Father’s Day 2023 and estrangement

dads whose adult children are estranged

Father’s Day 2023 and estrangement
by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

“I’m failing.”

That thought came to mind this morning. After all, I hadn’t written a 2023 Father’s Day article for dads whose adult children are estranged. Then I remembered an email I received from a kind father of estranged adult children. He wrote:

“Dear Sheri —- I got the best advice from you. That was ” THINK OF ALL THE GOOD THINGS YOU DID “— If anything maybe I did too much. But when I start to become sad, I think of your advice. For me at least that phrase helps. Thank you —– Hugs back at you. ——- Ken.”

Dear Ken, thank you for this reminder. GREAT BIG HUGS to you!

Past work for dads whose adult children are estranged

Over the course of the ten years since I began this website, I have written for dads whose adult children are estranged. Therefore, I can be compassionate to myself this year, this Father’s Day—and pull something together at the last minute too!

So, for Ken and all the other fathers, if you haven’t read my books on estrangement, Done With the Crying, or my newer title, BEYOND Done With the Crying, I hope you will. Perhaps as Ken did you will find some nuggets of wisdom within their pages. Meanwhile, here are a few links to past articles for dads whose adult children are estranged (on Father’s Day or any day, and of interest to mothers of estranged adult children as well). When you click through to read these articles, take a look at the related reading posts linked at the end of each one.

estranged fathersA gift for estranged fathers
As the airwaves are flowing with Father’s Day messaging; ads for “manly” stuff. My guess is that most dads would rather have the gift of time. Well, maybe a few words about how much a child has appreciated all they’ve done. For estranged fathers whose children have cut them off (also for rejected mothers), there is often a pervasive feeling: Time is running out.

adult child's cutting-off

Fathers on an adult child’s “cutting off”
This week, as the 3rd Sunday in June neared, you probably faced awkward comments. A co-worker’’s, “Have a great Father’s Day!” may have made you want to crawl away and hide. Or, you were asked about your plans and wished your phone would ring so you could be saved by the bell. You were probably already thinking about the day …

estranged by adult childrenEstrangement by adult children: Weathering the storm
“Hollowed out.” That’s how one father of estranged adult children recently described how he feels. “Weak.”

I understand this. It’s how a lot of parents feel when they have given their all for a child, even to their own detriment, yet come up empty.

parents whose adult children disown themLet me tell you about some heroes
In the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day (in May) to honor  those who sacrificed their lives in past wars to preserve our treasured freedoms. Since people all over the world read my books and visit this site, you may not be familiar with Memorial Day but this article relates to peace of mind and emotional freedom—sought by parents whose adult children disown them.

Hugs to everyone,

Sheri McGregor

Related reading

Be kind to yourself

 

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63 thoughts on “Father’s Day 2023 and estrangement

  1. Ziwi

    Hello, I am recently estranged from my 22 YO adult son…
    He has been dating a very toxic girl for about a year and she has slowly turned him completely against me, his uncle, his aunt, his brother and his stepfather. He is completely brainwashed by her. She has made him believe that we are horrible parents even though we gave him so much love, time, money, attention and compassion. She has him convinced that before she came along, he was suffering from “Trauma” and if it were not for her coming along and “saving” him he would never make it. She said to him “you do not need your family anymore – you just need me” Yes, she is a narcissist.
    Before she came along I had a great relationship with my son. We were so close. This girl he is dating lies constantly and when I confronted her about her lies, she did not apologize or think she did anything wrong – but instead she told my son “you need to choose between me or your mom” . My son chose her.
    I have not spoken to him now in almost two months. My heart is breaking. They have bonded over their hatred of me. Every time I try to reach out to him with a harmless text like – thinking about you – how is your job? etc. She immediately tells him “You need to cut her out of your life” and it just makes them bond even more over their hatred of me. So the more I try to contact him, the more they bond over their hatred of me so I have just stopped trying altogether.
    (I know all of this becuase my son still confides in his nephew who has told me all of this. I have no reason to believe he would lie either because he has no agenda and has never lied to me in the past)
    I am really hurting and just wonder if he will ever break up with her and go back to being the happy, warm caring person he was before he met her. In the meantime my life needs to go on I know, but its not easy…

    Reply
    1. Tovah

      Hi Ziwi,

      Your comment “They have bonded over their hatred of me” is very relevant in many estrangement scenarios, ours included.

      Our eldest daughter needed an ally in her estrangement. We believe that she felt much conflict about estranging — and probably guilt — and it would be so much easier to have an alliance with her younger sibling. She left home first and worked hard to undermine our relationship with our one remaining child, helping her sneak out of the house, bringing her junk food, taking her to R rated movies on school nights, badmouthing us, etc.

      What she did worked well and as you mentioned they bonded over their mutual rejection of us. Within a year our younger daughter was also out of our home, having become impossible to live with and stirring fears in us so much that we slept with one eye open. (She was becoming violent.)

      It felt like our younger daughter had been kidnapped by a cult but it was just her older sister who needed a companion in her mission of “payback” although we still don’t know what the payback is for.

      Years ago I also had this happen with my father and his second wife, who alienated him from me in his advancing years, intending to have full control of him and, of course, his assets. He seemed to be easy prey. However, it wasn’t a cut-and-dried case of being wrongly influenced by someone. There were times when he said things that made me believe he had contempt in his own heart and was only too glad to have her be the one to express it.

      It was preferable to assign her the role of predatory and malicious female than to reveal his own hidden bitterness. We knew that he was mad at our Mom who he believed had robbed him of his fortune when in fact he had lost it on his own and couldn’t face up to that. Instead of accepting responsibility for his bad choices he hung on to resentment toward my mother. In time, I came to be included in that bitterness by way of his second wife’s efforts to gain total control.

      I still vividly recall the phone conversation when I realized with horror what she was up to and I told her to stop trying to alienate him. She hung up on me.

      In the end, he was institutionalized, made penniless and she saw her plan come to being. After his death, even though she was a wealthy woman made even wealthier, she didn’t even have an inscription put on his headstone. He had a small transparent sticker put there by the cemetery. I corrected that horrible act and paid for a proper final resting place for my father, whom I adored.

      She too was a narcissist. My father was just a means to an end. There’s no doubt that the interlopers do great harm but it’s my opinion that in our case it was not 100% her.

      So in this same vein I have to believe that our younger daughter possessed her own bitterness that was not entirely bred by her older sister but certainly enhanced and encouraged by her.

      We won’t ever know another’s true feelings but my own intuition tells me that no one can alienate someone else completely unless they are at least partially ok with it in one way or another.

      Hoping you are the exception and that your son reenters your life again. That’s what we all want though only if they are genuinely loving again.

      Reply
    2. Mimi

      I have a problem that I haven’t come across yet. I have one son who left the family. His father and I were divorced and his father has since died, but my son left everyone, including grandparents, more than 30 yrs ago.

      I have two children who won’t talk to me about him and 5 grandchildren. I don’t know even if they know they have an uncle out in the world.

      I feel so alone. I am the only one alive who cares about this son and no child who is willing to offer me any kind of support. Others of you with this issue? Many thx in advance. Mimi

      Reply
    3. Stacy

      Hello, I have been estranged from my now 30 year old son for over 7 months. He too met a girl that’s so toxic. We were so close, him and his dad were inseparable. This girl found a way to pull him away. She continued to say that he wasn’t a man because he was mommy’s boy, she would make up false accusations about his father. Ever time we had a family function or vacation she would act out, start a fight, have some sort of anxiety attack or just leave. She made sure it was all about her. My son would just say she was crazy and that’s her and he’s gonna help her. It got really bad once she had his baby. They included us in our granddaughter’s life at first. They let us get close to her for 8 months then tore her away. She would make up things to get my son to stop talking to us until we apologized to her. I complied just to keep the relationship with my granddaughter but it just continued to get worse. She alienated my son from his parents, his 2 sisters, aunts, cousins, grand mother and ALL his friends. He only has her family and friends that continue to reinforce that he’s doing the right thing, sticking up for his “girls” and sticking up to his family. He had a good childhood, nice schools, good friends and the only thing I regret is spoiling him. He told me that we never loved him, I only hugged him once in his life and throw money at him instead of love. He tried to tell my family this and when they all reminded him that this is not true, that is when he pulls away from them too.

      I finally had enough, met him at his job parking lot as he was leaving. This happened on Aug 11th 2023. My first time seeing him in over 7 months. I didn’t recognize his personality. He was so mad at us, said it was all our fault they are having problems and said I had one thing I needed to do and didn’t do it. I asked him, what apologize to her, he said yes but it’s too late, she’s gone and sped off. Which I know she didn’t leave. He still talks to his grandpa because he’s clear across the country and not a threat.

      I can write a book about how much this toxic girl has done to our family. She is a toxic, narcissist and has destroyed my son and who knows what she’s doing to my grand daughter and the frustrating part is that there is nothing I can do. Just sit and watch my son fall into a mental spiral.

      Reply
  2. David P.

    Fathers Day last Sunday affected me unexpectedly. I was OK until at church, people came and wished me Happy Fathers Day! The bitterness about my estrangement nearly erupted, I had to keep it under control. “I have no children” I snapped back at two people. The church gave $5 gift cards for coffee to fathers. I said, take it away, give to someone else. The reactions were perplexity…I suppose it’s not common knowledge about my estrangement. But I felt a need to convey this fact in a way they wouldn’t forget.

    There has been a lot of beating around the bush and indirect statements regarding what is becoming an epidemic of adult children estranging their own parents. Let me come out and say it directly:
    Many adult children are spoiled rotten monsters with little sense of either gratitude or understanding the importance of honoring one’s mother and father.

    And this situation often has more political roots than even sympathetic therapists want to admit. Progressive young adults like my children see no problem with dumping their Deplorable Dad.

    They are encouraged to think this way by a culture that idolizes individual expression at the expense of family and community cohesion. This culture flourishes in a political environment where older, wiser heads and their old-fashioned ideas of God and country are deliberately trashed to make way for a new, Marxist political order where the State is all-knowing, always correct, and holds power over everyone.

    Why wouldn’t a young adult, especially one with modern, progressive convictions but perhaps even one with conservative politics, be tempted to throw their own parents over in the belief that Society approves and the State will provide?

    Reply
    1. Effie

      It is a generation. I was obsessive about making sure my kids grew up with high self esteem. Now, they are college graduates, and I am a low town castaway that is more of an embarrassment. They talk down to me as I am not a college graduate, and now they believe I failed them with my moral code. I brought them up teaching them God’s word and exposing them to all kinds of sports and activities, and as a stay at home mom, must have spent too much time with them. ( maybe they think I smothered them) anyway… I too am estranged and so very tired of trying to be what they want me to be now. I give up…

      Reply
    2. Deborah A.

      Thank you, David!

      I came to this site after being up most of the night crying. Actually, finally “crying out,” which I probably needed. I am one of those “silent ones” who find a corner, a pillow, a closet, my office, and cry. Oh, my husband knows, and he is hurting terribly. He is more angry, and I am more terribly, terribly hurting. But, your comment seemed to bring comfort. Thank you!

      You stated EXACTLY what my husband and I have been discussing over the past few weeks since Father’s Day, which happened to be two days before my daughter’s daughter’s first birthday, a granddaughter I have not yet had the chance to meet. And five days before my birthday. I saw the look in my husband’s face when none of his children called him to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. Oh, he said nothing, but I sneaked into my office and called my daughter, whom we were planning to leave to visit in the next couple of days, on our first road trip in years. I thought we had an exceptional relationship. We have been estranged from our son for three years, and don’t know why, except political… The call went fine (we thought).

      Then, the next day she called me. She told me not to come to visit. It was better we had nothing to do with her and not to call because the phone would not work. Facebook blocked. No access to our daughter. No wishing our granddaughter a happy birthday… We redirected a road trip to a holiday, just the two of us… I tried not to cry on my birthday.

      I’ve been “holding it together” literally second-by-second since then. Now, two kids have us blocked completely. They each have kids, grandkids I have not met. Our third daughter has not blocked us but won’t return calls. I am clueless except that our daughter said stuff before she hung up that sounds like mixed-up cultural nonsense mixed in with political nonsense mixed in with a therapeutic nonsense, and I am actually one class away from my degree in Psychology, and I am saying that.

      This seems like an epidemic.

      My concern is that they will “figure it out” when it is too late, and all of us, as parents/grandparents will already have passed from the earth and not be there for them. And, what have they taught their kids? Will their kids be there for them? Where are the family values?

      Reply
      1. Mabel

        finally a psychologist can tell the truth about what is happening to many children. there is an epidemic of parental rejection. we were very unlucky to live in this time of unjustified abuse

        Reply
  3. Amy S.

    After reading all the posts, for years …not one conclusion but a few is that..l do not miss the drama, the exclusion, the abuse, I miss what could have been. What they are missing is a huge, my husband says they lost SO much more than we did. I wish them well but 10 years from now the implosion will happen and I/we will be too old to even care. We will be so busy just taking care of ourselves, doing our daily self care just like Sheri says in her books.

    Reply
  4. Brenda W.

    I just read Martin & Joan’s story and the words you shared are true “We were parents for a season,” Martin says. “I still have pictures that show what a beautiful a time that was.”
    My home office displays the story my life how beautiful it was; I too was a parent for a season and no-one can take away the wonderful memories of those times. I have all the photos of this beautiful times and I remember the laughter and joy of that season. I do get sad, angry and cry for those times of joy and family; but, I am learning to move on without.
    My husband and I struggle to understand all what has happened, the blame games, name calling, threats, etc… But, we have decided to move forward with our lives while continuing to remember we were “Parents for a season” Thank you Martin & Joan for sharing!

    Reply
  5. Barbara

    I told my partner this (for all practical purposes my daughter’s stepfather) and it helped my get through Mother’s Day. I am estranged from my only daughter for reasons that I don’t completely understand. She has some terrible events happen that were outside of her control, and I think we are a target for her grief and anger, as she can’t vent those feelings with her husband or in laws.
    My daughter’s opinion of my parenting doesn’t really matter. When I look at the things I did to try to be a good parent, as opposed to the mistakes I made, and things I would’ve done differently, the good column is longer than the other. Therefore, I’m celebrating myself as a good mother and parent who tried really hard. I don’t need her validation. I told her stepfather that he should feel the same way.

    Reply
  6. Mary

    Sheri, thank you for your writings again.
    They bring much comfort to so many of us that are going through the same nightmare.
    It’s been 8 yrs since my only child, a daughter, has cut me out of her life after leaving her abusive father/my x. My ED was 38 when I left, had her own family, was pushing me to leave her Dad as he was also emotionally abusive to her. But alas, money sometimes speaks more, my ED worked for him and still does, so the almighty dollar was worth more to her than her Mother. When I met another man is when she truly went ballistic, then it became choice phrases, you are dead to me, I was toxic, she was abused, etc etc.
    In 8 yrs, and countless times of asking why? I’ve given up, I no longer care what the reason is anymore. I no longer want “that” conversation, I’m not even sure I would want reconciliation any more, if it’s to walk on glass for the rest of my life, no thank you, did that with my X. I am fortunate that my 2 grandchildren were old enough to keep me in their lives over being told to hate me, they are a blessing in my life. My heart goes out to all of these parents, it really is a living hell to pour your heart and soul into another human being for countless years to only have them turn on you. If you let it, life goes on, it might not be what you had thought it would be, but it does go on, make the most of it, no one is promised tomorrow. I hung on for yrs thinking things would change, that my daughter would have that aha moment of how she screwed up, but nope, she’s still full of vitriol and hatred. I love her, wish her well, but now it’s with a heart that says,
    “you do you” and “I’ll do me”.
    Hugs to all of you,

    Reply
  7. Linda R

    The reminder email and this post were helpful to me today. Today was a tough day as my daughters have rejected me but not their father (my ex husband) there is no animosity between us whatsoever, I even made a gift that my son could give to his dad today, but after receiving nothing from my daughters on Mother’s Day, I physically hurt today to find out that their father was lavished with gifts today. I separated from their father in 2009 as he was emotionally abusive to my eldest daughter especially but to all of us. I then struggled as a single mum for the next 12. My daughters and I were so close but recently their wealthy grandmother passed away and they cut me off and now their father can do no wrong. I pretty much can see that it’s about money but the pain is so bad

    Reply
    1. Diane P.

      Hello Doris. I try to do the same. I try & remember only them as my kids. NOT adult kids. We had the greatest relationship, all of us. So, now I just refer them as my babies. Them as adults are gone forever. I don’t know them anymore. That has helped me SO much. I can even say,to my husband, “remember when Chris did this or Kelly doing this”. Without even crying. We have also lost our 3 grandson, that we were close to.. It has helped us get through those bad days, by traveling. We left on Thanksgiving & came back in early April. Now, I want to next year, leave in May, (mother’s day) & June, Father’s Day. Doing this has been a life saver for my tears & heart aches.

      Reply
      1. Hope

        WOW! Diane P

        I call my grown kids babies too.
        I never really thought of the why i do that.
        I choose to remember the little ones i raised
        Alone and all our good times together then.

        Traveling sounds like its been wonderful therapy for you both. I hope to do the same in the future.
        Good Luck on your next adventure!

        Reply
        1. Claire V.

          I too try to limit myself when thinking about my youngest son – to just think of his sweet and innocent days. He was exceptional, and loving and smart! Now – not so much. We have not seen him or my sweet grandson (six years old) in two years. God has blessed us with our older son and his fiance. They make us feel loved and wanted, especially on all the important days when I am very fragile.

          Reply
          1. Lost

            Hello Claire!

            Thankful for your older son and his fiance.

            Do your sons have a relationship or has your oldest son had to choose? Im asking because this is how mine are. One treats me like the mom i am and the other has no use for me.

            But… they are joined at the hip and i dont want their relationship to be broken. Yet i dont understand why the one close to me doesnt have an issue with the disrespectful selfish one.

    2. Diane P.

      Hi Linda. I’m so sorry for what has happened to you. Your daughters being close to your ex, & not you. That must really hurt. Are you able to move on, even if it’s a little? I developed Panic Attacks. It’s a feeling that you are really scared. Does your ex do things for your daughters? Like, in money? Seems, like it’s always about money. Because, it’s not about your ex, & how they enjoy his company. It’s what your ex can DO for them. I’ve known & seen so many adult kids like this. So, it’s hard to do, but do all those things in life, you always wanted to do. Take up a new hobby. Move farer away from them. I actually, was thinking of moving out of the Country. I don’t have any family or friends here. My husband & I travels a lot. Seems, to help us.

      Reply
    3. Caterina

      I am sorry to read your message and I understand you so well. I have a very similar story. Divorced my violent abusive ex, raised 3 kids for 13 on my own and have an ED since 2015 and my eldest ED that has put me on an emotional rollercoaster. Imagine that she gave birth 2 months ago and now has ghosted me! I cannot understand the cruelty of such behaviour.
      I try to carry on but I really am so shattered.
      I wish you all the best!

      Reply
    4. Sarah

      Hugs to you, Linda. I am sorry, and it hurts so bad. My adult daughters love their abusive, narcissistic father even though he caused so much damage in our lives.

      For whatever reason, they refuse to talk to me or let me know what to apologize for, they seem to have decided that I am not worth their time to even give me a chance to let them tell me how I hurt them so I can make things right. To me, this is cruel. At least tell me the rationale for your abandonment of me. I did not abuse them, their father did. Yet they love him and his new family (his wife was also mean to them even). They visit with them and invite them into their homes.
      I am ignored, though I made great efforts to give to them, try to visit (I was in their town across the country from where I live, and they refused to see me). So, I take their rejection as this is what makes them happy – for whatever reason, they are happier without me in their lives.

      I do not agree with their choices. I know that rational, honest, and people of good character (and as Christians as they claim to be) would at least tell you why they hate you. They choose to do what their abusive dad does. So I gave them back to God and trust Him with them. I may never get the closure or the answers I need, and when I accepted this possibility, I gained a measure of peace. So I stopped looking up their social media, stopped hoping. I had to because I was keeping the grief-wound open with hope. I still hope, but since it has been so long, and their behavior toward me is still hateful, it is healthier for me to let them make their choices, but I cannot chase them any longer. It was draining me with the grief. I want to live, not stay crumpled up sobbing for the remainder of my life. It just feels so cruel.

      If they want to ever talk, I would welcome it. But trust… that was dashed by their years of rejection (they accepted my gifts but refused to talk). I really do not think I could ever trust them again.

      I hope you gain comfort in your situation. It is like water in the desert to know others who are on this journey, sad that any are on it, but so glad to know that others understand, and assist with coping ways that have helped. I hope the best for you, as I do for myself and all of us here, I wish we all could reunite with those little innocents we once knew…but regardless of that, I pray that each of us heals as much as possible and find that we had life before our kids, we can still have it!

      HUGS!!!!

      Reply
      1. Joanie

        your story is so much like mine. I am devastated, but have left the future with my daughter up to Jesus. I still think of her as a child, in order to handle it. Her father started turning her against me young, and I hung in there with him for 23 years, but finally had to cut the ties. She is still emotionally at 17, the age when I divorced him. He continues to ask for money/lawsuits and threatens me, so I have taken legal matters into my own hand. She still hangs with him, I am sure, but I am moving on. So much damage, and he is the perfect one and I am always the problem. Even when we are estranged! Thanks for listening.

        Reply
    5. So Hurt

      Linda
      I am so sorry for your hurt. I am hurting with you.
      This is exactly what brought me to this site today. I fet done the same way and honestly i am mind blown.
      He never done anything for them yet he does no wrong. They tell everyone how he is so good to them does so much for them.
      Which is a flat out joke. People who know the truth will ask me why they worship him. I just say the hell if i know. They spent the whole day with him
      Not even an hour here. Its crazy.

      Reply
  8. Jeff M.

    Thank you for these writings as they are helpful. Both my children are estranged and I have not contact. My wife and I have moved on since this started when we decided to stop serving everyone else in the family and extended families. Frankly, I do not see myself as any kind of a good parent anymore and I just try to remember some good times when they were young and much different. The world has seemed to have filled the minds of young people that they are all entitled to be served and given everything with no work on their part and that their parents have ruined it all and have taken everything. Trying to explain hard work and steady progress just fell on deaf ears and only made my divide worse so I am quiet now and focus on the small things that bring my wife and I joy.
    Thank you for this page and the articles which are so very helpful,
    Jeff M.

    Reply
    1. Doris

      Hi Jeff. We are estranged from 2 out of 3 sons for 8 1/2 years now. My Husband says he doesn’t worry about it anymore. That’s how he copes. It bothers me at days like today and especially Christmas. But what you said about remembering when they were young helps you. It helps me a lot. The “kids” can remove themselves (and the grandkids), but they can’t remove our fantastic memories. And we have so many, just as I am sure you do. It’s like a death, and eventually you don’t cry as much and you remember so many wonderful times. One foot in front of the other. You are sooo not alone.

      Reply
      1. Lydia

        Hello Doris,
        I feel your pain, because my son decided to stop speaking to me because of the woman he married. I don’t want to get into details , but I refuse to even remember his childhood.
        I will never forgive him for betraying me for a woman that I forewarned him about. He is not my son anymore. He is no one to me.
        I have learned not to delve in rotten situations anymore.
        I have more important things to do with my life than think about a son who is a traitor to his mother.
        I’m not his friend, cousin, sister, I’m his mother. I carried him for 9 months and gave birth to him. Sacrificed everything for him.. Gave him my heart and soul, and he repaid me in the most horrific manner.
        Forgive? Never, and will never forget!!! He can destroy his life with the manipulator that he picked to share his life with.

        Reply
    2. Diane P.

      Hi. Jeff. I’m glad that you commented & shared your story. It’s Father day. Both Mother’s Day & Father’s Day is the hardest. I usually can’t help crying. I’m glad we’re not alone. We live at a Lake, & it’s quite social. Families & friends come & they have Barbeques. I hear the laughter as I die inside. Everyone around us have quests over all the time. We started going away for vacation. That helps. I don’t know what has happen to adult kids these days. How they can up & dump their parents. I lost my son & daughter. It’s been 5 years. I had hope in the beginning. But, that hope is gone. I have to accept it.

      Reply
    3. Bruce M.

      Ditto on everything you said. Two daughters, all was good until they left for college. That’s when “it” started. It has been seven years since we’ve talked to them. No contact with them or the grandchildren. I no longer feel like a dad, probably won’t again. Remembering them as children and focusing on the small things is good advice. It seems to work.

      Reply
  9. Maryann M.

    Today is father’s day, a day which should be celebrated by at least saying “hi” to your dad. Anyway I think so. Yesterday was a baby shower, given by my youngest daughter for herself, complete with a listing of gifts which would be deemed “acceptable” by the honoree. Gifts listed are from a boutique baby shop featuring entirely bamboo clothing. (When this daughter was pregnant with her first child, she directed me to go to the store in question, and I found that a bamboo onesie suitable for a two month old could be purchased on sale for $85.00.) Neither A’s Dad or myself were invited to this shower. He e-mailed her and asked when it was happening, saying that he wanted to send hand-painted gourds for each of her four children (he paints beautiful birds on gourds). We had heard about the shower from our other daughter. My husband never heard back from A. I sewed an outfit for a two year old boy, as well as a number of things for under one year size. Quality garments. Boutique worthy things! People beg me for my work. This couple is now on child number four, we figure awaiting a long sought after boy. They have purchased a home in a town which is probably the priciest area in the U.S. and bought themselves a papered labradoodle. I mention all of this just to give you a feel for the lifestyle of my daughter. She and her husband purchased a townhouse in the same pricey area following college graduation. Initially they seemed very pleased with their new home, however, about nine months into living there, she informed me that they had checked, and their townhouse didn’t have to be owner occupied. . .so they could rent it out, and I could buy them a “real” house to live in, i.e. I was being invited to turn them into land barons I guess! This wasn’t my first experience with helping this child out financially. I had passed on an old Voyager to her, and when she graduated from college, I offered to lend her money to purchase a new car. Terms of re-payment were interest free, and within the couple’s budget. She agreed to this. However, her payments were not forthcoming as agreed. She suggested that I needed to insure her husband as well as her, as “what is he going to drive?” I declined the insurance for her spouse and my husband reminded her of the need to start payments by written letter. She called one night after receiving the letter and called me a f. . .ing b. . .ch!

    This kid came out of college with no loans to re-pay. I had received inheritance when my folks passed away, and I covered all her associated bills while she was in school. A had various opportunities for travel in conjunction with school, Brit Lit (a week long trip with her AP English class), a trip to France, Youth Symphony, etc. She never offered her thanks for these opportunities, or for much of anything. In fact, she stated that “you didn’t do anything for me that any parent wouldn’t do for their kid.” My older two kids didn’t have the same opportunities. I surely didn’t get to do anything like that when I was growing up. As I write this, I am thinking that I raised a spoiled brat, and have myself to blame.

    A doesn’t speak to me. Doesn’t allow Facebook friendship. Has requested various times that I make a tiered skirt for daughter with Halloween theme. . .things on that line. I have complied, with sewing requests, with everything except designing a flower girl dress (when it became clear to me that nothing I could come up with, especially from a distance, was going to please her!) And no, I didn’t purchase the desired real house, forgive the car loan, or pay for driving insurance for her husband.

    I believe that birds fly away from their nests and learn to make their own way in the world. And I feel that I gave this child every opportunity to prepare herself to make her own way in the world. She informed her Dad on one occasion that she never wanted a “real” career. I don’t care what she decides she wants to do with her life. I don’t care whether she feels she needs to clothe her family entirely in bamboo. But key to all this is that I feel that SHE needs to figure out what she can afford given their budget and make it work! We live very simply, are do it your selfers in almost every area in life. I guess our lifestyles couldn’t be more opposite. But it still would seem that we could each enjoy living in the manner we choose and just keep in touch. Her terms seem to be that unless we will be manipulated and provide for her in the manner she suggests, she finds no use for us.

    This relationship, or lack thereof, has caused problems in our relationship. I think when my husband feels sad that A has little to do with him, he blames me, and I have come to feel that, if she chooses to have nothing to do with us while we are alive, then why should she be included in our trust? Is it some sort of right to inherit from your folks, even if you are basically emotionally abusive to them as people? We are both sad. There is a lesson in here if you look closely. . .even if you can help your kids have opportunities you didn’t have as a child, it may not get the result you hoped for in them as adults.

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Maryann,
      We are in a similar boat and I plan a trip to the lawyer to dictate terms of our will.
      The key word “our,” I do not chose to reward terrible, undeserved, behavior.
      Be kind to yourself, you have given your children wings (and opportunity).
      Hugs,
      Ann

      Reply
      1. Maryann M.

        Thanks so much! It really helps to feel your honesty in reacting to my writing Ann. Nobody can understand as well as someone else sharing the same experience. Others feel like I have this beautiful blonde size 0 straight A Barbie doll of a kid that I should be SO proud of.

        Reply
    2. Alexandra S.

      Hi Maryanne,
      I have also wondered if I should change my will to bypass my son. I keep giving it time, but I will come to it someday, I believe. I am sorry for your/our pain. It seems so unfair.
      Sincerely,
      Alexandra

      Reply
    3. Doris

      Let them go. You are not their trust fund. My Husband and I plan to spend all our money before we die.

      Reply
      1. Uncertain

        Doris
        I want to do the same but i dont have a retirement nest egg built up and if i live 20 or 30 yrs i will need what i do have to live on.
        They sure wont support me.

        I have a friend who tells me all the time im enjoying my money now and not leaving it to people who dont care for me. I feel the same but i also know that i dont know the future and i cant put myself
        In a financial hole.

        Reply
    4. Michelle M.

      We must have the same daughters! I was laughing my a** off reading it. I let my daughter control her trust at 27. I decided she would only try to forged my signature on documents anyway to gain control or lob insults. She already transferred stock my father gave each of the grandchildren. She had a lavish wedding in Saint Martin during the pandemic for 40 people. Parties every night for a week. Then off for a week honeymoon. I was not invited but ex and her family and my BFF he cheated on me with and a family friend were all there. They live in an expensive city and I am sure with current interest rates a home would have been more practical. I lived a frugal life for years. I am traveling the world and enjoying my life. I will donate the money that is left to charities that I love. Last laugh!

      Reply
    5. Caterina

      I nodded all along as I read your story. I thought that you were describing my eldest daughter. Same story here. If I don’t comply to her demands, I am insulted then ghosted for long periods of time. Then she surfaces again, starts asking and on the rollercoaster for another round. Now she’s just had her first baby with her partner, very similar to her: arrogant and entitled. I offered to have a small get together with close friends and relatives to celebrate my grand daughter’s birth but since I didn’t ask their permission was insulted and ghosted again. BTW, my second daughter cut us off 8 years now. I live in a country where by law we are obliged to leave our children most of our inheritance. So frustrating!

      Reply
    6. Marsh

      Mary Ann, so sorry for your A daughter. She sounds somewhat like ours, who moved into a ritzy neighborhood,9 acres on the Hudson. As time went on, we came to be below her. She chastised me in company, and was so outwardly rude demeaning, that I told my husband I was leaving. Her friends were very uncomfortable,
      Over the situation, and tried to console me. We were like slaves to her, giving her furniture, self transported,tiling rooms in 95 degree temps. Working on her property for days on end, only to be called “The Migrant workers!. peeling off 100 year old wallpaper , etc. you name it, we did it. We never said a word, as any dispute, would keep our grandchildren from us. We moved away, to a warmer climate, and imported our grands for the summer. Her behavior became more and more demeaning, and hardly called at all, . The final blow came when she and the Kids were invited to a celebration,( we had rented a whole beautiful house on a lake that was equally accessible to she and her brother) we were celebrating our 50th, my husbands 70th birthday, and his recovery from Ca. The last minute, she said they couldn’t come, as her boyfriend was going to the hospital! I spent 5 days in the hospital previously, and she never called to talk or ask about me. Same with her Dad when he was going thru years of Chemo and surgery. She expected me to call her with “report”. I and her Dad, called her on it, and she was very abusive, and accused us of being bad parents. We worked tirelessly, to give she and her and our Son, a debt free college education. Gave her everything we could, as well as monetary help, babysitting ( which we loved) love and support of every kind. She is divorced, as she treated her ex the same way, even got him to give up his rights to the children! We have not talked to her in 4 years, and under the help of a therapist, was told, she definitely has a personality disorder. We no longer cry, have a great relationship with our son ,grands, and her grown children. We are good people, have friends and family who love us, and choose not to allow ourselves this abuse any more. There comes a time, when you say that’s enough! We are through walking on eggshells in her company, and choose, you do you, and we’ll do us! Thank you someone for that phrase! I wish you peace, love and the ability to stand up to this , and leave behind, this unconscionable behavior. We did, and we’re happy.❤️❤️❤️

      Reply
    7. Judith S.

      We are in the same point. As for leaving abusive children money, think hard about why you would. In reality in life nobody owes you anything nor do you owe them anything. Rather work towards a token that may sometime in the future. Set of books for spiritual work. There are many out there that have helped me through this. Is this not why we are all here to be the best version of ourselves we can. time is shorter to finish this. It has given me happiness, a sense of self worth. people on this site never talk about the reality of these situations that may involve mental health issues or adult ADHD, etc. As victims of this abuse stop taking on anger, blame or anything that is self deprecating. Rather practice gratitude, mindfulness, prayer, journaling or other practices that can change the brain. Get help and direction.

      Reply
  10. Michaelle

    Hi Sheri, my husband and I were dumped by our two oldest children seven years ago. Time does not heal all wounds but it does ease the pain only to come back with a vengeance on days like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays, and Holidays.
    For the most part, we just keep in mind that we were/are good parents, we never gave up on our children we stuck it out with them no matter how bad things got, we were not perfect parents (who is) but we did try to do right by them. Of course, it is a nasty kick in the teeth to be abandoned, and hard to look out the window on these kinds of days to see the neighbors with lots of cars in the driveway and overflowing to the street and seeing their family members piling in and out grandchildren of all ages going running around all excited and happy to be there. (tears) But I know not everyone is going to be in one’s life for one’s whole life. I have decided to be happy for my neighbors they get the happy rewards at the finish line but we crossed the finish line too. We did make it and we may not have new memories to cherish but we do have good memories to hold dear to our hearts. We have proof in our photo albums that we were good parents and our children have decided for whatever reason that we are no longer needed or wanted in their lives. I still pray for them daily, but I also keep this in mind, “Their lives are their own, we take no blame for it.”
    Hugs to all who need it from one broken heart to another, we are still good people.

    Sincerely,
    Michaelle.

    Reply
    1. Teri A.

      Thank you for this post. It’s also been 7 yrs since I seen my son and a grandson who is 7. These days are heartbreaking for sure but I also have all photos etc to show I was a good mother. Unfortunately a girl came into his life and he doesn’t have a backbone and shame on him.
      My heart goes out to fathers today but tomorrow will be a better day! ❤️
      Teri A

      Reply
      1. Sara B.

        Teri A.,

        I have the same story. I never thought he could be so easily manipulated, it is so sad he had to give up a loving set of parents to please her. At times I feel sorry for him, but he is an adult.

        Reply
  11. Dianne

    Sheri, thank you for sharing. I am currently reading your first book Done With The Crying. My eldest daughter has been going in and out of my life since she was a teen. She is now 52. This last time, I guess I said enough. Since my sister shared you with me and your book, I am trying to have more “acceptance” vs all the crying and asking myself what did I do, and what could I have done differently this time so she did not go. But, I want to be done with that. I am elderly. And, I need to start living. Besides I have another daughter who needs and deserves my love. Thanks for sharing Sheri and for the opportunity through your newsletter etc to not feel so alone.

    Reply
  12. Diane M.

    Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads out there! If you are estranged, it’s not your fault. I’m sure any one of us would be willing to listen to our adult kids if they told us their version of the estrangement. But many times they just don’t, and are silent. But our lives must go on. We were there for them and now it’s our time to create new, happy lives just for us. We deserve it. Plus, life is way too short.
    Enjoy your special day in your own way.

    Reply
  13. John G.

    Thanks for your work on this newsletter and its many poignant articles. My son and his family (my five grandchildren) and been estranged from us for almost two years. One of the first things I did during this period was to read “Done With The Crying” and several other books by other authors. As painful as this period has been, your work has helped me realize one good thing and one bad thing: the bad thing is that there will be no magical end to this estrangement; the good thing is that life goes on and at age 68, I still have plenty of life to live without my son and his family.

    Reply
    1. Ruthie L.

      Well written, John! I share similar circumstances with you (estranged son + 5 grands in another state) although I’m a bit older & have been dealing with this for almost 10 years. As Rumi says, life is a balance of letting go and holding on, and learning how to let go of an unhealthy relationship with my own (& only) child has been the hardest job of my life as a single parent. My goal is to get past forgiving and into compassion and trust God to work it all out his way, regardless the outcome. Those are the toughest lessons I keep having to learn!

      Reply
    2. Lee P.

      Hello John. i was looking to see if another Dad is going thru this. Father’s day was tough but I made it thru again. it’s been five years for me. Looking back I almost let it destroy me. I turned to Christ to find peace. i beat myself up for 2 years trying to understand why. i know everyone’s circumstances are different. i have the ability to move forward. Although, holidays and birthdays are brutal. i don’t see many dads going thru this. God bless!

      Reply
  14. Angela

    Sheri, you always send a email right at the moment I need one. To give us all stories that we are not alone with our children who have chosen or we have had to make the choice of no contact.

    Reply
  15. Katherine N.

    My daughter has been estranged for over 2 years now. I feel so sorry for her, that her heart is hardened against her own Mother. I still cannot figure out what I did wrong and I gave her everything I could. She is missing time in our relationship that she will never regain. Life is so short and we don’t know when our last day is here. I wish I could talk to my parents but they both have passed. What makes a daughter think this way ???

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      Katherine, I understand your pain, my husband and I have been estranged from the daughter for almost the same time. Our daughter wrote (word processed) a letter to my husband and I, had it FedExed overnight to us her parents. It was a scathing condemnation of us as parents. According to her we are emotionally abusive, verbally abusive, etc., and she said she was severing all ties with us. We had just seen her several weeks before at her home and things seemed fine- even said I love you as I left her home. Long story short, my husband has tried many times to communicate with her. One time she called him, after he requested a call, and said she would “think about” having a relationship with us. On Mother’s Day I did not hear from her, my husband texted her. She wrote back, I will not be controlled. Talking to or texting your mother on Mother’s Day is control?? I hadn’t spoken to her or communicated with her for a year and a half!!
      Don’t be fooled, Sheri is right when she says this is called emotional abuse. And it is also elder abuse. I will not stand for it. Oh, and we have not been able to see our only grandchild for all of this time. Even though we cared and nurtured him and grew attached to him the first two years of his life. Extremely painful…
      I too say, how could a human being (the daughter), be so very cruel, so abusive and detached from her own parents?

      I question who she is as a person now, and not sure that I even want a relationship going forward with a human being that could be this cruel and heartless. Sometimes I wonder, am I wrong to feel this way?

      Reply
      1. Sara B.

        Elizabeth,

        So many similarities in our stories. I, too, wrestle with the question, why would I want a relationship with someone who has shown so much cruelty to us? The longer the estrangement goes on the more I realize I don’t want one. What I want is the person he was before, long before the estrangement happened and that person doesn’t exist anymore. I am practicing acceptance, trying not to keep figuring out what makes no sense to me. Most days are good, it’s always the holidays that throw me off center.

        Reply
      2. Jane M.

        We have been estranged from our daughter and our granddaughter for 5 years. She has us blocked by phone and online. My husband is currently undergoing testing for Leukemia. We notified our daughter and have not heard anything from her this far. It hurts bad. We don’t even know what we supposedly did wrong. I can’t believe how heartless she’s become. I feel for any parents dealing with this situation. It is definitely abusive.

        Reply
        1. Sarah

          Hi, Jane. I have a similar situation. My daughter decided I was not good enough for her when I did not obtain permission to go to Hawaii to celebrate my birthday. Keep in mind, no birthday card from her or even a phone call for my birthday. Anyway, she decided her grandfather, aunts, uncle’s etc. on my side of family are not worthy as well. My father, her grandfather was diagnosed with leukemia. She doesn’t have the time of day for her only living grandparent. My father loves his grandchildren and great children. She denies him any contact with his great grandchildren. He is heartbroken just as I am. He doesn’t understand what is going on as well. My point is our children are only hurting, emotionally abusing their children by denying grandchildren and great grandchildren the opportunity to know their grandparents and great grandparents. How sad! This world has gone crazy. These children are narcissistic, feel entitled, have no respect for their elders let alone their own children.

          I wish all fathers and grandfather’s a Happy Father’s Day! Remember, the good old days. How simple life was back then.

          Perhaps there’s too much technology and our grown children are totally clueless how to socialize. They only know how to text! And, be cold hearted and cruel.

          Reply
          1. candleinthewind

            Actually, I think it works both ways. Estrangement has caused havoc for me in terms of family socializing because loyalties are now divided, trust and confidence have gone out the window. Misunderstandings, underhand tactics and embarrassment have been substituted. It’s a mess that seems to get messier. For me, I’m happier being alone in nature or wherever, with strangers or chosen family.

    2. LA T

      My heart breaks hearing this. It has been two years for you and nearly 10 years for me. I have seen my daughter only three times in ten years…And spoken to her on less than a handful of occasions when she calls to ask for money. She has a college education, rode horses her whole life, an accomplished young woman who could marry a prince with her elegance, beauty and fun demeanor. We were extremely close as a family her entire life and then she met a Venezuelan immigrant whom she married. Ten years ago. That was it. It in many ways at first was worse than the death of a child because they are gone entirely from your life but we know they are still there…Sheri’s book woke me up and I work so hard at making every day positive. She now has cut off her Dad because he has stopped handing money to her. So I will pray for you that the future gifts you with courage and peace as that is as I see it 2 necessary elements of coping…For me I Have to focus on the positive as this is beyond devastating…however thank
      God we are blessed with a son 2 years older who loves us and stops by every single day…We do grieve as a family and I feel awful that she is not in our son’s life at all now and they were so close…again, focus on the positive. I say like you, ‘What makes a daughter who has had the best family I think overthink this way…?’ It to me is cruel.

      Reply
    3. Carol Ashford

      Katherine: I understand as my daughter has chosen to eliminate me from her life too. Like you, I have no idea why. It has taken me awhile to accept her decision and to let her go with love. She is a grown woman and responsible for her decision although I wish it were otherwise. I was always a good, loving and supportive mother and I take comfort from knowing that I did my best and I release her to travel her own journey.

      Reply
      1. Carol Ann W.

        Carol, I think you have done the right thing, Like the Prodigal son one never knows when all at once they get older and see how things are not what they thought and realize what you did. If not, you still know you did your best and that is all one can ever do!

        Believe me I have been through it and am going through it now. But it is the way of the world. The respect we are to have for parents is not around any longer. But someday if they are parents, they may be shocked if it should happen m and we pray it never does as it hurts deeply, but it could. They may think they are good parents too and find out later how it works. Sometimes we need to learn the hard way. As my grandfather used to say ” The truth will come out even if the sun /Son a has to bring it out. One day we will know and they will also know more about the pain it causes and perhaps what is wrong with this world? It circles backwards often now. My parents were not perfect, and no one’s parents are perfect, but I felt that they were my parents, and parent in laws, and grandparents, and I loved them, and was there for them. Never dreamed of abandoning them when they got older and needed the help. Often children may be afraid of responsibility. Sometimes we need to be able to love unconditionally. But today we put “conditions” on that love. So, you my dear have done the right thing. They say, ” Hold a butterfly too tightly; and it will want to leave and fly way, and let go of it and it will often fly back and sit on your shoulder.” We know we have done what we can, and that is what we were born to do. They have life lessons they must learn too, One never knows for sure, but could happen. Unless they get lost in a life they chose. Ashamed to turn back, and we pray that is not it.

        Reply
      2. Lilo

        You are so right, Amy. I was rereading my journal from the past 2 years and saw the stages of grief . I have moved past that now and have released my son to his own path and life. There is so much beauty to be seen and life to experience. I don’t want to miss a single thing. We are blessed with two other sons that love us and want to spend time with us.

        Reply
  16. Pam

    Thank you Sheri
    Your words once again ring so true – do you even know how much your words can mean to a person at that specific moment in time? Thanks for being you Sheri Mcgregor
    P.s. tell Ken he’ll be ok – keep thinking of all we did

    Reply

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