How to accept estrangement?

By Sheri McGregor

How to accept estrangement? Embrace the season

I’ve always loved the song by The Byrds, Turn! Turn! Turn! Our lives do have seasons within them, and the song’s lyrics encourage us to accept and embrace those phases. It’s a smart notion, and a sensible way to think about how to accept estrangement.

Parents of estranged adults sometimes balk at the word, “accept,” but it doesn’t mean you agree with their behavior or that it’s acceptable. Acceptance means recognizing facts, and also recognizing that a child’s bad opinion of you or their decision to estrange does not change the truth about you as a parent.

How to accept estrangement: Move forward by looking back

When it comes to moving forward, acceptance also means examining how the situation has personally affected you.  That’s why my first book on estrangement, Done With The Crying, includes guidance, advice, and written exercises that allow you to explore in detail just how far the trauma of the situation – discord, abuse, emotional blackmail – has infiltrated so many areas of your life.  Your health, mood, quality of sleep, how you’ve withdrawn from other relationships and activities … The estrangement may have affected you spiritually and dampened your general enjoyment of life.

When I took pen and paper and really took stock of how deeply my adult child’s cutting off had affected me and my life, it served as a wake-up call. I had allowed another adult’s decision to control my life and outlook. That’s why I feel it’s so important for parents to take some time to really look at the facts. How much time do you and your spouse spend talking about the estranged adult child? Have you started avoiding other people at work because you know they’ll be talking about their happy families? Do you avoid or dread social situations? Have you stopped exercising or are you eating or drinking more? When you look at these changes to your behavior and outlook, you have no choice but to accept the reality—and then you can Turn! Turn! Turn!—to the things you can do right now to take charge for your own growth and benefit.

How to accept estrangement when it continues on and on

Your acceptance may mean recognizing that during every holiday season you can start to feel down. The same goes for other special dates or places. You can plan for these triggers and make changes to support yourself. How did you rise above the funk the last time? What can you do to hasten your turnaround this time?

Remember, you are in the driver’s seat. Don’t keep steering toward dead-ends and roads that only double back to sadness. Don’t drive in circles, revisiting old pain, and wishing things would change. . . . Instead, get the support you need to refuel, follow a new roadmap, and drive onward in your own treasured life.

Over time, most parents come to realize that it’s much less about looking within for the reasons why the cutting-off occurred  and more about how to accept estrangement and love your life anyway.

When you subscribe to my newsletter, continue to read at this site, get my books and do the exercises, leave comments and talk with other parents here, you are following the wise advice of a catchy old song derived from the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes—Turn! Turn! Turn!

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121 thoughts on “How to accept estrangement?

    1. rparents Post author

      Jan Phyllis,

      I’m grateful to have been of help to you. I see all your comments here at the site, and your beautiful soul shines like a beacon. Thank you so very much for your kindness to me and other parents here.

      HUGE hugs,
      Sheri McGregor

  1. At a loss

    Two children…. our son passed away 6 years ago at the age of 27. After his funeral our daughter told us she wanted no contact while grieving and she would explain in a letter. That was the last we heard from her. Facing painful end of life decisions .

  2. Kathy C.

    Kathy C.

    We have been estranged from our married oldest son for nine years now, on and off. After they had their first son and lost the baby they came back to us. We saw them on holidays and family birthdays for five years. The relationship was never the same. They had twin girls 2 years later. We spent some time with them after the girls were born, but I wasn’t allowed to hold the girls until they were much older. I have physical disabilities and I think they were afraid I wasn’t able to hold them properly. It was very hurtful. The twins are now 4-1/2 and they have a 2 year old now too. We had a tragedy in our family last spring. I don’t think my daughter in law thought our family was fit to be with after that happened, so she pulled my son away from us again. We didn’t see them or talk to them for 8 months. This time is was so much harder because it involved saying good bye to grandchildren. I told my son he didn’t have the right to take grandchildren away form us, even though he does. It’s been so gut renchingly awful. We saw them twice over the holidays, very short visits. The twins definitely enjoyed the visits. Our son and daughter-in-law not so much. I have texted him and called him once since then and he has gone dark again. I truly don’t know what to do. He won’t talk about the estrangement truthfully. He says its because we haven’t supported his marriage. And it’s true, we are not “in love” with our daughter-in-law, but she has not treated us well ever since she met us she has done nothing but try to pull our son away from his family. They spend every holiday with her family, we are definitely the B team. They vacation with her family. We don’t have a chance. When we do get to see them, the visits are short and planned to be that way. We have a younger son that has autism. Our 2 sons used to be extremely close. Our daughter in law has driven a wedge between our sons even, by not allowing her husband to visit our younger son and continue his brother relationship. Our younger son doesn’t understand where his brother has gone, he just says, he’s working and busy with his kids. It’s so sad.

  3. Carrie-Ann

    Dear Tisha,
    I could so relate, as I read your posted comment this morning, dated last night, December 31, 2021 at 11:05 pm. You said the following concerning your son returning:

    “But I admit to having mixed feelings. There is no explanation given. No apology or really just an explanation. I don’t understand why I’m uneasy. It is what I’ve wished and prayed for all this time. what’s wrong with me?”

    Tisha, I am currently going through the same kind of thing (feeling unbalanced…unclear…untrusting).

    I am asking, “WHY in God’s Name am I asking what’s wrong with me??? I am telling the following words to myself first, and sharing them with you…
    “Listen to the uneasiness…Trust your Heart…Be careful what you wish and pray for…What shows up may not be the real deal…It makes perfect sense that one can feel distrustful in a situation with someone that is not being trustworthy.” There is Absolutely nothing wrong with you…to have the sane intelligent thoughts you’re having…You Are the Gate-Keeper Of Your Heart & Life…”

    Tisha, what I do know for sure, and trust is that we are not alone in this…Beautiful Sheri & this Wonder-Full website, & and each of the parents in this online community, Beautiful Sheri’s books, and one working with the books in dealing with the past, as well as what comes up in the present, is what is True & Empowering…Sheri’s words, parents and their experiences that she has dealt with that share in the books, are such Blessed resources…

    Tisha, Thank You for sharing…Your words give me reflection for my own situation…Happy New Year!!!

    I am with you in Spirit…

    1. G cook

      Enstranged children. I have two and grandchild. I did notget to hold him much in his 1st days of life. I was treated like a stranger accept for when existing problems arrived. I feel I am being punished and that it is easier for them to walk away rather then deal with their demons. I take everything to heart and feel the daggers are cuts from my wounds. I have cried for a long time, because it hurts. Love does not hurt.

  4. angela w

    It’s been twelve years of estrangement from my two adult daughters. I’m still struggling with shock, grief, and anger.
    Like many others on this site, everything seems to happen at once. Their estrangement took place after a divorce, the cancer deaths of my mother, father, aunt, a diagnosed blood disease, and my travel to the Middle East to deal with the grisly death of my brother there.
    My daughters did not acknowledge any of these events. I rarely, if ever, hear from them. They refuse to open a dialogue with me or with my therapist. I’m told that I am a warm and empathetic person, and have no reason to believe that I’m not. Yet I continually soul search.
    As someone (Leah???) mentioned in a prior post, I thought I was giving them the wonderful childhood that I never had. What I created was two narcissists who are very cold.
    Oftentimes I think that I’m over it. Other times the feelings come percolating to the surface. I have to accept that this will never really be over. They have ruined my life, and can somehow justify that.
    I had a difficult mother for sure, but I never cut her off.

    1. Barb

      Dear Angela,
      I have said the same words to myself, thought the same thoughts. Just yesterday, I was discussing with my closest friend that I spoiled my children, gave them too much, and have spent years feeling guilt and self loathing due to the estrangement. The onset of every new year brings the realization that I have spent another full year worrying about my children rather than myself. I am 68 and it is time to remove the shackles of guilt, sorrow, and placing my own needs last. Please do not waste years in conflict as I have. Embrace your life and be kind to yourself. You deserve no less. Happy New Year! May 2022 be the year of your cleansing and release.

  5. Leah

    I have read through many of these seeking a pattern of behavior with the parents. What I am hearing is that most of you were very good parents some even seeking to compensate for poor personal upbringings in an effort to ensure that did not happen to your child. Overcompensation maybe? I definitely see that pattern in myself. My oldest daughter is biological and the youngest is adopted which adds a whole other facet to my situation. The adopted child left 3 days before Mother’s Day with her infant son that she had out of wedlock. Some postpartum depression maybe? A power struggle because she was living with us and we were helping with the baby? Someone in the thread spoke of the estranged child as having all the power in the relationship. She tends to run to the parent with the least resistance. The ex-husband’s wife wants to be Disney Mom and I am the one with expectations such as encouraging her to find a way to support herself and her newborn. Some of you have struggled with this for years. My child has only been gone for 7 months. I am already very tired of the power struggle and more importantly, do not want to feel as if I am the victim. I wrote every week at least and sometimes more to no avail. No answers. Dec. 1st I wrote to invite her to our family Christmas and chose not to write again till Dec. 26th giving her every opportunity to participate. Waiting made me feel that I was taking back some of my own dignity. The letter was blocked. I am unsure what part the ex is playing in this, but he is certainly offering a soft spot to land. I have received no thank yous for Christmas or birthday gifts, so I have decided that from now on, I will not chase her down to give them to her, though I will send to my grandson. Yet, this may sound crazy, but I am about to give her a large sum of money just as I gave my other child in order for her to have a good start in life. There is a young man involved that I believe is needy and perhaps wants her all to himself? Some friends thing that I should not send the money, yet I feel it will give me closure and that I will be keeping a promise from long ago. I will be doing what I promised that I would. After that, I will be laying her at the foot of the Cross where the Savior loves her more than I do if that can even be imagined. I envision myself as releasing her. In other words, I will be giving her over to her decision to estrange herself. Some of you have gone on with this for years, but I see myself as arriving at the place of “acceptance”, as Sherri says, very early. What does that say about me? I only want to be obedient to Christ in my situation. Your reflections are welcome.

    1. Kathy H.

      I think it’s wonderful that you have come to the place of acceptance so early. It took me years to get here and I still struggle at times – esp. around the holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions. I am a work in progress, but I am getting more comfortable with the “letting go”. It’s a hard place to come to when we deeply value family, devoted our entire lives to our children, and thought we did a pretty good job parenting them (better than we received from our own parents). But THEIR choices are beyond our control. They are adults with lives and families of their own, and we aren’t able to control them or their decisions or make them have relationships with us. All we can do is try to live our own best lives, pray for their health, safety and happiness, and hope for some type of reconciliation in the future that is healthy for all of us. We also have to accept the fact that that may never happen. It sounds like you have done all of this. I am a little concerned about you giving your estranged daughter the “large sum of money” you have set aside for her. While I commend you for wanting to do so, I question the timing. If your daughter is truly being negatively influenced by the ex in this situation (I’m unclear as to whether this is her ex or yours, but either way…) then you might want to reconsider gifting her with this money at this time. Maybe you could set up a trust instead where she can receive a small portion of the money each year or maybe give her a part of it and put the rest in accounts for her for the future and for your grandson (and any future grandchildren) to attend college later. That way your daughter will still receive her gift and benefit from it, but won’t be able to blow it all at once – like so many do when they come into a sudden large sum of money. As long as she receives the gift you promised, in whatever form that may be, you are still honoring your promise. It’s not about her being “adopted” (I have both biological and adopted children myself), but rather about her ability to handle that sum of money at this time without negative influences in her life. You don’t say how old she is, but it’s likely she’s relatively young and unfamiliar with how to handle this amount of money. Let her mature a little more. Just my two cents. I wish you well whatever you decide.

    2. JUDY W

      set up a trust instead of giving her the money. Trust to end 15yrs from now….with the caveat that she’s to see a financial planner….and a therapist.

  6. BooksandTrees

    I really feel as though, this Christmas, I have ‘accepted’ my son’s choice not to have me substantially in his life. As you say, Sheri, not accepting the behaviour so much as accepting the reality of his choice. Perhaps I am finding it easier to live with his choice this year because I have really made my own life now. I have friends and other family who I turn to first to share news or mutually support when the covid stuff is getting us down. I’ve developed new hobbies. My boyfriend and I have grown really close this year.

    And so, finally, maybe, hopefully, I am emerging from the pain and anger of nearly three years of trying to come to terms with this on-off semi-estrangement. I am content to let him get on with his life and even wish him well. And, best of all, I am happy again.

    1. Tracey

      I am reading this post whilst awake and unable to sleep three plus years on from our daughter choosing to cut us out of her and our grandkids life. I have so much else to be thankful for and hope that I can get to this point of acceptance too. Thank you for sharing and helping me to see I can steer my hope in a different direction.

    2. Abby K.

      wow!!! Your post sounds like I should have written it! I am in the exact situation….. and your words have helped to validate just where I am at this time……. Up until now I was not allowing myself any happiness because of the disconnect with my son……. but you are soooooo right….I can now accept the reality of his choice and embrace my new life which unfortunately I have kept on hold for almost 14 years!!! I lost my mom and my sister within 4 months of each other this year,,,,,, the lack of concern for me from my son was really the last straw….. I stopped counting the hurts over these last three years….. I know our relationship can never go back to where it once was……..sooooooo you are so right,,,, let him go…. I wish him well with his life….. it’s time I embraced my life now and enjoy all that it has to offer…… My boyfriend, his family, our life here in California…. I am truly blessed


    3. Kathy H.

      I am so very happy you have come to this place of acceptance in your life and that you have created a new life for yourself with loving, supportive family, friends and activities. That’s awesome! It’s something I am still striving to do for myself. Your story gives me hope. 😀

  7. Alison S.

    I find myself scanning the comments, looking for happy endings but there doesn’t seem to be any.
    My son, my youngest, cut me, his step dad and his sister out of his life 2 years ago. We were a very close, loving family in a wonderful community and he and his sister were beautifully close. We tried to keep communicating but he and his girlfriend decided they didn’t want us in their lives.
    I have read so many articles, talked to so many people and worked very hard to come to a place of peace, knowing we did nothing wrong. Everyone I talk to says he will return some day. I hold on to that hope and search for similar stories with happy endings.

    1. Julie

      HI Alison
      We have a son who met a girl who then got jealous of his twin brothers girl and decided that he shouldn’t be part of our family anymore if we continued to have a relationship with my other sons girl. its really a weird situation and has been going on for years. This past year they got married, had us to the wedding then proceeded to pretend we weren’t there. They didn’t include us in anything. We were told that we couldn’t host a rehearsal dinner, we weren’t introduced as his parents, I wasn’t asked to dance with my son on this day and they never came over to his side of the family to say “Hello”. That was the last straw for us, we left immediately after their dance and I haven’t heard or reached out since. My point is we have come to the stage that you are in. We have accepted the estrangement as his decision, we gave him a beautiful life but we are moving on with our other children. We are finally getting through days without thinking of him constantly . We have told him on numerous occasions that the door will always be open and it will, but we are no longer standing at it waiting, It has been a tough, emotionally draining road but we see light at the end and can only hope that he can find a way back. Thanks for sharing! These stories help us immensely knowing we aren’t the only parents out there living these weird lives.

    2. Red

      Alison, I know your pain you are thru going on 6 years. I have just in the last year of finally accepting reality that my son and his wife for what every the reason unknown to me don’t want or need is in their lives. The years of emails, letters and phone calls with no communication at all from them,. For so long I felt like I had to keep trying, if I didn’t I would feel so guilty. When I finally realized they are the one that wants this estrangement and not my husband and I, I had to let go and honor their decision. I love my son and wish them happiness and peace with their life without us in it. I will never stop praying for someday fora change in their decision. I have to move forward in order to keep my sanity. Alison, I know this doesn’t sound like a happy ending but Now I can smile and enjoy life a little better and focus more on my husband, our other son and my precious grandchild. I pray someday soon you can realize it’s their choose and you need to go on with life. Sincere thoughts, Red

  8. Dianne

    Happy Holidays to All!

    Acceptance is very important to recovery, if I can call it that. I accept that our son in his 30’s is living a life without his family, or is he? He or him and his wife have decided 4 Christmases ago to create their own family living our family behind. It began with me being the bad guy. I didn’t buy into that because I was in a good place to know who I’m and what kind of mom I had been to him and his 3 siblings. At times it’s best this way as it was getting pretty harsh with his words. Yes sticks and stones – words can hurt us. For me, that hurt doesn’t last long because it’s his truth not mine. Also, I highly believe in the brain can be rewired. If one can think either positive or negative thoughts over and over again, then it is then it will rewire to those beliefs. Accepting that I can’t change this nor would I have energy to do so and when I got down that path of oh what if or I wish it could be….or even sadness I grab on to my faith and give it to God and also count my blessings I have three other children with their families that love us.. Gratitude is Powerful too.

    1. JanPhyllis

      My first estrangement came from my eldest son!
      He is reunited after 21 yrs! Said and done!
      Now I am NOT working on my younger sons estrangement!
      My feelings are so be it.
      I am also working but only a little on my husbands betrayal, by still being in contact with him!
      It is NOT as Ms McGregor says presenting a United Front. Again I say so be it!!!!
      I am 73, handicapped and struggle with that!!
      I no longer can ignore myself for others!
      I care about you all and wish you all to find peace, acceptance, a United Front, take care of yourself and those who love you!!!!!!
      Give yourself to our Lord and try and accept what life has
      been given to us! I am just getting there!
      Love to all those who suffer from this affliction!!!

    2. JanPhyllis

      Dianne………really awesome thought…..”his truth not mine”!!
      You are right!!!! Thank you!

  9. Kathy

    Thank you Sheri for your Countdown to the New Year. You are amazing, always knowing. I made it to Boxing Day this year! It’s been 6 years estranged from my 41 year old daughter and the past few months I was finally feeling progress in accepting and moving on. Finally. Thank you for being there once again. I am reading from Dec 24 to catch up as I realize I’m not out of the woods yet! Still need you.

    Thank you to all of you who post your experiences and your feelings. It helps me in so many ways to know I am not alone on this journey. As I read your posts I am always amazed at the similarities, sometimes it feels that I am reading a page out of my journal.

    Keep the faith, we will get through this together.

    1. Kathy H.

      Amen! I’m right there with you Kathy! I hope and pray we continue to heal in the coming year and that our lives continue on the positive paths we are creating.

  10. Peaceinmind

    Thank you Sheri for this beatiful and encouraging post. And to all of you.
    I have some thoughts this morning:

    The meaning of life – to enjoy every day as it was our last
    The meaning of things that happens to us – sometimes we don’t see it now, and sometimes there is no meaning, and sometimes we see it later.

    I am reading a book about a young woman who got a sever cancer (leuchemia) when she was 22 years old (she is now 32). This girl had chemo treatment for more than 20 times, was so close to die and the horror and pain was difficult to accept. However, when I read what she did to keep moving forward I understood fully that the only way out of misery is to feel, be with yourself and be pro-active.

    I am looking forward to read the next days blog posts. Hugs to all of you.

  11. Mickey M.

    They hurt us because they can. It is a willful and deliberate action; a sadistic action. We are held hostage by our love for them and they have all the power…silent and deadly power and they know it! I think something evil has taken over these adult children; something we cannot possibly grasp; something that seeks to divide and destroy; something that creates the opposite of love in them and that destructive force is apathy. I think this divisive force will continue in their children’s lives like dark cells dividing and separating. May God help us all. I cannot forgive someone that does not have the consciousness to ask for forgiveness; it is a word that becomes just an empty and hollow echo that fades into nothing. The only thing that seems real is our collective debilitating, gut wrenching pain.

    1. Eliza

      I’m glad you raised this issue b/c in some ways, I find forgiveness a very complicated concept to manage. It would be a lot easier if the person who has hurt you recognizes what he/she has done and apologizes, but in my experience, that very rarely happens. As a result, we don’t have any way to begin a conversation that could lead to reconciliation, b/c we won’t be talking about the same thing…
      I wonder how different the world would be if more people could simply say “I’m sorry…” or at least acknowledge that they’ve done something wrong…

    2. Gail B.

      Hi Mickey, I have two sons that have entirely cut me out of their lives. I was a devoted Mom who loved and still loves my sons. My husband died four years ago. I have no other family. I am 72 years old. I realized a long time ago that forgiveness is a conscious act of the will, not a feeling. Even if the person NEVER asks for forgiveness, forgive anyway. What I came to understand is that the person who has wronged us is NOT suffering by our unforgiveness, we are. When you forgive it frees you. If you don’t you constantly carry the pain and bitterness around inside YOU. The other person goes on merrily with their life. Think of it this way. If you put the cart before the horse, the cart will NEVER move. But if you put the horse before the cart than you can move forward. So it is with putting forgiveness first instead of waiting for something else to happen. Ask God to help you to choose forgiveness. In Phillipians Paul says “I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH HIM WHO STRENGTHENS ME”. I have found this to be very true. Sometimes we are not able to do something in our own strength but with the Lord we can. Remember when Christ was dying on the cross he said “FORGIVE THEM FATHER FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO”. We all sin and fall short of the Glory of God. Just as he has extended GRACE to us, so should we extend GRACE to others. Mother Theresa once said “Remember it was never between you and them, it was always between you and God”. Pray for your children and pray for peace for yourself. I hope this helps a little. As the serenity prayer says “Help me to accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” I wish you all the best. May God bless you.

    3. Bette H.

      Amen! I have watched with horror as families come unravelled. The 90’s show “Friends” gave this generation permission to unleash a warfare against our way of life in America that has destroyed our families, our society our hearts and minds.

      Not everyone has a spouse, partner or SO to support them. Some of us are going through this alone made all the worse by parents who insist upon appearances of normalcy. They can also be judgemental, arrogant, blaming.

      The reality is most of these people were raised in solid, loving homes. Instead of attaining a place of dignity, giving, and gratitude, they are burning bridges at an alarming rate.

      God help us indeed.

    4. Karen c.

      My estranged daughter said I was the trigger to her sobriety. She started therapy six weeks later we get the I need my space email. She said I am only surrendering myself with healthy people, my aunt and brother alcoholics and her half siblings. She also became so enamored with a married couple she sold her house we helped her buy, moved in with couple and is building a house across street. Daughter asked friends mom if she could photoshop herself into family pictures.
      She became so engrossed with this family we had to start doing family holidays the week before so she could be with them. She’s also found religion

  12. Greg M.

    After several years of estrangement, I received contacts from my “ED” [whom I raised alone since she was 4 as a single parent (Dad)] indicating she was interested in getting together this Christmas. That all ended when she became ill 2 days ago with Covid-like symptoms, including fever and extreme fatigue, which have subsided somewhat today. Still, I’m blessed to have had some hope that we are moving in the right direction this holiday, though I’ve been here before only to be disappointed by another setback. Coincidentally, yesterday came news of author Joan Didion’s death. Those of you who are familiar with her life and writing (THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING) know that she lost both her husband and only (adult) child within 2 years of each other to a heart attack and illness, respectively. Joan’s writing reminds me that despite our imperfections as parents we can still take pride in having raised our estranged children to be independent and equipped to resolve most of their adult problems. Today, I take solace in the fact that my independent, strong-willed daughter appears to be on the mend from a frightening illness and is alive to know she still has my love, care, and support even if we need to postpone having dinner at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day or have another setback. Sheri, thank you so much for maintaining this Newsletter for so many of us struggling with this difficult family issue. It is such a comfort to know we can visit this website to simply know we are not alone in our frustration and grief, and maybe share some helpful insights of our own. Happy Holidays Everyone. Greg M.

    1. Kathy H.

      This is a beautiful post, Greg. I can definitely relate to your words. Estrangement from our children (and grandchildren, in many cases) can be so devastating. But you’re right, it helps to remember the good things we did as parents and how well our children turned out. The fact that they are healthy, safe, independent, hard working, (relatively) happy people, loved by family and friends gives me great comfort. I know my husband and I were good parents, 100% devoted to our children, and that we gave them good values and childhoods – better than either of us had. I know they are, in large part, the good people they are because of us. While the estrangement in our family is very difficult and painful, I know I’ve done everything I can to correct it and it’s now out of my control to fix. I have reached the point of acceptance, but I still hold on to that little sliver of hope. Maybe it will pay off in the end. Maybe not. Until then I will focus on rebuilding my own life, trying to make a positive difference in the lives of others, and living my best life. I hope and pray you and your daughter have that lovely holiday meal together and it is the beginning of a new, better, healthier, more loving relationship between the two of you.

  13. Patricia

    Thank you all for your comments, there is always something to learn from others. I have been estranged from my only child, son, for six years. It has taken this time to decide I don’t want him back in my life. I refuse to have just a cordial relationship when we were very close while he was growing up. We parents need great counselors, (by the way they can learn from our stories and share them with others), great support systems, and we need to be able to set boundaries with family members who may still be in contact with our children and if we want updates or not, ( I have chosen to not get updates and have to remind my mother often).
    I still prey for my son and hope he is living a full and happy life. I live my life and find happiness where I can.
    I could keep going with all I’ve learned in 6 years, but will stop for now.
    Have wonderful Christmas and remember to take care of yourself.

    1. Sue H

      Thank you!!! I need more stories like this. I honestly don’t want to reconcile wIth my ED, but I’d like my in-laws, one of 2 family members she hasn’t cut out, to acknowledge SHE cut us off, not us. They get to see my granddaughter, but don’t provide us with pictures or info on how she is. To me, that’s inexcusable. It’s like helping my ED cut us out of my granddaughters life. My ED has hurt us so often I don’t trust a reconciliation could happen without a soul-crushing ending in time. Do I display the last picture I have of my granddaughter? How long do I keep sending the monthly cards to her, Birthday and Christmas gifts that go I acknowledged? She’s now 12. Our hope is that when she gets older she’ll get in touch, but when she was younger she instant messaged. Now nothing. What do I do to move on?

    2. Av H.

      Dear Patricia,
      Like you, and after reading both of Sheri’s books, I have concluded that I do not want my son (only child) back in my life. I cannot even fathom the thought.
      I raised him as a single parent, with very little help ($110/mo.) from his dad; and no help from my parents. Yet he graduated from college with no student loan debt, a new truck, and was on his way — not having been asked anything of me.
      He was my “Golden Child”. We lived a modest, middle-class life. My career to support us spanned 40+ years.
      He married into a competitive, sniping family and the alienation from his MIL toward me began immediately . A whisper campaign to make me the “lesser grandmother” from her even included the grandchildren.
      To me, the grandchildren would ask, “Grandma!! Why do you hate dogs? Our other grandma says you hate our doggy!”
      The ‘campaign’ was malicious, insecure, and narcissistic on her part.; and went on for over ten years.
      Finally, there was the “planned” blow-up — followed by the inevitable estrangement of all parties.
      ~ ~ ~
      To reconcile now would be so toxically Surreal; because it wouldn’t just include my son — it would include the woman who so badly wanted to replace me — his MIL.
      I too wish for my son a full and happy life. And, I pray that he is strong enough to live outside the shadow of the family he married into.

    3. Maya

      Thank you for sharing. I, too, have an only son. I think that having a very small family makes it much more difficult to let go, and move forward. I think… I only had one child, and that somehow, I messed it up. ( self-blame….not a constructive thing). I thought that I gave him the best upbringing. I studied child psychology in university, read loads of parenting books, gave him so many opportunities so that he could choose whatever he wanted to become, etc…. How could this possibly be happening? He estranged me 3 years ago, but has initiated video calls with his young children. I decided to estrange him about a month ago. Tired of WOE, accusations, lack of respect, etc…. I am feeling a lot less heavy hearted. I’m practicing meditation and mindfulness. Thanks again.

    4. Tisha

      I’ve had great insights and consulations from this site for years. Now, after almost 3 years of estrangement, my son just showed up one day as if nothing had happened. Actually,nothing really had, no problems that I and the rest of the family were aware of. He just dropped us all. So much hurt and pain. Of course I am happy he’s back and love him so much. But I admit to having mixed feelings. There is no explanation given. No apology or really just an explanation. I don’t understand why I’m uneasy. It is what I’ve wished and prayed for all this time.what’s wrong with me?

  14. Bronwyn T.

    I am so grateful for your page.
    I don’t feel so alone.
    My abusive ex husband has brainwashed all 4 of my 5 children.
    Going on for 14 years now and 3 grandkids I’ve never met.
    Grief has nearly killed me- but am slowly learning and trying to accept their decision.
    Have been really encouraged by this message and reading all the comments.
    It has given me hope for the future.
    Thankyou .xxx

    1. Bonita

      Hi I had the same with the ex husband he also was abusive and brainwashed my sons, it’s been 14 years now and it breaks my heart, I’ grateful for finding this group I just joined a coupe of days ago but I’m not the only one, Holidays and birthdays r very difficult for me , I was hoping to find alive support group I live in Fl so far I haven’t not a good day for me today,

    2. Joslynn O.

      The holidays are always so hard for me, even after 12 years of estrangement from 2 of my children. This year has been especially hard, and I so want the holidays to be over!

      But I find encouragement by reading everyone’s post and knowing that I am not the only one going through this.

      Thank you.

    3. Carrie

      Our daughter, age 28 has been estranged for 6 heartbreaking years. She has an identical twin who she betrayed terribly. Her brother, my only son, took his own life in 2017. We have not seen her since the funeral. She was missing for 5 months. She actually moved to California (we live in Georgia) with some creep she met online. Unreal! This guy has no interest in meeting us, he is in his 40’s and they were living with his mother in Santa Barbara. He has brainwashed her against her family, there have been so many plans to come visit us, so many lies. She has abandoned her twin. We are a very small family, I am an only child, my parents are deceased. My husband has a brother who never married in Tennessee & their parents are also deceased. We have no elders left, just us. I cherish the old times with all 3 of my children, we had had so many great vacations, holidays…my kids had a beautiful home & neighborhood to grow up in. I just wonder WHY? My son was lost & troubled according to a “death note” he left on his phone. Gutt wrenching! She was only with us briefly during our darkest hour. She has picked up with this new family, is expected to interact with them. We barely hear from her. Often we wonder if it is her texting. He does not let her out of his sight. She has no car, no job, is not allowed to be on Facebook or Instagram, not allowed to come visit us. On a whim we decided to go out to California & pay a surprise visit in August. We met the guy’s mother & learned that they secretly moved to North Dakota! Oh my God! I cry every day, I’m like a dam ready to break. I always put others before myself, I made sure my kids had cultural experiences, the twins were confirmed in the church, we went camping with the Girl Scouts, we swam at our neighborhood pool, they all had lovely friends growing up. I just wonder why?? It hurts so bad, some days I cannot peel myself out of bed. She and I used to be best friends & do everything together. Now I don’t even get a phone call. I hate the holidays and I used to love this time of year. I don’t believe I will see my daughter again & that along with my son’s death have destroyed me!

    4. Sharon

      Bronwyn, I too have been estranged from my adult son for over 12 years…all caused by my Sociopathic ex-husband. He conveniently started his campaign as his affair with a co-worker was going full steam in 2012. I was unaware of this occurring until 2015 when my ex left me (never giving a reason) and was told by my psychiatrist that my ex was a Sociopath (did not even know what that meant)! When I actually read that Sociopaths do these types of things, it gave me solace that this was not something that I did. My son has never given me a reason for his behavior nor has my ex EVER admitted to what he has done ({the affair nor the estrangement). Over the years, I have heard bits and pieces of what my son says about me and they are all absolute lies told by his father. In the mean time, I have two grandsons that I have not met. It hurts that my son accepts his father (and the whore) but not me. My DIL has only exacerbated the problem. The grief is especially hard during the holidays. Hugs to all in this group.

  15. Margie

    Once again Sherry, thank you so much for this very timely post! Going on three years of estrangement with our youngest son (after a brief re-union last December, which ended badly a few short months later). My husband and I are slowly learning to accept this new reality and recognizing that while we weren’t perfect parents (is there even such a thing?) we were very good, supportive and loving parents, despite what he has told us. It was hard for me to accept that I couldn’t ‘fix this’ and for a while thought there must have been something I could have done differently or said differently to have a different outcome, but I am coming to the realization that there’s nothing we could have done differently. Reading the stories on here, many echoing our own story, is helpful and healing and I’m so thankful for this place to share. I now concentrate on the good friends we have in our life and are very thankful for them. While I believe I’ve always been a kind and thoughtful person, this estrangement has made me even more so – realizing that you never know what someone might be going through so always be kind and thoughtful.

    1. Janet J.

      I so appreciate what you have written here. My second son just stopped talking to me after I did something to acknowledge his birthday, which he hates. He had told me I was the only one allowed to say anything about his birthday so I baked him a plate of brownies and wished him ‘Happy Anniversary of the Day We Met’ trying to be fun and happy. It backfired and it’s almost two years now since we have spent any time together. I talked to him briefly at a family wedding, (he looked SO handsome), but he told me he’s not ready to have me back in his life. I have five other children with whom I have wonderful relationships and who have assured me it’s not my fault and it’s all in his head. My heart still aches to see him and be close to him again, but I’m heading toward being angry and disgusted with his behavior over something so small as a birthday wish.
      I have to remind myself frequently that I can’t fix this, like you said. I can’t make him ‘better’ or be nice. He has also alienated two other siblings and the others dread being around him because he is so very negative.
      So, I do my best to focus on the many gifts in my life – five wonderful children and their spouses, many grandchildren who I dote upon – including his children, although they tend to be challenging, like their father, and so many blessings that help me through the days when I miss him. I have wonderful dear friends who have never been critical of my situation with him, and who offer loving support. My husband, who is not my son’s father, is completely loving and kind to all my children but also ready to step in to shield me from more pain. Even my children’s father is upset with our son and knows I do not deserve this treatment.
      All in all, I am trying to accept that this is how it is, I cannot change it. I will spend my life and love on those who want my time and attention, and let the others go without.
      Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

    2. JanPhyllis

      I am happy for you that you have the support of your husband!! I don’t, he betrayed me and supports our son, even though I have no idea what I did wrong to warrant this action!
      I do not want my so back!!! Yes I am dealing with a therapist !!
      I praise you and your husband for your bonding in this situation and frankly am jealous!!!!
      You two are dealing and coping together, that is a wonderful feeling and shows love and respect! You are lucky for each other!! Good work!!!
      I know my son was toxic to me for most of his adulthood, so it is ok I don’t want him back!! He can never make up to me for being 46 and estranging his 73, handicapped mother! As all of you he was given everything!!
      I think the greatest most hurtful thing that’s hard for me to get by is my husbands betrayal after 53 years of marriage!!
      But I am moving forward on that with the help of our Holy
      Mother and Our Lord!!!!
      You two keep up you love and respect and all will work out!!
      Happiness always!!!!

  16. Anne F.

    Allowing another adult to control your thoughts, decisions. Not your exact words, Sheri, but your message is very thoughtful. THANK YOU

  17. Jan P.

    Thank you so much for this post on acceptance. Being of a different faith, Christmas was never much of an issue for me—just another day on the calendar. Whereas my ED celebrates that holiday with her husband’s family, we never shared it together. Thanksgiving was the hard one for me. We usually celebrated it at our ED’s, this year we traveled to my son and his family. The hardest part was when my son’s family and ED’s family face-timed together and we were excluded. Fortunately, the sadness of that rejection and exclusion only lasted a short time, and we were able to enjoy most of the holiday. With the help of my therapist and your books (I am gradually working my way through the new one and the exercises), I am getting closer to acceptance. I’ve not heard from my ED in nearly 8 months and have not seen them in over 2 years (some of which is pandemic related). Although I miss my grandchildren terribly and wonder what they have been told about our absence, I’ve come to accept that it is completely out of my hands. I am fortunate to have a wonderful husband and I have a close relationship with my son in spite of a 2000 mile separation. I am optimistic that 2022 will be a better year, and we plan to fully enjoy the life we have.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Jan P.,

      I’m optimistic FOR you…and all the parents here. Life has its sorrows and injustices but there is so much more to enjoy, experience, and learn! 2022 here we come!

      Hugs to you and everyone !

      Sheri McGregor

  18. Diane P.

    I sobbed last night thinking of this Christmas with no family contact from my son and his wife. I am trying to accept that he as he put in his own words” is done with his father and me”. This all occurred after my husband had a nervous breakdown. 2020 was an horrible in year. Deaths of loved ones and our two cats. I am baffled that a son who was only loved and never mistreated could act this way.

    1. Tracy S.

      My daughter basically did that to me after I had a breakdown because caring for her narcissistic grandmother broke me. My daughter sides woth my aweful mean mother and has left me, her dad and her sister. Sadly I think she wants money from her wealthy grandmother and tossed us all aside like trash!
      Greed and mean behavior is not worth being around…. So this year we stopped trying anything with her, it actually feels good and peaceful to let go.
      Sorry about your situation, you are definitely not alone ❣️

  19. Debbie

    I would like to wish everyone on this site the best in the new year to come. Like all of you, I have found myself in a situation of estrangement (partial is the best way to describe it since we are in contact), that had left me shocked and initially very depressed. After three years of crying, I discovered Sheri’s first book, Done With Crying. I read the book and did the exercises every Sunday for a month or so. The exercises require such focus that I could only do it when I had nothing else on my schedule for half of the day. It was very helpful and I did stop the crying. Since then, I have gone on to read Sheri’s recommendation to read Melody Beattie’s books on codependency. I also listen to psychologists and counselors on You Tube talking about narcissism. Although everyone’s situation is different, these topics are a part of what all of us have experienced. I was the classic mom, blaming everything on myself and writing emails apologizing for everything under the sun I “might’ have done to cause this situation. I am glad I can actually laugh now at some of the things I apologized for! The reality is that I was the best mom I could have been to my son and he and his sister were always my top priority, as they were my husband’s top priority as well. My late husband, in his last days of cancer, did share with the nursing staff that his kids had so far surpassed anything he ever expected of them and he credited me with their successes since he had been so involved with his work. The validation of someone so close, someone who was with me everyday and saw my dedication to parenting, sustains me when my son still hurls his ever so subtle and not so subtle insults. His behavior had changed dramatically since his marriage five years ago. His late father would be shocked and saddened that he has abandoned his sister and mother. He is now in denial that his wife has the control over his life that she does, but there was a time when he shared with me that she had a lot of “stubbornness” about many things that he found difficult to deal with. This was long before they married and had children and I have had the sense not to bring it up to him. Her part in this never gets discussed but I witnessed her belittling style of interacting with her own mother, who she now visits with the grandchildren I never see. Her mother accepts the behavior and hangs in there, although she shared she cries a lot. She is overweight to the point of it affecting her health in many negative ways. I can not take that path. And I have accepted I can not move my son out of his state of denial. Only he can do that. I have come to the realization, with a lot of help from the many resources out there, that I am not responsible for his wife’s emotional and mental issues and how she chooses to interact with the world. You have to get back to who you know you are and not let other people’s behavior define you and set you on a path of self-destruction. One of the biggest issues with being a parent in this situation is how society has always defined mothers. The reality is that if any one of us accepted the same behavior from a friend or spouse, people close to us would be raging at us to not accept the abuse, to get out of the situation. But when you are “Mom”, you constantly hear things like “hang it there, he is your son, he will come to his senses, it will get better”. Fortunately, I am very close with my daughter, her husband and her beautiful son. I have immense compassion for those of you who do not have other children that are a part of your life. Several people mentioned grieving and accepting this kind of estrangement is a grieving process. It takes time, it is very painful, but you can survive it. A huge misconception about grief is that time heals, time does not heal without feeling the emotions and taking the deep dive into helping yourself create a new path forward. It has been over five years for me but it is Christmas Eve and I am not crying. I have no expectation of hearing my son’s voice this holiday season but I am looking forward to the holiday, as I always did before he decided to take the path he has taken.

    1. Cookie

      I am especially thankful and grateful that you spoke to those of us who are estranged that have no other children in our life. You see, all three of my children estranged me through an email almost eight years ago. The email came from one of my daughters with all three of their names in the closing. None of them have made contact with me since.
      I used to think if it were just one of them had estranged me, the other two would possibly support me or tell me what I had done to be estranged or help me understand, etc. Like you mentioned, narcissism and other personality disorders play a part in the estrangement, not to mention the untruths of my ex-husband and his family.
      I have accepted their choices and I have found grace and joy in my life. I have sad moments when triggered but I manage my feelings much better these days thanks to Sheri and fellow parents like you. Thanks again for remembering Moms/parents like me without the love of other children.
      Moving forward, onward and upward!

    2. Red

      God bless you and all of us parents. God is not going to leave us when we pray and trust him, he can look into the future and know good things are coming. My prayer is God puts a Christian in my sons path that makes him reflect on the past Christian he professed to be. We have to walk by faith not by sight. Love and comfort to all. Red

    3. Kathy H.

      Thank you for this post, Debbie. In many ways, you are describing my own life. I can relate to your pain. I have been a member of this site for a few years and have done quite a bit of work on myself in regards to self-care, which has been difficult since I have spent my entire life putting the needs of others first. Now that I have gotten better at that, I am going to work more on acceptance, forgiveness, and building a new life for myself that doesn’t include my estranged family members. I ordered Sherri’s 1st and 2nd book and the workbook that goes with book #1. I am building time into my calendar during 2022 to go through each of them and continue working on my journey of healing, acceptance, forgiveness and rebuilding. I hope and pray each of us, suffering from family estrangement, do the same. Life is too short to feel heartbroken, depressed, anxious, rejected/unwanted, and/or unneeded. We all have gifts and talents to share with the world and there are hundreds of ways to do that. We can all be blessings to someone – even if some of those we’d love to bless don’t accept it/us. May we all find our own path to happiness, good health and gratitude in the coming year.

  20. Cecily B.

    Sheri. Trust me this is so helpful. Am now semi-estranged with my adult daughter. Uou have confirmed what I’ve realized; my moods, my not exercising as much, my not looking forward to take family pics this Christmas…..It’s insight I’ve not given much air.
    We Will take pics etc. We will go for a drive after dinner etc. To fill the void. We will be having house guests, but after Christmas Day.

    1. Kathy H.

      Yes!!! I love this!!! I, too, have allowed familial rejection to impact my health & happiness – for years. It’s time to accept what is and to move forward… to a better, healthier, happier life that focus more on ME and what I do have rather than what I don’t. I hope and pray all of us can do that in the coming year.

  21. Barbara G.

    I just love this song !!!! Thank you !!
    Sent it to many friends
    It describes life very well !!
    If we are blessed all this pain will break our heart which either makes us bitter or the much better choice enlarges our heart to love ALL humanity and not to cling to the love we want so badly from our AC which may never come ……
    Healing is ours for the taking one day at the time ❤️
    Thank you Sheri !!!

  22. Kathy H.

    Thank you Sheri for these positive words.
    I am quoting another estranged parents when I say: “peace with acceptance”. It is my new motto and has helped me to redirect my negative thoughts and feelings.

    Peace to all- KJH

    1. Eliza

      I agree. I’m very grateful to have found this site…

      For me, it’s been an insidious separation process from my children that began w/one who got the others to go along with her, at least to some degree, over a period of several years. In other words, I have some contact, nearly always instigated by me, and on my terms, w/some of the kids, and none with others. I don’t like the situation and wish it was different, but I don’t miss the drama either. And, this has gone on long enough that I’m at the point where I’m not sure how much I could trust reconciliation efforts if any were forthcoming. There would have to be a lot of “talking through” and since our prior history of being able to do that hasn’t ended well, I’d have to know what changed that wouldn’t lead to another outburst/blow-up.
      The bottom line, for me, is that it’s sad, especially at this time of year, but it’s not something I can fix all on my own, and anymore, I worry less and less about what I can’t do anything about. What I can say is that, over time, it does get better in a two steps forward – one step backward kind of way, especially when I remember not to get down and start blaming myself for things I’m pretty convinced aren’t my fault.
      Enough said – all good wishes to everyone as we look to a new year…

  23. Kimberly C.

    I had a horrible childhood, abused sexually, physically and emotionally by my father and my mother hated me from birth. We didn’t have a relationship. I was determined to have a great relationship with my only daughter. We did! Until I had 2 emergency spine surgeries and then lost my job. Her Dad and I had to move to Florida. We sold our home and lost everything- my husband was on disability since he was 40, I was the breadwinner. My daughter had a thriving business and stayed in PA. 6 years later she decided not to talk to me. I think she never really accepted that we left her, even though she was 30 and single and had a great business and life. She stopped talking to me before this for about 1 month. I pretty much made her talk to me. We haven’t been on since. Her boyfriend and her visited with us Match 2021 and they got engaged right after that. We were all very excited about the engagement. She told us they would pay for us to travel to their wedding in CA in 2023. That my job was to only save for their wedding from here on out. So we were not allowed to live for 2 years so we could save. We live on limited income and pretty much live month to month. She knows this. At this time I had already made arrangements to go see my sister whom I haven’t seen in 6 years. She found out and stopped talking to me.. it’s all about the money. My husband is so angry at her for treating me this way. I’m crying and sad all the time. I made her a beautiful engagement book and sent it with a beautiful card. She texted her Dad and told him to tell me “Thank you they appreciate it”. He wrote back “you tell her yourself”. She stopped talking to him too. It’s been 4 months. I miss her every day and can’t get her off my mind. I guess we aren’t going to be a part of her wedding. Something that makes me so sad I can’t stand it. I never had a wedding – it’s all I ever wanted for her! They decided they weren’t having children. That was so hard to get over but I did. Now this. Why? Money? Then I pretty much dont ever want to talk to her if it’s about the money. Shame on her!

  24. LM

    I’m in partial estrangement, which may seem easier, but it’s not. We’ve had so many cruel things said to us. Once again, we’ll be alone. I have tried to reach out…tried to find others who are alone, done all the giving to charities. I have my own ministry, as does my husband, and give all year – tending to others. I just think – would it be too difficult for someone to care about me/us? I’m tired and weary. We’ve been on this road for 15 years, and have no other family. Nobody to help fill the gaps and mitigate the emptiness and loneliness. I’m thankful for my husband, and that he’s willing to go out to eat nice, but it in no way takes the place of the pain of losing a loving family we once had.

    1. Effie

      I’m sorry for you pain…. I could just about agree with everyone here after 6 years I think I have felt all these things… love and prayers… The Lord reigns and someday our pain will be gone.. Effie

    2. Kathy H.

      I can really relate to your post. The giving is good. It helps, and it’s important. But you’re right, it sure would be nice for others to give to us sometimes, to show a little appreciation, to let us know that we matter to them and that they want us in their lives. It hurts to know how much we’ve given to others, sacrificed for others without expecting much in return only to be rejected completely or to be treated with such disrespect that we’ve been forced to put up boundaries to protect our own health. I think it’s time for us (you and your husband, my husband and me, and anyone else in a similar situation) to focus on filling our lives with activities and friends that bring us joy, to accept what we can’t change, and to forgive those who have hurt us so we can move on. As long as we continue to live in the past or what could have been or what we wish was, we will continue to feel lonely and sad. Life will continue to pass us by. Let’s make 2022 the year we focus more on US and what WE need and let go of what is not. We CAN do this!!!!

  25. Cindy M.

    Thank you Sheri for all the support you have given to our community.
    I am one year out from my daughters estrangement. She has BPD and is just an angered soul. It has gotten to the point of my grandchildren( other daughter, not estranged) to not care about their aunt anymore. They are 11 and 15 and have no interest in their aunt who has not been part of their lives. Kids notice everything.
    My neighbor told me yesterday that I should go out and celebrate myself. She knows my story and as a mother she has listened to my grief. My husband has given up but as a mother I can never permanently move on. I’m doing my best and the neighbors comment really hit home. As mothers we must celebrate ourselves. A lightbulb went off and I am proud of myself and how I have dealt with this horror.

    1. Mona

      Hi Cindy, my name is Mona and your story rang some bells with me. My son who is 48 now and has BPD as well and has always been consumed by anger. He always used the fact that his father never saw him since he and I divorced (he was 6). I tried to tell him, that while I understand, there are many kids who are in the same place and are leading happy lives. Well he’s still angry and has gambled away money so that I had to send money to his then wife so that she could feed their three kids. He also drinks too much. I know I’ve made mistakes, but nothing to have him do all this. Sorry if I rambled.

  26. Soulshine&Daisies

    Good morning to all. Acceptance. What a wonderful way to start our countdown to the New Year. In my situation, when I accepted what had happened, it changed my outlook tremendously. It changed me from always thinking about poor pitiful me and what had been done to me and the rest of my family. I changed my mindset to that of a survivor. I decided I would no longer be the victim of their treatment and total estrangement. Acceptance was the beginning of my new life. My life without my two sons and my sweet toddler grandsons. But it is a life that I am living to the fullest. Being around people that love, trust, and respect me as I do them. This forum has given me such courage. As have your books and workbook, Sheri. These days I am thankful and making the most of each and every day. Such a change from my moping around, gazing out windows, and being sad all the time. I am very much looking forward to the New Year. I greet each and every morning with a smile. Now knowing that I can do this. I will do this. I have no choice. Life can be good. And it is. Let’s make the most of each and every day!

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Soulshine,
      I love what you said about sitting around gazing out windows. I have an oddball story about that…Maybe I will share it in a post another day.
      HUGS. I can see your dazzling smile as you greet the morning. I bet everybody around you loves it!!


    2. Diane

      I love what you wrote about acceptance, especially as we head towards the New Year. New beginnings! The future is full of things that never were. New adventures. All wonderful things! Wishing you the best! Thank you for the reminder of “acceptance.”

    3. Free2B

      So refreshing to hear from someone who has stepped out of the cycle.
      Dealing with the pain of estrangement and rejection is like a merry go round ride. I’ve been on the loop for decades.
      Once in awhile a get a crumb tossed my way and the push/pull dance begins anew.
      Thanksgiving holidays kicked off with my ED husband annihilating me verbally for my “bad parenting” 40 years ago! My ED is 51 & still judging me on the nightmare ending of my mid 80’s divorce. Hateful rage, I believe was misdirected anger. I am given zero credit for surviving the abuse endured by my ex and rebuilding a life from the ashes. “That was just for my benefit, not my kids.” claims my SIL. They claim my recovery is “selfish & narcissistic.”
      I am remarried for 32 years, have a wonderful life… minus the endless despair of exclusion by my kids.
      Especially excruciating is this verbal attack included my “selfishness “ in grieving the May 2020 death of my beloved son. I did not hear from my ED/ES after his demise to addiction. I am still deeply grieving his loss. When I asked my remaining 2 children if they would attend a graveside ceremony the response was, “No, it would only be to make you happy.” Devastating. They have not even visited their brother’s grave. (or me for that matter)
      If these 42 & 51 year old adults were not my children, I would never engage with such insensitive,
      non-empathetic people. Why I am still dancing for their “acceptance “ baffles me. I love them but do not like them as people. They are a continuation of the horrors of my relationship with their father. Who by the way, got a pass for his immoral, irresponsible role in their lives. I’ll never succeed in changing their “story” of who I am.
      2022 must be my year of emancipation from their clear indifference. I wish my final stretch to be free of their toxic presence, in my mind and spirit.
      Generally speaking, a lot of our generation of kids are a breed of their own. So sad to witness such a massive demise of basic humanity and decency. They are cruel, a reflection of their inner darkness.
      Grateful for this forum in these difficult times, when the lack of family unity is even more pronounced. A day at a time. It’s all any of us have.
      Be gentle & kind to yourselves. No parent deserves the grief doled out in our cases.

      1. rparents Post author


        I’m sorry about the loss of your son. May your 2022 be lovely and full of joy (you’re not selfish, but you are smart).

        Sheri McGregor

  27. Jules

    It really is about acceptance of however the situation is , & recognising that you have no control over what another person does. I have all but given up hope that my daughter will, at this point at least, contact us in a constructive way. She only makes contact in rejecting, aggressive ways to warn us off. We backed away from her but still sent cards & small gifts to our grandchildren on birthdays etc.
    This year a few days ago she sent them back with a note saying that our grandchildren will never want to know us. They’re only 6,7 & 2. I’ve realised that she’s scared that one day lose all of this control. And she probably will as they’ll get older & decide for themselves who they want to make relationships with. It won’t be our daughter’s choice forever.
    If one day our daughter decided she wants a relationship she knows where we are, in the meantime I’m not going to put myself in the line of fire again.
    I always write my daughter a card for Christmas & birthday but I don’t send, I will do the same for my grandchildren & put money away for them.
    For me having people who want to spend time with you in your life is worth everything.

  28. Bobbie

    We are at the place where we finally recognize the problem between our only child, a daughter, and us has a whole lot more to do with her than us. We know we did our best, not perfect and with our share of mistakes, but she had a good childhood. Once this realization became clear, I felt a sense of relief. We are very sad that things are like this but we both have had enough. In facing this truth, the burden of pain has lifted. I feel free for the first time in years! Yes, I will mourn the loss but I’m no longer a lady-in-waiting. Too much glorious life calls to me and it is my antidote when I start to dwell on this situation.
    BTW: I, too, have loved this song by the Byrds since I was a young teen. As a young adult, I discovered where the lyrics came from: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8. No wonder they speak such truth!

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Bobbie,

      Yep! So many are stuck attempting to fix something beyond their control. Be free and fly! Yes, so much glorious life is calling!!

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Kim C

      This sounds very familiar to me… I’m sorry you’re going through this. You give me hope that I will get past this. I’m so sad. Deeply sad. We gave our daughter a good life too. Like you said not perfect but her Dad and I were very supportive and she had a loving family. I’m not sure what really happened but I know it’s something that she’s going through. I’m giving her space but I sent her cards for the the holidays and haven’t heard a word. I’m hoping that I can get over the extreme sadness. How do you get past this?

  29. Beth

    Ive been held hostage by this behavior/ solution for as long as i can remember. My mother would control me with the silent treatment when i was a child and eventually the silent treatment morphed to estrangement. My only child has chosen the same solution. 5 years since she ” terminated” our relationship.
    This article is relevant and so true that ive given so much of my life to trying to figure out what went wrong. I, too, have created my own rituals. I reach out in my community to do service work. I used to ” white knuckle” the holidays but over time ive relaxed into them and let myself enjoy others happiness.
    I realize if i wanted anyone’s approval, it would be mine.
    Working on that!

    1. rparents Post author

      Beth, oh my goodness, yes! Your own approval of yourself! We really can hold ourselves to standards that make us feel authentic, honor our integrity, and prove we are good and kind … to ourselves. Do take time for yourself too, ok??

      Hugs! You’re proff you can change the world.


    2. Kate L

      I was in the same situation as you, with a mother/daughter combo. My daughter wasn’t even raised around my mother that much, but she ended up exactly the same anyway. I used to think the the lack of empathy was pure narcissistic, but I now realize that this was/is BPD. I’ve learned that this can be inherited. Not my fault. My husband and I spent years thinking she would someday grow out of it, but this year we knew for sure this wouldn’t happen. We don’t have estrangement so much as disinterest in being a family. We were told this year that we had never cared about her struggles. Christmas has been hard on and off, but I know I only have so much time left on this planet, and I am not going to be miserable over another adult’s skewed perception of history. I am thankful to Sheri for the books and for this forum, and wish the community a very Merry Christmas.

    3. Elaine V.

      In desperation I did the same thing this Fall but only a 3 hour drive. Has been 2.5 years. Daughter does not allow me to see my 2 beautiful grandchildren. Thank you for sharing your story. Reminds me I am not alone in this situation. I have “accepted” it for now and am working on rebuilding a new life. Thank you so much Sheri for everything you do to help us! You are an angel !

    4. Diane M.

      I love how you wrote that if you wanted anyone’s approval, it would be yours! It’s Christmas Eve and I’m feeling OK. I felt bad a few days ago. Maybe because of all the sentimental TV shows, commercials and movies showing happy families and people. I was shocked that I got a cute Christmas card from my daughter and she signed all the family’s name on it too. Plus she sent me a Walmart gift card. I emailed her thanking her and asked if she would like to reconnect in the New Year. I also wrote, “you don’t want things to be like this, with no communication, do you?” She just replied, “we had to be apart so we could strengthen our relationship.” What? That’s now how you strengthen a relationship. You talk things over and come to an agreement that works for all. I haven’t heard anymore from her. I asked her for my grandkids addresses so I could send them cards, no reply. I got out my Done With the Crying book (my bible) and read about reconciling. I got back on track and felt better. I have no plans to email her anymore. Getting that card and gift gave me some hope, then my heart plummeted. Now, I know I must get back to guarding my heart again. Maybe she got caught up in the spirit of the holiday. Who knows. Nothing has changed and I don’t believe it will. We’ve been estranged for about 20 years now. She made all the rules too. But in Sheri’s book she states, “One-sided relationships never work.” I took that to heart. I’m happy to say that I’m in a good mood today. I have no real plans but will enjoy whatever I do. For now, I’M IN CHARGE OF ME. I hope that you, Beth, and everyone here have a Christmas that YOU make happy, and in your own way. God Bless…

  30. Elizabeth L.

    Just like anotherpointofview, I’ve had a second divorce letter. Realising that my daughter’s boyfriend has effectively cut her off from any communication with me ( he screens her emails, texts, letters and calls) , I asked a well known tracing service for estranged people to check she was safe and well. The reply was ‘yes and I wish her well but I have no desire to reconnect with her’.
    That could have been an end to my Christmas, but, I’m in the middle of moving to a vibrant cultural area, well, ok, it’s a little place right in the centre of a well known city.
    I’m going to join the local cinema club, walking club, Sunday breakfast, library, and as soon as New Year comes in, I’ll be looking for a part time job. I haven’t worked since covid, now it’s time!
    In fact, ‘now is the time’, as they say.
    Sending everyone the very best for a peaceful and healing time. Sheri, book two is on order.

    1. rparents Post author

      I loved reading this Elizabeth. The time .. for exploring, enjoying, laughing … yes, the time is now!

      Hugs! There goes Elizabeth! Touching everyone with positive energy and brightness wherever she goes!

      Sheri McGregor

  31. Pam

    Dear Sheri and Newsletter Friends,
    After working through Done With The Crying, I decided I needed answers.
    So I mustered up the courage to fly from Colorado to Florida. My one and only child (daughter) would not open the door as my two grand babies were excited to see their Nona standing there. It had been ten months with pretty much no contact but a few nasty text messages…the last on Mothers Day.
    The words written did not sound like the daughter I raised and I needed to hear them from her lips to my ears.
    So with my second workbook in tow, Beyond Done With The Crying, I flew to Florida and got what I needed hear from her.
    Since meeting her now husbund, this is the second time in eight years my daughter has estranged herself from my e tire family that now includes my grand babies. They are five and three and don’t understand.
    As I’m writing this, my heart breaks. In my desperation to try and put my family back together, I only made it worse. As sad as it is, I don’t regret trying.
    I may never see my daughter or grand babies again but at least I know I’ve don’t everything I could possibly do to change the direction of our relationship.
    Time to Turn…Turn…Turn get through this heartache and find my purpose to move forward with the loss of my daughter and Little’s. Grieve the loss, be thankful for the time and memories made let go of sadness and try to live again. This is my New Year Resolution.
    May we all find Love, Joy, Laughter and Peace in 2022 and continue supporting each other as needed to be successful in accepting estrangement from out adult child/children.
    Thank you Sheri for helping all of us! You are an Angel on this earth.

    1. Cheryl

      My ED brought candies that she made (she’s a pastry chef) to my mom’s house. She hasn’t seen anyone on my side of the family for 2 years so it was hurtful that she brought candies for “everyone ” but didn’t bother to make a stop at my house. She and her husband and my only grandchild, who doesn’t know that I, his great grandparents and great aunt even exist, live a mile around the corner from me but no stop and only a 3 minute stop at my parents. It’s enraging since my side of the family has done so much for my kids. (Their dad and I are divorced) My family has been more than generous and always there for my kids and she turned us away. The holidays are hard but my son will be up tomorrow and I will enjoy every minute with him ❤️
      Merry Christmas to all of us!

    2. Elaine V.

      In desperation I did the same thing this Fall but only a 3 hour drive. Has been 2.5 years. Daughter does not allow me to see my 2 beautiful grandchildren. Thank you for sharing your story. Reminds me I am not alone in this situation. I have “accepted” it for now and am working on rebuilding a new life. Thank you so much Sheri for everything you do to help us! You are an angel !

  32. Suzanne

    This is our 2nd Christmas in estrangement from our 2 sons, it is still very hard but I thank God for my extended family and friends. I accept their choice but miss our grandchildren so much. Thank you for your emails and helping all of us through this with your books and this website.
    Merry Christmas

  33. Hopeishere

    Thank you so much for this post! It resonates in my soul as I do just that… turn, turn, turn. I’m accepting estrangement as a part of my reality and while it has been painful, it has also been so very freeing! I’m only in the lives of people who want me there. I’m done with the dance; attempts to understand, attempts to connect, second guessing, rejection, anger, passive aggressive garbage, gaslighting and manipulation! My kids all get to be grown ups and get to deal with their own issues. Boundaries allow me to enforce that and deal with mine. They help me to care for myself. Thank you to everyone here for helping me along the way. Thank you Sheri for writing such an insightful book and for providing a place for us all to connect and heal together! What I’ve learned over this year has brought me peace through a very difficult time. I am grateful!

    1. Deborah R.

      Thank you for articulating so well what I have been thinking.
      Sheri, we so appreciate you. You are helping us live positive, fulfilling lives despite the pain of losing our children.
      God bless you!

  34. Linda P

    I have been estranged from my only son for five years. Like most parents engaged with your work, Sheri, I can make no sense of what has transpired. I have done considerable work in this regard, including gratefully studying your own publications. I prefer to use the word “surrender” rather than “accept”. To me “accept” has some connotations of agreement. To “surrender” to what can’t be changed results in the same understanding. However the word connotes a slightly different level of participation. I have found out in the last 24 hours that my son has a second daughter – now 14 months old. It is a body blow to all the resolve I thought I have in my holiday corner.

  35. Colleen

    This has been too painful. Can’t sleep. He won’t respond. It’s starting to become easier to think I lost my child to death . I live alone. People ask about my holiday plans and if I have kids coming or if I will visit with them. I always change subject, but find myself almost saying I have no family. Which is true.

    He was my only. My everything.

    1. Layle

      I’m pretty much in your same place and I’m praying that you can get some rest and relief from your pain.
      I have found that it does make me feel better to go outside, be in nature and sunshine, even when it’s cold. Just bundle up and get some sun on your face.
      I also have cats, they truly give me comfort when I’m lonely.
      My favorite music also helps, it pretty much stays on all day.
      TV doesn’t help me, I cancelled it.
      I pray you have a blessed Christmas. Being alone isn’t easy but it seems to become less awful with time. Try to stay busy.

    2. Elizabeth L.

      Colleen, I’m so sorry to hear about your grief.
      You say that it’s starting to become easier to think he had died.
      Maybe for the moment, treat yourself as a grieving parent. What would you want others to say/ do if that were the case? Maybe say and do these for yourself, take long walks, long baths, read inspirational books, come here for support. Recognise the stages of grief and just go with the flow of them. My best thoughts go with you, many on this forum have been there too.

    3. Nancy W.

      I know your pain. It helps me to remember the relationship I had with my parents, not to compare, but to cherish the memory of a loving family. And how choosing to do the right thing as an adult, made a wonderful relationship. My son in law and daughter are painfully disrespectful.

    4. cindy m

      God bless, If you can find one in your area ACA groups can be so helpful in a persons life. You don’t have to be an adult child of an alcoholic to go.. they added dysfunctional families to the list of included people. I learned in my accepting of myself what I probably taught my child, however unintentional. I never wanted children… so her abandonment is what it is. How she went about it, was cruel and disgusting. My ACA group is helping me stand up to ignorant nasty people. These meetings may may help you feel better.

    5. Mandy K.

      Dear Colleen, it has been 4 years since my daughter changed her views on family and adopted the cult behavior of her husband. Four years of nothing. We have followed all the recommendations for parents in this situation, and I am thankful for all the advice. But, like you, it is as if my daughter has died. The grief is the same as grieving a death of a child. Sometimes it is dark, sometimes light appears, sometimes it is confusing. I have found that riding these waves of grief seeking to lean in and yearn for the grace from God has helped. Yet, it doesn’t go away and nothing will completely heal the sadness of our loss. I am sorry for your loss. Seek glimmers of joy in each day, as hard as it is at times. View a bird flying, wonder of where it goes. Take a walk in the park, sit for a while near the nature. My love goes out to every mom/dad on this site, as well as all those left behind in the wake of selfish destruction. – Mandy

    6. Barbara G.

      I totally understand ; yes I live alone only family I have on this continent is my AS ; but I have l armed to answer truthfully ; if someone asks about my Son in regards to holiday I can now state ; well we are really estranged and just let it stand ; this is new behavior for me and has helped and freed me tremendously!!! I do have some really good friends and a very deep inner life !!
      Value yourself most ; do things for yourself !!
      You are not alone !!!
      Peace to you ❤️

  36. Sue B.

    Thank you Sheri – wise words. Mostly I have reached acceptance but it’s so true that the traditional family times can rock us and bring in negative thoughts. I found your book so helpful and have just bought the second one. Wishing everyone a happy, healthy Christmas x

  37. Sue W.

    Thank you so much
    We have three estranged children
    But we are putting our time and energy into the daughter that stands by our side
    We are blessed to still have her and our two grandchildren in our lives
    Thank you for all the support you give us

  38. AnotherPointofView

    I received my second letter of divorce from my EDtwo weeks ago.
    “Don’t want to see you.
    I will only see my husbands family
    My child and teen years were hell
    We have a fake and in genuine relationship.
    I can’t keep pretending nothings wrong
    We should go our separate ways
    Don’t come around or l will turn you away.”
    This came 6 months after refusing to sign a $200,000 guarantee on a mortgage.
    Followed by Coventry.

    The first divorce letter was in 2016. With threat of intervention order.
    12 months later a phone call. “Got married without inviting you and l am pregnant with grandchild”.
    I saw this phone call as a reunion and hope.
    I rang them once a month but the next 5 yrs would be a one way street. I walked on eggshells
    I posted here today because l wanted to say that after 16 yrs of being treated badly by ED l am finally over the striving to maintain contact.
    I don’t want toxic people in my life including my sister
    I feel free and liberated from torment.
    I believe my daughters divorce letter is the final straw. She made it clear she would give me no attention or love. That really blew out the flame for me.
    I cannot believe it’s over. I feel a strange and unfamiliar peace.

    1. Dawn Y

      I’ve heard myself saying recently that if my ED or ES contacted me that I doubt I want to re establish a relationship. I was feeling unsettled about this thought, feeling and statement. I felt it made me sound heartless but am realizing it would most likely be “fake” “an agenda” “wanting something from me besides love and a relationship”…these past couple of days have been emotionally hard as out of my 4 children, 1 has passed, 2 are estranged and my only daughter whom I feel close to and we speak usually daily (she has given me 3 beautiful grandsons) stated “what if I go psyco (her favorite word when she can understand someone’s behavior) and don’t have anything to do with you too” now I’m suddenly heart broken by this possibility. I think she is angry at her siblings and caught in the middle, as if she is the black sheep for maintaining a relationship with me. She can be very hurtful with her words, usually I choose not to hang onto those words, she has no filter. Rude to say the least. Otherwise we usually are great and close. Shop, she vents, helpful to me most always. I noticed a pattern tho, if she sees or talks to my ex or her brother she seems a little more rude. My ED doesn’t have anything to do with any of us. Her dad , sister, or brother. So I think my non ED is trying to emotionally deal with that and family is important to ny non ED and during the holidays I think its hard for her and she doesn’t understand how I can be OK with their decisions.
      I stated, they are both grown adults with which I have no control over their behavior. My job as their parent is done and they are God’s children anyway. She didn’t like me stating my job as a parent is done. Because its the same for her. I said I will always be here and support. She asked isn’t it weird you don’t know where your kids are and what they are doing. I just stated that I pray for God’s protection over all of my children and leave them with our heavenly Father. As a parent who lost a child at age 9, I had to give their safety and lives to our heavenly Father Otherwise I would have gone insane. Thanks for this platform to just write thoughts and feelings. This is a painful journey and I do find comfort knowing I’m not alone in this situation and my thoughts are so similar to what I have read, so I’m not bad, crazy, and I did my best. I did enough. Now its time to relax, reflect, rejoice, re align, and renew! Blessings and prayers.

  39. Julie

    Thank you Sheri. I love your insight. I look forward to the rest of the countdown.
    I am learning to live and love my life with my son choosing to estrange from me. As difficult as it is, I have so much to be thankful for… my other children, my grandchildren, my home, my health, etc.
    Merry Christmas to all the parents of estranged adult children.

    1. rparents Post author

      Hi Julie,

      We can count our blessing!! Yes. It’s good to train our minds for our benefit (and the people around us are also positively affected!).


    2. Sue

      Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. My situation is the same. I have been blessed in so many ways and I am so thankful. The hurt never goes away and I am slowly learning to accept that.
      Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Happy, Healthy New Year!

  40. Jane

    Thank you Sheri for your wise words. Even though I am grateful for the family I have around me this Christmas I can’t help thinking about the daughter I have not seen for 3 years. But then I turn my attention back to the people who want to be part of my life. They deserve to have me fully present so we can celebrate this joyous season together. So to all the other mums with estranged children be grateful for who ever is by your side. If you have one person present you are blessed. Happy Christmas Sheri and thank you for all the work you do.

    1. Susan C,

      Dear Jane and Sheri,
      Your letters and comments will help me through my 8th Christmas without the company or love of my only daughter. Over time I have grown to accept the reality of my situation and focused instead on other biological and chosen family who do care for me and want me in their lives. It is more important to be present for them than agonize over anyone who doesn’t. Merry Christmas, everyone.

  41. Anita

    Great post. I was having a tough time as Christmas drew near not feeling Christmassy. So I found a charity online and picked two presents one for each of my children (although they are adults now) and then donated them to two children in a domestic abuse refuge. It really helped to have the enjoyment of picking a gifts again and thinking of the smiles on those children’s faces when they opened them. I’m going to do it again next year.


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