Fathers, on an adult child’s cutting-off

adult child's cutting-off

by Sheri McGregor

This week, as the third Sunday in June rolled near, you probably faced comments and questions that, although completely normal, were awkward. A co-worker’’s, “Have a great Father’s Day!” may have made you want to crawl away and hide. Or, you may have been asked about your plans and wished your phone would ring so you could be saved by the bell. Those moments may have been worse because you were already thinking about the day set aside to honor you and wondering whether you would hear from a wayward kid, and if you did, how you should respond.

Even though you may be wondering these things, I only directly heard from one father this week. I know a lot of you don’t feel comfortable sharing your pain about an adult child’s cutting-off. I can respect that. Even so, your quiet strength doesn’t make your pain any less real, maybe especially on this day.

Although I don’t hear from a lot of you directly, some of you do share your feelings in reply to my surveys. The original one has nearly 50,000 responses to date. Here are just a few of the comments written by fathers, grouped by subject. Maybe seeing just these few will help to know you are not alone in your feelings.

An adult child’s cutting-off: Inexplicable and sad

  • “I worked hard to give my daughters a better life. They’re both very successful now, but the oldest hates us. She calls us materialistic, but to make sure the girls had what they needed, my wife and I went without.”
  • “My son and I had a good, communicative relationship, and I actively tried to afford him as much privacy, respect, and support he needed. I’m not a perfect father, but I am struggling to understand why, suddenly and without explanation, he would totally sever ties with me.”
  • “The years are passing. I keep photos of my adult children and my grandchildren on my lounge wall, I guess to reflect on, and to feel some attachment. I have tried numerous times in the last several years to arrange to meet up. They will say yes, but there is always an excuse of ‘being too busy at the moment’.”

Fathers on how an adult child’s cutting-off
affects their other relationships

  • “Periodic mood changes related to negative feelings over our son’s rejection have stressed my current marriage. It makes it very difficult to be my whole self when interacting with my not-estranged child. My parents, who are not estranged from my son, also struggle because they aren’t sure what they should tell me about him and how he is doing.”
  • “Tough on the marriage at times although we agree on the situation and I don’t know how much to burden my other son with it.”
  • “I have a strong relationship with my other daughter. But sometimes I feel like I walk on eggshells for fear I will do something to push her away. I know that’s not likely to happen but I worry.”
  • “I don’t trust people anymore, so spend my time alone.”

Why fathers don’t talk about an adult child’s cutting-off

  • “It is difficult to explain. I worry no one will understand, and I will be negatively judged.”
  • “Even people I’ve known my whole life don’t know what to say. My brothers change the subject. Other people tell me it’ll change. After 14 years, I don’t think that’s going to happen. The pat answers only show me they don’t understand. ”
  • “Fathers are scrutinized. People suspect us of doing something horrible. That’s even when one of my two daughters still has a good relationship with me and is on a good path. If one child goes astray or won’t talk to you, then people automatically judge.”

Although fathers (and mothers) have a difficult time talking to other people about an adult child’s cutting off, there are more parents facing this than you might think. And opening up, allows other people to also share, as this father relates:

  • “I can only talk about it when someone else tells me they’re going through it. Then I feel safe.”

Dear fathers, you’re not alone in your feelings. I hope that you will leave a comment to this post and share with other fathers suffering an adult child’s cutting-off. Your first name is all that’s needed, and your email address won’t show up with your words. You can help one another by opening up, and also by sharing how you’ve managed your pain.

Hugs to you all, and Happy Father’s Day.

Related Reading:

Fortitude doesn’t mean going it alone

Father’s Day when adult children turn away (includes links to past father’s day articles)


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72 thoughts on “Fathers, on an adult child’s cutting-off

  1. Steve R.

    My wife and second daughter (16) have just survived – and survived well, despite the COVID lockdown – 3 years of our elder daughter (now 20) cutting us off, although she knew well that I was ready to help her move out when she wanted to, and was also welcome to stay into adulthood. There was no blow-up, she just didn’t come home from a visit to my wife’s mother’s house one day. Luckily my wife and I have analysed her childhood and our parenting time and have unquestionably identified my mother-in-law as the source of our family’s problem.

    But last weekend our 16-year old, despite having the same freedoms, having seen what her sister’s actions did to us (and to her), having promised me not to leave us without warning. suddenly moved to her sister’s apartment in town and cut us off too. For the first day all we knew was her lie she had gone to visit a friend, and we had to report her missing to the police, who phoned her and discovered where she really was.

    Both are calling themselves by boys’ names, although neither ever had any gender problems or signs of unusual gender beliefs until after they cut us off. They have no reason to suppose we would have made life difficult for them if they had announced these changes, because they never tested our love but just vanished. Both have always seemed healthy empowered females and we have accepted whatever sexuality they manifested. Kids these days seem to feel more free to have same-sex or both-sex relationships, and we think this is great because love is love wherever you can find it. Their only mental problems have been social anxiety, and that the older sister tended to keep the younger down, taking up more space and attention, so the younger was only able to blossom after the older left.

    Naturally my wife and I are shocked, but since we have a clear idea who caused this misery we are managing not to blame ourselves and are gradually picking up the slack time and new freedom to enjoy our empty nest. TIme will tell if our younger child’s school makes any progress with reconciling her, but seeing as she has apparently been groomed and coached by her older sister i don’t expect anything.

  2. William

    Where does one even begin? When you have no idea what the problem is, and he will not tell me, then how is one supposed to “fix” things or know why how the whole estrangement started? He was literally my best friend and one that I thought would never ever leave my side emotionally, but here I am. The issue started a few years ago whenever a woman came into his life, and just like that, he changed overnight. They recently wed and instead of gaining a Daughter-n-Law…..I lost my Son. Haven’t seen him in the flesh for almost 5 years. Asking to visit (before he cut-off communication) or have them come visit was brushed off and excuses made. He once asked if there was anything I needed (this was before I was having surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon) and I said “yeah there is. I want you to make time for me so I can come visit”. His reply? “I heard you loud and clear”. WTH kind of response is that? So here I am 2 Father’s Days Later and nothing. No calls, texts….NOTHING. The pain is beyond any hurt I have felt in my life. He is my only Son, and about the only thing I have remotely done right in my life. His Mother and I divorced whenever he was young, and only when he reached his 30’s has there even remotely been an issue. I fear that I will never see or talk to him again, and the mere thought makes me break down and cry. What is one supposed to do????? Pain is immeasurable…..

    1. Erin

      I am so sorry for your pain and loss, William. I also lost my son when he got married. There was no room for us after that. I suppose if we wanted to be controlled we would have been thrown a couple of bread crumbs a year but, that’s not what we deserved. My biggest fear is that he will only come back because they need financial help and once they get what they want, they’ll be gone again. Take really good care of yourself. Time is a great healer. Sheri’s book is a really good guide towards healing.

  3. Portland Neil

    When someone does something rotten to someone else, I guess it’s human nature for person A to vilify the victim so allay any guilt. Or is this just what I’m used to? My ex ended our marriage with an affair. Yet she still is out for revenge. (my supposition without any other clear motive). My daughter married and moved into the lot behind my ex. I was cut off and my son went along. They’re both in their 30s now. I have two grandchildren. I was able to see the first up until she was 6 months old. She just turned 5. Didn’t even know of the grandson who is now a year old. It’s cathartic in its own little way to know I’m not alone since I’ve experienced a lot of what others have.
    I’m wrestling with a dilemma. There are two people who still have contact with my family but are unwilling to advocate on my behalf. And I resent it. But then again, it wouldn’t do any good and they may fear they’ll suffer the same ostracism.
    There are people who just like to be mad. My daughter’s husband is one. After the baby was born, I texted (which is the only way I was allowed to communicate) “I’d like to see the baby tomorrow.” This text made them mad. No amount of explanation would sway them from their perception that I was overstepping. They read it as “I’m coming over tomorrow and I don’t care what you have going on”. And it went downhill from there.

    1. Carrie-Ann

      Some things are just downright “evil”…which is incomprehensible to kind decent souls…With these toxic beings, be careful what you wish for…Be Grateful for the Mercy & Peace that their not being in your life truly is…”GOSO”…”Get Out & Stay Out”…Live in your Grace & Decency…Keep Safe Boundaries…Regulate emotional thinking…Be Well & Happy!!
      All My Love To All…C.A.

  4. Doug H.

    I was born on Father’s day. So my birthday always coincides with the day that became extra special when I became a father of my own. This year my birthday is on Monday, the day after. I am to call this “Dad’s week” a time that my adult children always made sure they celebrated with me. So the estrangement that happened four years ago seemed to have double the pain, if that was possible. And yet, this year hasn’t ben as overwhelmingly painful as in years before. Over those years I came to see that, misguided or not, my adult children were also suffering. I believe that they are carrying immense pain of their own. I still love them so my greatest hope is that they will be able to process and let go of their own pain and anger, hopefully in my lifetime if not theirs. Concentrating on the perspective that it takes enormous pain and anger for them to keep the evident grudge that they have inside them seems to have fostered at least some compassion in my heart for them and their life’s journey. That compassion for them has seemed to lighten my own pain, at least a little bit. Maybe, just maybe, my own compassion for their pain will somehow reach them across the karmic air waves and help them release that anger of theirs. Some may find this naive. I have not forgotten, nor will I ever forget, the pain of being chopped out of their lives, especially the “magic moment” of finding out they de-friended me on Facebook (how modern!). I was always a loving father. I still feel I am when I pray for their healing even more than I pray for my own.
    PS. The best advice from Sheri was to make sure I lived my own life. I am. This morning my beloved partner threw her arms around me in a big hug and told me she loved me… even though, before coffee, she forgot it was my birthday. What a great start for a Happy Birthday to me! And, I have to add that my partner and I just hired a tradesman that knows my son-in-law, something that we found out accidentally in conversation. I now know something more about my daughter’s life, and she knows something more about mine. Maybe a small thing but nice to know, very nice actually. A little bit of birthday cake in a way. And, on Friday I saw a young man who looked so much like my son I circled the block three times just to double-check (without him seeing me). I believe it was my son. My reaction inside was that my heart was still filled with love for him. That also felt wonderful. Little blessings seem to go a long way!

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Doug,

      Happy birthday! It’s good to hear you are able to find these gifts!

      You are not alone in your feelings of caring and compassion. No, it’s not wise to forget to the point of excusing bad behavior (and accepting it again) but it’s kind to realize they may be carrying immense troubles of their own. We are mom’s and dads! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Hugs to you.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. KE

      Happy belated birthday, Doug! I am new this experience and it is helpful to ready what you shared. Thank you!

  5. Melanie

    My husband was the first to “get over it”; it took me much longer. He said he saw their behavior long before it really manifested itself by total silence nearly 7 years ago. We are blocked from social media by both, but I have a way of seeing some of the FB posts. The “Marriage and Family Therapist” posted three different memes about how painful Father’s Day can be for children who have somehow had bad fathers. I realize that they have to lie to justify the behavior they are exhibiting towards us. but my two children had relatively privileged childhoods; cars, video games, assistance with college expenses, co-signing loans and rent leases. We gave them monetary and emotional support which many of their friends did not have. Many of their friends did not have fathers present in their lives. It seems that just because we had some rough patches in our marriage (we sought professional counseling), that they would have been better off if we had divorced. We recently celebrated 50 years together, 48 of marriage. Imagine what “pandemic lockdown” would have been like if we had not had each other for support. These two ungrateful adult children would probably have deserted us either way. We did not let them destroy our relationship — trust me they tried to encourage a divorce more than once. At least we have each other and I tried to make his day enjoyable despite their behavior.

  6. Dakotah

    After reading several of the comments above I always like to remember that old adage of ‘you can’t pick your parents’. Being a parent who has ione estranged child I always said ‘you can’t pick your children’. When they’re born It’s often a throw of the dice as to how they’re going to turn out. There are so many influences out there. I think society is still battling the concept of nature versus nurture. Being an honors psychology graduate, I know that genetics Is plays a major role in the formation of our children’s minds. That being said it gives me little comfort and doesn’t take away the pain. I’m sorry I cannot give anyone else any comfort in this area as I have no answers to my own situation. I can say though with much knowledge that life always seeking balance, we don’t get to have everything we want at the same time. We have to deal with the Yin and the Yang of life. What gets me through the day is I had to sit down and say to myself that at least this child Is happy, healthy and safe. They are in a solid relationship with a great spouse, they are in good health along with tbe spouse and that my grandchildren are being taken care of properly. I know she’s happy because my other children who are not estranged, tell me so. I feel like I have to be reasonable and call attention to the fact that this child’s life could be so much worse… I’m thankful for this child being happy and well adjusted in life. I am convinced that tbere are some types of children who outgrow their families and the only way they can survive is to move on. Others may feel that their sense of independence is jeopardized so they make the move and cut ties.

  7. Anna

    Hi Sheri,
    Thx for these articles on a day like today.
    I am a step father of an adult strange son, which makes it even more difficult to see the pain and suffering that this has done to the woman. Love and our entire family. Not only is he keeping his self estranged but he has also taken away two precious grandchildren that we had a bond with that was unbelievable. We have missed two Christmases. Multiple birthdays for everyone in our family and we are not allowed to send anything or have any contact. Everyday it gets harder now that we are both retired at a young age. We try to stay busy to ease the pain but as soon as we are done doing what we do we go back to feeling the pain again. The bad part here is the relationship I had with him was great until he met someone who did not like my wife (His mother). It was snide remarks on her end for the last ten years and my wife always took the high road when she could.
    Thank you for giving us this newsletter to vent as I need support to because I am trying to be strong for my wife but I have my weak moments because Inlive him and those kids.
    (Don/Anna’s husband)

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Don,

      You and your sweet Anna just keep doing new, fun things. Do them more often with less time in between. Make a pact to NOT return to the pain in those down times. Enjoy your lives and your early retirement!!

      HUGS to you and Anna,
      Sheri McGregor

  8. A

    A little off topic this father’s day but it is important for all parents to know that their only fault
    was to accept the gift of having children. Four years after I was widowed from my kids Dad (married 41 yrs), I got a final “email” with the attached doc requesting no more contact. Three pages of accusations and innuendo that actually made me fold in anguish. Unless a person has experienced this level of pain they could not possibly know how it feels. I was utterly destroyed! My identity as a mother and grandmother was deleted. For five years afterwards every minute of every day was occupied by my son and daughter. What did I do? Where did I go wrong? Was I really a bad Mom? How could I have improved their experience as children? How did I not know how they felt? Was I not paying attention? Truly I beat myself up for those years then one day I realized I didn’t do anything wrong at all. I did the best I could do yet even now wishing I had done more. More listening, more everything. On any level they would have found an excuse to stop contact. They were looking for an excuse and used childhood to justify their own bad behavior. My daughter in particular wanted me to be punished and have repercussions for my wrong doings. These were her rigid words. Well she achieved her goal because like I said five years of agony and no contact with any of my grandchildren. The day the no contact letter arrived all
    their photos came off the walls and dressers. They are neatly put away and from time to time I do look at them. In every photo they both seemed happy. I no longer have reminders of them in every room of the house. It is healthy to put photos away. No more guilt, fear or belittling of myself. The best advice I ever got was this ” You have a choice to move forward or backward but you cannot do both at the same time”  Best of luck everyone and to the Dad’s happy father’s day and give yourselves a pat on the back for doing the best that you could do!

    1. Janice R.

      Don’t even know where to begin, but thank you for your honesty. I have two adult daughters who are extremely successful. I was a struggling single mom, with a narcissistic mother who turned my children against me, then got married & later divorced. My ex-husband’s family also indoctrinated my children to hate me. I saw my youngest daughter last week, first time in about 8 years. I retired from the airlines. She flew free & went to many places. Then after she traveled the world, she had no more use for me. Often times she even flew first class. I was only used for free travel privileges. When I saw her last week, she didn’t even talk to me. She lives over a 1,000 miles away. She came see my oldest daughter last week. Relatives came & spent 3 1/2 days. I was only invited to spend several hours over there. She hugged & kissed everyone there, but totally ignored me. I had to leave their house because I couldn’t take the rejection. I had a total meltdown & she knew it & didn’t matter to her. My other daughter only keeps me around; not because I’m family, but rather I’m treated like “The Help”.

    2. Gary M.

      Thanks for sharing. We need to release them and let it be. We did our best! Easier said than done. It is almost like some kind of hereditary trait that we have no control over

  9. Mark

    I am a father of only one child. Now estranged son. My ex caused his estrangement. Yet he was 14 at the time and is responsible for his actions. He belittled me and treated me like an ATM machine. He lied to the divorce court about me. I fled to the other side of the country. I am happier now. I think about him less and less. I never want to see him again. I have peace. I did not realize today is father’s day.

    Like others have said about the experience, I am closer to God now and have a better undersanding of how God feels when I look to God only when I need something. I am also now more proactive in leaving/minimizing relationships with people who behave inappropriately to me or to others.

    1. BONNIE

      Sometimes toxic interaction with a child is worst than having no interaction at all, I was also an ATM machine and when that need was no longer there, tossed aside like an used furniture. I also fled the other side of the country recently and trying to collect myself. The problem sometimes is our society itself, people keep asking me about my background , children and why I moved etc, Just want to be left alone at this moment, until I find my new normal. Ideal relationship is sometimes a mirage and I ran after it all my life.

    2. Sharon

      Mark, I am sorry. I too have an estranged son that was influenced by my ex as my ex began his sordid affair in 2012. I had no clue as to what was happening, but, post divorce actually read about a covert narcissist using a child as a “pawn” against the other parent. Even though I have an explanation, I still am no contact. I still cannot actually believe that my son was so malleable knowing the wonderful relationship that we had prior to this. Some of the things that this son has said about me are not only ridiculous, they could not be further from the truth. Yes, my son is an adult and he is married with a son (whom I have never met). I place the blame on my ex, my son and his wife, all for allowing this to happen. Living in the truth is the only way!

  10. john b.

    wow..just what I needed. thank you all for the comments and for the initial email. I slept late and wish I could have stayed asleep. youngest and I have been texting some but I have become so guarded I don’t dare ask to see him and not sure how I’d react if he suggested it. It’s been over 15 years with the oldest son. no in person at all and only two brief written contacts. I feel sad, empty as I am sure many of you do. but your comments/suggestions have helped. peace and love to all.

    1. john

      edit..youngest son sent a text wishing me a Happy Fathers day. mostly thrilled but so bewildered. it’s like he wants a relationship but won’t/can’t. I know his mother and her Mom poisoned both of my kids but he is 30 now and I fell it’s on him at this point. With that said I know it is hard, without therapy, to re program ones mind. for the most part I feel more for him than I do for myself. He struggles in many aspects of his life. I have offered to pay for counseling for him. At one point I thought he was going to do it but then he balked. so hard to know what to say/offer yet not offend/alienate him more.

  11. Diane

    Reading all your comments. I adopted two older children, a boy, 6 from Korean, now 26 and a girl, from
    Vietnam, age 8, now 33, who is married with two boys. These two children totally destroyed my marriage of 30 years that we ended up divorcing. My son is a bad gambling addict and his father paid his $10,000 gambling debit without telling me (behind my back). The daughter, was doing a lot of inappropriate behavior with me when she was only 18. Going to the beach with her employer in his late 30s who had three children, then he went to prison. Any money she wanted by husband would give to her. One big argument was her prom dress. I wanted to give her $150 (back in 2003) and she pay the rest. Her father instead gives her our credit card. She buys a tangerine prom gown costing $500. Never having to repay. I was also dealing at the time with sick elderly parents and working full time with no help. They lived an hour from us. We ended up divorcing, stood friends for 5 years and then he died in 2014. The two estranged children never told me their father (my husband of 30 years) died. I found out three days later when his secretary called me at the office. They let there father’s body sit in a funeral home for 14 days. All the expenses ended up on me. My daughter did not even consult me where to take the body.

  12. B.

    It’s been 10 years of silence from my three. I have a small company and recently hired a guy whose child is estranged. My business has us work closely together and he chats about his situation at times, it’s pretty tuff on him. He recently got some texts from his child needing money. He about cleared out his bank account and sent it to her and then he gets no word back at all and he is crushed. I didn’t have the authority, or the ability to advise him to not send money. He is only three years into the estrangement and I’ve passed along a couple of books to him, this book and another. Having him come into my business life and hearing his story has been a bit of a blessing to me (and to him now that we talk more openly.) It makes me realize how far along I have come in getting my thoughts together about this nonsense. It’s also helped me to understand why there is no chance to end the estrangement. It helped me to understand how difficult it would be for my children, after being poisoned by my ex-wife, to be able to ever love me again. They have so many stories in their minds about me, that it’s impossible for them to love me. I’ve come to terms with that somewhat. I find that it seems my spirit (or something) misses the part of being a father that gives out life lessons. I can feel that part of me off-kilter and I find at times over-explaining things to folks. It’s like the Dad part of me is still in me and very alive and trying hard to find a way to be of help. Oh well. And now we have Father’s Day. I guess I won’t be going out today.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear B.

      I think your business associate was glad to see the dad part come out. You might be surprised how many people are truly grateful and happy to hear you explain some things! I’m sure you have a lot of knowledge to share.

      Hugs to you!
      Sheri McGregor

    2. G

      Thank you B for putting into words what my heart is telling me.
      My thirty something son has lived with his mother for approximately 20 years and has always felt distant from me. Lately he has exploded with such anger and hate for me. He blames me for everything in his life because I divorced his mother. Everything I say to him he says is a lie. I want to keep communication open in chance he changes. But I doubt he will.
      Thank you for sharing your story.

  13. Steve

    I have a daughter who has very little to do with me. It hurts beyond description. But I got to the point where I can’t live my life in that sadness 24×7. I think about the joys we had when she was more in my life, and take comfort in knowing I did a good job raising her and that she seems to be doing well as an adult. The rest, I try not to get down about. I can’t change it, so I just try to be happy despite.

  14. Douglas S

    This is my 8th Father’s Day since my daughter, now 27, abruptly cut off ties with me, as a result of my need to establish safe boundaries between myself and her mother’s toxicity. I know precious little about her life now, but have reason to believe she is married to someone who is a good person and who genuinely loves her. That knowledge gives me real peace, for I think a fundamental purpose of parenthood is to raise a future adult who is capable of happiness and of giving something back to the world in general. And in that sense I can see myself as a successful father while wishing her all the best. I cherish my happy memories of her childhood, I relish the chances to enjoy the adorable kids being raised by the younger parents who are my neighbors, and to focus on the many great joys I continue to have with my beloved and loving wife (who herself grieves the loss of a stepdaughter.) Life goes on for both my daughter and I, and perhaps goes on even better without us having a relationship.

  15. Michele

    I saw the email come in this morning, and I wanted to share with all the Dads out there perhaps a ray of hope on this Father’s Day.
    3 years ago, when I joined this group, my middle son was estranged and homeless. He had been living in a car in a Walmart parking lot with a girlfriend (who was bad news). With us, he had a home, meals, a family, even a job if he wanted it. He chose to sleep in a car and hustle people and starve. We hadn’t spoken in over a year, and the only way I knew if he was still alive was my tracking the movement of the cell phone we kept turned on for this exact purpose.
    Every attempt at communication ended with horrible, hateful rants about what awful people we are.
    His father and I were bewildered, and devastated.
    So we stopped trying to talk to him. And we started talking to God. (Following the example of my patroness, St Monica. )
    I prayed every day that God would send somebody into his life to lead him away from the dead-end life he was living and back to the family that loves him.
    It started gradually, with my husband reaching out to him to help with some summer repair work on the family cabin. He agreed. And by the end of the first week he told us he was thinking about leaving the girlfriend. We affirmed that decision (secretly screaming for joy inside!) The next week he started talking about plans to move in with a friend in another state and start his life anew. Again, we affirmed his decision and offered our help. And redoubled our praying.
    After about 6 months he shared with us that he had met a girl. We hoped, and prayed more. Our relationship was still strained. We walked on eggshells and sometimes went months without hearing from him. He moved in with the new girlfriend just as COVID began, and last August called, bursting with excitement, to share with us that they were expecting!
    We welcomed our first granddaughter in April, and I can honestly say that she has been the answer to our prayers. We spent 10 days at their home when the baby was born and our son was a new man. He was grateful and loving and thanked us over and over for “putting up with my shit for all these years”. We saw him being a good father and a good partner and a hard worker – and a good son.
    Even just one year ago I have to admit that I doubted of this was even possible. But today, I am so very thankful to have my son – and his beautiful daughter – in our life.
    So, this Father’s Day, I would say – have hope. Don’t live for that hope. Get on with your life and be happy. But keep the hope alive. And pray. Miracles do happen.

  16. Mimi

    Do you think God, our Father, is sad when we only call him (pray) when we need money or a favor? Do you think Father God is sad when we only think about him during holidays like Passover/Easter or Yom Kippur or Hannukah /Christmas?

    Should I use this terrible estrangement as an object lesson? God, our Father, has feelings too. Have I hurt him through my neglect of our relationship?

    Somehow, I now have a slightly better understanding of the mind of God. Thank you, LORD, for walking with me and comforting my troubled soul. I will rest in your Fatherly protection. Amen.

  17. Michelle

    Our son married a girl who decided that no one in his family would be a part of their lives. Our son did attempt to keep us in for a couple of years, however, the visits were always stressful for us. I always felt like I was treading on eggshells.
    We were a solid, loving family prior to this girl. I don’t talk about it anymore, as I would feel judged, and honestly, how could I possibly explain it to anyone willing to listen? They have three children who are completely missing out on some awesome grandparents. That part hurts me the most. Today is ( another) sad day for my husband. Prayers to anyone enduring this type of estrangement.

    1. Tracy

      Your words really resonated with me because my husband and I have been cut off from our youngest son. Over the last 10 years his contact had slowly been less and less, always with the excuse of being busy with work. This year just before Christmas he moved away with his girlfriend and didn’t leave a forwarding address. Other members of the family are still in contact with him and they do not know that he had moved and has become estranged from us. We are heartbroken about the choice he has made but we hope for reconciliation in the future.

    2. Mary

      My gosh, this is my story completely. It’s been 7 years since my son pulled away and I can’t imagine my young grandkids remembering us. He was my son and my best friend. I never would have believed this could happen to our family. Like you I keep it to myself. What kind of parent would be abandoned by their child if it was a loving relationship? THIS mother and father, that’s who! I know your raw pain and headache. Thank you for sharing. I still find it hard to believe, but find comfort that we’re not alone.

    3. Little sunshine

      I feel your story 100%. My son met this girl 1 1/2 year ago and our family relationship has been through so much drama over them. He has very little contact with us.. he’s become an “opportunist”, if we offer, they take! Our son is our only child, he was our pride and joy and he was such a great kid, now we don’t even recognize him and I KNOW she’s behind it. They are expecting their first child in September and they will be missing out on great grandparents as well. It’s everyone loss but I/we wait for this relationship to end…

  18. Michael

    It’s the second silent Father’s Day for me and my estranged (adopted) daughter. I helped raise her from the age of 12, nd played a major role in her development. Her biological father was absent early on and passed away when she was 13-, so I’ve really been the dad–at least up until divorce. Had I known that divorce would have ended the relationship with my only child, I might well have stayed in a marriage in which I was not truly accepted (much less valued) as a person. I’m figuring I was kind of screwed either way. My ex-wife was pretty clear when we got married: she didn’t want any more children. I was happy to raise our daughter as my own, and we never friends anything different. Now I feel like I lived a lie for 22 years; and maybe I just lied to myself. The estrangement is one of the most difficult parts of divorce. So for those of you in a similar situation: let’s keep our spirits up and hope for better days ahead!

    1. rparents Post author


      Thank you for sharing this perspective. Yes, you’re the dad! HUGS to you. I know that your post will make other dads in similar situations feel welcome.

      HUGS to you dear Michael!
      Sheri McGregor

    2. HurtDad

      I am in a similar situation. I met my son (adopted) when he was ten and my wife and I married 2 years latter. His father lived 5 miles away but was completely absent. I raised my son, and sent him to collage. I’ve always had trouble financially and I always supported him until he was 42. The. He cut me out. I do not think you lived a lie, but events turned that are beyond your control. It is hard on fathers day when your child hates you, but I am happy for all the good I have done in his life and hope he changes his feeling. My son suffers from anxiety and is bipolar so I pray he seeks help.
      Keep the faith

  19. Craig

    It’s 7A on Father’s Day 2021. This year marks 21 of these “special days” I won’t see or hear from my daughter. Oddly enough, there’s now a peace in that. I’m past thinking that thought is pathetic. It’s ok now. So we missed this time around. So be it. There are still many blessings to be had. Peace to all the dads out there that wanted something different. Life is good.

    1. Joe S.

      Thank You so much for sharing your thoughts and your strength in enduring! One of my sons sided with his mom after the divorce and my other son keeps saying ( by text ) that we have to get back together but I haven’t seen him in 4 years. I learned that self pity is being selfish and ungrateful for my two daughters and my grandsons . It is good to know that another Dad is staying strong and grateful

  20. Grace Gibbons

    My father abandoned me before I was born. My husband was a devoted father, the kind I wish I’d had. We are old hands at this, but it breaks my heart to see my husband half hope he’ll have a Father’s Day greeting. We have a daughter living overseas who goes out of her way to spend time with him, virtually, every day, especially special days like this. I am so grateful to have her in our life. I really so believe that we are not the only ones cheated out of rich, loving relationships; our estranged adult children have cut themselves off from the rewards of having us in their lives now that they are adults. The relationships change, deepen and widen. Too bad. Our loss, sure, but theirs, too.

  21. Lindalulu

    Oh and I find it fascinating that my guy took his family faithfully to church. Neither of his children go to church on their own. And I don’t think the ex wife attend anymore either. The children went to a private Christian school as well. And I thought they way he talked about them when we first met they were heaven sent that they’d accept me with no problems. I was badly mistaken and their treatment of me went downhill in a spiral motion. I don’t recall ever meeting two meaner adults as his. I did have a relationship with another man and his daughters were pretty bad. But one of them actually became friends with me on her time. The other one ,no , never she was like the wife.
    But his two adults will never change they don’t want to. I’m not looking forward to the day his daughter has any children that’ll be another drama filled event.

  22. Gracie2021

    Sheri, your e-mail this morning is so appreciated. My husband is reading your most inspiring words right now. I sincerely thank you for writing about getting out there and socializing. My husband has really “gone into a shell” and does not socialize like he once did. States he is happier being alone. Probably not, but that’s the way he feels. Your outreach sincerely helps this morning.

  23. Cynthia

    Happy Father’s day to all loving cans caring Fathers.

    While I can’t answer why a child may have left their family. I can only say in our situation we thank God for the time we had and pray for our child’s protection while she is away. We welcome her back with open arms should she one day choose to return.

    We walk in the light of the Lord and will not be made to feel anything short of being wonderful parents to our children. All raised the same with overwhelming love beyond words, provided for equally but one chose a different wayward path.

    On this Father’s Day Remember your title of a righteous, loving dad was well earned and can’t be taken from you. Enjoy your special day & God Bless.

    1. Allan B.

      Thanks for your words Cynthia. As a Christian family it has very difficult for us to see our middle son abandon us. He has stated he doesn’t like our conservative Christian values. Pretty tough when many of our Christian friends have the model children who can do no wrong. So two years now. Will try to see it as you say, valued parents who have a lost lamb.
      The Lord seeks out the lost so will never give up praying.

  24. Lindalulu

    I guess as a mom I might comment. The man I’m with has an adult son and daughter. Last weekend he spent time with his son as promised because he didn’t attend his graduation bc the college only allowed two tickets bc of covid. He didn’t want to sit next to her. He took son out to eat and then did an outside activity. All nice I guess. Whenever his daughter, late 20’s son early 20’s in age catches wind of him spending time with son she gets jealous and calls/ texts. She only predictable that way. Like clockwork she calls to talk about herself. But it made him happy. Then today texting about herself all day in fact about driving to Florida on vacation. But he mentioned we were enjoying the evening and crickets from her. He tried to engage me on her trip. Didn’t fall for it. I just said one day we’re going to go back to Florida and find another great Eatery like before or maybe go to Maryland for crab cakes. His daughter is married now and invited him wherever she moved to but not me. She’s very mean spirited and I stay far from her. She’s soured her husband towards me and I only met him at a funeral the grandpa. That’s another story that I don’t care to remember titled; when the ex wife came to grandpa’s funeral uninvited@, blah! But regardless, she found out he spent him with her brother and that’s all it was. Usually she will text it once wishing him Father’s Day. One time only the daughter/ husband each spent a card. But after the funeral drama no card was sent again. They chose how they want to be. Our children grew up to people of their own self identity. Now it seems people are people never looking back and nor feeling grateful. It’s all this self gratitude, self greed, self wanting thing. If a parent isn’t dishing out money they’re easily forgotten. And it’s ok we’re broke from raising them. We only have love and it’s of no value to them. When her car is done she’ll expect him to buy another for her and her husband to drive to Florida. It has to have 200 thousand miles on it by now. They bought a house not really making that much but not our problem. I don’t know if he went to her house yet. I’m sue she invited him over. It pains him she doesn’t invite me but I’m actually glad she doesn’t. Well I’ve been rambling . For him they cling to the mother she’s the victim always and they reject him the one who paid for cars, colleges, dorms and every essential thing they needed. The giver gets nothing the takers keep taking. Same with my children, two adult daughters. Both older. People who say They grow out of it are just plain lying . They don’t grow out of it. I haven’t seen the ones children ( my grandchildren) in 4/5 yrs now. Really suffered at first it put me in the hospital . Took me two years to get on my feet again

    1. Mary

      You wrote important words: “Our children grew up
      To people of their own self identity.”

      And ….”They ‘chose’ how they want to be”.

      To know the feeling, of giving money seems to buy attention.

      If an adult child is content when problems disappear regardless of parent going into debt, that is not a good relationship. May that bring you strength to be sure to cover your own expenses.


  25. Sandy P.

    Sheri, thank you for including and making this a special note for Father’s Day. I know the community is more female participation but I’m sure there are fathers who read the community news as well. It doesn’t matter your gender, estrangement from your child affects both but I’m sure in different ways given the nature of the hormonal gender. Rejection, cruelty, harsh accusations, it’s all one with an estrangement.
    Aussiemom (SSP)

    1. rparents Post author

      You’re right, Sandy, when you say, “Rejection, cruelty, harsh accusations, it’s all one with an estrangement.”

      Looks like quite a few fathers are commenting here, too. I’m glad they are sharing.

      Sheri McGregor

  26. Cindy M

    Both parents suffer loss, how poignant.
    I hope this next bit of info helps someone.
    -I am cutting off my daughter because I can no longer tolerate the abusive behavior. I was hopeful when she returned to our lives, but what has happened in the past 4 months is despicable. I am DONE. Sometimes self preservation has the greatest value. I have a disease and I am older… on that note women (and sometimes men) have bladder issues at this age.. I was told to hold it or drive to Lowes and was not permitted to use my daughters bathroom to urinate! ?? ! Four times she has done this to me ?Cruel behavior! Disgusting. To boot she never hesitates to stop in here for a potty break since she lives 35+ minutes away. We helped her move to Texas, the inhumane way I was treated was deplorable. I can no longer be around such people. The people I choose to call family do not have to be related to me.
    Are they KIND, I ask myself.

    1. Katherine

      You are not alone! I have finally resolved to never put up with my daughter’s abusive behavior again. I believe she is mentally ill, and she has had many opportunities to treat it, but since she is never wrong in her mind, there is no hope of treating it or of her healing. She periodically cuts me out of her life and my grandchildren’s lives and I always beg to come back regardless of her rages and cruelty. Not anymore. I have broken the dysfunctional pattern and set myself free. I am heartbroken over losing my grandsons and pray they don’t forget me. I am also very sure that they are damaged by watching how their mother treats her mother. I finally am confident that my health and well being are just as important as anyone else’s. Life is a gift and I will not squander my twilight years. Blessings to you, Cindy!

  27. Daniel

    It has been almost 15 years since I have seen my children …their choice and the constant negative conversations quite frankly, I don’t have any hope of repair. Yes when I think of them I get angry but then I realize the peace I now have from being away and cut off from their hate and anger instilled by their mother. It is on them at this point and I would not let them back into my space to cause that pain again anyway. I choose my family now, not burdened with those that cause me negativity

    1. rparents Post author

      Daniel, do enjoy your peace! I’m glad you don’t let yourself get stuck in the past (and in anger).

      HUGS to you!

      Sheri McGregor

  28. Doug K.

    My daughter is 25 and has lived with her mother for the last 8-9 years while estranging herself from me. She has only recently begun a job. Prior to that, she primarily lived her life in her home and online.
    I give myself some solace by reminding myself that my greatest wish is for her to have a good relationship with life…not me. Though I do see those things as potentially related.
    Also, at times, I remind myself that at least our relationship has some boundaries and independence (though to an extreme) whereas her relationship with her mother seems boundary-less and entirely dependent or codependent. Maybe, in a way, through estrangement, I am at least modeling some aspects of selflessness in parenting that could prove worthwhile.
    These are thoughts that comfort me a little.

  29. R

    I’ve endured 17 years of insults, disrespect, and lies from my adult daughter. I’ve seen every therapist, minister, monk, friend, and professional who I could talk to. Now my daughter has cut me out of her life and that of my grandchildren. She wants to split up my marriage. I’ve never seen an adult daughter who actively tries to split her parents…usually kids are trying to keep their parents together. I believe she needs mental health therapy, but she will never get it. In her eyes I am not good enough, and I am to blame for any and every problem she has, and no matter what I do it is wrong. I have sought therapy, prayed (given it to God) and now even learned to meditate. There are many, many days when nothing can mend my broken heart. It began affecting my physical health. I’m truly at the point where there is nothing more I can do. I feel sad for her, because I think when I am gone her own children will probably reject her as she has done me (Karma). Perhaps that’s what it is all about— perhaps this is a situation I must endure in this life—-one which I cannot make better—-but must simply understand, accept, and learn from. What is there to understand? That you can sacrifice your life for your children, give them a better life than you ever had—-and they can still hate you. But I do still love her, and I forgive her—-but I don’t ever see this situation changing. It’s just the way it is.

    1. Sue

      My daughter is also actively trying to destroy our 40 year marriage. After much research, this is the first instance I have read of a child doing this. It is so unbelieveable! We, too, believe she has a mental illness. I believe social media has influenced her in a very negative way. We helped raise twin granddaughters the first 4 years of their lives. We have not seen them for 2 years now. It is very sad. I am glad I found this supportive site.

  30. Tammy

    I didn’t have a clue when it happened to my ex-now it’s me and it hurts. Sending virtual hugs to all in this painful struggle. Father’s have the best day you can!

  31. PAUL M.

    I read something a week ago. I thought of myself and other Dads in this sad predicament. The article was relating what your children cannot take away from you: Grace, Strength, and Dignity. It may have been more aiming for the Moms, but I thought, what the heck, I’m going to use it. I think about my children and grandchildren often. I’ve come to realize some relationships are just plain toxic and rather than anguish with such from my children I will keep others who give me grace, strength, and dignity close. They are the ones who deserve my company.

    1. Betsy

      Jerry, I applaud your decision to utilize the site. If we were not told that you were a father we’d have thought them equally probable to be the words of a mother. I am a mother but in this situation it makes little difference. The profound since of loss and bewilderment is the same regardless. I believe something far greater—deeper is going on. And to have SO many who are impacted by this and yet none to turn to. It would be such a blessing just to be able to have a voice on the other end of the phone who knows exactly what it is like—to hear of the many ways in which this evil has manifested in their lives. I also feel that we might save lives because I can’t tell you how many times the worse has crossed my mind. I am strong however and have managed to continue living a fraction of the life I enjoyed with my only child.
      Mother’s Day was extremely hard for me AGAIN this year. I seem to fade a little more every day, as if I am very slowly becoming totally empty. Thinking of you today and all fathers of estranged children.

  32. JERRY C.

    I guess that I am an old hand at this curfluffel. I celebrate this day just changed the focus somewhat. There are kids in my neck of the woods whose fathers have left them behind. With their mothers approval I put a movie screen up in the driveway and invite them to come over to see a “drive in”. I’ll cook some hot dogs and burgers. The mom’s bring chips, dips, drinks, and endless bowls of popcorn. It has worked well for a number of “family” occassions and it is nice to be an adopted grandpa, or great uncle cowboy as some of the kids named me last Christmas.

    I will never understand why my youngest daughter went so far off the rails. But until she and my granddaughters come back to the ranch I can still be engaged with a larger family that chose to let me into their lives. It sure beats working in the barn by myself and crying on my horse because of the circumstances.

    So my brother from another mother it is okay to have the sniffles and be sick at heart. Talk to your minister about meeting up with a family without a dad. It isn’t the same but it is pretty close in my way of thinking. Good luck – just remember you are there for the kids, not a romance. Lol

    1. Ernie

      Hi Jerry,
      Thanks for your post. My wife and I host single parents who love us while my daughter has shunned my wife and I as we hold to a Christian worldview. It is interesting that other folks love you when your own daughter rejects you. Father’s Day was painful but praise God for the gift of faith.

  33. Jeffrey H.

    This modern estrangement (cursing) of parents is the fault of psychology being forced on everyone by Freud and Jung who were both haters of God as taught in the Bible.

    1. Sonia

      Oh, forgot to mention that I ran into another mom about 4 years ago whose daughter had stopped speaking to her because a school counsellor had advised her to.


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