Fathers of estranged adult children: You’re not alone

fathers of estranged adult childrenby Sheri McGregor

As Father’s Day rolls around again, many of you fathers of estranged adult children are holding hurt inside. For fathers of estranged adult children, Father’s Day can be a time of embarrassment and pain—yet those feelings aren’t necessarily discussed, or acknowledged. Many fathers keep themselves busy and don’t share their pain. Some ask, “What’s the use of talking about something you can’t fix?” Others, as I’ve learned in my research, want to stay strong for their partner.

Among the men in my book to help parents who have been hurt by a son or daughter’s estrangement is a man who saw the estrangement coming. He tried to protect his wife from the pain he knew her daughter would inflict. Another hid his pain behind his anger. These men are not so different from many of you. They’re similar to my husband, who found it difficult to hear me express my pain over our son’s estrangement—-because it was something he was powerless to fix.

Fathers of estranged adult children, when you share, I’m listening. If you haven’t filled in the survey yet, I hope you will. In my book, I’ve included A Note To Fathers that you can read also here

Meanwhile, don’t suffer in the run-up to Father’s Day, feeling as if you’re all alone. Many more women talk regularly in the support forum here at the site than men, but there are a few who have occasionally joined discussions. Recently, one father welcomed another to the group. Below, is a small excerpt of what that father said:

“The pain that you are feeling right now is so intense, so deep, so gut wrenching …I know..just writing to you at the moment I feel the hurt rearing its ugly head. But when you are so down, just lift your head and try to feel that we are all here for you, that you are not alone in this misery, that the bad moment will pass, that you deserve to LIVE your life from today onwards with your head held up high because you were the best father you could have been, not the ‘perfect daddy’ that your daughter expected.”

Whether or not you join the discussion, do as the welcoming father said, and “lift your head.” Thousands of parents read through the pages of this website every month. You are far from alone.

When Father’s Day arrives, remember, it’s your day. If you need to stay in on Father’s Day, and avoid the reminders or the happy family crowds, then honor that need. Today’s streaming TV options can prevent the flow of family-centric commercials that remind you of loss and make you feel like the odd man out. If you have loyal sons and daughters, allow them to honor you as you wish—don’t agree to an outing if that’s not what you want to do. Take-out brings your favorite restaurant into your own home.

For more about Father’s Day for estranged adult children, read my article: What About Father’s Day for Fathers of Estranged Adult Children? That article also includes tips for the people who love fathers of estranged adult children on Father’s Day–so if you love a man, a father who is estranged from an adult children, perhaps you can help that father feel at ease.


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5 thoughts on “Fathers of estranged adult children: You’re not alone

  1. Gene

    This message is for other fathers reading this post. Have any of you found yourself being judged/compared to your in-laws? It’s happened to me…twice! Our sons (ages 32 and 34) both married young women that came from a more advanced socioeconomic level. Both of my daughters-in-law’s fathers were dedicated to their work, were studious, reserved, humorless…and emotionally distant. These traits are in direct contradiction to me as I am very outgoing and social. I also like to joke and laugh and I follow sports. One DIL decided this wasn’t “normal” and forbid/convinced our son to cut all contact with his entire family as we are “beneath” them now. No one in our extended family has seen or heard from him in 8 years. I have never been able to bond with the other DIL as we have zero common interests. In addition, she lost her father a few years back and is resentful that I’m still here while her father is not. She never visits or speaks with any of us although she has not yet been able to convince our other son to abandon visiting us 5-6 times a year (we live 120 miles apart) or from calling us once or twice a week. I’m not sure where I went wrong on this journey but I’m powerless to fix it which I would do in a heartbeat if I could. It hurts.

  2. Estranged Dad

    Times, roles expectations, etc. all changed radically in the U.S., from when we were minors in the 60’s and 70’s, and our children were minors in the 90’s and 00’s. I can address my personal reaction to becoming estranged as a sort of typical reaction to any shock. After 4-5 years, disappointment gave way to acceptance, which itself feels to have morphed into a sort of…gratitude. None of us are immortals. I didn’t choose this state of affairs nor the gaslighting that led up to it. Freedom came with the price charged- and ultimately / eventually, I have paid it in full. To say “good riddance” would honestly be both trite and callous -yet now, an understatement- and that has become my hard truth.

  3. William K.

    I have been estranged from my children for nearly 11 years ever since the divorce from their mother who filed the divorce. I’m deeply saddened by what the separation of each of my 3 children has brought upon me. During the past 4 years, my daughter started communicating to me by text. Although this was a good sign and it appeared to be something worth of healing, we both continued to text off and on during the past 4 years. I was happy and felt that at least one of my children was on the road of recovery. Recently, she abruptly stopped communicating by texting and will no longer answer my text messages. My other two children (son’s) have not communicated with me at all since the divorce 11 years ago. I feel that my former spouse (mother of my children) has a large part of this estrangement.

  4. Trudy

    My son, age 34 stopped his relationship with his Dad a year and 1/2 ago. I am so hurt, because when the opportunity comes up to vist me in Pittsburgh my son won’t becasue his Dad is her. My granddaughter is 5 and grandson is 10 months. My granddaugher would love to visit us but has been told it is complicated. We want to see her but my son won;t let her because my son doesn’t want his Dad around her. Our son feel his Dad was not financially supportive of the family growing up and does not respect him as a provider. My sons is a father now and see what it takes to raise children and keep up a household. My sons does not
    want his Dad at his house or to even see the children in his home city. How do I cope with the pain my husband is feeling not to see his granddaughter yet alone meet his only grandson that I saw the week he was born and every few months since. The pai n is unbearable at times and makes me feel I need to fix this, but my sons contuinually tells me to STOP, and he is done!!! I am so hurt.

  5. Bob L.

    My now 17 yr old daughter is not very interested in coming to see me (her mother walked out on the marriage 5 yrs ago). The mother took my then 15 yr old son and 12 yr old daughter. My son seems OK witih things at this point (he’s incollege) but the daughter is very difficult; quiet and secretive with me. She never wants to eat at my house, wants nothing to drink,etc; I have asked every time to check, without much for positive results. The mother is not helpful to me, and most peole aware of this situation tell me it’s sounds like the mother’s fault. I still own and live in the house they were born into, while the mother has moved 3 times with them. I am thinking of selling teh house and moving, but feel that I would uproot their memories, so I’m loathe to do it. I just don’t know how to get my daughter into a more positive relationship with me.


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