Estrangement: What about hope?

estrangementby Sheri McGregor, M.A.

In the face of estrangement from adult children, the concept of hope frequently comes up. Some parents take comfort in the idea their estranged adult children might one day reconnect. Others waffle, wondering if hope is futile. Some parents let go of hope entirely, and believe it’s a positive step toward their emotional well-being. Others are troubled by the admission and worry that giving up hope isn’t normal.

Let’s take a closer look at the concept of hope as it relates to recovering from the pain of estrangement.

Estrangement: Is it wise to hope?

Parents suffering the throes of estrangement usually hang onto hope. Sometimes though, they wonder if hope is even realistic. They ask if it’s is healthy for them, or maybe holds them in a sort of limbo state.

“I would get caught up in magical thinking,” said one mother whose estrangement continues after six years. “At least I’ve come to see it like that.” This mother of two daughters whose oldest is estranged explains that in the beginning, she would often send texts, emails, and even phone messages (her daughter never answered), thinking if she just said the right thing, her daughter would return to her. “Now, I don’t believe anything I could do or say would make a difference,” she says. “But I still have hope.”

Hope is different than expectation.

This mom doesn’t equate her hope with expectation. People routinely hang onto hope when outcomes are beyond their control. Hope rises with the element of possibility more than probability. 1

Seeing hope for what it is allows you to get on with your own life.

In estrangement, can hope help?estrangement

For parents suffering the distress of estrangement from adult children, the hope of getting through the emotional trauma and having a happy life despite it can most certainly help.

Studies about hope often center on persons who are physically ill. Even so, we can learn from people whose precarious circumstances serve to highlight what’s most important in life. For these persons, hope can provide insight into their lives as a whole, and help them see how their past can intersect with their future.2

Similarly, parents devastated by an estrangement over which they have no real control can find a way to view and conceptualize hope as part of an overall narrative of their life and focus. For instance, seeing the part they played in their son or daughter’s upbringing—financially, emotionally, or otherwise—and understanding how that past role contributed to the adult child’s life and future as well.

Did you provide a stable environment? Allow your child to explore a variety of interests? Contribute financially to their physical wellness and/or education? Perhaps you were adventurous, and introduced your child to physical pursuits that widened their experiences and built their strength. How could things like these fit into your child’s adult life?

Ideas around hope can be unique, fitting into an individual parent’s personal life narrative. We always hoped for the best for their children. Continuing to hold out this hope for them, even in estrangement, can bolster our self-esteem and confidence. We are still good parents—despite our children’s choices.

estrangementHope for reconciliation:
Is it normal to give it up?

Among the many thousands of parents who have shared their estrangements with me, many say they have lost all hope of ever reconnecting in any significant way. Some go so far as to say they hope their child never tries. Or have even been contacted but turned their son or daughter away. Often, these parents are troubled by their feelings.

One parent whose son initiated estrangement admitted she hopes he’ll never try to return. Over several years of torment, her son duped her out of large sums of money that derailed her retirement. He even threatened to murder her. His estrangement came as a relief. After several months, she still suffers ill effects to her health, has trouble sleeping, and is sometimes plagued by the feeling that she must be to blame. Although she is relieved over his estrangement and honest that she’s given up the hope of ever having a relationship with him, those feelings trouble her. In her medical profession, hope is encouraged, so to personally experience a loss of hope cuts deep, slashing at her ideals.

This mother didn’t choose the estrangement, but because her son did, she’s since experienced a level of peace in her everyday life that wasn’t possible when her son remained in contact. She’s no longer awakened by hostile rantings and threats, and is no longer manipulated into financially rescuing her son.

It’s not difficult to understand why her son’s estrangement is liberating. This mother is similar to a couple in their seventies who, after years of verbal abuse and episodic estrangements initiated by their son and his wife, have decided that they will no longer allow him back into their lives. The pain of losing their grandchildren yet again, and of suffering their son’s vicious verbal tirades has taken its toll. Exhausted, these parents have chosen to savor their older years together, thankful for some peace. They’re no longer always on edge, in a perpetual state of fear. Their hope now rests with the grandchildren, whom they’re optimistic will one day contact them and pick up the loving relationship they cultivated during the “on” years of their on-and-off relationship controlled by their estranged son.

These parents cut off the prospect of further distress. Their reasoning aligns with the thoughts of philosopher Friedrich Nietzche, who calls hope “the most evil of evils, because it prolongs man’s torment.”3

No hope when nothing has changed

One father recently sent me an email, telling about his experience during six years of estrangement from his son. This loving father who had tried to have a good relationship with his son had been holding out hope. He fully expected that if his son did ever return to him, life lessons would have helped him mature—similar to the prodigal son who returned with a changed heart. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. This father welcomed his estranged son into his home, but within a few minutes, the son proceeded to list what he saw as his father’s faults. He blamed his father for all of the problems in his life, and also the estrangement.

Reminded of the old turmoil—as compared with the relative peace during the six-year estrangement—this father told his son to leave and never come back. And then he sent me an email, wondering if it is common for parents to put an end to a relationship with an abusive son.

The answer is yes.

I hear from parents at all stages of estrangement: a week of no contact, one year, five years, or even decades. While it’s true that the majority say they wish they could have a good relationship, many admit to having lost all hope. Some for reasons like the parents above. Others because a son or daughter is now a stranger. Many explain why they know that a normal relationship isn’t possible, and they no longer want to try—yet are still plagued by sadness and worry their loss of hope represents some personal shortcoming.

Hope: Against the odds?

In the first example, the mother spoke of hope as integral in her work. Hope helps people who are suffering, often in situations that are largely out of their control. That’s how the idea of maintaining hope differs from optimism about more self-determined outcomes. We “hope” that there will be no traffic. We “hope” our surgery will go well. We “hope” that a friend with cancer survives. Other than the obvious things we might do to help these situations along, such as leave at low-traffic times or choose a reputable doctor, the outcomes are mostly beyond our control.

Hoping an estrangement will end is normal, but it’s also wise to accept that the outcome is beyond our control. Some parents can see that in their situation, it also isn’t likely. For them, leaving hope behind makes sense in order to stop the torment of continued hurt.

The couple in their seventies who are optimistic their grandchildren will one day reconnect make a distinction between hope and optimism. The oldest was 14 when the last estrangement began. They still send cards to her and her younger siblings, although they can’t be sure they’re receiving them. They reason that their granddaughter was old enough to see that her father’s bad behavior wasn’t their fault.

Limits are unique

We each decide our own limits as to how much trouble, abuse, or neglect we will accept in estrangement and still hope for reconciliation. In my book, there is a series of questions that help individuals conclude for themselves where they fall in the spectrum. Sometimes, taking a hard look at the realities of the relationship dynamics helps parents come to terms with what is, and move forward in their own lives—whether holding out hope or not. The second book goes even deeper for parents’ healing–because it’s about the parent making the most of their own life rather than making their life all about the estrangement.

If you’re troubled by your lack of hope or your decision to close the door to reconciliation, you’re not alone. As parents, we’re accustomed to caring for our children. For parents, sometimes the lines between childhood and adulthood can blur. An adult who has caused us repeated troubles may trigger the love we felt for a child who made a mistake. But that’s not the same as an adult son or daughter whose mistakes aren’t innocent or childlike.

Eventually, to protect their physical strength, their sanity, and their future, many parents draw the line—which is a healthy self-preservation response. Many of these parents say they wish they’d have done so sooner.

estrangementHope for ourselves

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~ Desmond Tutu

As I say in my book, the landscape of loss is fertile ground for growth. When it comes to a happy future, we have more than hope. We can be optimistic and cultivate the fruits of our positive expectations with action. We can control our thoughts, our behavior, and for the most part, our lives. We can be happy, despite loss.

My hope is that all the caring parents who have been mistreated and estranged will make the most of their treasured lives.


  1. Bury, S.M., Wenzel, M., Woddyatt, L. (2016). Giving hope a sporting chance: Hope as distinct from optimism when events are possible but not probable. Motivation & Emotion. 40:588-601
  2. Dal Sook, K., Hesook, S.K., Thorne, S. (2017). An Intervention model to help clients to seek their own hope experiences: The Narrative communication model of hope seeking intervention. Korean Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care. 20(1):1-7.
  3. Nietszche, F. (1994). Human, all too human. London, UK: Penguin Books.

Related articles:

Adult children won’t talk to you: What does it mean to cope?

Parents abandoned by adult children: Shape your new normal


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61 thoughts on “Estrangement: What about hope?

  1. David B.

    When I remarried 17 years ago my mostly grown children took an instant dislike to my wife and cut us out of their lives. Over those years it’s been a roller coaster of ups and downs trying to find some kind of commune ground. It never worked out. They’ve never been to our house for Christmas, summer holidays or any event. One or two have shown up on occasion and then disappeared shortly afterward. The most recent event was receiving a late night call from one of my daughters screaming at me about what a horrible dad I was and how I ruined her life and the lives of her siblings. Through it all we have tried to maintain contact and look past the ghosting, the lies and the hurtful behaviours. However I’m at an end. All of them are in their 30s now and I’ve lost the will to continue trying. I’ve deleted all their phone numbers save one, and hidden all their socials. It’s always been me who has bridged the many gaps by calling and visiting them no matter what. I’m about to turn 70 and just can’t do it any more. I’m taking a break for the next year and pursuing my own interests and spending quality time with my spouse. I will reevaluate where I’m at next year. I don’t know how long more the lord is giving me on this earth but surely the lord doesn’t want me to spend my time suffering with this gaslighting and cruelty.

    1. Nadine O

      Good for you. Our married daughter walked out of lives in 2018,( reasons unknown) the worst is the 2 grandchildren we last saw at 4 and 20 months old. Hopefully they will someday look for us. But we are done with her, she has destroyed us and my health has suffered no more. My husband will be 70 soon and me 65. We reached out and even her Pastor brother tried to get through to her, she was not interested, so we are not either, It’s her loss. All the best to you, enjoy your life with your life.

    2. Deborah

      I’m so sorry you are going through this. I decided yesterday to delete my son’s number and go no contact. Like you I stayed connected showing him unconditional love even though he spoke bad about me and ruined my character with his wife and her family. I have twins. One stopped talking to me when he met his wife. She didn’t speak to her first Mother-in-law. Hence why my son stopped talking to me he learned her ways. They got married I wasn’t invited. They had my first Grandchild I’ve never met her. Two days ago they had my third Grandchild and I wasn’t told. My other son continues to talk bad about me and has a terrible attitude anytime I speak with him. My boys have reactive attachment disorder. I sustained a brain injury when they were young and it obviously affected them they don’t have an attachment to me hence the reason why I’m talked bad about. It’s so sad. I wanted to still try and be loving towards the one son but he just came for a visit. He was rude and nasty towards me attacking anything I said. His wife has turned against me because she believes his lies. I’ve never babysat their child which is my second Grandchild. It’s to much trying to deal with my kids dysfunction. I want to break free from their abuse so yesterday I wrote my son and told him I can’t have contact with him until he seeks counseling, apologizes and changes. My other son who hasn’t spoken to me in five years, he will never change I feel that honestly. He can’t have his wife and me in the picture at the same time. She’s narcissistic. My other daughter-in-law is too. That’s part of the problem. Before she had my grandchild she was nice now she yells at my son that’s why he has an attitude and ignores any text I send. God doesn’t want His children to be treated this way. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and darkness of this world. I’m giving my childrens problems to God. God has given me joy in spite of the heartache. Mothers day is very hard for me I usually am really sick because I know I won’t hear from my boys. Just seeing all of the Mothers day flowers and gifts a month before Mothers day is heartbreaking. I would never do that to my own Mom my Mom hasn’t treated me the best but I still show her love. I live with her now she’s angry most of the time but I overlook it because she’s my Mom. She’s on dialysis and I believe her brain is affected. I need to help her until the end regardless of how she treats me. She has never talked about the brain damage I sustained. If I bring it up she will say, “You don’t have brain damage,”. Even though she knew I had a stroke and was without oxygen for over five minutes. I read her the brain PET scan results. She is not capable of being kind towards me as she has narcissistic personality disorder. Another part of this puzzle is both of my boys treat me like the black sheep as they learned that from my family. Anyways, God showed me I don’t deserve to be mistreated by my son’s. I don’t deserve to not see my Grandchildren. It’s better to not reach out to them. It’s best to stay away from their abuse. You are a great person. You are worthy of love and respect. You don’t deserve to be rejected and bullied by your own child. Let God take care of your adult child. He may grant them repentance. Their hearts may be dead and hardened where they choose not to listen. Just stay faithful to God He will always guide you, love you unconditional. He will never mistreat you or reject you like your children have.

    3. Jodie

      Truer words! If our children can’t be kind with their words and actions why do we as parents think things are going to change when it’s done repeatedly! Time for us to let them go. They are pushing us away . We just can’t take the hint! We tried and tried . So now my husband and I don’t even think about them any more. We have been living traveling and meeting new people. Heck with them. I do t cry any more. I have none left. They know where we are.. but we are not waiting for them to visit us. Peace to you

  2. Trisha

    Our wonderful eldest son cut off all contact with us 22 years ago. I used to cry night after night. we tried so hard to find him. Our last visit he left his address and of course it didn’t exist. We had a younger son who was often in trouble. Running away, stealing, not attending school. I thought we handled it well and we got him through about 3 years of trouble until he settled with a job etc. However although we were still daily involved with our eldest son, he has held a massive resentment against us for helping our younger son. Late he asked us to go guarantor on a rather large loan to buy a movie camera. We explained if we had the money we would simply give it to him. We had earlier decided never to go guarantor for our children so our decision was straight forward. He reacted coldly to this. We would drive the 100km to visit him monthly. He would travel to our area with friends to go to shows, gigs etc and never called in to see us. He was our beloved son, and we felt the hurt badly. Then he came and had a meal and left on a trip here he planned to film and try to sell stories etc. Suddenly we realised we had lost contact. It took us 12 months to find him. which was accidental as we holidayed in the area he used to live in and literally bumped into him. I was so happy and said please never do that again, I explained we were a small family and needed each other. He promised he would keep in touch. So this was how he was. A few years later, his resentment to his brother and us was silent, unexplained but always there. Then he came for Christmas, avoiding being there when his brother and family were, he gave us the wrong address. He hugged us both goodbye and we and he promised to keep in touch and visit etc. Then we realised eventually we had no idea where he was. It lasted like that for 20 years. My younger son found a friend of his brother on Facebook and as I had had a stroke he asked if he could let my eldest son know. We knew nothing about that, until he actually rang us. We talked for a long time. It was wonderful. However nothing much has changed. That was 4 years ago and we still are cut out of his life. Can I say that we have had many years to adjust. The pain for does ease, but I think of my dearest son and feel scared we will die and he won’t know or care. My wonderful husband handles this by rarely speaking of it. I think he has come to peace with this is the way it is and it will never change. I now agree. I know this won’t change and you know what? I am ok with that. How many tears can you shed? We had a wonderful family, great holidays with grandparents, sports days, soccer games, little athletics, and of course all those School carnivals. Tuck shop at both primary and high schools. So we loved being parents, and did the very best we could. So that is my story. I am so lucky I have the best most loving husband. We were good parents, we tried our best always. We will always love our son, but he is lost to us.

  3. snorkiefree

    Newly estranged from our only daughter. After reading everyone’s posts it has helped me to realize we are not alone. Everyone’s stories are complex; here is ours…
    Due to employment we moved to another state in 2007 at the same time my husband ( we now know had a broken disc in his neck) began dealing with debilitating chronic pain. We were both working to pay for our daughter’s college expenses. When she graduated in 2009 she moved home with us and one day told us the rules of the house! The relationship was strained but told her she needed to work and pay her way. She got married; we paid for a Maui wedding/honeymoon all while dealing with chronic pain. 3 years later she divorced due to abuse in the marriage while attending yet another school going further into her own debt. She wanted to move home with us to finish her testing but we had moved since then downsizing as we took early retirement trying to find out why my husband, her dad was in so much pain. She wanted to bring her two cats into our 2 dog small home to study and my fear was emotionally how to deal with my husband’s pain and her not understanding how life when ill controls your life. At this point she met someone online who came to see her before leaving school and decided to move to OKC. I felt it was a blessing that she was figuring out how to move forward and independently take care of herself. Prior to her move we drove to her master’s graduation but due to chronic pain could not stay long. Her and new guy came through to our home for a few days before the long trek to OKC. Long story short that relationship did not work out and I got the guilt trip of why did I encourage her to move there…and she needed financial help; which we provided. She then a few years later married a really great guy. Covid19 came and my husband was so ill; he’d had his neck surgery right before contracting the virus which I ended up contracting too…then we got long haulers…but that’s another story. And yet our health is part of the reason our daughter was so upset. She now has a baby girl who has had health issues; we did face time and she wanted us to move to OKC. I did make it to her wedding but her Dad did not due to illness and the doctors said no he could not go. She had a troubled pregnancy, ill a lot and our communication was up and down; our conversations left me feeling like I was her whipping post. But I prayed for her and tried to support her knowing what hormones can do to you. About 5 months into our granddaughter’s life our daughter said she just couldn’t take my judgemental, abuse and she needed a break. I apologized several times and was mindful when we talked. Then about 2 months ago she pulled the plug and said you don’t listen to me, you don’t know me, and I have a lot of my past I have to heal from and I can’t talk with you. Just stand still and let me work through this because I can’t explain it to you. I knew she was probably fighting post pardum blues…but I have never had her cut us out of her life before. Now her Dad due to illness and pain has developed dementia and the estrangement has left him angry and he wants to cut her out of his will. I have no answers but I know we are good parents and God will lead the way. I have reached out via email to let her know I love her and will be patient. But now it sort of feels like abandonment at our age being ill to not have anyone. I realize this is a big bag I written but any advise would be appreciated.

  4. Andrea

    I have found comfort in this group knowing I am not alone, this is a long post but I need to get it put. my estrangement from two adult daughters is relatively new. 12 months I think they stated to cut me out and stupidly I thought I was being paranoid and didn’t realise until I asked outright what was happening and why 6 months ago I was horrified to find I had hurt them so badly they didn’t want to talk to me, because of ” my attitude towards them while my mother was dying and my behaviour afterwards”. And that is the only communication around the problem I have had. My initial response was to express genuinely how sad I felt at inadvertently hurting them and wanting to talk and apologise. I was simply told by one daughter she needed to work through it and didn’t want any contact, nd I respected this. We would connect on social media only fir me get facetime with my young grandsons and she would allow access to some posts about them but ignore any comments I would make for the boys. While her elder sister initially maintained contact but very cold and I found out was kind of stoking her sisters fire by negatively feeding information about what I was saying about how hurtful I found the situation. My elder daughter has also now cut off since my sister attempted to talk to them both and called them out for their own behaviours and unwillingness to discuss and attempt reconciliation. They seem to prefer I am out of their lives rather than try. There is my youngest 3rd daughter who is still close and we have worked through the issues together, she doesn’t live near her sisters but us visiting them soon and I am terrified they will take her from me too. I feel so ashamed about it all I can’t talk to friends and wider family, although it’s becoming noticeable. The basis of their reason stems from my having to reject their pressure upon my sister and I to nurse our mother ( who they loved dearly) at home in her final days. I live abroad and mum had a fall braking pelis, skull and had a stroke at 82 yrs. COVID travel bans and quarantine meant I could not immediately get there, but as a recently retired RN the expectation was I could rehab mum at home. When I did get there (asap 3 weeks later) mum had deteriorated and was at end of life and her med team recommended hospice. My sister and I agreed and we sat with her until she passed. My daughters and necessary and nephew were tially included but because my kids felt I coukd/ should have brought mum home with their help they put a great deal of pressure on us and this was distressing me and my sister. I had to explain reasons why and stop the conversations and because I was in transit in quarantine had to do this by group chat and text, it came over as hard and dismissive of their feelings. What upset me and my sister was their own lack of compassion or thought about what we were going through. After mum died I had to reside in her hone in isolation, fir a month awaiting her funeral all her things and hone around as though she was not gone at all, it affected me terribly. After the funeral we could only meet as a family outdoors with no wake, we went fir a picnic. My kids were caring in some respects but as a little alcohol kicked in jibes at me and sidelooks were subtly there. When I got to mums house afterwards I broke down and told my daughter how uncared for and alienated I felt, she has ADHD and I was so exhausted I didn’t have my usual care and communication functionality, she became distressed and left the house to her sister I found out later that they believe I must have been drunk ( not true) and had lashed out excessively. My long time partner who has raised youngest with me had joined us and was witness to all. He is used to her meltdowns and we let her do her thing expecting as usual she was safe and we woukd gather in afterwards fir a hug. I didn’t happen and I had to leave for home abroad shortly after. My youngest was a late baby with a 14 year gap between elder sisters, so they have witnessed very little of their kid sisters meltdowns over the years and at her own request she wanted her ADHD diagnosis kept confidential for fear of stigmatising. So I feel I had tried and had no opportunity to discuss and say sorry for my part and unable to defend the mistrust about events with my youngest due to protecting her confidence. I know the longer this goes s on the more entrenched her sisters become and the liklihood of reconciliation fades I do hope, I love my kids so much it physically hurts to be rejected. I feel like my mum died and took my kids with her .

    1. Julie J.

      I’m so sorry for all the pain you’ve been going through. My 34 year old newly estranged son recently wrote to tell me he’s still angry at me for something I didn’t do for him when he was 13, and other things that I have no clue about.
      My daughter turned son stopped speaking to me about two years ago. I had fully embraced and supported him but he told me in text he deleted later that I had 18 years to make up for whatever I did to disappoint him, but he never told me how he thinks I screwed up.
      My first son was a special needs child who was nonverbal, had no fine motor skills and sadly, died 7 years ago at 3 months short of age 30.
      So now, I’m not only an empty nester, but a broken hearted mom and grandmother.

    2. Deborah

      This is so very, very sad. You don’t deserve this. I can feel how loving you are. You cared enough to say you were sorry. It most likely wasn’t your fault. Your Daughters should have respected you and your Sisters decision on how you care for your Mom. Please do not take on the guilt. Your adult daughters obvious have an insecure attachment. Holding on to grudges and being passive aggressive towards you is controlling and emotional abuse. I hope both of your Daughters reach out to you and apologize and I hope they won’t triangulate with your third Daughter. You deserve so much more than how you’re being treated. Hope you realize that and don’t blame yourself anymore. God bless your heart.

  5. Pauline O.

    Hi Sheri , we’ve been estranged from our 2 youngest adult daughters for almost 5 years now . Done with the crying was the first book we read on estrangement and it absolutely spoke to both my husband and I . We read it about 3 years ago and of all the books that we have read on estrangement , it is the best .
    We have moved on and are living the best life . We waited 4 years hoping for reconciliation and then made the decision to move closer ( by going from
    Australia to NZ ) to be near our other two adult children who love us and who are so supportive.
    Everything has fallen into place and we feel so lucky and blessed with our life .
    Thank you so much for writing that book
    I have ordered the next one

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Pauline,

      Thank you for this lovely report. I feel so very grateful to have been able to help in a small way, and I hope you will find the new book useful. Enjoy the closer proximity to those who reciprocate your love. Enjoy your life! Thank you again for writing. Your note has brightened my day.


      Sheri McGregor

    2. Helene

      I love how you moved on and found happiness. This is where I’m at. It’s only been 2-3 months, but my daughter withheld a relationship with my grandson who is 3-4 miss old. It’s sad, but I know she hates means has for years. So I recognize there’s no hope. So I’m moving on. I have a wonderful husband, great mother, great friends a good business and a beautiful life. I refuse to let my daughter steal my happiness. I pray she lives a happy life and her choices turn out good for her. I will not be reconciling because if our history. Good luck to you as well.

      1. Deborah

        This is so very, very sad. You don’t deserve this. I can feel how loving you are. You cared enough to say you were sorry. It most likely wasn’t your fault. Your Daughters should have respected you and your Sisters decision on how you care for your Mom. Please do not take on the guilt. Your adult daughters obvious have an insecure attachment. Holding on to grudges and being passive aggressive towards you is controlling and emotional abuse. I hope both of your Daughters reach out to you and apologize and I hope they won’t triangulate with your third Daughter. You deserve so much more than how you’re being treated. Hope you realize that and don’t blame yourself anymore. God bless your heart.

  6. Cathy S

    I hurt for the parents here as i read their accounts. And I hurt for myself and my husband as we’ve been estranged from our (only child) son for 10 years.

    However. I also cannot thank the author of Done With the Crying enough! For her book brought some sense into my life as we’ve grappled with a completely unreasonable and uncalled for situation (like others here). I only discovered her book 2-3 years ago and found it an incredible blessing. I feel very sorry for other rejected/manipulated/abused parents who don’t have access to these resources; and also don’t realize their painful situation is becoming common.

    But back to hope… of course I long for a reconciliation. And yet I also know that trust is completely gone and will never be restored. So sadly, it seems best the estrangement continues, though it never was our choice.

    I’ve ordered the book Beyond Done With the Crying and look forward to reading it, Thank you – so much!

    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Cathy,

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m grateful the last book helped and sure hope the next won’t disappoint.

      If you have a library in your area, and you’re inclined, ask the librarian to order the book(s). At least they can be available to some of the people you mention that way, and I have heard from several parents whose libraries did get the book for their shelves. This has become so prevalent now. It’s very sad

      HUGS to you, and thank you for commenting.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. E.R.

      Both of these articles brought much comfort; it’s so refreshing to be understood. Hope is something I struggle with as a believer. It’s been 7 years I’ve been estranged from my son, grandchildren, and now- 2 years ago, my daughter joined the “hate” party. My ex-husband loves to use them as revenge pawns. This made hope very difficult as he has always had the greatest control over the children.

      However, recently, I have framed hope a different way. For me, I have hope that God will and can heal the brokenness inside of me and that he will and can use my experiences for good. So, yes–I hold onto great hope–in God; not my children. It made all the the difference for me. I’ve spent the last 7 years doing a deep dive inward. Examining my own patterns and growing as a person. This deep inner work has filled me with a hopeful future–with or without my kids changing.

      I’m glad to have found this community. It is so comforting, and I even find hope on these pages for the hard times–the. holidays, the birthdays, and the unrecoverable time that are part of our reality. So, for me, I must hope and will always see hope as a way out of this pain.

      1. Deborah

        Beautiful! I’m doing the same thing looking inward and allowing God to heal my low self esteem, etc. I had no boundaries before the estrangement. God is showing me it is necessary to have them. It’s necessary to love yourself, it’s okay to care for yourself and not allow others to emotionally abuse you. I too.will be fine with or without my children because my happiness comes from God.

  7. Shelley L.

    All these comments make me realize I’m not alone. Newly divorced after 33 years and both my adult kids don’t talk to me. I think it’s due to my big mouth and losing control with my husband and I had no integrity. I never yelled and screamed at my kids never hit them and never called them names but my daughter just stop talking she said she doesn’t trust me I was supposed to change meaning I shouldn’t be yelling. My mom Hit me all the time and I still loved her and would never cut her off so it’s hard for me to understand. I don’t blame my daughter for being mad but a whole year of just ignoring me? The crime doesn’t fit the punishment. It really hurts me and it makes me sad but I do feel like giving up I’m not begging them to come back. I’ve already apologized said let’s start new and heard nothing. I would never do that to my parents ever but it’s a different world and the kids are different today mine are spoiled brats but I love Sheri’s book and it’s helped me a lot I’m going to buy her new one today .

    1. Helene

      Everyone on this blog is so wonderful. I’m so grateful for finding this group. So much pain. The post from e.r. Is a great guidance of a healthy direction to take .

    2. Deborah

      Agree children are different now much more entitled and passive aggressive. You apologized your children shouldn’t use control and passive aggressive behavior. Ignoring someone is worse than physical pain. It’s like torture. I refuse to be a part of it with anyone. I’m known to attract narcissist. I now will watch and see if they purposely ignore text once to hurt me I’ll allow one more time to see if that’s their personality. If it is I let them go. You deserve to never be ignored. You deserve healthy communication and respect. You shared your heart and offered an apology there’s no reason why they didn’t accept it other than they want to hurt you. I would never treat my Mom like that either. You have empathy and are capable of self reflecting. Your children don’t.

  8. Rosalind G.

    I know how I raised my dughter, as a single parent, and I never was neglectful or abusive though she seems to think I was…I was there all the time and took her to therapists because I thought she was depressed (she did not really take advantage of having a person to help her). ANyway, I know how much I gave her and loved her and I just cannot believe that she can’t see that and h onor our relationship…she has rejected me totally for two years and beofre that was latnetly hostile though I did recognize how unpleasant she was. My point is that my hope springs from my reality that there was a bond there and lots of attention and I see her reality was that there was not…I cannot believe that she can think/feel t hat and I hope some day she will come back but frankly, I would like an apology for her cutting me out of her life, especially as I moved closer to her geographically, as she had wanted (that is not the only reason I moved). I can have periods of time where I “move on” and do things for myself but deep in my heart I am faking it…hope to get there someday…so miserable…

    1. Pam

      Hello Rosalind.
      I am a single mother of My adult daughter and only child and mother to my two granddaughters ages 1 and 3 has cut me out of her life. I raised my daughter on my own. No financial help from her dad. I had good jobs and made good money and he ehe r the world. Now I see I have too much. I too moved to be close to her and her Husband before they had kids. I work full time from home and kept her kids 2-3 Days a week for free. My daughter maybe bipolar and suffers from anxiety and now on medication.
      It has been on and off estrangement for months. Then My 65 birthday passed wit no acknowledgement from her. On Nov 5 this year she called as said she was cutting me out of her life. Her husband has past the Bar exam and now. A full time lawyer. She also has a good job so thy don’t need me anymore. (My words).
      So I too would love an apology but doubt I will ever get one.
      My son in laws mother is a helicopter mom and in their space daily and gets paid for babysitting. She is the saint. My X also getting regular visits w he kids. I hav no idea what I did to be the outcast! Thanks for being there and so happy to have this platform. Love the book too. Pam

      1. Deborah

        You don’t deserve to be the outcast. I was a single mom and like you my son’s in laws are always over babysitting my Grandchildren who I’ve never babysat one time. My son just came for a visit and his in laws booked an Airbnb my son only visited one hour two times. The mother in law and father in law just stayed at their place for three months. My son just told me he’s changing his last name to theirs. So, I think our children don’t respect us. There’s a theme here with a lot of estrangement happening with single Moms. It’s so sad I’m so sorry you have been outcasted as I am the outcast. Really though we are not. Everyone else is dysfunctional. They can’t see past themselves. Please don’t blame yourself. You don’t deserve to be rejected. God bless you.

    2. Louise

      I was miserable for 4 years. I couldn’t even look at my friends grandchildren with out bursting into tears. I cried so much. Then one day I started to feel less miserable… I found my self again . I came out of that dark tunnel of depression and I was me again. I didn’t go on pills like I wanted to… I gave it to God. Every day , I gave it to God. I walked and walked my misery away. I started to talk to children again.. I missed my granddaughters … but I didn’t want to be this cold person who didn’t want to see the happiness of others. We are visiting our daughter now after 2 years of being at odds. I keep my mouth quiet and I tell myself, one day my granddaughters will have their DL and they will visit me. Until then I am cordial but there’s no warmth from me or my daughter. We are like strangers. I will not allow myself to become miserable again. I won’t allow myself to be pushed to the edge anymore. It is what it is.. I am living my life to the fullest. I don’t accept her hostility but I won’t let my daughter ever , ever bring me to distraction again. Do I wish I had a lovely daughter, of course. But I don’t. So I live my life as best I can with out her love.

  9. Broken-hearted Estranged Single Mom

    Estrangement is part of what my family has done at times over generations. Even though my 28 year old had everything including love and a cheerleader, she is being controlled by her husband who also had multiple parental estrangements. I will keep hope but I will not accept abuse. If her return is to continue to hurt me, we’re done. I’ve given my all. But I will not surrender my Soul—not even for her.

  10. Jan

    Hope vs expectation—thought provoking. My daughter has been gradually pushing me away for a few years—rarely returning calls or texts, not sharing information (good or bad) about her family, my grandkids, etc. My only source of information was social media and now she has unfriended me. I received a call on Mother’s Day, but it wasn’t pleasant—no name calling or yelling, just a coldness and distance. My SIL did most of the talking. I sense she has a lot at anger toward me but will not discuss it. I’m working through this with a therapist and I know she’s in therapy for depression as well. My 70th birthday was two days after Mother’s Day, and she completely blew it off. Hope vs Expectation—I hope she will make an attempt at reconciliation. I hope to again be part of her life. However, if she does, she must be willing to engage in a dialogue and be willing to listen as I am. I will not engage in a blame game and be chastised as if I were her child. However, my expectation is that I will not hear from her anytime soon. I am currently reading Sherry’s book and working through the exercises. I feel that I am regaining my strength and self-confidence. I hope it lasts, but my expectation is that there will be set-backs along the way.

    1. Rosalind G.

      I hear you, Jan…my daughter rejected me totally two y ears ago but was hostile and stand offish long before that. I was a single mother and I gave her my best and worked hard at it. What bothers me is that she knows how much pain she is causing me and just doesn’t care…it seems easier for her well being to blame her issues all on me (I have taken her to theapists since she was 13 but she never would admit her feelings…or didn’t knw them…). SHe is 30 so I don’t see much hope for a change. I an crushed…I can act happy but it is an act, I don’t feel like I can ever feel “right” with tis situation.

  11. Goretti

    I do not HOPE any longer that my adult son will change. He has never treated his father and me as his parents. Never said a kind, encouraging or loving word to us. I feel he has always treated us a two people in whose house he lives, that all. We have fed, nourished, educated and cared for him his entire 30 years. I need to think of him the same – expecting nothing.

    1. Laura H.


      My estrangement with my first born son started 20 years ago.

      I quit hoping a long time ago. It has been easier to follow his wishes of no contact
      and accept than to hope.

      It took me about 2 years to stop wondering what happened. I see it now as though something happened in his brain that was ‘unfixable’. I didn’t cause it, etc.

  12. Jude

    My estrangement has gone on for 20 years following a bitter divorce. Not bitter from my side but my ex husband told me he would destroy me. I didn’t believe him but he has. He systematically used our children [now 38 and 40] as weapons in a war. He loved revenge more than he loved them. He is also wealthy and I am not and he has bought them houses, which I could never do. He had countless women in our marriage and moved one in as soon as I left [and I did leave], I could take no more and he made things so bad that I felt I had no choice]. He told people that I had three finances [not sure if all at once or consecutive but of course I had no one]. I didn’t worry because I thought the evidence was clear, there was no one there. That’s when the estrangement started. I do not know where they live, I do not have the phone number of my son. My daughter emails me once or twice a year to say she won’t be coming to Mother’s Day or Christmas or whatever I have invited them too. I have never spoken of what their father has done and only reassured them of my continuing love. That certainly hasn’t worked. Hard to hold on to hope but I do. The pain and the judgement of others is sometimes unendurable but, somehow, there is still a glimmer of hope.

    1. Cynthia

      I have a very rich ex also so I can relate. He came back to attach himself to the grandkids. My son & daughter in law have taken the grandson away that I helped raise. My x gives them houses, bmws I can’t compete. Not to mention he pretends to agree w their politics. I get the pain. They don’t like me because I believe in vaccines. It’s a psycho mess. I miss the grandchildren but they are young and I’m in my 70’s do by the time they are 18 who knows. I’m so sorry for your issues.

    2. Roger

      Prayers are extended for blessings of comfort for you….that situation is so much to bear…your ex is a narcissist no doubt…again love and prayers sent for you…

      1. Deborah

        The empathy in your words is beautiful….so nice to see such love and care. God bless you and your situation.

  13. Kitty55

    I’m so angry at my daughter for cutting us out of her & our grandchildren’s lives that I don’t know how I’ll react to her coming around again. We were the primary caretakers for the grandkids but now that she’s divorced she wants time alone= zero contact. We’ve helped her with so much. I don’t want to be a doormat but we miss our grandkids terribly.

    1. Cynthia

      I have the same issue. Oomg. It’s painful. I walk on eggshells. I keep her pms date. I ignored it yesterday. Now I’m on the you can’t see the grandchildren list and they treat my grow daughter the same way.

    2. Deborah

      I’m angry, too. I understand how you feel. Hopefully your Daughter will come back crying and offering her deepest apologies. That’s the only way I can let my son back in if he shows true repentance.i can’t handle anymore pain or anything abusive.

  14. Grieving mom

    My husband and I are heartbroken since 3 of our 6 adult children have decided the do not want us in their lives. This occurred a few months ago after a discussion about some current events. After much crying on my part for several weeks, and repeated attempts by both me and my husband to reconcile, we have decided to stop trying. I can no longer put up with the finger pointing, the yelling, the cursing, the sneers and the cruel texts. They don’t want to discuss, only accuse. We pray for them and our grandchildren daily. Maybe giving them what they want, i.e., no contact, will give us all more peace. We are letting go, as best we can. We study the 12 steps of al-anon together each morning, and this has helped us tremendously.

    1. NICOLA S

      I completely understand how you feel. I also cannot take the constant accusations, snide remarks and vitriolic texts. I am going to buy Sheri’s book in a bid to start afresh accepting that I have to think of my own mental health. I have very little hope of reconciliation and need to accept this to move on.

  15. Rise

    Hope is something that i have struggled with……….I used to hope that she would reconcile with me and we would have happy times again…like going to the theatre or shopping or sharing a meal or baking together etc. Then I began to realize that I need to be realistic……….after all the abuse hurled at me I feel it is unrealistic for that to happen. Even if she were to choose to see me again, it will not be the same and of course my guard will be up and I will be careful of what i say etc. The trust is broken!!!
    Since she is still in contact with my husband, he may have some influence and it may happen that one day she will want to talk to me and in light of this I have written down some guide rules for me to follow to protect myself. One is that I would never see her on my own…there has to be someone with me…. another is that if she in any way starts to shout or hurl abuse I will walk away, if she starts to talk about the past in untruths……I will also walk away or make it clear that I would only speak about the past with a therapist present. Truthfully, as many others feel and from many comments I have read……I have come to feel that if she were to come back to treat me in the same manner I would rather she stay estranged. I still pray for her…..I have always wanted her to have health, happiness and to be safe.
    So, is there hope yes, but I know that it will never be as it used to be and I at times still grieve about that.

    1. Gwen L.

      Thank you for sharing the idea of discussing the past only if a therapist is present. I will definitely tell my verbally abusive adult daughters that this is my policy going forward. In fact, and this is very sad, I wonder if I should talk to them at all without a therapist. Each time I do it takes me weeks to recover.

    1. Debbie

      I agree. I can’t accept it right now. It’s been 18 months since my daughter has spoken to me. We were always close, we never argued, and then I was ghosted.

  16. Juanita

    I will always trust in the Lord and not my own understanding . I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a mom and to have known what it’s like to be a mom. I don’t want to accept a life my children.i pray that God shows them a way home to me soon. Until God answers me I must not loose hope

  17. Juanita

    Sometimes I wonder why my children can’t see the pain I feel from the way they reach out to me. I wonder why they believe others are better for them than me. Why is there always an excuse to seeing me. But then I remembered x husband is tormenting us for me not allowing him to take them when he was not in a good state . My kids have no idea how long and hard I have fought to even keep them for this long. It’s been years since our divorce but I’m still being treated like it’s my fault. I told my kids the truth and the whole truth about it all now that they are adults so they can live a life without shame, guilt or dread. With large hope that they would understand and love me more than they use too. But instead I’m still last on the list in their lives . I just need to accept it and move on but then my heart tells me no no no they are still need you and I just try to do the best I can to not bother them . Whether we reconcile or not I will always keep them and the love I feel for them hidden away. I really don’t like this relationship we have with each other I just feel like an outsider instead of a mom………

  18. Noemi N.

    Hope is being trapped in a room and someone else has the key. Acceptance is where I am at this point. The hurt is real, but so is that room, being trapped

    1. Beth G.

      You have stated this well, I do agree that someone Else has the key. My son and his spouse have quit talking to us, and they have blocked us from their social media. I have shed many tears, but my husband is correct when he says we have done nothing to them, they have decided that because we have different political views that they no longer want to be a part of the family. My husband is upset because of what they have done to me. I have never seen my husband so upset, it was then that I realized I cannot let my son dictate my happiness and my husband deserves better than a wife who cries and laments all too often over a son who has decided (practically overnight I may add) that he despises us. I will no longer cry over his decision to cut us off.

    1. Marta

      Wow. I relate, unfortunately. I’m Not dead yet. When my will is drawn up, it will state that my daughter is not welcome to pay any “RESPECTS” to me upon my death. It really stinks to have to do it, but if she finally realizes how precious she was and can carry that forward, my time on earth is complete.

  19. Sandy

    This was helpful to me. I do waffle with hope. I want to stop the waffle but feel helpless as to how. It’s been five years, and I want to let go.

  20. Meryl W.

    My son in law and daughter have threatened me. He is armed. I not only have no hope of ANY reconciliation, I am so intimidated and afraid of these people, I DON’T WANT ANY FORM OF RECONCILIATION.

    1. torn

      I know that feeling. My children haven’t threatened me with physical harm, but there are some lies that can destroy lives and family. I no longer hold out any hope or wish for a reconciliation with any of my children. I feel they’ve repaid any harm I may have done inadvertently to them and then some. I have to walk away to save myself.


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