Estranged from adult children? Love yourself


Daniel Davis of the Beyond 50 Radio program recently interviewed Sheri McGregor, author of Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children, for Valentine’s Day. Have a listen as they talk about self-love.

Related reading:

How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count The Ways

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25 thoughts on “Estranged from adult children? Love yourself

  1. Pam

    Very helpful and timely as I found myself ruminating this morning. This is such a positive , insightful guide toward self care and moving forward. Thank you!

  2. Lori

    My name is Lori. I have a 29 year old daughter that did this to me and my family yet again. The first time was 2 years until I finally went to see her and we reconciled. Then in 2019 when she had her baby I was there for her from beginning to end . Cherished every moment we spent together. But after the baby was born she told me to get a pertussis vaccine which I was going to get but was advised not to because of my neuropathy. She said since she wasn’t going to vaccinate the baby at all I had to stay away. I did and I was able to visit with a mask on on for several months. Then finally I came back up to visit her my grandson is now crawling and I even asked her what if he crawls to me what to do? She said idk your giving me anxiety. So I came with my husband and 12 year daughter her sister I came in sat down the bAby stated crawling towards me she wiped him up so fast and I didn’t think about this and told me to get up and move. The next day your breathing on him I’m not comfortable putting him down so I cried in the room and told my husband we need to just leave. Then his birthday was coming up she called me and told I was no longer welcome at her house and the birthday will be outside somewhere. I first said ok. Then she texted me the list of stuff on amazon for his. We talked about getting a $645 play ground set I said possibly but if I get that I would have to come set it up outside the backyard she said don’t worry about that we have neighbors that can set it up. I couldn’t believe what she was saying. So I went to Walmart got this big gift and called her and said I would like to come to the house to drop off his gift . She flat out I’m not vaccinated neither is my son so No we will meet at the restaurant and that is it. I texted her back and told her that I’m not able to bond with him as a grandma so whenever you think it’s ok to be a part of his life and hug and read to him ect just call me and I will be back up but for now I’m just going to mail his gift. He should be walking by then but screamed at me when I did all her after the text yo tell he should be walking and he could open his own gifts with some help she lost it and said can’t I just enjoy my kid with you telling me this. Then I had my sister call her a few days later big mistake. My sister said I will be coming down to visit . She to her you are welcome anytime. Then she she said I will be visiting you if your own mother can’t come to your house. My sister said to her is it true we can’t hold the baby or even watch him open up presents? After that she blocked me. I sent her money through Zelle for my grandson and she called the police at 4 am they called me and told me she wants nothing to do with me or my family. She blocked everyone except my son her brother. He says even if I mention you she will cut me out too. I am so hurt I can’t stop crying. Please help me . I lost my daughter and grandson.

    1. Wen

      I am so sorry to hear your story. It must be so painful. What does your husband suggest for you?

  3. Sandy

    I can totally relate. Divorced from my children’s daddy I am the bad guy since I left. It was a traumatic divorce. Both children stayed with him. Which I understand he had the money and the house. He could be abusive to me and I was supposed to stay. I never argued back till I actively gave home the papers . I tried to get custody of our youngest (15 then 20 now) but when your down your down. Through therapy during the divorce and after. I am still watching from afar with awe. I am not allowed to give my opinion or discuss anything with mutual friends per the children. I am not allowed to really like anything on Social Media either. I’ve been told by their friends that they assume I had died because no one talked about anything. There’s so much more but I don’t know where to start. Just received my copy of “Done with Crying”. Looking forward to knowing what I can do.

  4. Christine S.

    I was made aware of my eldest son’s desire to remove me from his life just before Thanksgiving of last year. I found great comfort and information for coping with this situation through Sheri’s book and the postings of fellow abandoned parents. I provided some of my story on this website just before Christmas. Describing my hurt publicly was a cathartic experience and I appreciated the follow up compassionate replies . Aside from certain triggers which bring on renewed sadness and tears, I have coped fairly well with my new reality.
    I have been fortunate in that unlike many other abandoned parents, friends have been incredibly supportive of me and my sorrow. It has helped that they share my shock and bewilderment regarding my son’s accusations that I am a toxic person who must be kept at bay for the sake of his own well being.
    I do have some issues for which I hope others might provide advice. One situation pertains to my husband. Initially, my son claimed he found the both of us to be problematic and demanded that we both seek counseling. My son will communicate with my husband though responses to emails, texts and phone calls are brief and terse.
    My husband has made attempts to bring us together, such as offering to pay for flights so my son and his wife could join his brothers and extended family in celebrating my upcoming 65th birthday . The answer was no.
    The hope is that my husband’s communication with my son will keep the door open to the possibility of a reconciliation. On the other hand, I need help dealing with a negative attitude-the sense that my husband is not standing with me. I am struggling with feeling as though my husband is somehow affirming my son’s accusations about my “toxicity” by not defending me and doing more to take my son to task(in a loving, fatherly way) for his sudden revelation that I am too horrible a person to associate with. I am longing for him to sensitively and diplomatically communicate to my son that he will not abide my son’s hurtful words and actions against me. My husband believes that would cause more alienation and serve to shut down all communication and reconciliation possibilities.
    My additional concern is how to best deal with my other sons. One married son is extremely angry with his brother’s behavior towards me. Until I asked him not to, he and his wife had planned to tell his brother that continued estrangement with me would force them to cut off their relationship with him and his spouse. My other son, who lives away, maintains a friendly relationship with all family members. Everyone in our immediate and extended family has been affected at some level by my eldest son’s desired estrangement from me. How have others of you managed to maintain healthy relationships with other family members and not cause further rifts while one member is being shunned?

    1. Wen

      My mother suggested to continue to be kind, loving & understanding to all family members. My counselor taught me my kind & understanding behavior will make you feel good about yourself.

  5. Better4it

    For our family, the writing was on the wall, but exactly eight months after my mother’s death all hell broke loose. Things had been sketchy for a few years, the exiled daughter had not been a good mother to her children, mistreating us, violent with her sisters and a decision was coming either way. This has been our second estrangement from her, our first that has included the grandchildren that we were all extremely close to and thoroughly involved in their lives.

    At first she eliminated my husband and then my second born daughter; they had had it with her antics, lying, adultery, and treatment of the children. My youngest daughter came next, with me following a few months later after I stopped writing checks.

    I was the hold out…I was the one that hung in there for fear of what would happen to the children without a sane person in the room or someone they could go to. Someone that would provide for them their basic needs…food, shelter, clothing and above all love. I ensured they went to all their after school activities, and their homework was checked.

    Three and a half years later, when the four of us occasionally discuss it, we all understand the roles we took. None of us blame each other, my daughter’s know I was trying to protect the children, my husband tried to blame himself, it’s not our fault…it had to come to this. One thing during all this, I did say to the oldest was, “do not talk about my husband, your father, my daughters, your sisters like that, you can never take those words back”, and I meant it. The four of us are still tight in spite of her, she cannot break us.

    Occasionally extended family reaches out to her, the rare invite to a large family affair, she does not get the annual invites, and the ED finds a reason not to come. We are informed in advance, and like I tell my family, “we are coming regardless”. I do not tell my family how to run their events, that would be rude of me; and my family problems shouldn’t become their problems. In addition, my family is well aware and has witnessed her behavior.

    My husbands family has picked a side and it is the ED’s, and like I say…good luck with that. I don’t care what they do for her, but whatever it will be, it will not be much.

    I wish you a smooth transition, wherever this leads you.

  6. Christine S.

    Thank you Becky. i appreciate you taking the time to share how you and your family handled this unfortunate life event.

  7. Danielle

    THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR SHARING! I have a very long and complicated story. I had my son at 16. (His father raped me and I never told anyone) Suffice it to say I loved my baby and raised him.. not without difficulty and I did my best… the problems began when my mother started meddling.. alsways interfereing with my parenting when it came to establishing healthy punishments for a son that tended to be unrluly at times. My mother basically made me second guess myself most of the time and my son ended up learning how to triangulate and get away with everything and get whatever he wanted from my mother. Long story short.. he grew up very entitled and stil is as an adult now in his early forties and he is married with three children of his own. His wife treats me like dirt and I never knew why but suspect she blames me for my sons selfish ways. She has been often unkind and nasty to me and I never said a word… kept the sadness in for fear of being banished from seeing my grand-children. Well last June it finally happened.. I was fed up of her being cold and mean to me and I arrived at my grand-daughters bithday party and all I said was (why dont you greet me when I arrive to my daughter in law) .. my son came over and said in front of everyone.. why are you speaking this way to my wife in front of everyone as though I was a monster.. true I should of spoken to her alone.. I was trying to express my feelings of rejection an dI chose badly because (my timing) because I had a build up of sadness in me and it just came out. Well that was it! I left when I saw how my son spoke to me and I texted him later to ask if we could talk things out and I also left a message expressing some of my feelings.. well.. Nothing… As usual nothing ever gets resolved but I get the silent treatment. After too much hurt and years of disrespect from my son. I was done.. I never tried again.. because he is NEVER sorry.. I am alwyas the one apologizing for all my mistakes and everything over and over again.. I am done! No more .. so since june 2019 I have had zero news from my son and his wife.. I miss my beautiful grand-daughters.. I heard my daughter in law had a son in December but they never called me.. did not call for Christmas either.. For once I am NOT calling.. and my worst fear has happened.. I am banished from seeing my beautiful grand-children.. the ultiamate punishment.. Cruel! I do not deserve this!

  8. Heidi S.

    Sherry..I just read the story on GH 2018 and at first I thought the story was about my family…it was so identical…Our son was very close to us..He called ..came over..brought whatever girlfriend or friends over the house with love and happiness…until 1 day he met this girl he started dating and he told her that he has a wonderful family and close relationship with us…. she seemed nice until they got engaged and then the nightmare happened..she had our son move a week after engagement without another job to another town..she informed us she was the boss..also she had her own family meaning we were not to be part of their family…one day she told us we needed to meet her parents and fly to another state the following week…when we said we couldn’t as I had to have a medical procedure done that week and wouldn’t be able to fly but we would be happy to meet them the following week or anytime after next she went balistic yelling and I had to reschedule my medical procedure to make her happy…the one and only time I ever called my son was to ask what we could bring as a little gift to her family to take when we met her family and she started to yell and say how dare your mother call us…so we end up flying to meet her parents the following week as stated and paid a fortune on last minute air ticket ..rented a car and when we get to her parents home we find out they were divorced and the day prior to our arrival they had to haul her mother in a white straight jacket to alcoholic ward and father was also a severe alcoholic and spent 10 minutes with us and in the 10 min. he insulted my family and parents and left…so for the love of my son we spent a fortune to make her happy and we were abused …it doesn’t end there..when we drive my son and future daughter in law to airport I thought the most neutral thing to talk about would be the I mention how much smog there is and she tells me to shut up and hubby and I are only allowed to speak if she has a anything to say to we were doing them a favor…for wedding we were not invited at first and called our friends to let them know we were not invited… but 48 hours prior to wedding at 11pm at night we had received a call from our son that we had to be at the wedding so her parents wouldn’t be embarrassed .We end up driving straight thru 22 hours almost getting in a bad accident to attend wedding for the love of my son and when we got there we were ignored..After the wedding 6 months later we were supposed to go visit them for Easter only to be told that his wife was now mad because we didn’t show up to the wedding breakfast 6 months earlier. we knew nothing about as nobody including son didn’t tell us…then he spoke non chalantly that it is what it is and hung up…they bought a new home and after they lived in it for 3 months DIL decided she didn’t like living there either and moved son at her parents house with no job and during that time he went through 4 jobs in 1 year and then moved back to live near us and bought a home but still no communication from our son….in 4 years she had him move 6 times…they now have a baby and never told us…very hurtful and tears are she’d as we once had such a wonderful relationship with our son and always told his friends including DIL what great parents and growing up memories he has…now he acts like a stranger to us

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Heidi,

      Like you, I heard that I was a good mother, too. I have a card my ES once gave me. It says I’m the coolest mom and everybody knows it. Deep down, I know that he know that still. I don’t think I was the “coolest,” but I do know that I was a good, decent, caring mother to him and all my children. Please take good care of yourself. You deserve your own kind care.

      Sheri McGregor

  9. BeautifulOaks

    I have just finished reading the book and feel so inspired to move on with my life.
    Thank you Sheri for this wonderful insight.

  10. rparents Post author


    I’m so glad that you felt supported and helped by the book. Yes, make a beautiful life for yourself! (I love your username!)

    Hugs to you,
    Sheri McGregor

  11. Christine D.

    Thank you Sherri for your book and support. slowlyI find myself healing and taking back my power and control from reading and seeking support from the Facebook group. I recently ran into my ed after 19 months and although there had been no real reconciliation I walked away feeling ok and confident with myself and where I am with my life. It is now about me and not her anymore.

  12. Louanne B.

    I have reached out to my 2 son’s. My oldest has actually responded with shortness but non the less a spark of hope. My middle son refuses to answer any texts or messages. My heart hurts as I can help feed them as We farm. I so want them to know they can get food to eat
    I continue to pray for my boys. Still unable to chat with my 4 grand children, one that is 18 months old I have never met .
    I am so blessed to be able to get out and plant and thank God for that.
    Thank you for for guidance

  13. Nancy

    Sheri ,

    Thanks for your insights. I read the above comments and experiences and my heart goes out to everyone. We all did the best we knew at the time. And we’re always learning and growing and hopefully that includes learning to be whole again in this situation.

    I have uncovered a reason for the very troubled relationship I have with my daughter. While complete estrangement has not happened – yet – months of passive aggressive silent treatment, verbal and physical abuse – makes me think it will ultimately go there.

    I have sought professional support and learned that the operative dynamic in my family is narcissism. My family growing up, I see now, was very dysfunctional causing me to marry someone who set up the same dynamic. The reason to do that was to solve the problems I never solved in my original family in the marriage. I was oblivious to it all.

    Fast forward decades and the same relational problems exist. And, narcissism is the operative behavior with my husband and my daughter. They have teamed up – and I am on the outside looking in. Sadly, narcissism is biological and experiential. My daughter mirrors her Dad.

    Understanding this can be so helpful. Since I saw this in my family of origin – I can see now how the behavior will never change – even tho I tried with Mom and sister for decades. And, I see how it was their choice of a coping mechanism – not anything overt about me. My mistake was to continue to try and try over decades.

    That has taught me that many ‘children’ who choose to reject parents made a choice for this narcissistic mind set characterized by zero empathy, control, hubris and anger.

    Realizing that is a game changer. Am I disappointed that the daughter I enjoyed for so long is like this. Yes! Was I the perfect parent? Heck No. But I do see the dynamic at work which helps me to detach and not take it all personally.and as time goes by it has gotten much easier.

    I will forever miss the relationship I thought I had with her. But I see now, it wasn’t real and won’t ever be. That allows gentle detachment and loving her from afar.


    1. Lorna

      The narcissism pattern makes sense. Since my daughter was 13 she stopped including her parents, especially me. Having her friends over for her 16th birthday was met with jokes and rolling eyes. Our house isn’t fancy enough and our clothes aren’t rich enough. Year after year it got worse, the jokes, commenting behind my back and telling lies. She is a child of a tough divorce. All of us had counseling except her. She refused until She stole money from Me and We saw a counselor. No work could be done. Her dad is a narcissist and his father told me that. She sided with him, has paid his Bills, pushed me out of her wedding, her dad even took my seat making me sit behind. To me her wedding was a bunch of others on an alcoholic binge, I was embarrassed and realized how much she needs help. My husband defended me but she appears to have no capacity for empathy, I pray for her healing. she was taping my responses to use against me. Scared me to my soul. I have 2 sons that I’m close to and they are worried, but have seen me change for the better. I have a strong faith, friends, a dance practice and a husband who is beside me. I had to ask her out of my life last May when she did some very cruel , alarming things to me and her brother and step sister. I cannot chase her love because it won’t work.
      I do not think she will change because of the narcissism. Divorce was tough for my family too when I was 16 but I do not think she is moving forward in a healthy way learning the tools to be healthy. I will enjoy learning from this group of parents. Thank you!

  14. Jodi F.

    Wow! As I sit down to type this, after much reflection on the previous posts, it is hard to know what I’m feeling right now. In a way, I feel relieved that I am not alone in this suffering, but also heartbroken to know there are so many of us going through this. Add a pandemic to the mix, and I can only ask, “can things get much worse?” Sheri, I just finished your book, and was moved to tears (no pun intended!) My only child, 19 year old son, has become estranged from me, not his dad, going on nearly 2 years. He is in college, living with his dad when not in school, about an hour from me. I have made every effort to rekindle what I (thought) we once had, but he wants no part of me. He has distanced himself in every way imaginable, and I am beyond hurt. Today, after not hearing from him for months (since I dropped him off at college), he texted the following…” I hoped this would go without saying, but please do not stalk me on social media or try to manipulate me through other people. I don’t understand how you have not received the message that I need SPACE from you, but clearly I haven’t made it obvious enough. I hope you understand that the way you’re acting is just pushing me further away. Don’t bother responding because I won’t respond back. Please respect my privacy. That’s all. Thank you.” Sooo, as I sit here reading his text, heartbroken, ashamed, and Pissed that I could actually have raised a son to be so cruel and disrespectful, I decided to turn the tables around. I pay his cell phone every month, and if THIS is how my son feels, well, okay then! Phone suspended immediately! #you’reanADULT”now#payyourowndamnbill! I feel so much better!!!!!


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