Don’t get [sun]burned this Mother’s Day (when adult kids cut parents off)

When adult kids cut parents off:
Don’t get [sun]burned by Mother’s Day

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

when adult kids cut parents offA few days ago, I learned of an annual event called “World Naked Gardening Day.” Held the first Saturday in May, the event encourages people to tan where the sun doesn’t shine (usually, anyway).  The event that encourages getting as naked as a jaybird in the garden doesn’t (yet) pull at heartstrings to make a commodity of the holiday. That isn’t true of another well-known holiday which, here in the United States, also falls in May—Mother’s Day.

Those who follow this blog know the serious tone of my work to help when adult kids cut parents off. However, once in a blue moon, I can’t help getting a little cheeky. So, please bare with me as I use World Naked Gardening Day to expose a little more of that now.

Mother’s Day when adult kids cut parents off

When Anna Jarvis first founded Mother’s Day, she didn’t intend it to become commercialized. The naked truth is that marketers realized Mother’s Day was a gold mine for their bottom line. Especially for greeting card companies, candy makers, and jewelers who cash in on the day. Knowing that may help you to cope as the holiday draws near each year.

While it’s nice to be recognized, we all know that a duty-bought bouquet or a one-line text doesn’t do motherhood justice. As mothers of estranged adult children, you have some skin in the game as to how you respond—even if an estranged adult child reaches out.

Don’t get caught with your pants down. Have a plan!

when adult kids cut parents offWhen adult kids cut parents off, it’s important to prepare ahead for situations that cause parents pain. For many of us, Mother’s Day qualifies. Below, I’ve stripped down to the basics of getting by.


  • While plans help, it’s okay to recognize your heartache. Mother’s Day can arrive like a bunch of wilted flowers on a day you would rather skip. You may feel sad or angry as you mourn the loss and wish things were different. Even gardeners who wear their birthday suits know that a sad, wilting, and maybe wrinkled plant needs attention in order to thrive. Your heart can be like that. Read on about tending to your heartache.



  • Part of your plan must be looking ahead. I hope you’ll get my book, Done With The Crying, and take the time to do the included exercises that focus on your emotional healing and future happiness. When adult children cut parents off, those who have processed the pain and strengthened themselves will be better prepared if or when any reconciliation does occur. It may be the night before Mother’s Day now, but tomorrow will come. Will the world be your oyster?


This Mother’s Day, clothe yourself with preparation by reading through the articles linked above. You can find more about how to cope when adult children cut parents off by using the site’s search box and inputting key words of your choice (Mother’s Day, holidays, etc).

In all Seriousness

I hope you were not offended by this blog post. I don’t typically let it all hang out with silliness. If you look past the puns, my real message is visible to the naked eye. As a mother whose adult son estranged himself, I understand your pain. I hope that this Mother’s Day and every day, you will allow yourself to laugh. It’s good medicine.

Related reading

Mother’s Day 2019 radio interview with Sheri McGregor



Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

31 thoughts on “Don’t get [sun]burned this Mother’s Day (when adult kids cut parents off)

  1. Helen

    Things are improving for me as I have come to terms with the distancing of my daughter & her husband! I have tried for many years to make peace with her & husband but to no avail – so I have now stopped trying! While it has been painful, I had to face the harsh reality that “it is what it is” & I cannot control the situation! My other two children have brought me much joy & I’m thankful for that! Life goes on!

  2. Trish

    Hi Sheri, I am glad you reposted this. It made my husband and myself have a much-needed laugh at all those puns and the thought of such a holiday. He seems to be sailing through Chemo with the hope he can quit the treatments earlier than expected. all I can say is, it took a lot of courage on his part to sign up for the treatment regimen. Thank you again for the laugh AND the knowledge that I am not the only one who doesn’t like Mother’s Day.

    Trish J

    1. Sandy

      I have read both books & they were SO helpful! After nearly 5 years of silence our son (46) made contact with us a couple of months ago (needed us to drive to DC area from NC to take him to his colonoscopy !) We did not hesitate to agree! 1/2 way there he called to say they had canceled it (he was 3 weeks post Covid & they failed to mention he has to be 7 weeks “post!) we kept on & had 3 lovely days with him! He has stayed in touch by phone as if nothing had happened & we are grateful to have him “back!!

  3. Lyn H.

    Y’all know I read all your comments and all that Sherri post and I am going to tell I really think I am getting ok I have 2 Son’s that live in 2 different States so I don’t run into them or even see them ( their choice) my youngest I know for sure it’s his wife . But my attitude is How Dare they do this to any of us! It’s easier for me now when I am asked I just say no I don’t have any Children I am single & almost 70 years old time is not on my side so I refuse to live the time I have left crying, worrying & wondering what is wrong why did they cut me off I don’t have time for all that bull, I am going to be happy and live my life accordingly I am not being cold towards anyone and I am so sorry that we are meeting under these circumstances But it is what it is! I hope all of you have A wonderful Mother’s Day Be good to yourself don’t let these children bring us down anymore I am sure it’s their loss!

  4. Kate

    I have three children and am estranged from my oldest child and only daughter. She is now expecting her first child (my first grandchild). It’s joy and heartache all at the same time. Her grandmother (dads mother) and I never were on good terms. She announced to my maid of honor the night before our wedding that she had better be there for him when this all fell apart and did everything she could to sabotage our marriage. She was successful. Since that time she has made it her mission to alienate my children from me and my daughter started pulling away in her teens. It’s been a decade now that she actually cut ties with me and really from her siblings as well. I’ve tried to let go and move on and thought I had done a good job of that spending time with my sons and then the news of the baby hit me like a ton of bricks. Does this ever get easier? I’ve read the books, done the worksheets, seen a counselor but I just feel like I keep getting drug back to that swamp of heartache and depression.

    1. Ann

      Kate, I could have written your exact words, (minus the horrible MIL situation.). I too have three children and we are estranged from our oldest daughter. I’ve read both of Sherri’s books, done all the work. I pray for acceptance of this situation daily. It was working. Over the past year of our estrangement, I’ve become a better version of myself. I’ve lost weight and become healthier in many ways. That is until I found out my daughter was expecting her first child (my first grandchild.). I’ve been in a tailspin ever since. She doesn’t know that I know. Her sister reluctantly mentioned it to me, (which was another thing that killed me. My poor sweet daughter having that information and being so upset to know it and know how much it would hurt me to learn the news.) I was okay at first, but the more time passes, they more upset I am that she is going through her first pregnancy without me. How can she do it? How is she okay? We were so close. Anyway, here we are. I think this will be a heartbreaking battle to fight for the rest of our lives. All we can do is our best. Hugs to you!

  5. Charlyn W.

    I want to thank you for always taking the time to share your heart and passion to help all of us try to weather the storm as best we can with our estranged children. I know for myself your articles and newsletters are what help me keep going on to try to live my life. Mother’s day is one of the hardest days of the year and I personally would rather not celebrate, you let us know that no matter what stage or how we feel that it’s ok and to make sure to practice self care and love ourselves. You are making a difference for a lot of parents and I am very grateful I found your website and you, YOU have made a big difference in my life. Happy Mother’s Day Sheri! I hope you have a wonderful day ❤️

  6. Kameela H.

    Sheri thank you for for your humour and your support. It made me smile. My heart goes out to.everyone who’s experiencing this trauma. It’s our estranged children’s loss. I’m from England so.have already had Mother’s day. I’m into my second year of estrangement with our eldest son who was loving until he got married and then all changed. I still can’t figure out why he suddenly cut all contact with us for something trivial that he cited. He will not entertain a discussion. We’ve been more than supportive as parents do there’s no guilt on our part. We did our very best.We’re lucky to have two othet children who appreciate us and I think that we count ourselves lucky in that sense. With Sherii’s wise words of support I’ve ( My husband does not like about It) been able to put things into perspective. The pain has not disappeared but It’s more of a dull ache now. The relationship has changed and it will never be the same even.if they were a reconciliation. I hope that you will take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in your estrangement. We deserve better. Kameela

  7. Candy

    My Mother’s Day Poem To Myself:
    God has blessed me to be a Mom I would say.
    Wanted 3 children (pregnant 3 times – 2 live births – a miscarriage) which took 1 away.
    Having girls was my pride and joy even though there was a price to pay.
    Often imagine the miscarriage was a boy if I may.
    Like all prodigals they follow a different path and go astray.
    It is more than I can even convey every single day.
    Comforting to know God never leaves and is with us every step of the way.
    There will not be a Hallmark Mother’s Day for me, nay.
    Still just grateful to have had the experience of being a Mother even till I am old and gray.
    Hope and pray to see at least 1 if not all 3 of my children in Heaven with us to stay.

  8. Susan

    Thank you for these articles . They help me somewhat. Husband refuses to talk about the estrangement with our oldest daughter, who has our only grandchild (now 3 years old). Despite my many communications and apologies (not sure what I am apologizing for…) daughter has called me awful names, and written sad, sick messages, the last one telling us to leave her alone. She is also estranged with her younger sister, and has called her names as well. Somedays I can barely get thru the day, others I can accept her actions. Your messages and book have helped me realize it is not our fault, but our hearts are broken. Thank you for helping us with your articles and book. Happy Mother’s Day

  9. Linda

    Over the decades I watched my cousin reject her mother and teach her children to do the same. I also saw three of her children reject her. One eventually killed himself, and last year my cousin died with only one son still in her life. Do our children not realize that they are teaching their children to someday reject them?
    I walk on eggshells and have since my four married. I range from rejected to semi rejected with all. I have the most pain on Mother’s Day, because I am first and foremost a mother. I wait for whatever they send my way. It is what it is.
    It seems daughters want to replace their mothers, and daughters in law want to claim our sons 100%.
    I pray a lot . I find since my children are the gatekeepers, they determine my time with my grandchildren.
    All was good when I was full time babysitter and on call. Now I am on the shelf and wait for contact or not.
    I say prayers for you, Sheri, and what you do to comfort us. I feel we are helped with this support group and do much good for our friends.
    I am becoming more realistic, more wary, and I think a better person…. I didn’t know I was resilient, but I guess I am. ♥️
    Thank you.

    1. Kameela H.

      Linda I feel your pain. Know that you’re not alone and we’re mors resilient than we know. Spend time on yourself. Find things that bring you joy and seek them out . Stay strong for your health. Best wishes. Kameela

  10. Jacqueline H.

    Hi Sheri,
    I’m not sure if I’m estranged from my son or if our relationship is our new normal since he married.
    He married in 2015. He spent most holidays with our family until 2017. His wife mended things with her own parents.
    I never see him alone anymore. It almost seems like He’s not allowed to have lunch with me or even go out without what I believe to be his wife’s permission. It is a very strange situation. Sometimes he ignores our invitations or tells me that he’ll get back to me after her checks with his wife. We were an very close family. He and his sister were close until he married. I believe his wife is a narcissist. I used to go out of my way to include them in everything family related. Now I don’t bother because I can’t handle the disappointment anymore. He always tells us that he’ll come for a birthday or family event but cancels at the last minute.
    I recently described my situation as grieving my son who is still alive. I just hope he is happy and knows that he is always welcome home when he chooses so. My arms are always open. I have actually told him this many times.

    1. Angie B.

      Same here, she can’t control him if he can see you by himself. You would think that the sons could see this for themselves. No one would ever be able to control me this way. Someone once tried to and I sensed it and I value my freedom most of all, so I got out.

    2. Gina

      I feel similar. My son has gone no contact with me . I saw the pattern of his contact dwindling more and more until just a few weeks ago went to nothing. I believe his girlfriend is behind this. When my son and I were on speaking terms I would text his girlfriend about things I thought would interest her but she didn’t respond. When I told my son his response was why are you texting her?? I thought really I thought she would like that I’m reaching out to her. Anyway it’s very frustrating (and embarrassing). Not something I can or want to share.

  11. Marie

    Great article and puns. I’m visiting my mother for Mother’s Day this year. She lives over 1300 miles away, and I don’t fly, so it isn’t easy. So I will be happily focused on her, not on me.

    1. Mfreed

      I may be adopting a “hard line” and some may say my point of view is DENIAL or somehow unhealthy but this is where I land at this point. I acknowledge our son is in mid life making his own choices that he alone will carry & have to live with. I don’t consider myself a mother any longer – that may sound cold but my life is no longer about being a mother nor the expectations that go along with Mother status. I celebrate those who have that family role & connection! Even if our son chose to attempt reconnecting – it would not be a motherly connection for me – I don’t know who he is & he is not defined by being someone’s son. I continue to chose acceptance of this which allows a reframing, a redefining of my life. I struggle more with focusing my energies toward my own personal development than living without him now. Choosing to believe the value in myself, to offer motherly love to myself takes discipline, effort & commitment. This is only true for me – I’m not suggesting that those who respond differently are wrong – there is NO ONE way to navigate the loss, the grief, the pain – everyone finds their own way to navigate through life & I learn so much from everyone’s bravery in sharing their perspectives. I would not analyze or criticize another’s paths & hope the same grace is extended to all who share here. Be well – Love Lives In You For You!

      1. Denise

        I am in total agreement with your perspective. I don’t view myself as a mother either. I let that part of my identity go a few years ago. I feel that for me to be a mother, my adult son has to view me as one and he does not. I don’t have any connection with him and that has been his choice. I don’t respond to his holiday texts because I know that he is sending them because he cares what other people think. He does not want someone to say, “How could you not contact your mother?” I refuse to allow anyone (does not matter that I gave birth to him) to make me feel like I am worthless. I am worthy of love and kindness and I am living my life to the fullest. Because of his treatment of me, I have asked him (in the past) if he feels that I was a bad mother. His response, “You are a good mother but I am a weirdo.” What am I supposed to do with that? My answer: Live my life and let him live his. Anyway, I know it is very hard for many women to accept this situation and to cope with it and my heart goes out to you all.

      2. Sheryl

        I agree with you 100% and in the same situation with a son who I last saw at 17 and is now 34. There’s been absolutely no communication. I know my ex-husband has responsibility in part, but this child is now and has been for a while an adult. His dad who I supported I divorced when my son was 4. I supported the family, and so that didn’t go over well with the ex who was pretty much a stay-at-home dad who wasn’t very nice to me. Then again when you have a boy, they tend to want to be with their dads. Anyway I don’t feel like a mother anymore and it’s more of what was a nightmare situation, but I would never put up with mistreatment by either an ex or a child. So I don’t regret the present as there is no way after all these years we could have any kind of relationship, especially a mother/son. He chose what path he wanted and has to live with his choices. I guess my biggest hit financially was he cashed out about a $20,000 insurance policy I took out on him without a thank you. However, over the years I’ve saved probably hundreds of thousands of dollars I did not have to spend on him after that point. Then again when I’m gone he will miss out on millions. I guess he takes after his dad and is not too smart, right?

  12. Patricia O.

    Thank you Sheri!
    This is my first year or Mothers Day that I’m not speaking with my middle daughter, who had a baby boy. So, the commercials are starting now and it really triggers me. I’m going to try and record my programs so I can cut out the commercials. I’m hoping this will help.
    Before I thought about this I had dug up every Mothers Day card I have received and it really made the wondering if what they said was the truth or a lie? I don’t know what to think? I feeling of doubt and insecurity runs through my mind. I had to put away those momentos but it does hurt alot.
    After reading your article, i’m going to come up with a plan for myself.
    Thank you Sheri, I’m so grateful that I have found you.

  13. Diane M.

    I usually treat myself to something on Mother’s Day, be it flowers, my favorite chocolates, or even a new piece of costume jewelry. This year I’m going to spend the day outdoors if the weather is nice. If not, I’ll be lazy and relax the whole day reading, doing my crossword puzzles, journaling, watching TV, all while in my comfy PJ’s. I’ll make myself a special dinner too. I really did come to terms with my estrangement from my daughter and her family. But when I found out that my granddaughter is engaged to be married (I found out snooping online), that brought on a whole new hurt. I know I won’t be invited. How could my daughter or granddaughter not tell me this happy news? I was so close to them at one time. And suddenly, they all cut me off, my daughter, son-in-law, adult grandson and granddaughter and my 18 y/o grandson. No warning, no reason why! I have one son that is on disability, he’s 50. I do all the trying in that relationship. Now, I’m expecting him to call me once in a while or email me. I’m so tired of being the one always trying. Now, I want to put that energy on ME and my life. I wish all of you a happy day. Celebrate YOU and do something special just for YOU.

  14. Hopeful Joy

    Though no longer estranged, life remains “complicated”. We seldom hear from adult and spouse. If we reach out most times do not hear back. Phone numbers and emails change and we are not notified. We don’t think it is “intentional” to cut us off but we just don’t matter. I think I have made peace with things as they are until this stupid “holiday” or a birthday, or worse when one of us has a health issue. Then the sadness and all the other junk feelings roll over me. I wish things were different. Every holiday I think of this special community and sincerely pray and hope for peace and joy to manifest in all our lives. Love you all.

  15. Cathy C.

    I have 4 children , my 2 daughters have not spoken to me in 8 yrs ! My sons are wonderful and in my life.After my divorce my girls wanted nothing to do with me.I have 4 grandchildren I also don’t see, my heart is broken

    1. Mary

      I share your experience, Cathy. I have 3 sons. Two of them have cut me out of their lives for the past 15 years. I’m not sure why. Their brother, my 3rd son is attentive, but he has his own set of addiction problems. I’ve tried to focus on the good things in my life, two grandchildren whom my husband & I have raised, my husband, loving stepchildren, friends, etc. The pain, however, is always there. Stay strong, believe in yourself!

    1. Beverly

      Sheri, your Mother’s Day email relieved some of my sadness with my only son & his wife & family being estranged from me & my husband (husband passed away 06/24/2021). My son did not come to his Dad’s Memorial. Son is 45 yrs. Old, married with 15 yr. Old daughters. Grandchildren do not know us since they were in 2nd grade. I pray, try to keep busy to ease the sadness and sorrow. Beverly

      1. rparents Post author

        I’m so sorry, Beverly! You must miss your husband dearly too. BIG hugs to you … a brave and courageous woman. I’m angry on your behalf that your granddaughters must miss out on you.

        Sheri McGregor

  16. Deborah R.

    You and your book have helped me so much. I can live again and feel happiness in a life I would not have chosen for the without my adult son.I have not seen him in 5 yrs now and as sad as that is, your messages of ways to cope have allowed me to live again.It’s not a perfect world but it’s darn good.
    Thank you Sheri.

  17. Donna P.

    Thank for being a light in this darkness. I find comfort in your articles and enjoyed the lightness of today’s post

    God Bless


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *