Thank you to Donald Stott for his work for parents of estranged adult children. He was a gracious host when I recently joined him on his show. You can watch on YouTube or listen to the audio PODCAST
Adult children who hate parents: The ties that bind
by Sheri McGregor, M.A.
Thirty years ago, my mother’s sudden death left my father in a state of flux. When he moved to a smaller apartment, he asked what furniture we kids might want. Without thinking, I said, “Mom’s China cabinet.” I didn’t really have space for the walnut cabinet with its leaded-glass doors, yet something compelled me. We’d find a spot.
On the day we set it up, I remember feeling sick—and years later, I wished I’d never taken it. The China cabinet had become a dumping ground. The drawers were packed with odds and ends. The shelves behind the ornate glass doors were cluttered with seldom-used dishes. And the lower storage areas behind carved doors with decorative brass pulls bowed with items that had seen their day: A tough-to-clean waffle iron like the one my mother had cherished, a countertop quesadilla maker, and beautiful casserole dishes with insulated carry bags ready for potluck parties that, after my mother died, had dwindled to rare events.
I didn’t need or want the cabinet that neither fit my taste nor décor. Yet, the thought of selling or giving it away made my gut tighten and my chest constrict. I shifted it to another wall—where it sat for another five or six years.
At one point, I sat down to explore my compulsion and remembered my mother’s brown eyes softening with joy as she chose that cabinet from a furniture maker’s catalog. I was five or six at the time, and in those days, fine furnishings were still crafted to order in the United States. My mother had pointed to the picture with dreamy excitement. The stately cupboard would stand in the dining room of her first owned home—a roomy four-bedroom bought while still under construction. My father had done well for himself. With the high school diploma he had recently earned in night classes, a strategic mind, and a hefty dose of Southern-boy charm propped up by ambition, he had risen from maintenance man to executive and was appointed President of a large company. My parents’ dreams were coming true.
Home, family, security
That year, as the home we frequently drove by grew from bare studs to suburbs glory, my mom talked about having dinner ready when my dad would arrive, like clockwork, each night. In the picture she painted, we all sat down to eat the meals she’d lovingly prepared in her kitchen with its new, efficient appliances. Afterward, she’d do dishes while gazing through the over-sink window at her planned rose garden.
My mom kept the glossy furniture catalog open to that China cupboard. She would dream out loud of the dishes she’d trade for Blue Chip stamps to fill it. That China cupboard was just a piece of furniture, but it embodied a bigger ideal. Mom envisioned a home and security for us children that sharply contrasted with the rare bits she shared about her own fragmented childhood.
We were happy at first. We took family vacations to Yellowstone National Park and owned a boat one summer. But my dad’s success brought new demands and attitudes. He became involved with people and activities that drew him away. He was frequently out of town, and my mom cried a lot.
Even the neighborhood wasn’t all they’d expected. There were troubles there. Strange neighbors and happenings.
One night when my dad was away, my mother received a threatening phone call, and the wire to our lamp post at the corner of our lawn was dug up and cut. We kids were awakened to an atmosphere of fear and swept off to a hotel room. The next day, we boarded an airplane to another city to spend the summer with relatives. My family never returned to the dream home my parents then sold. We returned to renting, and we frequently moved. My dad’s career took a dive and my mom worked nights to make ends meet.
Reflecting on my mother’s shattered dreams and early death shined a light on my compulsion. Holding onto her China cabinet was a way to honor her dreams. A demonstration of loyalty to the mother I had so loved.
This realization came as a surprise. After her death, I had done a lot of work around wellness and following my own dreams. I talk a bit about that in my book, Done With The Crying (2016). The truth is many of us carry unconscious loyalty to people we have loved. Sometimes an object such as my mother’s China cabinet embodies their ideals or dreams. I was able to keep that China cabinet all those years, in my own “dream home” where I lived for more than three decades and raised my kids. Despite times of hardship, I fulfilled my mother’s dream—even while pursuing some of my own.
Loyalties? Or binding chains?
In my work with life coaching clients, we sometimes uncover unconscious loyalties that limit choices and hold people back. What shows up as an impulse buy of heavy, ceramic-clad kitchen pots in the brand your mom always loved may be tied to beliefs about a mother’s role, unconditional love, or the threat to one’s identity triggered by an abusive, rejecting adult child. Often, the body provides a clue. A gut feeling, nausea or tightness. A lump in the throat, a headache, or a constricted chest.
How do you feel about your teapot collection that started with the one your mom gave you when you got married? Maybe your now-estranged adult child added pots to the collection over the years. So, donating the pretty pieces you no longer have room for feels like dishonoring your mom—and giving up hope about your relationship with your child.
Sometimes, people unwittingly live out loyalty that limits their ability to earn—or keep—money. Gaining income triggers negative but unconscious beliefs about “rich” people, or goes against a family’s beliefs about who they are in the world. Ideals about being givers (not greedy), that “Murphy’s Law” (the idea that if something bad can happen it will), or that money is the root of evil (which is not what the Bible actually says) can wreak havoc, like an unseen and unconscious wrecking ball.
One of my clients, Suzanne, stored her immigrant parents’ bedroom furniture for decades, to the tune of thousands of dollars spent, because dumping the furniture felt like dumping them. They worked multiple service jobs and bought the bed set after becoming proud U.S. citizens and buying a modest home. Her parents worked their entire lives to give her a better life. They sold the home to keep her in graduate school, and they both died soon after her graduation.
Despite her advanced degrees, Suzanne worked at low-paying jobs and lived in rented rooms for most of her life. At age 59, she identified her inherited pattern of always striving. Keeping her parents’ bed set long after their deaths represented a form of loyalty that matched their devotion to her. Holding onto the furniture cost her money, freedom, and time. When she finally donated everything, turned in the storage unit keys, and said good-bye to the monthly bill, she secured a well-paying job, and eventually retired with a small nest egg in a home of her own.
Conditioning around money and success are frequently tied to inherited and limiting beliefs, or even to fears around who you might become. One father who, as a teenager, tagged along with elders of the Mormon Church to collect the tithing from struggling families, developed negative feelings about power related to money. He recalls people in poor circumstances jiggling coins from jars to give—and he vowed never to be like those elders. This father has given far more than his due to people he encountered his entire life—including adult children.
Wounds or excuses?
Today, I often see the concepts of limiting beliefs or unconscious loyalty being tied to labels such as the “mother wound.” The idea is that, as an adult, you’re carrying unconscious wounds from a mother who withheld approval or love. That wound, the theory reports, keeps you bound to old ideas of service and striving for mother’s love that can hold you back today. I don’t intend to minimize the pain of anyone for whom that’s true. However, in a society that enables victimhood and is all too ready to blame parents or even an entire generation for just about any weakness, failure, or unhappiness, labels such as “mother wound” demand caution and analysis.
In the past, children were taught the Biblical commandment to honor their parents. Even without the religious tie-in, a great many adult children still follow this ideal. However, the opposite exists.
Adult children who hate their parents: Do you owe them?
When I was a kid, preparing for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day was a big deal in school. Teachers valued the idea of honoring parents. As children shaped crepe paper rose bouquets or made plaster of Paris paperweights, we were reminded that our parents gave us life. For this fact alone, we were taught to be grateful. Life was precious, and we were to work hard, be kind, and do good things with the life we were gifted with. Contrast that idea with emails I frequently receive from adult children who hate their parents. Some rant about parents who owe them. “They chose to give birth,” is the argument I hear. “They owe me everything. Forever.”
“I didn’t ask to be born,” is the reasoning used to validate the hate spewed toward parents minimized to the labels of “egg-” or “sperm-donor.” These adult children who hate parents are not grateful for life. The belief is that they are owed for their parents’ choice. If their parents weren’t ready to sacrifice everything for the child, even into middle age or beyond, they should have chosen to abort. In other words, they’d rather not exist than exist without parents who can afford to serve them, agree with their opinions, and do what they’re told.
I know this is difficult for some to read. It’s difficult for me to fathom, too. But reality has a way of waking people up. Not “woke” as our culture currently packages trendy ideas to make them sound good, but awake, as in aware of reality. Not all adult children who reject parents or go no-contact are this extreme. Yours may not be so callous. It’s also possible you’re not facing the truth. You decide.
Regardless, we can still “love” adult children who reject us. They are, at least in part, a product of modern culture with its me-first and victim mentalities. But we don’t have to buy into their blame, entitlement, or abuse. We can reflect upon and recognize where our own limitations, perhaps in the form of unconscious beliefs about unconditional love or family devotion, or fears about being alone, set us up for more hurt. We don’t have to accept the ideas of a society that excuses bad behavior. We can open our eyes and see clearly. We can “love” our adult children from a distance, hope and pray for change that will benefit them (even when we no longer want to reconcile), but disavow what isn’t ours to take on as blame or that hurts us.
We can recognize our loyalty to a mother whose broken dreams are embodied in a piece of furniture we don’t need or want. We can realize that an impulse to buy heavy pots in a brand our mother admired is triggered by a threat to our identity caused by an abusive adult child. Or even that we’ve given far more than our due because of old vows equating positions of power to taking money from the poor (and giving to others, including entitled adult children).
What loyalty are you holding?
I think my mother would have been glad that, despite one son’s rejection, estrangement, and other hardships over the years (we all have rough times), I’ve managed to find joy and live a mostly fulfilling life that honored her values. She wouldn’t have wanted me to hang onto her China cupboard in an act of misplaced loyalty that reminded me of her heartache. When a younger relative expressed an interest, I happily (finally!) passed the cupboard along where it was wanted. This much younger relative doesn’t have the history of my mother’s broken dreams—and she’s making the China cupboard part of her own loving family, security, and home. My mom would have liked that, too.
The science of genetics is growing ever brighter, tying one’s emotions to those of ancestors, and connecting the turning off or on of one’s genes to ideals and activities a person is exposed to. I talk about this some in my 2022 book, Beyond Done With The Crying. You can read in the book about the possibility of unconscious pursuits rejecting adult children may be playing out.
These ideas about genetics segue into unconscious patterns of behavior like the “always striving” and “giver” mentalities of the parents mentioned earlier. And even my “home, family, and security” conditioning, which, although a worthy pursuit, can have a shadowy side. In my case, my compulsion around the China cabinet was strengthened by negative history including my mother’s sudden death and my memories of her joy, dashed in the neighborhood where her dreams were shattered.
Who or what are you loyal to?
Adult children who hate parents leave human wreckage in their wake. Traumatic experiences that can influence parents who may cling to values that, although decent, loving, and right, end up hurting them and holding them back. Unfortunately, there are many voices out there that keep parents stuck, always striving to prove themselves as good parents (as discussed in my April 17, 2023 YouTube video here).
Have you been rejected? Perhaps you’ve been dehumanized by terms such as “egg-” or “sperm-donor.” Or, you’ve been assigned labels such as “toxic” and “narcissist,” which are often the projections of adult children who hate parents—and perhaps also those of irresponsible therapists who encourage them to blame the parents who gave them life (as was discussed in this article). Is it time to awaken to reality?
This article intends to prompt you to look at your own patterns, limitations, or loyalty expressed in unconscious ways. Are you holding onto things, beliefs, or pursuits that no longer serve you? Even the noblest of values can have a downside when taken to extremes or affixed to compulsions or fears that make no sense without reflection and insight. Are you caught in an unhealthy pattern of giving, clinging, or self-sabotage? Consider life coaching with me to identify where to break free, And, to help other parents, share your thoughts by leaving a comment here.
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, estrangement
Prince Harry. Meghan Markle. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Since the start of their issues with the royal family, parents of estranged adults have been writing to me about the couple, sharing their opinions, and wondering what I think. Can you blame them? The whole world has watched as the famous couple went from a fairy-tale romance to setting fire and steadily burning the family bridge.
In the emails I’ve received, some use the term “narcissist” for Markle and say that Harry is misguided and weak. Occasionally, someone throws in with their allegations of racism. Despite the obvious connection between this site’s focus and the topic of my books—estrangement between parents and adult children—I have resisted weighing in.
One reason for my hesitation to talk about the couple is my own probable bias. When the Oprah interview aired and the public buzz over their discord heated to a frenzy, Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Phillip wasn’t well. I believe he was in the hospital, even, and I wondered how they must have felt, aging monarchs, already ensconced in a time of stress. Couldn’t the interview wait?
As I write about in my books, I frequently hear from parents whose adult children chose their most vulnerable times to attack and abandon them. When recovering from surgery, when a spouse or other family member dies, after a serious health diagnosis … or when some other devastating news come to light. It’s selfish, heartless, and cruel.
I haven’t followed the royal family all that closely, but history reveals Harry as a bit on the wild side, a partier, a soldier, and perhaps depressed. Markle was unknown to me (and perhaps much of the world) until she coupled with Prince Harry, the “spare.” Also, from what I saw of the stories circulated about the family with whom Markle is estranged, the coverage didn’t do them any favors. Parents of estranged adult children get enough negative judgment. No sense spotlighting what, from all the articles and interviews I happened to glimpse, looked like dysfunction. To be honest, I never read any of those reports through … but I didn’t want to give the newly minted Duchess any steam, against her own folks nor her in-laws.
However, at this point, one wonders:
- How far will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle go to portray themselves as victims—while living a life of grandeur?
- How can they reconcile expressing a need to escape the spotlight while continually directing everyone to look at them?
- What are they hoping to achieve?
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, estrangement from the royal family:
What do you think?
I don’t have Netflix, didn’t watch the Oprah interview, and don’t plan to read the new memoir by Prince Harry, Spare. Have you followed this debacle? Many of you have urged me to open a discussion here. So, what do you think?
Many parents of estranged adults suffer disparaging remarks on social media at the hands of their disgruntled offspring, much like the royal family has. Until now, the royals have kept to the late Queen’s “never complain, never explain” ideal. Should they address the accusations leveled at them or continue to remain quiet? Should you?
What about the children involved? Some of my relationships with cousins have just been the best! How are they affected, in your family and within the royal one? What about other familial bonds?
Feel free to leave a comment, first name only, and share your thoughts. Compare your situations with that of the royal family, argue for, against, or around the behavior, and discuss with others how you feel. I trust that you will be civil and kind, but your passion is welcome. When possible, support your assertions with history or news links (but be patient … I try to review all links before posting, which does take time).
Hugs to all,
Estrangement by adult children: Weathering the Storm
By Sheri McGregor, M.A.
“Hollowed out.” That’s how one father of estranged adult children recently described how he feels. “Weak.”
I understand this. It’s how a lot of parents feel when they have given their all for a child, even to their own detriment, yet come up empty.
Estrangement by adult children: The Breaking Point
Here where I live in Northern California, we recently endured an historic storm. What’s called a “bomb cyclone” merged with a level five “atmospheric river” (new-to-me terms). The combination brought strong hot and cold winds, and boatloads of rain, over a very short period of time. We were all stuck inside, hoping for the best. Satellite TV faded in and out, broadcasting alarming predictions of flash floods full of dangerous debris that could sweep down from nearby burn scars left by recent wildfires.
As the sun set and the steelwool sky grew darker, a loud crack split through the pounding of rain, followed swiftly by a muffled thud. I went to the window and wasn’t surprised to see big branches from one of our heritage oaks lying on the ground. Uprooted trees and fallen limbs had been reported all around the area. I went to bed that evening hoping the stately oak outside my bedroom wouldn’t surprise me with a broken limb crashing through the roof during the night.
The next day, the air was still. Shafts of sunlight strained around cotton clouds, sparking rainbow prisms in droplets clinging to the crimson leaves of the maple tree out front. I put on boots and tromped around the back of the house and down the hill to examine the damage to the oak. An offshoot of the tree’s massive trunk had broken in two and lay on the ground, exposing its empty middle. Hollowed out.
Just last week, we had sought an arborist’s advice. That sunny day, as we walked the property, looking up into the canopy of several ancient oaks, he had confirmed our suspicions. The majestic trees that had so bewitched me upon first seeing this place in the winter of 2020 had been neglected. Heavy deadwood hung precariously in a few of the oaks that stood at the base of the hill. The trees nearer the house had been trimmed more recently, but even those showed signs of neglect. Many, the arborist said, needed airing out for lightening, and some limbs cut back for shape and strength. A couple of the biggest trees appeared to have root damage or were hollowed out.
Estrangement by adult children: The constant drip
One reason for root damage and hollow trunks is apparently the result of slow-to-heal wounds that are left open when a tree limb is cut or cracks off on its own. In rainy months, the constant drip-drip-drip, over time, can form a channel inside the trunk. Water trickles down and weakens the tree at its core. I frowned upon hearing this. The hole I had marveled over when fledgling birds peeked out a few months earlier was really a weak spot the arborist said should be covered with plastic during the rainy season.
Too late now, I thought on that morning after the storm. I squatted next to one of the fallen halves with its gaping center. The end of an earthworm peeked from disintegrating wood, like soil, inside. Shelf fungus had also taken up residence inside the tree. Boring insects probably also get in through the holes, and further weaken vulnerable trees.
We’re not so different.
When betrayed by a loved one, even the mightiest of us are not so different than those towering oaks. Rejection by a child who has been so big a part of us and our lives, the cutting off, is like losing a limb. We suffer a wound, and for many of us, the wound gapes, allowing for even more hurt to get inside, to penetrate our very core. The reality is that we don’t want to close ourselves off and grow hardened to our own child. So, many of us will hang open, waiting, hoping they’ll return to their senses and join us again. That is what will heal the wound, we think.
Meanwhile, there’s a constant drip. Shame. Judgment. A steady rain of worries, what-ifs, and whys.
In the fragile shadow of an adult child’s abandonment and/or abuse, our identity gets blurred. Estrangement changes everything. Who are we if we’re no longer a parent? How can this be fixed? What have we been doing all these years? What can we do now?
No wonder that father rejected by an adult child said he felt hollowed out.
Estrangement by adult children: Take care.
Just as an arborist can provide education about a tree’s needs, trim out dead bits, and protect wounds during stormy seasons, rejected parents must learn to care for themselves. We must get support to protect ourselves, clear out faulty thinking that weakens us, hollows out our confidence, and makes us vulnerable.
Whether you have been estranged for many years and know the drip-drip-drip of estrangement pain or are new to the situation, I’m glad you have found your way to this website. A literal forest of parents—thousands each month—come to this site, read the articles, and leave comments to help others. I hope you will join the conversation. Some parents arrive at this site so emotionally gutted that they believe they have nothing to offer. But even expressing their deep and cutting pain can validate another parent’s feelings.
My books are another way to learn about estrangement and ways to heal. Give them a try. I hear from parents every day who tell me Done With The Crying (2016) has changed their lives. My latest book, Beyond Done With The Crying: More Answers and Advice for Parents of Estranged Adult Children just hit the shelves a few days ago–and I’m hearing that it “goes deeper” and is “helpful in a whole new way.” Also, I spoke to many more fathers this time, and included them in more examples. Parents appreciate the practical information and help with the complex problems that can plague them due to estrangement by adult children. The research, reflection questions and exercises in both the books prompt new perspectives, promote growth, and enhance well-being.
I hope that my work can be a little like an arborist, helping you to trim away the deadwood of faulty thinking and let in sunlight to illuminate the slow drip that’s part of estrangement by adult children and help you heal.
Estrangement by adult children: New beginnings
As I looked at that broken, hollowed out tree and remembered the words that father of estranged adult children used to describe himself, I hoped he could see that, even in brokenness, all is not lost. Our wounds can make the way for new life, just as those birds found the perfect nesting spot. The lowly earthworm and the shelf fungus found a fertile core for new beginnings. We can too.
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
I 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:
- Who is estranged from you (just a title, no names please)? Is it a son, daughter, step-child, adopted daughter or son?
- 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.
- In ONE sentence from your own experience, share the most important thing you would tell another parent whose adult child has become estranged.
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
by Sheri McGregor, M.A.
During the first year, I took up making bread from scratch. I bought glossy, coffee table recipe books with beautiful photos of freeform artisan breads, out-of-print books with healthy recipes requiring obscure ingredients, and fat paperbacks chock full of variety that became well-worn. I bought a pizza stone, a pizza peel, loaf pans in an array of sizes, serrated knifes and a countertop slicing guide. I experimented with flatbreads, made dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls and bagels. I made bread every day. It kept me occupied. And in looking back, I can see that it was also about my family, about breaking bread together and all that means.
I tried a bread machine with a kneading function, but it wasn’t the same. There was something therapeutic in the hands-on approach. As I kneaded, working up a sweat and toning my arms in the process, the dough became stretchy and strong. I could feel the gluten strands doing their magic in the way the dough held together, smooth and soft, tough yet pliant. I could see that too, in the little “windows” that revealed themselves in stretched-thin dough that didn’t break.
I learned about the need for moisture in the oven and what a difference a few degrees of heat can make. I learned how yeast functions, too. Even with the scientific knowledge, leaving a small, smooth ball in an oiled bowl, and returning later to find a puffy pillow, doubled or tripled in size was nothing short of a miracle to me. And each time I punched it down, it would rise again, resilient.
The toughest lesson was the need to wait. While the air swirled with the scent of fresh baked yeast bread, patience was essential. Hot loaves crush rather than properly slice.
My favorite recipe was one that made my family happy. It added bits of cold butter and powdered milk to the dough. The bread required longer kneading, and a third rising period that brought it spilling over the bowl. All that beating and punching down, yet it rose ever higher—the finished loaf as light and fluffy as a cloud, yet also strong.
As I would knead that dough, I sometimes imagined it a bit like me. My son’s estrangement had me emotionally rolled, twisted, and flattened. Punched down and left on a shelf. And like the gluten in that dough, I imagined the strands of my soul growing stronger, more flexible, and holding together. I could take an emotional kneading, a punching down, and be resilient like that bread dough rising yet another time. As the years have passed, I have found this to be true.
In my daily life, I am tough like that dough. Pliant and flexible and holding together. On some days, I’m even as light and airy as the finished product.
You can be resilient too
Thousands of parents have read Done With The Crying and found it informative and empowering. I think you will, too. It’s chock full of ingredients to help.
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.”
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, 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.
“I’m over my estranged daughter,” says Cleo. “It’s my grandchildren I worry about now.”
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.
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.
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.