Does healing from estrangement mean you’re “cold-hearted”?

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

parents healing from estrangementJaylene, a widow whose only daughter is estranged, said she recently looked in the mirror and—in her words—saw a cold-hearted mother staring back.  “I decided not to give my estranged daughter holiday gifts this year,” she said. “I’ve become indifferent. I guess I’ve healed so well that I no longer care.”

But she did care. She cared so much about being a good parent and a forgiving person that she harshly judged herself for the various actions she’d taken over the last ten months to save herself. Suddenly, she was in turmoil.

 Healing from estrangement: Your feelings

Over the years, I’ve heard similar accounts from other parents as they work at healing from estrangement. Kind, loving mothers and fathers who had come to realize that letting go was the only sensible choice. Leaving their happiness in their adult child’s hands wasn’t an option. They’d been down that sad road of wishing, hoping, trying, and being rebuffed. No matter how apologetic or accommodating they were, their adult children spewed hate, assigned blame, made fun of them, or refused to talk at all.

In our discussion, Jaylene said she and her daughter used to have fun together. Then, when her daughter reached her late 20s, she changed. Suddenly Jaylene was the enemy. In shock and worried, Jaylene had eggshell walked for years. Things would go smoothly for a little while, but Jaylene was always on edge. She was careful to keep her opinions to herself around her daughter, whose eyes might suddenly narrow as she centered on a misplaced word or unintended slight.  Jaylene was forgiving, helpful, and accommodated her daughter’s lifestyle, schedule, and opinions without complaint. In short, she loved her daughter, and hoped that one day, she might be kind and caring again.

Each time her daughter cut her off, Jaylene was the one to smooth things over. When her daughter finally reconnected (after weeks or months), Jaylene tried to keep the peace. She prayed for patience, ignored her daughter’s snipes, and even made excuses for her behavior. She remained devoted and friendly. Yet, without fail, her daughter eventually hooked some imagined offense to her revised version of their history and left her mother in a lurch again.

 A turning point

Ten months ago, as the New Year approached, Jaylene stared down her upcoming 60th birthday and decided she’d had enough. Her daughter was 33. Much too old to act like a petulant child. Jaylene saw a new decade ahead and began to wonder how many years she had left. Did she want to spend the rest of her life drowning in her daughter’s disrespect? No.

When Jaylene first contacted me, the stress of an angry daughter she was forever trying to please was harming her health. Jaylene was exhausted, frustrated, and hurt. When she looked at her life going forward, she knew things had to change. Rather than continuing to placate a daughter who clearly did not like her, it was time to go with the flow instead of fighting the inevitable.

Healing from estrangement: What’s in your control?

Take a hard look at what you can and can’t do. Evaluate the dynamics of the relationship. What were your own responses, reactions, and coping tactics? Were they effective? Were they hurtful? Did you maintain your own integrity? Did you lose yourself?

Deciding to change

To move in a new direction, Jaylene first had to let go of the idea that she could make her daughter happy, and then shift gears to please herself. As is true for many parents, this required dropping the lens of negativity about herself that she’d accepted from her daughter, looking back at their time together with clear eyes instead, and seeing all the good she’d done as a mother. She also had to drop the rose-colored glasses of hopeful wishes and see the current situation as it was.

Jaylene used the exercises in Done With The Crying to reclaim her identify as the loving, supportive mother she’d always been. Then, she could affirm her decision to free herself of meanness and disrespect she didn’t deserve, and work at moving forward for herself and her own happiness.

At first, letting go was difficult. The chasm between them grew. Jaylene saw more clearly that, for several years, their “relationship” had been one-sided.

Jaylene set her sights on a new way of life. She focused on whatever brought her happiness and was consciously grateful for any good in her life. She took up new hobbies, made more friends, and after nine years of widowhood, considered what it might be like to find a romantic companion. Most of the time, Jaylene was happy. She didn’t know how many years she had left, but she did know she’d make the most of them.

In the last 10 months, Jaylene had progressed considerably. She no longer felt the need to try and make her daughter love her. And she’d accepted that whatever it was that had caused her daughter’s change, whether that was mental illness, substance abuse, societal influences, or something else. She couldn’t fix those. Jaylene had taken charge of what she could—in her own life—and she was happy.

Then, as the trees began to turn color, the pumpkins and costumes appeared in the stores, and the holidays loomed, her outlook dimmed. That’s when she looked in the mirror and had a tough time seeing herself as anything but a terrible mom. Instead of focusing on her own life, she took on the familiar “mother guilt” that had once made her responsible for her daughter’s happiness. Jaylene wrung her hands, fought indigestion and overeating, and repeatedly asked:

  • What will my daughter do for the holidays if I don’t invite her?
  • Will she be all alone?
  • How will my daughter feel if her own mother doesn’t send a card or gift?

Monster in the mirror? Santa Claus? Or just a tired parent?

The more Jaylene focused on her daughter’s possible pain—and took responsibility for it—the more she harshly judged herself. In talking it through, Jaylene began to realize that the holidays with their family focus had triggered her thoughts and feelings. Yet, she also realized she had come too far to let the joy-joy, family-family atmosphere derail her progress.

I hear the same reactions from parents when a birthday or some other special day rolls around. Your trigger might be a certain time of year or hearing about how close and loving a friend’s adult children are. Even a well-meaning individual who loves you but who doesn’t understand might say something intended as helpful that pushes you back.

The truth is a lot of people don’t have a clue about the complexities that sometimes accompany estrangement. Idealistic notions about parenthood and unconditional love may be beautiful, but they become unrealistic and hurtful given the circumstances. The verbal abuse and mind games that may have gone on for years can become a shadow that can entangle parents into thinking badly of themselves or believing that it’s too late to change.

Don’t let your thoughts enslave you

“I don’t like him anymore,” one mother said of her abusive grown son. “But that’s not how a mother should feel.”

“He’s mentally ill,” one father said of the manipulative adult son who had talked him out of money once again. “But if someone’s father won’t stay loyal, who will?”

Like Jaylene, these parents were caught by a wave of emotion stirred up by the holidays, triggered by a special day, or fueled by the latest chaos. Instead of looking outward to the adult children who treat them badly and seeing their own desire to retreat as normal and even healthy, they see a monster in the mirror.

Believing that the children we have loved so much might love us back when they become adults is natural and normal. When they don’t, and we grow weary of trying to maintain or nurture a relationship to no avail, we can still face the mirror. We don’t have to reconcile their uncaring, unkind, or dismissive behavior with our own growth and self-discovery, and judge ourselves harshly for working to heal.

Don’t berate yourself. When adult children so hurt you and desecrate the relationship, your feelings of strong dislike or indifference are normal. You might even wish you’d never had children, but your entire history as a parent or as a human being must not be defined by the thought. These feelings are usually fleeting, the result of frustration, anger, or desperation. You can acknowledge your losses, accept your feelings for what they are, and adjust your outlook. By recognizing and accepting your feelings, you validate yourself and your experiences. It’s okay to make your healing from estrangement about you and your growth.

 Healing from estrangement: An honest look

After reading an advance copy of my latest book, Beyond Done With The Crying: More Answers and Advice for Parents of Estranged Adult Children, Mara Briere of Grow a Strong Family sent me an email in which she called the book, “REAL. Honest. Helpful.” She added, “It is an important, must-read for anyone impacted by estrangement, and especially the well-meaning and misguided professionals who think they can help families traumatized by this phenomenon.”

This new book provides a raw look at parent-and-adult-child estrangement. It’s a follow-up to my first book for parents of estranged adult children, Done With The Crying, and I encourage you to read that one and work through its exercises first. Done With The Crying shares my story and takes a gentler approach in helping parents face reality and venture forward for their own well-being.

In Beyond Done, the gritty experience of estrangement with its frequent chaos and complexities is cracked open and laid bare. Mental health issues are included. Even parents who have made mistakes they consider huge, and not the typical ones that all parents may inadvertently make, will find themselves represented—and more importantly—supported in moving beyond their guilt and pain.

With new information and innovative exercises that build resilience and growth, parents can face themselves square in the mirror no matter their thoughts, acknowledge their responses as normal given the circumstances, forgive themselves as needed, and move toward a happier, freer future.

 Ongoing healing from estrangement

With support, Jaylene made decisions about the holidays that sustained her self-growth and forward focus. She would send an e-card because it didn’t feel “right” not to acknowledge the holidays—and admitting her hope was honest. She would not send a gift or otherwise reach out though because that would feel like stepping backward into pleasing-her-daughter mode. She could live with this decision. It didn’t mean she was a bad person, cold-hearted, or even indifferent.

No matter what you’ve decided for yourself or your relationship with your estranged adult child(ren), get ready for the holiday season early so you’ll be prepared. Would a charity appreciate your help (whether monetary or hands-on)? Can you do something different this year and make a new tradition?

I know how resourceful those who read this blog are! I hope you will leave comments to this article here, where you can learn from and help other parents who are healing from estrangement. What do you think: Does your healing make you cold-hearted? Is it okay to be indifferent to someone who doesn’t treat you well? What will you do to make the holiday season bright?

Write your thoughts in a comment so we can learn from each other.

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85 thoughts on “Does healing from estrangement mean you’re “cold-hearted”?

  1. Ken

    I’m scrolling through what seems like about nine acres of lovely people pouring their hearts out, and I realize that all of them so far are from women, unless some of the guys are hiding behind feminine pseudonyms, which I highly doubt. Maybe one reason women in our culture have—on average—a longer lifespan is that either they are intuitively better at processing emotions or they engage in social interactions like this much more often than their male counterparts. Maybe both. Anyway, I see the therapeutic value of self-disclosure and the discipline of sorting things out, so here I am. I won’t go into great historical detail, but after nearly 11 years of divorce from a 29-year marriage, it could well be that I am smelling the bitter aroma of perhaps never having true reconciliation with my three adult children. It’s been a bitter pill to swallow (I know… a metaphor mix), and I surely hope I’m mistaken, but I have taken some steps within the past 18 months that are consistent with the notion of moving on. So, guys, don’t be tempted to think this is only a female thing or that you’re somehow all that different. There are lots of us rough-and-tumblers out there who are very much affected by the absence of affection, and the pain just ain’t no fun. But getting unstuck is a whole lot better than just sitting still with the muck up to your axles. Have the courage to pull out, hose off, and get on with the business of living. We don’t do anyone any favors by engaging in lifestyle choices that perpetuate the pain. And that includes alcohol. (It’s called a “depressant” for a reason, you know.) Let’s get to talking about our pain and how we’re processing it. You might be surprised how that will uncork other good conversations among the unsuspecting, and leave us feeling even just a little bit better than before we started. All the best.

    Reply
  2. Carol R.

    I wish all of the American parents who are struggling with estrangement from their adult children a very happy peaceful and calm Thanksgiving from Canada. Our Canadian Thanksgiving is in October. Sherry’s book helped me a great deal. Seven years of total estrangement – no contact – has finally made me realize that I must “radically accept” that I may never see my only child ever again. I sent her an amends letter in February 2021 and that’s it. There is life and joy after estrangement. Stay well everyone. 🙂 CAR

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      Thank you, Carol. I’m sorry I missed saying something about the Canadian Thanksgiving. I try sometimes but I just can’t keep up with all the special days all over the world!
      🙂
      Hugs to you! And enjoy your peaceful day while a lot of us are rushing around. I made chocolate pies this afternoon

      Sheri McGregor

      HUGS

  3. Suzanne

    It has been 12 years since my daughter decided she didn’t want me in her life. We were so very close and then it was over. I do not have an address or phone number for her. My only way to connect with her is facebook and she never acknowledges birthday or any other holiday messages I send.

    This group has helped me so very much and it seems like when I am getting really low, a new message comes through. Nothing makes this journey easy, but this group helps me to know I am not alone and reassures me that I am not the monster mother that I sometimes feel like.
    Please know that I feel the pain you are all experiencing and send you positive thoughts and love.

    Reply
    1. Suzanne E.

      My name is also Suzanne and it has also been 12 years coming up since I’ve talked with my daughter whom I was so so close with and then…nothing. I am astounded and saddened there is someone who has so many similarities with me is going through this too. I had to look back through my history to make sure I didn’t in fact write this! :).

    2. Kathryn B.

      Suzanne, I am new to this group but sadly I am not new to estrangement from my adult daughter. This isn’t the first time but it’s the longest and most damaging five (no contact) years of premeditated hateful cruelness, deceit and painful betrayal. Trust her again? Never!

      It has not been easy. I have succeeded at finding joy again but I still have triggers. Last week was a capital “T” Trigger. My ED’s ex-husband texted me a cryptic message that “my daughter was suffering and if she and myself haven’t mended our differences now would be the time to do so”. He went on to say it’s not his place to say anything further. I later learned through a source my daughter is receiving chemo and radiation for cancer. Rumor is she has a brain tumor.

      I am writing to anyone in this group that may have or is experiencing a similar dilemma and any insight you can offer.

  4. Kimberley S.

    After all my relatives abandoned me when my husband died two years ago, my two EDS want to reconcile and I don’t think I do. I spent holidays and birthdays and the pandemic alone. They didn’t care about me then, why do they care now? I have been in therapy with them and seen them each once recently. Nothing seemsto change. No apologies, no accountability and no empathy. I think they want to sweep it under the rug and move on. I can’t move forward until they show remorse and atone for the pain they caused me, my husband’s family and my friends. I have felt unloved, unwanted, ostracised, betrayed, and abandoned. I don’t really like the people I am related to so why go through all that pain again. If they sincerely apologized and showed compassion for me I would be inclined to reconnect but tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I will spend it alone like the last several years. The last Thanksgiving I had was with my husband in the hospital. He watched me eat because he couldn’t. It was the most painful Thanksgiving we ever had. He suffered for a year before dieing in September of 2019. If my daughters want me in their lives then at least ask me what am I doing for the holidays. Silence as usual. I have learned to live without them and my grandchildren and my sister and many others. I am not a priority to anyone but my dog and she gives me more love than my relatives.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Kimberley,

      You have a right to your feelings and to expect the slightest bit of remorse or empathy. Maybe just set it aside for a bit…. It’s really rough when anniversaries of sad times coincide with”happy” days. My father went into the hospital the day before Thanksgiving years back. He joked about not being able to eat … But he never did again and died just a couple weeks later. I get how sad a holiday can be with reminders. Not to make this about me… But take care of YOU right now.

      Hugs to you

      Sheri McGregor

    2. michelle

      Dear Kimberley,
      I am so sorry for what you are going through. I feel the same way you do. My sister and mother don’t talk to me… But they do talk to my ED. My mother doesn’t like me and talks bad about me to my ED. It really hurts me. I feel alone all the time in my feelings. I have gotten therapy for the last year…But that hasn’t helped me to feel better. I am blocked from my ED email and her phone. No contact for 2 years. It hurts so bad. somedays I think I’m doing ok then my feelings change and I feel sick to my stomach and start to cry. I’m trying so hard to heal and take care of myself… But I still feel really sad. I love my ED so much and I wish we could just be a family again. But she hates me, and my own mother and sister are not helping at all. They are just making it worse. I was an abused child and now I am being abused by my ED. I just don’t know how to heal. Thank you for your post. I don’t feel so alone in my pain. We just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and take care of ourselves.

    3. J. Rogers

      Dear Kimberley,

      Unfortunately, I know exactly the sadness & frustration you feel. I have 2 adult daughters, who are extremely successful in life. One lives a 1000 miles from me & for about 7 years has had basically nothing to do with me. She’ll never have children. I live near my other daughter who has told me to my face that she cares for me, but doesn’t love me. She has 2 daughters ages 8 & 11. They have been brainwashed from the time they were born, not to love me like their other grandmother. Just 3 weeks ago, when I was watching my granddaughters, I broke down & cried & told them I didn’t appreciate how someday they could be nice to me, then other days they could be rude or ignore me. I was the scapegoat of my family & my mother taught my sister to have nothing to do with me. My sister lives about 20 miles from me & I refuse to have anything to do with her. She is also very successful & my daughters have a relationship with her, which I admit angers & I’m jealous of. As long as I don’t speak up, but shut up, then my daughter who lives near me, gets along. She’s financially helps me out & cares for me, but I know she loves others, but not me. I hope your situation improves. I wish I could make it better for you, since you deserve respect.

    4. Jill J.

      I can empathize with you Kimberly. Except for my present husband, and his family, I have none. My children are pretty much silent. Enless my son sends some snapchat group message, I don’t hear from him. My daughter quit speaking 2 years ago in January– for some minor infraction. What a mess. I have become indifferent too, and thrown in the towel. They know how to call, and know where I live if they ever choose to contact me.

  5. Sonia

    I was watching an interview with Andie MacDowell recently and they were talking about parenting and making mistakes and she said that a therapist once told her one of the most helpful things she’s ever heard: that if you can’t forgive yourself you teach your child that it’s not okay to make mistakes. This has really helped me, as I have been knocked down hard over my mistakes (and some possibly perceived mistakes), usually after my daughter has gone to counselling, and have been really down on myself for a long time. However, as times goes on I am finding I am starting to be able to look at the bigger picture better and my role in it in a more balanced way, as I was not the only one there. There were a lot of people influencing things. So, I think I’m starting to rally. These articles and all your comments have most definitely helped me. Thank you all.

    Reply
  6. Randa W.

    I identify with this so much, except our daughter has been back in contact for about 2 years on a limited basis and there has been forward movement on her taking down some of her initial boundaries. On the times we see her and her family I am resentful of the lost years. I am still grieving the lost years with our grandsons. They were little guys when this went down and we did so much with our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons before they cut off all contact. The boys are now 12, 14, 16. I went from praying for her return, then accepting she was gone, and now I don’t know what to do with this indifference I feel towards her. I want to adore her like I used to, but I don’t. I agree, a mom should not feel this way towards her grown daughter. She’s nothing but sweet when we do see her, but I don’t even want her to hug me. I would prefer if we could just see the grandsons and not her and her husband. She has never explained why she did what she did other than her pat answer, “It was the only way” with zero conversation why. Yes, I did join her in therapy. It was horrible and more divisive than helpful. Then they took us to mediation to solidify boundaries we already agreed to and were not breaking. Now we are all to put our emotions on the back burner and act like it never happened. I am not there yet and neither is her dad. Neither of us know when if or when we will.

    Reply
  7. Jenn

    Just sitting her crying my eyes out reading all of these amazing, beautiful, wonderful, parents pain. We are all wonderful parents you know. We gave it our ALL. Our whole hearts and energy and time and committed to loving and raising our children with care and tenderness. I’m sure we all at some point or another messed up, and maybe messed up big time, or maybe we did nothing wrong at all-cause hey it’s possible. As humans we all have regrets. But I believe with my whole heart that each and every one of us here(including myself), LOVE our babies with all our hearts. Yes those babies may be big now and locked, blocked and made us become invisible in their lives….the pain is the most almost indescribable pain a parent(outside of the death of a child) can ever experience. This January will be 2 years since my daughter blocked me out of her life. I cry for all of the parents here and I cry missing my daughter too. It really really SUCKS. It makes me have rollercoaster emotions. Angry, super just ugh almost feel like I hate her sometimes, then realize its not really hate its just the pain makes anger rise up but its a hurt kind of anger. Its just so unstable. I try so hard to stay centred through prayer and staying busy with my other children etc etc. I try to let go. Like let her go so I can be happier and focus on all the other good around me. As parents I think we can move on and try to stay positive for our mental health and just really to try our best to cope and to live our best lives. But for me, I do truly try that, I work HARD at that too. But the raw truth is I can never be 100% truly happy or whole with my daughter not in my life. It’s like a piece is missing. Pain is always there. I refuse to let my faith go for a miracle with her, I have to hold on to that so I dont go crazy or get severely depressed. Sorry if there are any typos or grammatical errors…I’m just kind of pouring out like a diary here. I just want to say THANK YOU to every parent who shared their feelings, heart, experiences here in the comments….I felt like I WAS going crazy before finding this site. Why? Cause I felt alone like I was the only one. Even tho I’m not ignorant, I know I’m not the only one. You know about these things and hear about them or see them in fictional movies. But u never even IMAGINE it would happen to you!! It hurts so bad. I wish I could just turn back time to when she was 10 years old and in love with me and give her a big long hug. I like to remember sometimes those good memories, even tho it usually ends with sad tears because of the reality of where things are now. I also in some ways fear reconciliation because I dont trust her anymore. She has said such really evil and cruel and mean things to me I dont know how I will ever forget or recover. A genuine apology would perhaps work, which I cannot imagine ever getting. But like I said miracles are possible. I dont cling to that hope so tightly as I did in the beginning….thanks to this group I have learned to live for me more now and not just sitting in limbo for her. Forgive me if me words are jumbled all over and not making sense. Thank you for listening and I hope my words can bring even one person comfort somehow. Sending everyone gigantic {{{{{{{{ HUGS}}}}}}}}} and telling you if no one else has told you….that you are an amazing parent despite your failures and mistakes and regrets, I see you and I believe that you are a wonderful parent. Wishing for all of us to heal and cope in peace as we all miss our children, that peace would just flood all of us to help us endure these separations. In my pain I send you my best wishes for possible miracles and just complete and total peace in everyones unique circumstances. -Jenn

    Reply
    1. Lauren

      Hi Jenn, thank you so much for your post. This is the first time in years that my tears have flowed like a river. I too, hold onto faith in God for a miracle. I love my son from afar, thankful for the life I have now which is wonderful, but coexisting with the excruciating pain deep inside. I realize he has some type of untreated mental illness, and when I encouraged him to get help is when he really distanced himself from me. My stepdaughter says he treats everyone this way. She thinks he feels ashamed and guilty over his life and doesn’t want to face people. I occasionally will send an upbeat, encouraging text. He just has to get to a bottom so he goes for treatment. He is 33, a hermit basically who works and does whatever to relieve his pain, which alienates himself from his family. This life is such a roller coaster, I pray for all you parents who are going through this pain. Your love for your children cannot be denied. Much love to you all. God bless

  8. Sick and tired

    I found a therapist to help me move on without my son. I only saw him 4 times per year and he rarely called. I have too much respect for myself to put up with his nonsense and disrespect. After over 1 year of therapy, she decided to do an individual session with him. He said he agreed to do joint therapy. What a farce. In joint therapy, he said he was too busy to call me! Then a session slipped his mind. I’m done. I’m not putting up with his crap anymore. He needs counseling. He has attachment issues. He’s 34. He told me his shrink sees him every quarter and said he doesn’t need counseling. I told him joint therapy is done and so am I. When he gets himself together, he can call me. I don’t care anymore. I’ve had enough of his games.

    Reply
  9. Cheryl

    There are so many comments here that I can relate to. My ED semi- estranged me shortly after her marriage, then had my first grandchild who is now 2 and does not know that I exist. A few years ago when we were sort of speaking, she sent me a laundry list of my “sins”, 4 pages, front and back. I dove into a deep depression along with suicidal thoughts to the point that I dumped a handful of pills in my hand. As I was about to take them, my sons face appeared, I put them back and reached out for help.
    I was saved by the fact that I have another chikd who I am close too, “Done With The Crying”, and my faith that God will make all things right. I know and have admitted my defects and have apologized many times, but it’s always misinterpreted as not sincere, that I am just doing it to see my grandson, etc, etc.
    I cannot change the past but I believe I was a good mom. I cannot change her perception of the things that she considers “sins”, I have made my amends, cleaned up my side of the street and was still told to “leave her alone, that if I don’t understand why she won’t talk to me by now, that I never will”
    So I have done just that, it’s been a year since that text. No cards, no gifts, I still have my grandson’s Easter gift which I am donating to Toys for Tots. I write to him in a journal so that someday he will know how much I love him. I pray for serenity and
    I am so thankful for this “family ” of estranged parents . May God bless us all through these holidays.

    Reply
  10. Jennifer C.

    The holidays have been difficult since our adopted daughter turned 18, reconnected with her birth family, and turned her back on me. She had a child in spring of 2020 and is expecting another in March of 2022. I only hear from her when she wants money. I was the best mother I could be to my daughter, took her to school, church, soccer practice, guitar lessons, piano practice and recitals. And for what? It’s not that I want a reward or recognition for those things. I just don’t see how someone can turn their back on someone who was there for her when the child needed someone most. I wish I could just skip the holidays. They are just too painful for me.

    Reply
    1. Patt

      Keep working at your own recovery. I have found that utube helps immensely. Use the search, in tube for looking for getting your power back, and a lot of other helpful articles. Working at it will improve your life. You deserve that. Trent Shelton has a lot of empowering videos.

  11. Kath D.

    Thanks for this community – living with an EC can be so isolating and holidays are the worst with endless images of warm, close families. My spirit is truly lifted seeing that my family is not alone. Our son left 18 months ago and was living “off the grid” so no address, no technology, no contact at all. I sometimes envy folks who at least know where their child is, but I also see the pain of knowing that and having no contact. What I want to add is that therapy can really help and learning that self care means prioritizing you even over your grown children- something that feels completely wrong as mothering means caring first for your kids- learning that care of self really helps. My heart is still utterly broken and my fear for his safety, for the pain my daughter and husband carry, nearly break me every day. But some part if my spirit also knows that I shouldn’t due behind his choice. Even mother’s get to find peace and someday even happiness, even if a friend child estranged. My head is learning this and is dragging my sore heart toward really feeling it. Thanks for all your open-hearted support to Sheri and everyone here. Take good care during this really hard holiday season❤️

    Reply
  12. Mom11

    I recently left facebook. The pain of seeing pictures of my son and his family (one grandchild I have not met the other 2 I have not seen in 11 years) and the “other grandmother/family” is too much. After 11 years (17 for my husband – 11 for me) of being rejected by our only child/son … I’m done having my nose rubbed in it. We still send cards for the kids for birthdays and Christmas. I don’t think it makes much sense. They don’t know us they never met my husband. I haven’t seen them since they were toddlers. But we keep doing it. Maybe 2 years ago I stopped sending to my son because there was never the slightest response ever. And it felt like I was just being foolish and not respecting myself to repeatedly reach out with ZERO response.
    This time of year is hard. The first estrangement started 17 years ago in November between our son and my husband. I can tell by reading the comments that it’s hard for everyone and there are so many common themes.
    I woke up this morning with thoughts swirling around about whether I gave up too soon. Then the email and articles from this newsletter were the first thing I saw. It’s helpful to read of common experiences and at the same time my heart breaks for everyone.
    All relationships even with my brother … seem difficult. I’m so touchy and sensitive to the slightest distancing … as if I think others will/are likely to abandon me completely too. I try to reason with myself. I even tell myself that if I can survive my sons rejection there’s no one else really who can hurt me more. I found out my son was sometimes communicating electronically with my brother and that hurt but I know my family was hurt by his abandonment too. I don’t wish for anyone to be hurt.
    We are frankly at the point of being very worried about our wills/estate. It is unlikely our son would ever come here to close up the house/affairs and since he won’t talk with us at ALL … and since we are getting older 70s and 50s … well … I wish we could move away or downsize significantly that’s probably where my focus should be rather on ruminating and putting myself under a microscope over my parenting which I know was not perfect and I know was not abusive or neglectful.
    It always amazes me how raw this can feel after all these years. Getting off facebook helped somewhat but there is always intense curiosity and my husband stayed on he is not connected with our son but with the x-wife of our son so he gets to see pictures of the oldest grandchild and he sometimes brings the tablet to me. It’s heartbreaking to be honest. She looks all grown up and so beautiful. They are many states away so it would have been challenging even if everyone had stayed speaking to one another … to SEE them but I know I WISH things had been and were kinder and more humane.
    I have a really good counselor but on this subject — he knows me in person and just cannot believe that this won’t eventually work out — since I’m such a decent quality person …. so that is frustrating because it shows that even a really helpful professional (helps me with lots with depression and grief loss of parents) can not fully grasp that I might not have done anything hideously wrong and this/estrangement can still happen. I guess I should send him the books.
    This morning I am aware after how I woke up feeling and after reading here on this article and comments … of how far I would still like to go in healing this. I’m not convinced it can be healed but I do want to take better action toward my own well-being, move forward and I’d love to be happy even during holidays which have been laced with emptiness and pain for so many years.

    Reply
    1. Anna

      You deserve to be happy…….there is only that much we can do….and no one that wasn,t there beside us, helping them to become what they are, cannot judge us……
      Its unbelieveble our own kids can hurt us so much……

    2. Gemini610

      I completely understand what you are going through. I will not lie and say I was the perfect mom because I was not. I got pregnant young out of wedlock. Tried the best I could to raise my daughter. She never wanted for love food,clothes or toys. Met a guy and we got married quickly and had another daughter. I should have never gotten married because I wasn’t totally in love with this man. I just wanted a dad for my daughter. I was not faithful to him.. Long story short we eventually got divorced 16 years later. Both my daughters never really forgave me for leaving and my infidelity. The youngest hated me for years and wouldnt even speak to me, she lived with her dad.. The oldest stayed in my life but we where not close. I eventually remarried to the love of my life. I grew up and totally changed who I was.. I was just too young for kids and marriage.. I totally except that I was at fault and admitted that.. My daughters by now each have a child of their own and are in relationships. Fast forward we reconnected and are spending time together but there is always this distance between us. I would over compensate and do anything I could to make them happy. I just wanted for us to be that close family. I loved my Grandchildren so much. But as time went on My oldest daughter didn’t like the relationship I had with her daughter. We where very close.. She started making excuses for me not to talk to her or spend time with her. I was devastated. She said I was trying to manipulate her daughter! I had no idea what she was talking about. She said I was always causing problems. I was confused and ask her why she was saying these things and she said she didn’t want a relationship with me anymore. Then my youngest daughter texted me and said she wasn’t talking to me anymore either! I had no idea what I had done. I did nothing but accommodate her. Her son is autistic and I would try the best I could to help her through things she was dealing with.. we talked multiple times a day.. It made no sense.. I tried to make holidays and birthdays special. Watched the kids when they needed me too. I was confused. Long story , but now it’s been a year and I have no contact with either of them or the Grandchildren. I cried for months and months making myself sick. Close to a nervousbreakdown. I thought I had a family again.. I realize I have to try to go on with my life. It’s not fair to my husband who has been nothing but supportive. I love them all so much but I guess the greatest gift I can give them is to stay out of their lives. I can’t make them love me. I guess sometimes you just can’t make your past mistakes go away and your kids never really forget. The last thing I said to them is I wish them love and happiness. That’s all I ever really wanted for them.

    3. Cheri

      Hi there. I loved reading your post! Thanks for taking the time to post. My situation sounds similar as yours. You mentioned something that I just started seeing in myself. Yesterday I started to wonder if it was due to my estrangement……and than today I read your post/comment. I’ve been noticing that I have a hard time connecting with people. Even long term relationships….I realized they have grown disconnected. I even find myself disconnecting from my husband. Reading your post helped me realize the estrangement is a contributing factor. Now hopefully I can learn and readjust. Thank you again and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season

  13. Linda

    Well now we all live in different states but I still long to be with them. And while they have their own life they have no loyalty to me nor longing either. Really sad they chose this really sad they are so disconnected themselves. It’s what they chose. They find whatever excuse but the problem lies within them. I’ll say something if they say something first. But my one daughter I haven’t heard from her in years. It’s her choice and she made her twins miserable. I see how unhappy they are as they age in pictures. Yes I look occasionally at social media and it makes me feel horrible later. But, now she’s moved them way far away to Nevada so now his parents will feel the loneliness for once. Only 1 child is their grandchild the other 4 are not even though they lied about my grandson she was pregnant before they met. And black mailed me then later turned against me out of the blue. So after 6 months of that again…. again blah I told his mother the truth! Didn’t care I didn’t think it was right! She loves hurting people and I don’t get that because if I even hurt anyone I cry and feel horrible immediately. She has no remorse it must come from her dad who is so bad and evil I don’t want to talk about it. So, anyways we are going again to Florida this winter. It helped me last time with winter blues which does cause fatigue! And it kept my mind off bad thoughts. A complete stranger said merry Christmas. So here I come December 20th !! Yay!! Take a warm sunny trip! I also buy myself something nice every year. This year his dad and brother are gone they always came over for turkey. Last year none of his family said nothing. And his children 2 boy/ girl in their 20-30, go to mommy’s house. They cozy up to her and forget him. They think the mom is the only weak one but their dad is broken hearted. He doesn’t tell them how much they hurt him. But after seeing how vicious mine are it wouldn’t matter. It’s crazy how mean , selfish and ungrateful the generations get. I’d never ever dream of disrespecting my parents. They took care of me growing up and I’m grateful

    Reply
  14. Suzanne

    Well my birthday was yesterday the 2nd without any acknowledgment from my 2 ES or DILS. I am so grateful for my husband, parents, sister’s family and all my friends who go out of their way to celebrate me. Christmas is coming which I still find hard without my grandchildren 1 I have never met and the other I haven’t seen since he was 6 months old so they will never know us. I want to wish everyone peace and happiness. We all deserve to be happy.

    Reply
  15. Beverly

    Hello everyone and hello Sheri, I thought I would share my story. I have 3 adult sons, and the oldest is now “estranged”, which I find still hard to say. He married in 2016, and we were blessed with our grandson, but his life fell apart, lost a “big job” , lost his wife, and lost heavily in the stock market…likely a lot of money that I gave him, with hopes to help alleviate debt and save his marriage. We supported him during his separation and divorce, with our secondary home to live in, our truck to drive, and endeavoured to make it a home for him and our grandson. The times we spent together, however were, like most alludes to, walking on eggshells! I was the main target, and he claimed that I had a personality disorder, accused my dead father of sexual abuse with me, threatened to take my husband and I to court for neglect as a child, and on and on…in the end I called the mental health crisis line during one of our usual encounters when we were in his company, which I would say was a psychotic episode, and from this I chose to be assessed for his accusations, and had was diagnosed with no mental illness, and according to my now ex DIL, he had psychosis and was to follow up with a psychologist. We had attended some counselling with him prior to that, and since that occurrence, now 6 months ago, my husband and I attend counselling, as our son has now removed himself and our grandson, from our lives and our other 2 adult children basically, and all extended family. We don’t believe he is working, still on covid benefits likely, and our Ex DIL has told us that when we repair our relationship with our son, we can see our grandson! I feel she suffered a hard road with our son, and his mental state, so her life without us, works better. My son, had limitations of access with his son, post our mental health hospital visit, now I am not sure what their arrangement is, doubt if he is able to pay child support. We recently asked for mediation through the courts for grandparent access rights, which they have refused, and now we are proceeding to court and will be hiring a lawyer. We love our son and our grandson, but the son we had, is “dead” and although we are hoping that he will one day return, as the psychologist told me, there is always hope but he was uncertain if he could be successful in getting him back! My son has gone public with defamations on utube and his FB accounts, and has alluded to all his past problems and addictions were a result from our parenting, the same parents that worked liked dogs, to give him his university education, help secure a his first home( which we have now bought from him) and on and on…were we perfect parents….no and no one is, but I am again standing on my feet, thanks to this site, and counselling etc…I am moving forward with what remains of our family, and hopeful we are successful to gain access to our grandson, but if not, we will have tried, and I will keep my lipstick on, for the day that little darling appears on our doorstep, he will know that we loved him so much, as we did his father. Any parent who could do this is a damaged individual and harming their child. I have told my son, that our door is always open, but will not endure the mental abuse and disrespect anymore to me and my family. While I would not wish this on a rat, and I wish no one had to share their horrific stories of losses, on this site, or in silence, I do find such comfort in knowing we are not alone, and thanks to Sheri for her books and newsletters that offer so much, especially as this is death of a child.

    Reply
  16. Reade A.

    My adult son and daughter and her two daughters are completely gone from my life. Both of my brothers too, one a $cientologist and the other a right-wing Christian fundamentalist (who used to counsel my daughter to stay away from me because I am a godless heathen).

    I don’t miss my son and his wife at all. She was always jealous of my relationship with my son and apparently worked her magic to turn him against me (in addition to the patenting mistakes I made). My daughter said I abandoned her the last time she spoke to me six or more years ago. She spoke badly about me to both her daughters from the time they were little, and neither of them have ever made any effort to contact me since they left home for college. Interestingly enough, my oldest granddaughter is getting her masters in child and family counseling.

    I’ve stopped missing all of them. I just don’t care anymore. After cumulatively spending almost a year in bed and substantially downgrading my health, I realized I was slowly committing suicide because of the helplessness and rage at being dumped with extreme cruelty. I deserved better. My husband deserved better. My loyal friends deserved better. I still spend time resting during the day, but now it’s because of recuperating from a bad knee injury and not because I believe I am so valueless that I must die.

    I have moved on, made new friends and reconnected with the old, taken up new hobbies, participated in and supported causes spanning a range from human and civil rights, environmental protection and rehabilitation, to animal rights and racial justice. I feel a twinge now and then on birthdays and holidays, but I’m not flattened by memories and false hope.

    Your first book, along with a couple others, and intensive therapy helped me immensely. I look forward to fighter enlightenment in your newest publication. Thank you!

    Reply
  17. Nancy S

    I wonder if anyone in this group has a similar situation to mine. My ES and DIL have demonized my husband (he is my son’s step father). My husband has apologized many times for any hurt he caused my son, but no words are good enough. My son just wants him out of my life and for the last 2 years has removed me from his life along with my two precious grandchildren. My husband wasn’t perfect, but he provided everything to my son during his teen years when his father refused to do a thing for him. Now he has decided that I was not a mother to him since high school (the list of things done for him is way too long to put here) to justify his decision to erase me from his life and the lives of my grandchildren. If I try to make a move at reconciliation he will take control and bull doze me right over so I cannot do that. Thanks for any feedback.

    Reply
    1. Eileen M.

      Good Morning. Our stories are so similar. As once quoted in a movie, “It is very easy for those not around to make very few mistakes. My daughter’s father was a drunk, abusive and not in her life. Now he is wonderful. I am the bad guy because I married him, but he is fine. It totally amazes me. If I did not know the Lord, I think I would smack her silly. This issue is on them. They need counseling and the younger generations think they have it all together. WRONG!!!! We all fall short of the glory of God. God Bless you this holiday season. I have come to hate the Holidays.

    2. Linda

      That sounds just like my oldest daughter who is 31. I haven’t seen the 4 grandchildren that stuff put me in the hospital. She loves inflicting emotional pain on me. I don’t communicate anymore with her . They’ll hate any man I’m with it’s because they don’t want me happy . It took me a lot of hard thinking but it’s because they’re not happy. They feel unfulfilled with their own life how it’s going or how it’s turned out. I think she’s now moved away from her home state because she’s wanting to cut his family off. She literally told them my grandson was theirs when he wasn’t . You can’t get any lower then that. But, it’s not right how much they hurt us :((((

  18. Jane

    After having had what I thought was a close, caring relationship with my son for more than 40 years, he suddenly erupted with intense anger and expressed his true feelings about me. We have been estranged now for 4 years. His wife does keep in touch occasionally and I hear news of their 2 girls. After spending many days feeling deep grief and much guilt ( even now I don’t know about what), I slowly began to heal from what I now realize was a toxic relationship for most of our life even from the time he was a small child. I am profoundly sad that I lost who I thought my child was. But, letting go seems the best answer for me and I hope for him. I did find the book, “Done with the Crying”, extremely helpful. It allowed me to feel not so alone. I am grateful

    Reply
    1. Anna

      Something similar happened to me…and today…I have the strong feeling that what we call Toxic relationship….there must be something else…..only today I suddenlly undertood that my boy is suffering probablly from asperger..(highlly functional) he is so “charming” to other people and I have been his punching box….(of course there are other things in behaviour…)…..After he got merried ,…..someone, somwhere, had convinced him that we had traumatized him …and that we were narcistic parents…..(the “smart” psychologist or person that had convinced our son so easilly, never met us or spoke to us……. our son just doesn,t want any contact with us….we don,t know our grandchildren …. it was so hard….anyway…… it only got worst…..my husband was affected so deeplly by being cut away…..(they were very close to each other)…..that he practically “run away” ….with the “excuse” of being in love with some merried woman that sell herself to everyone here in the neighbourhood…….(my husband is 70 years old and this woman that sells herself to him, is younger than our son……..(my husband never even looked at another woman for the 50 last years that we have been together….and. now We are getting divorce……..I just know its all because of this wonderful “person” that told my son we were narcistic parents and that he has been traumatized by us……!!!!!!!!…………… We live in another country…….. I am practically now finding myself so old and all alone…… ……

  19. Mimi

    Hello all,
    Tonight, I happened to watch the first few minutes of a “comedy” called “Loudermilk” season 3 episode 1 . I have never watched any other episode. This was just one random viewing. Anyway, wow! What a shock. A well manicured and concerned mother asked a substance abuse counselor to check on her daughter. The counselor goes to the daughters home, knocks on the door. The daughter tells the counselor that her mother is a “cunt”. No reasons for this accusation are given by the daughter.. Then, the counselor basically tells the daughter to get her act together. But later, in a following scene, the mother defends the daughter to the counselor! What!? Also, have you noticed that, in so many tv shows, the stupid, idiotic parent is saved by the wise child?

    Society, tv, the education system and so forth, is changing our family ties. Our children are being brainwashed. Our children are being taught to behave this way. It’s like a war.

    In my opinion, we need to strongly stand for our rights. If our children treat us, in any way like the above, it is time to walk away.

    Hugs to all sad and suffering parents. ❤️

    Reply
  20. Ingrid

    Thank you all so much for your posts. So much of what you have all shared mirrors my situation, and although I do not wish this pain on anyone, it is comforting to know I am not alone in this situation. And Sheri, your book has been amazing for my healing process. Can’t wIt to read “Beyond”. Wishing you all a joyous season, and we are not alone! We can enjoy our lives.

    Reply
  21. Toni

    In case anyone is wondering; I reached out to my son one more time after 2 years and we did re establish communication but not much has changed. He does not want to really try to heal this but rather pretend it did not happen. That is not very satisfying to me and to be honest– have you ever glued back together a teacup? It is never the same and it is weak. That is where I am. It is something I have to decide whether to continue or just leave it be. SOme of us are happy to be unhappy about this and some of us are ruminators(I am). How long do you want to live like this?? Only you can decide. Reconciliation ain’t what you think and you live knowing that it can happen all over again without warning. I am not really happy to be reconciled like this

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      Thank you Toni…your words about gluing together a broken teacup resonate so much!! The fact is, even with reconciling, there simply is no way on this earth to recoup lost time. No matter if there is some kind of relationship…time goes by swiftly and cannot be recaptured. I will say with time, and moving far far away (try about 2800 miles in our case…tho’ the reason to move was a good one, in order to help out another child and her kids)…has certainly been so very helpful. Yes, I do wish we could see them even in small bits of time…but I do not miss the drama. Not at all. My heartfelt sympathy to everyone here…too bad we don’t live close together…but at least we have Sheri’s site here…thanks so much Sheri!!

    2. Effie

      I am a ruminator, and my son who sent his impression of the real me….. through a text years ago said a very flippant sorry and added yea you were a great mom but it was too late after the cuts, and words that went to the very depth of my heart, now he has made it clear, I am not allowed to discuss this anymore ” do not bring it up again” and do not say anything to his wife ( which I never would ever do that) I keep things hidden… I am not a triangulator, but have watched this play out. (Sheri — I need to know how to deal with that in between my children’s siblings…) I was so hurt and the sorry was like a dirty bandage that I had to leave on forever… I don’t trust him and now I have to watch my grandchildren dance he does… I have never healed and not sure I will be able too…Hope all this makes sense….

    3. Jane W.

      Hi, Toni thank you for the last few lines of your reply. I’m estranged now for 11yrs from my only daughter, a jealous ex who’d poisoned daughters mind at 14 she’s turned 25 last week. Had minimal contact and hardly any physical at all. I’ve stopped and started moving forward and come to be on that platform of at any time she could do the same again when she choses I’ve been reeled in and pushed out again so many times. If we’d have been reconciled I would be waiting for it to happen again and again without warning. The decision has now been made for me, I’d sent cards and Christmas cards for the past 11yrs now to be faced with a harassment charge from ex and daughter for unwanted contact for only sending birthday cards and Christmas. I can’t do anymore xxx

    4. Joyce

      Reading your comment, Toni, is like looking into a mirror. Like you, we have no idea why our children are estranged. They refuse to speak to us. Our youngest is like your son. I don’t know if he considers himself estranged but we do. He goes from warm to bitterly cold. He does not acknowledge us, even recently at his wedding. He invited us only because our new daughter-in-law insisted. We did not know that at the time but realize it now. We have decided that we have tried everything we can to no avail. This on-again off-again attitude is crippling. We never know who is going to show up so we have taken a full step back and, should they invite us over we will go to see our two grandsons and our wonderful daughter-in-law. He will be greeted with politeness, interest and enthusiasm we would share with any other host – but the occasion will be an isolated experience with no future expectations. We will respond to any invitation with a return invite when appropriate. However, HOPE will have no place in these encounters. It has been 5 years and he is more distant as time passes. We will do this for our young grandsons and his new wife. We are also doing it for ourselves. None of it is being done for him. Reconciliation is not in our future as we have no trust in him. I pray that forgiveness is! There are so many definitions for forgiveness. We are focusing on the one that describes “Forgiveness “ as a gift we give to ourselves. Yes, he will benefit from our forgiveness of his choices but the main focus for us is to blunt the pain he can cause us and some form of forgiveness that focuses on us being able to have a happy life apart is our focus. Being in his presence possibly 3 times a year will be plenty.

  22. Diane

    Mine started 9 months ago, but when I look back it was years. I jumped at their every want. My dil made it clear years ago she could remove me. In January she finally admitted she hated me, that I had never been nice. When she was kicked out of her home and I took her in mine I took her in as my child. Her mother and my son’s father bother abandoned them, but they are everything now. I cry daily. They don’t want me fine, but they took my grandchildren. All I hear is how I hurt them whenever we have contact. Doesn’t matter that they hurt me. Yet if they called today I’d be right there. Like others my dil throws people away routinely. Until she turns on my ES he won’t wake up. His happiness is more important so I hope she never does. Money is too tight for me to run away for the holidays. Hopefully I will sleep through this first Christmas…..

    Reply
    1. Deborah H.

      Dear Diane,
      I am so sorry for your pain as I feel it in every ounce of my body and mind too. I have never made a post here as I have been apathetic in everything that once was “me.” Today, I had a break-through about internally beating myself up and realized what I had gone through. Perhaps it was hitting a physically ill wall as of recent and the great need to get back up. It’s been since May of 2020 since I lost my son, dil and their two beautiful little daughters that I treasured. The pieces of your story., the puzzle, will slowly come together, like the book says, to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense and at that point perhaps, like today, for me, we can get ready to move forward and accept what is. For me, I keep handing it back over to God to deal with and today I’m ready to do that again as weak as I feel.
      Sending you much love and blessings. ox

  23. Sarah

    This is so helpful to me. I have kept up for 4 years trying to maintain contact with both my children and am exhausted with the stress of it. The rest of my life has been in limbo. It started with my son at the age of 24 when their father decided he wanted to live a single life and left me and then my daughter followed suit. Neither will really explain what the problem with me is and I am left filling in the gaps. I presume they blame me for the divorce which followed and have certainly seemed to carry on with their father as if I had died, not as if I live around the corner, which I do. If I try texting I get some response but they offer nothing about their lives and I don’t even know where my son lives anymore. I have worked hard to heal from both my divorce and estrangement and stop blaming myself for how our family disintegrated. As I get stronger I can see more clearly how awfully they have behaved towards me. I don’t want to carry on trying to keep something going which is so one sided as I want to try and enjoy the years I have left but still find it hard finally walking away, knowing that if I let go, they will be gone for good. Everything about how I’m planning for my future has had to change, where I live, old age care etc. So many Facebook forums are fully of angry rage towards the children; I understand the pain felt but the positive responses here give me hope I can enjoy the rest of my life guilt free.

    Reply
  24. Annie

    Thanks for this timely article, Sheri. It came at a perfect time. It mirrors my experience very closely.

    After enduring a nearly five-year (on and off at the beginning) period of estrangement, my daughter reached out to me early this year after her husband of 25 years died. I was ecstatic! We had a “honeymoon” period of reconciliation for a while; when we talked on the phone and got together, it was usually (but not always) a pleasant experience. I tried to support and distract her in her unhappiness and, frankly, much unhealthy self absorption with other people in her life. But she was a new widow and I gave her lots of slack to express herself. However, It never felt like our old great relationship when she was younger and we could share everything with each other. I didn’t trust her and felt I had to walk on eggshells most of the time. If I said anything that resembled how I really felt, she would get angry. She was often irrational it seemed to me.

    Now the holidays are upon us and she had a huge relapse and once again angrily and accusingly brought up her grievances about me from the distant past. We have several times addressed those grievances and I had apologized repeatedly for my (and her father’s) real and imagined parenting mistakes. I told her nothing more could be gained from bringing up the past. But it happened again last week! She brought up the past in a vicious way. I had to ask her to leave my home. I am not the only person she is angry at (her dead husband is also on this list as is her estranged father and others) but I am convenient again to be her main scapegoat/punching bag.

    So, I have decided there is nothing I can really do for her. I truly think she needs professional counseling and perhaps medication (that she has used in the past but has stopped doing now). I have suggested she find therapy again. She had a very unhappy marriage and made many other poor choices in her life that have increasingly caused her misery. She is 50 years old. I am 76. I cannot keep going through this stress at this point in my life. So true reconciliation has not yet happened. Will it ever? I cannot be certain that it will. I will always have hope for that, but I must not count on it. I will keep on trying to make my own life happy with or without her, as I did during the estrangement.

    What I have decided for now is to take a break from her during the holidays. I will send her a card at Christmas, but that is it. I wish everyone a peaceful holiday period and if that means no contact with estranged or sem-estranged children, that will be a good thing.

    Reply
  25. Mama G

    So many stories sounding so familiar, hard to hear but somehow helps comfort me knowing we are not alone. It’s been over 2 years now since my son stopped talking to us, it definitely has been a very long process for me to try and accept stop blaming myself and recognize we were good parents who loves our son. We have a large blended family and my son met, married and had a baby within the last 3 years. I made the mistake of confronting his soon to be wife thinking It was important to her also have a good relationship with me as I wanted to work on our relationship and that’s the moment my world turned upside down. I had not a clue what I was dealing with and I tried apologizing to just make things better, it actually got worse, half the family was uninvited to the wedding the other half went, I’ve never met my grandchild but certain members of my family still get to have contact. It’s truly ripped my family apart! My parents and siblings words were we are not taking sides and not that I ever asked anyone to I was simply wanting them all to support and encourage the reconciliation of my son and his family. I’ve always been able to fix things and couldn’t fix this! My husband had adopted my two older sons at a very young age and was an amazing dad to them. We were informed my estranged son had reconnected with his birth father and changed his name back, this devastated his adopted father. We have seen him once in the last 2 years and he was different and distant, he indicated that he was working on things, but I’m not sure what that exactly meant. Over the years I tried to reach out multiple times but with no response, he did at least confirm he got my messages. All I could do was hug him and cry when I saw him, I told him I love him, miss him as I needed him to hear those words just in case it was truly the last time. This situation has caused me some of my darkest days, I had dedicated my life to my family and being a good mom. Nobody spoke of it there was no conversation nor support just silence. I noticed this had also started to change me as a mom and grandma. I had to kick myself out of this mental state as I was pushing away my other children due to fear of losing them too. There are still times the memories of my son roll down my cheeks and I dream of him. I try to remind myself I was a good mom and have exhausted efforts of reaching out but someday he may come back. I’ve had to move on from that dark hole in my heart for the sake of being the mom, wife and grandma I want to be. I try to enjoy the family get togethers although there is a missing link. I told my husband I feel it’s like mourning a death but he’s still living and making the choice to live his life without us in it. I’ve had to come to the realization that if this is what he wants and he’s happy then we need to move on-some days are easier than others. Family get togethers happen but not as often. I will continue to try and enjoy my life with those that love, support and want to make our family a priority.

    Reply
    1. Deborah H.

      This breaks my heart as it’s all so familiar. I pray you can keep going forward. It is a “living death” and it’s almost worse. One of the hardest parts is having a divided family, the elephant in the room, and no real compassion. Not gossip or beating up the situation – but just the compassion that you truly lost someone you loved and don’t really comprehend what happened. Instead other people in your family enjoy what you can’t. I deeply understand this. God keep you on the journey. ox

  26. Cecily

    My estranged daughter reached out to me by text after almost two years. Saying she loved me and was tired of the estrangement…. But I’ve not heard her voice once since then. She’s not taken my calls. Things got a bit worse when I told her about the tragedy involving her former best friend ( with whom she’s also estranged): her friend lost her newborn and I felt compelled to let my daughter know how much her lifelong friend was suffering. I suggested ( just that) that she give her friend a call. She expressed her sorrow at the situation but would not reach out…..
    Since then, I’m Not blocked anymore… but she takes Daya to respond to my texts. She works in the US, where she went to college. She said she’d be home for her birthday, November 1… when I asked when she’d be home (we live in Jamaica), she said she wasn’t sure she’d be coming.
    Only to find out that she is very much here and in fact went to visit my mother…
    She knows I know that… and the estrangement feels more… estranged.
    I long decided to show acceptance to look inward and see if change is needed. But… one cannot get away from the fact, that whilst I was certainly not perfect, I was (am?) her biggest fan and did every thing I could to ensure her welfare and give her love. She needs to change, face a few things and grow up.
    It is what it is. I have Done With the Crying.
    And will Try really hard not to let her let us down ( her step father and little sister as well)

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      Cecily,
      Thank you for your comment. “I was her biggest fan….” Boy, that says the truth for a great many parents. Backing that up with numerous actions to help and support… You get it. You live it. Thank you again for sharing. Many blessings to you.

      Hugs,
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Nelly

      Dear Cecily “ I am her biggest fan” – this is me too. I still have so much love to give but it’s not wanted!
      Sending a big hug to you, another mum with this pain! Xx

  27. Susan A.

    Ten years for us…ten years. Where are we in this? Well, we sold our house and moved away from our small town to start fresh…we had always planned to move even before our estrangement from two of our kids…so glad we did…it has helped our souls. As time goes on, and reconciliation faded away over the years we just had to let go and moved on for our own sakes, which was no easy task. There are failures in life. There are lost opportunities in life…there are regrets…all a part of life. But, I don’t apologize for being a mom…I never will…for me and my husband we can rest in the fact that we did what we thought was right and in the best interest of our kids…with love and honorable intentions. No one can take that away from us. Honestly…getting to this point was hell…living hell. We came out on the other side, though. Such a loss.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Susan,

      “No one can take that away from us.”

      Yes, that is so right. You have your integrity. Grass isn’t blue just because an adult child says so.

      Enjoy your new area. We’ve moved too, and it has been a positive thing.

      Hugs,
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Faye

      Same for us, Susan. Moving from our small town to a different place/state has been a blessing for us. No memories around every corner, but new memories to be made. Love your post, it says it all for me too!

    3. Deborah H.

      For two years since our estrangement from our son, dil and 2 little granddaughters I’ve developed this addiction to looking at real estate far away. I guess it takes me away from the one mile between us and the shopping center and gets me through the days. I never saw our life this way but I pray that with every step, and everyday that comes, that we just trust in the plan for our life that “is.” It first felt like running and now it’s like living in an imaginary world. God keep you and bless you in your new home and life. I too loved being a mom. I feel your heart. Take care Susan. ox

    4. Patti

      Susan our stories are similar. 2 of our 4 children are estranged. 10 years for 1 and 3 for the other. They speak to everyone but my husband and I. Extended family acts like nothings wrong. I haven’t seen 2 of my grandkids in 3 years. Gifts were returned last year for the first time. I’m lost.

  28. April

    Social media is an interesting topic. I am not on social media due to the gaslighting from ES and DIL. We can get a couple of pictures a month (3rd party) of our grandchildren, one of which we’ve never met. I go back and forth as to what is best for mental health…curious as to see what they look like and heartache when I see their adorable faces knowing we don’t have any relationship with them. I almost think out of sight, out of mind is healthier, but human curiosity has a strong pull. We will not be sending any Christmas card to them, We ordered nice age appropriate toys for the kids from Amazon for Christmas with a message that said from us using only our initials. Both of the gifts were returned for credit to their Amazon account. My husband says that since our DIL has such hatred for me from day one, the only reconciliation possible is if our son meets with us without her, the children would always be welcome. We will never be put in a position again where we give a generous amount of money to help them out, plus cars, just to be cut out again after they get what they want.

    Reply
  29. Trish

    To Tara
    I am new and found it encouraging that you took such good care of yourself to go on an antidepressant. I am on one now and I am able to function better. I do not cry as much as I use to in the past. But I do feel resentment which may be normal?

    If something hurtful does happen I know that in awhile it will subside.

    I read some of the other ladies comments and I do not do fb or any social media. My life is peaceful without it. I have animals in my life that are truly wonderful to experience.
    They are grateful and loyal. Peace to all

    Reply
  30. Trish

    I am new to this site. Like you I am dealing with adult children. My daughter after a year of no contact and a lot of prayer we were able to reconcile. In hindsight she had to work on herself and I had to work on myself. We are better together than before.

    My son has been difficult for the past 18 years. I thought he’d mature out of it being he has a very strong career in law enforcement but I get very little positive interaction.
    I will stickup for myself when he becomes cruel or unfair. But I see little meaningful change. I pray a lot.

    Glad I got my daughter back but now it’s him. I got them both out of a domestic violence first marriage
    And this was not easy. It cost me a fortune and my health has changed for the worse. I did everything I could to help them heal and they both have successful lives

    I dunno what will happen with my 35 year old man child but I do not chase the relationship. I told my husband we will be excluding from the Will. I do not want to reward his disinterest in our family. My 2 nd husband , who helped raised him agrees.

    Don’t have many answers but I hope to find supportin this group. The holidays were always hard for me since I was little. Being the third wheel is not my cup of tea.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Trish,

      So glad that you have been able to reconcile with your daughter. I wish you many blessings and peace going forward.

      HUGS to you,
      Sheri McGregor

  31. Jan P.

    This all sounds so familiar to my situation. In the past we always spent Thanksgiving with my ED and her family—the last time was two years ago. Since I assumed we would not be welcome this year, we made alternate arrangements and are traveling to be with my son and his family. Knowing I will be seeing them after 18 months (they live 2000 miles away) has given me much to anticipate with joy. My ED’s birthday is coming up soon after, and even though she completely ignored my 70th, two wrongs do not make a right. Thus I will send a card with our good wishes (no gift). We’ve never done much for the winter holidays (Hanukkah/Christmas) so fortunately that doesn’t create an emotional burden. All in all I feel like I’m on a healing path, although the stress has had an impact on my health which is hopefully under control with some medication. Personally, I don’t think as a mother one can ever truly recover from the pain of a child’s rejection, but speaking for myself, I am learning to live with it, accept it as best I can, enjoy my life and practice gratefulness. Wishing Sheri and all of the other parents contentment and peace this holiday season.

    Reply
  32. Cheryl

    I feel the pain coming back as well with the upcoming holidays, especially since my ED has my only grandchild, who turned 2 in September, and has no idea I exist, but I recently saw a snapchat pic with her, her husband and his mother on a trip to Chicago and his mom was holding my grandson. It brought up a lot of resentment. “Why does “she” get to be a grandma and not me” “She has 3 other grandchildren and I don’t even have my one”. It was so hurtful so I made the decision to delete snapchat off my phone. I will not be able to get pics of my grandson either, but I will no longer have to see painful images.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Cheryl,

      It was probably a really good decision for you. No need to put what’s painful front and center.I like that you are taking kind care of yourself.

      HUGS to you.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Elizabeth

      This very type situation, Cheryl, altho’ there is a tiny bit of contact with us…but we do not do anything like FB, Twitter, etc because we prefer to remain ignorant of what is going on…it is painful to be reminded of our “place”. We only have a few days of life in our lifetimes so we have to try to find good ways to spend those days. I so understand that kind of pain in your heart!! HUGS and empathy,
      Elizabeth

    3. Maria

      I hear you Cheryl. I am torturing myself going on their social media just to see if it is active, if they are alive, and at every post they write, It hurts more. I know I should stop. I want not to care and move on.

    4. Effie

      Did I write this! It is almost the same as my story… I have people that know I am not on facebook yet love to bring up questions leading me! I do not have social media for this reason. My ED had her second child and post, post and post… I have not looked for years… I would rather not see the images that will lock into my brain.. Heartbreak, holidays I understand…I think they want to hurt us, pay us back for something…but what?

    5. Cathy

      Cheryl,
      I am in a similar situation. Our daughter and her husband had their first child at the start of the pandemic, and suddenly, my daughter didn’t want anything to do with me. I had reached out to offer help, ask if I could stop by, called just to talk, you know, like a normal parent does, and every time, I felt that she was upset about something. So, I would wait two weeks or so and call or text again. Each time I did so, I felt more and more rejected. Last Thanksgiving, my husband and I hosted the family dinner. At the end of the evening, both my daughter and her husband yelled at me because they thought I had broken one of their rules. Our only granddaughter doesn’t know us. We weren’t invited to her first birthday at her other grandparents’ home, though both our sons and significant others were there. My husband has unfollowed her on Instagram, and I only look at her posts during moments I’m feeling very brave. I still don’t know why we aren’t welcome in their lives, and don’t know if I ever will. Holidays are so hard.

    6. Sharon

      Cheryl, I am so sorry. I have a 2 1/2 year old grandson that I haven’t met and another born on November 13 that I will probably also not meet. Yes, HER mother is a big part of their lives and worse, the whore that my husband left me for is a part of my grandchildren’s lives! I’ve seen things that they did for HER mother and in 12 years, I have not received so much as a birthday card. All this after I sacrificed, paid for years of travel hockey, put my son through college, paid part of law school and everything else involved in responsible parenting. I have sent gifts and cards to my grandson and am actually going to therapy today to discuss if I will be sending Christmas gifts this year.
      My daughter in law is an entitled, reprehensible person. She came from nothing and has been totally enjoying my son’s success (which of course, I helped bankroll). In 2012, when I asked her why my son was treating me this way, she actually stated (at my deceased father in law’s repast) “he had certain expectations of you that you did not live up to!” In hind sight, I wish that I had slapped her!
      Additionally, her own parents did not pay tuition for a commuting student to state college and prior to marrying my son, actually paid for her sister’s braces. Just cannot make this up.

    7. Janet M.

      Hi Cheryl. I know your pain. I have a daughter I have not seen in 4 years or my two granddaughters 5 and 8. My daughter’s mother in law gets to see them. It is so painful . I am so tired of crying. I try to go on with my life but it is hard. I do have contact with my three sons and their children but they all live out of state. I guess all we can do is our best and try to find some happiness. Janet

    8. Linda

      I understand this one. I have 4 grandchildren and only one is her new husband’s child. But his parents were allowed to lavish them with gifts and birthday parties while I sat hurting. The cringe for me was when they called her grandma. They were too young to know the difference but later on they’ll find out she was never the real grandma. It’s sad for me to know how confusing it is for children. But anyways , I know what you mean they take the fun right out of being a grandma. :(((

  33. Mom

    This past spring I had an opportunity to reconnect with my son & his family after 3 years of no contact. 3 years ago when his texts reached a point of escalating emotional abusiveness, I had to take off those rose-coloured mom glasses & finally face how my son & DIL were treating me. There were long periods of silent treatment where I was refused contact with my 4 young grandchildren. There was no support when I was going through stage 4 cancer treatments – although he did come to ask me for money. I saw them as the mean-spirited people they are.

    So this past spring I had to weigh all this again … was I being cold- hearted if I chose not to reconnect after 3 years (3 years of absolutely no contact )… I have a completely new life… it’s peaceful. I guess my son thought I was taking too long to decide – Mothers Day came and went & I heard nothing from him. I feel I’ve chosen not to be emotional abused but he’s the one who’s chosen to be cold-hearted.

    Reply
    1. Blümchen

      I stopped the whole blame game pertaining to myself as well as my son ; I don’t really understand why there is such sporadic interaction from his end but I finally stopped reaching out trying to force a relationship that hasn’t existed in a long time ; I have decided that it does NOT make me a bad cold hearted person ; but rather a person that takes care of herself ; I do not have any control over his behavior but I can choose to live in peace light and love despite the estrangement !! It does not have to define me as a person !!.
      There is so much freedom moving beyond the guilt ; moving beyond this situation; it’s about what I do with what happens to me not the other way around !
      There is life beyond estrangement and it can be joyful !!
      Peace and light to everyone !!!

  34. Diane Z.

    Thanks for your words of kindness and advice. I hope one day I can move on from the rejection and hate. But I feel quite stuck in this mourning stage where I feel this huge hole in my heart. Birthdays, holidays and special events aren’t fun anymore. How long does it take for this sadness to go away? Accepting it and moving on feels like I’m giving up, not caring anymore about my children who used to be the apple of my eye. I don’t think I’ll ever understand it.

    Reply
    1. Maytime

      Diane, i know where you’re coming from and so probably does everyone else on this forum. I have spent time over the past 5 years reading Sheri’s book, posts on this forum and other material that deals with mental health and particularly narcissism. Our ES gave us no explanation for his actions but there have been clues in his past and current behaviour which has given us an explanation that we can live with and an understanding that he’s probably not going to change course and come back to us. My advice to you would be to take time to do the things that make you happy and act as an observer of your EC without feeling the need to do anything. If they want to come back, they will. If not, you don’t want to waste your life waiting for them. Love and hugs x

    2. Effie

      I am going on 6 years…triggers, people i see, comments made, on and on, bring the pain back and its real physical pain on my chest… actual heartache… I wish I could offer hope.. I feel stronger in the fact I don’t cry much, but the pain ebbs and flows.. I am sure that we are all different personalities and that others have moved on way before 6 years… But my kids were my life and now they are adults I do not recognize… I wish there was more involvement here because I always need encouragement and I live a very busy life., but this pain is somewhat isolating isn’t it? ..

    3. rparents Post author

      It’s a sad situation, DianeZ and everyone.

      Maybe don’t consider it giving up. Maybe you just shelve it for now, a day, a week, a month…. If you give yourself permission to let go, then you can put your eyes on your own life. Doesn’t mean you can’t detour, but don’t wait so long to live in a new way that you run out of time.

      Hugs to you. Big hugs, because it’s hard. It was a huge commitment of all your heart. Reclaim some love for you now.

      Sheri McGregor

    4. Tara T.

      yup, I hear you. After 16 months I finally tried an anti depressant and it …Trintellix….worked wonderfully for me. Im still saddened by my situation but the horrible miserable feeling that makes me want to cry 24/7 is gone, and Im working hard to move forward.

    5. Cheryl

      I am not sure the pain ever really goes “away” but it can become less of a focal point with work, support and A LOT of prayer. Praying for you.

  35. Gracie2021

    Sheri, thank you for reaffirming that we DID try to be the best parents possible to our EC’s. Your article gives us the inspiration needed to carry on and live life to the fullest. You definitely overlook your EC’s vitriol towards you for the longest, walk on eggshells until your feet are raw, and then realize IT’S NOT YOU !
    You finally get it ….. Your EC’s don’t value your worth as a parent, and don’t reciprocate in kindness. There is only so much bad behavior from your grown children that you can tolerate. When that time comes, it is so much easier to move on, without the hatred being spewed from your once beloved children.

    Reply

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