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

  1. Joyce M.

    I am 76 yrs old and have a son and daughter. After covid she (47) was not coping well
    and had a mental breakdown over being so isolated. She had her own studio (pottery)
    in my home and worked alone during the past 2 yrs. One year ago she met a man
    in a parking lot told her he would make her a princess, was a doctor, etc. She was
    overwhelmed and told him little about herself which she regrets. I found out that this
    person was a liar and not a doctor. She refused to believe this and started writing hundreds
    of letters in journals that were bizarre. I could not understand this behaviour and she never
    confided her thoughts to me. On Good Friday she went out with a guy who lives next
    door in the basement and she later was invited over. He was an enabler and gave her
    alcohol and pot. Later she was screaming outside and he was with her but didn’t till
    me what happened. The neighbours called 911 and she screamed for this doctor
    and fought off 4 medics and they took her to the hospital. It was an absolute nightmare
    for me. Next day hospital sent her home by taxi as she refused to talk with a therapist,etc.
    I still put up with this behaviour until by June 2 more incidents had 911 called. She was
    sent to our local hospital and she is now living in a very nice lodge and has made contact
    with me about 2 mos. ago. She is not happy at home here so I told her not to come back
    to see me unless she came with a friend from the lodge or the new church. She was
    becoming verbally abusive to me and Ilive alone and have to absorb this pain. I think about
    her every day and have gone to visit her with our dog. She said she has found God and
    forgives me for sending her for help but will not forget. I blame our medical system for
    failing her and now the man who runs the lodge is her friend and protector and me.
    I so appreciate this wonderful man and have made a connection with him in case of any
    further upsets. This is how I live every day, asking why this had to happen to such a
    wonderful girl. I try to pray but God is taking his time in helping me find a way around
    this obstacle and what the future will bring. By reading all of the above letters I know
    I am not alone but its hard to look forward. Thanks for letting me put this in writing
    and I hope people will see we are all affected and disheartened in similar ways.


  2. Becky

    Hi everyone. Tonight I am feeling rage
    About my adult daughter. Who is so
    Distant. Even while living in the same town.
    I think the denial is breaking. I am just
    Tired of it. This has been going on for
    Years. I just want to move away. I don’t have family
    Here in Colorado anymore. Looking for
    A traveling companion. Anyway happy
    To see this site.

    1. Julie

      Dear Becky,
      I also live in Colorado. After divorcing I stayed in the same small town so my child could finish school here.
      Her father did some unspeakable things which damaged both me and my child. It is not just his behavior that is “bothersome”. He has profound character flaws, a personality disorder and a total lack of integrity. Years of gaslighting and chronic lying wore me down and I became very reactive. Now my child is focusing on my reactions instead of what provoked them.

      Shockingly to me, my child has recently chosen to live with him and is pulling away from me more and more. My child won’t answer texts or phone calls and only reaches out when they want to.

      I love my child very much and I am devastated. I am at a loss. I stayed in that awful marriage thinking it was the best thing for my child. It destroyed my emotional and physical health and now I’m being punished further as all his “sins” seem to be forgiven and I am ripped to shreds, being crucified for my reactions to his insanity.

      I’m beyond heartbroken. I too would like to find someone to travel with. There’s way more to the story and the pain is becoming unbearable.

  3. Nora

    What should I do when I feel like I just can’t do this anymore? The pain is cutting too deep. I am not new to this. It started 11 yrs ago after my husband died suddenly. My daughter rejected me and moved to another state saying she was going to be with the people who made her happy now. So brutal and undeserved. I recognize this isn’t all about me and she has her own burdens to carry and her own shortcomings. I own my own. But the sense of betrayal….not just of me but of her siblings as well…is so powerful. Two grandchildren I don’t see. I send gifts on the appropriate occasions. She threw her family of origin under the bus for reasons I don’t understand. Her level of cruelty is hard to understand. I see all the happy family photos on social media particularly the ones with all the inlaws…celebrating in Hawaii for example. It is so painful. I have a long time therapist so am not without professional support. But there are times in which I feel like I just can’t do this anymore.

    1. Carol

      Hello Nora
      First of all I’m so sorry you’re hurting. I can honestly say I know how you feel. Reading your story sounds like my own. I (and my family) were not the ‘chosen’ one. My daughter’s cruelty in her estrangement is so overwhelming and I too have lost my grandsons, one whom I’ve cared for since he was a baby.
      Thank you for sharing your story and pain, it makes me feel as though I am not alone in this, I didn’t realise it was a ‘thing’. Sending you virtual hugs, I’ve no doubt that you have been a wonderful mother.

  4. Bonita L.

    Hi I’m new to the group it’s been almost 14 years and I’m still hurt and upset His Birthday is next week and here comes the tears, I lost a son at four years old and have 2 more boys one he’s okay and the estranged one I feel as if I lost 2 The truth is he is still alive and it hurts me so at times,

    1. candleinthewind

      Hello Bonita. What a lovely name. The birthdays do hurt, what I do is send/give a present to myself (as if to him/her to celebrate the love you have/still have/wish you didn’t?) anyway, celebrate being alive, being nice, be nice to yourself, buy or do something that you like, that brings you joy, that you would like to bring to him but bring it back to yourself. Keep being kind and loving but to yourself, that way the hurt doesn’t turn to bitterness, or lessens the sting, something like that. We brought them into the world to choose to live as they choose, with or without their mother. It hurts, but we can do nice things for ourselves to lessen the pain and give ourselves a nice treat!

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