother the same question—and gets the same answer. Dying to know why it’s so important to cut two inches off either side, the girl calls her great grandmother to inquire. She’s surprised when her great grandmother laughs, saying, “Because the roast wouldn’t fit the pan!” 

At one point, reaching out may have kept the hope that you would reunite alive. Even when your adult child wants nothing to do with you, it has been a way to demonstrate (at least from your point of view) that you still love your child and were ready to forgive. But what’s the purpose now? Is it helping, or keeping you stuck in a cycle of hope and disillusionment? Is the expended energy doing you good, or are you only throwing it away? 

Times change. Feelings do, too. At what point do you listen to the message your child’s silence (anger, gossip, abuse. . .) sends? Is it time to decide to put your energy toward your own life, your emotional wellness, and the people who love you?  

Like the man in Munich did, is it time to take the plunge … and go with the flow?  

To prepare and plan for your new era, get a copy of Done With The Crying. Its advice and information based on current research and the input of thousands of parents rejected by adult children will help you take the plunge into a happy life beyond the pain of familial estrangement. Or, if you’ve read it once, now might be a good time to do some of the exercises again (the new Done With The Crying WORKBOOK: for Parents of Estranged Adult Childrenwill help). 

This holiday season, give yourself a supportive gift: permission to go with the flow. 

Sheri McGregor on radio: Holidays 2019

It’s Thanksgiving here in the U.S. Time to take notice of all we’re grateful for.

I had the pleasure of talking again with Daniel Davis at Beyond 50 Radio. We briefly discussed how rejected parents handle holidays. Maybe you’ll find a bit of the interview useful.

If you’d like to listen, it’s available on the Beyond 50 Radio YouTube channel (through this link).

How rejected parents handle holidays comes down to three basic ideas: planning, perspective, and knowing what you need.

Want more tips and information about how to handle the holidays when you’re facing the issue of estrangement from adult children? I’ve written about holidays since the site’s inception. Here is a sampling of those past articles below. Each one has links to other articles at the bottom as well, so you can click through for even more. Or, if you’d like to search for past articles and find more complete listings, use the site’s search box.

Holiday Help for Rejected Parents: Oktoberfest History

Estrangement and the holidays: Your perspective can help

Estranged: Enjoy the holidays anyway

Holidays for parents rejected by adult children

Holidays when adult children reject parents (post one)

Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. friends (and hugs to all the rest)–Sheri McGregor

Past Interviews:

Mother’s Day Radio Interview

February Interview with Sheri McGregor

NABBW podcast

It’s finally out! WORKBOOK for parents of estranged adult children

WORKBOOK FOR PARENTS OF ESTRANGED ADULT CHILDRENAs readers have requested, Sheri McGregor’s new release, the Done With The Crying WORKBOOK: for Parents of Estranged Adult Children is now available.

The Workbook compliments her award-winning self-help book, Done With The Crying. The Workbook concentrates the exercises in a larger format that provides more writing space for the deeper insight readers find useful.

Meant as a supplement to the book readers call “the bible for estranged parents” and say is “better than therapy,” the Workbook helps audio- and e-book readers to make the concepts more personal. The exercises facilitate self-discovery and growth, which helps parents of estranged adults to move forward in their own lives.

Those who are revisiting the recovery concepts or who have been estranged yet again will find the Done With The Crying WORKBOOK for Parents of Estranged Adult Children convenient. By applying the information, parents can take charge of their emotional health and move beyond the sorrow to new meaning and joy.

If you click through on the title above, it takes you to Amazon. Be sure to look for the best deal presented there by clicking on “see all formats and editions.” Sometimes the best price is not the biggest most highlighted one.

From Sheri McGregor:
I’m excited the Workbook is finally out! Thank you so much to those who have written to me asking for this publication. I am honored that you value my continued work. I hope you will find the Workbook helpful as you move forward … beyond the pain of estrangement and in treasuring your own beautiful lives.

Oh, and help me celebrate! Please click “Leave a Reply” and send me a note. I would love to hear from you!

Going batty

estrangementWhat if I told you this was Batman? You wouldn’t believe it. This little guy is too cute and not nearly muscular enough to be the caped crusader. I was excited to happen upon him in a parking lot in town one day. Resting in the crook of a small tree, he seemed to mug for the camera when I got up close to take his photograph.  

It wasn’t anywhere close to Halloween when I spotted the bat, but I’ve been saving this picture to share this month. I’m no joker but have added a few bat and Batman puns for fun. I hope you’ll hang around to find out how this bat fits the theme of this article.  There are links to other articles included as well.

Estrangement: Parents get a BAT RAP 

Many people don’t know that bats are avid pollinators and important to dispersing the seeds of the fruit they eat. Farmers love them because they also eat pest insects that can harm their crops. There are many species of bats, and although many are beneficial, they get a bad rap. They can carry rabies, as most people have heard, but so do other mammals, and only through the saliva of a rabid specimen. Did you know that bat guano is one of the world’s richest fertilizers? Bat guano can spread histoplasmosis, but most people aren’t in contact with it.  

In our society where rigid stereotypes shape the societal ideas about what sort of parents could possibly be rejected by their adult children, even the kindest, most caring parents who are abandoned can get a bat rap. That’s why it’s important to work at healing, and eventually, move past the worry over what others might think. You can reclaim your identity, or even reinvent yourself. Like the little bat in the photo, you can come out of the shadows, bat your eyes, and let your light shine.  

NOT QUITE READY? 

One mother of an estranged adult child recently related that she puts on a smile all week at work. Then when Friday evening comes, she closes the door and “cocoons” all weekend. One father called his weekends cave time. If this is how you feel since your son’s “no contact” rule or your daughter’s blame-fest, you’re certainly not alone.  

Our fast-paced society doesn’t often make room for the time and space to grieve or even allow a person the right to feel sad. We’re expected to just robot along, emotionless in our various roles. Feeling down can be an inconvenience, and emotional displays can make people uncomfortable. At the same time, you have very real things to grieve.  

This mother is wise not to let her sadness interfere with her professional persona. The decision to allow yourself some alone time isn’t necessarily a negative thing though. Cocooning can be positively beneficial. Staying perpetually stuck in distress isn’t good for anybody, but neither is masking the hurt or burying your feelings. 

Cocooning through time

In the past, the value of solitude held more prominence. Today, the immediacy of communications seems to have detracted from meaningful connections. News was once longingly anticipated. People pored over another’s written words and pondered their own useful reply. Twitter and texting have made shorthand of the pleasantries, and have shaped our interactions even in person. 

Also, traditional mourning periods were once expected. The duration allowed for the processing of emotions and adapting to a new role. Traditional dress helped others to understand and offer patience.  

estrangementMany tribal cultures incorporated alone time for the coming of age. During isolation, men learned how to fend for themselves. With only their own ingenuity to rely upon for survival, they then recognized the value of community and interdependence—and fostered that attitude upon return. 

In some cultures, women spent their menstrual time in isolation or with other women. Can you imagine the deep reflection, the emotional processing, and the peaceful rest they enjoyed?  

MAKE YOUR SOLITUDE PRODUCTIVE 

On the surface, restorative periods can seem inactive, but just as the dormancy of winter is alive with action beneath the cool exterior, your cocoon time can be productive. It can be a time of reflecting, letting go,and growing. 

The lore of butterflies infuses the word “cocoon” with promise. Maybe a little rest will help you process your sorrow, bud new growth, and emerge with eye-catching wings. 

If you’re like this mother who cocoons on her weekends, what can you do to remain productive rather than hang around in the dark (or in a Dark Knight gown!). Can you purposefully reflect? Reclaim your identity? Eat well? Start a new hobby? Work on some stretching … physically and emotionally? Turn to the listed strategies in Done With The Crying. Do the exercises if you haven’t.

READY TO FLY 

While an adult child’s rejection can ground a parent in a woeful rut, with compassionate self-care, you can emerge revitalized from your cocoon and flutter into the shiny new normal of a life you design. 

Holidays: Help for rejected parents in Oktoberfest history

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Rejected parents are already talking about the holidays. Canadians will celebrate Thanksgiving in just a few days, and where I live in the U.S., all the hoopla surrounding Oktoberfest events ushers in the holiday season. All the advertisements for local festivals featuring beer, dancing, food, and fun made me curious. Oktoberfest is popular around the world—and as it turns out, its history offers help for rejected parents.

holiday help for rejected parents

Image by Kerstin Riemer from Pixabay

Flexibility: A vital skill to thrive

In 1810, townspeople in Munich, Germany gathered to celebrate a royal wedding. The rejoicing ended with a feast and a horse race. It was so much fun and good for the economy that within a few years, Oktoberfest had extended into a weeks-long event with food, fun, and carnival rides. A statue was created to watch over the revelers raising their glass beer steins (did you know these make great gifts?).

For more than 200+ years, Munich’s Oktoberfest has evolved to fit circumstances (just as rejected parents do). The horse race was suspended, and the agricultural fair was reduced to every fourth year. Due to wars and other crises, the celebration was sometimes cancelled or enjoyed in new ways. Around the world today, Oktoberfest provides community, learning, and fun. This year, as the holiday season begins, remember how the festival changed—yet still thrives. You can too.

Holiday help for rejected parents

holiday help for rejected parents

At one point, your holidays may have been days-long events requiring much preparation to welcome crowds of loved ones. Today, you may suspend customary activities and reach for new or altered ones. The truth is, even if estrangement wasn’t part of your reality, how you celebrate the holidays wouldn’t stay the same.

Halloweens with homemade costumes may have morphed into watching your teenagers or young adults arrive with ready-mades from the Halloween store. Thanksgiving may have once been a time to gorge, but as you’ve grown older, maybe you know better than to eat quite so much—and pay for it later. At Christmas, when your children were young, you may have stayed up all night to assemble bicycles. Many years later, you might have bought a grandchild a tablet or a phone. At one time, Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer may have been real to your children, but eventually, they knew who brought the gifts. As extended family grew, holidays may have broken off into smaller events.

Customs change to fit the times. Oktoberfest expanded and contracted—and yet it thrives—so  can you and your holidays.

Help yourself

Right now, instead of thinking about everything you’ll miss, dwelling on damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don’t dilemmas such as “Should I send a gift?”, cherish the memories. And then expand or contract. Put on a “costume” to help yourself, ground yourself in what is for now, and get busy with a plan to thrive over the holidays.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll offer more specific ideas and help for rejected parents over the holidays. In the meantime, if you’re beginning to dread the season as so many parents of estranged adults do, at least utilize those feelings for your own good. Your thoughts of what you dread can be the start of a plan. Right now, get a sheet of paper or open a word document and write out the things you worry about or dread the most. Then you can begin to turn the thoughts around.

Here’s a sample list:

  • Being the third wheel at my sister’s big event and seeing her adult children and grandchildren gathered around.
  • Having to brave the holly-jolly music and all the crowds at the stores, the gas station, or the roads.
  • Being all alone on those special days.

Give it a  twist

If this were your list, how might you use what you’re telling yourself to come up with a plan?

If you don’t want to feel like a loner or maybe as green as the Grinch with envy at a family celebration, consider doing something different this year.  Just because relatives’ celebrations are continuing as always doesn’t mean yours must. And just because you do something different this year doesn’t mean you have to the next (Munich’s Oktoberfest was cancelled 24 times … and it’s stronger than ever). Plan something different and tell your hosts early enough that they won’t be stressed. Hint: Come up with a script that heads off any argument or has ready answers to expected questions.

Holidays don’t have to be all about family either. Alternative plans can be fun. Around here, Thanksgiving running or walking events raise money for charity. Maybe a health-conscious friend, non-estranged daughter or son would enjoy getting team T-shirts, helping a good cause, and working off calories instead of piling them on. Bonus: With no time to cook, you could dine out after the race.

Holly-jolly music and crowds got you down? Think now about what you’ll need for the next few months, and then stock up early. Grocery stores and restaurants deliver. Today, medications, toiletries, and almost anything you can think of can be summoned right to your door. Avoid fighting traffic and getting shuffled about in the hustle-bustle. Cozy up to a warm fire and play music that makes you feel good. Or, think of the season as a sort of hibernating period, and then emerge refreshed in the New Year.  Bonus: Getting organized for this season could be the start of habit for a more organized life in the New Year.

If you’re worried about alone time on those special days, take a leap of faith and try something new! Parks & Recreation facilities as well as 55+ senior centers often host holiday events.  Some restaurants offer holiday meal events. Being without family for the holidays is more common than you might think. Try being transparent—and offer solutions instead of sadness. There’s still time to suggest an event at your church, hobby club, or senior center. You may have neighbors who would love some company. You might be surprised whom you inspire and who becomes a friend. Your example can help other people.

Get Smart

This holiday season, plan early. The holidays can be what you make of them. So, raise a mug, toast yourself, and plan your self-care, and thrive—Oktoberfest is.

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A New way of life after an adult child’s estrangement

Coddiwomple to a New Way of Life After an Adult Child’s Estrangement

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

life after an adult child's estrangement

Rejected parents are often uncertain about the future. They know what’s happening now, but they can’t believe their adult child’s estrangement will last. They want to move forward, but they’re afraid to make a change. For some, stepping toward their own satisfying life feels like giving up on the son or daughter they hope will return to them, relationship restored. Others keep a room ready, a stash of left-behind things, or try to reach out regularly … and then wait for the reply that doesn’t come or isn’t what they expected.

If this is at all like you, I have a suggestion: a coddiwomple.

Lightening up

Did you know that the first seven days of August are set aside as National Simplify Your Life Week? It fits for me because lately, I’ve been working purposely at simplifying. I’m heading toward change that I know is on the horizon but can’t yet clearly describe.

I’m like a lot of people at midlife who know that changes are (or may be) coming and want to move toward a new way of life that supports the next life phase—but don’t yet have a crystal-clear picture of what or where that will be.

It’s a sort of coddiwomple, traveling purposefully toward an unknown destination. Granted, most people use the word as part of actual, physical travel during which adventures take place along the way (I love that too!), but a coddiwomple fits for this determined work of lightening up for a lifestyle that isn’t yet defined.

Preparing now

The idea of downsizing in mid-life or after retirement is nothing new. People move to smaller homes, better climates, or where they can easily get to shops and healthcare. They look for places where they can access greenspaces to walk in nature and conveniently socialize with friends. But for many, the decisions aren’t easy and the process not quick.

life after an adult child's estrangement

That’s how it is for my husband and me. Do we want to move to another city? Be closer to specific family members? Live in more open space or closer to town? Join a neighborhood that fosters social connections? Or, is privacy and seclusion more important? These are just a few of the questions we’re asking ourselves. In the process, our goal is getting clearer. Financial entanglements and other ties mean we can’t make a move quite yet. And the need to put off final decisions gives us time to consider things from every angle.

We don’t know yet for sure where we’re going or when, but we do know we need to prepare. Better to be ready when the time is right than be forced into snap decisions. That’s why comparing this transitional period toward an as-yet-vague goal to a coddiwomple makes sense.

We’re going to travel a little during this time and check out areas we’ve been curious about. Other people make bigger changes toward an unclear goal. One couple sold their ranch and rented a downtown condo. When their year-long lease ends, they’ll try another city. Eventually, they plan to settle. Maybe near their daughter on the opposite coast. Or maybe in a spot they fall in love with as they coddiwomple across the states.

A single mother nearing age 65 is trying alternative and spiritual practices including meditation, attending sound healing sessions, and visiting churches. She describes this as a six-month sabbatical from making decisions about the rest of her life. It’s a gift to herself. She hopes to gain a sense of peace before taking big steps toward the next phase of life.

Goals and the required mindsets

  • Deliberative: The point at which one gathers information about a potential goal and what will be required to achieve it. The deliberative mindset allows for sound judgment about the goal’s possible viability prior to the action it will take.
  • Implemental: The doing of a goal. In the implemental mindset, focus shifts to how to get tasks completed and actively working toward achievement.

The two mindsets can work together. Right now, my husband and I are taking a deliberative approach about what will be the final goal, but we’re getting started anyway. We’re implementing as we work toward uncertain change by finishing projects like our bedroom floor. We’re redoing a bathroom, cutting some trees, and fixing a fence. We’re also culling material things. For my husband, that means selling equipment and tools. He doesn’t talk about it, but he’s letting go of an outcome that never materialized. One where our sons might take over his business.

Things seem to hold feelings; unrealized dreams, and old ways of life. In stacks of children’s books, I come across slips of paper styled like tickets, hints of long-ago games my children played. They each wrote their names in those books too, their individual handwriting as unique as the people they always were and later became.

It’s an emotional pursuit that digs at ideals and makes us sad. Yet ultimately, letting go of these things shakes us free of old dreams. It prepares us mentally for an eventual goodbye to the place we’ve called home for more than three decades.

Coddiwomple for life after an adult child’s estrangement

Regardless of what an estranging adult will or won’t do, working toward a stronger you will help. Get started, purposefully, on your own well-being. If you do reconcile, you’ll be happy and better prepared when the time comes. If you don’t, you will be happy and fulfilled, living your life to the fullest anyway.

For some parents, figuring out a life for themselves aside from what they thought it would be like is tough. If you’re feeling lost or troubled, imagine yourself on a journey, a coddiwomple, and get going with passion toward your own happiness without worrying so much about the destination. One way is to see how far you’ve slipped away from caring for your oldest friend (yourself!). You can do that with my Self Care Assessment. Another is to get a copy of Done With The Crying in which I’ll show you that you’re not alone in estrangement and gently guide you beyond the doldrums of loss and into a fulfilling life you design and implement.

Related Reading:

Estrangement: When letting go hurts

Dealing With Uncertainty: Help for parents estranged from adult children

Spring Cleaning When Adult Children Want No Contact

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