Estrangement from adult children: Have you had enough?

estrangementby Sheri McGregor, M.A.

For parents of estranged adults who are sad, walking on eggshells to maintain even the most abusive or one-sided contact, or pining away for the son or daughter who lays blame for everything that has ever gone wrong in their life, there comes a time when enough is enough. Have you reached that point? The day when you’re ready to move on and seek out peace and happiness no matter what the “child” does?

Here are a few questions to help.

How long must you suffer?

Routinely, I hear from mothers and fathers who for ten or twenty years have been neglected, blamed, ridiculed, ignored, or contacted only when the son or daughter needs money. Their self-esteem has taken a huge hit because of the estrangement from adult children. Some are stuck in a sort of guilt mode that they don’t understand, even though they know they’ve been caring parents. Twice in recent months, life coaching clients have seen how their upbringing affected their boundaries and created undue guilt. Other parents wish there had been some closure, so they could lay it to rest. But although closure is bandied about in our society like a peaceful oasis, as I discuss in my book, Done With The Crying, closure is a myth.

Many of the parents in these long-term estrangements cope well most of the time, but their emotions are triggered when a death or other life event causes contact and/or renews their pain. When that happens, they can go on for weeks feeling blue, reliving the early shock and bewilderment of estrangement, and even asking “Why?” all over again.

Do you want to continue suffering? Sounds like a stupid question. Nobody wants to suffer, right? If you agree, then make a decision to change. Acknowledge all the hurt your son or daughter has caused, and decide not to allow it to shackle you anymore. If you find yourself resisting this idea, that it’s even possible, then it’s time to consider why.

estrangement from adult childrenSuffering: Has it become a habit?

For some, the idea of any relationship, even one that causes pain, is better than none—which keeps them stuck. If you feel this way, you may be caught in what’s become a habit or taken on a sort of victim mentality. But the truth is, you don’t have to. As I say in my book, only two letters separate the word victim from victor. Choosing to be a victor requires a choice, as the letters “OR” imply. It’s never too late to claim your right to be happy despite another adult’s decisions.

Does an idealistic belief hold you back?

You might be stuck because of the idea that a parent’s love should be unconditional. While no caring parent gives up instantly, after suffering with no change in sight, it’s okay to give yourself permission to take care of yourself. It may come down to thinking of releasing the need for a relationship that’s unhealthy, or even giving in rather than giving up.

Even if you’re a caring parent who did your best, it’s possible that a belief that it must be your fault is keeping you from moving forward. One mother shared that she grew up in a church with strict ideas about a mother’s role. Although she knew she had done her best, she also worried maybe the estrangement was a reflection of her working outside the home. It helped to see that stay-at-home mothers also have estranged children. Estrangement from adult children isn’t limited to a certain set of circumstances.

What beliefs might you have that affect your ability to move forward despite the estrangement? Pondering the question may be of use.

estrangementAre you reliving the past?

Some parents keep the pain alive by going over it again and again. One mother who has been estranged from her 52-year-old son for nearly thirty years routinely recounts her estrangement story in detail. She regularly relives the pain of the child she raised turning against her, slowly at first, and then with a full force that included insults and public humiliation. This intelligent woman runs a small business, has a devoted husband, and has raised two other successful and loving children whom the estranged son also left behind. She goes about her life with confidence, yet spends much of her quiet time ruminating over the son she lost, questioning how he could do such a thing to his family, and feeling sad.

This mother and a great many others regularly look for their adult children on social media, or even save old, unkind correspondence—and re-read it. Will it take a computer crash to free you from email from an angry estranged adult child that’s holding you back?

Right now, take a few moments to consider whether you are reliving the past and how doing so may hurt your progress.

Are you keeping company that keeps you stuck?

Some parents maintain relationships with people who remind them of their sorrow and keep them in limbo—unable to fix the problem yet unable to get on with their lives. That might be a relative or friend who says it’s the parent’s duty to keep trying no matter what—even when you’ve tried and been repeatedly beaten back by a son or daughter that wants no contact. daughter says no contactOften, these people with their platitudes don’t have a clue what estrangement is really all about. They think it’s a tiff that can blow over, or chalk it up to immaturity. Maybe those things are true in some instances, but after hearing from nearly 20,000 parents who’ve taken my survey, I know that isn’t true in most cases. Don’t let these people hold you back from a fulfilling life.

At times, even the guise of support can keep parents stuck. Here at the site, there’s a forum which, for the most part, is a helpful venue. Some parents who have moved beyond the pain stay active in the community to provide a caring word to newer members in the throes of early estrangement. While this is positive, there’s also a danger. It’s possible to get caught in an endless loop of recharged pain, anger, grief, and indignation as newcomers post about their circumstances and potentially trigger oldcomers’ pain. It’s also true that a support group can become a crutch, the go-to place to vent feelings or ask questions. At some point, it’s wise to step back and use your own good sense. Doing so can build your confidence.

When is enough enough?

One woman who joined the Facebook page some time ago left a wise comment. When out with her husband one day, they’d driven through the town in which her estranged adult child lives. In the past, she would say something to her husband, and the two would talk about the pain. But on that day, she purposely kept quiet. Her husband was surprised but glad. On Facebook, the woman said she’d come to the conclusion that enough was enough.

I can relate to this mother’s thoughts. Many have read my story, along with those of so many other parents in my book. They know that I used the book’s exercises and research to reclaim my self-esteem and confidence, and to move on in my life after estrangement. But my story didn’t stop with the last page of the book. I continue to move forward in a life with trials and distress (as well as happy times), and even the occasional conflict of some sort of contact from the estranged. I know as well as any parent that estrangement can press in like prying tentacles where and when we least expect it to. But I also know that it’s up to me how much that estrangedinfluence takes control. While it’s wise to face the reality and deal with residual effects, it’s not healthy to bemoan the loss and all its affects. Like that woman in the car who made a decision to drive on by, knowing her estranged adult child resided in the city yet choosing to let the pain alone, we can understand when enough is enough.

While attempting to reconcile with an estranged adult child is normal, don’t hinge your happiness on it. Going over what happened and why is natural, but there comes a time when you know you have done all that you can. For some, that includes an apology, or a note saying your door is open when or if they want to try. For others, based on their own situation, it means literally moving away.

Estrangement from adult children: Step forward

You can examine your relationship with a clear head, see how your beliefs might be limiting you, and understand how suffering can become a habit that keeps you stuck. With help and support, you can step forward in a way that strengthens and prepares you for a new way of life. Even while holding out hope, you can give yourself permission to let go, accept that change is inevitable, and embrace it for your own good. You can be done with the crying. Don’t waste another minute of your precious life.

Estrangement from adult children/Related posts:

The Boat

Abusive adult children negatively influence parents’ self-image

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44 thoughts on “Estrangement from adult children: Have you had enough?

  1. Karen K.

    Thank you!! Enough does become enough ! I thought if I would keep contacting my daughter and keep reassuring how much I love her …miss her….Jesus ( family of faith) loves her…she would see. But the response from her never came. She even used my own Mother’s funeral to say horrible things about me . Even though my Mom and I had a loving relationship. I don’t want to rehearse the pain…It is self abuse on top of the trauma of the Estrangement. I though a good Momma would never give up !!! But we must realize we are dealing with adults not the precious babies we held in our arms and kissed goodnight, did their hair for prom……… My hope will never die but I must move forward. It is not normal but it is my Life and I deserve to live !! I pray for all the parents and children my heart tender towards all. But we must go on. God created us as individuals not just someone’s Mom, Dad, wife, husband. We matter!!!! People can be very judge mental especially other family members whose lives seem to be on Facebook, Mother’s Day tributes….. Forward my friend!!! Hugs!!!!

    1. Catherine

      I know your pain Karen. I am a psych nurse. I honestly with all my heart believe this epidemic of rejection, disrespect, and a lack of love comes from satan. The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy the Bible warns us. (John 10:10) But Jesus will never let us down and gives us strength to endure. Jesus says in that same scripture (John 10:10) “I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” The devil is real and will do anything he can to destroy us. The one thing that will effect us from all of this is keeping it a secret. I have just recently started telling people and it helps. I have to keep talking about it, praying about it, and supporting others. Our children know it hurts, but they do not care. We are dealing with hearts that are very calloused, ungrateful, very evil and we must call it what it is. We are fighting a spiritual war. The devil will try to take us out even by using our own children. Our children have become our enemies and Jesus warned us of this. Jesus said He did not come to bring peace but division. (Luke12:51) Jesus went on to say it, “From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter and mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:52, 53)
      To have one child hate you for loving Jesus is tough, but to have 4 children hate you is unbearable. I have 4 boys who despise me. Two of my children are atheist, one is a party man (in and out of rehab), and the other drinks like a fish. I have a grandson that I have never met. But Jesus loves me and stays with me. He never left me and never will. We can not make our children love God. It is a choice. When they choice to be an enemy of God they shun what God loves. Our ungrateful children become our enemy and it is a fight for our salvation. It is hurtful and is it cruel. But we must overcome. Jesus told us if we want to be His disciples we must put everything else 2nd and He meant it. Our children have demons inside of them. It isn’t our fault that they chose the world and satan. We must treat them as enemies and be honest with the world. Be honest with our spiritual family. We need support, because fighting this battle is pure he’ll sometimes. I wish all of you the best. Catherine

  2. Erna R.

    After 25 years of getting the cold shoulder from my daughter with whom I had a loving and close relationship until she married an insecure and troubled man I have decided if I mean this little to her then she does not deserve to be in my life as I deserve better treatment.

  3. Patty K

    This is excellent advice. After 22 years of abuse and nastiness from my sons, I have emotionally let go. I will still send birthday greetings and a present. But, emotionally, I am free to enjoy my loving husband (not their father), my daughter, career, and life. Allowing them to hurt me and disrespect me time after time let them off the hook to own their issues and grow up. Like McGregor wrote, “it is up to me how much that influence takes control.” What is, is.

    1. Liz

      Hi – I just found this web site & am glad I did. Your comment, Patty K. especially resonates with me.
      Perhaps a similar situation . I will not send cards or gifts; I think for far too long I have been a checkbook to this son. Used and abused. Thank you

    2. Fedupmom40

      I believe I’ve had enough! I adopted my daughter when she was 12, she has never respected me! She admitted to me she hates my 10 yr old daughter cause she gets treated better (shes 18 now and said this just this past weekend) I lost a child before my 10 yr old and fought hard to get her here she told me I have never done anything for her and still dont she says hurtful things to me, she has never respected me but will respect everyone else around her I’m lost on what to do I’ve reached out to her with silence in return I’ve apologized with no response what am I doing wrong

    1. Diana

      Thanks for agreeing with me. I have known for awhile that that is what I need to do…I honestly try but then I become hopeful and get hurt and the pain starts all over again. This website is helping me to just move on and enjoy my life and be happy that I have raised children so independent that I am not needed anymore.

    2. teresa s.

      my counselor says send cards…. I also read a post that it helps them feel control when we send cards because they can send the rejection ( ignoring the card) and you give them more power. I agree… although I am going back and forth…just because she says ” do the right thing”. I send gift cards… if I were not a Christian my flesh would send something else… 🙂 it is the most painful thing I have ever experienced.. I prayed with them morning and night… I was a stay at home mom… I still get so angry I think I will explode at the injustice… then I crumble… 2 years now..

    3. BeachLover

      @teresa: my counselor gave me different advice. She felt that I needed to protect my own feelings, and if sending cards/texts without reply was hurting me, I should re-think doing so. Her approval to act in my own interests rather than those of my adult son, really helped me stop “chasing” him, and in letting go overall. It’s so very hard though.

  4. Cathy D.

    After 8 years of verbal abuse and wild accusations from one of my daughters, 3 years of silence, and terrible depression waiting for us to reconcile, I finally decided to take action. I read this book and finally had closure and have moved on with my life. I have released her to live her life and moved on to live my life without her in it. I am doing so much better than I ever thought I would.

    1. Amanda

      That’s a typical man reaction, my husband is processing it all by fantasizing about beating the crap out of her and her clueless blindly supportive husband, who has the maturity level of a teenager and is no better than her with his abusive behavior

    2. Mrs kitty

      Ed ,that’s funny .I had to laugh.thanks I needed a laugh and I do realize his reply was long ago . I have to disagree with those who think it’s just a man’s typical response .I understand it you can only poke or hit a dog so long before it bites back out of pain , fear ..but im not seeking nor wanting revenge .

  5. bernadette r.

    The Bible tells us that ‘all things work together for good for those who love the Lord’ That is one verse that has really kept me going. My daughter has deserted me and sadly she is only 10 minutes drive from me and has my only grandchildren here. I had to travel to San Francisco this year to meet my only grandchild whom I am allowed to visit. What concerns me the most is the thought of what she has told my grandies. They used to love me – I know that for a fact. I go to CAtholic Mass just along the road of where I live and my grandies attend the Catholic school right next door to the church. I quite often see them there.. I am not allowed to speak with them or have any contact at all. They hang their heads when they see me. What she may not realise is that she is giving them a very bad example of how to treat your mother and the Bible tells us we ‘reap what we sow.’ I am trying to forgive all of them, especially her husband who is doing nothing to help me. I can only pray for my daughter’s soul and trust her to God. In the meantime I cannot bear for my friends to show me photos of their grandchildren and I wish with all my heart they would be sensitive in this respect. In the meantime I can only thank Jesus for allowing me to share in His Cross. Keep the faith.

  6. Amanda

    I feel exactly the same way, mine is almost 31 and has systematically damaged our family with horrendous lies and bully behavior, all of which of course she projects on to me. I am finding that if I think of my other child and my husband, and the damage her behavior has done to all of us, it gives me the power to pull away from the thoughts of trying to find a way to have contact with boundaries. No, because they don’t respect boundaries, in fact she finds it to be a game proving to me that she’s the one calling the shots and screw my boundaries and respect. She is a toxic person, and after 30 years of giving my best to her, it’s time to cut that branch off the tree before it destroys the entire tree.

  7. Heart Broken Mom

    I have decided to move on. My hubs still has trouble. Our daughter has decided to move on as well. I always thought of myself and our family as strong in our faith. Our ES even contemplated being a priest when he was 20/21 yo. Fast forward to now. He is 23 yo, married to a girl for 1-month now that has ripped our family apart within 2 years. Through this estrangement journey I have grown even closer to God. Once I came to terms with it, learned that it was called “estrangement”, and that estrangement is a thing…. we could talk about it. As we shared our story, God placed so many people in our path suffering the same thing. People we knew but had no idea. Then God placed the thought of a support group on my heart. I tossed this around and prayed about it a lot. A week before our sons wedding (in which they went out of their way to belittle us during it) I prayed for a sign. A load of bricks dumped in my lap sign, that I was ready to move forward with the support group ministry. I received my sign by God putting me in contact with 2 other people. The conversations and statements made by them in our talks was God telling me “You Are Ready”. So the Tuesday after the wedding I posted to FB about starting the support group ministry locally. In 24 hours I had people sharing, commenting, and 18 local mommas privately messaged me that they were interested. On the negative side, in 3 days time I was unfriended, blocked, and removed as family relationships from our ES, his wife, and her mom. Negative comments were left on my post by ES & his wife, and my mom. I LET THEM GO. Next week I will be starting this ministry journey and having our first meeting. God is healing me by helping others. I’ve been strong in my faith on this journey, and I’ve learned others are not. God has giving me a rocky journey I never expected, but I will serve Him out of it.

  8. Joanne

    I can’t believe how many of us have the same words! My heart breaks as I read about everyone’s relationship with their adult children. My daughter now 33 was born with a rare genetic skin disease. Her skin blisters and rips easily.
    her corneas sloughed off taking weeks to heal. I have given her everything I could to make her life easier, supported and unconditionally loved her.She has unfriended and blocked me from all ways of contact. Won’t say why, but tells me I need therapy. All her friends still say they loved coming to our house when young. She tells people she suffered abuse. Funny no one heard if this before she was 20. I am sad that there are so many of us going through this but I feel better knowing I am not alone. Why this is happening I have no f****** idea.

  9. Toni

    I am new to this, and very raw and hurt. My 31 year old son inexplicably tore into me, accused me of some pretty horrible behaviors (which didn’t occur) and told me that I am so toxic that he needs to cut all connection to me as quickly as possible. I am not sure if his new girlfriend, who I thought I had a great relationship with and have welcomed into my home endlessly, has filled his head or if this is all him. Either way, we were always so close and loving so this is like a massive bandaid that i didn’t know i had on being ripped off. I just don’t get it. I am a single parent, he is my only child. My whole life centered on him. I am struggling but I know I need to let this unfold as it will.

    1. penelope

      I too an relatively new to this. My son is in his early 30’s. It’s been a little over a year and behaviors have escalated in that time. My adult son has “memories” of things that never happened. Abuse at my hands, including a near death experiences where he was rushed to the hospital. NEVER HAPPENED! People believe him and I am judged. He has a diagnosed mental illness and paranoia is part of his set of symptoms. He says he’s afraid of me and what I’m going to do to him and that I have “laid hands on him” in the past. I have never touched him. He, on the other hand, has hit me, slammed me into a wall, and tried to break my arm. I have broken furniture, broken doors, and other property damage. But in his eyes, it’s all my fault. I worry I will never see him again, then I worry that I will see him again and will endure more abuse. UGH! No one ever said parenting was easy, but it’s hard to watch while other people’s children are….well….normal.

    2. Aline

      I am too a single mom. When he met he girlfriend and now married her, his whole attitude changed towards me. She insist we were unhealthy and broke him of talking to me and treated me like a monster at their elaborate wedding. Now my x-husband and his fourth wife are significant in their life, only because of money. Now my son and the wife are expecting a little girl and it had been well stated that I will not be involved and only her parents and my x husband and the rich 4 th wife. I have sought counseling and even had him go, only to be told I was mentally unhealthy and spoiled him. I saw this counselor for over two years only to be told I need psychic meds to try to hope for some reconciliation. I leave her office in tears and guilt and want to abuse my own self for being a single divorced mother. Now understand he is a succesful baseball athlete and only then did his dad come into the picture to enjoy the fame. I am feeling hopeless, depressed, revengeful, and know my sons wife is a control freak with severe ADDHD. I hide from people with families, husbands, and hate pictures of grand babies. I am catholic and provided well for my son with catholic school and even put myself through registered nursing school. He turned out to a pro baseball player with lots of my money spent on games, pitching tutoring and college degree. Now dad is the main focus along with her parents. Feeling very estranged and told now I need to find me a mate to lessen his involvement with him. I am 63 yrs old and he is 38 yrs. The day he introduced me to her I could see her claws showing. I want to leave them alone but the isolation kills me. They have told me they have strict and tight boundaries to avoid me. We live 15 minutes away and he will not call and she had convinced him that I am a drama queen and too needy. I have never called or even ashen him to be with me when I had a major surgery. I used a friend and can to take me home and stayed alone to heal. Sick of her controlling, cute, and pretty fake ideals. She even calls my x husband 4th wife her second Mom. The guilt is overwhelmingly controlling my life. Thanks.

  10. JJ

    I am new to this and it has truly been the hardest thing my husband of 38 years and I have ever gone through. Ten months ago my daughter hugged us and walked out of our home and completely has cut off contact with us. We have gotten some very ugly emails telling us everything we did/do wrong. This not only shocked us, we were devastated. It was as if someone invaded our beautiful, loving, caring and kind daughter and she is now gone forever. She has been shacked up with the same guy for over 13 years. He has been in our company only a few times and each time we had interaction with him he always said we were this or that. We have never been in their home even though it is only 25 minutes from ours. Needless to say it would be so easy to blame him and my husband does 100%. I however know she is a well educated college graduate that works in a professional position where she deals 100% effectively with other people whom she supervises. We know that we certainly were not perfect parents. However we were great parents that always put our children first and always had a great and loving relationship with them. This hurts so deeply. We have buried a child and this is worse because it is a clueless, helpless feeling that is a complete nightmare. This has affected our health, our peace and joy and our relationships with others due to the total shame and embarrassment which we have no explanation for. The fleeting thought even crossed my mind that I would be better off dead. My faith got me past that dark moment. I never knew such a thing as estrangement existed but somehow knowing this has brought me a bit of clarity. Now if only I could learn to stop blaming myself. OYVEY!!!

  11. Faith

    This has been the most theraputic group I could have have the fortune of finding! I have (2) adult children who, no matter how hard I try to communicate with, refuse. I have apologized for things I have not done, emailed and texted my love to them, only to get very mean responses and have been taken away from my granddaughter with no justificaiton (I took her home from the hospital when noone wanted her and raised her for a year) ….and this just scratches the surface. I cry and am in pain every day……I also have a 16 year old son who is an angel and deserves to have me at full capacity……which starts TODAY. It is OK to let go, it is not a failure, it is a new chapter! I will love them forever but cannot continue to be ridiculed when I try to be a part of their lives……….today is the first day of the rest of my life along with my precious 16 year old!

  12. Lee S.

    I have dealt with the constant threats and shutting out for so many years it becomes expected. I walk on eggshells if I do get the chance to even receive a text from my daughter. It is comforting to know I am not alone. I am dealing with the grief from losing my husband and expected my daughter to understand that I am going through something so very difficult. I was wrong, she didn’t understand even though she said she understood. This on top of losing him is so painful. I don’t know where to start.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Lee,
      My condolences on the loss of your husband. I’m sorry those who might be the most loving and helpful are not. Please take care of yourself. I’m glad you found the site. I founded it so people would not be so alone. There are others with experiences similar to yours. Thank you for posting here.

      Sheri McGregor

  13. Anna

    I so identify with every mother on this highly supportive and wise website. I just came across it within the hour, and felt that I needed to connect today with other mothers’ struggles who are also abandoned by their adult children. I am really happy to be on this subject of “moving on”. For the most part, this has been my mind set for at least a year now, in regards to my daughter and son who have abandoned me and betrayed me to most obnoxious degree since I married my husband nine years ago. You see, I was divorced from their alcoholic/abusive/stalking/pathologically obsessive/ “borderline” father for 20 years when I met my current wonderful and loving partner.

    Their father never remarried, so his “victim” persona played out to their pity (actually to their rage at the prospect of taking care of him since he was also sick). so they cut me off completely from their lives, and from my grandchildren. These three “adults” wanted to punish me for my newfound happiness, and they did! My shock/depression/rage, which was actually PTSD, sadly defined my life (& my new marriage) up until last year, when I almost died from a hospital infection from a surgery gone wrong. When a family member called my children to tell them I was very close to death, they told her to never call them again!

    During this frightening time, with my husband and other loved ones around me to support me, I realized that my two children were no longer allowed to hurt me any longer. No calls, no caring, no interest in whether I lived or died has now defined their “adult” relationship to me. Luckily, I survived my physical ordeal, and also have moved past my emotional wounds. I want to live a happy life now with my husband and I have released my two to live life as they choose to. I see them as being more like dear old dad everyday, as much as I tried to protect them from him.

    I “check” myself when I start to feel too emotional or sad, and tell myself, it is time to move on. Enough grieving and crying and “bargaining” has ended for me. They are free from me, since they choose to be. Just as I am free from them, because I, too, choose to be. Today, I felt sad, for the loss of my children and grandchildren, possibly the first time in many months, because I am approaching the one year mark where I almost didn’t make it. I connected to this column not by chance, because my life is precious to me now.
    I also want to make up for all the pain I caused to my loving husband during my PTSD years, where he patiently stood by me and understood my terrible grief. Now we are happier than ever, and so am I. I am embracing my personal goals again, and truly feel life is still beautiful and worth living, even though my adult children choose not to enjoy it with me. Take heart other mothers! There really is a “light” at the end of the tunnel for all of us facing and enduring the unbearable and unthinkable. Love & hugs!

    1. Happyfeet

      I don’t know if you will see this Anna since it has been a few months since you posted, but your story is very much like mine. I just found this site and I think it has been a life saver. It’s very good to know I’m not alone and I don’t need to live in shame.

  14. Cindy

    I have come to believe, after 1 full year of estrangement from my 2 adult daughters (who have forbidden me to see my 2 granddaughters) that it really is MY fault 1000% that we have all become estranged. Unfortunately, all my apologies in the world will not save our relationship. My children refuse to forgive me. What was my sin? On November 9th 2016, I was elated that Donald Trump was elected president and I voiced my nasty opinions about Hillary Clinton to my daughters. They voted for Hillary and will NOT forgive me for what I did and what I said. Period.
    As stupid and as silly many people may find this (and I’ve been laughed at by the therapist my daughters insisted I see for my discretions) it’s real AND it hurts. BUT there is nothing I can do about it. So, I have finally accepted my losses and have decided to continue onward with my own life. As McGregor states, this is NOT a phase, this is real and I have come to understand this will never get resolved. My daughters and I think and live differently and neither one of us can get along nor be in the same room together.
    I’m wondering if this has happened to any other family?
    My daughters are 39 & 36 both married to extreme left liberals.
    I still continue to send my daughters birthday gifts (I get handwritten thank you notes), I send my SIL birthday & Father Day wishes, I send my granddaughters Xmas gifts and birthday gifts and bags of candy on Halloween, Valentine’s Day & Easter. Even though I have been blocked off ALL their social media, I have NOT been blocked from a shared website where my oldest daughter posts almost daily photos of my grandchildren, along with videos, so I still can see them and watch them grow up. I am very thankful and grateful for this. Also, my oldest is still paying me back the $50,000 loan I made to her back in 2005 so she could put a down payment on a NYC apartment. Thankfully I had her sign a promissory note AND I haven’t collected any interest. I faithfully get her check each and every first of the month. Her balance is $17K and at $300 a month, it’ll still take several years to pay off. Her ‘real estate investment’ turned out to be worth $1.5million at today’s prices, so I am very grateful I was able to help my daughter out in that way. Both of my daughters are successful career women (I have to pat myself on the back for this one because I was instrumental in guiding them through their college and career choices. Naturally, of course, they did and mastered the work and are to be commended for their achievements) They are both happily married, make great mothers as they each are raising little girls themselves. It makes me happy to know that they are healthy and successful. As I said, I blame myself 1000% for our estrangement because I just couldn’t keep my big, opinionated mouth shut. This wasn’t the first time I did this, so I sort of deserved what I got.
    I am still able to communicate with my youngest daughter but her replies are usually one or two syllables. But at least she recognizes that I am still alive and has not blocked me from texts, phone calls and emails.
    My husband and I recently bought an RV and will be travelling throughout America stopping at as many National Parks as we can. We also just bought a beautiful condo in Florida for our retirement BUT my oldest has made it clear to me that since Trump won over Florida, her daughter will never set foot inside of DisneyWorld. Being that my husband worked for Disney for 12 years and my daughters grew up inside everything Disney had to offer world wide, it makes me very sad that my granddaughters will never experience the wonders of Disney themselves (we still have oodles of free, non-expiring passes)
    Oh well.
    I know my troubles are silly and stupid. I can’t believe it’s even happening and I NEVER tell anyone about it. I lie and act as if everything is still normal. Nonetheless, it hurts. I try to be brave and strong but you will find me crying in the bathroom every once in a while. I may think ‘enough is enough’ but is it really?

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Cindy,

      I have heard from other parents whose adult children chose to cut them off due to political differences. It seems such a shame to demonize a parent who has obviously been generous and kind to her children because of political disagreements. I would feel the same if a parent demonized and cut off a son or daughter because of political disagreements.

      There are some who might compare this to the gridlock that occurs in government.

      Sheri McGregor

  15. Latisha S.

    Thank you for creating this support group for estranged parents. 10, 15, or 20 years ago, I would never have thought this term could apply to me. I remember how clueless I would be at church years ago when I’d see mothers crying and asking for prayer for their estranged children. I was the one who thought this would never happen to me because I had such a strong bond with my daughter. I thought we were a team against the world and that she’d always be a team player.

    She is my only child and I’m single. So I sometimes slip into despair as to why I don’t have anyone else to comfort me. But I keep busy with work and ministry so as not to let this take over my life. At the beginning, when she left home at 16, I took to the bed and couldn’t even will myself to get up nor to stop the tears from falling. But now, though I have my sad days, I’m usually ok.

    I am the resident director for a home for women in transition AND I’m a health insurance agent. So I stay very busy and am on the brink of Open Enrollment which will keep me extra busy over the holidays which is my worst time.

    Several weeks ago my daughter reached out to me for help because she was being put out by her boyfriend and I allowed her to come to the transitional home. I had explained to her that she could stay here as long as she need to but would have to comply with house rules. The first few days were wonderful like old days. She was pleasant, funny, caring, helpful, talkative, singing (she has a beautiful voice) just like she was growing up. However, it is a faith based atmosphere and she was not willing to comply with the activities here. Upon being asked move out of the great room and not to sleep in the room where the rest of us were having devotion, she became volatile, made a scene and left.

    I explained she would need to get her personal effects within 48 hours which she said she would but then reneged. She blocked me on Facebook and messenger and says she wants no contact with me but she contacted me yesterday saying she needs her birth certificate. I have all of her belongings here still although I think I should have thrown them away after the way she has behaved. So I wonder how others would deal with this? Am I undermining my own authority by keeping her stuff and allowing her to contact me just when she wants something?

    I have to admit, it is comforting to know that she is still alive but it is also insulting to be contacted only when she wants something from me. I’d like to see other’s opinion about this situation.

    1. Lynne

      Hi Letisha, first I want to tell you I feel your pain. Several years ago I also tried to help my 42 year old son. I went and got him from a VA homeless shelter and also his belongings that were in a storage unit. His behavior was so threatening that I paid for the bus ticket for him to go back to the VA facility. I stored his belongings. He did get out and got a home but did not come and get his stuff. I was moving and had to decide what to do with his stuff. I knew at this point he had no intention to get his stuff. I saved what I really believed was important and donated the rest. He was furious that I did not bring his stuff to him! This was just another example of how he has shirked being responsible. I try not to enable him in anyway. This is hard for me because I have that caretaker side of me…you sound like you do too. My advice to you is put her important stuff in boxes and tell her when and where to pick it up. If after a certain time and she doesn’t come get her stuff do with it what you want. Don’t feel guilty..that is what our grown children prey on. I hope this helps some. Been there done that as they say. Saying prayers for you today. Love, Lynne

    2. Latisha S.

      Thanks for your responses. It is so comforting to know that I’m not the only person in the world going through this as it sometimes seems.

      The other day I saw my daughter to give her her birth certificate. She met me at a library (where we used to go for home-school reading) and she looked absolutely horrible. She looked unkempt like she’d been sleeping on the street or something. I felt awful seeing her like that. But when I handed her the certificate she glared at me like I was a criminal. I just turned around and left without trying to hug or talk or anything. Then I felt horrible because I kept thinking what if she dies or commits suicide? I may never see her again. I kept thinking she needs to stop blaming me and get her life together. I text her that it breaks my heart to see her struggling. And I love her incessantly. And she replied “…..ok”

      My behavior is so codependent partially because I never knew my own birth mother and wanted a relationship with her so badly growing up. I never got a chance to know her nor to know she loved me. So I get caught up wanting to be sure my daughter knows I love her. But she tells me over and over that she doesn’t care. So I decided again that I just need to stop trying to communicate with her and just pray and then put her out of my mind.

      So today I saw a picture she posted on Instagram (I don’t think she knows that I see her Instagram posts). And she was looking absolutely beautiful. Hair, make up, cute jeans, etc. I had to realize that the way she came to the library was purposeful to make me feel guilty.

      Nobody told me parenting would be so challenging. I’m learning.

      Keep us codependent parents in your prayers for us to be strong, apply wisdom, boundaries and discipline appropriately when the opportunities arise. Your comments make me stronger to face the challenges now and to come.

  16. CMA

    I am walking away, flying off, leaving to another life. In my case, the abuse was so great I discarded my mobile phone in the river, as I had had enough. It is evil, completely spiritual and our children are bound by this iAge of selfishness. I adored my mother and wish to love her, yet, she is slandering me so much, I must stay away so I am not injured again and again.
    This website is very beneficial, I am set free by many words. You have confirmed my thoughts, I now have no guilt in going to find my future.

  17. Doug M.

    W…O…W. I never knew there were soooo many people out there that are in the same boat as me. But I have one additional nuance that happened prior to my 3 kids deciding not to talk to me 3 years ago (when they were 18B, 14G, and 14B). My entire life complete fell apart.

    You name it, I lost it: my well-paying job, my house, my cars, my entire life savings, my wife, my kids, my sanity. I was about a 1/2 an inch away from putting a bullet in my head about 100 times during 2015.

    But I’m much better now. My kids still don’t talk to me…and they were my LIFE back in 2014. I had NOTHING ELSE to live for back then. But now I realize that my oldest child had been assuming a lot of things about me which were/are completely false…and that’s the basis of his estrangement. He has admitted that he has panic attacks whenever he knows I’m going to be around and, once, he had to leave work to puke because he thought I was there. So he has grown these false assumptions into some grandiose monster image of me in his head while, in reality, I’m the same, loving, caring father I’ve always been. So, in essence, his psychosis has gone viral throughout the entire family and destroyed me.

    So I asked him in a letter I mailed today, if he’s following the 5th Commandment: Honoring Your Father and Mother? And if he’s also following #9 Do Not Testify Falsely Against Your Neighbor? That one means to tell the truth about others. And since he’s spreading false assumptions about me throughout the family and he’s obviously not honoring me as his parent, he’s 0 for 2 on these 2 Commandments. So, unfortunately, it may be a long shot for him at the pearly gates.

    And he’s the Big Brother of the family, having a huge influence on his younger brother and sister. So if he decides to be estranged, so are his siblings, unfortunately.

    I have thought about adoption because I have a lot of love to give. But I don’t have the income to support something like that, so that’s out.

    Since family is the most important thing to me on this earth (God is #1), I’m conflicted on what to do. I find it incredibly difficult to just pick up the pieces and move on, yet I can’t wait forever. I’ve been seeing 3 counselors over the last 1-2 years, so I’m all set there. I’ve sent my resume to 582 IT Project Management job opportunities over the last 4 years, and…nothing. Not even an interview, even though I have impeccable experience and excellent education.

    I pray every day for a break. I can take only so much of a beating, though. Thanks for reading.

    1. Karma

      I am thankful for this community of ES family. I thought it was just me, and shocked to read of the HUGE dilemma out there. I read my story in everyone’s story. It’s as if there is a template these children all follow, for this behavior. Who knew this was a thing? Why is it a thing? Why don’t we hear about this thing publically, on Dr. Phil, in the news, on 60 minutes, etc. Where is the global awareness? There are so many people coming out on sexual assault/harassment, groping, inappropriate behavior…why do we not hear of ES?

      My daughter flipped the switch a few days before her wedding. Age 28, and up to this point, I thought we had a happy, healthy relationship and raised our children without dysfunction. I thought we were close. I felt loved. They were loved. The kids all did well in school; didn’t lie; didn’t do drugs; didn’t drink; had lots of friends; had great reports from teachers. Absolutely no clue any of my children were unhappy. Then, without a hint it was coming, she treated us like dirt at her wedding and stopped all live communication from that point on. She writes abusive emails, spreads disgusting and horrific gossip about us with allegations of events that NEVER happened. She disowns every family member that won’t believe her. Now, at age 33, she has two children which I’ve never seen. She didn’t even let us know she was pregnant or when they were born. What daughter doesn’t want their own mother to know she is pregnant? What parent doesn’t want their children to know their grandparents? Of course, she sends pictures to everyone else, but nothing to us. She recently attended a family wedding, yet refused to sit with family; just in the corner with her arms crossed. Not sure what that was about. She looked sick, sad, skinny, black circles under her eyes, wore scrumpy clothes…a person I did not recognize. I tried to talk to her, but she ignored me. I tried to give her a hug, but she shook me off like a wet dog. I took a few pictures of her, and she would drop or turn her head so I couldn’t get a photo of her face. The good news from this, is that all of the family saw her behavior as well. This has been one of the hardest parts for me…when family (siblings, aunts, uncles) blame me, judge me and support my ES daughter. Even when they see the behavior, they tell me “she is so nice to us” “we are there for her because she is our niece” “we don’t want to get in the middle” “what did you do to her that could make a daughter treat her parents this way”. Shouldn’t they be saying “what is wrong with HER?” “what can we do to support you?” “her behavior towards you is inappropriate”. This is the PROBLEM…family members do not call her out. It comes across as we are the bad eggs. So frustrating. My own sister won’t share photos of my grandchildren with me, because my daughter threatened to “unfriend her” on FB if she did. I don’t understand why that behavior in itself isn’t enough for my sister to realize what we’re going through. I don’t understand why my own sister would keep me from seeing my grandchildren’s pics, when she knows how traumatized I am. So many disturbing questions with no reasonable answers.

      I used to send my daughter text and email messages often, just so she knew I loved her and would always be there for her, unconditionally. They started coming back as “blocked” or “undeliverable”. So, I stopped. I was sending cards for holidays, birthdays, etc, but they came back “return to sender”. So, now I keep a big box in the basement and put the cards in the box. I put birthday and holiday gifts in the box for her and my grandchildren. Someday, likely when I’m dead, she’ll have a box full of lost-years memories. At least I will go to my grave with a forgiving heart, KNOWING I cared for her always. Maybe when my grandchildren are adults, we can connect somehow and I can give them their box of cards and gifts and get to know each other. That’s the best I can do for now.

  18. Brokenandconfused

    What you said is exactly true. I’m new here and it’s sad but what you said is exactly what Jesus said. My daughter told my other daughters that she didn’t like me because I talk about Jesus too much and I always tell her I’m praying for her. I was stunned. She didn’t tell me to my face at least. God has carried us our entire lives, through some very dark and hard places. I blame myself though. I took them to church after the divorce (Christian) but their dad was Catholic and he just shoved it down their throats all the time and they hated it so much. So I dropped the ball. I didn’t make them go after that. I guess since I had grown up always trusting God I just assumed they would too. I wasn’t taken to church as a child but I always believed. All of my girls have told me recently that they don’t “believe they way I do”. However, when asked what they DO believe; they have no answer. I have been praying asking God for another opportunity to talk to my girls about Jesus. The ones talking to me anyone. The other one I pray for God’s armor to be around (as I do us all) as I know if anyone can defeat Satan; It Jesus. I pray that Jesus will look over her, love her, keep her safe, and most of all, make himself real to her. I miss her so much but I just can’t take another cussing from her after all we’ve been through. Our entire family has given her allowances all her life. She’s never been what I would call even remotely easy. Divorce at 3 and courts allowing mental and emotional abuse from her dad in the spirit of parental rights, certainly didn’t help and the stress developed into Tourettes. For this reason, I think our court systems are very broken and should have to pay for some of the decisions they have made that were detrimental to children. I had to let my children go every summer and he lived 9 hours away. They called me 5-6 times a day begging me to come home. It was torture for me and to this day, I still have a hard time with the summer season. He would do whatever he wanted. He would line them up on the sofa and read the divorce decree to them at 3, 5 and 8 and tell them I was going straight to hell if I didn’t apologize to him for filing for a divorce. It was my fault he said. He didn’t bother mentioning the three affairs I KNEW about. Found out later there were a lot more. I worked three jobs while he made over $100K a year and hide his money to keep from paying child support. Thank goodness there were lots of people praying for us. My children are all very intelligent, highly degreed and make more money that I could ever imagine. I’m so proud of them. However, my forever (2nd ) husband said something recently that really hit home with me. He said if I was waiting for “recognition” from them for the sacrifices I made for them, it’s not ever going to happen. None of them are parents and even if they were, they would not have to struggle the way I did. I’m just so happy that they all are doing well financially. One thing I have learned is that it takes a village to raise a child. It could have gone so many different ways but I KNOW my God was there and holding us up with his mighty right hand. I will never apologize for loving God. I love my children too but you are right; God has to come first. I do hope to be able to see and hug all my children again one day as God doesn’t want division either. That’s Satan. I will just keep “keeping” the faith and let the Lord lead. God Bless you all on here. Life is not fair. Learned that a long time ago too.

  19. Rowen

    If they don’t like the mom I was when I was doing my job back then. They are definitely not going to like this new mom. They are acting like brats. There, I said it.
    I did not like some of the things my parents did. I talked to each of them. I would never think of being such a donkey to my Mom and Dad.

  20. brokenmum

    I just don’t like the blatant disrespect and abuse. Somewhere along the way they feel justified in being disrespectful. No cool, not cool at all!

  21. Stephen

    Just recently, I had reversed the estrangement. My feeling is, if you don’t want me in your life, then I do not want you in mine. This means no more SOS message flares. This means know more knowing about what is going on in my life either. Just recently, my ED decided to tell the family she would go to a family funeral. I did not want here there, as she has turned her back “somewhat” on my side of the family. I thought it was strange that she was going to go to this, as she has skipped these things before. Low and behold, she never came after all. We believe she did this, hoping that I would not go and I would look bad. It did not work and the only person who looked a fool, was her. When you reverse estrangement, it is incredible how crafty they become. I have built a wall, put a steel fence and I am welding it shut. Now I have to figure how to put an iron dome over it, to keep her from prying into my life. It is funny, once you stop sending out SOS communication flares and let them know you do not want them in your life now either, how all the sudden they react out of nowhere. I am still in the realm of Good Riddance! If and when she decides to stop this, she needs to get on her hands and knee’s and ask God and Jesus for forgiveness and then repeat it to me. I will settle for nothing less and if it never comes, I am fine with that.

  22. Stephen

    I am with Rowen. If my ED did not like the kind, loving, giving, supporting provider I was before, she really is not going to like the new me she created! For this, it is better we go our own ways.

  23. Believer42

    I am still hopeful that my son will once again be in my life. Reality though is that he has barely spoken to me after I divorced his dad. We were married for 35 years. I have a grown step-son and his family, and my youngest – my biological son – is the one who won’t speak to me. He told me he needed to “figure it out” and to give him some space. That has been almost two years. In this time, I moved into an apartment and we sold our home. My ex moved in with my youngest son. My ex tells anyone who will listen that I am going through a mid-life crisis and will come back to him. (Not gonna happen!!) I do not know what he is telling my son, but I am sure it has poisoned my son.
    I read Sheri’s book – SO VERY HELPFUL!!! In it she mentioned making some goals to help, which i did. I decided to text my son just once a week and just see how things were going – he will text me back, but usually very terse or basic answers. We had a wonderful loving relationship. He was a blessing – I lost two children before having my son. He was a miracle and thanked God every day for him. We talked or texted almost daily. I not only loved him I liked him, he was funny, sweet, empathetic, thoughtful and grew into a wonderful man. That is why I have been truly devastated by his rejection of me. I have physically seen him twice since the divorce – last Christmas and then my birthday this summer.

    My stepson and his family have embraced me and given me strength and love. My stepson and son are not close – they were growing up, but in college my stepson had made some bad choices and had a tougher time coming around to being a good man. But I have appreciated my stepson, his wife and my three grandsons – who give me lots to be thankful for…

    My youngest son is now engaged to his girlfriend – she is awesome and they are busy planning wedding things. It is killing me not be be involved in his life. He knows I would love to help with everything, so I honestly don’t know if I will be invited to the wedding…

    So my question is… what do I do now? Do I ask him to meet with me? should I confront him, head on and possibly make it worse and permanent or maybe that will lead to healing. I got a lot of great ideas, information and comfort from Sheri’s book . I have it by the couch and refer to it often. I am healing and trying to get on with my life, but really want to be involved in my son’s life. Should I ‘confront’ ( for lack of a better term) my son – I just don’t know. What have others done and what was the outcome?

    1. rparents Post author

      Believer, I’m sorry you’re going through this. I think tread lightly… Maybe you could make a small overture and see if he wants to get coffee or something he likes? See if he’s receptive? It’s hard to say because I am not there in your shoes and know very little.

      It sounds like your ex runs his mouth, and the whole situation might be difficult and confusing for your son, especially with your ex living with him.

      I think I would be kind and see if he would meet you for a treat or coffee or something. And then maybe just keep it light and see what he says or does. This is not really advice.. just what I see from what you said and how I might try. Others’might have better suggestions!

      Hugs to you. I’m glad you have some in your life that you are close to.

      Sheri McGregor

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