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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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For full copyright restrictions, please see the notice in the column to the right of the
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Rejected parents: Your happiness can be independent of estrangement

Rejected parents: Your happiness can be independent of estrangement

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Rejected parents: You can be happy again

In the spirit of Independence Day, step away from the bondage of always thinking about the adult son who betrayed you or the adult daughter who walked away. Instead, think of this Fourth of July as a turning point. Then, support yourself in moving forward.

First off, if you don’t yet have my book, Done With The Crying, get it, read it, and do the exercises. People say it saved their sanity, helped them—finally—to move beyond the pain and sorrow, and to move forward in their own lives.

rejected parents

Rejected parents: Gain independence from the pain of estrangement

Here are six more tips for gaining your independence from the pain of estrangement, which may be the biggest shock of your life:

  • Get started. For some, just getting started in taking care of themselves can be difficult. This primer, Five Ways to Move On After an Adult Child’s Rejection , isn’t so much about moving on as it is about dealing with the thoughts and feelings that can keep you from moving at all.
  • Come to conclusions. Maybe you’re plagued by the Why? It’s a common stumbling block because, so often, parents aren’t told why. There’s simply a cutting-off, with no clear-cut answer. Here’s an article, written as I entered the fourth year of estrangement, that might help you come to a few conclusions. Settling on an answer, even if it’s incomplete, can help you gain independence from the question that can run on an endless loop.
  • Handle uncertainty. Another thing that keeps rejected parents from moving forward for themselves is that, as life moves on and events happen, they worry a son or daughter will have regrets or wait too long. But uncertainties are part of living, and adult children need to learn their own lessons. Learn to deal with uncertainty.
  • Get it out in the open— Our society has been conditioned to believe that adult children would not reject good parents. That’s one reason so many decent and loving, yet rejected parents feel shame and guilt that doesn’t reconcile with who they are or all they’ve stood for. It’s also why they might not talk about estrangement. Should you tell people? Taking small steps in that direction can break you free.
  • Get clear on hope. In estrangement circles, rejected parents often talk about hope, but that can be a two-edged sword. Are you hoping for something you can’t control? Are you bothered by lack of hope that you will ever reconcile? In Estrangement: What About Hope? you can start to clarify how hope can hurt or help.
  • Learn to cope. In the wake of estrangement, rejected parents are tasked with the question of how to cope. After estrangement, learn to cope. It starts with a decision.

Rejected parents: Gain independence

The articles linked within the blurbs above offer just a few of the ways rejected parents can gain independence from pain and suffering—and move toward a better future even after estrangement. If you’re a rejected parent, don’t get stuck telling yourself you can’t move forward until the estrangement ends. Instead, work at making your life great now. That way, you’ll be better off if or when reconciliation takes place later. Your happiness and fulfillment really can be independent of the estrangement. Get started by reading the articles linked above. Read or reread Done With The Crying and be sure to do the exercises. They really help.

For more articles, you can always click on the Latest Posts, or use the drop-down menus under “Answers to Common Questions” or “What Parents Can Do.” There’s also a search box that can help you locate information on specific topics.

Ask Sheri: What about parents who did something wrong?

what if a parent does something wrong?A mother whose daughter has cut her off emailed to ask: 

“What about parents who abandon their children for years or short periods of time? I did that for several years, but came back to fix my wrongs, to plead for forgiveness, to rebuild my relationship and thought all was O.K. In my daughter’s years from 20-38 we spent every vacation tougher. I spent countless dollars on my granddaughter and my daughter. I did everything I could to make up for my bad choices as a younger mother. Then out of nowhere she had a meltdown and blamed it all on me and has not had anything to do with me for 4 yrs. now. What about us parents who made bad choices and now have to live with them.”

Answer from Sheri McGregor:

Every parent has made a bad decision or two (or more). Yours may be a period that you regret, and you feel that you made it up to her as best you could. You can’t be sure that her meltdown has anything to do with that. And if it does, it’s something she will have to come to terms with.

Knowing so very little here, it’s difficult to offer much. But, if this was me, I would make sure that I apologized again, expressed my love, and offer to work with her in counseling in whatever way she needs. It’s certainly possible that for some reason, four years ago, feelings of abandonment have come up for her. These could have been triggered by something unrelated, yet she recognizes that her response in whatever situation relates to unresolved feelings over the time she left. I don’t know. These are guesses. But you can offer love, support, apologies.

Can you forgive yourself? Can you hold her in a good light, pray (if that fits) that she will be well, have good expectations for her…? Perhaps you could remind her of all that she has done well, how leaving her behind was never about her (it wasn’t, right?), and how you wish you could take that back.

And then, you may need to let her figure it out herself. We all have things that happen in our lives that hurt us, and we move on the best we can. We learn from them, we grow stronger (or we don’t). You spent an awful lot of years in happiness with her for this to suddenly occur and everything to be so bad for her. It seems kind of mean (to me) for her to bring up ancient history, blame you, and cut you off(she’s in her 40s now, for goodness sakes). There are a lot of possibles as to why this occurred at this point, and it may have little to do with you at all. It’s possible you’re being blamed for mistakes she is making with her own children even, and she’s not ready to see that. Or, it’s possible there really is something she has done that is related to what you did … but to cut all ties is not (probably) a wise response. I just don’t know…

Does this help at all? I hope so. I am not offering advice. These are just thoughts based on a very tiny bit of detail you provided, and my experience alone and in hearing the stories of so many parents.

HUGS to you,
Sheri McGregor

Reply from the mother:

Your reply is perfect.  It will help me to stand strong in what I’ve been doing as far as she is concerned.  I spent the first few years apologizing then this past year I realized I have done all I can do and just stand by for if and when she seriously wants to correct this.  You are right about her meltdown also, it had nothing to do with me, that took me a while to come to terms with that, but I was out of sight and out of mind and an easy target to blame.  We live in states that are very far apart.  I’m so over my guilt now. Well, every once in  awhile something will trigger those guilt feelings, and then I have to work hard to put them behind me again.  I am so happy to have you and your website, it is a relief to know I am not alone.  So many things and feelings people write about that I have felt over and over.

“The outcome of her meltdown was an overdose and a trip to the hospital.  I hopped a plane and flew there overnight. When I walked in her room, she looked at me and told me how much she hated me, that she had always hated me, and she had spent her whole life trying not to be like me.  That was a punch in the gut and that is when the separation started.

“So you know, I have been clean and sober for 25 yrs.  My husband and I are hard working, well liked people in our community.

“Thank you, Sheri, for listening, thanks for your advice I will be following your website closely.”

Further comments

If this mom would like to keep the door open to future reconciliation, perhaps it’s wise to reach out again in several months’ time. Depending on the response at that time, she can reevaluate for later.

Are you a parent who has “done something wrong”? Maybe this correspondence helps you to better come to terms or work at a way forward. Even with situations that are not the same, there is often something to learn in the experiences of others.

Share your thoughts by using the “leave a reply” link at the top of this posting.

Hugs to all. ~ Sheri

Father’s Day: When Adult Children Turn Away

Fathers: When Adult Children Turn Away
by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Most men don’t talk much about estrangement. At least that’s the consensus among a lot of the fathers who do reach out to me (and among their wives, too).

“There’s nothing I can do about it,” says George, father of a 42-year-old daughter who hasn’t spoken to him in years. “I don’t want to talk about something that makes me feel like a failure.”

fathers when adult children turn away

George’s own father wasn’t around much, so being a family man was important to him. He did all the things he thought was right. Attended school functions, worked hard for the family, and spent time with his daughter. They had a good relationship. “Yet here we are,” he says. “I know this isn’t because of me. I don’t have guilt, but I also can’t fix it.”

George’s pain over the estrangement makes him angry, too. “Because of my daughter’s choice, I can’t make my wife happy anymore. It’s just us two now, and the loss of our daughter and the three grandchildren we don’t know is always between us.” George tries to be supportive, but it’s difficult to see his wife so sad. “She used to be so cheerful,” he says. “Always humming. Always making plans.”

George distracts himself with work and hobbies. He tries to cheer up his wife, too. Sometimes, the trying backfires. “She thinks I don’t care about it all,” he says. “And I do.”

This Father’s Day (2019), I hoped that providing George’s thoughts might provide a little insight. Maybe some fathers can relate. Maybe some father’s wives might better understand.

I hope to be sharing more about the experiences and feelings of fathers when adult children turn away. While it’s still mostly women who answer the surveys, lately, more fathers have been contacting me to share commentary, news, and feelings.

Meanwhile, here are a few more Father’s Day and other articles.

Fathers of estranged adult children, you’re not alone

Fortitude doesn’t mean “going it alone”

What about Father’s Day for fathers of estranged adult children

Cut off by adult children? You may feel lonely but you’re not alone

Why do they make contact now?

 

Elder Abuse Awareness

Elder Abuse:
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15)

elder abuse by adult childrenWhen Mary’s 52-year-old son was in an accident and needed help, she came to his rescue. She agreed to let him live in the second bedroom of her home in the small community she had recently moved to and was sure he’d want his independence and wouldn’t stay long. Mary was wrong.

“At seventy-four,” says Mary, “I’m doing his laundry and cooking his meals.” Mary has noticed some valuable items missing, too. And she’s convinced her son has taken them.

Is the above situation one that involves abuse? Some on the outside would be quick to tell her to oust him, but that’s not always so easy. Mary doesn’t have any other family left, and although she moved to this small community thinking she’d make friends, she didn’t have much time to get started before her son needed help. Although he hadn’t been in touch with her beyond the occasional text or holiday phone call for the last 20 years, his wife had recently divorced him. She felt for her son. He was alone after years of marriage, injured, and coudn’t work. “And he expressed regret,” says Mary. “He said it was a chance for us to get close again.” Instead, Mary stays in her bedroom most of the time now, because to be in the room with her son means enduring lectures about everything she did and does wrong.

Although he’s physically healed, he says he can’t find work. He says he’s depressed, but isn’t getting help. Mary’s son recently told her that if she turned on him too, he didn’t know what he might do. “He meant that he’d kill himself,” says a distraught Mary. “And I can’t be responsible for that.”

Elder abuse: An ugly truth

Although some people don’t want to think about the abuse of older persons, it’s an ugly truth. And as we age, for our own benefit, it’s important to consider.

The abuse of elders come in many forms. Some older persons are bilked out of their savings or denied their needs by a caregiver. Others are physically abused or mentally and emotionally tortured. The list goes on.

One of the most sobering facts is that in 60% of elder abuse/neglect cases, the abuse occurred at the hands of a family member (adult child/spouse). This fact, and many others about abuse, can be found at the National Council on Aging (NCOA).

Elder abuse is grossly underreported. NCOA reports that only one case is made known out of every 14 that occur. People might ask why that is. I’d like to share with you a short clip about a man, a father named Norman who was in his 70s at the time of filming.

The video was produced some time ago by Erna Maurer of Wise Owl Multimedia. She is a senior citizen who continues to put good out into the world.  The thoughts of the students before and after watching the video themselves are as eye-opening as Norman’s. (I’d love for you to share your thoughts about the video in reply to this article. . . you can click “leave a reply” at the top). Click on the screenshot below to view the video.

elder abuse by adult children

Old age: Prepare

One thing the video brings home to me is that it’s important to consider the older age years while you can. In my book, Done With The Crying, there are questions about end-of-life scenarios, and facing the tough questions in advance so that your wishes will be honored. Parents of estranged adult children can have lots of complexities to consider.

Norman is socially isolated. Having suffered elder abuse by his adult children (themselves middle-aged men) who exploit his generosity, to create social ties and seek help has become difficult for Norman. For those reading, consider making changes in your life now, so that you won’t end up isolated and at risk. That means facing reality. At the bottom of this article, I’ve included some additional articles that may be helpful.

Also, here’s a book to help. I like this one because it’s comprehensive and empowering.

Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old?: Plan Now to Safeguard Your Health and Happiness in Old Age by Joy Loverde prepares readers to take charge while they can, and empower themselves for decisions rather than leaving them to chance.

Elder abuse statistics

Often, in discussions among here about adult children who reject parents, the issue of financial abuse comes up. I’ve talked exhaustively elsewhere about the parents who have done so much (contributed down payments on houses, paid for schooling, helped time and time again … ), so I won’t go into that here. Many believe they have been abused financially by adult children, but wouldn’t think to report it as abuse. I wonder how much bigger the numbers in statistics about elder fraud would be if they did?

Recently, a research team broke elder fraud statistics down for a comprehensive examination. Near the end, some links to individual state research offers further breakdown with a variety of stats. It’s exhaustive, and interesting.

The United States of Elder Fraud

Elder abuse is real. I hope you will share that fact, and help raise awareness not only on this designated day, but all year long.

Related Reading:

Abusive Adult Children Influence Parents’ Self-Image

Adult Child’s Rejection: Emotional and Social Fallout

 

 

 

 

 

Grandparent Alienation

Grandparent alienation

“I’m over my estranged daughter,” says Cleo. “It’s my grandchildren I worry about now.”
grandparent alienation

Cleo is like thousands of parents around the world who are not allowed to see their grandchildren. A daughter or son’s estrangement, which can happen for a variety of reasons, usually means the grandchildren are also cut-off. It’s a breakdown in the family where innocent children are hurt.

Some grandparents have formed groups, organize rallies and awareness campaigns, and are fighting for changes to law that would support their efforts. And legislation is moving along the judicial pipelines with some success.

June 14: Grandparent Alienation Awareness Day

It’s a tough road when the grandchildren they have so bonded with are yanked away. “I always wonder what the kids are being told and what they’re thinking,” says Cleo. “Are they wondering if I don’t love them anymore?”

It’s not always estrangement that causes the separation. When one parent or both is incarcerated, sometimes one set of grandparents will swoop in and make it difficult for the other.

One mother whose son (in his 30s) went to prison, spent a small fortune in legal fees fighting against his in-laws for visitation of her young grandchild. Although she was an upstanding citizen with no criminal record and a history of emotional stability, the in-laws alleged that if she raised a son who committed a murder, then there must be something wrong with her. Her son’s was a crime of passion, and he had no previous offenses. Do you think what they alleged is automatically true?

Grandparent alienation: What do grandparents do?

Are you suffering grandparent alienation? Perhaps in connection with estrangement from adult children or for some other reason? Some grandparents consider their options, and decide it’s in the best interests of their grandchildren not to pursue a legal remedy. Others choose to fight with all their might as well as rally for more awareness. Each situation is unique. I hope you’ll share your thoughts by leaving a comment in reply to this posting.

For more information on grandparent alienation:

Alienated Grandparents Anonymous, Inc.
Offers telephone support calls, news of legal efforts, and groups in 50 states and 22 countries.

Grandparents Rights Advocates National Delegation (GRAND USA)
Legislative news and resources and support in 50 states.

Alienated Grandparents Anonymous Canada
Regular meetings, resources and support.

Bristol Grandparents Support Group (UK)
Championing grandparents rights.

Mother’s Day radio interview with Sheri McGregor

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope all the mothers who are estranged from adult children will will glean something of value from this latest interview at Beyond 50 Radio.  It was a second take. The first interview had a technical glitch, so we did it again (I may sound a little tired!).

Mothers who are estranged from adult children can have a tough time with this holiday. Some tell me it’s the worst one for them. Please be kind to yourselves. Remember, it’s about you. Another adult’s opinion doesn’t have to define you.  It’s about you, so please do what it takes to cherish the day. Each one is a gift. Click on the Beyond 50 radio logo for the interview. Or click here.
radio interview with Sheri McGregorRelated:

Previous Beyond 50 Radio Interview (January 2019)

National Association of Baby Boomer Women Interview with Sheri McGregor (May, 2018)

 

Parents blamed by adult children. Are parents’ ‘mistakes’ worthy of hate?

A father recently wrote to me about an article he’d seen at AARP. Here’s a link to it: Avoid Mistakes That Could Make Your Kids Hate You.” 

Are parents’ mistakes, worthy of hate

parents blamed by adult children

Parents’ mistakes? Let’s turn that around.

Thousands of parents blamed by adult children for all their problems write to me. Among those, many have been called upon in drastic situations. A son or daughter makes a mess of things repeatedly and needs money or other help. The parent may help … and then try to tell the adult something to the effect of, “Look, you’ve got to wise up. . . .” In other words, the parents give advice.

As time goes on, the parent may see the adult son or daughter not learning anything from their mistakes, maybe not even trying to learn. Parents can begin to feel used. They may tell the “child” that the Bank of Mom & Dad is closing. Parents have their own bills or may be living on a fixed income or have a nest egg that needs to last their remaining years. It is often at that point that the child cuts them off.

Which makes me think of the abuse that sometimes happens. Parents can be isolated.  A parent may not be physically well, is disabled, or perhaps a widow or widower. The isolation makes them vulnerable to a son or daughter who knows what buttons to push. I have heard from many parents who say that they put up with abuse, financial, verbal, or even physical, because their child is their only family left in the world.

Parents blamed by adult children 

I hear from people almost daily who say, “My grown daughter blames me for everything wrong in her life.” Or, “My adult son says I caused all of his problems.” These children are often in their 30s or 40s or beyond, and remember with detail every “wrong” the parent has ever done. Sometimes the memories are completely different than that of the parent or even siblings and other family members. And many times, the “wrongs” are miniscule.

Twice in the last week, mothers shared that their daughters say all their issues derive from the fact they weren’t breastfed. One of these two moms was a single parent. It was a different world back then. Working mothers were not provided with understanding and a place to pump breast milk (as is the norm now). The other mom was encouraged to bottle feed by her doctor, as were many mothers in the 1960s. Yes. I said 1960s. . . . The daughter doing the blaming is 54. Maybe it’s time she did a little self-reflection rather than blaming the mother who worked two jobs to care for her.

Parents blamed by adult children, recognize the good you did.

It’s wise to recognize our own mistakes as parents, but it’s also wise for adult “children” to consider a parent’s point of view. One of my sons recently traveled to a very cold climate. Before he left, I said, “Do you have a warm enough jacket?” He made a funny face, and then we both laughed like crazy! It was funny, and I added, “I guess you’re old enough to figure that one out.” It’s a mom thing, but is it reason to abandon me. No. How about hate me? No. And he knows that (thank goodness).

The father who wrote to me about the AARP article said that one of the reasons he was successful in his overall life was that he had learned to recognize problems quickly and work to fix them before they were upon him.  When he sees his young adult daughter ignoring problems until she’s forced to deal with them, it causes him stress. His words, “The anxiety kills me.” So, he tries to offer her advice. She resents that advice. But is that reason to hate him or cut him off?

How about a rule?

The article mentions a parent forwarding emails, and not understanding that the son or daughter is already inundated. I know that feeling. A much older relative often sent me a batch of forwards daily. This individual wasn’t computer savvy, didn’t type well, and worried about his privacy on the internet, so I never received a regular note. Was it a reason to hate? No.

No, no, no. It was an opportunity for me to be understanding. And creative.

Perhaps an adult son or daughter can create a “rule” in their email account. That way all the forwarded emails go to a certain box, don’t clog the general folder, and everyone is happy. A considerate son or daughter who recognizes their parents’ motivation to communicate and stay in touch (which is what is behind the forwarded emails) might do well to check the special folder now and again and make a comment in reply. What does it hurt to let parents know they’re appreciated for their good intentions? Beats hating.

Okay to hate?

This is getting long, so let me close with what I see as the main problem with the article this father shared:  It covertly makes the point that it is okay to hate your parents. From the title (“Avoid Mistakes That Could Make Your Kids Hate You”) on, the warning is that if parents make these mistakes, their children will hate them. HATE them. I see far too much of this in our society these days. Kind, caring parents who aren’t all that horrible yet are considered “toxic,” and worthy of hate.

Lift the veil. See the good you did.

To the father who wrote to me, I want to offer my empathy. When one of my five grown children became estranged, I mined every memory with a fine-toothed comb, wondering what I did wrong. Parents are very good at taking on the perspective of their adult child(ren), which has been demonstrated in research related to estrangement. The same research, however, shows that the children who reject parents are not.

In time, I hope all of the caring parents who are nevertheless rejected by adult children will not only see their own mistakes and even magnify them, but also recognize all the good they did.

When you can look past the veil of estrangement that clouds your memories and steers you toward any mistakes, you might even realize that the good you did as a parent far outweighs the bad. There’s an exercise in Done With The Crying that can help.

Hugs to all the hurting parents,
Sheri McGregor

Related reading:

Abusive adult children affect parents’ self-image

Beyond the shadow of estrangement

Freedom for a new era (parents rejected by adult children)

Estranged adult children: Why do they make contact now?

Mother yourself