Holidays: Help for rejected parents in Oktoberfest history

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Rejected parents are already talking about the holidays. Canadians will celebrate Thanksgiving in just a few days, and where I live in the U.S., all the hoopla surrounding Oktoberfest events ushers in the holiday season. All the advertisements for local festivals featuring beer, dancing, food, and fun made me curious. Oktoberfest is popular around the world—and as it turns out, its history offers help for rejected parents.

holiday help for rejected parents

Image by Kerstin Riemer from Pixabay

Flexibility: A vital skill to thrive

In 1810, townspeople in Munich, Germany gathered to celebrate a royal wedding. The rejoicing ended with a feast and a horse race. It was so much fun and good for the economy that within a few years, Oktoberfest had extended into a weeks-long event with food, fun, and carnival rides. A statue was created to watch over the revelers raising their glass beer steins (did you know these make great gifts?).

For more than 200+ years, Munich’s Oktoberfest has evolved to fit circumstances (just as rejected parents do). The horse race was suspended, and the agricultural fair was reduced to every fourth year. Due to wars and other crises, the celebration was sometimes cancelled or enjoyed in new ways. Around the world today, Oktoberfest provides community, learning, and fun. This year, as the holiday season begins, remember how the festival changed—yet still thrives. You can too.

Holiday help for rejected parents

holiday help for rejected parents

At one point, your holidays may have been days-long events requiring much preparation to welcome crowds of loved ones. Today, you may suspend customary activities and reach for new or altered ones. The truth is, even if estrangement wasn’t part of your reality, how you celebrate the holidays wouldn’t stay the same.

Halloweens with homemade costumes may have morphed into watching your teenagers or young adults arrive with ready-mades from the Halloween store. Thanksgiving may have once been a time to gorge, but as you’ve grown older, maybe you know better than to eat quite so much—and pay for it later. At Christmas, when your children were young, you may have stayed up all night to assemble bicycles. Many years later, you might have bought a grandchild a tablet or a phone. At one time, Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer may have been real to your children, but eventually, they knew who brought the gifts. As extended family grew, holidays may have broken off into smaller events.

Customs change to fit the times. Oktoberfest expanded and contracted—and yet it thrives—so  can you and your holidays.

Help yourself

Right now, instead of thinking about everything you’ll miss, dwelling on damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don’t dilemmas such as “Should I send a gift?”, cherish the memories. And then expand or contract. Put on a “costume” to help yourself, ground yourself in what is for now, and get busy with a plan to thrive over the holidays.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll offer more specific ideas and help for rejected parents over the holidays. In the meantime, if you’re beginning to dread the season as so many parents of estranged adults do, at least utilize those feelings for your own good. Your thoughts of what you dread can be the start of a plan. Right now, get a sheet of paper or open a word document and write out the things you worry about or dread the most. Then you can begin to turn the thoughts around.

Here’s a sample list:

  • Being the third wheel at my sister’s big event and seeing her adult children and grandchildren gathered around.
  • Having to brave the holly-jolly music and all the crowds at the stores, the gas station, or the roads.
  • Being all alone on those special days.

Give it a  twist

If this were your list, how might you use what you’re telling yourself to come up with a plan?

If you don’t want to feel like a loner or maybe as green as the Grinch with envy at a family celebration, consider doing something different this year.  Just because relatives’ celebrations are continuing as always doesn’t mean yours must. And just because you do something different this year doesn’t mean you have to the next (Munich’s Oktoberfest was cancelled 24 times … and it’s stronger than ever). Plan something different and tell your hosts early enough that they won’t be stressed. Hint: Come up with a script that heads off any argument or has ready answers to expected questions.

Holidays don’t have to be all about family either. Alternative plans can be fun. Around here, Thanksgiving running or walking events raise money for charity. Maybe a health-conscious friend, non-estranged daughter or son would enjoy getting team T-shirts, helping a good cause, and working off calories instead of piling them on. Bonus: With no time to cook, you could dine out after the race.

Holly-jolly music and crowds got you down? Think now about what you’ll need for the next few months, and then stock up early. Grocery stores and restaurants deliver. Today, medications, toiletries, and almost anything you can think of can be summoned right to your door. Avoid fighting traffic and getting shuffled about in the hustle-bustle. Cozy up to a warm fire and play music that makes you feel good. Or, think of the season as a sort of hibernating period, and then emerge refreshed in the New Year.  Bonus: Getting organized for this season could be the start of habit for a more organized life in the New Year.

If you’re worried about alone time on those special days, take a leap of faith and try something new! Parks & Recreation facilities as well as 55+ senior centers often host holiday events.  Some restaurants offer holiday meal events. Being without family for the holidays is more common than you might think. Try being transparent—and offer solutions instead of sadness. There’s still time to suggest an event at your church, hobby club, or senior center. You may have neighbors who would love some company. You might be surprised whom you inspire and who becomes a friend. Your example can help other people.

Get Smart

This holiday season, plan early. The holidays can be what you make of them. So, raise a mug, toast yourself, and plan your self-care, and thrive—Oktoberfest is.

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70 thoughts on “Holidays: Help for rejected parents in Oktoberfest history

  1. 3DogDays

    As I age out of relevance I am getting better at these ‘holiday’ issues. Still profoundly sad and intermittently depressed.
    I know they are coming. Hating a holiday song that triggers memories. Hitting that mute button on those money monger commercials. I understand the commercialism (profit over everything) and most importantly I except that they simply do not have to apply to me any longer. The memories are embedded. I push them aside so I can run the dogs, volunteer, incessantly clean the house, explore online happy stuff, read the horrors of suppressed people and cultures in our world and then back to my dogs and daily prayers for sanity and forgiveness from whatever!!
    Perhaps, I am vengeful in feeling that my estranged family may or will suffer my same lonely fate in some fashion. They will age! And age with the memories of what they were part of, what they said and what they did. Like me, their selfish and over reactive life behavior realities will haunt them. They will wonder about the right way to live and the stupid ways of wrong and right. Drugs and liquor will never eliminate the memories and questions. Better to do life clean, healthy and sober.

    Snow storm is coming. I do not stay inside. I walk in it to feel alive. Dogs happily stay by their wonderful fireplace. And life goes on.

    1. Squiffy

      You are so eloquent. I would wish to spare my eldest this kind of pain. I really do. I feel that she is teaching her children exactly how they are going to be allowed to treat her some day. I would want to spare her that. I honor your transparency by bringing up the word “vengeful.” Sometimes I feel those things too, but then I think, “She is my daughter. I really do not want this for her.” So there is that ambivalence, isn’t there? Even guilt. As if I don’t have enough of that to cope with. Amen, sister, in the prayers for forgiveness from whatever!

  2. merrybump

    3DogDays, I wish I could get to where you are. Two of my three children have removed me from their lives. As the years go on, I am feeling worse, not better…the profound sense of loss is overwhelming.

    I cannot stop thinking about the past. We had a good relationship and never in a million years did I think this would happen. How do you force yourself to get up, to walk outside, to go anywhere?

    I have been through therapy, am on an antidepressant, and have tried to self medicate at times. I am seeing a new therapist next week. But i feel worthless. If anyone has any thoughts or recommendations, please share them. Thank you for listening.

    1. Surferwoman

      The way I see it, no one can hurt me but me. If I don’t let them hurt me, then they can’t. I choose to not let them hurt me. I have an adult son and adult daughter. I think I am estranged from them but I’m not sure. They never call. When I email my daughter she responds but doesn’t say much. I have the feeling that she doesn’t want to hear from me. And my son already told me that he doesn’t want to be responsible for me as I age. So alright I get that. If they don’t care, I don’t either. It works both ways. Life is full of hurts and this is just one more. Hugs to everyone out there. Be happy if you can.

    2. 3DogDays

      Hard to express everything in writing. I am not whole and happy! I live one day at a time and always fear about tomorrow, next month, money, loneliness and aging!
      Tried the anti depress drugs, but, to me, it was like drinking. Stopped that years ago. I stay outside in nature as much as possible. I exercise, eat and pray to stay healthy and keep the greedy medical industry away from me! I have to live the reality of what is happening to me! I see no end in the proliferation of angst and hatred the world is producing in the young. And me!

      I get up because I have dogs. I walk, volunteer and live in the day because I have dogs. The loneliness is almost bearable…because I have dogs. But the pain, memories and ‘what ifs” are in me everyday. When the dogs pass I pass. The horrors of aging out of relevance is beyond what most people can handle. It is reasonable.
      I used to obsess about how so many young, old, my sister and my son got the courage to go. Now, I know. I understand the pain of overwhelming situations.
      I wish, like Surferwoman, I could not be hurt…But, I am.
      Keep sharing on Sheri’s meaningful site! Theraphy helps. One day at a time helps, Praying, with or without actual proof and knowledge of a God…IT HELPS!

    3. Nancy

      Thank You for sharing, it makes me feel not so alone. Keep praying and finding ways to be more social. I am doing the same still not there yet, but I am not giving up.

    4. Kc

      Hi, am so sorry you really are struggling. Therapy has helped, as have talking to friends. I recently began volunteering at a homeless shelter. My job has been to hand out toiletries, towels, and any cold or pain meds as needed. It had seriously lifted my spirits. Lots of the residents want to chit chat and I’m more than willing!! Making someone happy with deodorant or a tooth brush brings u down to earth!! And I enjoy the casual interactions!! Look around and find somewhere to donate your time. U are needed!! Please reach out, u will feel better. Hugs your way!!

    5. Jane

      Hi. My daughter had done this to me. She’s 37 and we had such a good relationship. I wish I could give advice but I can’t!! There are several reasons why my daughter may have done this but NOTHING that could possibly caused this total estrangement. She actually moved out of state! Well. Here we are. Parents with broken hearts.. but I can’t help but think hers hurts also. We spoke daily, several times daily. EVERY DAY!!! So what happened!!!! ❤️ Thinking of you. Stay strong!!

    6. Christina

      I am so sorry to hear this….I have a delicate relationship with my daughter all because I disagreed with her behavior over her sons wedding ( which is a long story) I was in a mess in the end I went to therapy and although it did not cure me of my heartache. One thing the therapist said was to keep the door open. Which I have done -not easy most times she ignores my txts but we are slowly getting there the sad thing is she does not have a relationship to her son. All I can advise is to keep healthy in body and mind and do not tell your friends to much as if it hasn’t happened to them they don’t understand…my daughter keeps in touch with MY friends thru facebook and of course they all say she is such a lovely girl!It hurts but I am getting better everyday…….why not start an exercise program or a special interest to take your mind of it for a few hours a day at least. …I also bought the book ,’Done with Crying’and was surprised that this seems to be a common occurrance. Good Luck and lots of love .

    7. Melinda H.

      I’m So sorry that you are feeling this way. I am in the same situation you are and I’ve come to forgive myself and realize I did the best I could. I told myself that my daughter could you like everybody else did get therapy get mad at her parents and then MoveOn. I’ve also read up on narcissist and borderline personalities and if this helps anybody if they have a child who has no empathy and has problems with interpersonal relationships and believes their reality is a true out reality compared to others then they have a personality disorder and unfortunately this one there is no medications for. I encourage you to at least explore this Because estrangement a parents and children is not a normal process

    8. Miritadc

      Your post moved me to reply to you.
      My heart bleeds for you and all of us abandoned parents. I try not to love or care too much because it hurts too much. Some days it works better than others . I think of how little my son loves me and how can he live without me and his actions show it so I say to myself why should I suffer so much for a man that does not love me enough to find any road back to his mother. Think about that. Try to not give them the power to hurt you . I realize it’s our child but if they reject us how can we change that. We can only change how we react and we need to care enough about ourselves to not let them destroy us. This year I may not even put up a Christmas tree which I have never done. I am very affected and mourn the loss of my son but should I add to this tragedy and let him destroy me too? Together, we can help each other.

    9. Squiffy

      Hello Merrybump! New member here! I know how you feel! I kind of like what 3DogDays said above about walking in her snowstorm to feel alive. Exercise! Get your serotonin levels up! Just so you know, I hear you about never thinking something like this could happen in a million years. 🙂 If I were there, I would take your hand, pat it, and we would drink tea. And I would smile at you, and say neither did I. So my first advice is exercise. My second advice, and I am speaking to myself as well here, do not punish yourself. Does that make sense? I know that the opinion of our children has much power over us? Whether they deem us “good” or not? Worth knowing? I just read a quote somewhere yesterday that we only have one mother. We can tolerate them, or treasure them, or discard them. And the third is the worst option. We discard what we think has no value. And NO human has the right to say about another human that they have no value! No one has that right. You have value! You are worth knowing! Do not believe the lie that you are “discardable.”

    10. merrybump

      Thank you all so much for your heartfelt messages. Just the fact that you took the time to respond to me helps me feel less alone. You are the angels walking among us!

  3. Jill Atkinson

    Don’t chase people. Be you, do your own thing and work hard. The right people who belong in your life will come to you, appreciate you, and stay.

    1. Miratadc

      I like this don’t chase people and the right ones come around even if it’s your child that has made the decision to leave or reject you. You can’t force love from anyone including your children. Some situations we must accept no matter how hard they are. I have lost my eldest son and I cannot force him to be right with me because it has to come from him as well. I am so hurt that if he did try and have some kind of relationship I would be so different because I no longer trust in his love. This is a long and difficult
      journey one I never expected and I suggest keep busy keep giving where you can and stay connected to society in any way you can.

  4. Kathy tompkin

    I am done waiting, chasing ,or even hoping!! They have gutted me and left a large void. I do not care what their reasoning was, but until they learn some respect and decent treatment of myself. I can no longer muster the strength to care.
    But, involving great grand children who I was so involved with and loved to the moon and back is wrong on so many levels. I kept quiet too long!! Now, I need to take care of me. I should have listen when I was told I was being used and my daughter and her daughters never cared about me. I am going through some medical stuff and may have some very serious surgery. But, instead of my daughter being here for me, she would rather keep up the self centered behavior. I really believe she is void of a soul never mind a heart!!! My only crime was b.c. asking for the verbal and er emotional abuse to stop. Also, it would have been nice to be repaid some she has gotten all these years
    It would have been nice to say good bye to the children I was so close to and not have t I em feel I just walked away!!!!

  5. Sherry r.

    I have been ousted out of my youngest one’s life for over eight and a half years now. My older two seem to like me and include me in their lives. I do not know what i did to be ousted out of her life and shall never know. I have sought out therapy and have been on medications. These are only temporary solutions like bandaids are. The broken heart and pain is always with me. I pray my way through each and every day. I try to make the best out of each and every day. I am grateful for what and whom i have in my life. I wish more people could learn how to forgive, grant someone a second chance and remember those whom were kind to them!

  6. Recovered Ubermother

    I used to be a generally kind, loving and giving person, pouring myself into my child and my community. Estrangement from my son has taught me a valuable lesson about giving and loving. The lesson of not giving it all away. You have to save some for yourself.

    I try hard not to live in bitterness. For a while, like many, I truly wished I hadn’t bothered to become a parent. Now, post menopause and free of the maternal hormonal tugs, I see motherhood as a totally overrated occupation. One with great lessons and joys to be sure, but overrated nonetheless.

    It’s hard unlearning the motherhood programming tropes. Your sense of self has to be rearranged, and you can feel out of sorts for a bit while you figure it out.

    Nowadays, I am rediscovering the simple joy of pursuing my own interests (art) and enjoying people’s company. Out to dinner with friends the other night for a holiday meal, we were all talking about own eventual mortality and what people will remember about us, etc. I commented that no matter what happens we can all count on our children to say: ‘they didn’t do enough for us!’ The room erupted with laughter and everyone talking at once saying: so true!.

    It didn’t take away all of the hurt but it is good to know that many other parents, whether estranged or not, have kids who don’t appreciate them and expect too much.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Recovered UberMother,

      You’re the life of the party!! Thank you for sharing your laughter here.
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Marie

      Me too. I would never have had children if I knew then what I know now. My son actually told me that he doesn’t want to be near me when I am old. He said he doesn’t want to take care of me in my old age. I took care of him his whole life but that doesn’t matter I guess.

    3. Yvette

      It has been seven years since I spoke to my oldest daughter and two grandsons. Every year that passes gets a little easier, but I do not stop thinking about them at all. It is hard at Thanksgiving because that is my favorite holiday and everyone used to come to my house for a big celebration and food. Since that time, I have done other things and invited friends to our house. It is sad also because my own Mother has alienated me and I am afraid she will pass away before we can make amends. It is as if I have lost a chunk of family and I don’t understand why.

      This year there will be 14 happy friends at my table to celebrate Thanksgiving and I know I will not think about what is missing until the last leftover is wrapped up and out the door. I will have some happiness for a little while. I keep myself very busy to cope. It is comforting to know that others know how I feel because unless you go through this — no one has a clue.

    4. Still Searching

      Dear Recovered Ubermother,

      You made it sound so easy. It seems that the friends around you all know about your estrangement and they laugh WITH you. That is what I dream about.

      My husband is 85 and I am 76. Our only child (a son) has abandoned both of us for a few years now. Only if I could achieve your status of having friends laugh with me about life at a lunch / dinner gathering, then I would be tough enough to take the very possible embarrassment at my husband’s future memorial service when he passes away, say, in his late 90s. You see, my son might not speak lovingly about his dad or, worse yet, not even show up for the service.

  7. 3DogDays

    To the others that KNOW.

    ‘Dump the old’ is exactly what is happening in our society! Nobody will admit to it. If one would analyze all the indicators of this unspoken trend, it is pretty clear.

    1. SherryA

      You are correct there is a growing lack of compassion and respect for the elderly. I am so greatful for the kindness shown by some complete strangers. Just a short conversation can brighten the week for those of us who are alone. It’s people such as these that keeps us going on. Bless those of you who make the effort. You will never know how much it means to someone.

  8. Lyn K.

    Wow. This is happening to me again. Last October my daughter found reason to shut me out for 8 months. The past 3.5 months she was in my life again, living at home with me. I was helping her out. The night before she moved out she found reason again to not speak to me. Here we go again. Right in time for the holidays. It is so sad, depressing, embarrassing and hurtful. My own mother is still alive and I speak to her via phone (we live in different states) almost daily. I couldn’t imagine doing to my mother what my daughter is doing to me. My mother, sister and brother are all stymied by her behavior. I can only take so much of “its not you, its her” that just doesn’t help.

    1. Patricia in SC

      We’ve made plans to meet old friends in Chattanooga for TG, the past two years we spent with good friends locally. I must say I enjoyed that more than the times with all our kids where I had to cook. There was no pressures or tensions, just a fun time with dear friends. It’s hard to find since most people are with family for holidays. One TG we rode around looking for a place to eat alone. Not fun.
      It’s been 2 1/2 years and the pain has not subsided. I am doing a lot of painting and immerse myself in it, but the pain is always under the surface waiting to erupt. I started counseling but have not gotten much help so far. I am very depressed and I don’t want to be. I can’t seem to choose not to be.
      But I do look forward to TG with old friends from college in Chattanooga! They have difficult family issues too.

  9. Diane

    I love the comment by the mother reminiscing with friends about how she would be remembered …especially by her children…and she said that they would say “she didn’t do enough”….that would be
    my daughter….really? despite taking her in when she was in college, pregnant, unmarried and her
    father told her to abort and that she couldn’t live with him. Despite generous birthday, Xmas gifts to her and her 3 – despite helping with financial matters for g-daughter, making trips 3xs a year from 3,000 miles away – (only to be ignored mostly)…
    Still shaking my head – wondering what I did wrong, or didn’t do…sooo sad.

  10. MrBill

    For us, it’s been especially hard especially the six grandchildren who we aren’t allowed to see. We can’t send presents since we don’t know where they live. We have no pictures of two of them for over 7 years. So we don’t even know what they look like. Unfortunately the Christmas church activities at our church though there are many, are finished by the first week of December which leaves the remaining days of the month quite empty. Even most parties are over by the beginning of the second week of the month. But we try to dvr as many Christmas programs as possible in Nov and early Dec so we have something to do for the last two weeks of Dec which are especially tough. I’d love to find out if there’s a website for adult children who can share their stories about their decisions to abandon their parents. Do they ever miss their parents? Do they experience shame or even the least bit of guilt? What about those who think they are Christians? I wonder how they view the commandment to honor parents or the mandate to be reconciled to one another? What makes these people’s minds tick? In any event we’re looking into helping out with homeless shelters during the months of December and see if that won’t help fill the deep and dark void we find ourselves in.

  11. Christine H.

    Yes, we aren’t alone in this miserable situation, but it still hurts. I have started treating my son who has rejected me as if he has died. It’s helped me the most. I can’t talk to him or see him which is similar to a passing of a loved one. I’m open to him wanting a relationship hopefully some day, but I don’t expect it to happen. The “no explanation ” part is hard to grasp and accept. I feel every one should be able to have a go at communication. but in my situation there is nothing. It’s as if he never happened to me. He’s my first born and now my first departed. I am learning to not put so much importance on him not wanting me in his life. I work with people his age and they get along great with me. It helps knowing it’s not me. But, I do hope he comes to his senses, I’m just not holding my breath. I have 3 other children and I focus on them…but now I do keep myself a little bit detached for emotional survival. It’s how I’ve learned to function with this situation. I hope I don’t sound too cold blooded. This almost destroyed me. It took awhile to come back to life for me. I also have 2 grandchildren, luckily not by my son. They breath life into me by phone. It’s a day to day thing for me, but I haven’t given up.

    1. Cari J.

      It took me a long time to find a group like this. It is helping so much to read all of your stories. I thought that I was alone. I have four children and one by one, the first three (all from my first husband) have disappeared from my life. There have been no explanations. I still have a son at home with me that is a half brother to the first three. My daughter has tried to get him to treat me as they do. He sees what they have done to me and, for now, has ignored her attempts. It is not only me that they have cut out, it has been the entire maternal side of the family, including their brother. I will never understand it. Two of my children have gotten married without me and I have 4 grandchildren that I cannot see. I was only good enough when they needed something from me. Once they got it, they were gone. My youngest daughter was the last one to stop talking to me. It happened after I told her that I would not be a doormat for any of them anymore. I told her that I deserved to be treated with respect. After that, our contact ended. After almost a year, she sent me flowers on Mothers Day and then texted me in November on my birthday. I finally texted her and asked her to not do those things anymore. To be contacted twice a year by text but ignored the rest of the year is too hard. If she won’t be a part of my life, then she can’t be a part of any of it. I need to move on or I will lose my mind. This has been going on for almost 12 years. Some people have said that I needed to keep the door open and that I shouldn’t have said that to my daughter. Sometimes the door needs to close for another to open. I don’t have all of the answers, but I do know that I am looking at the door less and less since I closed it. I am moving on. I need to live for what I have not agonize over what I am missing. Someday I will discover the reason for this happening to all of us. Maybe read Matthew 10. This is happening more and more. We are not alone in this.

  12. Debra R.

    I take comfort here in the fact I am not alone. I’m trying hard to make my own way. It’s complicated. But I start thinking about them, my daughter, grandson and SIL, and I miss them terribly. I miss our discussions, junking adventures, coffee. My grandson stayed with me a lot. He’s autistic and had no friends. It’s cruel and unnecessary. I try to keep myself busy. Now the holidays are approaching and trying not to let it get to me. I’ve really thought a lot about selling this place and buying an rv to live in and travel. I have a son, DIL and 2 grandchildren here (my daughter lives 2 hrs way) but I don’t think my absence would be devastating. Thank you all for your stories. It HELPS.

  13. Caolina Girl

    It has been 3 years now that we haven’t heard from him or seen him. He is our baby. He was always by my side, holidays and cooking together was our favorite time together.
    Holidays was a time of celebrating for our famiky, the 4 of us. Our 2 sons were very close as brothers.
    Our youngest son hasn’t spoken to his brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins….no one. He got married, joined the Coast Guard and is gone.
    From October to February( my Mother In Laws birthday month. She’s not well and misses her grandson deeply) is very depressing to me. Sometimes I don’t even want to get out of bed. Then it starts again from April ( his Birthday month) May,( Mother’s day, )June, (Father’s day,) My Birthday in July. I try so hard to be happy for my husband and oldest son.
    Thank you for the article, it was tough to read about such a painful subject but I am thankful for the tips.
    I have brought the book, Done with the Crying a couple of years ago but haven’t been able to bring myself to reading it yet.

  14. Frances

    For the past 2 years I have been fortune enough to spend the holidays in Baja. It saved me. It’s easier to pretend it is not even the holidays with the sun and sand. There is no tv full of Christmas commercials, holiday music playing on every corner nor tons of decorations.
    This year I have no plans to go there. I live in the Northwest, where it gets cold. I’m already anticipating how to handle the holidays. I won’t turn cable tv or the radio on. On Christmas day, I do my best to pretend it is just another day. I may venture out to an afternoon matinee at the theater.
    Accepting this situation helps, also accepting that I am not the social butterfly I used to be helps. It’s OK.

    1. Miritadc

      Frances: your post touched me. For the first time I was going to not put a Christmas tree up but yesterday I got a surge of anger or whatever and said to myself I will not cave to this pain and I put simple tree up with just lights, red and white, and it looks pretty. I put a strand of lights on overhang on front porch and I put out a high school photo of my estranged son just til after Christmas when I will take it down. For me, it’s my way of remembering his memory as if he passed away. I feel you never get over this loss especially when he is alive but not present for me. You have to play tricks with your coping and hopefully healing. Yes, birthdays and holidays are more painful and we have to work harder to work through this. It is my first time putting his photo up for holidays only. In February it will be 4th year of our second estrangement. We reconciled for 12 years and before that another 3 yrs of separation. This time I will not beg as I did first time. He and his wife, my 2 grandchildren will have to come to me and I am not too hopeful this will ever happen as his personality is one that does not give second chances and his wife is like that too. Sheri, our of your own pain, thank you for creating this support group and your book is wonderful and so helpful to know we are not alone in this suffering. Happy holidays to each of you and stay busy for better coping. An idle mind is the devils workshop ♥️

    2. Linda

      Hi all, it is Thanksgiving and this one has turned out very odd. This is my first post, so I will briefly fill you in. I had 2 sons. The oldest was adopted at the very end of a bad marriage. I was a single mom with him for about 4 years. I remarried to my college sweetheart, we have been married 27 years. When we first got married I was surprised to find out that I was pregnant. My second son was born, he has Fragile X syndrome. My husband adopted my older son a number of years later. There were many difficult years when they were young. One with a serious disability, the other with learning disability, adhd and executive functioning issues. By the time he was 17, he was evil. He lied, was rude and blamed his brother on ruining his life. He went away to college and basically never returned. Didn’t even have us to the graduation. There is plenty more but that is enough for now. Linda

  15. peter

    I have it a little different in that I know what I did. My only son’s wife’s parents refused to come to their wedding. That was the start as we were so disappointed. But the daughter in law quickly made up with them and things got rocky with us even though we supported them all the way. Finally they said we didn’t respect their marriage and to leave them alone. The killing blow was when we stopped at their house to see our grandson. Daughter in law shut down the blinds and locked the door. That was when we got the email ending it. Didn’t hear from them for 2 years until his mother, my wife was to have major heart surgery. Well wishes but both of them refused to visit her in the hospital. Things started getting a little better and we gifted them several thousand dollars to buy them a tractor. Son promised we could get together every other month so we could see our precious grandsons. As soon as he bought the tractor we never hear another thing from them. Thought we were doing the right thing. The deal is he is a policeman who is an enforcer. She is very happy with her large fundamentally religious family. They feel like they don’t need us. Sheri’s book has helped me. But there is a huge hole in my heart. My wife is able to put it out of her mind except holidays. Thanks for listening all.

  16. Sharon L.

    After years of pain, I am finally in a better place. I’d like to share a few things I did in case it helps others. First I decided to accept the reality that my family situation is a handicap that I have to live with and work around. I treat myself with compassion and patience as I learn to navigate life differently now. Second I wrote down 3 happy images. Finding any happy thoughts was a struggle at the time so I kept them super simple. The sunset out my window, the wagging tail of my dog when I ask him if he wants to go for a walk, the smell of fresh bread. My brain was in the habit of being drawn to sad thoughts so EVERY time I started to go down that road, I read my list over and over. Then I made myself go do something to keep busy and distracted. I was very strict with myself about this and after a few weeks it got easier. I started noticing more to add to my happy list and I liked the feeling of not drowning in sadness all the time. I loved all the little things I had accomplished by redirecting my energy. It was a win-win! Christmas was particularly sad and lonely. I found it hard to socialize and deal with all the questions about my family plans for the holidays and hear about other’s plans. So I decided to put my self-induced isolation to good use. Instead of eating all the calorie-rich food from parties, this was a perfect opportunity to eat healthy at home. Instead of my usual Christmas baking, I tried new healthy recipes. To stay busy and stir up some happy hormones I started an exercise program. By January when it was safe to resurface from my cocoon, everyone was complaining about weight gain and feeling exhausted. By then I had lost 20 pounds, had a repertoire of yummy meals, and felt fantastic in my new slimmer body. The extra sleep gave me a glow and made me feel recharged and happier. Who wouldn’t love that? The bonus was that everyone wanted to talk about how great I looked instead of asking about my family activities. Now I think of December as my Personal Supercharge month and have fun coming up with self-care goals. Lastly, I am proud that I now have 200 items on my Happiness List. I carry it with me all the time to remind myself that my pain does not define me anymore. It helps me remember that even with a broken heart I am making myself whole again. ❤️

    1. K.V.

      The holidays are extremely painful and sad for me. I will try to make plans with your suggestions. Thank you.

    2. J.Wise

      I thank you for sharing your process of a healthier you.
      Congrat’s to you. That is a fantastic idea of writing a Happiness List and an exercise program. I find it painful also to deal with all the holiday expectations.
      Wish you peace during the D month!

  17. Shirley

    Thanks for all the lovely comments. To all who are suffering, feel the pain and let it go. My estranged son, wife and four little ones of seven years has knocked me down. The worst is they moved to another country and I have no way of knowing that they are alright. Not knowing, has put a deeper level of hurt and pain in my heart. I have pictures of them, pray for them, forgiven them and this is the best I can do. One of the most difficult lessons in life is realizing that your son or daughter-in-law don’t want to be part of your life. I’m so happy to know this group and the book has also been a huge Blessing, thanks to Sheri! Grief comes in waves, and I continue my life journey of finally looking after myself. Know that there are still good people out there who love your company. I found this to be true. Sending ❤️ To all of you.

  18. snoopy62

    I would like to thank all the people that shared their stories. It’s unbelievable that so many good parents with good intentions have to suffer … The most difficult part is not to know why ? It’s the part of guilt…
    Thank you Sheri for all your good work !!! It helps me a lot and your book is always in my sight so I can read a part when I am in need.

  19. Robert F.

    Thank you from my wife and I. Done with the Crying, and your wonderful sharing words, may have saved us. Thank you all, Blessings

  20. Paula

    I have two estranged one still in contact.i get thru it knowing I did my best as a one is perfect .their dad has numerous medical problems like a paralyzed my husband’s wishes I tell them nothing.i finally understand ideas put on earth to help all and have no one to help me.i pray I can go as long as possible to help my husband so he’s not thrown into a home.upon numerous tries with my two daughters is will try no more and realize it’s not meant to be.i take warmth in my five cat. Babies

  21. Linda S.

    My daughter suddenly has decided I cannot see or have any communication with my grandchildren with whom I have been close since their births 14 and 11 years ago, respectively. I cannot budge her so am struggling to accept it. I know that eventually they will come back in my life on their own. Until then, I treasure celebrate what I do have – a loving partner, supportive friends and being surrounded by all of nature’s beauty and glory in the Pacific Northwest.

    1. When the Levee Breaks

      It’s beyond sad when adult children abandon parents and use grandchildren as pawns to wield some kind of a power play. We are going through this. We have not seen our son (and his wife) or our granddaughters in 1285 days. He did call us 555 to discuss a meeting to gather and talk and to be a family again. He told us he would schedule such meeting the following month. It never happened. Three months after the call to us, he texted his mother (my wife) that scheduling a meeting was his top priority that week. it never happened.
      I am not sure which is worse: Complete and total abandonment, OR, estrangement (with a call indicating HOPE) and then having the cold winds of abandonment re-establishing itself onto our heavy hearts.

  22. Jewelene

    Thanks for all the comments. To all who are suffering feel the pain and loneliness and let it go. I would like to thank all the people that shared their stories. It’s unbelievable that so many good parents with good intentions have to suffer. Sending my love to all.

  23. Dawn

    I am newly rejected, dressed down by my daughter-in-law what a horrible mother I am. It was just me and my son for a long time and I did my best but all of a sudden he has issues with me. I was yelled and screamed at by her assuring me that she does not want to tear our family apart but alas I am cut out from seeing my grandchild. I had to go to a therapist because I am not equipped to deal with this sudden estrangement, I was very close to my son and now he is deferring to her. They have brought his father into their lives, I divorced him when my son was 2, he never supported my son and I had to pay him alimony. My only close family lives 3000 miles away, my second husband is just as distraught. This is horrible.

    1. Squiffy

      Dear Dawn, I just logged on for the first time a minute ago and saw your letter. You are the first person I am responding to, too. I am seven years in, so not newly rejected as you wrote. I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. Just so you know, not wanting to put the focus on me, but my son in law said the same to me seven years ago, “What kind of a mother ARE you?!” Good question, actually. I have been trying to answer that myself since then. It is quite galling, isn’t it, when people who have been in your life for only a short time, have yet to experience so much of what awaits them, suddenly find themselves expert judges and take on the role of standing over you to judge your performance?! Being dressed down by someone half your age is bewildering, isn’t it? So I will share what I am learning for myself. Do not look for validation from children- from people who are too young to know anything yet. When I look back to when my son in law dressed me down as well, now I would hope to have had a different reaction to his bullying. Get up, straighten my spine, look him in the eyes and tell him to mind his manners! I do not have to answer anything that undermines my dignity. I do not have to submit to verbal put downs and neither do you, sweetheart. You do not DESERVE to be verbally abused. To add insult to your injury the father has been called in? So this smacks of real injustice! Galling! It really amazes how blind people can be. And cruel. You have a husband who is distraught? Hold each other!!!

  24. Saffy

    I’m SO SORRY that there’s so many of us estranged (betrayed) parents out here hurting and missing the children we raised just b/c they don’t want us in their lives anymore. I never ever thought of dumping my mom or dad. I’m 68 yrs old & even though my parents both died when I was in my 20’s—I still miss them so much! I’d give anything to visit with them once again and yet my only child, a 48 yr old woman, who I would’ve done anything for, hasn’t spoken even one word to me in the last 9 years. She trashes me behind my back & has destroyed my relationship with my only grandchild. This is the 3rd time she’s dumped me in the last 21 years but I have FINALLY learned that she doesn’t want or need me–I’m so dumb–it took me a long time. I’ve tried in the past to have some kind of relationship with her but I’VE GIVEN UP! I’ve had no one to talk to about this & that’s why I’m so very thankful to have found Sheri’s website & book a few months ago. THANK YOU SHERI–you & everyone here have helped me become so much stronger!

  25. J Wise

    Holiday blues have already set in!

    Grieving and trying to reconcile the pain of what the ‘holly, jolly holidays are supposed to be about, being with the ones you love. The pain around my heart physically aches. I am so tired of my AC controlling me with their victimization. Not looking forward to any holiday anymore-, esp Mother’s Day.
    I gave them too much of too much. I will own that.
    Who they marry can change the whole trajectory of a family especially when their spouse controls your AC to alienate the parent(s) and get the other AC to follow. Also, my GChild is not encouraged to know her GP’s. Painful beyond words!
    Trying to think healthy about how to escape the holiday expectation/disappointment band wagon this year!
    Give my time to serving Christmas dinner to people who appreciate a hot meal with people who are loving & compassionate.
    Thank you Sheri, for offering us all a safe platform to connect with other parents through this painful period of our lives. Wishing you and everyone out there who is really struggling day by day, peace and minimal pain during the holidays! Lets put US first going forward.

  26. Squiffy

    Hello ladies! This is my first posting. I am probably your newest member? First, I want to express my gratitude to Sheri. I first encountered her name after finding her incredibly transparent article about her son’s wedding that broke my heart on her behalf. So much resonated! Her book arrived today. I am very nervous about reading it, because it feels like a scab is about to be torn off my heart. I am seven years into the estrangement with my eldest daughter, one of three children. The other two seem to love me and are perplexed at their sister. Estranged daughter has three children whom I do not get to see. I also appreciated the greeting when logging on- Sorry you have to do this?- or something like that. ME TOO! It really is surreal, isn’t it? You all say that!- The unimaginable thing happening, we had a great relationship, etc… sigh….anyways…for now…sending hugs…thank you for being there.

  27. bookworm

    Hello, I came upon this site at just the right time. I’m thankful to others that have shared their stories. Finally, people that understand what I’m going through. Thank you, and bless you all.

    1. Sharon O.

      Hi to all the brave parents represented here. Reinventing yourself is a real challenge after such a horrific trauma. Thank you for the survival strategies suggested in this site. I think we all deserve medals for bravery!!! I am going to purchase an affirmation pendant. Thanks again everyone

  28. Tina

    Hi Everyone! It sucks to be a part of this “club,” doesn’t it? I was doing so well. My only daughter estranged from me in February, before she graduated from high school…probably influenced by the “out-laws.” Her dad, the love of my life, committed suicide when she was 2…during an argument with his mother. His mother has never told me what the argument was about, but somehow I am to blame. Now my daughter, the light of my life, will not have anything to do with me, and I have no way to contact her. My dad suffered a massive heart attack & died on October 9th. She came to the hospital before he died. I hugged her…but she stood stiff as a board and refused to look at me or speak to me. So now I am dealing with the loss of my daughter and my dad. I was doing pretty well, until today. I’m thankful I’m not alone…and feel guilty for feeling that way, because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I’m sure the holidays will get easier, but today I just want to cry. God bless you all. — Tina

  29. Jan

    I tried this morning to reconcile with my daughter, but I was told by my mother”Absolutely not- you are not going to ruin Thanksgiving”. So, I gave up at her request. I made a conscious decision to think before I said anything. So, then I was accused of being too quiet & still ruining the day. I feel like I can ‘t do anything right & I am about to go over the deep edge. Tonight, we went to my mothers for leftovers & when my husband left the room, she confronted me & said I still ruined her day. She shook her finger at me & hit me on the nose with one of her fingernails which brought tears to my eyes due to the trauma, not the upset. I’m not quite sure what to do. Then, we got home & my husband said “ you ruined another holiday-Thanks a lot” When I tried to tell him what happened, he didn’t seem to believe me. I just wish the holidays were over. He said he was going to the nearest city, have a Chinese dinner & stay away at Christmas. I thought I was doing the right thing & remaining quiet, but that’s not even right. Any ideas of how to proceed or what to do at this juncture.

    1. Better4it

      What I am going to say is easier said than done, it will take time and thought; on a personal level I had to respect my ED decision to exile herself, and our two grandchildren, from our entire family. Her decisions were immature, ridiculous, violent, and selfish, as described by everyone who heard both sides of the story.

      For the sakes of my two daughters and families that surround me, I make it a point to make the time we have together a positive time filled with laughter, memories and fun times. If they choose to bring the ED up, we openly discuss her, but that is up to them, and believe me, it is rare.

      We have no control over these estranged adults and their decisions, but we have full control over how we behave. I can accept how other families are intact, this is my life now and I know this can be forever, so I better make the best of what I have.

      I will not allow anyone to try to destroy my family dynamics anymore, no matter who they are. I have moved forward for the betterment of us and I have seen a much strong improvement in our lives.

  30. sandy

    Another holiday down and with the exception of one really rough spot, it was a good day. My husband and I celebrated with my daughter and her family and everything was good until I gave the blessing before dinner. I prayed for family members who were not with us and the tears started flowing. My son has been estranged from us (with the exception of answering an occasional text) for almost two years. It is the “why” that is forever on our minds and when I say we don’t have a clue, it is the honest truth. We have always been a well-adjusted family and suddenly he “prefers to be by myself” is his response. We suspect that he may be hiding depression caused by breakups with ex-girlfriends, etc., or some alcohol involvement, but nothing that we have done or said. We have written numerous e-mails offering to help with any issues he is experiencing. He does not say anything ugly or mean to us, but just wants us to leave him alone. He is smart and has a good job, but we know nothing about his present life except that he does not want to have a relationship with us or his sister. She is deeply hurt and is angry with him for the pain he is causing us. I texted him two weeks before Thanksgiving and asked if he wanted to join us. He did not respond but I was expecting a text saying he had to work (he works in a medical setting and sometimes this is true). I try to keep “the lines open” in case he has a change of heart. I don’t want to give up all hope but as time goes on, it becomes more difficult. My daughter is going to her European in-laws for Christmas and I am so dreading the day. Do I still invite my son for Christmas even though I know I am setting myself up for more disappointment?

  31. Donna


    All your comments have been so helpful….to know that we are not alone! My son & daughter in law want nothing to do with me for the last 3 to 4 years. My son told me they do not like me. It’s very hard to have a peaceful, warm, loving relationship again with everyone in harmony when you can’t solve a problem when you don’t know exactly what it is. My son does not want to talk. Someone needs to lock he & I in a room so we can actually “talk” about what is bothering each of us. No one is perfect… one. But my son now……& apparently many other sons & daughters think they are perfect & their parents are messed up.

    The other sad thing is I do not get to see, enjoy & interact with my 3 grandchildren from my son & daughter in law. Half the time, I do not know if it is truly my son who does not want to be with me……or if it is my daughter in law pushing this. A mystery! But I daily pray this will soon end & we can all be in peace, love & harmony again in a family relationship………believe in the power of prayer!

  32. Regina T.

    Has been 16 years that my son abandoned me.
    I am not ready to talk about it yet, as I never talked before, but I would like to be part of a group that will accept me with my struggles and pain.


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