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

  1. Jennifer

    I’ve been dealing with this for 4 years since my son started dating his girlfriend now my daughter-in-law.
    Her family is dysfunctional and controlling and I’ve been cut out of my son’s life more and more.
    Since the birth of my first grandchild it has gotten worse in a year and a half I have seen him eight times and they live in town and it’s typically for an hour but my son doesn’t want me around him.
    I didn’t drink I didn’t party yes I was strict but I didn’t abuse my kids I supported them in everything .
    My son even says that I supported him and everything but can’t give me a reason why I’m being treated this way and if I’m hurt he tells me I cry every time I don’t get my own way.
    I can’t sleep I’ve had to leave work early I cry all the time. I feel like someone is sitting on my chest and it’s hard to breathe. And I think about dying all the time to make it stop

    Reply
  2. Christian

    I finally told my daughter I was backing off because her indifference to me was killing me. I really think she wants me dead. It is really her great loss, I have tried my best to have a relationship with her for years. It has been really hard because I recently found out that I am dying. I am ready for that, it is not a huge deal for me. I am saved, I just wanted to be close to my daughter before I went on to eternal rest. The only reason I have been able to come up with for her distain for me is that I am not woke enough for her. What a sad thing to dump your mom for.

    Reply
    1. candleinthewind

      Hello Nicho. I love your question for its simplicity. Not being a lover of Trump myself, it could also be for a myriad of other reasons (or excuses) – my daughter is infuriated because I’m shy and find social situations difficult. It could also be for being a meat eater and loving bacon sannies – the list goes on. It really doesn’t matter in the end. Estrangement makes us embrace our individuality and enjoying it.

  3. Lucy

    As with other parents I’ve found comfort in this site. Many parents mention their child’s “therapist’s” comments about their parenting. One thing my daughter has said is that “it’s not her fault, it’s the environment”. I take umbrage at this as all our children were raised in a loving, caring highly privileged environment where they were never, ever alone and we did things as a family. When I look back on our parenting I honestly cannot earmark any specific error we made, sure we weren’t perfect but wow we we loving and caring parents who, in the 90’s and 00’s didn’t have the Internet or books to consult. Our eldest daughter’s personality is “borderline” and we have endured her volatility for over 15 years, she’s now in her 30’s. I see a definite pattern in her behaviour where if her highly unreasonable financial, personal demands are not met she resorts to emotional and verbal abuse….and so the patterns begin every 3-6 months. To say we’re exhausted is a gross understatement. Our other daughter who has always clashed with her has estranged herself due to the eldest’s behaviour and has turned into someone I no longer recognise. As with all the parents it’s been an absolute nightmare where we’ve struggled every step of the way trying to reason with completely unreasonable people. Each time we acquiesce the goal posts are moved and we’re back on the roller coaster again! My point is this at some time in our journey we have to step back and remember these people are now adults, they’re not pretentious teenagers they’re pretentious adults who need to learn how to function on their own. Blaming Mummy and Daddy continually is getting them nowhere and our enabling of their ridiculous behaviour is only making the issue worse. We live in a society that suggests every issue these “kids” have can be labeled as a mental health issue, when we hear that phrase we are immediately triggered into panic mode as in our generation, for me the 60-80’s, mental health translated into self harm and suicide. Our “understanding” of these issues is rudimentary so we immediately take the blame thinking ridiculous things like “they’re right I should be helping them financially because I did yell at her for not helping more in 2010” I think the only “mental health” issue a lot of these adult kids have are issues with entitlement and being spoilt. The absolute utmost respect to those parents whose children really do have issues, please take my observation in it’s intended context. Like many I’m sick of being emotionally and verbally abused because I won’t let them control my life; a lot of them are suffering from Spoilt Brat itis; and we ALL know the best cure for that! I often wonder how hard done by these kids would be if they lived in Mumbai on a rubbish tip and had to forage for food for themselves and their families every day in searing heat, I wonder if their shallowness and lack of respect would find a place in that world? Love to every single parent out there who at every minute is doing the very best they can. Lucy

    Reply
    1. Joan

      You are so so right. It can’t be a coincidence that these adult children stories are so similar.
      I’m thoroughly over it. It is often said children do work out their parents are human with human failings. Well it’s about time parents realised their children are also not the little angels they once were but adults with their failings too.

  4. Raquel D.

    I have a grown daughter in a very toxic marriage, domestic violence ensued, he tried to strangle her and she called the police on him, and he was arrested, only to receive him back into her life and dropping charges. They have been married for 10 years or so, and ever since this marriage problems arose, fights ensued and her husband would call myself or her father to come and pick up my daughter from the house they I’ve in, like returning a defective appliance at a store. We went out of concern for my daughter but soon realized we were not helping, and we stopped going and blocked her husband from my phone…but over the years he has created havoc with our family, first may eldest daughter threatening her with something or other for telling us they were using drugs, then my son who is 10 years younger and lived in LA, spending a whole day sending him texts threatening his life, and insulting him, I put up with a lot, but the domestic violence continued and I asked my daughter and himself that he was not welcomed in or house anymore. This problems arises from drinking alcohol, not once has this man ever apologized for anything he has done, like the drunk did it not I.

    Just recently we took off for a week at the beach, I have a big house with a lot of amenities, my daughter knew he was not welcome there ever, yet she went on the weekend to spend the day in my house, in the pool and even boasted when I called her asking me what are you going to do disown me? knowing perfectly well she was disrespecting my wishes…she then proceeded to tell me I had to respect her wishes of staying with the toxic relationship, I said to her it was her life and she could do with it whatever she wanted but I do not want any part of this man, neither does my husband or any of my other two grown kids. and she keeps crossing those boundaries, that I am not willing to change. The husband knows full well how we feel, yet he comes when we are not home…I blocked my daughter from my phone for now, she is manipulative and disrespectful to my wishes, I had told her SHE would always be welcome in my house but her husband is banned, she accepted this for over two years, and now this, what do I do here?

    Reply
  5. Joan

    I have two daughters. They are both married and each have two children. The Grandchildren are now in their early teen years but when they were younger I spent time watching them. I spent a great deal more time watching my younger daughter’s children because she struggled with physical and mental health issues. My older daughter always seemed to have it together.
    My older daughter, her family, my husband and I have a very rewarding relationship.
    My younger daughter has estranged from us. She cut off contact, never told me why. She now has a therapist who has “helped” her figure out that ALL of her problems are due to our parenting. This therapist has told her that her parents are “aliens with no souls”. The therapist also told her that “you are my best client because you do what I tell you to do”. And she told our daughter to cut ties with us. I am concerned by such a therapist but it is who our daughter has bonded to.
    For the last several years, before cutting us off, our younger daughter was constantly disrupting family gatherings with her drama. She would make caustic remakes, make fun of presents we bought her, put us down and in general inject a negative tone into every get together. She seemed to be getting more and more mean spirited.
    Then she estranged.
    At first we were devastated and cried. We sent her texts proclaiming our love, apologizing for anything we might have done to hurt her feelings, etc.. The apologies seemed to make her madder. The situation spiraled downward She became more mean spirited. Other family and friends commented that she seemed to only want to hurt us not express her feelings and work to better our relationship.
    The biggest heart break was greatly reduced contact with those two grandchildren. She is sharing with her children her version of how horrible we were. But, of course, just a year ago when she and her husband wanted to go away for a Caribbean vacation we were considered suitable to have those children for 9 days at our home. And for the first 10 years of their life I provided day care every week while she worked. I was trusted to take the children to their doctor visit, lessons, etc.. We were good enough for that but when she did not need us she discarded us.
    And then after several months of tears I realized that our family gatherings with our older daughter’s family became so much more joyful! Everyone got along, no drama, no nasty remarks or digs. PEACE.
    My husband got to this place faster than me. I would often say how much I missed her but he would say ‘I miss the person she was 10 years ago but not the person she has become”.
    But I am now here.
    I do miss those two grand children but I have many, many memories of times spent with them and they have wonderful memories of time with us. In five years they will be old enough for us to resume our relationship with them without their parents.
    It is interesting to note that this daughter cut contact and estranged from her husbands parents 10 years ago. She had a litany evils they had done. I encouraged her to see her husbands mother but she begrudgingly rationed out those visits and seemed to enjoy the pain she caused her mother in law.
    Now it is us she has turned on. She seems to always need to target someone.
    My older daughter has told me that her sister is mentally ill and none of this is our doing. I believe this to be true. Our younger daughter has had issues since birth. My own mother struggled with mental illness.
    So, from now on I will focus on the joy our older daughter brings us. The fun we have with her family. I am done apologizing and crying. We have been extremely giving, caring parents. If she chooses to reconnect with us we will be open to a relationship but that relationship will need to be respectful. No more drama or nasty comments.
    Who knows what the future holds. But I choose to find joy in the rest of my family for the present.

    Reply
    1. Mabel

      Hello. The word bully has been pronounced and it is the right word that I couldn’t find and someone said it here in the group that manifests what I see in my separated son. He has become a bully whom I fear because anything he says makes me feel even more guilty. Of course after almost a year I don’t know who I am guilty of. but that’s how i feel like a bully what am i afraid point i’m afraid of what i say i’m afraid of how i say it i’m afraid of how i activate and as they said here’s how to walk on eggshells. but I was surprised that someone in the group, when saying the word bully, identifies it with my son, point how sad that we are afraid to treat our own children naturally and see them as bullies, being a bully a person who intimidates point a hug for each one of you whom I read daily and feel it in my heart

    2. Mudgee

      Can so understand how you feel. Have been dealing with our mentally ill daughter for over 40 years. We have 3 beautiful children including her but have spent most of our luves trying to help and please her only to be gutted. Can’t help someone who is unwilling to help themselves. I am done.

  6. Sue F.

    As I read through these comments I can cherry pick the similarities, whilst pain and grief jump out from the each post. After a beautiful relationship with my middle daughter started distancing herself, I could feel it, I knew it. Then she was gone. She had her daughter and I was last to know, via her husband in a information lacking text. I learned of her middle name via a friend on Instagram. I tried letters, gifts, emails, all got either ignored, unanswered or used against me to cause issues with my other daughters. I too have cried, felt sick, wanted to die. I have also felt hopeful, have felt better and stronger. It is a fraught situation to go through akin to a roller coaster ride. My ultimate sadness is the betrayal from other people, the ones that hide stuff, don’t tell you stuff, act like foot soldiers to these bullies. The ones that should have your back, but don’t. That know the truth, but choose to ignore it. And you, as the wounded broken parent are too scared to confront them, fearing the loss of another child. Your steps in life are second guessed constantly, as the eggs you walk on seem so fragile. Your self esteem is gone, broken by those that should love you and once did.
    Do they still? Somewhere in their hearts? I hope that every day. My heart feels you all

    Reply
    1. Joan

      Totally agree that estranged adult children are often “bullies”. I do feel that our estranged daughters is. She did not just take the space she says she needed but she did some very hurtful, nasty things . Our other daughter is wonderful and has stood by us but is getting pressured by the estranged daughter to keep things from us like the health of our health grand children who we have provided day care for for over a decade.
      Siblings know the truth. And if they feel that their sister or brother is bullying and needlessly causing family pain and suffering I encourage them not to condone , participate or aid the bully in their desire to inflict pain. Compliance with a bully is in fact just another way to become a bully.

    2. rparents Post author

      Hi Joan,

      In my newest book, BEYOND Done With The Crying: More Answers and Advice for Parents of Estranged Adult Children (Dec. 2021), you’ll find information to help with situations such as yours. I have also included siblings’ experience so that parents can better understand. Siblings were candid with me, which is sometimes difficult for them to be with the parents they love so much.

      HUGS to you in this difficult situation.

      Sheri McGregor

    3. Beth

      I am pretty certain that my youngest daughter is in league with my estranged son and daughter in law to keep any family news from me and my husband. For instance we found out from another family member that my son’s daughter, our granddaughter, is 20+ weeks pregnant, we do not know the date when the baby is due. Our youngest daughter simply says “it’s not my news to tell”, which infuriates me because she knows the situation with our son but has never made any attempt to understand or sympathise what we have gone through. We certainly don’t feel any kind of support from her. This has inevitably affected our own relationship with her. We used to see a lot of her and her family but this has now dropped to contact only once a week, usually by phone. Last weekend there was a family wedding, which our son chose not to attend, and it was obvious to us that youngest daughter couldn’t wait to leave, she kept herself apart from us and our eldest daughter. I feel that before too long she will follow her brother and estrange from us, which will make the DIL very happy as her prime objective has been to separate our son from us. The saddest thing about this is that I already feel a sense of acceptance, for too long my husband and I have been disrespected.

  7. Julie

    I’m glad I stumbled across your page as I was researching something else.
    On 12/10/2021 my 1st phone call was news of a friend’s death. At 3pm that afternoon I received a ‘you’re dead to me text from my oldest granddaughter (24). When I tried to communicate with her asking why she spewed out accusations that totally derailed me. Her mother has increasingly distanced herself from me since she divorced several years ago, has treated me very rudely in public and in front of her friends (she hosted a Mary Kay party and when I entered the room backs were turned to me and no one acknowledge me with a ‘hello), an invite to Mother’s Day lunch the morning of only to not have a seat for me when I arrived, her daughters not wanting to sit next to me when I hosted them to lunch at a restaurant – so many times. Amazingly, I felt a great sense of relief after several failed efforts to understand why so much hate in her (granddaughter’s email) words – I have been trying for YEARS to have a relationship with them, accepting their rude behavior thinking if I remained kind and helpful (financially) they would love me. I gave up that day. I still have moments of sorrow for the loss of what I had hoped my family and elder years would look like BUT I am re-establishing a new life in a new location after a very stressful 3 years – I am a 11/8/2018 survivor/overcome of the Camp Fire that devastated Paradise, CA. I choose JOY.

    Reply
    1. April

      Julie, I am so sorry you had to go through the pain of rejection and humiliation. I am very familiar with both. I am SO glad you are making a new life for yourself in a new location!! Remember you are deserving of love and light and all things good.

    2. Angelica

      I came across this article because my adult son is estranged (his choice). His sister and I were evacuated during the Dixie Fire. When I asked him if he knew about the fire, he said yea. I asked why he didnt call or contact us. Hes 2 hrs away. He said because he didnt care. Yes, sometimes we give birth to a**holes.

    3. Linda

      Hi Julie – I’m another Northern California forest fire survivor – for me it was the Slater Fire on September 8, 2020. I lost my home, my youngest daughter lost her rental home, and my son lost the home he was renting a room in. My estranged daughter never called and apparently didn’t care. I think she’ll be happy the day I die. She’s been estranged 25 years already, since she was 16. Imagine that – at the wise old age of 16 she decided never to talk to her mother again. She was living with her father; she’s a victim of Parental Alienation Syndrome. Anyhow, I go for months feeling okay, then something happens to remind me and I grieve for weeks almost as if it was a fresh injury. I think it helps to go somewhere that the estranged child has never been. It is good to live a full and happy life without constant memories about the one who causes you pain, intentionally.

  8. Sali

    I’m so grateful for your short story, I had to say enough today, tomorrow will be better.

    EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY

    Thank you

    Reply
  9. Teresa

    Read your book several years ago. I tried to put aside my feelings of hurt due to my son’s estrangement. He came around about 2 years later. but only to a certain degree. He needed money. I was happy to give it (even though I struggled financially with my SS) because I wanted to have him back in my life. Was he sincere? No. Because he would only contact me via text and wouldn’t call me. He lived and hour away and did not want me to visit. There was very excuse given. I accepted this. I asked him to move back home because I knew he was struggling financially. He refused. I eventually sold my home to downsize. He became excited about this because I always said that if I sold the house he would get half. I gave him $75,000 from the proceeds. This time he called many times asking about the status of the sale. He moved to another state. Still, I couldn’t visit him. Three months later he tells me he lost his new job and if I could help him financially. His response to my question about the money given: “I paid all my bills and the rest will cover rent until the lease is over.” Red flags. the cursing towards me came when I question what will he do next. the belligerence became more and more via text – never over the phone. He would never pick up. I told him I’m done with the abuse. This time it doesn’t feel so bad. I developed a back bone. I blocked his number and am trying to move on with my life. He’s my only child. He claims that as a single parent I smothered him. Probably did to a degree. regardless, I’m tired of the abuse. I have a heart condition and only a few years left. This did not stop him from attacking me when things haven’t gone his way. Yes, I will probably die alone. But, am I not alone already? Have been for years? I don/t want my last days to be of him emotionally and financially taking advantage of the situation when he can.

    Reply
    1. Workingonme

      Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on getting to a place where you are ready to stand up to the abuse. I am praying that you have a much longer and happier life than you currently imagine, and that your son eventually overcomes whatever it is that holds him back.

  10. marie m

    it is so sad to see chidren not care for there mother or father. i had enough and at the stage where i give my peace and it is not welcome i will take it back and go my way where it is accepted. it hurts but i don’t want to be abuse and die happy.

    Reply
  11. Grace

    Dear Frank
    I sympathize with you. My late husband was a master manipulate and a serial cheat. He was determined to alienate my children from me all because he didn’t want to pay maintenance. He was an absent father who would “reward” the children with his charm occasionally. When he finally left, he didn’t live for long afterwards, having made all sorts of promises to the children. They have never recovered, blaming me for all the mistakes in their lives. They are 43 and 46 respectively and I have had to accept that they will not likely ever change. My youngest son from my second marriage witnessed their behaviour and appears to be mimicking them. His father disappeared and was found a year later in a mental institution. Last year extended family notified me of his death. This September, he contacted me under a different identity, letting me know that he’s alive. I’ve wanted to give up… I’m kind and caring and worked hard to be there for them, now they don’t need me, but I need their help due to covid, which almost destroyed my income, they don’t want to know about my needs. God doesn’t sleep, stay strong and take care of yourself without them, regards, GG

    Reply
  12. Zoe

    Reading everyone’s comments. And finding this site has made me see I am not alone in this ,thank you all for sharing.
    It has also let me see enough is enough and that I can move on.
    I have been blaming myself for 8 yrs .my then 26 yr old daughter turned on me .in a matter of a year, our once good relationship just crumbled.we had a few arguments and some bad things were said from both sides.she then had 2 children in 18mths .we had a very big ridiculous argument after her second child was born.and from this argument the flood doors opened.she stopped talking to me her farther and sister. 3mths later she left the country and moved back to our original home country to be with her husbands family and mine.Australia to the UK.
    I never knew until I was told by family she was there. I travel back to try to work it out .but she refused to see me .so I wrote a letter to her .I received it back unopened.
    My son in law text me .telling me I was the worst mother ever .that i was a narsasitic person and that I had abused my daughter all her life and that he did not want his children near me. He the ended the text saying ,your head is an apple and I will be the worm in your head forever eating at it ,and that’s your punishment for being such a bad mother.
    The pain continued as my daughter then turned all my uk family against me .my sister and mother .never telling me what I had supposed to have done wrong .just ignoring me ,nobody talking .
    Nobody ever telling me why ,it never making any sence .
    I tried again reaching out visiting the UK. For my daughter to tell me never to contact her again that i am dead to her and her life is better without me. On those words I very painfully moved on ,there was good and bad days ,and had it not have been for my youngest child I would have not have made it through .a few years later the story started to unfold a little, my daughter had been telling everyone she had been physically and mentally abused by me.
    I had my daughter at 17yrs old ,my mum and my sister were in my life every day, we lived in each other’s pockets ,holidaying together,Christmas all as one ,so if I had created this abuse why had they also not been blamed, or witnessed to it and stopped it.
    I reflected and I do blame my self thinking was I too strict,did I say the wrong things .yes I smacked her and yes we did fight a little .I lived for years blaming my self . I twisted my own head picturing my self beating my own child, everyday I thourght of what I said to her and how I should have said it differently, thinking of the fights we had .I brought my self to an all time low of wanting to end it all, not being able to live with myself being this horrid abusive person I was made out to be.
    I rembered a time I was on holiday in Florida and she was 9 yrs old and she was smacked on the bottom becouse she wanted the biggest most expensive burger on the menu and then took one bite and refused to eat it. She was smacked .when she was 15 we started to flight a lot .she disappeared one night and we had been out looking for her .she turned up in a taxi at 3am drunk ,I slapped her . Looking back I wish I could have done it all diffrent, I smacked her and we fought.
    And i was wrong. Into days world we would never do this .I believed I had beaten her I had convinced myself of this.
    But in truth, I remember everytime she was smacked or when we had fought, beacouse there was so many little times I can count on one hand how many there was in her growing up. I my self had been smacked and fourght with my own mother more times than her with me, and I never held this on my mother, it was just growing up.
    I had given my daughter everything .luxury holidays, private education, expensive clothes , jewellery, cars , birthday party’s, wedding. when my grandchildren were born ,I bourght prams ,everything. I had worked hard all her life to give her everything I could, in reality she was spoiled and never been told no, whatever she wanted she got, were ever she wanted to go I allowed her to go. Best of holidays with her friends from 17, out partying. I never stopped her always happy to be the taxi at 2am pickups as she got older.
    And no I was not perfect but she was my world and I only ever wanted the best for her.
    8 yrs on and no contact, she has never contacted me or her dad and sister .now out of the blue she is comming back to Australia. She has made contact with her sister saying she left to protect her children and put them first and she hopes to rekindle there relationship.
    This hurt all over again .I can not do this a second time around .I have realised I am not perfect and I did my best but I can not live up to her expectations. I am sorry she feels I let her down. But my whole life since I was 17 was about her, and now I need it to be for me and my husband and youngest daughter .and this is just another guilt I have to live with yet again for feeling this way.
    I love her and always will, I know she see,s things differently than me, she looks for the bad and has forgotten all the good, I wish I could hug her and tell her her how good it really was.
    The cruellest thing in the world is the loss of a child in anyway.

    Reply
    1. Given Up

      Zoe,

      I cried as I was reading your post of Oct. 11, 2021. I just read it today. It made me cry because I felt the true love & abandonment you feel from your daughter, mother, & sister. Unbelievable the text your son-in-law sent you! WOW! But then again, these wicked people will do anything to kill us mentally. I also cried because my adult daughters don’t care for me because of my mother & sister. I don’t know if you’re familiar with generational abuse, but I’ve been my family scapegoat for 60 years. It started with my mother who had 2 kids. My older sister was the golden child & I the scapegoat. My mother turned my sister & my children against me. Now my daughter also has 2 children (ages 11 & 8) who don’t like me. Thankfully my other daughter will never have children because she lives 1000 miles from me, but doesn’t have anything to do with me. You did nothing wrong by smacking your daughter. Society today wants to punish parents who spank their kids or punish them in some form. That’s the reason the children are now totally out of control. They know there is no consequences for their abusive actions. My daughters sounds a lot like your daughter. Even the Bible says: spare the rod; spoil the child. God didn’t intend for parents to beat or abuse their children. He simply meant they were to be corrected when they did wrong. It was to prevent the child from growing up & doing things that would harm them & others. Just like my granddaughters: they RULE the house instead of my daughter & son-in-law. My daughter is an executive & is wealthy & my grandkids are spoiled rotten. Unfortunately, my oldest granddaughter has been targeted as the scapegoat. Her younger sister is the golden child. Several years ago my oldest granddaughter was upstairs with my daughter & was crying. She knew she was being treated differently from her younger sister, so she accused my daughter of that. My daughter didn’t want me to hear my granddaughter say those accusations, so my daughter called my son-in-law upstairs to get her to be quiet. I was downstairs. My son-in-law went upstairs & afterwards as he was coming downstairs, he said as coldhearted as can be, “Let her cry!” Narcissists always appoint another scapegoat. I know when I’m not around, my oldest granddaughter is the scapegoat.

    2. Shelley

      My heart breaks for you because I am going through the same suffering. I know there are things I did wrong while parenting my two daughters, but forgiveness is how we grow, and grudges consume too much energy. I only recently found out my oldest daughter is engaged and bought a house, I cried for days and still feel sick to stomach. I don’t know how to get beyond it, every time I think about her, I break down I love her beyond words and miss her terribly. Knowing I am not alone in this and can read everyone’s story, I find find comfort in this.

  13. Gloria

    I have been grieving over my adult daughter’s abusive way of talking to me, since she was a teenager and she is now 36 and still is disrespectful and hateful toward me. I’ve tried to walk on eggshells with her to no avail, and feel most of the time “damned if I do, and damned, if I don’t.” I have now taken the attitude that I cannot live this way with feeling as if I am guilty of not raising her properly. And in my heart-of-hearts I don’t think I ever did anything wrong to make her hate me so. She can go 6 months without talking to me, and I think time is passing by so quickly that we don’t have time to have any kind of good relationship and I can’t keep hoping. So, I’ve now become apathetic about trying to get along well with her, and trying to take the attitude of —it’s HER LOSS! There’s only so much a person/Mother/Father can do to have a good relationship with our children, and when you’ve done all that you can think of, maybe time to give up and let the chips fall where they may and not worry about it any more! Take the attitude that life isn’t fair, and this estrangement from our children is just one more “cross to bear.”

    Reply
    1. Christine

      Hello Gloria
      Just had to send a reply as your story is so very similar to mine
      I won’t go into all the details but have to say it really helps to know that other caring mothers are not getting the respect they deserve
      I have for nearly 20 years now been subjected to verbal cruel bullying from my eldest daughter (44 now) and have endured it because I have 2 beautiful grandsons aged 5 and 7 and have given the extra mile to have a relationship with them I live in the north of UK she in London
      I am 73 this year and after a dreadful time on my last visit last November haven’t spoken to her since and I just cannot forgive what she has done to me over the years (not that she EVER apologises)
      She has younger sister who lives in Australia who keeps saying I should reconcile but I feel now – as so many say on here – enough is enough and that’s why until she can give me the love and respect I deserve then this is the way it just has to be
      Kindest regards

    2. T

      Thank you for sharing. I have a 43 year old daughter who is on again off again. we were estranged for a couple of years she got into a accident and almost died and I was there and as soon as she could walk she started crap with my fiance and threatened me physically. then a few more years went by and it has been nice sometimes, then out of no where she will call me names, threaten me, scare me. I had cancer she did not bother to call. I started a support 12 step program all that did was make it worse, guilt trips. which I did not deserve. I was a good mother, good grandmother, which she lost her kids because she would rather do drugs and I think she just doesn’t want them and uses the drugs as an excuse. This all started when she was 15 and has continued. I moved away, which was a good move. Thank you for sharing and you know what it is HER LOSS! She has lost a good mother, and we could have had such a good relationship, but it is her choice to not have it. I will not be verbally abused anymore, used financially, blamed for things that did not happen. Lied to all the time. Gaslighting all the time. And threatened physically. No More

    3. Julia

      Hi Gloria
      I am the same as you, my eldest daughter talks disrespectfully and rudely to me also. This has been going on since she was in her late teens, she is now 34 and now has a five month old. I returned to NZ to help her after she had baby and the second night I was there, she swore at me. I cried on the plane on the way back to Australia and decided I can’t do this anymore. She has turned the youngest daughter 31 against me, who has now refused to let me have anything to do with my 3 year old grandson. I am nearing 60 and don’t want to spend the last part of my life putting up with her abuse. It is so hard at our age having to deal with this.

  14. Gloria

    I think we have to realize that after having done all that we can think of to reconcile with our adult children, and they show that they do not care, then we have to face the facts and realize that they are not worth our caring any more. We’ve done all that we could do to raise them properly so that they could take care of themselves well and be who they want to be. AND if they don’t want a relationship with us, well maybe that is THEIR LOSS! I used to cry about the estrangement and grieve the lack of closeness or caring or love, but I realized that I shouldn’t have to suffer like that, because in my heart of hearts I really don’t know why I deserve the abuse my adult daughter gives me —abuse with hateful words, or estrangement. I am really trying to NOT CARE any more! Why should I allow myself to be tortured by her!

    Reply
    1. JanPhyllis

      I am tired! I have had it! I did everything for my kids and they got everything they ever wanted!!!!
      My first son estranged me! When he came to talking to us again my second son estranged me, not his father me!!
      I have had it! I am handicapped and I often wonder WHY my second son estranged me now? Is it his wife, as they say you have a son till they get married!
      Because I will need help as I age and get worse and they don’t want to help?
      Whatever it is! I am done with the game!!!!
      I agree with Gloria!! Enough is enough…..it is and will always be their loss! I hope my son can handle his guilt in his future!!! But that’s his problem!!!

  15. Javkie

    I have recently (4weeks ago) started reconciling with my daughter)5yesrs) gone. She has told me why she had estranged and I have listened and apologised. It was nothing big but to her it is so that’s important. BUT I simply don’t feel the same about her anymore and I’m just “going through the motions) . I feel terrible and keep going because being without her was sooo bloody painful and I don’t want to feel that way again ever. So, I’m stuck in this void of nothing ness. I’ve just told myself I’ll keep to myself and keep a distance without being obvious. Don’t know what else to do x god bless us allx

    Reply
    1. Gloria

      I feel the same way about “protecting my feelings” with being apathetic about the rudeness my daughter gives me and not keeping in touch. I’ve come to the conclusion she is not the caring, loving daughter I had hope she would grow up to be, and I don’t expect much of a relationship with any more and have modified my love for her, I am sorry to say!

    2. Gigi

      I too am grieving my daughter hates me my Ed husband told me so . She on
      Y loves him even though he was incarcerated she blamed me we went living together anymore . She informed my 87 year old mother she will never speak to me again . She tried to commit suicide 3 years ago .. I went into counseling immediately for 2 years until my insurance said your done and good to go . I told her . She was living in my condo I neede to moved back in with her and that did I it she said she will nevevr forgive me and moved out and I’m been grieving so Jared eyebrows since . I love her she is my only I cry all day and night in the shower in public . I on antidepressants the is no relief . I’m doomed to feel horrible until I die . Which won’t be long I’m in weak heath I my last 10 mores years or so . I lost my brother in a teenage accident I now know my ,others pain , But she is here I want to touch her hug her see her smell her , I’m sick inside . God help us all

  16. Andrea

    It has taken me a few times to step away and truly mean enough is enough, and follow through with my boundary. After the most recent interaction with my 24 year old son, the time to follow through is now. The abusive language he spewed at me from his hate filled heart put me over my breaking point. Sadly, I replied in kind. When I took a day to think about the argument I realized that I become a hateful person as well when interacting with him. I am far from an angry, hateful person but this is who I become when he screams obscenities and abuse at me, Having been estranged from him when he was 12 and not reconnecting, despite my repeated attempts until he was 22, my dreams for a loving relationship proved not to come to be. What i received and put up with were lies, obscenities, name calling, gas lighting, abuse and threats. I lost myself as badly as I had when he turned his back on me at 12 years old. No more. Never again. I bought this book two years ago. Time to read it now.

    Reply
    1. Gloria

      I used to respond in angry way such as you described, but I felt so bad about it that when my daughter spews hateful words to me now, I just look at her without any reaction and just walk away. I don’t know WHAT she thinks when I do that and sometimes she starts acting better and friendlier, but NEVER apologizes. When I’ve tried to ask her why she is so hateful she doesn’t give me any answer. She is now 36 and she has been doing this to me on and off since being a teenager and saying that she “hates me.” She is sometimes nice but mostly she is what I call “moody” and unreasonable, even rude and hateful.

  17. S. Nolan

    Living with this pain for the last 6 months. I am 75, my daughter is 49. I never saw it coming. The pain is unimaginable. I wonder “Why” – no answers for me, despite my reaching out. I never thought my last years would be like this……….

    Reply
  18. Karen T.

    My daughter did a 180 at 18 it got bad but in 2012 she started an argument with me over things from the past and left and I’ve not seen nor heard from her since? I’ve tried to no avail, she’s keeping my two grandsons from me. WHY, six months prior to this I’d received an adoring letter from her letting me know how much she thought of me and loved all the things I did for her and with her as her mother. My family was my everything, there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t have done for them and did. I’ve lost them all, as after 33 years of marriage I was abandoned by my husband without a word and divorced devastating me. Then after going through all the horrible things he put me through, turning into someone I didn’t no anymore I moved across the country, I found out through a social media message from a pilot he used to fly with over 15 years ago he passed away from covid. This was also devastating even though he was horrific to me until I saw the death certificate and there was a fiancé, etc. before seeing this though I’d reached out to our daughter to tell her even though I knew she probably already knew and she didn’t have the decency to respond. I’ve never felt so absolutely alone, sad, mad, confused, hopeless! PS my daughter will be 34 this year, old enough to no better but doesn’t. I’ve had no support!

    Reply
    1. Sharon G

      Dear Karen,
      God bless you. Your story makes me very sad for you as I am going through the first stages with my own 31 yr old daughter. She blames her father and I for all her mistakes and bad decisions and her life that she hates. We, like you, have always been there for her time and time again but she disregards all of our help and suggestions as controlling and not letting her be an adult then blames us when her own way causes her disappointment and hardships. She now abuses drugs and tried to commit suicide which has devastated us even more and made us want to protect her even more. She keeps going back to an abusive relationship and the cycle begins all over again. Our heart breaks for her because we know where she could be in life if she would only make the changes necessary but we can’t make her see that. We are now not letting her come back to our house and letting go because it has become unhealthy for us. I will pray for you and our daughters. That is all we can do because caring, loving hearts are missing from them and a void exists that only God can fill and restore.

  19. Gina

    Thank you for this, every waking moment I am consumed with guilt, constantly asking where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently? Was I too soft? Or perhaps too strict. I need to come to terms with ‘enough is enough’ but how do I get this through to my child I am over 70 he is mid forties, he feels he has done nothing wrong, there are times when I want sleep and never wake up, I just don’t think I can cope anymore.
    I needed to read this article to make me realise I am not alone.

    Reply
    1. Gloria

      No –you are not alone. I, too, feel the same pain as you have felt. I’ve suffered with the hateful words my adult daughter spews so easily at me for over 15 years now, ever since she was a teenage and I thought she would grow out of it, but she hasn’t, and I’ve made up my mind I’m going to be take an apathetic attitude to her abusive treatment toward me and realize that she is not the daughter I had hoped, —a caring, loving daughter. It hurts to let her go and not keep trying to get along well with her, but I feel too exhausted to keep doing all the work in relationship with her, and am pulling back and staying back. I don’t deserve to be tortured by her uncaring and even hateful treatment/behavior to me, I’ve told myself —like being my own best-friend!

  20. Susan M.

    I am thankful for this. In a world where family is everything, sometimes the ones we sacrificed for and loved turn on us and abuse us for their own deficiencies. At 68, I do not want to continue being a punching bag for a spoiled brat. It takes a lot for a mother to walk away from her child but as you say “enough is enough” we each must pursue our peace and happiness even if it means walking away. THANK YOU

    Reply
    1. Sali

      I’m grateful for this, I’m 59 years old turning 60 this year, yesterday I said enough is enough to my 35-year-old daughter and 30-year-old son, it took a lot of verbal abuse for me to say ENOUGH after 25 years divorced, I’m constantly getting verbal abused. I’m done with this.

      I need to embrace my retirement , THANK YOU

  21. Rebecca

    I was an awful mother but spent years trying to make it right. I did everything I could. Apologized until I was blue in the face but it was never enough. I was constantly being reminded of things I can’t change or take back. Being told I was always going to be a horrible person. I’m not. I’m a good person who made mistakes tried to make amends and I as never allowed to be forgiven. I’ve finally given up. I refuse to me my child’s punching bag for the rest of my life. I deserve peace and happiness too. I deserve to move on and not have to watch every thing I say so I don’t start an argument. I have to cut the cancer out of my life.

    Reply
    1. Audrey H.

      Rebecca, what makes you believe you were an ‘awful mother’?
      we all makes mistakes, we all get things wrong, but to call yourself an awful mother is harsh. I’m sure you did the best you could. You don’t give much background to your conclusion, but every mother does what they feel right (at the time) – even if those actions prove wrong later on.
      I can’t help thinking you are being a tad hard on yourself.
      But like you, I can relate. I have two children in their 30’s and my son has gone as far as telling me that if I contact him again, he will take me to court!
      The only reason I am now in contact with my daughter, is because of my granddaughter, as she lets me see her.
      But my daughter doesn’t want to see me, or try and sort the issues out.
      Like you, I deserve the chance to move on, and have that peace and happiness, which I get from my new husband, and good friends that have been a constant support for me.
      I am now at the point of wanting to cut my kids off completely, or at least until they are ready for a reconciliation. But that time is not yet. It may never be, but I need to be at peace either way.
      also like you, I have apologized time and time again, but I won’t do anymore as there is just no point.
      They haven’t – so why should I keep doing it?
      I found it helpful to look at some grieving sites, as this is a kind of grieving process, and first of all, we need to look after ourselves, and only do what we have to do until we feel stronger to deal with other stuff.
      find new ways of using our time, I am a member of a new church, and am finding new friends there.
      and God is a God of comfort, and is familiar with all our ways, so turning to Him helps hugely, I hope our God can encourage you too.
      I hope this reply helped.
      Audrey

  22. Donna

    This post is a breath of fresh air after wading through the articles by angry daughters blaming the parents for everything. After a year of wondering what was wrong with me that I’m estranged from my kids, I finally had to get honest with myself: do I really miss them and the stress of their constant belittling? And the answer is no, I don’t.

    I’m sorry that the relationship had to end this way but I honestly can’t see a reconciliation in the future. I don’t miss their ingratitude, I don’t miss their crappy comments, I don’t miss them blaming me for their mistakes. There was a final straw moment when I said, you know what? I won’t tolerate this treatment any longer.

    As you said in the article, enough is enough. There are plenty of people who know me and know how my kids were raised and how I was as a parent, so I try to remember that when someone tries to make me feel like a bad mother because I choose to no longer have a relationship with my kids.

    Reply
  23. Elizabeth

    Thank you for reminding me that ruminating on this painful situation is only hurting myself. I have declared my finish with my uncaring son but still find myself going over and over the circumstances and wondering what more if anything I can do to make things better.

    Reply
    1. FRANK M.

      I have not seen my adult son in over 20 years now. I was never invited to his wedding nor did he tell me about the birth of his son, who I have never met. He is now 38. I have not had contact with my adult daughter now for over 3 years. For some reason she wants to be close to her mother, we have been divorced for over 22 years now. I did everything for my children. So this is the thanks I have gotten from both of them. At first it hurt. Now I have moved on with my life and don’t plan on looking back anymore. I do keep pictures of them, but as time goes by they seem like strangers. They have become my distant children who I no longer know. I feel free and happy.

    2. Sue

      After years of taking care of our oldest daughter’s mental illness care, there were years of interim family financial issues, health conditions (lyme disease undiagnosed for 12 yrs)on my part and my husband’s cardiac and lung conditions and the unbearable loss of our youngest daughter in an car accident (also related to our older daughter who was not at fault), that we now are told she wants to avoid any relationship with us. In her words we are to blame for her mental illness and has to let her go. There were two critical times in our parenting process that caused further mental distress, and that was my fall into alcoholic drinking after our younger daughter died and my husband’s earlier refusal to have more immediate mental help for the older one when she was younger. There were then years of therapy at our expense, no physical or mental abuse was ever used, we took care of many physical needs gif her but nothing was sufficient.
      I have been in recovery for over 20 years. It’s the memoirs of her own background which have exceeded the real truth of many incidents but we’re told to let that alone as they are her memoirs and cast in stone. We’ve been told outlandish storylines and her husband stepped in and told an entirely different story of how he observed our parenting well before he knew us. We’ve stepped back and told her we will no longer bother her but hope she can reconcile both sides before it’s too late as my husband and I are in our mid 70s. She has been told from yet another therapist that she never had a mental or clinical depression condition but all is to blame on her historical parenting skills. We see no remedy in this but try to persevere in our own lives as best possible. We’ve had current therapy and have been told that this is more than likely a permanent situation.

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