A Note to Fathers

To the fathers of estranged adult children who have come upon my book, Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children

Fathers of estranged adult children often ask:

  • Why did you exclude the fathers?

To answer, here’s an excerpt from the book:

A Note to Fathers

You might wonder why I have chosen to direct this book to mothers. In the support forum at www.RejectedParents.NET, and among the thousands of parents who completed my survey, the vast majority are mothers. In fact, less than seven percent of my survey respondents were fathers. Of these, a great many ticked off only the basic, categorical answers, ignoring the empty boxes in which so many mothers poured out their sadness as they wrote in their stories. That’s why I have chosen to title and direct the book to mothers as the main audience—but that doesn’t mean this book won’t help you.

Women frequently report that their husbands aren’t as burdened by the estrangement as they are. It’s more likely that you handle your emotions in different, and perhaps more subtle ways. The fact is that regardless of gender, no two individuals are the same. We all process emotions and handle problems differently, based on a variety of factors such as personality, upbringing, and our particular history.

While the stories in the book are from the mother’s perspective, many of the examples are of couples, and include the experiences of fathers. Some passages directly highlight men’s reactions by using my husband’s emotions, as well as the reactions of other men. The principles presented are relevant to fathers, and the strategies for coping can be used by anyone.

Fathers, I hope you will reach out, and let me know how you used the book—and how I might better help you in the future.  ~~ –Sincerely, Sheri McGregor

Available through popular booksellers. Ask your local bookstore to order this book for parents of estranged adult children for you. Or order online at:
Barnes And Noble

Not in the U.S — you can still get the book. Ask your local bookstore, or order at Amazon.ca or Amazon.com/uk

One parent recently told me they appreciated the way the title was arranged. The subtitle is very small, so the subject matter isn’t obvious–making it easy to carry inconspicuously.

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28 thoughts on “A Note to Fathers

  1. Robert

    I am a father. I pretty much raised my son in a 20 year turbulent relationship with his mother. I stayed all those years to try to teach my son right from wrong and the importance of education. I tried to teach him that love has boundaries because without boundaries it’s just entitlement. Long story short I am dating a woman who pro claims to be a medium. She tells me that I have very very strong empathic abilities, and she calls me an empath, once I came to accept her proclamation, I realized why I took care of four dying relatives in my life and spent my life putting others first. Now, my son and I are estranged, and I have to say being an empathic person and dealing with your only child being estranged from you that you practically raised on your own is the most gut wrenching experience. A friend has told me the only way she deals with estrangement from her daughter , is she has to think of her as in jail or dead. I was shocked I couldn’t understand this, but I certainly do now because the pain is like being buried alive.

  2. Edmund C.

    I haven’t seen my children in over 12 years. You would think time would make it less painful. For me the pain gets worse everyday. Father’s Day is so bad I avoid going to the Supermarket when they put out all the cards.

    I know everything there us to know about severe parental alienation. I thought that would help but nothing helps. I used to think my life was perfect. Now I live a nightmare and there is nothing I can do to change it.

  3. newchapter101

    HAPPY FATHER”S DAY to all the fathers on this board .. May you be peaceful and well on this day.

    1. Stu

      Personally I think the reason fathers are left out is because nobody gives a damn about them. You can see this in family law, and pretty much right through society. We just ATM machines for family. We are blamed for everything . This of course is denied even by those who are doing it at the time. Whatever

      1. rparents Post author

        Dear Stu,
        As explained, fathers didn’t participate much in the surveys or communicate much with me–which is one reason the first book was directed toward mothers. Many fathers read that book, and it paved the way for them to be more open with me. Since then, I worked on the next book, Beyond Done With The Crying. I have heard from many fathers and include their stories in the book. Many fathers have found that second book very helpful, too, and it has opened up even more communications with dads. You may be right about some feeling that fathers are like ATMS, but they are important family members and much more than that. I am glad that you are valuing yourself.
        Sheri McGregor

  4. Mom of Hope

    Sherri, I can’t express how much I appreciate you and i know it has to be hard to deal with your own suffering but using your suffering to help us. I’ve been estranged from my 20 yr old daughter for 7 months. I have joined many part of the social media groups for estranged daughters. I freeze when I began to tell my story. It feels so painful and shameful. I feel like my emotions are like a roller coaster ride and I will wake up and it’s all just a bad dream. Christmas was just painful. Ofcourse, I have dissected every thing I have said and done since she was born. It feels like a death. It’s a involved situation and will possibly expand but just wanted to join the group because as you know it’s hard to not feel isolated or misunderstood.

    1. Cathy

      I’m with you. My daughter is about the age of yours. Do you feel particularly painful when you see other mothers of your daughters’ peers showing off their children coming home, saying happy birthday, happy Mother’s Day, greetings during the festive seasons?

  5. Ron k

    All well and good dialogue, tips, books on here, but exactly how as fathers DO we regain contact with our estranged children? Understanding what went wrong is somewhat helpful, but….

    How to? What to say?

    Any success stories that would help us formulate a plan or an approach?

  6. Brokenhearted

    Today is Father’s Day 2021. I have been divorced from my daughter’s mother for three years after our family dissolved two years before then. It was a long and painful marriage where my ex pitted my daughter against me. I know how flawed I am and the mistakes I made, but my daughter’s coldness still bites, especially today. I have to find a way to stop hurting.

    1. Mark N.

      Been divorced for ten years. Not long before we separated I realized what the x was doing, which was pumping our kids with venom. Turns out she had been badmouthing me for quite some time, and my son let slip something my x said to me privately. Moved out a week later. On the first “visitation” pick up, my twin girls (15 at the time) verbally ambushed me, saying EVERYTHING my ex said to me. Work for word. Verbatim. I knew I was screwed.
      Visits went well with my son for 5 years (girls were completely alienated). Trips, vacations, you name it. Loved the insight he had for his age. Kept me on my toes. At one point near the beginning he stopped staying with me on my weekends, and it took an entire summer of pick up/drop off visits to get this out of him.
      And I quote:
      “I was mad at you because I thought you were treating mom badly” (long after the divorce). I asked what made him think that. His reply didn’t surprise me a bit.
      Again, I quote:
      “Because all she does is complain about you, and that everything that’s happening there is all your fault”
      Three years after things were finished.
      I had to explain, in simple terms a 15yo could understand, that since I’ve moved out that I’ve had nothing to do with anything there, and that if there’s anything going on there, that I have absolutely nothing to do with.
      So I’ve been trash talked about for years prior to the divorce, and after as well. (No surprise) I took the high road and leave her out of anything we ever talked about.
      It’s coming up on ten years of radio silence from the girls, and three from my son.
      Miles of beachwalks letting the mind ponder everything to see if I could have done anything different, and I’ve come to the conclusion that while yes, I have my faults, foibles, and weaknesses, I’m human. One that’s made more than his share of mistakes. I’m far from perfect, but I try to do the best I can with what little I have.
      Still hurts like hell on occasions. Sucks but it is what it is. Trying to force it with any of them is counterproductive at best and evil at worst. So I bide my time till they figure it out.
      In the meantime, I’m literally living my best life. Is it perfect? Hell no. Is it better than what I’ve ever had before? For sure.
      Time. Lots of it.
      Walks. MILES of them!
      Working through the divorce and alienation damage?
      EVERY. DAMN. DAY!!
      Don’t give up on yourself. You may have been a part of what happened, but you DON’T have to let it define you!
      Everyone is a work in progress, each at their own step in the process.

    2. Stu

      You know how flawed you are. You and everybody else, it’s just of degrees. But unless you were sitting in you easy chair knee deep in beer cans, singing out…..to bitch, another can, get me another can, and beating your wife and kids out of frustration at having lost the mortgage money at the races, you don’t deserve to be treated like you were that guy.

  7. Loving Dad

    I do fully agree that Sheri has done us a great service by opening up this forum to talk about this issue and read her book.

    I must also say that what Christopher H. has written rings load with many many fathers and mothers. The family court system does not work for the best interest of the children and if fact with granting sole/primary custody to one parent over the other it only helps and fuels Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) which almost always results in some level of estrangement.

  8. Pete

    I have been rejected by both my children – I deal with it by crusting over as a defense mechanism but want very much to get back with them. I’m very close to my older adult nieces and perhaps they will act as a go-between. For most of their growing up, the kids lived with me every other week although my ex-wife was the legal custodian. Lately I’ve been having self doubts about my parenting, but I’ve been going through all the pictures I took over those years and it’s obvious the kids were happy living with me and we did a lot together. It could be these political times… I am a conservative and that just may be unacceptable to our callow youth. My kids are 23 and 22; I am 68. I hope I live long enough to reconcile, for their sakes as well as my own.

    1. ron k

      I remember I went to Dale Carnegie, one class we were asked to give a short speech on “our biggest regret in life”. I was amazed that about 50%+ out of 44 in the class speech was how they had stopped talking, seeing, etc. some friend, parent, or sibling and that person died before they could say sorry or made up in some fashion. So Pete is right to worry his children will have that regret haunt his children into life. I know I worry about my daughter’s behaviour towards me being a sign of why she has not found a good relationship / partner yet at 40 yrs old.

  9. Christopher H.

    Has it occurred to you that perhaps fathers have other reasons for not claiming estrangement?

    60% of marriages end in divorce within the first 7 years. 80-90% of the time the mothers are granted custody. Net: the fathers are already estranged from the beginning. Family law courts rarely apply equal rights and opportunities to fathers. When the mothers are actively practicing parental alienation, no one is there to create a level playing field. In fact, most of the time the courts will side with the mother even in the face of clear violations of parenting agreements and/or legal precedents.

    In the case where you’re dealing with a husband/wife ‘intact’ family, the fathers are typically not the primary communicators, or their actions and words are moderated by the mother/wife.

    Here’s a tip – most of the people who are estranged are divorced or single parents. The children don’t have the coping skills to manage complex adult emotions and layered relationships. In most cases, the parents are doing the best that they can. Neither child nor parent has an effective support network that is capable of bridging the gaps on their own.

    Once the kids reach 18, they have newfound ‘power’ to act out their frustration, hurt and anger towards parents for every perceived wrong or injustice that they have experienced. There is a genuine lack of empathy. Parents are no longer allowed to have an opinion that goes contrary to what children want to believe. Parents aren’t allowed to have feelings of hurt, injustice, frustration and despair.

    The net result is that dads, more than women, become outsiders throughout the entire process.

    You based your book on mother’s stories because they filled out your forms more completely? While I think it’s feast that moms have a resource, that’s just lazy research. You are missing a HUGE part of the formula for success by excluding men from your research.

    The chips are already stacked against men throughout the modern child rearing process. There is plenty of support for women across the board, and nearly none for men.

    Most men have a more difficult time with these situations because their default reaction is anger, not despair.

    It seems like there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that a more complete picture of the relationships – one that also includes the fathers – would be beneficial for both the parent and the child.

    1. rparents Post author

      Thank you for your input Christopher. Fathers have not been excluded in Done With The Crying, nor the research. As stated, examples in the book are relevant and couples are included. I have a new book coming out soon that includes more men’s stories though. More men have reached out to me to share their situations after reading Done With The Crying and finding it helpful to them.

      Thank you again for your thoughts.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Mark

      Amen, Brother. But Sheri has done us all a great service by just talking about the issue. I feel your pain and experienced the same things you described so well, but no need to shoot the messenger!

    3. Loving Dad


      Thank you for this.

      All parents that have been subjected to PAS have a real life understanding of how debilitating it really is and can fully appreciate your heart felt thoughts that you have expressed.

      Thank you again for this.

    4. Foz

      Christopher you have hit the nail squarely on the head and driven it perfectly flush!

      1. The fathers are already estranged from the beginning.
      -Yes, my youngest daughter would ask me to move into a house on the same street so she could see me every day. Not being with her each day, not tucking her in every night broke her heart. Only being able to spend every other weekend with me -that was court ordered estrangement.

      2. Even in the face of clear violations of parenting agreements and/or legal precedents.
      -At some point around XX’s 10th birthday, of course the mother decided her weekend activities with my daughter were more valuable than my weekend. So the “good Dad”, already suffering from trying to be a complete father in a fraction of time, keeps the peace and lets the mother call the shots.

      3. The fathers are typically not the primary communicators, or their actions and words are moderated by the mother/wife.
      -This is then magnified after divorce when the mother makes clear, ” Dad’s rules do NOT apply here.”

      4. Most of the people who are estranged are divorced or single parents.
      -True this, and the guilt of divorce is magnified to such a point that it’s almost unbearable. Couple that with the family court’s forced estrangment via the “every other weekend Dad” Article in your paperwork!

      5. They have newfound ‘power’ to act out their frustration, hurt and anger towards parents for every perceived wrong or injustice that they have experienced. There is a genuine lack of empathy. Parents are no longer allowed to have an opinion that goes contrary to what children want to believe.
      -On a normal “pick up from school and go to early dinner” outing I insisted that my (minor) daughter not take part in a student film where there was implied nudity and implied sexuality. The mother “supported the film’ and my daughter cut me off completely. That was two years ago.

      6. The chips are already stacked against men throughout the modern child rearing process.
      -By design. Waiting to hear the “modern culture” praising fathers for their roles in anything. NOT.

      I am 55 years old. Yes, I am angry and resentful. But more than that, I am devastated. I am NOT done with the crying. I cried again tonight. I mourn the loss of my XX. I will cry again. It is a suffering that I cannot deny.


      1. rparents Post author

        Dear Foz,

        I’m truly sorry that you have experienced issues with your daughter’s mother undermining you, your values, and your presence in your daughter’s life. Parental alienation is a form of abuse.

        HUGS to you,
        Sheri McGregor

        1. Richard T

          The alienation and abuse can be exacerbated by mental health problems of the adult son or daughter – from their depression, substance abuse, narcissism or splitting . Observing the contribution of these possible causes can help understanding and coping but unfortunately cant change the estrangement and abusive behavior.

    5. Charley

      Yes. Men live in silence of pain. Courts condone the abuse. They self perpetuate there existence. So out of touch. Of the many good men. All the while men continue in these sad shaming abusive relationships. Banging there damn heads against the proverbial wall. Mind games the power people use. Fully justifying there actions. These good men move ahead unrecognizable and uncounted. As they are the pain goes on unresolved.

    6. Choosingfeeedom

      Great points with regard to Fathers and the legal system and believe they are very helpful to many on this site. I would wager that Sheri would have no problem writing a book solely directed at us Fathers. I agree that the current books do apply to both parents and are very helpful. Thanks again for your input.

      1. rparents Post author


        Beyond Done, the newest book, does have more father examples. I am finding that, since that book came out (Dec. 2021), more fathers have written to me about their situations. Perhaps I can write even more for dads specifically with their increased openness.

        Hugs to you, and I appreciate your kindness,

        Sheri McGregor


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