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

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

cut off by adult childrenParents who are cut off by adult children often tell me their hearts break daily, that they can’t get away from the pain, and that they will never heal.

When you’re cut off by adult children, it’s as if your world stops. Life as you’ve known it becomes a memory—only you can start to wonder if any of those happy times were even real. The shock is normal, and in my book, Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children (which is for fathers too–see note), I speak plainly about the early daze of estrangement, and explain some science behind what you feel.

Cut off by adult children? Evaluating your medicine cabinet

One thing that helped me was to regard my thoughts and actions as an assortment of remedies in bottles on a shelf. Imagine your thoughts as powerful herbs. Are they soothing healing tonics? Or more like poison? Imagine the things you do and talk about as strong medication. Are they helping you to heal? Or causing side effects?

When a doctor prescribes medication, adjustments are sometimes required. Trying different remedies, evaluating their effects, and making alterations, are often all part of finding a cure. When we’re cut off by adult children, it helps to think of our actions in a similar way.

Ask yourself if the things you’re thinking and doing are helping your broken heart to heal. Here are some examples of more specific questions that can help you determine how well you’re “medicines” are working:

  • Is looking at my estranged daughter’s social media pictures and posts helping me or hurting me?
  • Is sitting up in the dark after everyone else has gone to bed helping me heal?
  • Are my attempts to contact my estranged son bringing progress?
  • Is thinking over my situation problem-solving, or more like dwelling?

Is the “dose” too high? Or perhaps too low?

  • Can I limit how many times I look at social media?
  • Can I make a decision not to allow myself to dwell?
  • Would it be helpful to fill more of my time with productive hobbies?
  • Can I do more activities that fulfill me as an individual aside from my role as a parent or grandparent?

Reflect for a few moments on your reaction to some activities and thoughts. Is there a connection to how you feel? Do things you do, think, and talk about affect your mood? If you had an allergy symptom, your doctor might expose you to substances until the source of your adverse reaction was clear. When we’re cut off by adult children, we know the source of the pain. Could what you’re doing, saying, or thinking be making it worse?

What are you prescribing?

Your go-to thoughts and actions can become habitual. Without intending to, you could be prescribing daily doses that hinder your healing.

In the book, I talk about healthy reconciliation and what it requires. One of those things is a solid foundation of self-respect. When we’re cut off by adult children, we can easily fall into modes of self-blame and self-doubt that make healthy reconciliation unlikely. Whether toward reconciling from a place of strength, or simply to rebuild your own wellness and self-esteem, ask yourself:

  • Are the things I do, say, and think helping my broken heart to heal?
  • Am I “prescribing” useful remedies, or are my thoughts and actions more like ingesting poison?

Cut off by adult children? Be your own doctor

My book explores the painful phenomenon of being cut off by adult children in a logical manner that starts with the devastating shock of estrangement. Pages of examples and insight help you move through the most common questions, deal with sticky situations, and overcome obstacles toward healing. But you can get started now.

If you could step outside yourself, and imagine being a loving caregiver, what would you tell yourself? What would you do for yourself? What would you recommend or prescribe?

You are courageous and kind. You are mothers and fathers—among the smartest most resourceful people on the planet. Use that strength now.

Disclaimer

Of course, I’m not talking about actual substances or medications of any kinds. I’m using those sorts of terms as metaphors, The prescriptive remedies or medications mentioned refer only to thoughts and actions.

With that in mind, put yourself in your own loving care.

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98 thoughts on “Cut off by adult children: What do your prescribe for yourself?

  1. Janet

    My relationship with my youngest child has deteriorated, after conflict with his wife two years ago. Our granddaughters are also estranged as a result. I’m in a quandary about gifting. I continued to send birthday and Christmas gift money until now and I’m questioning whether to continue. I want them all to know I love them, but with no relationship and no recognition of the gifts, it seems pointless. What do others do on this issue?

    Reply
    1. Audrey

      I decided that as it was a strict no contact with my son that I would not send a card/gift to my grandson. I felt that whatever I did it would be wrong.
      I’m going to leave a sum of money in my will for grandson in lieu of him not getting any gifts in my lifetime.

      Reply
    2. Mimi

      Hi Janet, I mailed gifts every year too. But, three years ago I quit sending things. My ED never acknowledged receiving them. I started wondering if the packages went astray and if someone else got them. Also, my ED would move and not tell me. I would have to ask her siblings for her new address.

      I calculated the time I spent trying to give a gift. The driving around town looking for the perfect thing. The wrapping and boxing. All the thinking effort put forth to give a wonderful present. Yet, no acknowledgment. I just got tired. I was spitting into the wind, as the saying goes. So, what’s the point?

      Last week, my ED texted my husband ( her dad) that she is expecting her first child in February. I texted her and asked her address. I told her we wanted to send a sizable gift for the nursery. I told her even if I never see her again, I love her and wish her the best of everything. Her response: crickets .

      The thing is, I cannot make anyone do anything. I have to accept this. That’s just the way it is. Troubled since 16 years old and she is 33 now.

      It’s so strange. She has “issues” with me, her mom. But, she has no “issues” with her dad. My husband and I BOTH raised her. Shouldn’t she be equally hostile towards him? I don’t understand anything. I give up.

      I like Candle’s suggestion to donate . I will take her advice.

      Reply
      1. Asif

        Similar situation for me, I have been estranged from my daughter for 1.5 years now, someone in my extended family casually asked, “so when is N due?” i didn’t say anything, but then i asked my other two children, and they confirmed that she is due and doing well, I sent her and my ESIL a congrats text, crickets again.

        She is good with my ex ( her mom) , which is good in a way for her, but it beats me why she singled me out for this treatment, when we both very lovingly raised her, my ex also doesn’t want to communicate with me anymore.

        I have been driving myself crazy all this time trying to figure this out, went through all the phases, but have reached a place of detachment for my own peace. i still love her but don’t know when i will be connecting with her again, if ever it happens, meanwhile living my life the best i can with my two other kids and grandkids, i am 60 also, so there may still be a long life ahead of me.

        Reply
    3. Carol L.

      Stop sending money etc. Relationships have to be two way. I have experienced the same. Now though I stand back. This is my first year of sending no Christmas Cards, Birthday cards to my daughter or grandchild x 3. It goes totally against the grain of how I would normally behave. But why keep giving for years as I have done why oh why? When you receive nothing back except maybe abuse.

      Reply
  2. Carol U.

    Dear Anna,
    Although no parent is perfect, most try their best . For whatever reason, be it genetics, environment or trauma from some unknown source, our estranged adult children have developed some form of aberrant mental condition. It is not normal behavior. Rational adults don’t do this sort of thing. There is NEVER any justification for it. Stop blaming yourself or searching for why your child put you out of his or her life. Depression, anxiety, Bipolar disorder, and personality disorders can all play a significant part in causing our kids to dump us. It is better if you look at it like they couldn’t help what they were doing than if you ascribe the behavior to just pure meanness. Don’t waste what time you have left trying to understand it or hate them for it. I understand your feelings of despair and grief, they mirror my own. All our stories are similar and there are so many of us. Hopefully, with time, the pain will lessen. You will always miss them and your grandchildren. Loss happens. Life happens. Look for the good in yourself and your life. Appreciate the small things. Try to stay busy and engaged with other people. Do things for other people. Volunteer. Get a pet. Get out in the sunshine and fresh air every day. Put away photos and things that trigger your grief. Take up a new hobby that works your brain and sense of creativity. (I make quilts by hand and design them myself). I look forward to choosing the fabrics and putting them together to make something useful for someone I cherish. I am no expert on estrangement. These are the things I have learned first hand. These are the things that have helped me to pull myself out of utter despair and inch forward. There have been days when I contemplated suicide. I had a toxic daughter-in-law that was driving the bus that hit me out of the blue but my son and two of my grandchildren were on the bus. I survived for a reason and I am determined to not let it destroy me or make me bitter. May God bless all of you estranged parents out there and help you get to a happier place in your lives. Estrangement is not your fault and there is nothing you can do to change it. Reconciliation may or may not come. Reach out with a card once in awhile but don’t expect anything. I sent multiple texts. I apologized over and over but I didn’t really know what apologize for since they never did tell me. No response to anything. I have stopped trying. It just kept me upset and prevented me from healing. I still have bad days but they are getting further apart.
    Carol

    Reply
    1. Kate

      Carol U.
      I agree with every word you said & NO, there’s absolutely nothing we can do to change their them. Like you, I’ve tried (I’ve apologized, etc., etc.). But I still have a life to live & I’m gonna do my best with what’s left of it. I’ve already wasted too many years! To everyone on here—try to stay busy. It helps a lot.

      Reply
      1. Fran

        But how do u live your life??? I try but those sad thoughts keep re entering my mind. I can
        Cry playing ardswith criends I don’t know how to
        Live my life

        Reply
        1. Susan

          (hugs) Fran those sad thoughts are perfectly normal it’s a grieving process My enough is enough was 8 years ago. As time went by I found there were hours I never thought of them, then days and now weeks or months. The rest of my life “I can now control” no dramas, no abuse, no lies I’ve learnt to take care of me. Make your hours, days weeks years “happy ones”. Stop those tears, keep busy, walk, eat healthy, buy things for you things that make you feel good.

          Reply
        2. SUSAN C.

          I can so feel what you are saying. How do we do this? I wake up with this on my mind, go to bed with it in my mind dream about. Seems I just can’t escape it! It’s literally tearing me down physically and emotionally. I feel stuck no matter what I try to replace it with.

          Reply
          1. candleinthewind

            Hello Susan. Perhaps don’t try so hard. Relax into the pain, it’s easier than trying to fight it. Be nice to yourself , do what you can and never mind the rest.

          2. Denise B

            It’s very similar for me – particularly before bedtime. My husband and I now try to talk over any thoughts in the living room and not let them enter the bedroom if possible. Works sometimes. Radical acceptance is another way – but it takes practice. Wishing you some comfort x

          3. Olga M.

            Susan I’m right there with you, try as I may those invasive thoughts and feelings creep in. My health has literally taken the hit, I get more and more incurable genetics based diagnosis that may have never developed except for the huge and unbearable stree caused by the estrangement. I have a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a psychiatric neurologist all working with me to help me cope and still it happens. I’m not hopeful anymore as I have accepted I can’t change her. But the devastating effects are now literally killing me. How do I get out for the time I may have left. How did you get out of the black hole thought and feelings.

      2. Kathy O.

        It is hard to stay busy when I have been sick from one thing and another. I do do crossword puzzles and before I got so sick, used to do jigsaw puzzles which I enjoyed but can’t seem to get the rnergy to do it anymore. I get the frame done and then my back gets sore. My MRI shows I have a messed up back. I go to a pain mgt doctor but it doesn’t seem like treatments work. I have been going to PT outpatient too. I had COVID in May and it seems loke that has slowed me down also. Was in the hospital for pnuemonia and sepsis besides the COVID. All this sickness doesn’t help as it gives me too much time to dwell on the daughter that is estranged and her kids, my grandchildren I am not allowed to see or communicate with. She made it abundantly clear to have no contact whatsoever, be it texts, calls, cards, gifts.(including the grands) It makes it look like I have abandoned the grands.(2 are young enough they may forget me, the others are older but make me wonder what she tells them about me) I wanted to go to our local senior center to play bingo but have been too ill, I miss that.

        Reply
    2. Joan

      It’s so painful when your adult children spend almost no time with you and it is very difficult to understand when you thought you gave so much love to them! It’s been extremely difficult for me since my husband passed away and I am alone now! I have struggled with depression because of it and they know and it doesn’t seem to bother them.

      Reply
      1. Fran

        I find once they have decided to throw us out in the trash nothing brings them back. In your case the most horrific being the death of their dad. I have begged my daughter help me just by calls or texts to help me navigate my husbands new neurological problems but my pleas call on deaf ears. She is my only. I am lost and broken hearted

        Reply
        1. Laura S.

          My son is on round 2 of abandoning me and its not any easier because I hear from friends and family that he will be back as he did before. I know exactly why he bailed on me because he’s being controlled by his girlfriend who is 10 years older then my son (he’s 24). She is estranged from her mother. I’m not a fan of this woman and my son chose her over me and she has a degree in psychology.. whenever there was an issue that I called her out on she disregarded my feelings and deflected everything on me. I am currently three years cancer free but my markers are climbing and I know the stress and depression of all this isnt helping. He was there with me every minute from the diagnosis to the surgeries, chemo and radiation. I can’t believe who has now become. I do not recognize him. I have good days and bad. Last night was bad. I will take one day at a time. Sadly I am not alone and have been blown away about how many of us are going through this. Thanks for letting me share.

          Reply
          1. T

            So familiar my son got diagnosed with bipolar last year & has progressively become selfish. His wife has always disregarded me. This year when my uncle died if cancer my son decided to drive here 3 hours. I asked my daughter in law to come with him because death is a trigger for bipolar & my son had been depressed since failing to commit suicide 3 months prior. She refused because past my granddaughters bedtime. I got upset with her then she blocked me. He came alone but wouldn’t hardly even speak to me. After waiting a month to discuss with his counselor she took my daughter in laws side. He wanted to come without his wife & bring his daughter to his grandfather’s 80th birthday party. She told him if he did would cause a division between them. He blamed me blocked me. I mailed her apology no response.

    3. Carol C.

      Carol U,
      Your words were spot on. Your story and the way you are handling the rejection is very similar to my own. Physical activity, crafts, and helping others are my magic pills. I have also learned not to pay attention to the voices I hear in the dark. Our own minds can lead us to focus on the wrong things. Each day I say a prayer for my ES, I open myself to all that the universe has in store for me and I try to walk my daily path with dignity, grace and kindness. Thank you, Carol C

      Reply
    4. Alice C

      Hi,

      Reading all the pain expressed in the letters and the healing .. is a healing in itself. Than you so much for sharing.

      Alice C

      Reply
    5. Lynn

      I November my 36 year old daughter and mom of my three grandsons told me she wanted nothing to do with me ever again. I had overstepped “ boundaries “ of which I have no idea what they were. Then last week after I returned from a two week vacation my second daughter, 32 iCU nurse texts to come off a joint 55+ cell phone plan and after the cell phone company hangs up I call her and said “ what was that about” and she says “ all her life “ they”. All three of my kids, felt they had to pretend to be happy to keep me happy. That at times my depression would overwhelm me and they resented that. Their dad had left when I was 4 1/2 months pregnant with my youngest. So “ apparently “ I wasn’t super happy every day if their lives despite tutoring my nurse daughter ever day because she had a learning issue, working extra when they were in college to help with costs, taking them on family vacations where my pictures show happiness. You get the picture. I just started the book “ stop crying “ and I am realizing the blame is not mine. Thank you Carol for your insight as I am only 8 months into this and so badly am seeking to get my out self back.

      Reply
    6. MT

      I totally agree with you Carol U. I know my ex, my ED father behaves in ways that are Narcissistic, including threatening to kill himself, his sister and first cousin killed themselves and my ED has also tried and threatened suicide more than once and she has a sibling that has been diagnosed as being neuro-divergent, which I believe he inherited from his father, although my son doesn’t act in narcissistic ways. Additionally, my ex’s 18 year old nephew was tragically killed whilst a passenger in a speeding car. Looking back on it, there appears to be a pattern of mental instability and impulsivity in the family, and that is what I only what I am aware of. Who knows what else has been swept under the carpet in an effort to keep the family looking good. We know we were great parents and I totally agreed with your coping strategies. I am beginning to use them myself now, but I had to go through a long period of grieving first. So hang in there people Light will come, life will be worth living again. Thank you all for sharing…..

      Reply
    7. Annette

      Hi Carol, my situation sounds a lot like yours. I’m still trying to process what has happened. It’s only been 6 months but I have contemplated suicide as well. He is my only son. I am crushed beyond words.

      Reply
      1. Cait

        Annette it’s been 20 years since my Son & Daughter walked out and 17 years since I saw him. I vividly remember those early months. I was recovering from breast cancer , trying to run a small business. Eventually my body and mind gave in I had a full break down which took years to recover from.
        Even now I still cry, try endlessly to trace my Son. I’ve tried everything to make amends , begging letters , enlisting friends to plead my case. Nothing works. Im 73, I have two grandchildren one 20 the other 10 both female. What hurts me most is these girls will never hear the stories of the strong women who emigrated, fought for equality. My history is lost.
        I have no answers. I’ve kept busy engrossed myself in campaigns, joined women’s groups. But the ghosts which shadow me are shame and guilt.
        Wishing you all the best and hope you can find some resolution within yourself.

        Reply
      2. candleinthewind

        Hello Annette. I know it’s hard, but don’t give your son the satisfaction of knowing he’s beaten you down this low. That’s what your middle finger’s for.

        Reply
    8. Susan P.

      You mentioned you have a toxic daughter-in-law. I have a very toxic son-in-law. He and I got into a terrible spat. My daughter didn’t hear how terrible he had talked to me. The only thing she heard was my response to his verbal abuse. She came out of her bedroom and yelled at me. He kicked me out of their house. My daughter is now estranged. I would love to know how you handled your situation with your toxic daughter-in-law. What happened? Is your son estranged from you? I

      Reply
  3. lin

    Hello All, I recently found your helpful site here, I am not going to share j my story just yet . I have been keeping self busy these recent past months with research about this hateful dis ease which these estranged adult children are putting upon we parents, I have found similarities, let me know if you too find this to be true in your situation…… they all start to use foul words toward us , evil words that pour out like water, they lie, sometimes take and or steal from us, they show no empathy toward us, suddenly we are the Villain. They do not call us , but text foul accusations .Its always a one way street, with us doing all the giving, but they have no trouble doing the taking. Most of them do not want children, some have a child by accident, but if they do have a child, they will use the child as another weapon against us. Their faces have changed, the look in their eyes are different, you start asking yourself , just who is living in their body now?. One note I have found in a lot of these folks is digestive disturbances along the way of them growing up or later teen years,, like IBS, or some kind of stomach issue, colic issues as an infant, formula intolerance, these kinds of issues,, I have always heard everything bad starts in the gut,,,,,,, just wondering if any of you out there have opinions on this. Grateful for help, linn

    Reply
    1. Mabel

      Hello lin
      I’ve been in this nightmare for a year and a half now. Without any support from my husband or family I have found Sherry and her group wonderful. I have read your book and each of the comments here and I have been surprised that the similarities are total. It is the same behavior. Similar words. My son particularly with stomach problems like you mentioned. With a psychologist who told him that his mother is abusive. He only communicates with text message. He left once he got as much material as possible. One by one the stories are similar. Will it be a pandemic? I don’t know…I just know I didn’t deserve it.
      a hug dear Lin

      Reply
  4. Ann B.

    I have been racked with what could we have done differently, and I’ve lately decided that the answer is really, “nothing”. I think the decisions our son made regarding his family would not have changed. With our trying so desperately to get he and his children to be a part of our family, it actually pushed him away more. He is not the 18 year old kid that left our home so many years ago, I do not know the man he is. I don’t think he’s very happy, but I cannot know for sure. Am I telling myself that to feel better about myself or the situation? The facts are that while we were not a perfect family by any means, we loved and nurtured him as much as we could and it wasn’t enough. Truth is, he was terrible to all of us for not very good reasons. I’ve got to come to grips with that. I can’t fix it, or him. I can love the boy we knew, but understand we’ll never know the man, or his family. Breaks my heart, but that boy will always be there in my heart.

    Reply
  5. BarbG

    Our only child, a daughter we adopted from Belarus in 1997 at the age of 15 months, has cut my husband and I out of her life last spring. She demands no contact and has blocked me on social media. We are devasted.

    We devoted our lives to her. She had a normal, midwestern upbringing. School, camps, sports, travels, friends, family, traditions. She was very willing to go places with us. We were there for everything. Everyone in town knew our story and would compliment us on what a good job we did with her and what a nice young adult she became. She graduated with a master’s in occupational therapy, debt free, and moved 1000 miles from home to be with her boyfriend. Engaged a year later and in the middle of planning us planning her wedding, went no contact.

    Yes, we had typical mother/daughter conflicts all her life. Yes, I was a helicopter mom, because I felt she needed it. She has some baggage that is common in Eastern European adoptees. But there was nothing so egregious to be excluded from one of the most important days in her life.

    Any effort on our part to ask to join her in ‘family’ therapy is dismissed and a violation of her boundaries. She says I am a narcissist, and her father is an enabler. Last Thanksgiving, she was hospitalized in a psych ward for contemplating suicide. Remember, she is 1000 miles away and it’s just she and her fiancé living together. No other friends or family are where they relocated. No one would tell us what was going on. She was 25 and we could get no information. Not from her fiancé, his family, her friends….no one. It would violate her boundaries. Yet she proceeds with a wedding, 8 weeks later, with all the bells and whistles, 5 bridesmaids, dinner, dancing etc. and we, her parents, or any of her family … aunts, uncles, family friends, who watched her grow up, were not invited. All her husband’s family and their college friends were invited. Her husband is very close to his family and we just don’t understand how he could condone her to sever ties with us. I felt totally humiliated. What could be so bad that would warrant not having your parents and your dad walk you down the aisle, at your wedding.

    Some friends and family who she hasn’t blocked online give us occasional updates. 2 months after her wedding, she announces via social media that she is bi-sexual. She is changing careers and going back to school, via an online degree program. She appears to be treated for borderline personality disorder.

    On the verge of my own nervous breakdown, I myself have sought help with a therapist, although I am no longer seeing her. I have redecorated my daughter’s bedroom, removed all pictures from the walls, mailed her all her adoption paperwork, immigration documents, etc. anything I felt important. Everything else I threw away, sold, burned. It’s hard being left behind…seeing familiar faces in town, people asking ‘how is she?’ ‘what is she doing?’ etc. Those I choose to tell are shocked by the turn of events.

    I am tired of parents being the blame for everything that is wrong with our adult kids. We all tried our best, with their best interests at heart. I am happy to find this group.

    Reply
    1. Gwen J.

      I am so sorry and thank you for sharing. I am also repeatedly called a narcissist and do not respect peoples boundaries. This is all BS. Seems to be generational. They all use the same words. My kids are bi-racial. I’ve had 2 black husbands and I am called a racist and considered harmful to my grandchildren because I have conservative beliefs. I think our children have been brainwashed. Through years of tears and abuse, I am now in the stage of acceptance and on my way to healing. So happy to have found this group. Thank you all.

      Reply
    2. Joan

      I am so very very sorry! This brought me to tears! It seems when we need our kids the most, they aren’t there for us. People tell me to go out and have fun and get my mind off of it , but that’s difficult to do when one of them has emptied your bank account!!! So I struggle with doing things on my own even though I am in poor health and cannot take a trip to get my mind off of anything! The thing that hurts the most is not feeling much love from my kids! I am so sorry you have felt the same thing! Again I am so sorry because I know how it feels!!!

      Reply
    3. Joan

      I am so very very sorry! This brought me to tears! It seems when we need our kids the most, they aren’t there for us. People tell me to go out and have fun and get my mind off of it , but that’s difficult to do when one of them has emptied your bank account!!! So I struggle with doing things on my own even though I am in poor health and can not hire anything done and cannot take a trip to get my mind off of anything! The thing that hurts the most is not feeling much love from my kids! I am so sorry you have felt the same thing! Again I am so sorry because I know how it feels!!!

      Reply
    4. Marcia

      Hi,
      I also have 2 adopted girls from Asia that have given me a horrible time, boy issues and bad influence and probable mental illness, unrecognized.

      They had an amazing life in So Cali, best private schools, ect ect! Now they hate me and have become so rotten to me. Plus . I’m single

      So happy for this group. I can barely cope.

      Nice to know it’s not just me.

      Reply
      1. Effie

        I have two adopted daughters from India. I had a ” so called church friend” stick her nose in my daughter’s life at 17 and 8 years later she does not talk to me. This woman was a busybody in the church and when my daughter was having issues that needed a counselor she convinced her to move in with her family. I was trying to get her into counseling. My heart has never healed and the triggers are ongoing as I live in a very small town. Just saying ” I hear you” but I also know that God will avenge me as this woman has taken my daughter and brought more harm than good. I
        wish there were some way to connect with you. Not sure if Sheri connects people or not. Regardless, the pain remains as much as I want it to go away.

        Reply
        1. candleinthewind

          What is it with a ‘church friend/sister’ that makes her think she knows better? An inability to accept that some hurts don’t heal? That a line’s been crossed? A fear of what’s broken? Sacred notions of what is family? That families should stick together? All far away from the reality of the situation. (Let alone belittling efforts that been made to hold it together.)

          Reply
      2. Linda

        I too have 2 estranged daughters one 10 years ago and one just 2 months ago. I am such deep sadness and feeling such shame and terrible loss. I’m not done crying yet. I so appreciate this book. It’s like a life preserver in an ocean of grief.

        Reply
    5. Tovah

      Hi BarbG,
      Your words ring true to us as well.

      Our children were adopted internationally and experienced the effects of RAD as babies left alone in cribs with propped up bottles. One of them was physically abused just before coming to us for Gotcha Day.

      In retrospect, we see that both of them functioned well enough to appear to be bonded to but in actuality were not.

      This came to light once the more important and pressing conversations began such as planning for college. We were told to stay out of it. They refused to participate in any conversations about their futures, and began a bizarre narrative that we were abusive and about ready to kick them out of the house.

      Our eldest told this story to her friend who rushed in to “save” her by inviting her to move in with her and her family. ED #2 did the exact same thing.

      Feeling no choice but to agree to it we let them move in with their friends, paid child support and bought them cars but their anger and blaming only increased. We thought letting them move out would make them happy and help us reconnect but that never happened. They only became more bitter and about what?

      All of this made us feel that we never had bonded with them. It was very easy for them to leave us.
      They also described all the many gifts they received from us as things and experiences that were “forced” on them. The vacations were “crappy” vacations, etc.

      Without a true bond, if things develop that you don’t want to participate in you can walk away from someone without remorse.

      We believe that they learned (in a process that is entirely in one’s subconscious) that no one can be trusted, and they formulated a way of life with us that amounted to being an imposter.

      I once read in a book about RAD that this is called a relationship of transactions, not a true bond.

      Nowadays I try to focus on the thing that has a lasting positive effect sparked by us adopting them. They are no longer in a communist, male dominated country where their options would be almost zero.

      Reply
        1. Tovah

          Thank you Sheri!
          I was adopted also and always felt that I would pay it forward and adopt when the time came to start a family. Even if they don’t want a relationship with us now it’s a good feeling knowing that we made such a difference in the lives of two young women who would have otherwise had to live within a very misogynistic society.
          In time, perhaps, this realization will materialize.
          Much gratitude,
          Tovah

          Reply
      1. Elizabeth

        Tovah, Thank you, this gave me a new perspective on my adult child’s estrangement. Looking back, it does seem it was a transactional relationship. I couldn’t believe how easy it was for him to walk away and never look back.

        Reply
  6. Kim

    When we were in Romania adopting our daughter, we met another American couple who was there to adopt a son. We had so much in common, lived within 45 minutes of one another and became fast friends. Although we now live 1000 miles apart, 21 years later we are still good friends, and still find that we have a lot in common – we both now have young adult daughters who want nothing more to do with us. It’s been nearly three years since my friend’s daughter became estranged, it’s been one year for me. Her support has meant a lot to me, and helped me to get through months that seemed truly overwhelming. The best advice she has given me is to ‘adjust my sails’.

    One year ago, I received an email from a woman that claimed my daughter was having an affair with her partner of 20 years. Over the next several days, we learned from this woman, our daughter, and the man himself that our smart, talented, athletic, beautiful 20 year old daughter was climbing out a window after we went to bed, walking down the road, and being picked up by a 40 year old man. They would drink, do drugs, have unprotected sex, he would drive her home, and she would climb back in the window before dawn. We learned that the man had cheated on his partner several times, had STDs, and had daughters who were 18 and 11 that he didn’t take care of or have good relationships with. He didn’t maintain his home, file income taxes, or pay his bills. He had issues with drinking, drugs, gambling and porn and had lost his job for stealing. His partner, who is a nurse practitioner, took out of town jobs for a few months at a time to make more money. This man’s relationship with my daughter began while she was away. The man told my daughter that he was single. Although I never thought that there could possibly be a situation where I was unable to give my daughter my support, we found (big sigh) that we were unable to support her relationship with this man. I truly feel doing so would be completely failing my daughter. And the thought of having this man in our lives made me feel insecure. (Our truck had been stolen from our driveway during the day three weeks earlier, just hours after we left for a trip, and it is completely possible that this man was involved.) When we shared our feelings, our daughter left. She moved into this man’s house, the day after his partner and children moved out. Although I email and text her with regularity, we rarely hear back from her. When we do, it’s clear that she is very angry.

    My husband and I are passionate about small house living, and in 2020, we began to consider a move. After much discussion with our daughter, we planned to build a large space for her and her future family, and a small in-law apartment for us, with three shared porches in between We were doing the work ourselves, and relied heavily on our daughter’s strength and abilities to accomplish the construction. When she left, we found ourselves overwhelmed by our situation in so many ways. Without input from her, we would have built a small home and had money in the bank. Instead, we spent everything we had to build a home for her, and one for us, and accumulated construction debt. Her side was studded and had just passed the rough-in electrical inspection when she left. If we had been further along in the construction, we probably would have sold and planned a small home for just the two of us, but we were stuck because there was still so much work to do and we were feeling too old and tired to take on building another home and another move.

    I imagine that becoming an empty nester is never fun, but our situation (like so many of yours) feels particularly cruel. My husband and I devoted ourselves to our daughter, and our daily lives were shaped around being her parents. When she left, it felt like there was a Grand Canyon sized whole in my life. Finally though, we have begun to ‘adjust our sails’.

    I’ve thought so much about my parenting efforts, and although I know I’m not perfect, I know with certainty that I tried my best. I know that my daughter’s choices are hers to make, and am working on trying to accept her choices. My husband and I focus on projects and trudge forward, celebrating our accomplishments. We have replanned the large side of our home and now occupy it ourselves. We have decided to use the in-law apartment to help someone. (I find actively working toward helping someone else to be hugely therapeutic.) We considered taking in an elderly person, an adult with disabilities, and Ukrainian refugees, but decided in the end to adopt a teenage boy who is in the foster care system. We’re four months into the process now, and hope to have him in our home within the next three months. We’re making a conscious effort to expand our lives to include more things that the two of us find to be fun or fulfilling. I’m staying busy, making goals, and finding that I cry less, and I smile more.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      Thank you for sharing your story, Kim. I hope that you will continue to adapt. It’s an ongoing process! I’m glad you’re smiling more, and you’re living proof of growth and positive progress despite having to scale the “Grand Canyon” to dig up and out. I hope that young man will be kind to you and recognize the gift you’re giving, and value it. I bet your smile is infectious! Hugs to you. Sheri McGregor

      Reply
  7. Narnie

    I have three children, two girls, and one boy, my middle daughter surprised us by going into a relationship with a boy and his family that are just very different than us. My daughter my middle daughter whom I always thought has the biggest heart, left last February, She went from being loving , coming over for Easter/Christmas, to dwidnling her connection with us. It was an about face! lying to us even, as we went to visit her, she did not open the door, and lying she was not home. As i called from my cell as an ‘unannounced’ guest. Her boyfriend found that unacceptable. my daughter did not send me any mothers’ day card, she says , she ‘busy’…everything we call ‘she’s busy’… Her disdain for me , is very hurtful. Its a punch in the guts.
    I gave everything to her, I acted like the mother I never had, I guided, sure I scolded. But I was there always…
    It is beyond words to know that she avoids you, and is taking sides of this boy, she would rather see his family than ours.
    She is going to marry him, and not going to invite us. The pain is very unreal, its feeling like being betrayed. We did everything for her.

    Reply
    1. Laura

      Narnie,
      Hello, and thank you for sharing. I am dealing with a similar situation myself. It has helped me to stop blaming myself. I have recently given myself “permission,” to have fun, and live happily, even though some days it is hard. My daughter’s noncommunication, I now consider emotional abuse on her part. This perception became solidified after she paraded into my Mother’s funeral services, like nothing ever happened (it had been four years of crickets from her). I was shell shocked, to put it mildly. She reverted to the familiar abusive, estranged behavior, after the day of services. This, even after enjoying the day, as best we could, reconnecting with cousins, joining us for very nice planned post funeral lunch, joking, laughing, and agreeing that we could have a conversation, outside of the funeral setting. Of course it has not happened. It was all an act, and manipulation. Her boyfriend, whom I believe is now her husband, is enabling and goes along with the act, as well. My thought is, if she can pull that off, then she can use her “words,” and communicate responsibly. Not only was I grieving the loss of my Mother that day, but I cried as well for the 4 years of her ostracization. It was one of the most difficult days I have ever had, but I did the “good Mom,” thing and was accepting and kind to her. I am learning to take care of me and am moving on, as best I can, with thoughtful intent to that end. Let’s say I am learning to keep the Band-Aid on for me, instead of allowing her to rip it off. I will not let her drain me anymore (that’s the plan at least ;), as I do not intend on contacting her / trying anymore, in the future. That just works for me. All the best on your journey.

      Reply
  8. Michelle

    What resonates from this discussion, is the fact that we do not want to be abused by people that do not value us for who we are but rather what we can do for them. Family values have changed so much and the children of today are very entitled. We hand them rewards, trophies, cell phones and computers at such a young age. They communicate via text and do not want face to face. We either over engage or under engage, it is never the right amount. Parents are under a microscope and held accountable for all their actions. Twelve years ago, my husband cheated and while it was not the first time. It was such betrayal that I could no longer deny all the problems of the marriage. Lack of support with my children would later bite me in the a**. My children recognized that Dad would support them. At the time, I was such a people pleaser tying my self esteem to doing everything I could for my family. It was a lot of pressure. I erupted from the betrayal and was crushed by the eventual discard, silent treatment from my spouse and eventually my children. I am still shocked at the abusiveness, lies, and behaviors of my family. With therapy, I realized that I am powerless over their behaviors and poor choices. I realize they also are not accountable for their actions. If confronted it is redirected at you. They create a new narrative about you. My youngest ED has accused me of things that never happened. She was diagnosed with adult ADD and anxiety. I wonder also if she has BPD. I look back at the signs with older daughter who has encouraged her sister to be estranged and recall vacations that if she was not in charge or got her way would stomp off. A kind of toddler tantrum. My husband and daughters have few long term relationships with others. I realize that I had become the scapegoat for everything wrong in their lives. And while it is disheartening, I have let go as they are no longer safe for me to be around. I have rebuilt my life and replaced the hope with courage to move forward.

    Reply
    1. Chris P.

      Dear Michelle. Some of the statements here have been like a light bulb for me and I would really like to thank-you.
      “…we do not want to be abused by people who do not value us for who we are but for what we can do for them.” This is exactly what my two daughters have demonstrated but hadn’t understood until I read your piece. I will remember this going forward and am so grateful for your wisdom.
      “…I realized that I had become the scapegoat for everything wrong in their lives.” This also mirrors my daughters’ behaviour.
      I just want you to know that as simple as your words may seem they have had a profound affect on me and will definitely help with my own recovery. You are such a kind, wise insightful person. Thank-you so very much. Chris xxx

      Reply
      1. Denise B.

        Hi I am new to this group, with everyone so supportive, I feel comfortable. In the last 18 months, separately and for different reasons, both our daughters have cut us off. One recently phoned for Mothers Day, told me many times how much she loves me, but then avoids any subject to meet up. The other sent an email to advise not to contact her, take her out of the will etc. She has an adult newly married daughter, whom we are very close to, who struggles to deal with her mother’s mental health issues. To say we are heartbroken, like you all, is an understatement. My husband and I have aged a lot, our sleep patterns are completely whacked and we get through each day as best we can. We are both individually getting counselling, which helps a bit. What I find hard is hearing “you have some loving family – grandchildren, stepsons & partners, niece’s- who love you. Let them go”. I know that is true, but I birthed and raised my children – now 49 and 45 so not children – they are in my soul, how do I just let go? You all know how hard it is – others don’t. We keep busy, we have hobbies, etc. But the loss is always there. A grief that never goes away. My thoughts are with you all.

        Reply
        1. candleinthewind

          Frankly, when I hear people who haven’t experienced estrangement say things like ‘let go’ or another classic ‘move on’, and those who glibly talk about ‘healing’, I dismiss it. I shake my head. I think sometimes the person is really saying something like “I’m bored with the subject, I don’t want to, or can’t, understand or know what to say. You’ve been going on and on about your pain. I don’t want to know.” Their comments underestimate (and disrespect) the painful emotional consequences of estrangement. Even as estranged parents, we are all at our own individual places and paces of sorting out how we are going to live with this situation.

          Reply
    2. Dara M.

      Thank you for sharing your story and thank you to all of you beautiful & brave souls that share your story, that reach out. I had no idea that this kind of dynamic was as common as it is. I really felt alone until I found you all. I’m in shock as to how there seems to be an almost organized sequence of events, patterns & behaviors that play out in one form or another, with every story I read. It’s as though I don’t even need to share my story, for I just read it being told, over & over again.
      I’m still stuck in the stage of shock & disbelief. I feel like I have been surrounded by Wolves in sheep’s clothing for all of my life and that leaves me feeling alone & betrayed by the very people who were closest with, your family.
      I hope to apply some of the advice that has been given to me from reading your stories. I resonate with everything that I read.
      Thank you so much, for I now see light, where before, I only saw dark.

      Reply
  9. San

    Your stories have made me feel both relief and unimaginable pain. Hopefulness and hopelessness.
    I am in the same boat as many of you. I kicked my 24 year old son out of the house just a week ago after having endured his lack of respect and love for me and my husband over many years. Living at home and expecting his needs and preferences are provided but not doing anything for his part. He just stays in his room for 99% of the time and when called for meals, eats fast and disappears again to his room. He is always in a rush when we try to make conversation. Impatient when we try to prolong. He has not let us have a relationship whatsoever with his girlfriend of 3 years saying he doesn’t want to bring in another person into a family with issues like ours. Nothing we do is enough or satisfactory. But he does everything for his girlfriend’s family and his room is full of photos of them.
    He has expressly stated dislike, scorn, dismay and rejected everything, everyone and anything we stand for: family, friends, culture, faith, even the way our furniture in the house is ‘too Asian’ in his words.
    His main gripe was that my husband (his father) was horrible when he was growing up and that no child should have to endure that. My husband is an old-school person who was rigid and strict with his son when he was young. He has a loud voice but a soft heart. He is not as openly affectionate as my son would like him to be. But he is the one who worries over him more than anybody. He has made efforts to be more easygoing (which is not his usual self), but each time, my son’s response would be indifferent or cold. In fairness, my son attempted to do the same. But they just have conflicting personalities and are both finding in each other things which they both don’t have. I saw a video of when our son was a speaker in school, he said, “I grew up with very little love from my father and too much from my mum”.
    It has been my life mission to make sure he is filled with love, acceptance and approval. He was my life.
    Regardless, he treated us both the same, with unhidden disapproval, dismay and resentment. He doesn’t mix words. I am always the one in the middle of them both. Maybe because I was trying to make up and fill whatever void and shortcomings his father apparently was doing or not doing for him. For years I endured his abusive attitude towards me hoping that I may bridge the gap between them and we’d be a happy family. He laughed at me once when I told him that was my dream and told me it’s impossible for us to be such family. He blames me for getting hurt when I tell him what he is saying and doing are very painful for me. When I finally kicked him out, it was when he mimicked my crying over him turning out to be this uncaring, disrespectful person to his mother who does everything and anything for him.
    I have been a wreck since. Crying every idle moment. It is very hard to do anything without thinking about whether what I did was wrong or right.
    He wasn’t ready, didn’t have money or a job. All that I know is at least he will not be homeless because of his girlfriend’s family. I have tried to reach out to them since but they are not interested. His girlfriend just went to our house with him to pick up his mattress and remaining stuff.
    Emotions aside, I hope for his own sake that this event will force him to grow up and realise that life is not all about just putting all the blame to one’s parents. Now he doesn’t have me to blame anymore and be his punching bag.
    I really do MISS him and pray for him everyday. We mums just have the short end of the stick because of the love in our hearts, reciprocated or not.
    Broken hearted mum

    Reply
    1. San

      And just to add, in case you were thinking this isn’t the right channel or thread for me to share my story. After being told by my husband that I am now ready to talk to him, our son said he is not and that him moving out against his will now results into him not talking to us again.

      Reply
    2. Teresa

      San,
      Find strength in knowing that you did the right thing to send him on his way and discontinue enabling his bad behavior. It will be tough to process all that has happened in your relationship and I’m sure the mockery is particularly hurtful. There are many of us here, in various stages of dealing with this pain. You will endure and hopefully thrive at some point.

      Reply
    3. JanPhyllis

      My estranged son along with his significant other, my husband and their friends have the belief that everything that everything I am or do is wrong and I am to blame for everything!
      The abuse has been unbelievable and I am reeling from my sons estrangement that took his significant other 14 years to finally get him way from me!!! She won, my son won, my husband won, along with everyone else!!!
      I am totally done with WOE, and abuse!!! Abuse so very hurtful that for love I refused to reject!!! But most definitely now do! To keep my son I accepted his abuse!!!!
      I am done with all of them! But being they were all an integral part of my life it is very difficult!!!
      I am trying desperately to get on with new way of living, but at 73 with a debilitating handicap it is extremely difficult!!!
      But every day I try my best to move on!!
      When my therapist told me I will die before I ever see or hear from my son again…….

      Reply
    4. Gwen J.

      San,
      You did the right thing. It takes time to get through the stages of estrangement. Don’t give up. Maybe get help for your own self esteem and self worth. You or your husband do not deserve the abuse you e endured.

      Reply
  10. Lani F.

    Thank you, Sheri, for this wonderful site! So very helpful and so healing to all of us!
    I hope your readers will consider that there may be serious neurocognitive conditions at the bottom of the problems with many of these adult offspring: bipolar disorder, aspbergers, borderline personality disorder, narcissism, untreated ADHD, etc. There may be a condition present, often from birth, that parents can do nothing about except learn how to deal with it to preserve themselves. In many cases, just as if your child had diabetes 1, you did not cause it, and there is little you can do to change it. But you can learn about the condition and how it impacts behavior.
    Try these tips for dealing with it:
    1. Communicate your feelings to your child in a letter. Tell her that you will no longer be texting or calling because she isn’t responding. Make sure she knows how else to contact you, phone, email, etc. Tell her you will let her contact you from now on when she wants to communicate, and that you remain hopeful that she will. Also ask if she would like you to call instead, and if so, when.
    2. Mail her via snail mail occasional cards, notes, recipes, videos, things you want to share with no expectation of a response. Too easy to ignore a text. Try to keep everything positive and upbeat. It will make you feel better because you are doing everything you can to maintain some kind of relationship. It is hard to ignore her birthday. Send a card and message even if just for yourself. This is only when you want to.
    3. Get on with your own life as best you can. Focus on your other children if you have them, or on your relatives’ kids or on school volunteering or mentoring a needy child. Find a child who does need your love and attention and help them in some way. This applies to animals as well. Volunteer at an animal sanctuary or a food bank or hospital. There are many other people (or creatures or causes) that are very much in need of your love and care and concern! Reach out to them.
    Hope this helps!
    Lani

    Reply
    1. maryjane s.

      To ALL OF US that are suffering for this sad sad loss . Never really understanding what is REALLY wrong . Just coldness no real answers no communication . The list goes on and on . Then as parents . We are supposed to be okay . Well, its shear hell . This has just started for me . I have read some great stuff from Sheri . Questions that I would have never asked my self . That she pointed out . I felt some relief . Right now . In this stage . I have to work on me . I miss my son very much . BUT . I don’t miss the rejection . Or harsh words from him . Blame for everything . THAT list goes on and on . I know he has stuff that he needs to work on . In the mean time . I will do my best for me . Not that it will be easy . ALL of you are amazing strong people . I feel your lose . Because that loss is a part of me . I just hope that I will see him . Before I leave this planet . God bless all of US !!!! Mary Jane S . Looking forward to continuing on all these stories . From all of you …. x0

      Reply
  11. CoCo

    My son, who is my only child, and I were so close. I never could have imagined that this could ever have happened. He began to drift away about a year after he got married in 2009. I soon began to realize that his wife didn’t want me even in the far periphery of their lives. They had a baby girl, my precious little granddaughter, and when my daughter-in-law realized how dearly my granddaughter loved me (and vice versa), my son and his wife totally “ghosted” me. I haven’t been allowed any contact with any of them since 2014. The pain and stress and horror of it all put an enormous amount of stress on my marriage, and in 2015 my husband of 40 years told me he was leaving me. He disappeared for greener and younger pastures, and I never saw him again. I was beyond devastated. Long story short… I’m in my 70’s and have no family. I’ve tried reaching out to my son, but he doesn’t respond. Birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc. nothing at all. Silence. Nothing. August of 2020 I fell, broke 3 ribs and punctured a lung. Texted him from the hospital trauma unit. No response. Last week I tore my retina, had emergency surgery. I texted my son. No response. Total silence. I know maybe I shouldn’t have, but a few days ago, I blew up at him via text after text. It made him so angry that he actually responded. Finally, he texted that if I sent him “one more solitary text like that” that he would block me forever. I responded by telling him to go ahead and block me… that he had in essence already done that. (blocked me.) The next day I felt remorse for blowing up at him, but now I’m actually glad I finally let it out. It was long overdue, and I tolerated far too much emotional abuse from him and had been way too nice for far too long. The rest is in God’s hands. This is a God-sized problem. God forgive me, but when my son ignored me about my detached retina and emergency surgery, that was the absolute tipping point.

    Reply
    1. BR

      Hello CoCo…my goodness, what you’ve been through! My heart aches for you! I am sorry you’ve had to go through all of this. Our estrangement from our son and grandchildren has not gone on as long as yours has, but I know the feelings about blowing up at our son. In fact, I wrote an email to him and let it all out, but I never sent it. It felt good to let it out though. I hope for joy and peace in your life.

      Reply
    2. Christine C.

      My friend
      It was hard to read your words and indeed there are no words to describe my sadness at hearing how you’ve been treated by the very one that has you to thank for bringing him into this world. Sometimes life literally makes no sense, it’s as simple as that. I do believe that he will have reason to seriously regret what he has now lost in life and he will have huge karma incurred for depriving you and his daughter of the relationship that you both deserved. Perhaps she will treat him the way that he has taught her how to treat parents. Look after yourself dear and give none of them any further thought. Be glad that any karma between you is being cleared on your side and live the rest of your life for yourself.
      I wish you peace and blessings.
      Christine

      Reply
    3. Geraldine H.

      Dear Coco my heart goes out to you. I am in the same situation. My son and I were so so close. I am divorced from his father. Moving on my son met a woman who I always felt didn’t like me. He married the woman, after being together for many years, three years ago. My eldest son has always kept in touch with his brother and he told me that his brother got married. I was not invited to the wedding. Didn’t even know he got married. His father, my ex husband who is an extremely cruel man and who never gave me any support or help with my son when he was growing up was invited. I am 72 years old now and the pain which I suffer on a day to day basis with the loss of my son is just terrible. Days I just feel that I don’t want to go on with my life. I am estranged now. For 13 years. I can relate absolutely to how you are. feeling. I blame the girl as I think she was jealous of the close relationship which I had with my son. Geraldine xxx

      Reply
    4. Kiara

      I’m in an identacle situation as far as me texting my son and it being one sided. He hasn’t come right out and said it but he has chipped away at my self worth. I acknowledge that it wasn’t easy for him growing up, but I know I loved him and still do, but he’s hanging on to resentment towards me which feels like it’s been prolonged. I know it’s in Gods hands and I’m not getting any younger.

      Reply
    5. Gigi

      I am sorry for your pain. I too have an ED. The pain is debilitating. I have endured this for far to long and to my detriment.
      In December I got very very sick. Almost didn’t make it. She never reached out. My heart broke for the bajillionth time… Again I no longer wanted to live, I was a horrible mother etc. OMG it has been a very long time. I’m getting older and I’m tired.
      About 3 days ago I stumbled upon the author Sheri McGregor and this site…… I COULDN’T BELIEVE MY EYES!! I WASN’T ALONE….I don’t know why tht had such a huge impact.. but it did. I read so many stories. Until 2 am! The next morning I woke up and my FIRST thought WASN’T about HER! The second night same thing.. I woke up again without the incessant thought of HER!! WOW. I really do believe tht it’s time now to forgive myself. I thought I was a good parent. I loved her with every fiber of my being… Tht one does hurt.
      I no longer feel the need to reconcile. It’s been many years and she has done many things that are just cruel. I don’t deserve tht
      We don’t deserve tht. I will no longer give her MY POWER. Of course I wish her well. Always… I do not know or understand the why!! Somehow it isn’t important any longer. I am my own cheerleader! IM DONE. Not in anger…. in peace.
      We are strong. We are resilient.
      I thank you Sheri for the writing of this book and most importantly for everyone tht shares. I value and appreciate all of you. We are good people…it’s time to move forward. It’s time to live our best life…
      Many people have written this.. I too wish I could hug all of us mom’s and dad’s..
      We are valuable!!! I promise.
      Thank you all and Peace be with you..

      Reply
    6. Jacquie

      I am so sorry you are going through this and understand your feelings. The hurt cuts deep when grandchildren are snatched away. I am estranged from my daughter for the past two years. Before this I had my grandson with me mostly daily. He was two when I last saw him and us now four. I have a new grand daughter who is one year old but have never seen. My daughter had not spoken since her wedding day and I have no idea why. We were inseparable before this. I was at times nearly suicidal but with help from counselling and good friends and using my medicine cabinet have been doing volunteer work as well as working and am training my dog ad a therapy dog to help other people. I even helped Xmas day at Salvation Army. I can’t change my daughters thoughts and/or feelings but I can be happier not dwelling on it any more and helping others. It’s worth while maybe try it and good luck and keep smiling x

      Reply
    7. Gabriella Lewis

      Dear Coco, I just read your message and it broke my heart. If it is any consolation, we are ALL in the same boat here. Sending you so muchunconditional LOVE long distance!!!

      Reply
    8. Kim

      Coco, I am so sorry this is happening to you!
      It’s torture when your own flesh and blood doesn’t care about you at all! Nobody deserves to be treated like their lives don’t matter!
      I am a mother of 5 children and 4 of them blocked me every which way you can block a person! They refuse to allow me to see my grandchildren! I have been dealing with this madness on and off for approximately 15 years! My oldest daughter is the ring leader! She recruits her siblings when one of them complains that I refuse to allow them to verbally abuse me! Because I speak my mind and they don’t like it! My youngest just pulled this on me two weeks ago and I nearly had a nervous breakdown! Can’t stop crying! I am 59 years old, single mother of all of these kids who struggled to make ends meet! But I never gave up on them! I would find ways to make things better for all of us! Work extra hours or even humble myself to get help with food! Where was there dad? Off starting new lives with a new woman! And my kids are taking it out on me!
      I know I can say beyond a shadow of any doubt I know I did the best I could do! I made it all about them! And honestly thought they would someday be there for me when I need the help! I think what these kids are doing to their parents now a days is beyond cruel! I am in therapy because of the emotional stress these kids are putting me through! I have PTSD! And have many triggers and I am to the point of just walking away and start living my own life and start being selfish and take care of my own self!
      These kids now a days think they are entitled to everything! Have their hand out give me, give me, help me and when I do, and their done using me they leave without anyway of contacting them! It’s horrifying pain I have never experienced and I love all of my kids with my whole heart and my grandchildren who I barely know! Using the grandkids as a weapon is a whole other form of a cruel punishment! I am so sorry for rambling on and on! Lol! I literally have nobody to talk to! I hope and pray that you find your inner peace that you so desperately need! Anyone out there want to adopt me? I am a good person with a huge heart with nobody to shower my love on!
      God Bless you Coco! And I hope you feel better soon! xx oo my name is Kim!

      Reply
      1. rparents Post author

        Dear Kim,

        It isn’t selfish to take care of your own needs. It is necessary.

        Please take wonderful care of yourself. Kind care.

        Hugs to you,
        Sheri McGregor

        Reply
    9. Belinda H.

      Protecting yourself from the mental abandonment is very difficult. It straight up hurts and eats at you.
      My son didn’t come to see me after 3 breast cancer surgeries. He didn’t call or communicate with myself or my daughter (his sister) my caregiver. This was a painful and lengthy illness . I decided to stop calling him…he didn’t return calls, nor did his wife or his daughter. His daughter got married…had a child (he is 4 years old) I was never included or invited to his family gatherings. But I have to protect my self by thinking what they are missing will diminish the quality of their lives. Can a child have too much love? I’ve tried but now I’m tired of trying. I’m his only parent alive. I wish him well along with his family but I cannot take it anymore.

      Reply
    10. Mary R.

      CoCo I am 75 and have recently been diagnosed with a serious heart condition. I have been in severe pain 24/7 for about eight months from a shoulder injury and cervical spondylosis. This is all very debilitating and I often feel I cannot go on. BUT I have not told my estranged daughter. I do not think she would be interested and am sure she would see the communication as a pathetic attempt to get her attention and make her feel sorry for me. The most I could hope for would be a one liner ‘hope you feel better soon’ and then crickets again.

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  12. Christy P

    I haven’t taken the higher ground and accepted the loss of my son and my 5 grandchildren. 4 who know me as Nonne. My son has reconciled with us 2 Christmases,2 grandchildren birthdays a recital and a school event involving 2 grandchildren. Each time I stupidly think we have been allowed back into his circle. I thank God and know one mentions the time away or that our now 2 year old grandchild does not know who we are. Our last invite was a school event. We were spoken to by the shortly by all. Allowed pictures with the honorees. Watched from the back of the room as his family sat at a table that consisted of reserved seats for grandparents and aunts and cousins and step grandparents. I hoped my silent tears that I could not stop would be mistaken for allergies. We didn’t stay long after knowing we were not wanted.

    Since that time we have been ignored at every attempt to contact. Our granddaughters 15 th birthday present sits on a shelf waiting to be delivered. This year we bought locally instead of having it delivered. We mistakenly thought the welcome mat would be out.

    It’s the crumbs he offers that keep me hanging on. It’s so cruel. I can’t reject him I can’t refuse an invitation to see them to save my feelings. What if that is the time he realizes that he doesn’t despise me after all. Plus the kids must know we would endure anything to have a relationship with them. They can never think we just don’t cate enough. Maybe when they are grown they will be able to remember we tried.

    We never had a disagreement. This son has always been the easy going one. We shared holidays and birthdays regularly and lovingly. The grandchildren loved time in our home playing with cousins and us. We attended church together. We helped financially and physically in every crisis and need. Then one day we were shunned. Accused of doing too much, yet not respecting enough. Me first then my husband guilty by association.

    I wish I had the confidence my husband has to walk away. His anger at the injustice helps him cope. I accept my being unworthy and the cause of this because I can’t condemn my son for his wrong, his rejection, his dishonoring. It’s much easier to hate myself than reject my child who has rejected me.

    Maybe I could move on if I had done something unforgivable or if my son were an abusive person. Neither are so. We are both believers. Both sinners. I know he is lost in some deception and I can’t leave in case he finds his way back, I must be waiting. It’s what a mom does.

    Broken

    Reply
  13. Patti C

    Our son has not totally cut us out of his life but he seldom calls or communicates via Text or Email. Except maybe he has decided to do that since I’ve not heard from him since Oct 2020 after I told him, “I was DONE with his nasty, hateful comments.”

    As he has aged, he’s gotten meaner and is now 51. He was a difficult child growing up. A handsome and popular kid but he was always causing some type of drama. Head Strong and untruthful we ended up sending him out-of-state to a private school because we lost total control and were concerned he might end up in trouble with the law.

    We eventually got him through college and he has been self-supporting since then, married with kids. He did ask us for some financial help after losing a job and we were happy to help, telling him, he didn’t need to repay the loan…since we knew he wouldn’t anyway and did not want that become an issue that might interfere our relationship.

    We’ve had a lot of good family times skiing and getting together but he has always made family get togethers difficult. He’s very self center and demanding. After a family ski trip three years ago, his sister has had it with her brother and no longer wants much to do with him. She loves him because he’s her brother but wants to limit her interaction with him.

    In addition to the loan, we have sent he and his family large Christmas checks for the last three years. to helpout. We remember he and his kids and his wife birthdays and send cash gifts for those and other cards or gifts for other holidays throughout the year. Why? Trying to stay in touch. We use to drive 8 hours for weekend visits but were made to feel like we were intruding as they always had other things to do. We stopped doing that.

    My husband loaded up a large stainless steel range and oven that was still good and we replaced it because he wanted the range. Husband then drove 8+ hours to deliver it. No Thank You! No acknowledgement.

    We were there to help with the kids and give support when he had a serious illness.

    We get no Thank You! No acknowledgement for any holiday or birthday cash gifts other than seeing the checks were cashed on our bankstatement. No Christmas Card, flowers or even acknowledgement its a holiday we once all celebrated together. No! Mother Day flowers, card or a call. Same for Father’s Day. Occasionally, there might be a Text but usually that’s because I’ve initiated contact.

    When I broke my leg, I received one phone call at the beginning and he never asked again how I was doing. His father has been diagnosed with a progressive life threatening disease. One phone call after he heard but no follow up to check on his father.

    Emails and Text are seldom replied to. Promises to call are forgotten.

    I’ve blamed myself. Felt Guilty. Been Mad. Been Sad. Felt Heartbroken. I now realize this is my son’s personality. While I love him – I don’t like him. I’m Done! trying. I’m Done sending gifts.

    I’m staying in touch with my grandchildren through Text, special holiday and other gifts and will continue trying to have a relationship with them. But, I’ve finally realized my son is not going to change and prefer to keep my distance as he’s not enjoyable to be around.

    I guess we both have now Estranged Each Other since I’ve had it and so has his father and sister.There’s is nothing as parents that we did that was so bad that we deserve to be ignored and left out of being part of his family.

    I feel alot better making the decision and figuring out it is My Son who has problems.

    Reply
  14. Rubyruby

    Elaine I like what you have said. My ES also has gone on many years back and forth and just recently said some very nasty things to be and blocked me on his txt. This is when I found this support group. This is where I want…Need… to be. On my terms. If he chooses to reunite with me. Ican’t take that abusive behaviour from him again. I too am a good mother, sure I’ve done things that I could have done different, but I’m not a bad person or mother like he makes me out to be. We will stay strong in this together.

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  15. Michelle Y

    I, too appreciate all of your kind comments and painful experiences. I still cannot believe my daughters did not reply to texts or say simply Merry Christmas this season. I try to comfort myself with the fact that their life choices go against all we stand for and that sin blinds them, but it still hurts. I beat myself up that I raised such unkind human beings, but media and this world (Satan) have huge influence in lives that are open to evil and cruelty. I’ve been reading a lot about WW2 and have always wondered how people could be led blindly to be so inhumane and cruel. It takes a conscious decision to be kind and loving. I choose to be kind to those who are open to kindness. I read again my long list of things I did right and loving to my kids. I thank God for a husband who loves me and wonderful friends who support me. God bless all of us with “empty arms” and broken but healing .

    Reply
  16. Kelly

    I have had so many years to practice and learn this arena of life. I have baulked, cried in disbelief, begged and become someone I don’t know. The searing pain has debilitated me and left me with thoughts of suicide. Why I have not acted on this remains a bafflement. I have had to disassociate from my emotions to assess who I want to be as a human being, what qualities and characteristics will define my core values and make a decision for life. We all face times in our experience when what we want to do may not be what is the right things to do, many times weighed by the consequences of those choices. This is a part of being an adult and a member of the society in which we live .
    I am not a religious person however I think and feel deeply that my presence in this world was by design and killing myself is counter intuitive to the reason I am here. If I hold anything sacred it is to this ideal I am loyal.
    It is not only the loss of one child but two who have chosen to disconnect. This family has suffered much tragedy through the murder suicide of my best friend and beloved sister and her 3 children, my sister-in-law and her family who burned alive in a horrific auto accident witnessed by two young surviving children culminating in one of them hanging himself at 14 y/o, to the alienation of myself and my parents by my siblings, adult nieces and nephews and my own children.
    My mother passed recently and her children and grand children were given the opportunity to say good bye, To give her the gift of passing in peace and they chose not to. It was a selfish act and in and of itself has defined who they are. I had to ask myself who was I? What are my core beliefs and what do I stand for? I had to remove the feelings of anger and fear, expectations and resentments and assess from a perspective of non-attachment. The answers have brought a small measure of relief and will require time for full integration but one of the defining questions was if there were no relational connection would I chose these people to be a part of my world ? No I would not . For me, it is the permission to let go without guilt. To realize the individuality of others and their right to decisions that govern their lives. To create a life I judge to be one worth living. I am sure there will be times of vacillation but just as certain of my decision in my soul. My world has been built around the perceptions of those who I gave great importance to in my life. Is it possible that their perceptions were ill-equipped?
    It is peace I seek and balance I hope for. Perhaps one day the smile on my face will be matched with a measure of joy in my heart.
    In closing, I send to you my brothers and sisters living this hell that would have never been even an inkling of a possibility in our lives, ,that there is hope. It may not realize itself in alignment with your expectations but it will come and it will offer you the opportunity to either embrace or reject it. The choice is always yours.
    Kindly,
    Kelly

    Reply
    1. Sharon

      Thank you for sharing what you are going through. I am experiencing terrible pain and confusion. My world has been turned upside down. A few months ago, out of the clear blue, my daughter sent me a text message telling me she didn’t want to see or talk to me or her Dad. We have four wonderful grandchildren and we have not been able to spend anytime with them. My heart is totally broken. I understand how you must feel. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply
    2. Grace

      Thank you for this message. I have felt the same way but now I feel peaceful about letting go of this estranged daughter. She blames me for everything in her life. I have apologized profusely but she wants nothing to do with me. I’m done feeling bad for myself. I’m done with the pain and hurt. I want to move on and enjoy my life and whatever is left of it. She would rather communicate with her stepfather than me. I’m done taking the blame. I did the best that I could with this very difficult child who is 28 years. It’s my turn to breathe.

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    3. Toni P.

      Thank you so much for this profound insight. Asking myself, if there were no relational interest, would I choose this person to be in my life?, resonates strongly with me. I am asking myself that question right now. My daughter’s lifestyle choices are completely opposite my own. I feel strongly that I would never “chose” to associate with somebody that purposefully engages in the same behaviors she engages in. This is probably why she wants nothing to do with me.

      Reply
    4. Nancy

      I can identify with the horrid situations written from responders. Your note is having a profound impact on me. You have narrowed solutions for healing that resignate with me. Thank you,darling. God bless you. N.

      Reply
    5. Mary Beth B.

      Kelly?

      Thank you for a very well written, well thought out & hopeful, positive post.

      My goodness….such devastating life circumstances you’ve been through. You are a powerful woman.

      Thank you for posting this…..you helped me very much with your words.

      Take care,

      mb xoxox

      Reply
  17. Elaine

    I am listening to your book on Audible, second time around now. My estrangement from my son has been in the process for 8 years, but it was final just last month, it was quite a blow and I am devastated. The worst is that he has six beautiful children that I have been very close to. He lives very close to me but is threatening a move across the country. My daughter in law has said some really terrible things to me that I just cant get over, and she wants me to apologize. After crying every day and being totally devastated, yesterday I had to give myself a talking to. I started writing down, very quickly, my life events, I had to remind myself everything that I have accomplished and lived through, all that I have done, all the people, jobs, pets, etc. that I have had in my life, that I am a strong, competent, caring, resilient person and I’m not going to let my 30 yr old daughter in law make me feel incompetant and despicable (she called me that). She is the one with the problem, I am still the same caring, loving, strong person that I have always been and always will be. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves. I need that fire in me to fight the overwhelming sadness. Pull myself up by my bootstraps, put on my big girl pants and keep on being me. Its their loss, and if they want me, I’ll be here but on my terms not theirs. I feel better today, I hope this helps someone else.

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      I feel like you did today .
      I just don’t understand it and the hurt and pain is unbearable sometimes .
      I am going to write down my achievements and try and move on and heal .
      Thankyou
      Rebecca

      Reply
    2. Nancy D.

      Hi Elaine,
      Thank you for your words.
      The act of reminding yourself and claiming the strong, competent, caring, resilient woman you are is encouraging.
      I appreciate your actions.

      Reply
  18. Rebecca

    Your story sounds similar to mine except I have disabled daughter who we care for at home .
    He also left her his amazing lovely sister .
    He took our baby grandson who we are not allowed to see .
    I read the book and it’s comforting to know that other families are going through the same .
    It’s our second Christmas now which makes it worse like everybody with COVID as we’ve been shielding our daughter for 8 months .
    Love Rebecca

    Reply
  19. Donna C.

    I came across an article about you, your story and your journey as well as book today. I felt blessed. Oh how I could have desperately used this all while I spent the first year after my son cut relations crying all day. I had no idea that so many others have gone through the same pain. It shocks me, saddens me but also helps to feel like I am not alone! Thank you for all you have done and shared. I plan on getting your book as well as the workbook. I last saw my son when I was hospitalized after my heart had stopped and his brother called him as my middle son did cpr 3 years ago, it had been 2 years. I was out of it much of the time and never spoke to him but did send him a message saying thank you for coming, nothing since. He also took my only grandchild with him when he left and it only made it worse. Thinking I was unworthy and unfit to be around her broke my heart. I am in a much better place today and have accepted what it is and the fact that it’s his choice. I appreciate my two other son’s much more than ever before and while I live with one the other stays in close contact. They along with my family were all left. Reading through this has helped and I look forward to reading your book. It’s always good to move forward and I still have healing yet to do. Thank you again. I feel much lighter having read of all this, there something to be grateful for everyday and this is just one of today’s. God Bless and I will be reading. Sincerely yours, Donna

    Reply
    1. Anna B

      My daughter has good memories of childood. I see with a few changes her parenting style similar to mine. I thought our relationship was great. At 35 her complain to me. You were great with children not adults. No further explanation . Relationship on a roller coaster last eight years. Heartbteakingly ended. Leaving me baffled.

      Reply

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