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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?

 

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.

Mothering Sunday for UK Moms

I know it’s tough when moms are estranged on Mother’s Day. Make sure you honor yourSELF for the day. You were there, you did the work, and you deserve to make the day good for YOU. Use the search box here to find past articles and search for Mother’s Day that offer help for estranged moms.

In honor of spring’s arrival (here in the U.S., at least), I wanted to share this card with you. Do the puzzle if you feel like it (you can choose the difficulty level), and then maybe go out and count a few butterflies in your garden or a local park. Here where I live, a mass migration of the beauties in the last few weeks was a bit like colorful confetti blowing on the wind.

Happy Mother’s Day to my UK friends. Click on the butterfly below to go to the card & puzzle.

 

estranged mothers

This photograph was taken on a mindful photography outing, in Anza Borrego Desert State Park (for which I wrote a hiking book, btw).

Hugs,

Sheri McGregor

 

Sheri McGregor radio interview for parents of estranged adults

In February, I appeared on Beyond 50 Radio for a talk with host Daniel Davis. As it turns out, he is also a rejected parent, with an estranged adult daughter. We touched on many facets of estrangement. I hope you’ll find the radio show helpful. Please give it a thumbs-up.

If you’re the parent of an estranged adult, listen up. You’re not alone in this heartbreaking situation. And you can be happy again. Click the Beyond50 banner below to go to youtube and listen.

radio interview with Sheri McGregor

Family Estrangement: The Unabomber was estranged

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

estrangementOften, parents contact me in emotional pain. They tell me that abusive comments on social media, horrible lies that depict them as monsters, and continued baiting and meanness have been a part of the estrangement.

estrangementMany parents receive nasty letters from their estranged adult child, in which there are accusations and/or they are called names. These letters and accusations don’t happen in all estrangements (thank goodness), but in the ones they do, the shock is real, the words hurt, and parents’ self-esteem and self-image can suffer.

From the desk of an estranged adult child

At the outset of estrangement, upon reaching out to try and reconcile, long into an entrenched pattern of no-contact, or amidst a series episodic estrangements, some parents say their adult son or daughter pens pages-long correspondence that outlines just all the awful things they say the parents did. The criticisms are sometimes over things that don’t make sense or validate the estrangement in any way. Like asking a ten-year-old to comb his hair or not chew gum in bed. Others accuse ailing parents of faking a very real illness just to get attention, or assert a catalog of events that parents don’t remember ever happening. Sometimes an estranged son or daughter refers to what they see as a childhood theme. They say things like:

  • You never supported anything I ever did.
  • You never loved me.
  • You were always focused on my brother (or sister, or work, or fill-in-the-blank).

Ill-fitting shoes

estrangementIn my book, I refer to research showing that most parents try to understand a son or daughter’s views. They step into their child’s proverbial shoes, and try to see how the son or daughter they have always loved could have felt the way they say they did. Unfortunately, apologies aren’t always accepted. Sometimes, often even, an apology seems to validate the grown child’s perception, and invites more abuse. In the book, I also talk about the apology letters that are sometimes recommended,, and share some of the parents’ results.

Estrangement: More than meanness going on?

Recently, a Dr. Phil show that dealt with a “sort of” estrangement situation was brought to my attention. It’s the October 15, 2018 episode. It features a daughter in her thirties whose son was removed by protective services. He is being raised by his grandmother. The parents and step-mother are at their wits end, which is understandable, and Dr. Phil seems to think there is more going on. The parents obviously saw that, too.

I won’t link to the show here, but you can find it by doing a search online if you’re interested in watching. There is also a thread about it in the support forum for estranged adult parents. At first, I hadn’t watched the show, but I did later and posted another note in that thread. You may find the thread of interest, and can see it here.

If you watch the show, share your thoughts. Do you think there is more going on than a bratty child-woman? I think so. And it may be more than the toxicity that’s brought up in the show, too. In fact, mental issues may be at the root of many estrangements, which brings me to the title of this posting. In light of the mailed pipe bomb packages that have been on the news the last couple of days, I happened t come across an interesting fact that for some reason I hadn’t previously noted: the unabomber was estranged.

There’s an article from 2016 that, among other things, talks about a 23-page letter to his mother in which he talks about his childhood and the rules his mother enforced about dirty socks. The article, which you can find here, is an interesting read. It’s written by his brother, who also wrote a book, Every Last Tie: The Story of the Unabomber and His Family.

What’s my point?

I don’t mean to frighten anyone. As the linked article mentions, mental illness doesn’t often result in violence. But I do hope to shed a little light on the subject as it may play a part in some estrangements. In the television episode, it was sad to see a kind, loving family who was at their wits’ end. It was an example of the powerlessness so many families feel. And thanks to the magic of television, the young woman was sent for what looked like some very good help—and of course, she was willing. As some of you well know, that’s not always the case. Families often have no choice but to disengage, and pick up the pieces to make the best of their own lives (and that’s understandable).

As I mention in one of my posts to the support group thread about the show discussed above, research is uncovering more about our brains and how they function every day. Perhaps in the future, the topic of mental health will become more mainstream, with more knowledge and help available and easy to obtain (without stigma). Maybe this will also have a positive affect in family relationships. 

Hugs to all the hurting,

Sheri McGregor

Related reading:

Intervene for Yourself

Beyond the Shadow of estrangement

Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children Takes a Prize

Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult ChildrenIn September, Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children  won an award. It took a bronze medal in the self-help/personal growth category of the Living Now Book Awards, which had more than 800 total entries.

That’s actually a medal hanging over the book in the photograph. It came on a grosgrain ribbon. Maybe one day, I’ll put it around my neck and actually wear it. Maybe I’ll have a tee-shirt made with the image, too (even more fun to wear!).

Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children–Only the bronze?

While it would have been great to win a gold or silver medal, the fact that this book for a niche audience among many aimed at more general audiences feels like taking the gold!

I can’t help but think that this award is not only validation that Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Childrenis a helpful and well-done book that fulfills the contest’s motto—Books That Change Lives—but that this win also demonstrates that people are starting to take more notice of the masses of adult children who now estrange themselves from loving families. You may recall that last year, Done With The Crying was a Book of the Year Finalist. This time, it got into the winner’s circle!

Isn’t this proof that the topic of estrangement is becoming much more mainstream? Hopefully, that means more people are coming to realize that there are many kind and supportive parents who are absolutely shocked when their grown children choose to hurt them. The loss is devastating, and the secondary trauma of being judged unfairly makes it that much worse.

Let’s celebrate!

Please join me in celebrating this award. I want to thank all the parents of estranged adults who visit this site and who have read Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children. This victory is yours.

If you’d like to see some of the other contest winners, you can go to Living Now Book Awards page. Done With The Crying is listed on the second linked page of winners.

Celebrate and share your thoughts by “leaving a reply” to this article.

HUGS to all the hurting parents,

Sheri McGregor

A sampling of articles to help hurting parents of estranged adults (you can use the pull-down menus to find more, or use the search box to look for particular subjects)

 

Struggling with estrangement from adult children? A liberating moment

I’m so very grateful when my book, Done With The Crying, is mentioned positively by other parents who know what it’s like to be struggling with estrangement from adult children. In the September/October issue of The Saturday Evening Post, a writer shared the progression of her feelings until she came to a liberating moment. That’s when she mentioned me and the book. (Thank you to Karen Westerberg Reyes.)

Struggling with estrangement from adult children?

With the intention of recovering from the heartache and a bit of work, you too can have a liberating moment that gets you free.

You can read the full article  as it appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

Coping with Estranged Adult Children

Wall of Silence: an artistic expression about living with estrangement

parents of estranged adults

Quilt, copyright: S. Small Proudfoot

This beautiful quilt is an artistic expression about the powerlessness many parents of estranged adult children feel. The quilt itself is gorgeous—-and reveals the lovely soul of a mother who has been hurt, but who has also triumphed. Sharing the quilt here is a way for the artist to help bring attention to the growing trend of adult children who sever ties from caring families. As she said to me this morning, “I hope you are able to continue making strides for a more informed society about this issue of estrangement from family and children.”

Through October 16, the quilt is on display with others at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California.

What an inspiration Ms. Proudfoot is to other hurting parents whose adult children have cut them off. Read the artist’s statement below, and enjoy some close-ups of different areas of this inspiring piece of art:

quilt-wall-of-silence-4-the-skin-horseTITLE:  WAll of SILENCE” Dedicated to all parents of Estranged Adult Children. The grief felt by parents whose adult children chose to terminate parental relationships leaves nothing but everlasting quilt-wall-of-silence-5-the-velveteen-rabbitheartbreak and sadness.  Margery Williams book, The Velveteen Rabbit, is used as a metaphor for this quilt.  Rabbit, rejected by his beloved child, asks Skin Horse “when a child loves you for a long, long time, does it hurt?”  Always truthful, Skin Horse replies “sometimes”.  From the darkness of despair to the serenity of acceptance, a heart once broken never mends, not to the shape it once was.
quilt-wall-of-silence-2-puppet

Wall of Silence: (c) 2016 Sandra Small Proudfoot, AOCA ’89, Mono, Ont., in collaboration with long-arm quilter, Mary Light, Temiskaming Shores, Ont. Canada

Floral Inspiration:    Artist Carrie Schmitt “She Lived Her Life in Full Bloom”

Can creativity help you heal?

In my book, I shared the stories of many who have healed through art in all its forms—-gardening, cooking, knitting, writing, and more. Formal art therapy works—but people have long turned to creative pursuits on their own as a means to work through troubling times and come away stronger.

Maintaining this website, and writing my book to help parents of estranged adult children has been part of my creative healing process. How have you used creative works to manage and heal from your pain? And if you haven’t yet, what might you get started on today that can help you express yourself and heal. Remember, not all creativity is expressed in traditional art forms either. Creativity can be a facet of many activities.

I hope you will leave a comment appreciating the artistry of Ms. Proudfoot’s quilt shared here, as well as share your own creative ideas that help you to heal.

 

 

A thank you

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

I’d like to express my gratitude to:

  • Members of my forum to help parents of estranged adult children
  • Parents who have written to me
  • Facebook page members
  • People who comment here at RejectedParents.NET
  • Reader reviewers
  • Fellow writers and industry reviewers
  • Estranged parents who helped in my research

mother with estranged adult child
Thank you to online support forum members who encourage others. You lend a broad shoulder to those in need of understanding and care. Your heartfelt posts in our judgment-free zone inspire.

Estranged from adult children, and moving on: a sampling from the forum

Recently, many forum members have moved beyond the anguish of estrangement from adult children, and publicly declared your independence. Thank you. You have inspired others as you courageously stepped forward to—as I say in Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Childrenenjoy your lives!

Some move on with a flourish that’s likely reminiscent of their personalities and their lives—such as this from “Mountainview:” Goodbye-Aufwiedersein. . . .

Others make difficult, important decisions with a steady hand that demonstrates their stability and strength. Such as this mother, who came to a sensible conclusion, and shared it as part of her good-bye: “MJMom’s:” A Journey of Acceptance

Some dance on into their lives with glee. They’re free! As in “Joyful’s” cheery note.

And some move on because they reconcile. “Linwinning” has a story similar to Abbey’s in Chapter 7 of my book, and shared it in her goodbye note to offer other parents hope that they will also one day reconcile.

I’m so glad that you have found some peace, and are confidently walking forward. Your words are important, and help other people.

From Facebook, and in online reviews

mother with estranged adult childThank you also to the mothers and fathers who have sent messages, emails, or posted on the Facebook page . Your comments mean a lot to me and fellow page members. I so appreciate your likes and shares, and am grateful to be a tiny part of your journey. Thank you for your kindness and generosity. There is so much wisdom among you!

To those who share their own experiences of acceptance, hope, and wisdom in reviews at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in comments at various blogs and discussion sites, as well as here at RejectedParents.NET—a heartfelt thanks.

Your input, insight, and inroads to peace and happiness help others who experience the trauma of estrangement from adult children. Your voices of reassurance and support uplift other parents. And your thoughts enlighten a society that still knows very little about the subject of adult children who estrange themselves from loving families.

Professional help

Let me extend my gratitude to Susan Adcox, grandparenting expert at about.com for her Review of Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children. Susan’s site is a valuable resource to many readers.

Likewise, Joi of Self Help Daily offers a plethora of resources to living joyful lives. It’s an honor to have her review of my book among good company.

And thanks to the Nonfiction Authors Association, which recently spotlighted me as member of the week. Much of the posted interview focuses on what led me to write Done With The Crying to help parents experiencing estrangement from adult children, and continues with topics probably of interest mainly to other writers.

The silent majority

Not all of you write letters, or post publicly about your pain or progress. According to recent research, the ratio of those who remain in the background to those who write online for all to see is 90 to 1. I respect your privacy, and appreciate your help—you are among the thousands who have responded to my research survey without further contact, and thereby help others in the same boat (or to get out of it as is advised in the article The Boat!).

Hugs to you as you journey forward on your own unique path. All of you are part of something bigger, a network of kind souls around the globe. As I continue with this site, and potentially add other options to support parents of estranged adults, you help light the way forward for others in health and happiness.

Done With The Crying reviewed at Self-Help Daily

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

book for parents of estranged adultsJust a short note today about a review of my book provided by Joi of Self Help Daily. I’m very grateful she chose to review my book. You can see the review here.

While there, don’t limit your reading to just her review of  the book. Self-Help Daily is a powerful place of positive energy…all wrapped up in joy (which is how you pronounce the site owner’s name, Joi)! Why not stick around for a bit and absorb some of that positive spirit? We can all use a little extra oomph in the happiness and well-being department from time to time. The Self-Help Daily website is a good place to get a sensible perspective that’s also a bit of fun.