Category Archives: Latest Posts

The default category for all posts not assigned a different category, as well as some manually assigned to Latest Posts category. Allows readers to quickly find what’s new.

Memorial Day, 2021: Let me tell you about some heroes. . . .

parents whose adult children disown themBy Sheri McGregor, M.A.

This weekend, the United States celebrates Memorial Day. The holiday honors those who sacrificed their lives in past wars to preserve our treasured freedoms. Since people all over the world read my books and visit this site, you may not be familiar with Memorial Day. But you can surely relate to the peace of mind and emotional freedom sought by at parents whose adult children disown them. Those are the sort of freedoms this article will discuss.

I’ve received many emails from parents about their changed perspectives, their opened eyes, and the new direction they’ve taken for their lives. At some point, most parents come to accept what they cannot change. Eventually, with continued effort and support, most learn to break free from their emotional bondage to adult children who snub and abuse them.

As I once did, these parents make a purposeful decision to stop focusing on the loss. And then they follow through with a concerted effort to remember all the good they did. Things like sitting up with a feverish child or patiently explaining complex homework they themselves may have had to learn first. They served as a team coach, cooked healthy meals each day, or white-knuckled their way through practice sessions with their teen driver behind the wheel. These unsung heroes are the veterans of estrangement who fought their way back to a fulfilling life. Read on and allow their thoughts to inspire you.

Finding her self-worth

Augustyna is a widow whose son is her only living family. As he grew into a mouthy teen, she tolerated his disrespect because she loved him and hoped he would change. In his 20s, he periodically cut off all contact with Augustyna. In his absence, she didn’t miss his temper tantrums or lies, but she was also lonely. Eventually, she always reached out again, mostly to silence.

Once, when her son had lost his job, he reconnected and stayed with her for a few months. At first, he seemed to want to get along, and she hoped their relationship was on the mend. Then, as he regained his footing, he began badmouthing and rejecting her again.

In a fit of anger one evening, Augustyna’s son slammed her hand in the door of her top-load washing machine. For the next few days, she hid the injury from everyone.  A week later, her son arrived to collect his belongings. Augustyna tried not to grimace as she tucked her painful, bruised and swollen hand into her jacket pocket so her son wouldn’t see that he had hurt her.

A few years later, Augustyna was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When she called to tell her son of the diagnosis, he cursed her and said he hoped she’d die soon. Depressed, Augustyna agreed with his hope, but lingered on in misery. Her son cut off all contact again, and at the urging of her doctors, Augustyna continued her treatments. Now, five years later, her cancer is in remission.

Augustyna recently asked a priest and a rabbi why God didn’t just let her die. They both said He must have a reason for her to live. That’s when she found this website and shared her experience to help other parents. Until now, she hadn’t told a soul about her son’s physical abuse.

When Augustyna reflected on her life, she realized the injury to her hand wasn’t the first time her son had physically hurt her. There were previously a couple of slaps and pushes. He also called her deplorable names that I won’t repeat here. His ongoing verbal abuse had left her feeling demoralized, questioning her ability as a parent, and lacking self-worth. That’s what abuse by someone you love and sacrifice for can do to you.

These days, Augustyna looks back on her life and sees all the good she did. After her husband died, she worked to provide for her son. She supported his interests, was always there to help, and says he wanted for nothing. She also paid for his education. Augustyna knows that she is not to blame for the person he has become. His decision to hurt and abandon her is all on him.

As a cancer survivor, Augustyna has looked death in the face. She will never allow another person to make her doubt her self-worth, or abuse or control her. She’s not sure how many years she has left to enjoy life, but she won’t waste another minute on her abusive son.

Sadness: Just a few days out of the year

Martin and his wife, Joan, also had one child, a son who is now in his 40s. Like so many parents whose children disown them, Martin and Joan were sad for a long time over the rejection. They attempted to reconcile, but other than a few phone calls and texts, never got far. At times, their son would say he wanted a relationship. He even apologized. Soon after though, he always shifted gears. He would call them names, lay blame, and make accusations that had no basis in reality.

When their son was to be wed, they received a formal invite from the bride-to-be’s parents. At that point, Martin and Joan had been disconnected from their son for six years, the last three with absolutely no contact. After much deliberation over whether to attend the wedding, they texted their son to make sure he knew they had been invited. He replied with a casual, “Oh yeah. You’re welcome to come.” They decided to go, which they regret.

The event was awkward at best. They were placed at a table with the bride’s distant relatives and were ignored by their son and his new in-laws. During the ceremony and for much of the reception, Joan fought back tears. Martin’s asthma flared up and he ducked out several times to use his inhaler. Distressed, they left before the gifts were opened and even scrambled to get an earlier flight home.

After the wedding, Martin and Joan stopped reaching out. “We gave in like your Done With The Crying book says,” Martin explains. He and Joan felt they had no other choice but to go with the flow.

These parents have worked hard to build their lives in new directions that support their well-being and keep them engaged in life. For the most part, they are happy. “We were parents for a season,” Martin says. “I still have pictures that show what a beautiful a time that was.”

Martin wrote to me around Mother’s Day because Joan was feeling sad. He was looking for something to cheer her up. He and his wife are like many parents whose adult children disown them and find that special days revive their sadness. Some write in utter anguish, saying they are “back to square one.”  Others say they will “never get over the estrangement.” They wallow in a dark alley of thinking that dooms them to continued despair.

I understand these thoughts.  When my son disowned me and the rest of the family, I became all too familiar with the “dark place” many parents describe. I know how bleak life can look for rejected parents. One hopeless thought can lead to the next so that life doesn’t look worth living. The rut of such despair is a trap that I’ve written about extensively to help parents break free. One way is to put things in perspective. Rather than get caught up in the mire of defeatist thoughts, we can think the way Martin does.

Having done the work of building a good life despite his son’s decisions, Martin puts it this way: “In reality, the sad days are only a few out of the year. A birthday, a holiday, and then we’re back to our regular life.”

Martin is right. There are 365 days in every year. How many will you allow to be all about the sadness of estrangement?

Your turn

What can you take from these stories? What can you empathize with, relate to, and learn? You may have another helpful perspective. As these veterans of estrangement have done, I hope you will share your stories of courage in the fight for your peace and emotional freedom. Feel free to leave a comment. By sharing your experiences, you help other parents whose adult children disown them—and you help yourself.

Related reading

Five ways to move on after an adult child’s rejection

Cut off by adult children: What do you prescribe for yourself?

Freedom for a new era

The void: Fill it or feel it?

Mother’s Day 2021: Cancelled!

mothers of estranged adult childrenBy Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Mothers of estranged adult children are gearing up for a day they’ll be down. They’re making travel plans and deciding what they’ll do to cope in the commercialized climate leading to the first Sunday in May. Generally, mothers of estranged adult children are dreading what, to them, has become the mother of all bad days.

It’s wise to plan, consider sights or events that will make you sad, and devise ways to handle those. Otherwise, triggers can open like trap doors and send you spiraling into the pit of despair. So, while you’re deciding how to stay busy, entertained, or distracted, consider another idea: cancelling Mother’s Day altogether.

May: The Month of Creative Beginnings

Each time a mother adopted, took on a step-kid, or birthed a baby was a new beginning. Motherhood is all about that, so I was excited to discover that May is the official month of creative beginnings. I love the idea of a whole month dedicated to creative starts! Might as well cancel Mother’s Day and grasp that idea instead. What will you do to celebrate the month of creative beginnings? Let’s consider a few ideas.

I recently heard from a 70-year-old woman who had started horseback riding lessons. Her creative beginning is less about the lessons and more about her decision to nurture and bring to fruition a dream of her own. In the past, her life was more about doing for those around her than doing for herself. Trying something new for her own benefit was last on her list. Now, she gets to choose.

Maybe you don’t want to get up on a horse, but in this May month of creative beginnings, at least hop into the proverbial saddle. What does a “creative beginning” mean to you?

For some, this will mean a new hobby, redecorating, or changing the way they eat. For others, a creative new beginning will have more global or personal implications. Putting themselves first for instance. Or deciding to stop (or start) coloring their hair. Is there a spiritual inclination that’s been calling? Now there’s time.

Mother's day mothers of estranged adult childrenMaybe you can relate to the idea of finally embracing some part of your body you’ve seen as a flaw. That’s me in the photo a couple of years ago when I decided to embrace my upper arms (and actually took a blurry selfie on a bad hair day to commemorate the decision!). My mother always hated her arms and kept them covered. As I grew older, I adopted her attitude—until I didn’t. Hating a part of myself was limiting and unfair. My arms have held people close, pushed things away, and generally served me well. I kind of like the way they look now. If someone else doesn’t, they can look away!  And they’ll have to, because my summer wardrobe is sleeveless.

Mothers of estranged adult children: Say “yes” to yourself

Your creative new beginning could have to do with your outlook, how you take care of yourself, or something you finally say “no” to. Any of these are a “yes” to yourself. What will you do to celebrate May, the month of creative new beginnings? Give this a little thought, choose something valuable to you, give “birth” to whatever you want, and then nurture it as something worthy of a mother’s love.

Keep at it

Like most change, creative new beginnings can require work. I still sometimes pull on a tank top, look in the mirror, and think my arms are like faces only a mother could love. But I remind myself that hating my arms doesn’t change them. It’d be better to exercise them than hide them away. Besides, my feelings about them are irrational and inherited—like a lot of the things that imprison us.

It’s the same with Mother’s Day and the idealism we’re bombarded with about the perfect mother, family, and how to celebrate. We’ve learned these things at the mother’s knee of society, but that doesn’t mean we have to hold them close forever.

To let go of ideas that hurt us and work at creative new beginnings takes time and requires some dedication. In this month of creative beginnings, I hope you will commit to try. Choose at least one thing and get started. It’s a creative beginning!

Here’s help

If you’re drawing a blank, I’d like to help. The following links are to books that might get you started (they’re affiliate links, meaning that RejectedParents.net will get a tiny commission to help fund this website if you purchase any through these links). Even without buying, just reading the write-ups could be a spring board for your your own ideas for creative beginnings. Have a look, and then return here to read on and share your thoughts.

I could probably share a zillion books on everything from trying your hand at ceramics to learning to raise goats. You know what appeals to you, so I’ll keep the list to these three, plus my own book, Done With The Crying, which mothers of estranged adult children (also dads) say has helped them make a turnaround for the better.

What’s your creative beginning?

Give this some thought and share your creative beginning by leaving a reply. Your enthusiasm will encourage other mothers of estranged adult children (dads too). If you come across this article later, no worries. May is the official month of creative beginnings, but new starts can happen all year long. Share now or share later. I’d love to hear about your creative beginning, so don’t be mum about it. Leave a reply.

Related Reading

Are you an octopus mom?

Changes: Peer Support Forum for parents of estranged adult children

my daughter cut me offOften, a busy site such as this one has a lot going on behind the scenes. Just as there many different things in the photo, much is happening here at the site.

According to research, forum users (those who post messages) is a smaller group than  forum spectators (those who read only). Recent changes to the peer support forum for parents of estranged adult children, necessitated by some behind-the-scenes activity, affect both groups.  Here’s how.

Visibility

Currently, to read others’ postings and/or interact in the peer support forum for parents of estranged adults, you must be logged in.

If you are a registered member but have forgotten your password, please use the forgotten password link to get a new one. The link will appear on your login page.

A lot of people register but never post and only read, and you’ll still be able to visit the forum.

Non-registered members

If you have not previously registered for the peer support forum, you will not be able to see the postings of others right now.

Also, unfortunately, new registrations are currently on a pause. If you’ve written to me about this, I may or may not have gotten back to you, and hope you will forgive me if I haven’t.

Comments are open

Comments to the site’s articles remain open. If you used to just read the forum, use the comments in the same way. Or, try growing with the site. Consider commenting now, and interacting with others parents of estranged adult children. (Use the “Leave a reply” link that accompanies each article.) Many parents do reply to others in the comment threads, and I hope you will continue to do so. Your stories help one another!

Note: The comments are moderated, but it helps if you will follow a few guidelines.

  • Post kind and uplifting words rather than arguments or meanness
  • Avoid including detailed or personal information that could make you identifiable to general site readers
  • Avoid hot-button topics
  • Avoid posting links (which, generally, will not be allowed)
  • Think twice before posting (do I really want this said? will I regret posting this?)
  • Remember that your posts do not show up immediately
  • If your comment does not eventually appear, it may have been flagged by the site’s spammer or splogger functions or rejected for some other reason. Posting a comment in no way guarantees its approval.

Newsletter

Be sure to sign up for the newsletter so you will receive useful information approximately once per month. You’ll also hear about updates to the site, forum, new books or events. Your information will not be shared and you can unsubscribe at any time. Scroll down, the sign up is at the bottom of the page.

Apologies and thank yous

I have been hearing from many of you who have found the peer support forum of benefit since its formation in late 2013. It has always been known as a safe place for parents of estranged adults to discuss things. Many tell me that is the only place they feel safe–and I want to keep it that way.

Thank you very much for all your kind words. I am grateful for you! With some new protections in place in the near future, I hope to make the forum available to new registrants again soon.

I’m sorry if the current changes are unwelcome, and thank you for your understanding.

As always, great big hugs to you!

Your friend and fellow parent of an estranged adult child,

Sheri McGregor

Hoppy Easter from Sheri McGregor

Sheri McGregor

If you’re expecting an eggceptional article for the holiday, you might dye waiting for it. This Easter, I’ve decided not to make myself a basket case trying to come up with just the right thing.  Perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Instead, I’ll offer a heartfelt Happy Easter to all my peeps and link to past articles I hope you’ll be hoppy about. If you don’t like this idea, then eggs-cuse me. Sometimes, I’m just fresh out of clucks. I hope you’ll be a good egg, tuck your hare under your Easter bonnet, and crack a smile—it’ll benefit us both.

Oh, for peeps sake, let’s get crackin’!

Sheri McGregor

 

Parents of estranged adult children: Reinvent yourself – Here’s a look at the spirit behind so many Easter traditions, renewal.

 

 

Sheri McGregor
Define yourself—More than a discussion on what it means to be “estranged.” This article helps parents realize: “One way to move toward recovery is to no longer allow the betrayer to define you, your feelings or your thoughts about yourself.”

 

Done With The Crying book

 

Should I forgive? – Articles on forgiveness haven’t been all that popular. This one offers a renewed look at the old idea, aimed to help even when there’s no apology.

 

done with the crying book
Do your questions keep you stuck?—Parents of estranged adults are often plagued by questions. The big WHY? and ones about the future (even your child’s). You may not have answers and the questions might just keep you stuck. In taking charge of your well-being, you get to the bottom line: “You can be you. And you can be well. ”

 

estrangement

 

Kneaded–What Easter would be complete without something about rising? Easter really is about resilience, and this very personal article gets at that.

 

estrangement
Parents of estranged adult children: Your new normal (no, it’s not about Covid-19). For caring parents who did their best, a new normal that keeps them wrapped in a cold blanket of rejection isn’t normal at all. Fight for your future.

 

Bottom of the Easter basket

In putting together this basket of oldies-but-goodies articles, I’ve come out of my shell. Now it’s time for you to get hopping and show some bunny some love. Consider putting Done With The Crying in your own Easter basket (I promise, it’s much more than puns!). And be sure to share your thoughts with me and other parents by leaving a comment. I’m all ears!

Parents cut off by adult children: Resume the battle

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

March was once considered the first month of the year. January and February weren’t even named in ancient times because they were considered a winter period of dormancy and doldrums. Everything got going again in March.

That’s when warriors returned to the battlefields. March is named for the Roman god of war, Mars. This isn’t an article about March or any ancient gods or war, but it works as a segue into what I do want to talk about: Parents cut off by adult children resuming the battle—for themselves.

After the year-long “winter” of lock-downs and letdowns and all things Covid-19, spring is literally and figuratively on the horizon. For parents cut off by adult children, resuming the battle will mean something personal to each. Despite how some people stereotype any rejected parent as narcissistic, abusive, or as having about as much self-awareness as a fence post, we are all unique. Even so, right now, I’m hearing similar struggles from parents cut off by adult children. Here, we’ll conquer a couple of those with tips to prepare and wage war for your own well-being.

Reality re-set

The pandemic caused many parents to face an uncomfortable truth: Their children don’t care whether they live or die. Seeing those words written out is harsh, but reality sometimes is. I know, I have faced it. There’s an upside though: When you know facts, you can deal with facts.

Some parents cut off by adult children have previously come to this conclusion. For others, the pandemic brought it to the fore. One father, Terry, put it like this: “If a son won’t check on his dad during a pandemic, then he’s not a son.”

Terry and his ex-wife co-parented with their son’s best interests in mind. When Leo turned 13, he balked at his mother’s rules and was angry she remarried. He moved in with his dad, who also had a few rules. Terry corrected Leo when he was dismissive of his mom. Terry says, “I figured he was just a mixed-up teen, but how he treated her was the writing on the wall.”

With Terry’s encouragement, his brought his grades up, did well in high school sports, and worked in his father’s restaurant. Terry taught Leo everything he knew about running a business, and then watched with pride as his son started his own successful endeavor. When Leo married, the calls home stopped. Terry’s calls were met with “too-busy” responses that soon grew stronger. Leo would answer his phone, tell his dad he was busy, and say, “I’ll call you sometime.” Eventually, he ignored all calls, texts, and voicemails. Silence stretched out between them.

Two years passed. Terry saw a therapist who persuaded him to write an apologetic letter. Father and son reconnected for a while, but in retrospect, Terry wishes he hadn’t sent the note. Nothing really changed, and they were soon back to the same old silence—only now Terry was embarrassed. He hadn’t owed his son an apology. “The letter made me sound weak or begging,” says Terry, who had put himself on the line. Leo didn’t have any real complaints about his dad. Terry realized the hard truth that his son just didn’t care.

Fed up and with no other choice, Terry handled the cutoff the way he’d always handled setbacks. He got on with his life. He even remarried and was so involved in living that he didn’t think much about the past, or Leo. “I was happy,” he says.

Then the pandemic hit.

Concerned about Leo and his daughter-in-law, as well as their baby—the grandson Terry’s ex-wife had seen on social media, pirated a photo of, and shared—Terry reached out. His son ignored the voice message, the email Terry sent a month later, and two texts sent a few months after that.

Terry felt isolated and sad. The lock-downs had drastically reduced his restaurant customer base. Unable to turn a profit and trying to comply with the frequently changing pandemic red tape that added stress without an upside in sight, he closed his business doors for good. With less exposure to the public, he did feel safer, but at home alone while his wife worked in a career deemed essential, he had too much idle time on his hands.

What’s a person to do?

parents cut off by adult children

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

As the vaccines began to roll out and hints of spring arrived in early fruit tree blooms, Terry realized that the events of the past year had put him in a funk. The TV had blared bad news, he had lost the business that had become so much a part of his identity, and he saw his son’s lack of communication in a new, stark way.

Maybe you can relate. I’m hearing from a lot of people who are exhausted from the uncertainty of the past year and fearful of what may lie ahead. Some have lost all hope. If that’s you, consider whether you might be clinically depressed, and consider seeking help.

Even with therapeutic support, making lifestyle changes can make things brighter. As a Life Coach, I’ve assisted many clients, and have included Terry’s plans to prompt your own. Read the next few paragraphs with your own life—your history, your strengths, your circumstances—in mind.

Parents cut off by adult children: Fight for yourself

To move forward, Terry must remember his stronger, more capable self. Doing that puts him in touch with the reserves of strength he knows got buried beneath the gloomy news, all that had happened over the last year, and the hopeless uncertainty that has plagued him. Terry has gone through other tough times . . . and he has prevailed. He can remember what worked for him in the past, lean on those strengths, and prevail again.

Ask yourself what you have previously been through. How did you manage? What helped? What didn’t? Write it down. The more detailed you can get with this, the more you arm yourself to get on with living.

As an alternative or in addition to this self-mining, think about others who inspire you. Historical figures, a family member, or friend. We can borrow ideas from others’ resilience.

As is true for most people, good things often sprang from Terry’s past troubles. Keep in mind though, that in the midst of the battle, any good, any meaning from the experience, isn’t always evident. That may be true for you, and if so, turn any “why do bad things always happen to me” thinking around. Deploy yourself to fight against negative thoughts and win. Try considering your experiences with a sense of mystery or hope. Use words that uplift. Here are some examples:

  • The good that will come from this is unknown to me right now.
  • The meaning in all of this will reveal itself in time.
  • The lesson in this struggle is a mystery right now.
  • One day, I will look back on this loss and see the gift that was there all along.
  • I don’t understand this right now, but God will reveal its purpose on His time.
  • Something good will come from this.

For Terry, the most important positive things he found from past struggles involve his inner being: His strong sense of right and wrong, his faith in a higher power, and his determination to do well for his family. Those truths can provide strength now.

What good things derive from your past struggles? Use the estrangement if you can, but don’t limit yourself. Think in terms of your identity. Every person can think of at least one thing, and usually more. Did you learn that you were stronger than you thought? More creative? Maybe you learned that even when you feel powerless and confused, you can do something in the moment that helps. My grandfather used to say: Sometimes, you just have to put your head down and work.

Reflect on any good that came out of past trauma. Write these down. Remember your strengths.

Terry also recognizes that he must take better care of himself. The side effects are only positive. Better health, better mood, and more.

Read on, consider how this helps Terry, and then come up with your own ideas. Or use the paragraphs below as templates and fill in your unique circumstances, experiences, and truths. You can tape a sheet to the refrigerator as an affirmation or use note cards you can easily pull out for motivation. Written ideas remind you to persevere and progress.

parents cut off by adult children

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

About taking better care of himself, Terry realized:

First, he would feel better about himself. Seeing in the mirror an unshaven man who hadn’t brushed his teeth by dinner didn’t encourage him to do much. If he felt better about himself, he was more likely to get outside for a walk or interact—even at a social distance. By getting up and dressed, he would prepare himself, as Terry said, “For a life.”

Second, he could make other people feel better about themselves. This might seem counterintuitive when you’re thinking of yourself as a project, but Terry knows better. In mentoring employees, he explained how their demeanor influenced customers. When customers feel important, they more highly view the person in front of them (and the overall business).

Third, it all connects. If Terry takes better care of himself, he feels better and is more likely to interact. His simple smile or friendly greeting makes other people feel better, and they respond in kind. Their response, then, makes him feel good too. It’s a positive feedback loop that’s easy to begin and maintain.

Whose line is this anyway?

One final thought: Consider what you’re telling yourself. If you’re allowing an inner refrain of uncertainty and pain, do some inner housekeeping. Be mindful. When your thoughts dip into unhelpful territory, tell yourself to stop, and then change up. I like to use the phrase: Catch and rephrase. You catch the negative thinking, and then you rephrase it.

What negative thoughts come up for you? This can be due to the pandemic and related distress, or, for parents cut off by adult children, to the disconnection, dismay, and even disgust. It’s normal to feel those things but not helpful to dwell. Terry has learned to limit exposure to news or social media. Otherwise, his thoughts wander, and his self-talk grows dark.

If you’re filling up on news that highlights the bad stuff to keep people tuned in, you might find your own thoughts replaced by media headlines. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, ask: Whose line is this anyway? Then come up with a few of your own lines, and make them positive.

Terry says, “Winter is ending. There are vaccines out now. Spring and Easter are on the way. I can’t change my son, but I can change me.” He memorized these sentences and uses them together or on their own whenever he feels the need to lift his spirits or shift his focus. It has become a sort of battle cry.

With all these ideas, Terry is following in the footsteps of ancient Roman soldiers, returning to battle—for himself.

How are you going to battle for yourself? I hope you’ll leave a comment here for other parents cut off by adult children. We can help each other as we help ourselves.

For more strategies to help parents of estranged adults, consider getting the book, Done With The Crying. You can also sign up for the monthly newsletter by filling in your information below.

Related Reading

Five ways to move on after an adult child’s rejection

When the adult child holds onto offenses

Sheri McGregor

Image by Andrea Bohl from Pixabay

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Q: Dear Sheri,

How can I handle my adult daughter’s criticizing me, berating me, and forever finding fault. I supported her when she lost her job five years ago. She still sends me texts bringing up things I said in trying to help, that she thought were wrong. She also has a long list of what she sees as my failures and is quick to bring those up.

Signed, Janey

A: Dear Janey,

You could apologize for any hurt she feels, explain that you understand why she may have seen your words like XYZ-her perception, and tell her you hope that she can move past the feelings of hurt that were not intended on your part.

Five years is a long time for an adult daughter’s criticizing to continue. Beyond approaching her with kindness and this sort of giving attitude, if she holds the offenses against you like a dog might hold onto its bone, consider how much (or how often) you are willing to get bit. A tug-o-war will not end well. Say your peace, observe the response, and then decide what’s next. Sometimes, walking away makes the bone less tasty.

Let me add that you, Janey, are the true expert in your own life. Each situation, its duration and intensity is unique. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to tell you what is right for you. I can offer my thoughts, based on the thousands of situations I hear about–and my experience with the estrangement of one adult child, as well as the relationships I maintain with my four others. And then I can step aside and let you come to your own conclusions.

Loving parents will often put up with an adult child’s abuse (criticism, berating, judgments) because they fear the alternative (estrangement). That doesn’t seem like the basis for a mutually respectful relationship.

As the questions in the reconciliation section of Done With The Crying allow readers to do, parents can weigh how a relationship with an adult child is defined in their eyes against what they’re willing to let go, put up with, or insist upon. Then, if parties are willing, negotiations can be made.

Hugs to you,

Sheri McGregor

Forgive for your own good

by Sheri McGregor

It’s often said that we should forgive for our own good. To forgive sets us free. That’s different than the forgiveness that comes when someone who has wronged us is remorseful and wants to make things right. To forgive doesn’t always require that we forget.

Forgiven or not, a person’s bad behavior often has consequences. Forgiveness can be a solitary act. To forgive doesn’t require that we forget everything and place ourselves, precariously, in a position to be hurt again. Read more about that, with a fuller look at forgiveness, in this article:

Why Forgive?

Today’s look at forgiveness is short—and oh-so-sweet!

forgiveness

Hugs to all the parents of estranged adult children. Your forgiveness is a gift to yourself.

~ Sheri McGregor

Neglected parents self-love exercise

By Sheri McGregor

Valentine’s Day post

Most holidays, you will find new articles here because I know how lonely those special days can feel for neglected parents. Adult children who rarely call, have cut their parents completely from their lives, or only reach out when they need something, leave their parents’ hearts in shards. For neglected parents, the only way beyond the emotional pain is through. That means digging deep for your own strength, looking for ways to support yourself, and then taking action. Valentine’s Day provides an opportunity to let your love loose on your own life and for your own benefit.

In my work as a life coach, I’ve routinely used exercises and questions to help people guide themselves through a variety of situations, increase productivity, and get out of their own way as they move way forward. Today, I’m including a short exercise for neglected parents and, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ll use the word “LOVE.”

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • An open mind
  • A willing spirit
  • A sheet of paper
  • A pen or pencil

Option: Fancy paper and/or colorful pens/pencils. Use what makes you feel good.

Don’t discount the first two bullet points. Those may be the most important.

FIRST STEPS

As you see in the photograph, fold your paper in half and then half again. When you unfold the sheet, creases mark off four sections. Eyeballing the space is okay, too. Or use a computer document and not worry about space at all. There is no perfect way to do this exercise other than to see it through for your own benefit.

BEFORE YOU START

You’ll be writing, so make up your mind not to censor yourself. If this exercise prompts you to spill out your feelings with no action steps, let it happen. You may be holding onto energy that needs a place to land. Let those thoughts and feelings emerge. Your feelings are valid—even the ones you judge yourself for.

GET STARTED

To the left of each of the four paper sections, write each of the letters in L-O-V-E, one per section, so that the word is spelled out vertically. Use flowery writing or make it bold—it’s up to you.

Below, after each letter, I’ve chosen a word that starts with that letter. You’ll also see a few questions. Spend a few moments answering them as they pertain to your unique situation:

  • Estrangement from adult children
  • Coping as a neglected parent
  • With a disrespectful adult child living at home due to Covid-19 (or for some other reason)
  • Your unique circumstances

This and similar exercises work for a variety of situations where the aim is to analyze thinking and behavior, and then move toward better self-care and past the problem.

L: Limits. How can I limit how much of my energy or thinking goes toward the estrangement (or: problem, relationship, situation)? Have I spent enough time being miserable? Have I let my adult children surpass the limits of how I would let another adult treat me? Is it time to set some limits now, and get on with living my life? What does that mean to me? What can I do right now to start setting limits and/or enforcing them?

O: Observe. Am I listening to myself think? How often does my mind wander to this problem I can’t solve? What’s a new way to think about this? Do I still think I’m the only one? Do I still blame myself?

V: Value. Does what my adult child say about me, or how s/he treats me, truly define who I am and who I’ve been? (HINT: The answer is NO.) Does this other adult’s decision or opinion change history or define who I am now? Have I been devaluing myself? How can I show myself the value I deserve for all my hard work and loving care?

E: Evaluate. Where am I on this journey as a neglected parent? (Name your spot like a town or venue, i.e., Tearsville, City of Hope, Onward Town.) Where do I want to be at this time next year? How can I get there? (Name at least one step.)

Same Time, Same Place

Once you’ve spent some time considering each of these and writing out your thoughts, fold the paper so the writing is all on the inside. Then pen yourself a silly note on the blank side: Same time, next year. Or, Will you be my Valentine? Whatever feels right. Then tuck it away somewhere safe. Next year, pull this out and see how far you’ve come.

If the thought of looking at this later to observe your progress pricks panic, don’t ignore the feeling. If you worry that you will still be crying and miserable, take action now. Let this be a solid step toward your progress. It’s for your own good. Get your copy of Done With The Crying, read it again and use the WORKBOOK, or do the exercises for the first time (some readers skipped them). To move beyond the pain, you must set goals and work toward them. After a while, taking care of yourself becomes a helpful habit.

EXERCISE YOUR OPTIONS

If you have ideas about how to make this exercise your own, feel free to put them into action. Creative pursuits are freeing and fun. Honoring your own ideas is validating and helpful. Here are a couple of options:

  • Use your words. My example words for each of the letters aren’t set in stone. Come up with your own or even choose a word other than LOVE to start. The point is to get your thoughts on paper, begin the work of setting goals for your own happiness and self-worth, and move toward a fulfilling life only you can design. You’re in the driver’s seat on this self-love train. Don’t get sidetracked or derailed.
  • Get crafty. Create a keepsake. Once you’ve done the exercise and tucked it away, use the basic words (limits, observe, value, evaluate) as a visual reminder. Make a painting or a Valentine card and display it as a gentle reminder of where you’re at and where you’re headed. Make a bookmark and tuck it into something you read daily so your goals will be in front of you—or just as a reminder that you deserve your own kind care. (I’m tucking my folded page with my note into a book where I can see it often, plus find it next year.)

Do you gain insights from using this exercise? I’d love to hear about your experience. When you comment, you help other neglected parents move forward too.

Hugs to all on this journey, Sheri McGregor

Related Reading

Cut off by adult children and feeling lonely

How do I love me? Let me count the ways

Estranged from adult children, Love Yourself

 

2021 Giveaway Events: giveaway #2

Event with Sheri McGregor

This giveaway is over, but the book (by the mother of an estranged adult child) is still available.

Sheri McGregor’s 2021 GIVEAWAY EVENTS: HERE’S #2

parent of estranged adultI am excited to announce the second giveaway event for 2021!

In my book, Done With The Crying, I mention the poetry some parents of estranged adult children in my online peer support community here at the site wrote as part of their healing. Some funny, some sad, it was joy to read those poems and to know that in writing them, those mothers had changed their momentary outlook … and eventually their lives.

For this giveaway, I have ONE copy of a book of poetry written by another parent who knows the emotional pain of estrangement from an adult child. Poems from the Heart for Hope and Healing: For Those Who Have Experienced Estrangement from a Loved One, by Claire L. Cunning, is a heartfelt collection written to express her pain, as well as offer hope.

My assessment? You may shed a tear or two because the poems are moving and touch the heart. Others may make you laugh. You may recognize yourself in some of the verses, and feel the pull of the past and to times you cherished … as well as look forward to a good future ahead.

One lucky reader here at RejectedParents.Net will be randomly chosen from among those who follow the instructions at the end of this post and take action.

The author has divided this poetry volume into into three sections:

  •  Grief and Hurt
  • Anger and Denial
  • Hope and Healing

Cunning chose to organize the poems as a way to help. She explains to readers,  “That way you can choose a section of poetry depending on your feelings for that day. It is my hope that you can find some comfort in my poetry knowing I’ve been there with you.”

To enter the giveaway, you will need to be reading this and enter by commenting as instructed between 9 p.m. PST on 1/29/21 and 9 p.m. PST on 2/1/21. Don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up immediately (all comments are moderated and must be approved for publication). Your comment must meet specific criteria, too, so read closely.

To enter, here’s what to do.

Leave a comment in reply to this blog post as follows:

Leave your first name and last initial as well as a working email address in the form where it asks who you are. Also, in the comment post itself, you’ll need to share three things:

  1. Who is estranged from you (just a title, no names please)? Is it a son, daughter, step-child, adopted daughter or son?
  2. In no more than three sentences, please share: How long you have been estranged and whether this is the first estrangement, part of an episodic estrangement, etc.
  3. In ONE sentence from your own experience, share the most important thing you would tell another parent whose adult child has become estranged.

Got it?

The winner will be randomly drawn from a hat or jar into which all names have been placed. I will contact the winner, who will need to reply to my email by 9 p.m. on 2/2/21, with their full name and the correct email to send the pass. In the event of no reply, another winner will be drawn.

Remember, to enter for this book of poetry by Claire L. Cunning your comment must be received here by 9 p.m. PST on 2/1/21. Don’t delay. Leave your comment as instructed for a chance to win.

Good luck! I can’t wait to read your comments, and by sharing a bit here, you will help other parents.

Hugs to you all. Take kind care of yourselves, Sheri McGregor

 

Why do adult children estrange? Let’s look at nature-or nurture

Why do adult children estrangeWhy do adult children estrange?
Could it be nature … or nurture?

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

“Know when to hold ‘em; Know when to fold ‘em.”  I used that line from the Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler,” in a section of my book, Done With The Crying, that discusses playing the hand you’re dealt, and the fact that how kids turn out can be a crap shoot. Parents don’t have as much influence on their kids as they might think.

A 2015 meta-analysis of existing twin studies research over 50 years and in 39 countries makes it clear that the old nature-or-nurture inquiry isn’t a one-or-the other prospect. Both play a role, and in many instances, it’s roughly half and half. No wonder you can raise two kids in the same family, yet they can turn out so very differently from one another.

In some areas, the scales are weighted more heavily on the genetics side, and that may be important for parents of estranged adult children to consider. Sometimes, mental illness is part of the estrangement equation, whether diagnosed or speculated. Twins research reveals that the risk for bi-polar disorder is 70% due to genetics and 30% influenced by environment.1 Not all areas are so clear-cut, but twins research suggests heritability for Borderline Personality Disorder between 35% and 65% (with the highest heritability occurring in self-ratings).2,3,4 The role of genetics in schizophrenia could be as high as 79%.5

Genetics also more subtly influence mental, emotional, and behavioral traits. Many parents know that their children arrived with different temperaments. One baby’s nature is to be agreeable and always smiling. Another frequently fusses and is generally peevish. As a mother of five children, I know firsthand that this is true. My children were each uniquely themselves and different from one another. Even my pregnancies were not the same. I’m sure many of you can relate.

Have you been examining your history and looking for where you went wrong? That’s something most of us parents do. We immediately think that if our own child can disown us, then we must have done something wrong. And when we look for help, we hear that belief echoed across the Internet. We’re also told we’re making mistakes and probably going about trying to reconcile all wrong…. Ugh.

In general it’s common for parenting advice to give the message that our children’s behavior is a direct reflection of us—how we raise them and how we interact. That’s not actually true. We can do almost everything right, but sometimes, our nurturing takes a backseat to genetics.

If you have been a loving and caring parent, then you have most likely imagined stepping into your estranged adult child’s shoes. Most parents are good at perspective-taking. They try hard to see things through their child’s eyes—even when their children have become cruel. Parents want to understand, to help, and to keep the peace.

Parents, I hope you will take kind care of yourselves. Don’t give another adult control of your health and happiness. No matter what happens, you will be better off if you take care of yourself, stay happy, involved in living, and well. Think about it, even if you never reconcile, you will have enjoyed your life instead of wasting it. And, if you do reconcile, you will be much stronger and better able to enjoy the connection.

Don’t forget your own needs.  You count. Your nature may be to get along, to try to understand, and to fix. But you may be like a lot of parents who are surprised that, when it comes to estrangement, your caring nature no longer works. You can continue to spin your wheels and get nowhere, or you can turn yourself around.  You can throw off the “toxic parent” label, let go of an adult child’s negative assessment, and reclaim who you are and have always been. You can be Done With The Crying (and even then you can still hold out hope).

Related Reading:

Nature vs. Nurture: Research says it’s both

Why parents should stop blaming themselves for how their kids turn out

Largest twins study shows nearly 80% of schizophrenia risk on heritability

References:

  1. Polderman TJC, Benyamin B, de Leeuw CA, Sullivan PF, van Bochoven A, Visscher PM, Posthuma D. Meta-Analysis of the Heritability of Human Traits based on Fifty Years of Twin Studies. Nature Genetics, 2015 Jul;47(7):702-9 doi:10.1038/ng.3285, published online May 18, 2015
  2. Distel, M. A., Willemsen, G., Ligthart, L., Derom, C. A., Martin, N. G., Neale, M. C., Trull, T. J., & Boomsma, D. I. (2010). Genetic covariance structure of the four main features of   borderline personality disorder. Journal of personality disorders, 24(4), 427–444. https://doi.org/10.1521/pedi.2010.24.4.427
  3. Kendler, K. S., Myers, J., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T. (2011). Borderline personality disorder traits and their relationship with dimensions of normative personality: a web-based cohort and twin study. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 23: 349–359
  4. Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Ystrom, E., Neale, M. C., Aggen, S. H., Mazzeo, S. E., Knudsen, G. P., Tambs, K., Czajkowski, N. O., & Kendler, K. S. (2013). Structure of genetic and environmental risk factors for symptoms of DSM-IV borderline personality disorder.  JAMA psychiatry, 70(11), 1206–1214. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.1944
  5. (2017, October 5). Largest twin study pins nearly 80% of schizophrenia risk on heritability. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171005103313.htm