Estranged from adult children: Take care of yourself

Emotional Well-Being Series
Estranged from adult children: Taking care of yourself

adult child is estrangedIn a recent post, we explored the question: Why? and how it can be helpful to parents who are estranged from adult children

It’s important to note that in order to deal with the loss, the why questions must be coupled with another set of questions, the crux of which is: How? How will I move forward? How can I keep up my strength? How can I get over this?

Answering all of these how questions involves taking care of yourself. It’s s natural to ask why after any traumatic emotional experience. When you are hurting because you are estranged from adult children, figuring out how you can get through the emotional roller coaster, move forward, and enjoy life is absolutely necessary.

After my adult child’s rejection, eating healthfully, resting, and recreation took a backseat. And sometimes, I comforted myself with unhealthy choices – – which was not helpful. I added extra weight, and exercised less. That meant having to re-start good habits, backtrack and lose the weight, etc. It was like digging deeper, so climbing out was even more difficult.

When estranged from adult children, take control, take care of yourself

When we become estranged from adult children, taking care of ourselves is necessary to deal with the stress, sadness, loss, and eventually heal. Getting into a self-care routine really helped me to feel better overall. I was better able to take control of my attitude, and my feelings about my life.

When we take good care of ourselves, we’re more likely to try new activities. We’re more likely to get up off the couch and get out into fresh air, participate in hobbies that bring us joy, and associate with friends. All of these things help us feel connected, and studies have shown that connections aid health as well as promote longevity and happiness.

Even when we’re estranged from adult children, we need to live our lives. Doing so empowers us — whether that means feeling strong enough to reach out more to an estranged child despite the possibility of disappointment, or fostering an attitude of acceptance for the time being.

Estranged from adult children: Assess your self-care

When short and quick, assessments can be useful tools to determine how well we’re taking care of ourselves. An assessment increases self-awareness and helps identify areas where we can be kinder to ourselves. If you take an assessment today, utilize the results to make changes where you see weaknesses in your self-care. Then take the assessment again. You will have a concrete picture of how you’re progressing.

Sometimes, when traumatic, emotionally unsettling events occur – – becoming estranged from adult children falls into this category! – – we can feel so out of sorts that we don’t know where to begin in caring for ourselves. Simply by its listings, a good assessment tool can help you think of ways to help yourself

Try this tool, originally created for my life coaching clients, to assess how well you’re taking care of yourself: Self Assessment RTF.

Consider also sharing your results, or how you feel about how well (or not) you’ve taken care of yourself once you became estranged from your adult children. You can leave a reply below, or post in the help for parents of estranged adult children forum.

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14 thoughts on “Estranged from adult children: Take care of yourself

  1. mommanomore

    Thanks for this. I came back to look at that self test again, to see how I’m doing since the first test. Overall I’ve been neglecting myself, and I guess that’s kind of normal for moms when they get estranged from adult children. BUT, on second “assessment test”, I am already doing a little better. Already posted in the forum about this (

    Thanks again.

  2. Luvthec62

    Being new to this site I first want to say thank you. Finding support groups for parents of estranged adult children is very difficult. For how many of us that suffer this pain, I find it hard to understand why such groups are so scarce.

    Second, I have several feelings I’d like to express to start and then see what some of you have to say. My first feeling is that of constants hurt. Some days my heart aches. And like many of you, no matter how much time goes by. I am surrounded daily at work with colleagues of my age who share pictures and stories of their adult children and grandchildren and I smile and say nice things, all the while my heart aches and I’m fighting back tears.
    The next feeling I have is that of failure. While there may be evidence based on my ED behavior she may have some mental illness, I’m her mother. I raised her. I was always there for her, even on the last very terrible day I saw her three years ago. On that day she threatened to kill me. I do believe excuses aside, I failed her somehow. There’s just no getting past that fact for me.
    So that being said, how in the world to we move past that? I go thru my day just making the motions. Nothing I do or say feels real, but pretend.

    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Luvthec62,

      I know the pain of having a child turn away from me–so I very clearly understand and relate to your pain. Please don’t feel as if I am in any way minimizing that when you read this reply.

      You mentioned there’s just “no getting past” the feeling that you failed your now estranged daughter. Now that you’ve identified that feeling, what if you make a different decision about it? What if you decided that this was not your failure after all? Because you did so much to be a caring, supportive mother (and in your case because you believe your daughter could be mentally ill), what if you decided that rather than this being your failure, it is due to circumstances beyond your control?

      It may not sound right, and you may have all sorts of feelings about such a decision. The feelings may be connected to lore of motherhood, and society’s feelings about motherhood. If you and others could set aside those beliefs/thoughts, even for a few moments, perhaps you could look at the situation from a perspective that is fairer to yourself.

      Take heart, Luvthec62. And be kind to yourself. Here’s a past article that may be helpful:

      Sincerely, Sheri McGregor
      Founder, RejectedParents.NET

    2. happy

      I am new here but this is a painful situation we are in and we cant change it. I have 2 narcisstic self absorbed adult kids who only care about themselves. I finally decided enough is enough and husband and I traveled this Xmas. I was really grateful to not be with them since I have finally accepted how they are. It is like watching a scary movie to be with them. They like high status people anyway, not my husband and me and we don’t like people who think they are better than anyone. Yes, it is best to love my children from a distance. It is time to enjoy life.

  3. Pheonix

    Firstly, thank you Sheri for giving me food for thought with taking care of myself. It is taking me a long time to think rationally as I have had a terrible year culminating in panic attack medication. Some days are better that others, I was off work with workplace bullying which has resulted in my retiring from work and hiding away! My mum ther took an overdose, my three children needed my support however I found that I was unable to help anyone as I hid away from the world. Barely getting dressed shaking a great deal. The year dragged on and I slowly tried to give my self challenges like. Today I will drive to the shops to buy three things and if I see someone I know I will smile!
    Then whilst away on holiday for my birthday I had two lovely cards from two of my children and a best wishes with no love from my eldest. There’s a whole back story behind that and it’s mainly about my son in law! Any way I couldn’t get this out of my head!! My husband then was taken to emergency and was in intensive care! He has a heart condition. So I am completely alone, no euro and transport.
    I surprised myself of what I am capable of and took over.
    Now I am trying to get some enjoyment into my life and to move forward making the most of what’s out there.
    Thank you again for starting this forum, it is really helping me, I do not cry and I’m not sure that’s not healthy so I am hoping that working through my journey with the knowledge that I’m not alone getting out my hurt will help me heal.
    Thanks again

  4. Kmap

    This site is exactly what I needed. I’m still working thru this. I am trying to take care of myself, and exercise and eat right, but it is hard. I want to drink myself into oblivion or eat myself into a coma. Neither of which are healthy or doing any good, and do not change a thing. The one bad habit I picked up was smoking, I was craving it after years of not smoking. I know it is the nerves. I’m trying to get more involved with friends and not sit home and mope. But I’m exhausted and either numb or aching inside. When will I heal? How to I conquer the fear of ending up alone?

    1. happy

      well we always got Uber. I lost 30 lbs here lately. I was eating so much to comfort myself, no more, I feel so much better, time to take care of me. I want to enjoy life in spite of them. I have 2 adult narcisstic children who could care less about anyone but themselves. We might as well enjoy life, they sure are.

  5. Bups62

    I was searching for some help when I found sheri’s book advertised, Done With the Crying. I ordered it that night on my kindle and have started it. This is all new to me. I am so sad all the time and can’t seem to stop crying if I even think about what has happened in my life. I am so hurt by my son. I have spent most of his life helping and supporting him getting through tough situation after tough situation. I feel betrayed and just very sad and sometimes very angry. I appreciate being able to vent and also read other’s thoughts and feelings and know that I am not alone. Thank You.

  6. Annie

    So sorry Bups62 that you too have had to seek comfort. You’ve come to the right place. Continue to read Sheri’s book. It will help tremendously. It’s okay to cry and be angry. It will get better within time. Meanwhile, take good care of you. This is not about you. We are all here for you. Hugs, Annie

  7. sherry

    I have been reading this book for,the past few days. I am experiencing feelings that are normal. Some days are better than others. Our children have the power to turn this situation into something positive. They do not seem to care how their parents suffer. They go on to live their lives without thinking how hurt we,have been. It can happen to any parent. The adult child is the jury. Judge, defense attorney and the prosecuting attorney. It is all so sad but is the truth. You never get over it but learn to cope with all!!

  8. Maria

    Hello , it is so very difficult for me after all I have done as a mother, gave them everything to make them self-sufficient then he got married. I became just someone who does not exist anymore yet he gives gift on occassion but on the talking & caring level . I do not feel it anymore he values more the friends that he made while disregards our relationship. I just need his respect, loyalty & love that I always have for him. How cone there is no reciprocation?

  9. Marie

    My Son told me he doesn’t want to be responsible for me in my old age. Wow, that hurt. To think that I took care of him all of his life. He never calls and I never see him. Oh well, that’s life.

    1. brenda f.

      my daughter said you are not coming to live with me when you get old, where do you want to go, to a nursing home near me or where you live now 2 hours away. So hurtful. They don’t care.

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