Parents of estranged adults: Declaring Independence 2016

estranged sonEstranged son or daughter: Declaring Independence 2016

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

After my son became estranged, one of his close high school friends died in a car accident. At one point, she’d been a daily fixture in our home, like a part of our family. Her death hit me hard.

My family and I attended a memorial fundraiser, and as we sat at a table among the crowd, I fought back tears. Family and friends of this young woman who had touched so many lives gathered to show support and grieve.

That day, I had intended to approach her family and offer condolences, but I was too torn up. My despair over my son’s estrangement mixed with sadness over the death of this beautiful young person whose life had been cut short.  On that day, I found myself thinking that the pain of estrangement, with its intentional hurt and uncertainty for the future, was worse than that of death.

In some ways, it’s true. This young adult daughter didn’t choose to leave the people who loved her. Her family didn’t feel the sting of rejection. And with a death, there’s an outpouring of empathy. Others understand the grief. The parents aren’t usually speculated about and judged the way parents of estranged adult children often are. With death, sadness is expected. People allow and encourage grief. With estrangement, the loss is just as significant and painful, yet it can feel as if we have no right to mourn.

Wishes for my estranged son: Wishes for all my children

While I know the horrible ambiguity of loss through estrangement, taking charge of my feelings has helped me leave the pain behind–and move forward for my own good.

While my estranged son is living his life without me and the rest of his family, at least he has life—-the gift I have him through birth. I nurtured him into adulthood. I provided kindness, support, and love. While it’s true that our relationship is not as I once expected (in fact there is no relationship), the last I knew,  he was happy.

Like most parents, my most ardent wish for all five of my children has always been their happiness. I know the shocking blow of an adult child’s rejection. I know the difficulty in accepting an estranged child’s unthinkable choice. I know the pain in letting go. But in the end, my estranged son made his own choices about the life I freely gave him. And I could make a choice to do what was best for me.

Declaring Independence

On this Independence Day holiday, 2016, declare your own independence—from old dreams, and expectations that, at least for the moment, are not in your power to achieve. Just as those who founded America faced unknowns in pursuit of happiness, take heart. Bolster your courage. Have faith that there is a new and wonderful life for you ahead.

Love and hope can remain, but be determined for your own well-being as you escape the tyranny of sadness and pain. You can declare your independence. Look to the horizon of your future with an optimistic dream. Make plans for your own happiness. Take the helm in your beautiful life ahead.

For more specific ways to take charge of your feelings, declare independence, and move forward in your own life, get my book: Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children.



Join the newsletter

Pine 300x225

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.

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

39 thoughts on “Parents of estranged adults: Declaring Independence 2016

  1. Ann

    Yes, I am now facing that the rest of my life will have to change from the dreams I once held dear. No holidays with my grandson,no loving hello from my son and never a loving word from my daughter in law. In my not so golden years I WILL Have to make them golden! Which is a uphill battle. It has been two years since this began. Some days are worse then others. I am in a state I don’t like, getting older and having to start my life over, moving and job hunting, finding a place to live and doing it alone will not be easy. But by the Grace of God, who has never let me down, I will rise again to have a life, put the pain behind me and live a happy life…my son once asked me if I trusted him with my life I said no…moving in with him was a huge mistake, one that I knew in the pit of my stomach was wrong, but I thought he’s my son, he has my best interests at heart!!! Boy was I wrong. So yes I do declare my independence to start my way back to my life. Even if I am alone and have to struggle, I have learned so much! Sad moments in life let us recall the happy ones! God bless and happy 4th of July!

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Ann,

      Thank you for commenting here-, and congratulations on a wonderful outlook. Your comment is sure to help other parents who are saddened by a son or daughter’s rejection—–but also determined to get on with living!

      I wish you the greatest happiness, now and always.

      Sheri McGregor

  2. The bluesky

    Hi Sheri, I had decided to keep up on your latest posts. This one truly spoke to my heart.
    First off, I am so sorry about the tragic loss of your son’s friend, and my heart just cried for her parents.

    Which leads me to what you spoke of. That your son, along with your other children, continue to be blessed with life on this earth, and that the life they live is brimming with joy and happiness.

    That is all I have ever wished for my children. The depth of that wish has never changed, despite the absence of my son. Indeed, I believe that not a one of us could hope for more, could pray for more.

    I, like you, gave freely to them. And gave them free will choices.

    So, I had to provide, gift, back to myself that same love.

    I want that love, joy, life brimming with happiness, be what they may see one day, if they crave or need my love or strength, or can only imagine it coming from me. They may even one day desire to feel the need and love to give.

    In the abyss of all that has taken me from deep, dark waters, to catching my breath, there is a choice, our choice, which your son’s friend didn’t have, to live.

    We are all blessed to live in a nation, that although has changed in so much of the recent mass violence, we live like royalty, we are free to speak and love who we want, we travel freely, we educate all, and we can give to those in need.

    I am happy that my children and grandchildren live here.

    And that I can be heard here.

    Peace and Love,


    1. Cathy

      My son died in a car accident 4/18/2013 and in October of 2013 my daughter walked out on us to never return . Our son didn’t leave by choice . I will say the pain of losing him is more I grieve for Chris more . She threw us away like scum on her shoes because 6 months was long enough to grieve snap out of it , so she left I could write a book on her risky behavior . She has a masters degree as a therapist .

    2. rparents Post author

      Hi Cathy,
      I’m really sorry. It must have been very painful to lose your son—and it’s a shame your daughter has chosen the route she did. In my book, there’s a passage in Chapter Two: Why? that talks of many among the thousands of parents who reached out to me, whose sons or daughters have a similar background as your daughter.

      Be good to yourself. I wish you the best of everything now and always.

      Sheri McGregor

  3. mom of college girl

    I know that I will most likely be cut off by my youngest daughter, as she seems to be rebelling and not taking my calls or returning my texts. She will be out of college in Dec. and I plan to live my life my way and if she wants to stay connected to me then we will, but if not then I will go on living my life. I do not believe that I have to consider grandkids, as she does not want children. On well, I would love to move to a different state and friendly place.
    Take care and live your lives

  4. Kama

    Oh Sheri. This is what I feel right now. I’m finding my independence! Your book has been totally invaluable to me in finding it. I raised my ED to be a strong independent woman and I know she is happy, so I take comfort in that. Yes it still hurts and always will, but I’m finding myself to be that independent woman I taught her to be, and it’s very freeing. I pray for all of us that they may find their independence too.

  5. rparents Post author

    Thank you Kama. I am so very glad that you have found help in my book. Feeling “FREE” is such a wonderful thing. And to look back and realize the good you have done for your daughter to feel that freedom–that is a gift.
    Smiles and happiness to you!

    Sheri McGregor

  6. Margaret

    My daughter and my grand children which I helped her and her husband raise moved away as soon as she retired. My now 17 year old twin grandsons use to love spending time with us too. We don,t hear from them. All my adult grandchildren who loved spending time with me are now gone and I don’t hear from them. My youngest has also moved on with her family. My son who moved away years ago phoned almost every day. He died last Aug, 2015. All my family is gone. My house is now deadly quiet. My husband and I are leaders in children’s church but come home to an empty house that once was bursting with family gatherings. It seems like they all died at the same time. I would love to die but it is a slow process. I am in anguish. Sometime my stomach feels upset and my chest hurts because of the loneliness. Where do we find a support group?

    1. Constance

      Dear Margaret,
      I completely get how you feel. As I am reading EVERYTHING I can find to feel like I want to live…I find more reasons not to live. However, at 74 I am too healthy, wealthy ( that’s a lie) and wise (questionable).

      My son took his life at 27. he was a Marine, they are indoctrinated to do that, ” Best Glory is to come home in a Body Bag”. That’s how we get our brand of martyrs. My daughter was 25 and has NEVER spoken to me about his suicide. She is now a successful career women and mother with two adult girls and now they have babies. I moved to be closer to them, years flew by and they took issue with everything to did said and thought…except for the free babysitting, money, and bailouts.
      When I videoed my 5-year-old live-in great-granddaughter saying someone ‘slept in her bed’ I told the family about it and I was horrified at the way they handled it. THEY FREAKED OUT ON ME! They never investigated it, never, asked me what happened, never asked to see the videos, never questioned the person the child named…NOTHING! I made it clear they had a duty, given their official positions and careers but they stonewalled ME! Daughter, her new husband, ex-son-in-law, his wife, mother of the child, sister, everyone! They took the child and NEVER called, questioned or investigated the child’s statement. They moved out of State! I have not heard one word from anyone even the youngest granddaughter who told me to get therapy. She is 23 so I guess she is smart…not.
      So, there is more Margaret but I have punished myself so much and still can only change me. Truthfully, I did not want to change because I did not know what to change! I keep my mouth shut now, few want to hear an old person’s long held opinions or experiences in life. I did consider suicide because there is nobody that would care so the argument of hurting family is moot. Old people are supposed to die. Few grieve the old. Dead? Nope, not yet. I have a home, pets, garden, health (Thank You, GOD) and I have a few friends. There are so many people that need friendship and children that need protection and HOPE.
      Volunteer, Margaret. CASA, Meals on Wheels or ANYTHING to help others. It works, I promise.

    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Linda,
      There will be a kindle release in the future, but the book is best in print because it’s meant for interaction. It will be on kindle eventually though–I don’t yet have a release date for that (sorry).

      Sheri McGregor

  7. Kauni

    Reading these was good for me…as I feel very alone in losing my beloved daughter to this issue…She is a nurse now..and happy I hope…her father will not tell me how she is…as he was bitter that I left him…an abuser. I was also put in jail for 9 months…for trying to see her after a suicide attempt..and I had stupidly signed a No Contact order…and no harm was ever done to her…The state and the judicial create this heartache simply because they get paid…All of this corruption must end…and we must work to get rid of judicial corruption and law enforcement corruption..because it’s all for a paycheck… I travel the world now…helping families thru an overseas program… There is a book in me…which I will write eventually..
    .After all I have suffered…I still love my daughter…that can never change… I wish everyone LOVE and support…and understanding….

    1. Jan

      Sheri, thank you for your article about independence. I have had no recent contact from you or your organization until today, but I’m definitely NOT wishing to discontinue your emails. I have your book, and all expressions of your thoughts and those of others have been a godsend. Even after more than two years of inner and outer work, the pain is still agonizing, and I have even sought out an online site for alienated grandparents. My 12- and 14-year-old granddaughters are still too young to act independently in any meaningful way, even if they wish to.

      Yes, dealing with my own feelings of rejection and sadness is the only thing I can do presently. Thank heavens for friends who also continue to help me with my four-year surgical ordeal of having problem feet operated upon and all the attendant hospitalizations and lack of mobility. Knowing what these painful medical procedures are like for older people always triggered my feeling of empathy and desire to help, which I have, but having lived through them myself is an incomparable experience.

      Although I am deeply sorry for your own experience of estrangement, my knowledge that your own pain and sadness are more than just academic is moving and valuable to me.

      Thank you for sharing with all of us, and bless you!

      Jan J.

    2. rparents Post author

      Dear Jan,
      I’m sorry about your feet, and know just what you say about feeling for people going through surgeries such as you’re going through now. Truly, not having the use of your feet must feel so limiting. Although not surgery, I have broken bones in my feet twice in the last 5 years, which is probably really minimal compared to what you are going through. I’m so glad that you do have some friends to help you in this, and I hope it will all resolve well for you.

  8. Still Here

    I have thought often about the idea of a child dying versus a child making the conscious decision to abandon and there is no doubt that the death of a child is horrendous but it has a certain purity attached to it. There was no choice to leave, no choice to hurt others. The child who alienates, however, is involved in a ragged and grimy power play meant to inflict punishment and pain; whatever their ‘reasons’ may be, and they do not even have to provide a reason of any sort. It causes me additional anguish to fear for their souls – I don’t believe that they can truly be unscathed by their actions to hurt and destroy others – it has to somehow rebound and injure them as well. Yes, I take comfort in believing that they are healthy and happy and successful but the thought of what the actions prescribed by their father may have cost their unconscious emotional life and their souls is hard to bear. Somewhere inside, they know the truth even though they don’t want to acknowledge it. On the topic of gaining understanding and support from others, I am 100% certain that losing your children to alienation is NOT well understood by most people and there is always a thought from others that maybe you did something to deserve it. As parents of alienated children we not only have to bear the burden of enormous loss but also have to bear the burden of knowing that many others will blame us for the unimaginable happening. It is a lonely place to live. We are all surrounded by others with loving families and people talk about their children all the time. We have nothing to say for the most part. It makes you feel like you don’t really belong anywhere anymore. It is terribly isolating – and that is extremely unhealthy in every way. There is nothing to do except get up every morning and try to make the most of your day and realize that the emotional avalanche could hit at any unexpected place and/or time and you just have to get through it. There is a quote from Winston Churchill that resonates deeply with me – “When you are going through hell…..keep going”. I have found that it is ALL that you can do. Keep going, keep being the same good person you have always been and feel proud that you are strong.

    1. Kathy

      Hi Still here.
      You could not have surmised my feelings perfectly being a parent of a adult daughter that alienates herself from her family. The dysfunctional part is keeping our 12 year old granddaughter from us as well. It feels like punishment. She did not marry the baby’s father but we are very close. The only consitenancey in her life is the other Mimi and papa and her great dad. Although the other grandma helps me see our granddaughter it still remains painful that we don’t have any contact with our daughter as she chose to estrange herself from us. She has done this off and on most of her adult life. She is very manipulative and mean when we have spoken on the phone in the past. I just couldn’t participate in the drama, the hurt, the tears anymore. I got tired of saying to myself what can I do or what could I have done to fix this or make it better. Nothing except backing off and trying to stop always making it right. Veronica, I like you’re saying from Winston Churchill. It feels like hell almost every day knowing my daughter is still alive and chooses to live life like this. It has been an emotional roller coaster with her in the past just trying to sustain a healthy relationship. So like you said I just keep going. I stay positive and try to nurture the rest of the family we have. And of course I am trying to stay positive and keep the faith. I still ask myself often why is this happening, What could I have done differently, should I call her? The fear of what could happen is what scares me? The fear of a backlash ? So I remain happy as I can be, enjoy life to its fullest and nurture my friends and family that I have today. I am grateful for everything I have and every friendship that I have because I know life is so precious. Why is this happening is the the ? my friends and other family members ask. Answer-I don’t KNOW. Possibilities-drugs, alcohol or mental illness? Don’t know. Heart breaking. It’s very sad but honestly the hurt, verbal abuse, lies and all I USED to put up with hurt more. Done with crying.

    2. Jan

      Still Here, thank you for your insights and the Churchill quotation, which is so true.

      Also, there will definitely be a cost to the child who chooses alienation; it’s just sad that others have to pay it also! As you and others have observed many times, the most positive choice we can make with our lives is just to move forward , live strong and proud, and keep going.

    3. rparents Post author

      Dear Still Here,

      Of course, it’s so true that our adult children will have consequences for their choices. In your situation, it sounds as if they were coerced … perhaps even as minors. Very sad and unjust for those children. You’re right that people don’t understand estrangement, which is one of the reasons I have been so outspoken about this problem that is on the rise in our society. As outlined in my book, we can educate others, and steer their reactions. At the same time, we can understand their immediate feelings/suspicions. I love the Winston Churchill quote. By going through, it’s possible to get through and beyond the H E double hockey sticks. And yes, still as the good person you always have been–perhaps even better.

    4. Theresa

      I cried reading this!!! It is exactly how I feel
      . Going on 7 yrs now -I’m alienated and estranged by 2 of my 3 children now 21 and 24. Their father brainwashed them. I was the best mother to them

    5. Sadsack

      Still Here,
      Your post could have been written by me as I felt your words resonate my thoughts almost identically! In New York City this summer I noticed the motto written on the front of a fire truck “Still Standing” apparently in reference to the 9/11 attacks! I have often thought this should be my motto as well – a banner outside my house for all to see! This is a living death that takes an incredible amount of personal work to survive. It is like living in a chronic state of personal pain. It can’t be healthy…. I do yogo, prayer, excercise, and cut out carbs and sugar which has helped alot but it still kicks my but everyday. I am worn out!

  9. Veronica

    I send my estranged son an email once a month letting him know I love him, but I get no response, and neither do my parents when they text or email him. Should I keep emailing him or just stop?

    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Veronica,
      In light of your intentions, goals, feelings, etc., What do you think is the right thing to do? In the book, there are exercises to help parents come to conclusions on just this sort of thing…and whether continuing to reach out at the same pace honors your intention in doing so, while also taking care of yourself. It’s always an individual decision, and only you know can know the answer that is right for you.

      Sheri McGregor

  10. Margie

    I really need some advice. My adult children are very manipulatI’ve, the two set me up, scapegoat me, blamed me and tell me I made bad decisions for helping them to much. They tell me I’m to sensitive and paranoid. I feel so down, and awful. My one daughter we are fine when we are together, but over the phone she is rude, blaming etc. Etc. My other daughter kicks me out of her house EVERYTIME I go visit. She will say mean things and kick me out. What does this mean. Please help!!!!

  11. Margie

    I forgot my other daughter tells me I’m pushing them away and it must be from my childhood. I have been a giving supportive mother. It feels like there pushing me away. Please help.

  12. Annie

    The truth is you’ve probably enabled their sense of entitlement by being there for them, no matter what. It’s ok to speak up for yourself. It’s pitiful that these kids feel they can run all over us and disrespect us like they do. We are easy targets for being the scapegoat. It’s shameful how they can disregard us in a heart beat and take full advantage. We are not too sensitive. All we’ve wanted is to treated with love and respect. I was a young mother. I suppose I sheilded my girls from pain by being more their friend than their parent at times as I grew up in a very dis functional home that left me very insecure. I raised my girls on my own as best as I could with a lot of love and care. I had no support from their deadbeat father and had to be both father and mother. It wasn’t easy but I always felt great joy in loving them and providing all I could for them.
    And now with the estrangement of my one daughter, I feel like she wants to punish me for always being there for her. It makes no sense as I’ve felt we had a very loving relationship for 46 years. When her own life began to unravel and become far from perfect; she chose me as her scapegoat. It became all my fault. Just pitiful and shameful how much she has gaslighted me and abused me verbally out of the blue. I pray everyday she’ll come to her senses. I know now after over two years I must move forward as life is so short. My pain is fresh as now she has pulled my 3 teenage grandchildren away from me once I stood up for myself. So even though the pain may not ever go away; we must realize for our own being, we need to try our best to wake up with a grateful heart for all the loved ones we do have in our lives and continue to have hope
    that some day they will come around. Sheri McGregor’s book, ‘Done with the crying’ is wonderful and puts everything into perspective. Believe me when I say, I’ve read everything I can get my hands on about this horrific betrayal and none compares to her insight. My heart, all of our hearts are with you. It will get better within time. Ask God to lift this burden and give you strength to move forward. He will give you the desires of your heart. You are not alone in this. Take great care Margie. Annie

  13. Margie

    Annie. Thank you so much for your support and your understanding. I ordered the book from a book store and it will arrive on Friday. I’m sorry for your pain and all others going through this. God Bless all of you. Thank God for Sheri mcgregor!

  14. Margie

    I forgot to mention my kids father did the same things to me. What still here wrote really said a lot and it really hit home with me.

  15. Annie

    I’m so glad you’re getting the book. You’ll be glad you did. Writing helps too.
    We’re all here for one another. I’m glad you may have found some comfort and support in my story. We are not alone. This seems to be a new phenomenon.
    My heart goes out to any mother/father who might be going through the agony and pain. Certainly never expected this in all my years. Just pitiful.
    Let me know how you liked the book. Take good care. Annie

  16. Margie

    My daughter is getting married in September. She has been very distant, won’t talk to me, tells me I was a bad mom, the abuse I suffered was my fault etc . I don’t feel like she really wants me to go, and is scapegoating me to make me look bad if I don’t go to her wedding. I would appreciate any advice as I don’t know what to do.

    1. Annie

      If you’ve been invited I would go and try to set your differences aside.
      Weddings are emotional and maybe there will be a break through.
      I’m sure you love her and it’s a way of showing her just that. I would personally lay low and try to enjoy as much as you can in the festivities. In other words take the high road. It’s an important day and you don’t want to give her anything else to hold against you. It won’t be easy but you can do this.
      If it gets awkward or you aren’t comfortable you can always leave early.
      Good luck with whatever you decide. Hoping for you it all works out.
      Take good care of yourself, Annie

  17. Pamela

    Thank you for letting me join this group. Although I have friends and family that are struggling with the estrangement of adult children, it is comforting to know I have this place to turn to. Although my son is very kind and welcomes me into his life, there are some days I would like to curl up in a corner and melt over my daughter and her voiding me out of her life. I just ordered the book and I am looking forward to reading and healing. Thank you!


  18. Christine

    I’m new to this group and really appreciate the comments, suggestions and all the support to get me healthy. It’s harder during the holidays and birthdays when I have been known as “the best gift giver/shopper ever.” That’s been my M.O. to keep in the loop and to keep being loved. My granddaughter has has the nicest dresses and that made me feel good. It’s REALLY hard to control my urge to buy gifts so I can get love and approval from my daughter and my grandkids. Right now I’m on the “highway” because basically my daughter takes “my way or the highway ” approach. I will keep following and also feel for many of the parents who are going through the same pain. It is excruciating. I’m off the negativity of social media and ready to take care of me for the first time, as I have been a doting mom for 36 years on my ED’ birthday next week.

  19. Barb

    I had the opportunity of reading Sheri’s book, “Done with the Crying” and this book has done wonders for me. Sheri has provided a myriad of strategies on coping with estrangement. The pain is still intense, however, I am encouraged by the tremendous support this book gives.
    Thank you Sheri for your unwavering encouragement. Where there is hope, there is life.

  20. rparents Post author

    Dear Barb,

    Thank you. I appreciate you reaching out to tell me you appreciate my work. And I’m grateful to be able to help in a tiny way. — Sheri

  21. DMD

    My heart breaks for us and I struggle with having joy and confidence. I was a great Mom and sacrificed so much thinking I was giving my 2 daughters a better future. My oldest daughter loves and respects me and my youngest daughter is estranged from me and her sister.

    The ED texts occasionally but shows no interest in me, her sister, or 2 year old nephew. I had come to accept the situation only to have the wound horribly reopened when ED had a baby last week. I have been crying and am trying to find some way to reconcile this suffering.

    ED was poisoned by her narcissistic sociopath father. He tried to do the same with loving daughter but fortunately it didn’t work. ED likely will use this child as a weapon of mass destruction. Already she shares minimally. She only texts but does not answer questions.

    The only way I feel I can live through this is to think of my new grandson as if he belonged to a distant cousin. I like the idea of keeping a journal as I don’t know if I will be allowed to give him gifts. The last 13 years, ED wants money but typically complains and returns my gifts and her sister’s gifts. It’s as if ED wants nothing in her life that we have touched.

    ED is a licensed Marriage and Family counselor, however she’s not working because she takes any discomfort by others as a personal affront. The cult mentality of ED and her husband nauseat me.

    I have done everything I can think of to show ED that I love her. ED tells me I kicked her out of the house and holds it against me. I didn’t kick her out of the house.

    I believe she has the same personality disorders that her father has. There is nothing I can do to stop this sadistic madness. I am hopeless.


Leave a Reply

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

Website Protected by Spam Master