Holiday talk: Parents alienated by adult children, Cha-Cha-Cha 

Holiday Talk:
Parents alienated by adult children,
Try the 3-step Cha-Cha-Cha

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

parents alienated by adult children

Image by DarkmoonArt_de from Pixabay

How we talk and think can make a big difference in how we feel. As the holidays approach, many parents alienated by adult children are filled with dread or sadness.  Without even realizing it, a dreary voiceover may narrate their days, shaping a gloomy outlook. I’ve got a solution: Cha-Cha-Cha.

No, I’m not necessarily suggesting you do this Cuban dance that began its long mark on international culture in the early 1950s (per Wikipedia). A few simple steps get people out on the dance floor and having fun with the Cha-Cha-Cha (sometimes shortened to Cha-Cha) but here, I’m borrowing the name and the fun that made the dance style so popular to illustrate my three steps to overcome the holiday blues:

CHEck your self-talk

CHAllenge your beliefs



Okay, so it’s really CheCha-Cha, but you get the idea. (Say the first one with a forced Southern U.S. accent and it sounds correct. Say it that way out loud now. It’s fun!)

Here’s how the process works:

FIRST, CHECK your self-talk

What are you telling yourself? Without even realizing it, are you using words or sayings that hurt you rather than help you?

Anne Marie, a mother of three, says that when the calendar hit October 1, she always thought, “Okay, here we go.” When her kids were younger, this helped Anne Marie focus and gear up for the season where she went all out for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Although she had a full career plate, her holidays were dictated by costumes, school pageants, and parties—all of which she made perfect, memorable, and fun. She was an unsung hero behind everyone else’s holiday joy, but Anne Marie was proud of the good times she created for her children.

Her kids are grown now. Two of them are estranged. As one of the multitudes of parents alienated by adult children, these days, her “here we go” thought stirs resentment for her. Yet come each holiday season, those words still run through her head.

As we chatted, Anne Marie explained her difficulty in moving beyond the sadness of her adult children’s estrangement over the holiday season. “Traditionally, this has been a hard time of year for me,” she said.  

Traditionally?” I asked, emphasizing her word choice. 

Thankfully, she laughed with me when I pointed out that she had made a ritual of feeling bad about the holidays. A tradition like that becomes a habit. Those can be hard to break, but the first step is becoming aware—and that’s what Anne Marie did

CHECK your thinking. What do you tell yourself about the holidays? Right now, stop for a moment and reflect. Do your thoughts help or hurt you? Are you building yourself up or tearing your spirits down?

The thoughts or spoken words we direct to ourselves, our self-talk, is important. Everyone talks to themselves, as is explained in this Huffington Post article that quotes me and other experts. The trick is to make your self-talk useful.

Why give yourself a poop talk when a pep talk is more motivating and uplifting? Becoming aware of the words you use can help you to help yourself. Don’t make a tradition of feeling bad. While it’s wise to be aware of triggers that bring up emotional pain, you also need to find new traditions and let the old pain go.

We’ll explore more about changing the way we think in a moment. First, let’s move to the second syllable in Che-Cha-Cha. Is what we’re telling ourselves even true?

CHALLENGE your beliefs

“Holidays are all about family so this will be tough.” That is what one father recently related.

“Are holidays really all about family?” I asked him.

Seasonal TV commercials and movies do a number on our views. The truth is that, for many, the holidays are a time to reaffirm spiritual beliefs, help those who are less fortunate, and give to causes they find meaningful and that bring them joy.

When this dad of one son who won’t talk to him realized his holiday thinking set him up for loneliness and disappointment, he challenged himself to find new ways to celebrate. He watched religious movies, started to pray again, and sponsored needy children through a local charity.

Where can you find new meaning for the holidays? What can you do to challenge old, negative, unhelpful thoughts and take action that makes the holidays more fun?

Finally, CHANGE

Anne Marie called friends in another state who had never had children. She figured she could learn a thing or two from this couple in their 60s whose holidays have never been about family. Listening as they talked about their fun plans for the season that included trying out snow-shoeing in a piled-high meadow near their home and watching a local theater group’s holiday comedy offered this year over Zoom, she couldn’t help but smile. Despite a Covid-19 lock-down, they were making the holidays fun!

Anne Marie has decided to use the holidays to research how she can reclaim an old hobby, dancing, she gave up as a teenager but had always missed. She started by listing every word that came to mind when she thought of dancing. This meant being realistic about her abilities at age 62, but also how liberated and happy dancing always made her feel. She also subscribed to a topic magazine and eagerly checks her mailbox daily for the first issue’s arrival.

During her days off work this season, Anne Marie plans to locate local resources, join related social media pages, and maybe even touch base with questions. These are first steps in her plan to restore the wonder of childhood and bringing a sense of awe and fun into her life now. Anne Marie sees this gift to herself for the holidays as a launching pad to nurture herself with self-care all year.

Who can you learn from? Whose habits can you adopt, adapt, and make all your own? What beliefs or old thinking can you check, challenge, and change? No matter who you are or what the holidays have meant to you in the past, you can start new traditions that better suit and support you at this phase of life.

If you find yourself dreading the holidays or feeling low, remember: Check, Challenge, and Change. Just as Anne Marie plans to dance, you’ll be doing the Che-Cha-Cha in no time!

Parents alienated by children can be happy. Give yourself the gift of moving forward for your own happiness. Get Done With The Crying and the accompanying workbook.

Still thinking about the Cha-Cha-Cha dance? Learn the basic steps or hear oldies with the videos below.


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73 thoughts on “Holiday talk: Parents alienated by adult children, Cha-Cha-Cha 

  1. Linda G.

    The grief process described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, denial/anger/bargaining/depression/acceptance (DABDA) can be applied to any loss. Learning to Cha-Cha-Cha can be applied to any splintering, alienated relationship including friends, family, and co-workers. Put the music on and get ready to dance – it’s 2021!

  2. Stephanie

    What a blessing this has been to find. I am reading and doing the homework in your book. I need to say these awful things, and please know I am not a bad person full of hate…well, maybe today I am. My daughter estranged my husband and I about three months ago. We have never really understood the reason, except that we were not supporting her, our first offense. We are not really into texting, as I have a hard time as I cannot see her, or hear her voice, or see her body language, and I misunderstood a few texts. They were political, as well as conspiracy related, and fear based. She is understandably too busy with her three children to call. She lives several states away, so theres a real problem there too. We were best friends. I had no idea someone I loved so much could feel so much like an enemy. Our 2nd offense was she had a storage room full of furniture and they were trying to empty it as they didn’t want to pay for the unit anymore. We were visiting and she gave us a beautiful dining table, and we U-hauled it all across the continent. We came home and I set it up. A couple of weeks later we accepted and offer for our home we just built. We sold it with all the furniture. She absolutely freaked when I told her. I never would have thought I did the wrong thing, but I can agree I could have told her, I just didn’t think she had attachment to it. She gave it to us. I sent her $2000 and she cashed the check. She then forgave her dad, not me. It’s so odd. I am now very angry with her as well as my husband. I know that sounds childlike, but those are my true feelings. I know Dr. Phil would say this isn’t about a table. But then, what IS it about? I will continue working in the book “done with the crying” as well as trying to let go if this anger. She is sending texts to her dad with the grandkids and all is happy and joyous. I am opting out of the family texts. Her dad made arrangements for a Christmas visit and I was dreading it. I went so as not to make it worse. It wasn’t awful, as I just played with the kids, but it was so awkward and I was the brown shoe in a room full of black tuxedos. I was just tolerated. This has never been us. This is now the new “US”.

  3. Elizabeth

    I thought I’d share this with you as it’s partly funny.
    Today being the first day of a new year, I decided to just contact my daughter and say ‘ happy new year’.

    Imagining this to be a positive and constructive move, I did so and added ‘ how are you?’

    Ten minutes later I got a reply ‘ I’m good, happy new year- I’ve just got a new phone and the contacts are messed up, so, who are you?’

    ‘I’m your mum’.
    There was no further replies! But that’s good, because it confirms once and for all that moving on is the only thing worth doing, so I blocked her number.

    1. Rebecca

      I think we all know what you’re going through .
      It’s emotional torture , I’m the same with my son and we just will never understand it .
      I just hope for a day where I’ve moved on and don’t feel ill with it all .
      Love to you
      Rebecca x

  4. Hope

    Hello Diane

    I am new to this site and this struggle.
    I have 2 SEMI EC. My oldest one ends up being the glue that tries to hold the 3 of us together.
    They are very close and always have been. I raised them to be. Oldest treats me with respect. Youngest does not. Theybare 3 years apart.

    My question for you is does your son have a relationship with his sister? I dont want my oldest to ever choose between me and sibling.

    Hoping for better for all of us!

  5. Hope


    It is a terrible thing for a momma to say but i pray for the day that mine goes full no contact.
    You are describing my daughter when you say looks full of hate and absolute disgust anytime she is near me.

    I am not strong enough to tell her to never contact me again so i need for her to do it.

  6. Carrie-Ann

    Relative to this post on change, I just happened onto this movie this Christmas Day evening…You might enjoy it…Movie can be watched on Amazon Prime Video, You Tube (Buy/Rent), Hoopla, Free with ads on Tubi TV, and other venues. The following link is to the movie trailer, song, (I suggest you also listen to the song at the end of the movie as the credits roll…the last scene shows an empty beach chair as the song is sung…), and the movie playlist. Enjoy…It is comedy, drama, suspense. US Release Date: October 4, 2019 Starring: Bill Nighy, Sam Riley, Alice Lowe Directed By: Carl Hunter Synopsis: A man searches relentlessly for the missing son he has not seen in years, turning his entire family’s life upside-down.
    Enjoy…In Friendship & Love, Carrie-Ann

  7. Carrie-Ann

    Just a note this Christmas morning to wish Beautiful Sheri & Each Beautiful One In This Online Community a Merry Christmas & a Wonder-Full New Year…May you Enjoy delicious food, music, and the Presence of God, no matter what religion or belief…Thank You for your Presence in this online community…

    In Gratitude, Peace, Love, & Joy,

    1. Elizabeth L

      Thank you Carrie-Ann, and a happy peaceful new year to you and everyone here, especially Sheri, who brought us together.

  8. Kathy

    It’s been a year since my daughter moved away with a convicted felon who had done time for meth possession and intent to sell. She became angry with me because my grandson who is very bright didn’t want to go with them because of the indifference and leaving him alone had done to him. He asked me to help him get out of it. I pleaded with my daughter to listen to his valid concerns but she refused and we had court to settle it. The other grandparents stepped in and took the lead since we are raising a granddaughter from our other daughter who has made bad choices and is on a toxic situation miles away. My grandson is living legally with the other grandparents and is fine. We see him often. I’ve tried to reach out to his mom. She started her own business but is having financial problems and has had a car crash and injuries. Thankfully her relationship with this guy had deteriorated some. I do not get to physically talk to her. She texts me infrequently. I sr t her a sentimental Christmas gift with reminders of how much I still love her. I’ve put this whole mess in God’s hands. I know he is working on her. I’m not giving up yet to pray for her and believe He will change her. I want her here for Christmas. I know it’s not happening. I cry still. Not daily but every so often. My youngest daughter repeats the same behavior that causes problems for her in her situation. However, I do get to see her on FaceTime and get 2 children. I’m thankful for whatever contact I have with them but she is in God’s hands too. I have guided friends and connect as much as I can. Your blog helps me keep moving forward. Thank you for communicating. Some days an encouragement and seeing I’m nit the only one caught in this sadness that grabs at me, helps me to keep my resolve to live my life,do what I want and not feel obligated to financially bail anybody out. It’s a relief I’ve made that choice. No more bailout. No more guilt or regret. I told my oldest daughter by text that I am very sorry the thousands I’ve given her hasn’t been enough but I did the best I could and that I love her and always will, but I have to live my life and take care of myself, my husband and my granddaughter. Merry Christmas to all.

  9. Rebecca

    Thankyou .
    These emails have helped me so much .
    It comforts me to read that parents get stronger .
    I pray I will become stronger too .
    Happy Christmas from England

    1. Rebecca

      Dear Sarah
      There isn’t a reply on your post , so I hope you read this .
      Your situation sounds like mine , it’s my son and we have a grandson too who does not know us , we last so him when he was 10 weeks old .
      We have a beautiful daughter at home who is disabled that keeps me going through all this pain .
      I too was glad when the presents were sent and we’re out of the house .
      We never got a Thankyou .
      Love to you and everyone on here .
      My wish is you have peace in your hearts and a year without fear . Love x

  10. Hope

    Happy Day Everyone!
    Both EC are grown and have own home. Both live out of town within hour drive. For the 1st time ever
    Neither were here for Thanksgiving. One said she would not be here and the other said nothing.
    Due to this i expected them not to come for Christmas.
    Last week i was told they are coming for Christmas.
    I am so sick with dread that i dont know what to do.
    The only positive to it is seeing my only gb. Then when they leave i have no idea when next visit will be. I dont get told. Im tired of getting hurt over and over.
    What would you do? Anyone?? I have no one to talk to.

    1. stephanie

      I know the dread you are talking about. I think holding the grandchildren over our heads is manipulative, even if its just implied. I hope and pray your Christmas was ok. I just got through mine and am so glad it’s over.

  11. Sue

    First of all, I would like to thank everyone for your heart felt honesty and openness when sharing your hurt, as I completely understand that pain. I have your book Sheri and refer to it often. My story is similar with an extra layer of complexity. I have 5 grown children. I am estranged from 2 children from my first very young marriage. My son is 45 with a daughter, but he was incarcerated for years and came to live with me upon release as well as his daughter. That turned into a nightmare and we have not spoken for 18 years. His sister is 43 and has metastatic breast cancer. She got upset with me last January ( I think this is the cause ) because I was going to travel from the east coast to the west coast to see her. My husband was not happy that they wanted to transport me to and from the airport via a Uber at 4am and my daughter told me to cancel my tickets as it was not a good time. I emailed, wrote letters, called, pleaded but she sent me a text and said to stop texting her. We had been close, but this was so hurtful. I feel this has caused a distance with my other children also. My husband and I recently moved 300 miles away, the pandemic hit and he has an ongoing chronic illness. This year has been the worst! I have been in therapy since my daughter rejected me. I am sad and depressed by the lack of contact with all my children and find it so hard to find the joy in a day. This is not the life I planned. I truly wanted 5 children and thought it was going to be like a “Walton Family”. I feel my dreams are gone and it was all an illusion. When they were young, I was the stay at home do it all mom. I picked up a xtra jobs to help pay the bills and then went back to school and achieved my masters degree. I am since retired, but still heartbroken and trying to move on during this time of isolation and heartfelt memories and longing for a family that just isn’t there. Thank you for letting me express myself. I don’t have friends to talk with, just my therapist. It’s too painful to discuss with my husband. He is their stepfather and may be there is resentment there, I don’t know. We’ve been married 18 years and I am very happy with him.

    1. sarah o.

      So much pain, so senseless. I keep trying to be ok, it’s been almost 6 years now of being rejected by my eldest son and not seeing my first and only grandchild. I had 4 children hoping to for that “Walton” life and to reap the rewards of a houseful of family until i die. It hasn’t turned out that way with 1 rejection and 2 others moving miles away with little contact from 1 very far away. I don’t cry every single day now, but i rarely manage a week. I feel better once the Christmas gifts i still send are gone from my house, there, done for another year. I have an adult child still at home and he makes Christmas feel like it should 🙂 Hugs to all in this unbearable position xx

    2. Stephanie

      My story is similar, I too dreamed of a “Walton” type family. I had a blended family, a modern day “Brady Bunch” family three mine from previous, one from his & two together. We raised them ALL as our own. Last year one of our youngest granddaughter’s died due to lack of judgement & her alcholic parents neglect. Our son (My stepson) disowned me because I expressed concerns about her death etc…Some of the siblings took his side against me & cut me off. Hubby (Married 28 years) was ill with Vascular Dementia & other health issues & recently passed away during Covid 19. More drama ensued after his death with the remainder of my adult children where I had advocated for myself & safety. Now ALL my children are estranged & I have lost contact with my grandchildren whom I often cared for & helped raise one. I have to live for me now but it is easier said than done, my heart is broken & I am grieving for more than my husband who was my better half, my soulmate & best friend. I now know that I am not alone in this journey. Hugs to all of you .

  12. Debra

    My daughter booted me to the curb almost 2 years ago. I kept my grandson a lot and miss him terribly. This is not the first time she’s done it…..the last was 2016 3 days before I was to have surgery and she was supposed to spend the night with my dogs while I was in hospital. I have been sending my grandson visa giftcards for birthdays and Christmas, but sent a check this year as I didn’t know if he was getting it. I did send her a short note to her in a separate card but I doubt will hear back. I suppose it we started talking again, would only be to do over again.

  13. Cherie

    It’s been 3 years since i’ve seen my daughter. I last saw her a week before she turned 21. I’ve reached some kind of acceptance.

    I don’t look for you any more
    I don’t see mistaken glimpses
    Shadows of you
    Have I forgotten your sound?
    I know you’ll never be around one day
    I have nothing to give
    That you want
    It doesn’t matter who I’m
    Supposed to be
    Or who you’re supposed to be
    I don’t miss you any more
    I don’t know what I feel now
    I don’t know if it hurts
    But I won’t look for you any more
    In the corners

  14. Kristi

    Thank you for the newsletter! I’ve never been a fan of the Holidays, even before my life was turned upside down. I’m still not a fan but I’ve come to a point where they are just another day.
    On a positive note, all of my kids were with us this weekend. Their Grandpa is dying so they came to say goodbye to him. We were able to spend several wonderful hours together. I refuse to set myself up for another let down and think that things will now change. I just enjoyed every moment of our time together and made sure they all knew how much it meant to us. If things get better that will be great but if not, I’m blessed that I had a few good hours with all of them.
    Merry Christmas to all of you! May your Christmas gift be a piece of your shattered heart put back in place.

    1. Myriam O.

      Thank you Sheri for your timely newsletter at Christmas. I have some partial good news. I have been estranged from my eldest son , his children and wife for 5 years. In between daughter in Law allowed me to see my grand children but estrangement occurred again . I saw them for 12 years before the 5 year separation. It was a 3 year estrangement before the 12 years so as u can see it’s not a stable anything. I never thought I would see them again however my youngest son which I could never have imagined let my eldest son have it for what his wife has done to this family and he has stood around and let it happen. Well, my youngest insisted his brother and nephew attend his 40 birthday and they did. My grandson now visits here often to see his cousin that lives here and I had my eldest son here for his birthday and he accepted and came with my grandson . There has been a partial reconciliation but grand daughter not yet. If it happens it happens. I never expected my son could do this but he did. Will it last , I pray.
      My daughter in law is divorcing my son now , not surprising, and will take him to the cleaners.
      In all of this between children and grand children I truly have lost the meaning of love and just take one moment at a time. It’s all bittersweet but I am thankful to see my son and grandson for now. These estrangements I believe contribute to our losing our faith in love and relationships. This group has helped me see I am not alone. Children, some, can be very hateful and selfish and I cannot find a why for this behavior. Accepting what is is helpful and adapting to reality. I will not allow my children or anyone go beyond affecting me deeply but not destroying me and I believe you all should choose to control your suffering as I don’t believe they care if they can do this to us. I wish each of you a nice holiday, Christmas and a better New Year. Miritadc

  15. Diane

    I love the idea of thinking about people that don’t have children and how they celebrate the holidays. I realize now that I am responsible for my own happiness. On Christmas Eve, I’ll drive around and look at the beautifully decorated homes and the luminaria. I’ll make myself a good meal on both Christmas Eve/Day. I deserve to be happy. Yes, I wish things were different with my daughter, her husband and my three grandkids. But I have reconnected with my grown son and I am most grateful for that.
    Merry Christmas to all of you. Make your own Christmas happy in your own ways.

  16. Mary Jane

    I have been going through this for so long. After a divorce, and even before, my ex husband did all he could to turn my daughters away from me . Sometimes I think I can’t take another day! I’m hoping for a day where I don’t think about my children when I wake up and and rehash all that went wrong. Holidays just amplify the feelings. I keep trying the best I can to have a good life, but how can you forget your children!!

    1. Sandra

      Hiya Mary Jane,
      greetings from Ireland. This is my first post here. I am grateful to have a place to come so as to remind myself l am not alone. My ex-husband was an overly controlling bully, so l can relate to you. While l was busy trying to protect my teenage family from the divorce, his agenda was like your ex’s, to confuse them and lie to them. He didn’t care what he said as long as the girls took his side you know? My son never really got along with him. We were very close. Tragically, he was killed in a car accident in 2013. I miss him hugely, though l feel his Spirit around me. The girls and I are estranged for years now, and even estranged from each other which breaks my heart. The holidays are hard, but l rather the pain of separation and distance to the constant walking on eggshells with them you know? I miss my teenage grandchildren who l was so close to. It sucks. Hi to everyone here, and pleased to meet you all here. Lots of love, Sandie

  17. Janet G.

    Happy holidays, I have been estranged from my only child daughter and 2 grandsons for 3 years. She had a huge fall out with her dad my husband and moved away shortly after. I tried to be the intermediary and keep the lines of communication open. Her and I were coping until she found out I rented one of our properties to a cousin she doesn’t like. I got her wrath she began telling me I never supported her soon after that she unfriended us on fb she would not return any calls or emails. The first Mother’s day was the worst when I did not receive a message from her or the grandbabies I knew this was serious. Especially since me and my husband are both retired we had the babies 2-3 times a week. We went from that to not being allowed to even talk to them on the phone. My heart was/is broken in pieces I prayed alot cried and compared it to my daughter trying to murder me. I know it has been by the grace of God that I am even able to function at all. I want yo thank you for your book and this forum it is comforting to know I am not alone.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Janet,
      I’m glad that the site and my offerings here have helped some. I’m sorry you have suffered this heartache! I know others will relate to your story and feel comforted by it.

      Great big hugs, Sheri McGregor

    2. DIANA B.

      I want to applaud your positive Christmas wishes to others and your graciousness. Thank you for sharing

      I so feel you and can relate like many of us do. My daughter also chose the Facebook option of blocking me from her life when I had asked her a question about a trip she had taken. That choice she made was 10 years ago. Her decision prompted me to cancel inviting her to my second wedding (supported to by my therapist) because of concern of her behavior. Afterwards she said that she would have come only out of obligation.

      The holiday experience you express, I sympathize and have great empathy having the same experience.

      During these past 10 years I still continue to do lots of work on me. It wasn’t like just taking a pill to fix things, as I was broken and I needed to put myself back together again. I would strongly support you to continue to heal yourself. It’s the most loving thing you can do for YOU. Wish I could tell you that it was easy to fix me., I had a lot of wound and heart ache that didn’t happen overnight.

      The holidays got even tougher. My adult son (6 years estranged) joined the ranks of my daughter when I told him that there was no more money for him to support his legal consequences.

      As I continue to work on healing me I needed to put both my children in His hands so He could do what needed to be done, for them and me.

      FROG ….Fully Rely On God has been my mantra reminding me that it was out of my hands. When I put them both in Gods hands I asked that when the time was right that He would bring them back in my life, but whenever that might happen, I needed to Let Go of any expectations.

      Holidays are for US also not just our AC. Be kind and loving to yourself, it’s not selfish, it’s self care. Find the joy by doing something for YOU. Christmas is only one day, do your best, moment by moment with the love ones who are with you. Merry Christmas to you and your husband. Merry blessed Christmas to All.

    3. stephanie

      Your story is so much like mine, but mine is recent. She has forgiven her dad, as he can still be of use to her (help her build a house) and I am of very little use except for child care and she can get sitters for that. Therefore I am dispensable. I am really sad to read all of these letters.

    4. RR

      So many times I’ve written here only to not send. I’ve been reading the sad stories of estrangement. I’ve been partially estranged from my only child for the past 20 years. I’ve only blamed myself for my mothering because they have turned out to be a good parent but have no contact with anybody else in the extended family. I have to live the rest of my life only blaming myself for being so caught up in the drama of my unhappy married life that I must’ve neglected to see its effect on my child.

  18. Lynn A. H. (M.D.)

    3 years ago I would not have been ready to receive this advice. I am so grateful to everyone on this site for being so open and giving. This article is my best present this year and timing is perfect. Such a wonderful group of strong women and mothers! I hope we always can keep in touch.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Lynn,
      You bring up a good point. Our feelings can change over time. At the very saddest, we can take some comfort in knowing our feelings can change for the better.

      Hugs to you,
      Sheri McGregor

  19. Donna D.

    Thanks so much for taking time to write these blogs. You are helping so many people to not feel alone at this time. My daughter has been estranged for almost three years. Don’t get to see my precious granddaughter anymore. What freed me is back in July. I stopped all contact. No texts emails cards. Not even birthday cards. This is her choice. I refuse to beg. I gave her the best years of my life and let her go. I recently remarried and am very happy. This has helped me a lot.

    1. rparents Post author

      Congratulations on your marriage. I wish you and your hubby many blessings and a wonderful life together!

      Happy Holidays and may the New Year be bright!
      Sheri McGregor

    1. Jane S.

      Merry Christmas to all! I agree with this article that it is important to focus on positive, active, thoughts and actions. This year I am going to call people I know are alone on Christmas and send gifts to those who need extra love. I’ve been doing the Bible study where you read a chapter of Luke every day until Christmas to focus your thoughts on the Life of Christ. There are always those who need you, so I chose to focus on those people, not people who don’t appreciate me. Love to all here.

  20. Terrie K.

    Good Morning Everyone:

    Yes, it is hard, not only because of holidays but because estrangement from ones children is one of the most difficult situations I have had to live through but I am here still breathing and actually living my life without the constant tears and not understanding how someone, my only child could have treated me like this as I gave him everything when rarely did he ever give back. He is 55 years old and spoiled and I wonder if that was my fault!

    Yesterday his former wife came over and I decided to finally ask the burning question of what word she would use to describe her former husband, my son. She said NARCASSIT and I laughed as that is the same term I use which seems to cover it all. Spoiled, all about him and never thinking most of his relatives were good enough for him and always thinking he came first. I used to tell friends that when I got old and needed care he would be the last person I would let help me. That is not a nice way to feel about anyone let alone a child you raised but I believe in truth and that is how I felt then and certainly feel today.

    I am and always will be sad since I was the person in our whole family who did all the entertaining and giving without ever thinking I should have been given something back too. I am a firm believer in therapy and that 3rd person interaction who doesn’t know me or my son. I learned a lot but more importantly I learned to stop beating up myself wondering what I could have done wrong when she said this: “Remember he is an adult and makes his own decisions”. Small thought with a large meaning and that has gotten me through the last 2 years. The last time I spoke to him he said something and then my retort was “well maybe I shouldn’t call you again and he said, “Yes that probably would be best”. It was like a hot knife through my heart but his words told me all I needed to know and I have acted upon this, lived my life through the misery of Covid and at age 76 feel fortunate as my group of besties is chosen by me and always there for me if something is needed. The old saying of we choose our friends and not our family is correct but look at it a different way and realize that once our kids are grown and are truly adults and they may not be the ones we would choose to be in our lives as friends.

    1. rparents Post author

      Thank you, Terri. You demonstrate a wonderful lesson of resilience, and I hope all who are hurting will recognize the truth in what you say. I’ve said it a million times: They are adults making adult decisions. And yes, we must give ourselves the gift of friends who bring us joy and love.

      Sheri McGregor

  21. Barbara S.


    Wow this was a much needed gift!! I now see our Christmas needs to be about myself and husband’s joy and not the sadness of our daughter and her families leaving us out! It’s about moving forward with the blessings we still have and a nee way to celebrate! My husband, son and I deserve a happy new way of celebrating!!! No more living in the past or what could have been!
    Merry Christmas to all’

    Thank you for the gift Sheri

  22. Roseanne

    We have not seen our daughter, her husband and now 3 boys for almost 5 years. We usually go to Europe where I am from and enjoy family time with them.
    This year we are not able to travel.I had no idea how I was walking into the trap of poor me.
    I wept alone wondering where I had gone wrong….. Why me?…… I went back and said why not me? This is her choice. One she made cause she wanted to.She had no cause.So I prayed for her instead of getting angry.
    Christmas week
    I realized yesterday that I was feeling sad and yes angry.
    I will fight this feeling. I am only allowing her to abuse me again from afar.
    I prayed for guidance last night and got this email this morning. Thank you.God bless us all.

  23. Kimberly B.

    Thank you for these uplifting thoughts and suggestions. Perfect timing! Great to have you back. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  24. Carol M.

    Hi Sheri I just want to thank you for your wonderful advice. And I understand how busy you have been the past 4 months. We too decided to pick up and move away from all that was familiar to us. We left our state we lived in for 45 years in October of this year and moved 800 miles away. It definitely was the healthiest thing we did for ourselves! Christmas will always tug at my heart strings as my grand daughter will be turning 7 in February but we only got to meet her 3 short times when she was 2 and it was just a head game on my daughters warped way of thinking. Im over her games and warped delusional world. I will not be a victim of her delusions. We love our new home and our new surroundings where we can create happy memories !!!’ Merry Christmas and A Happy Healthy new year to all My Sisters and Brothers on here who have suffered enough from others problems and issues which have nothing to do with you! We matter!! Love yourself first!!!!

    1. rparents Post author

      Thank you, Carol. I’m so glad to read this note! I am very happy about the move. I truly love it here, but am hoping that next year will be more “open” so that we can meet new friends. Thank you for your perspective.

      Also, I’m glad that you made the decision to save yourself. You will help others who read your candid words.

      Sheri McGregor

  25. Tina

    Merry Christmas to all of you. You are a gift to me. I’m so glad I found you recently. I’ve been reading the book, and the stories – your stories – help me so much. I come from a traditional Italian background where children respect – even adore – their parents. I don’t have anyone I “want” to talk to about my daughter, I talk to myself mostly – i don’t want to dump on others. I’ve told close friends about what happened, I decided friends deserve to know what we’re going thru (I am blessed with friendship) and they are kind, non-judgmental, however they don’t understand, because – my husband and I don’t even understand how this could happen to a loving family. And that’s what’s so helpful to me reading your stories. You are the closest I can get to anyone understanding this pain. This unfixable relationship problem that I am powerless to resolve because it’s not about me. I can only care for myself, my husband, and the one loving daughter I have left. I remind myself that I am blessed, it helps me thru the confusion and pain of it and keeps my family together.

    I plan on staying off of social media this week. I’ve suffered to much loss this year. My daughter has left us before, but the last time was Christmas morning – she got upset with me, i do not know why, called me a ass- and left her entire family. We haven’t heard from her, despite her aunt, my sister, passing away. I also lost a best friend this year. This time it really feels final. I don’t think she’ll come back. And if she does…. I won’t be the same. I am not the same, i cherish my relationships, but unconditional love doesn’t seem to apply to a child, who you’ve given so much love and care to her entire life, could just walk away and not love you back. Not only me, but other people I love. She just doesn’t care about us. With my background, it’s so hard to understand. Maybe impossible. I pray for her. I wish her happiness, and peace.

    God bless us all, everyone.

  26. Ellen

    I would like to wish all parents on this page a very Happy Christmas. This site has helped me a lot and its so very sad to read all your comments.
    Its been three years since I have seen my daughter the abuse was just too much. I was a single parent worked very hard to keep food on the table. My grandson has now grown up into a wonderful teenager and we were always close and he comes to visit me and I am meeting him today so excited he doesn’t get on with his Mum either. I keep my opinions to myself on that one just listen.. I don’t see my grand-daughter but hopefully as she grows up I will also see her. I pass her presents to my grand-son
    I live on my own and I love Christmas this was difficult at first but now I enjoy every moment of it get in touch with family around the country spend the morning on the phone ohh and dance while cooking in the kitchen as your book says I am done with crying.. Spent too many years doing that. I can be sad or happy I choose happiness and change how I am thinking and feel (not easy I know) it can be done. Love and hugs to you all..

    1. rparents Post author


      Thank you so much and Merry Christmas. Yes, too many years crying (it’s easy to see when you come through to the other side). I’m happy for you and glad you shared here to help other parents. You have a smart grandson. ENJOY!

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Rose

      I always try to brighten the holidays with my friends and cousins. But being estranged from my now 38 year old daughter and her children (of which I never met….my grandchildren), it’s tough. I’m missing a whole other life.

      Nothing I’ve tried to remedy the situation withy my daughter has worked. She finally blocked me from ALL her contract info on line and whereever else I can get it. Till this day I don’t know what I had done to her other than have her dad and stepmom take care of her when she was 11 and on since I physically and emotionally couldn’t give her the life she needed. Although I have countlessly explained the situation with her, here stepmom enforced the fact that “no mother abandons her children”. I didn’t, I even had visitation every other weekend and she refused to see me. It hurts everyday.

      However, life goes on and so do we…keep merry and bright. Happy 2021!

  27. Elizabeth L.

    Thank you for this uplifting reminder Sheri! It comes just 2 days after our yearly national dance competition. ( Strictly Come Dancing) ended with the oldest winning competitor here in the UK.

    This is my second year as a discarded parent. Last year was bleak, but this year, like yourself, I have moved over 500 miles away, to a little Scottish village.

    It’s not been easy ( I’ve been labelled an ‘ incomer’ by the locals, even though I’m Scottish myself), and I’ve had to renovate a neglected little house, but the big difference is having found a marvellous walking group, especially for people who have been isolated.

    So, on Christmas morning, I’ll be taking a long walk with like minded folk from 10am till 1pm then driving back to have my favourite dinner- mac and cheese!

    Every day , I start with a read of your book and a quiet meditation. Hopefully I’ll be back in work by the end of January.

    It’s crossed my mind to contact my daughter, who is in the highest risk for Covid, but I’ll restrain myself.

    I think I’ll take up dancing, and start with the Cha Cha Cha ( pep talk instead of poop talk! Love it! Maybe you could hear my howls of laughter from across the pond).

    Here’s sending you and each and every parent here on the site a very happy, peaceful and successful many years to come.

    1. rparents Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing this bit about your move. My neighborhood is a wonderful one for walking too. I’ll be thinking of you and your friends (imagining the Scottish countryside) on Christmas morning.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Danielle

      Thank you so much….
      When I get your emails… it always helps so much. The work you are doing to support this community is so helpful…
      Thank you so much for your heart and help.

    3. jackie d.

      I especially took note of your comment, “I crossed my mind to contact my daughter, but I’ll restrain myself”. For me that is the hardest part of the holidays, I so badly want to contact my daughter and 3 little grandaughters!

    4. DIANA B.

      First off I would like to thank you Sheri and wish you and all the other parents a blessed Christmas. Sending you Sheri a successful new journey in your new home.

      I have followed your site for the past several years and again find that there’s still so much suffering at this time of the year. Holidays seem to bring up our dream family that we’ve loss and for some still grieving that loss.
      My story of estrangement started back 10 or more years ago, first with my daughter. I also struggled with finding what caused her to make this decision. I wrote letters trying to find if I needed to make any amends that might have caused her to no avail. She wouldn’t deal with me directly, saying that I had hadn’t done anything and she was just moving on. After struggling and feeling ignored, it took me months to send her an letter saying that our relationship was not what I needed it to be, and that it was a toxic relationship and that I needed a break from it. Maybe after some time we might establish a relationship that was based on respect and honesty. Contact from her years later only came via a email saying that she was pregnant and the baby was due in February. No other information was shared and I couldn’t understand why she chose to not share anything of her pregnancy with her mother. This also terrified me that this child would be used to emotionally blackmail me and used as a punishment. Distance over the years hadn’t changed much.
      During this time with daughter, my son whom was looking avail for financial support because of his choices was looking at another 6 year prison sentence. I informed him that I loved him very much, but there would be no more money to help his legal defense. I had done enough, and I would still love to communicate with him if he so chose. Seeing money was the power tool which could be used to control, he also chose to not communicate with me for six years.
      Over the years I have worked on putting my adult children in Gods hands and asking that He would bring them back into my life on His schedule and He could do for them whatever I was not responsible for. I could still love them, but from afar. I continued to work on myself and heal the wounds that I didn’t deserve. Forgiveness isn’t for them, it was for ME, that I always was the best mother I could be, which helped me move forward in my life.
      The years have passed and I learned that the holidays most are just “24” hours that I need to live and make new traditions and choices that bring me some joy. I needed to grieve the loss of the dream family and the warm and fuzzies that we all wish we still had, but don’t. In my healing I chose to help donate my time to helping others who were needy during the holidays. Feeding the homeless, adopting families at Christmas.

      I would like to say that we had a happy ending after all these years, but being realistic, that dream is also gone, but realizing that hope of a re-established relationship might happen some day, but letting go of what it might look like.
      Fast forward to today, I do have a somewhat strange relationship with both of them today. Acceptance that it is what it is today, not what I wanted it to look like. Are there warm and fuzzy moments, no so much with my daughter, but grateful that my son did contact me out of the blue one day with a letter from prison. They are both adults (41 & 48) and are living their lives and making their choices which I am not responsible for. I am responsible for how I will allow them to treat me with respect and honesty. I am no longer their victim. I haven’t seen them in person for way to long, but I am ok with that, even though we do chat on line. I needed to let go of my dream children and accept the wounds I have healed from.
      It took a lot of personal struggles and healing for me to get to today. And I have much gratitude for my personal growth and my life today.

      We all need to give ourselves kindness and love, as this is the season. I wish all parents who “love our children too much” a blessed Christmas and may self love and healing reside in your hearts ♥️

      1. rparents Post author

        Thank you for posting this. It is true. They are adults and make their own choices. We can love someone and not allow them to hurt us. That looks different to different parents, but it does involve accepting the facts.

        Hugs, and Merry Christmas to you.
        Sheri McGregor

  28. Cynthia

    Thank you so much and the timing so perfect. While I grieve the loss of my estranged daughter and her absence in our life I have used this past year to remind myself that my faith is stronger than the feelings of hurt. I now focus on just praying for her well-being and that God touch her heart so as to return her to us. I have spent the year self reflecting and shedding fabricated feelings of guilt and focusing more on how grateful we were to have had our daughter with our family for the time we did. While she has chosen another path separate from the family who loves her so dearly we have moved passed the daily grieving that was destroying us and have placed the situation in the hands of God which really is the best place that it can be. We can now appreciate in its fullness the value of those around us who have walked this long journey with us and begin to celebrate so many other wonderful family, and friends and life itself that was put on-hold during this needed season of grieving for our estranged daughter. While we love her and the door is always open for the day of her return we have by the Grace of God moved on from the painful grieving process knowing that God is always in control. So as I celebrate my birthday today, the day of publishing of your newsletter I do remember my estranged daughter and pass the heartfelt comment to my husband of wishing for her presence. However how blessed I am to finally be able to find solace in the wonderment of the blessings of my husband, and other children and now grandchildren along with dear friends. God is always good and I am so happy that I can now focus on enjoying the beauty of the Christmas Season and all it represents knowing my worries and desires are at the feet of Christ for his managing. God bless and remember a mother is always a mother regardless if her child is with her or estranged – that can’t be taken from us. Keep the faith and be a praying mother as such peace can be found in the power of a simple prayer.

  29. Janet R.

    Thanks Sheri for the excellent advice to cha cha cha. My husband and I do some of these things you suggested. Our daughter and husband and three children estranged from us three years ago a few days after Christmas and one day before our third grandchild was born whom we’ve never met. The last time I saw my daughter was on Christmas day 2017. Her husband and church have deceived and brainwashed her. They both are estranged from not only us but his parents and our son too. Her 37th birthday is today Dec. 20th so it’s a difficult time. Last year we emailed (the only way left to communicate) her wishing her a happy birthday and she said to stop contacting her. So we haven’t all this year until today. I emailed her pictures of her birthday parties as she was growing up. At least her husband won’t be able to tell her we forgot her birthday and use it against us. God has given us a lot of peace and enabled to be joyful in spite of the estrangement.

  30. MuddlingThrough

    Thank you for this post, Sheri. The last time I saw my daughter and granddaughter was on Christmas Eve, 2019. Although I’ve attempted every kind of contact possible, I’ve received radio silence. It’s been quite a year and your book and the posts here have helped me navigate some very rocky times.

    I’m gearing up for the first Christmas in my life when I will be by myself. My son and his family live in a different state and we’ll do FaceTime and I look forward to that. Otherwise, I plan to have a peaceful Christmas watching movies, reading, and generally being kind to myself. I think that maybe this first year will be the most difficult in some ways.

    Life certainly does go on and I’m game for the three-step cha-cha-cha. Let’s do this thing!

  31. Donna

    Thank you Sheri for another insightful narrative on how to get through the holiday season. Although I will be seeing my two estranged daughters on Christmas Eve I am dreading it. I can see the contempt they have for me the few times we see each other each year. We were once so close and loving. Then I became a target. Your perspective helps get me through these difficult times.

    1. S.

      You are telling my story. Unlike you i will not be
      With my grown kids at all. It will be my first.
      Up until few years ago we were like glue.
      I was a single parent who raised them by myself.
      Both were good kids and are now successful.
      Now that they are grown and moved out….they think They can now be disrespectful. The only time i saw them was when it benefited them. I talked and talked and every time it was just words to them.
      When they did come around i knew they didnt want to be here. It was fake and forced. I would get so upset at the thought of get togethers that i canceled them. I feel so bad for everyone on here.
      Where my story differs from most of you is that i drew the line. Now my kids tell everyone that i left them. They only tell their side of the story.
      For now i am still on fb and i see all their posts
      And i keep asking myself who raised them!
      I have very little support so im so thankful for this site!
      Hope your Christmas Eve goes good for you!

    2. Elizabeth L.

      Donna, this resonates with me. I’m worried you might be putting yourself in harm’s way, psychologically.
      There’s no requirement to line up for abuse so don’t feel obliged to put yourself through this.
      I used to dread the increasingly stressful visits from my daughter, now being free of that is such a relief.

    3. Lynn A. H. (M.D.)

      Gives me the shivers to read your post. My daughter did me a favor by requesting no contact 3 years ago. Although I can not unsee “the looks” in my memory, I never have to experience those cold eyed looks of contempt from her again. I still miss the daughter I was close to until she married. She has become someone I used to know – or thought I did. I still experience “phantom pain” from missing my fantasy adult daughter and 3 grandchildren I have never met but no longer sob through the night and am back to sharing the bed with my husband. I moved to the guest room during the worst so my crying would not disturb his sleep. Not that he was sleeping well. either.

  32. Claire H.

    I completely relate to and understand your latest post Sheri. Thank you so much for once again assuring me that I am not the only one out there dreading the holidays because it is so centered around family. Both of my children have crossed me out of their lives this year…and I was so close to them when they were little. I want to share a recent therapy session that I had after my semi-mental breakdown last week. My therapist gave me great insight that somewhere, somehow, in the past, my children were taught and convinced that I am a person to dislike. It was drilled into their heads, most likely by their father. I can see they don’t like me, and it has been exhausting to keep asking “Why?” I am more clear now, as my two sons have a father (who they don’t talk to anymore) who hammered them day in and day out to hate me so that I would not have any custody or visitation rights years ago during our divorce. And he was successful. But I now have a feeling of relief as to the “Why?” They simply don’t know how to like me. I am an awful person in their eyes. I do feel that this Christmas will be better for me. My agony is reduced greatly. I am releasing my two boys (now 31 and 33) more than ever. Telling myself that it’s all good! Sadness does fall upon me now and then, but I have a more clear understanding of why my thoughts make me sad. Thank you again.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Claire,

      Parental alienation is very real. I am very sorry that it happened to you (and your children). It is a form of abuse and causes so much heartache and damage. Hugs to you, Claire. You are not alone. — Sheri McGregor

  33. Elizabeth

    Good ideas!! I find that changing out our food plans, from what we traditionally used to eat, helps too (tho’ keeping some similar things…like pie, has been good for us…due to being just us 2 now, he gets far more pieces than one ever does in a family gathering which suits him fine!!)…and doing things in general differently. Hubby cannot do a lot now at our ages, but we enjoy a great deal some couples and families on YOUTUBE that share their lives there. Most all completely different than any parts of our lives were too…but I am amazed at how much we enjoy watching. And in a way, it feels a bit like family though we do not have contact with any or them, the fact is, we know a great deal more of them than of our son and his family. Nice of these people to share their lives so…probably with no clue of how they are helping others really. If we were younger and stronger and able to travel, I am certain we would do that over those times where memories were a sadness. But there are many other ways to change things…


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