Estranged parents define themselves

estranged parentsEstranged parents, are you really estranged?

One mom mentioned receiving an email from her daughter. Although this was the first contact in a very long time, the mom wondered, “Am I still estranged?”

Her question echoes that of many estranged parents. If you finally get a response from an adult child who has ignored you, are you still “estranged”? Does receiving a phone call, a letter, a birthday card, or some other contact, change everything? What if you get a birthday card and a Christmas card? Do two cards mean you are no longer estranged? What about two phone calls plus a text? Let’s see.

Estranged parents, how ya’ feeling?

At Dictionary.com, the word “estranged” is defined like this: displaying or evincing a feeling of alienation; alienated. It’s an adjective that describes a way of feeling.

If you feel estranged, then you are. There are no hard and fast definition rules that rely on technicalities.

Am I an estranged parent, or maybe just a semi-estranged parent?

Some people define limited contact such as an occasional call or email as “semi-estranged.” If that works for you, use it. But if occasional contact is the standard, who’s to decide what’s “occasional”? Again, there are no rules here.

If describing yourself as “only” or “just” semi-estranged makes you feel as if your pain from estrangement should be less hurtful than a parent’s “full” estrangement with absolutely no contact, then don’t qualify your definition of estrangement.

Estranged parents, period.

Some parents with no contact say they prefer complete silence than having some contact with an estranged adult child. I know, I know. . . . Some estranged parents can’t imagine saying that. Well, for parents who have received a couple of calls or texts, only to get excited about the possibility of more communication – – which doesn’t come – –  the high of hope followed by the crashing let down is just too painful. In some families, estranged parents are drained of cash from giving and giving and giving. They recognize a need to replenish their stores for their retirement phase, so cringe at the thought of their estranged adult child making contact and asking for even more.

Each situation is unique, so comparing our situation to another estranged parent’s circumstances, feelings or solutions may not be helpful.   

Estranged parents, you’re on both sides of the estrangement equation

While “estranged” describes feelings, the word “estrange” is a verb, so denotes action. To “estrange” is defined as follows: to remove, to keep at a distance.    

Despite some form of contact, you may still feel as if you’re kept at a distance or removed from your adult child’s life. To define yourself, your feelings, therefore, are also important on this side of the equation.

So, where does your estranged adult child fit into the equation? It’s something many of us wonder. Would my estranged adult son consider us “estranged”? I think he would, but then he did recently send a text. Does that mean he doesn’t feel as if we’re estranged? If he doesn’t feel estranged, then am I really an estranged parent?

Simply put, this site exists to help and support estranged parents. Although in many situations estranged adult children are also hurting, for now we’ll leave out the adult child’s definitions.

Estranged parents, determine your own definition (if it helps)

Parents use a lot of words to describe their feelings about a distant relationship with an adult child. You may feel rejected, abandoned, forsaken, alienated, dismissed, discarded, or kept at a distance.  In some situations, terms like “cash cow,” or “on call” even come up as parents describe themselves as related to the parent and adult child relationship. Again, if you feel distanced, you can call yourself “distanced,” or put another word in its place.

Some parents describe the experience as feeling betrayed. One way to move toward recovery after a betrayal is to no longer allow the betrayer to define you, your feelings or your thoughts about yourself.

Estranged, abandoned, rejected, discarded, neglected parents – welcome.  At this site, many estranged parent scenarios, with some or no contact, will be explored.

Help other parents. Take the confidential 8-question survey.

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19 thoughts on “Estranged parents define themselves

  1. Elizabeth

    This is extremely painful. As a Christian I want to do as The Lord would have me do. I just feel stuck and powerless. My child calls the shots. It does not feel good at all. Zero communication in one year and many years of little communication/avoidance.

    Reply
  2. Peggy

    This is the child you cherished, cared for, wiped tears, played patty cake, read stories to and comforted and laughed with, cried with and on and on. But, ultimately, your job was to raise an adult who could and would function well in the world. That is our job. Nowhere is it written that our adult children have to like us or embrace our values. What is important for you is to get on with your own life, knowing that you have done your job well.

    Your life has value and your happiness is important, so don’t let the tail wag the dog – get on with your life and every adventure that it has to offer. One can only grieve for so long. Keep moving forward and embrace every single day.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      Thank you Peggy and Shari. You are so right. Sometimes just hearing from others helps to balance one’s mind and emotions. Funny enough, just reading these articles and now your responses has been such a help. Knowing that I am not alone is significant. I don’t proclaim to have been a perfect parent. Quite honestly I have apologized and made amends (repeatedly) for my wrongs….to the point that two of my children have taken turns being really mean. It is shocking that children behave this way. I am going to be showing my age as I say this…but truthfully, I would never have treated my parents this way. And no one I know would either. Is it just me, or is this happening more often? When did it become socially acceptable to stop working on problems and then resort to cutting people off?

    2. Elizabeth

      Thank you Peggy and Sheri. You are so right. Sometimes just hearing from others helps to balance one’s mind and emotions. Funny enough, just reading these articles and now your responses has been such a help. Knowing that I am not alone is significant. I don’t proclaim to have been a perfect parent. Quite honestly I have apologized and made amends (repeatedly) for my wrongs….to the point that two of my children have taken turns being really mean. It is shocking that children behave this way. I am going to be showing my age as I say this…but truthfully, I would never have treated my parents this way. And no one I know would either. Is it just me, or is this happening more often? When did it become socially acceptable to stop working on problems and then resort to cutting people off?

    3. Elizabeth

      I absolutely agree. I don’t proclaim to have been a perfect parent either – but then who is! We all do the best we can and I know i did. However it doesn’t stop the hurt of having two estranged children and an ex who did virtually nothing to bring them up and yet from the other side of the world keeps telling them how awful their mother was. As he holds the purse strings they are not about to abandon him in the same way they have with me. I am gaining so much strength from reading about other peoples’ experience as it seems so shaming to have this happen and feel unable to share it with others for fear of being judged ‘bad’

    4. Susana

      Thank you so very much, Peggy. Your words ring true.

      “Nowhere is it written that our adult children have to like us or embrace our values. What is important for you is to get on with your own life, knowing that you have done your job well.”

      It is still very hard to be left behind as if we are just the trash they don’t want or need.

    5. Jenny K.

      I agree with you, but it’s my Grandchildren I feel sorry for, they are missing out on so much. It’s not just us as parents my daughter doesn’t want much contact with, but the whole family.

    6. Wepawee

      Well said Peggy, 4 years later and yur post is still inspiring. I agree 100%. We get no promise that our kids will stick around or stay in contact. I look at pictures and remember the good ol days with love. And try to ignore the BS memories. I tried to be a good mom. And they made it to 18 alive well and healthy. I did my part.

  3. Annie

    Elizabeth,
    I completely agree with the thoughts and input. I as well came to to understand through much suffering, how truth hurts. It is painful as mothers or fathers for that matter to come to acceptance. Frankly to accept my own child’s decision to reject me is an agonizing experience. When I went through the worst of my own, I remember fighting a sense of failure that left me in a devastation of emotions. I never wanted this to happen in my family life, never! Yet, it has. The greatest comfort for me has been that as a Christian I have hope. First, the truth that God sees. He has watched my every attempt to reach out in love, and friendship. He knows. He understands that the reality is not because I do not offer forgiveness to my son, but that my son chooses to not receive it. Second, I have taken honest inventory in my heart. Bitterness will only poison me first, then all around me. I had to take that aching bitter hurt to The Lord, sometimes daily moment by moment. Asking Him to sooth my sorrow, help me to release the emotional hold the unhealthy relationship had upon my heart and mind. You see, I had a relationship, but it was what I was allowing it to become…infected with resentment. I decided to take back what was mine from the beginning. The dignity of being the parent. The validation of the reality that I was a loving mother, and did the best I honestly knew how in parenting especially through a divorce that was unexpected, and unwanted.
    As a Christian we have amazing resources in Gods Word to remind us that the days we are living in are evil, and people will become unloving. Unfortunately even our children. We must accept that this is the case. Pray for them and move forward with a life that touches others with the love we are blessed to give.
    I pray peace for you, and healing. It is a difficult trail we are hiking up, but what matters is that we keep moving…keep going upward.
    Annie

    Reply
    1. Carolyne

      I hold onto God’s Hand tightly as I maneuver thru this hurtful mine field. I am moving and selling my home to get away from a no longer tolerable situation of disrespect, rudeness and a rejection of my entire extended family (11 brothers and sisters, her Aunties and Uncles). She and her family never want to attend functions that involve my family. She makes me and her sister feel like we don’t belong in MY home… They never paid rent or utilities and i have worked 2 Jobs struggling to support the 6 of us thru 15 years. It just gets worse… And sometimes she is my friend but then she doesn’t need my money for things they need and then i am ignored. My other daughter who is younger 21, has sacrificed a lot because i was struggling so hard. We are moving together. she is very intelligent and works hard and sees her sister living like this and has a hard time understanding her sister’s complacency. It is a huge relief we are looking forward to in a few weeks. We will be able to breathe again. To have friends over and enjoy cooking. She has made it very clear that we are not welcome in MY home. Yes that’s what I said. She slams cabinets if we are in my kitchen. If we sit in our living room. We literally stay in our rooms for the majority of time we are home. It is just easier after working our stressful jobs, avoiding any confrontation. More things have occurred but too much to go into. One of the things that hurt so badly was hearing her tell her daughter, “i wish i didnt have HALF SIBLINGS… i wish i had real brother and sister like your father has” !!! That hurt her sister so profoundly. So i pray to God all the time to hold me up, keep me from dying from this as i have hypertension, suffered a stroke in 2012 and am 59yo. I need to be here a long time to enjoy my relationship with my younger daughter.

    1. Wepawee

      I hear you Carol, my youngest has seen much suffering from the older two. Basically, she is enjoying being an only child.

  4. Annie

    Amen Annie. Your word should resonate with all of us. Without him, the pain will not subside. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Reply
  5. J

    I thank God for this website. Your words have encouraged me greatly. I have just spent another Christmas without my daughter (5 years) and my son (who I thought I was reconciled to) didn’t bother to call (he has a 2 yr old – who am I to him?). I am going to put them out of my mind. I have remarried 12 yrs and he is a wonderful man. I will think about him instead.

    Reply
  6. Deborah

    At a loss as to what to do as my son hit my partner having had a few drinks on his 21st I. April 2016 but he lashed out at my partner as his girlfriend had cheated on my son so he lashed out. When my son lived at home before he left if his own choice he was rude disrespectful and didn’t like house rules or pay any keep. I text my son I love him daily but alas no reply or at Xmas 2016 any conversation with my partner about my son results him my partner calling my son names etc I just keep praying and would welcome some support as I don’t have that with my family. Thank-you. Spiritual69

    Reply
    1. rparentsrparents Post author

      Deborah/spiritual69, This sounds like a tough situation to be in, and I know there are others who can relate. If there’s a way to ease your partner into understanding that even though you know and agree that it was wrong of your son to punch, you still have feelings of loss that are real. If you were able to talk with a counselor, it might be the best thing…an objective person who could help convey the hurt, which your partner might find some empathy toward.

      HUGS to you!
      Sheri McGregor

  7. Wepawee

    Today was my oldest daughters 21rst Birthday. She was Hell to raise, bipolar and ADHD. I never gave up on her. All those years of her running away scarring and worrying us half to death and getting into trouble. all the court dates all the police at our house. …sigh…. her I get, but our oldest, our son, now 25 has no excuse. He left us two years ago and she left us two weeks ago. It has been a long day, I think I am now exhausted enough to sleep. but I have come to the point where I feel like this, Screw em! They don’t want me, I don’t want them anymore, I will not allow them to try and punish me anymore. I was a good mom and dedicated mom, I was a strict mom, but not excessive, curfews were enforced. My husband and I got them to 18, educated and able to work and be productive members of society. We get no promise they will still love us and be part of their lives when they are grown. AND they get no guarantee that I WILL CARE for them after they have dumped me. I refuse to be tortured anymore.

    Reply
    1. Effie

      WePaWee….

      how can another have such a story like mine. I was dedicated.. and lived for my kids as a stay at home mom… I don’t get it either. I do have lots of days that I think I am done. Your right torture is the word…
      I do believe that one day they will feel the same pain, right now they are pretty much all narcissist? I am thinking?? Hugs to you and I do, I do, I do feel the same pain. Some days its light heartache… somedays its a severe grief… 3 years now for me..

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