July 4, 2022: Permission to . . . ?

freedom for parents of estranged adults

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

I know that holidays can be tough, and do my best to produce new articles and content for those special times. For the U.S. Independence Day this year (2022), the task felt BIG. Maybe it’s because of the disunity and distress that seem so prevalent these days. I’m not certain. The truth is that I have always loved the Fourth of July. And like so many of you, the holiday holds many wonderful memories of times infused with joy and pride as well as hopes, dreams, and promise . . . for future connection, the love of family, fireworks, and continued freedom.

This year, I’m not doing anything special. No barbecues. No watching parades. No fireworks. I realized recently that I’m just not up to any of that this year. So, I’ve given myself permission to watch the fireworks displays on television (if I want), to bow out of traffic jams and the dart-and-dodge dance of crowds. I’m not even making a red, white, and blue fruit salad or one of those Jello cakes with blueberries and strawberries made to look like a flag! As of this morning, I had decided not to write an article for the site here either. Then I realized that my decision to bow out is an article: about letting go.

Giving yourself permission

When it comes to continued estrangement from adult children, we reach turning points where we either grow and change or stay stuck and sad. If you’re to move forward, you must give yourself permission to be happy, to enjoy life in new ways, and to let go of what no longer works.

It’s okay to say “no,” to take a break from what you’ve always done or said or been, and to decide you will do or say or even be something different. At this juncture of your estrangement, what are you holding onto that is no longer serving you? Consider that for a moment.

Maybe it’s that idea of a “good” parent, and what that means in terms of sending a special occasion card no matter what. Maybe that means you let go of a negative thought that has kept you stuck, such as, “I can never be happy unless…” Or maybe it means finally admitting that you have endured years of hurtful behavior, which doesn’t improve (or even gets worse), no matter how much effort you exert to keep the peace, give in, or stay in touch.

Maybe you need to:

  •  ratchet back on something you do (money spent, gifts given, time wasted. . .)
  •  spend more energy or time on your needs. (Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s a necessity.)
  •  cut yourself some slack (you’re only human like me with my blissfully boring Fourth!)

Right now, consider what things, activities, or thinking you need to change for your own well-being. And then take an important step: Give yourself permission.

Now and forever?

Remember, if you decided on one course of action (or inaction), that doesn’t mean you are forever bound to that decision. Not sending a birthday card this year doesn’t mean you can’t the next. Saying “no” doesn’t preclude a later “yes.” Sometimes, parents of estranged adults can get so bound up worrying about making a “mistake” in how they communicate or handle estrangement that they’re practically paralyzed. (And unfortunately, this mistakes parents of estranged adults make” idea is one of those dumb themes I often see in the media, and even from people purporting to help–UGH.) Give yourself permission to trust yourself.

That’s all folks

Well, for this U.S. Independence Day, that’s the best I can do. Now, it’s your turn. What can you let go or change up for your own well-being? I hope you’ll offer a comment and engage with other parents of estranged adult children by leaving a reply to this article.

Related Reading

Estrangement: Are you a firework? Or still standing?

Freedom for a new era (parents rejected by adult children)

Parents of estranged adults: Are you tyrannized by the painful emotions?

 

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88 thoughts on “July 4, 2022: Permission to . . . ?

  1. Effie

    I hate the sound of self-pity, but sometimes it just becomes overwhelming when you have TRIED everything and you give up again… and it’s like you start over after giving in to hope AGAIN and being reminded it probably is hopeless…Holidays are coming…

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth

    My Mom used to tell me: “The chickens DO come home to roost.” And it is true. Even more sadly for us parents is realizing that our grandchildren indeed are being taught HOW to treat their parents once they marry, leave home, etc. Some may not follow that path, but chances are some will. Our children will one day know our pain…because it will then be theirs.
    We are in kind of limbo land ourselves, but I work at (and yes WORK is the correct word) NOT having any expectations, nor any illusions, as to how life is going…some pain comes at times, but not every day. Over the many years, nothing really has changed in some areas, so not expecting it. Not in this life. But this life is NOT heaven is it?? That time is yet to come…one day all tears WILL BE wiped away, at some point…I much look forward to that time and a life we can only dream of now. Meanwhile, we continue doing what we can to enjoy our time, mostly just the 2 of us, and at times joined by 1 faithful child. And talking some to another child on the opposite coast. Being grateful for what we have. It is more than many have. We almost had only 1 child…we are very glad we were able to have 2 others. It does not take away all pain, but it diminishes some pain to have other children. I so feel for those here who only had 1 child. Makes life so much harder!! Take good care of yourselves…and if you are homebound (we are mostly too…just go out for groceries and to doctors)…well, in a way, we in our hearts and minds, have made some of the youtube families who share their lives there, a kind of kin you might say. As well as some of our friends.

    Reply
  3. Karen

    What continues to upset me is that all of you are suffering the pain I feel every moment of every day. I hate that even one of you is suffering because of some unnamed failure we supposedly made and won’t recognize. I don’t understand any of it. I don’t like hearing about the pain. I don’t like knowing the profound amount of suffering, grief, and pain all of you are feeling. I believe God will redeem our lost years; He will restore our joy; He stores our tears in bottles in heaven; we will suffer no more BUT learning how to cope with the nanoseconds of intense pain overwhelms me. I have been canceled as a parent; I have been canceled as a grandparent; I am being canceled as a wife by my husband’s Alzheimer’s disease. So we persevere because the only other choice is a never-ending pit of abject despair. Let us not give in to the despair that wants to grab hold of us and never let go.

    Reply
    1. Pam

      Karen!!!!
      You have given me a new way of answering the dreaded question of,”How are Molly and the grandkids doing”.
      I’m going to use your words moving forward…”I’ve been canceled as a parent and Nona.
      As painful as it has been as is…yes, we will persevere.
      Wishing you the best as you deal with the estrangement and health issues with you husbund.
      Pam

    2. Jennifer

      Thank you for sharing that and thank you Sheri for the articles. I wish I had the strength and wisdom that you do Karen. I am not there yet. My 23year old son who is a minister and a teacher left for a 6 week trip to teach at a bible college in South Africa in June. He was to return home this week to resume his teaching job at a Christian high school in the us. He emailed my husband and I 2 days ago and said he was remaining in South Africa to teach for free and he never wanted to speak to us again. Our son lives at home and we have always been close. He is considered a genius in regards to his IQ . I don’t know if he had a psychotic break which my sister had years ago . She did the same thing and moved to Tonga and eventually committed suicide. He has never shown signs of mental illness . We are lost.

    3. rparents Post author

      I feel it, too, Karen. The pain of others’ suffering. Somethings is just “off” that so many decent people are just cut off by the ones they love. I’m really sorry about your husband, too. I agree … let’s not despair. We’re given precious days and must make the most of them.

      Big hugs,
      Sheri McGregor

    4. Sophia

      I encourage you to work on YOU, Karen. Most of us here have no rational explanation for our EAC’s decisions. Find peace, find joy, and use your life to make you happy.

  4. Donna

    I’ve had lonely times before but I have never felt so utterly alone as I did this Fourth of July. I had no heart for fireworks, even on YouTube, or any of it this year.

    Warning long post. If there’s a word limit I will probably get cut off.

    Not sure if I qualify because not completely estranged though it often feels like I am and reading through people’s posts and replies it seems like many of you were in this shadowland of your adult child being half in and half out of your life before being completely cut off. My 39 yo daughter moved to Maine July 1st and took my 18 yo grandson with her. Only child and only grandchild. My daughter and I are both single mothers. I’m trying not to be one of those mother-in-lwas but I feel like my son-in-law (she just married last October) has stollen my family because the supposed reason is for him to go to college in his chosen field for which there are only a few universities nationwide that offer a degree in it and this is actually the closest but I fear this runs much deeper than that.

    I live in upstate NY and was half an hour away from Now they are six hours away. My situation is that I am ill and disabled and therefore partially dependent on my daughter’s help. I was not encouraged to move to Maine with them to put it mildly. There was somewhat an attitude of don’t follow me around, that’s stalkerish behavior despite my being retired and a renter so, of course, free to move wherever she does. I heard a lot of you’d be a fool to give up your apartment. Assessible apartments are hard to come by and I’m mobility impaired. But it honestly feels like she likes to think of her mother safely tucked away here until she wants to pove to herself that she is a good daughter, comes by and brings me groceries, cooks me a meal as I have trouble cooking and rely largely on TV dinners and prepared foods (not healthy but I have arthritic hands and can’t cook and meal delivery services are expensive and a nightmare) , things that don’t need to be cooked or prepped and simple things like sandwiches, and maybe do some cleaning up (though not usually on this though I have difficulty cleaning and it puts me in pain so bad I’m crying after ten minutes so I break up my housekeeping tasks for my four-room apartment into small manageable parts to keep my apartment clean). I also relied on her to drive me to doctor and/or urgent care but she said flat out she was leaving and I could just take an uber or call an ambulance. This, despite knowing I get very agitated during doctor visits and her presence has a calming affect. I didn’t trust doctors pre-covid and trust them even less now.

    But the reason I say her husband’s education is an excuse is because it’s been difficult between us for some time. I made the mistake of buying a house and bringing them into live with me a half dozen years ago. No rent but help me care for the place. Keep it clean, do th yardwork. Anything beyond our knowledge, I’d of course hire the right professional (i.e., plumber, electrician, landscaper, roofer, so on.) But when we got in there, she did not live up to the agreement though she suddenly to my surprise said she’d buy groceries since she wasn’t paying rent. I had asked her to only pay for hers and grandson’s. So she bought mine too. Which is to say that instead of buying the food we all ate and her just paying her share, she paid for mine too. This was an excellent deal for her still, far cheaper than paying rent somewhere especially as I paid the utilies, including cable and itnernet. But she utterly used to get her way in my house.

    But I was soon overwhelmed by her just not doing but getting angry if my grandson then 12 did. He would actually come to me and ask is there something I can do to help you, Grammy. When he got home from school one day in the fall before she got home from work, he asked and I set him – 12 years old so more than capable of it – to raking the yard. He was doing a good job of it until my daughter got home and flew into me for “treating her son like a slave”. He and I looked at each other adn he shrugged miserably behind her back and I had to bite my tongue to scream he was manning up and helping his disabled grandmother. This is a good, commendable thing. He, fortunately, knew I appreciated it but was wary of doing the same again because of his mother’s irrational anger at a 12 year old rakign leaves. Overwhelmed and unable to take care of the house myself, I finally said start looking for an apratment because I’ve got to put the house on the market. It fortunately sold fast but I only owned it two yeas (two years that were a struggle and I did myself further damage attempting to do things I was not capable of) and did not have any equity. I was done. I was not about to take her in ever again after that despite being worried about my grandson. I just couldn’t anymore. So I finally practiced tough love I should have long ago and said find your own apartment. We can’t live together anymore. Fortunately, I got my old apartment back and it is a great apartment.

    (Side note: At that point, grandson had lived with me most of his life. For the first 12 years of his life, Mom kept boomeranging back home. He’d lived all but a few years of his life with his Mom and me and those were not in a row but six months here, three months there, four there. First four with baby Daddy ’til he grew abusive and she came to my place. Half a year with a nother live-in lover who did. But always back to me wtih a Mom help, they’re abusive and I can’t stay or I’ve lost my job and have no way of paying bills. I knew I should practice tough love but I worried about my grandson. With reason. I tried to when he was two and she made a suicide attempt whe she was alone in the house with him. She’s extremely lucky she didn’t lose custody of him which I can only accredit to his father, unfortunately, not caring enough or perhaps his stepmother not wanting him there. She was only let out of the psych ward because I agree to take her in. They told me flat out if you won’t, she’s not going to be released so I agreed to. To this day, she is in denial of that and insists that she got out on her own merits. Which is partly true. She was released at all because she was working with the therapists and learning coping skills but also because I agreed to take her in. She would not have been let out at least that soon if I hadn’t and she denies that.

    Further background (extremely briefly because that would be a TV movie in and of itslelf): I skipped state with her when she was three after her father abused her and the family courts refused to end his visitation. 9 years later he was arrested for abusing other children and, in the end, killed himself rather than serve the three years he got after 18 months of plea bargaining when he abused one child for eight years. OK, stopping myself right now because that enrages me that he got less time than his victim endured. She hasn’t seen him since she was three and didn’t want to.

    Anyhow, I live with several life-threatening health conditions that there is no cure for and they fall in the strange category of they could make you drop dead tomorrow or you could live for 20 more years. It’s a tough thing to live with so I understand that it’s also tough for daughter and grandson but still… While living here, she came once a week. Sometimes grandson and/or son-in-law (who is 11 years younger than my daughter so 28; no children of his own and wants none but is close to my grandson) accompanied. Even when grandson came, he often buries himself on his phone which I think rude and would never have allowed a child of mine to do while visiting their grandparent but I could do nothing about her allowing him to ignore me. I was stuck with doing what I could to draw him out of the phone. He and I have always been close so I do succeed a lot but I have nothiced, it’s mostly when Mom and stepfather go out to pick something up or something. He’ll talk to me then as he did in old times.

    I suspect he buries himself in phone to escape tension between his Mom and me. He intervened once when she outright denied yelling at me when she had over something trivial and I said stop shouting at me. She said I didn’t shout at you, droppoing her voice sarcastically low and smiling a strange creepy smile to make it sound friendly 9the whole you can hear the smile in yoiur voice thing). He looked up and said yes, you did, Mom. You literally just raised your voice at her. Which that time mde her stop short but I suspect she was angry at him for it so he avoids now. He and I do keep in touch via Discord but it’s not the same. When we are alone, me and him can talk a mile a minute and we’re civil even when we disagree even if it’s about politics. His mom often gets angry at my political views and I have been told to just not talk about them which makes me feel gagged. They don’t pay attention to the news and often don’t know what’s going on and since I do, I have a tendency to tell them anything important when it comes up in conversation and it shows that they don’t even know something very large happened in the news. I even resorted to just relaying a news item without my opinion on it but somehow even doing that is perceived as political.

    Since my daughter came of age, there’s been a pattern of I’m important to her when she’s not romatically involved but easily forgotten and put on the back burner when she is. She doesn’t need me as much when she has a lover. Eh, of course not, but I shouldn’t be forgetten either. I suspect she was on the verge of disowning me with her last live-in but grandson demanded to see me and said live-in lover instituted having me over to dinner weekly which worked well for everyone. His kids were even calling me Grandma. I miss those two and hope they are faring well. They did that because I did simple kindnesses they were not used to (which did give me alarm bells.) For instance, we all went to a carnival and they were looking with disappointment at a game the girl wanted to play. (Girl was 8 and boy 11.) It was only $1 and I waited thinking Dad would pony up a $1 as it wasn’t a real scammy type thing. Dad didn’t so I did and the little girl won the prize she wanted and loved me for it and her big brother did too. It made him happy to see me do this small thing to make his sister happy. They were both so overly happy for that small kindness that it was obvious they didn’t get much kindness in their life and that did worry me and turned out to be justified when he too grew abusive and daughter boomeranged back. (God, I hope those two kids are okay and know they’re probably not.) But it was further disturbing that they weren’t even used to it from their actual grandparents.

    I do admit to doing something wrong in that I was quite upset at the news of moving so far away when I was dependent on her for care. I did ask what about me? What am I supposed to do? She’s swearing she’s going to make 12 hour round trips weekly which is totally unrealistic so I said make it once a month. She got angry, accused me of pushing her away so we compromised on three weeks but after being told to take an uber when I need urgent care (therefore when sick and/’or hurt so not in any shape to deal with the strange car and driver; though I can for regular doctor appointments though it’s difficult even then due to my chornic pain, illnesses and disabiltiy). Not to mention I rely on power chair outside and they are just not equipped for that and the services that are cost several hundred per trip and are difficult to arrange and not covered by either my private insurance or Medicare. I take walker instad but some won’t even come with that to fold into their trunk. God, I don’t know what I’m going to do to be honest.

    Not only is it unrealistic to think she can make 12 hour round trips to help me weekly as she has been (and she warned she’ll be tired and grouchy) but I wonder how long before that gets tiresome and she falls off. Meals on Wheels interferees with our life too much. It has scary conditions like if you’re not there when they get there, they will call the cops for a wellness check and have them break into your apartment. Um, no thanks. I’ve had doctors run close to two hours late even though I take first appointment in the morning. I can’t chance that. And other meal delivery services are just plain too expensive. Plus I have non-food grocery needs like personal care items, of course. They won’t bring soap, shampoo and toilet paper. I can get groceries delviered if she flakes out on me but I am very worried even though honestly she hasn’t taken much care to make sure I’m alright from half an hour away.

    My friend across the hall’s daughter checks on her twice a day – before and after work and her son does about once a week and brings his kids. I am so jealous!

    The thing is I think they feel I’m slowly dying given my poor health and I don’t disagree. I think I am too. My health problems are incurable. A bone disease that is degenerative and doctors expect me to wind up in wheelchair, one blood disorder that makes me clot too much and another that makes me bleed too profusely whcih was worsened by blood thinners prescribed for the former which I had to stop taking after two attempts to control blood clots that way put me in the ER with severe bleeds. How do you fight opposite problems at tha same time? Also digestive disorder that keeps me chained within close proximity to a bathroom. I feel they’re resigning themselves to my eventual demise. I’m 64 and in shaky health to put it mildly but I’m not dead yet and I wish they wouldn’t bury me and put me out of sight, out of mind until I am. I still love them, want their company and still need them.

    I also suspect that I’m being put in a position of putting myself into assisted living so they don’t have to feel guilty for doing so. I have trouble taking care of myself now (see above for how I eat for not being able to prep and cook food and to clean my small apartment). I have friends of all ages and one that is a young (gifted) man who has worked in assisted living and done genetic research fears even worse that they’re trying to set me up with reasons to commit me against my will. I’ve been friends with him about 10 years. He thinks the new husband doesn’t like having the burden of aging mother-in-law and I wish I were sure he’s wrong. I was happy about my daughter’s wedding. I liked the guy but since it, I see little passive-aggressive ways he is controlling. Like one time he was wrong about something and I knew the facts and corrected him, he just said I’m feeling very attacked right now and I don’t wish to continue this conversation. I had said it as politely as possible and did not yell but he was obviously mad that he was wrong and corrected and this makes me wonder and worry how often my daughter and grandson get that treatment.

    Grandon did not want to go to Maine. His family as in on his father’s side as well as me are here, his friends are here and he had two jobs and a good opportunity to learn a trade appreticing on one of them. I offered to let him stay with me but they pressured him and he is going with them. His mother always guilts him into giving her her way then claims she won’t suffocate him like I did her which surprises me because I always encouraged her to be as independent as she could be for her age and treats him like a kid.

    I say all the time when she tries to baby him, he’s a man; let him be a man. She is defintiley having some trouble cutting the apron strings and whether she realizes it or not uses him for her own benefit. He’ll be splitting expenses with them in Maine where the cost of living is high. I am very worried for my grandson. Yes, he’s a legal adult but barely and does not yet have the means of living independently in today’s unreal inflation. His car died and he hasn’t replaced and I suspect that’s why he didn’t accept my offer to stay iwth me.

    I’m sorry. I went off on a tangent. I think either consciously or subconsciously they are forcing me to where when I reach the point I can no longer care for myself, I will have no choice but to put myself in assisted living while they absolve themselves of all guilt and say we didn’t want you to. Which will leave me stuck saying I couldn’t take care of myself and you were unwilling to take care of me. My daughter has said flat out, we can’t live together and has accused me of stalkerish behavior if I suggest moving to Maine and that I shouldn’t give up my wonderful apartment that I do love but I will now be here withouit her help.

    And I know I won’t point that out for fear that they won’t even visit. If they even do.

    All the things I search on line for when your adult child disowns you say make a new life for yourself. Get out, make friends, and it’s most frustrating because I just physically can’t. I am pretty much homebound due to my health conditions and it’s damned hard to build friendships when you can’t do things with people. Most of the friends I did have – except these couple mentioned – kind of quit calling as I grew more and more ill and disabled. Not to mention, I poured 40 years into this relationship. It’s kind of hard to trust relationships after literallyi sacrificing my entire life to protect her when she was a toddler and giving her all my love and attention and building our relationship for 39.5 years results in being old and alone. My mother beat us and didn’t die old and alone. I am flabbergasted how I find myself doing so and cannot understnad how that came to be.

    I’m dying alone, slowly and in pain and most of the time I want to cry. A good day is when I am bury myself in the fiction I write instead of sitting despairing and crying. This sucks. Why is it too much to even get a five-minute phone call checking up on me once a day? The refusal to do so says I can’t wait for you to die, Mom, and for this burden that used to be the mother I loved to be over.

    Reply
    1. Donna A.

      Did you know that the bible says Honor your Father and Mother? It does not say Honor your mother and father if they are perfect, if they have never done anything, etc. I always honored my parents although my father was not the sweetest person in the world. Before he died he apologized to me.
      I have two girls that will not speak. One will not speak because I saw her do something and she is afraid she will be found out, the other married a man, (her 3rd) that told her “God is over me, I am over you and don’t you ever speak to your mother again.” Found out he was in court for abusing another wife.
      Life seems to be getting worse, but I will say, everything that is happening is in the Bible and telling us we are living in the end times. Hang in there parents. Not of us are perfect. None of them are perfect. Only our Father in Heaven.

    2. BalticSea

      Dear Donna,
      Your heart is heavy. I am so sorry you have to deal with all this and do it alone. It hurts, I know it does. To feel ignored, to feel abandoned, to feel unwanted especially now when you need the support and love the most. I feel for you. Stay safe! I am thinking of you.

  5. MuffinAlex

    Thank you, Sheri, for making the time to write this article. It’s not like you have nothing else going on. You have written two amazing books, you moderate this site, post articles, among many other things. You’re definitely the den mother of estranged parents. I don’t know how you do it all! Especially since you’re an estranged parent yourself, which I’m sure has been/can still be draining and exhausting. So thank you again for making the effort to write this article.

    Before reading your article this morning, I found something I wanted to share with you. I love puzzles. In fact, I try to do at least one Sudoku and one cryptogram each day. Over the past week, I’ve fallen a day behind. So earlier, I finished the cryptogram from yesterday.

    It’s a quote from Louis Brandeis and it dovetails with the message of your article:

    “Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness.”

    I hope all parents of EC find ways to liberate themselves from the grief of estrangement and find happiness.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      MuffinAlex,
      Thank you for your nice note here. And I LOVE this quote you shared. It does indeed dovetail perfectly with this article!! Thank you for sharing it, and I, too, hope everyone affected by estranged adult children will allow themselves to get free and pursue happiness.

      Hugs!!
      Sheri McGregor

  6. KarenH

    I gave myself permission to leave a vm on my estranged daughter’s phone, knowing I’m blocked and she wouldn’t hear it. I wished her a happy Independence Day (independent of a mom, haha), and wished her immediate family well. I gave her a piece of family news (her brother has covid) and signed off with “Take care.”

    (Then my husband and I spent about ten minutes googling and experimenting to see if a person can listen to a blocked voicemail, should they want to.)

    A few hours later other family members showed up for a BBQ, 4th of July party favors, water balloon fight, games. My daughter was never far from my thoughts.

    It was a good day.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      KatenH,

      Good for you if that’s what you needed to do. I hope you enjoyed your family and food. If you’re in the same situation next year, it will be interesting to compare your needs/emotions. If you’re not, then here’s to renewed joy (which we can get anytime!).

      Hugs to you,
      Sheri McGregor

  7. Toni

    It looks like we all are living in a kind of fantasy world or denial…. it can’t be my fault… it’s all my fault… it’s my son/daughter in law’s fault…. why can’t we stop? I wish I knew the answer to why we beat ourselves up every day over what we cannot change. I even reached out to my son after 2 years and we did reconcile but it is not like what you think… it is always in the back of my mind of what I will do next that will provoke another shut off. I can’t stop it and the relationship is not the same. Have an OK relationship grandchildren (3 & 5) but I have to squeeze in between their adventures with HER mother and family. So I am powerless. Sometimes, it almost feels normal but it really isn’t.
    I think I care a lot about how this reflects badly on me but it really should be reflecting on THEM. In the meantime; you go on and you know you can never forgive 100% and it will never be the same. PERIOD END OF STORY. MOVE ON OR YOU WILL FINISH YOUR LIFE LIKE THIS AND THEY DO NOT CARE IN THE WAY YOU WANT. I wish there was a pill to take for this but there is not

    Reply
    1. Kari

      Hi Toni, I understand your feels all too well. I’m so sorry you (we) have to go through this, but I guess that’s the answer to all this, we have to go THROUGH it, as if there’s another side, like a tunnel that has a place to come out of on the other side. I wish I could say the other side is happy like WE would want it to be, but I suppose HAPPY is what we need to make, on that other side of that tunnel of not knowing. A new kind of happy. It could really be something special to look forward to, if we try and shift the way we think from what we want to, Happy is what we’re going to make it be. I wish every single day, my daughter would just call me and tell me exactly WHY she stopped calling and talking to me. Exactly WHY she shut me out of social media. And exactly WHY she won’t let my granddaughter call me to say hello. But I don’t have those answers. I may never and I have to (we have to) find a way to make ourselves happy. Someday, we just might get those answers. There’s always hope. Sending hugs…Kari

    2. Effie

      i can identify with almost everyone here… The gut-wrenching pain. It is true, isn’t it? They just don’t care. I have a huge tote of photos… the one that is probably big as my car trunk stuffed to the top with photos…I keep wondering do I make photo books and give them to them ( in the mail) or just put them away in the dark damp basement. I was the stay-at-home, never miss an occasion or a sporting event and now I could go die in the corner of the basement and no one would no for years….. It is too much to handle… but each day the Lord gives me what I need because this is biblical. Hearts will grow cold 2 Timothy…
      Sorry, its been a hard summer.

  8. Eve

    Thank you Sheri for your work in writing your books and publishing this website. Your gentle, honest often poetic reflections have been of great value to me. One son and a daughter have estranged and although I have asked, neither is willing to tell me why.
    Knowing that this is so common is distressing, but it is also reassuring as I have wrestled to come to terms with what my role may have been in it all. Your writings have helped me to reach a place of acceptance and
    a focus on the other children who still have bonds with me

    XXX

    Reply
    1. Tovah

      Hello Eve and all here,
      I am beginning to feel strongly that our two estranged daughters don’t (won’t) tell us what we did “wrong” because there isn’t anything they can say that would justify complete rejection and they are aware of that. Also, to tell us would be to accept hashing things out, owning up to their parts in our difficulties and reconciling with us and the truth is that they don’t want to. So why even talk about what we did “wrong” if you have no intention of working to repair it and heal the wounds?
      It’s so much easier to just forget we exist and then the problem (and the need to put in the effort to negotiate a reconciliation) goes away.
      We know in our guts and hearts that we are not loved by our daughters the way that we loved our parents. As this issue becomes more and more common it represents more than just an estrangement but the breakdown of the family which to many spiritual people signals the beginning of the End.
      What we seemed to experience with our modern-era daughters is more like a series of transactions with them, us being the sole providers and them being the ungrateful recipients. We may have thought we were loved when it was something else.
      The world has changed so drastically and new “families” can be found everywhere with in laws, online connections and even co-workers. The stress of life today is so severe that our children seem extraordinarily fragile. I’ve seen them referred to as “snowflakes” because of — one assumes — their disabling states of mind in coping with our chaotic world. The dialogue circulating their device-dependent daily lives is that they owe us NOTHING and they should go no contact, even after a wonderful childhood. (I have the thousands of photos to prove it!)
      When I was younger, we had only face to face contacts with loved ones and potential allies and those allies were very hard to replace if they were lost. There was more value in preserving these ties. Now the internet exists to widen that field tremendously. Of course, it’s a much more superficial, throwaway alliance but nevertheless offers a steady stream of new contacts if the other ones didn’t work out. They may not be cut out to maintain anything resembling a real relationship where conflicts DO exist and there is a need to resolve them, so these flimsy connections are enough.
      My goal (and my husband’s) in this moment is to accept that our presence is not wanted. A real three-dimensional relationship having both good times and bad times that challenge us but don’t destroy us evades them. We have to somehow learn to be at peace with that.
      Sheri, please accept our deepest thanks. Your books are our inspiration, lifeline, loving hand on our shoulders and to borrow a beautiful word from your post — our permission — to stop questioning why.

    2. rparents Post author

      Dear Eve,

      I am thankful that my work has been of help!! I’m so sorry your son and daughter have decided upon this path. I’m sorry they hurt you … and I am glad to hear that you are not following them to a pit of despair. Yes, focus on the good and ones who love you. Also, focus on yourself, at least a bit! You deserve your own kind care.

      Hugs to you,
      Sheri McGregor

  9. Paula

    Just remember you are not the only one and this is not exclusively your fault. I am still very mad about my child’s estrangement but I believe in a just God. Let me leave it at that. have comfort that God ultimately prevails. The hurts will be undone in heaven. We pray we get there.

    Reply
  10. Tilly

    I find it comes in waves. We do our best the loss is so huge and our world so changed. Our child is getting married soon and wee are not invitee
    We go through weeks months years but our hearts are broken

    Reply
    1. FrN

      I’ve got to believe that our children have no idea the depth of pain we feel at times. No person with any empathy could cause that much pain to another.

    2. Effie

      Tilly…. I have and am there … It is so very painful that your heart hurts doesn’t it? Hard to believe rejection is a physical pain..

  11. Carrie-Ann

    It was such a Joy to read Beautiful Sheri’s posting early this morning…It eased the feeling of “needing to do something…with no one to do it with…because it’s a holiday.”

    I feel so much Gratitude for those, past and present, in the military and leadership, that have given of themselves so that we can have freedom…as well as each contributing and law-abiding citizen…
    Thinking of each of you fathers and mothers on this 4th of July day…Sending and sharing with you the following thoughts:

    “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go” (Rumi)
    “What does it mean life is a balance of holding on and letting go? This motivational quote by him is “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go” reminding us to keep moving forward, keep evolving, and keep improving. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices. It is also about what you can and what you can’t control.”

    Serenity Prayer:
    “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
    May You Each Enjoy Freedom & Peace of Mind, Body, & Spirit on this Beautiful 4th of July…

    In Gratitude, Friendship, Peace, & Love,
    Carrie-Ann
    p.s. My Beautiful Cat Beauty and I enjoying our Freedom and are lounging and purring…with plans to watch “Amazing British Drama” on youtube…

    Reply
  12. Diane M.

    Sheri, thank you so, so much for deciding to write during this holiday. You always say just the right thing that I need to hear. I love how you wrote that if we make a decision about action or non-action regarding our estranged kids, that doesn’t mean it has to be forever. I found that to be most “freeing.” I am not sending my daughter, son-in-law and three grown grandkids any greeting cards for now. I have no communication with any of them anyway. I felt like just an ATM machine sending cards with money, just hoping to hear from them by getting a thank-you note. But I had a hidden agenda doing that. Desperately hoping to hear from them. It’s hard not sending them cards, but I’m not even sure where the grandkids live now. A while back I emailed my daughter asking for their addresses but she just replied for me to send all cards to her address. That is not OK with me. So, now I feel much better knowing that is what I choose to do NOW but that could change in the future. I feel more “free” on this Independence Day. And they know how to reach me when any of them are ready.

    I do not like heat and humidity so I am not really celebrating the 4th either. I don’t like crowds especially now during these unsafe times. I’ll be relaxing at home. I will have a traditional hot dog for supper though.

    I hope all of you will be okay today. Remember what Sheri said about making good decisions for our well-being and that any decisions we now make, can change in the future.

    God Bless Sheri and each and every one of you! I love hearing from all of you. We’re all in this together!

    Reply
  13. Julie

    It has been 10 years for me this year. I remember the very 1st 4th of July when I was newly divorced and my 3 adult children were nowhere to be found. I joined neighbors at the park. That moment and time made me really think about what I wanted going forward.

    I did a lot of reading. I joined estranged parent groups and even flew to New York to meet with a group of women who were estranged. At the time it really helped to know there were others in my situation of this weird unexpected he’ll.

    There were a lot of small and large changes that I made during this decade. I feel like the hardest days of all this are past. I’m in my mid sixties and I have a life completely apart from my old marriage and parenting phase. I actually refer to this as my post parenting phase of life which usually gets some good chuckles out of new people that I meet.
    But I am acutely aware of the hurt and the silent pain that many people go through as their adult children withhold grandchildren, Blackmail, make ridiculous demands for apologies that no one can understand and generally try to control their parents’ devotion through emotional manipulation.

    There have been opportunities for me to be a kind and compassionate listener for people who are hurting like that. But I normally am very vague about my own situation with new people. The shock and pain of ungrateful estranged adult children is really something that people can’t believe. And frankly I really don’t feel like trying to explain how stupid this really is.

    Change your mind and change your life. Don’t be afraid to change identities.

    I can enjoy other people’s parent and grandparent stories. But I but I no longer see myself as a parent or even admit to being a grandmother to grandchildren that I don’t know.

    I am lucky to have a job and colleagues that I enjoy. I am fortunate to have a large house where I can host students and visiting interns to the local University. I have some old friends that I have maintained and I have new friends that I make. I have joined clubs like the elks lodge and American Legion and moose lodge and yacht club. It’s true I don’t have a yacht but I can still visit the yacht clubs with my reciprocal card!

    I joined a bunco group 10 years ago and they only know me as single and no obligations. Recently I met one of the ladies outside of our normal bunco get together and she told me how she always enjoys hearing my latest adventures and loves the ideas that I come up with to do things with myself and my friends. I consider myself resourceful.

    My best romantic companions have been widowers and people who have never had children. They are just out to enjoy whatever they can with this life and I fit right in with that. I pretty much downplay all of those family holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving and big birthday get togethers and of course the 4th of July. Those periods of time are excellent for travel or for catching up on things that I normally can’t do while at work.

    There is still pain. Like today when I looked over all the fresh hurt and the struggles to resolve the nearly impossible. I am so sorry for your pain. I hope you find a way past it. I really try to keep the perspective that I am in a completely new chapter of life.

    Best wishes for the best Independence Day to all
    Julie

    Reply
  14. Becky W.

    It’s been six 4th of Julys since I have been able to talk to my estranged son. He has married in that time (I was excluded from my only son’s wedding) and as far as I know they have no children yet, he’ll be 29 this month. The birthday, in the beginning, was hardest for me in my circumstance. It was always a huge celebration and a profoundly intimate reminder of the connection to person I gave life to and loved so deeply. It might be hard to understand, especially for those who are recently estranged from their children, but I’m ok. It has taken many, many set backs, constant self loathing, rejected attempts at contacting my son, mental anguish, rivers of tears, and more heartbreak than I can count to get here where I don’t fall apart on an ordinary day in the middle of a grocery store. It takes communities like these, people willing to be transparent about their suffering, Sheri’s incredibly helpful books, to not feel alone in a journey none of us could ever imagine we’d experience. I have learned to embrace the “new normal”, some are not there yet and may never be, but I couldn’t survive like that any longer. It really was out of survival that I swam to shore, tired and utterly exhausted from swimming in a sea of self blame, constant rejection and humiliation. If that was “living” I didn’t want to do anymore, so I chose me and my remaining family. I’m a good person, I was and still am a good mother. I made mistakes and did my very best to make amends. Letting go of the reconciliation I wanted so badly was much, much harder than even the estrangement itself. Please know, I have been on this journey awhile, you and I deserve, no matter what, to celebrate and live our life even if the person we gave life to isn’t in it.

    Reply
    1. BalticSea

      Hello Becky, thank you so very, very much for your thoughts. Yes, it is hell and letting go, realizing that there is no solution, is even greater hell. Who would have thought that someone I loved, gave life to, helped and nurtured, guided, protected would eventually throw me under the bus. And why? Because I resented multiple lies his wife said about me? What was I supposed to do? Shut up and take it and ask for more? Why would I do that? He is totally oblivious to the hurt she has caused me (and my youngest son) and he won’t even listen to me, to my side of the ‘story’. It is a story, indeed. He is almost 51 years old.
      Why is it that he can’t be fair? Just fair, that’s all I ask for. I am NOT asking him to choose me over her, I just want fairness. I deserve it, I think.
      I am devastated, feel empty, disappointed, defeated, deflated, very, very depressed. The situation reminds me of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. She took him away from his entire family and put a wedge between father and son and the two brothers. Those boys were very close all their lives until MM entered the scene. Exactly the same happened to me. My two boys’ relationship is not the same anymore. They were not only brothers, but best friends. I feel as if half of my heart has been ripped out of me. It is hard to describe the pain but parents on this site understand it. By the way, I haven’t seen my son or granddaughter in almost three years. She is only six, so I haven’t seen her for half of her life…
      Hugs,
      Olga

  15. Rose

    I am having neighbors over to BBQ, watch fireworks from our home, swim when I want & just love the fact that we are free! Free to choose what we want in life & I choose to live a happy life. Thanks to your words of encouragement, emails, etc… I feel so free ( from drama, stress,etc). I pray daily for peace, & 99% of the time I am soon happy. Yes, there are days I drift to the dark side but I remind myself of what I have now… love of many family & friends!!!
    Thank you so very much… thank you Lord for my life… and thanks to all those who serve/served for my freedoms! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

    Reply
  16. Tina

    Hi everyone! I’m new to this site and the advice and book has been really helpful! My 18 yr old son went to live with his dad at 17 and we continued to let him go to the best school in the state and we paid for all of his school stuff lovingly and willingly. He graduated with honors and I took him out to lunch the next day to celebrate. We are so proud! We are not in a position to pay for his college unfortunately and that’s the only time I’ve heard from him is him trying to manipulate me or his dad to pay for college etc when he is now living on his own. This fourth is hard because he won’t answer texts or calls after I told him that I cant change his FAFSA so he will get a grant! I asked him to I come over for a cookout this weekend and that night he texted back that he had to work. He only contacts me when he wants something and when I can’t fork over money he goes back to ignoring me! It’s emotional prison. I have another teen at home and it’s incredibly hard to work through this hurt and focus on my one at home and pray he doesn’t learn these behaviors from him! My son is moving into his new house at college this month and I have been asking to come see it or help him move in and he agreed earlier this month but now he won’t respond when asked about it. I pray for every mother and father in this group that these adult children will reach out to the parents that have always been there through everything!

    Reply
  17. Rosanne

    Thank you for your post Sheri. Thank you also to everyone who has commented so that we know that we truly aren’t alone this holiday or any other day of the year. I was anticipating the 4th being a rough holiday even though the estrangement with my son started nearly 10 years ago after a divorce. He’s now 25.

    This holiday is bittersweet because I celebrated it many years over the last 5 decades at my favorite aunt and uncle’s 4th of July party with so many treasured memories with extended family. Sadly, they both passed away in the last year. The latest outpouring of rage, blame, and abuse I received from my son was the day before her funeral. I don’t know why I still felt surprised that he couldn’t offer any support on one of the hardest days of my life and that it was still all about him. It was what I needed to finally realize and truly accept that I need the distance to take care of myself as I can’t heal from what feels like a knife attack that never relents.

    I also just found out yesterday that my sister, who I am estranged from, will be flying in to town to visit my dad (with Alzheimer’s) and other sister today. When she’s been in town in the past, my son has gotten together with her. They have both called me many names and told me that I have a mental illness which is especially hurtful given that I do not and since my daughter has been significantly affected by mental illness throughout her life.

    I’m proud of myself though because I’m actually having a wonderful weekend. I started it with quality time with my daughter (who I was also initially estranged from due to parental alienation after my divorce). Then I met one of my closest friends for lunch. On top of that, my husband and I have had a fun weekend filled with movies, shopping, pickleball, church, and music at an outdoor venue. Best of all, I planned a massage and a session of Sound Therapy and Yoga Nidra with a professional today!

    Reply
  18. Mary L.

    As always, the post and the subsequent comments were SO needed today. I am astounded that after 4 years of estrangement from our son, there are triggers that send me over the precipice again and again when I think I have gotten a handle on the grief and sadness from being hated by one that I carried for 9 months-a truly wanted child who had to exist because of fertility drugs. All of the time and money we poured into him, who was a VERY difficult child to raise due to ADHD. Endless trips to school for meetings, counseling, a 5th degree assault charge against him as a middle schooler plus offering a home to his girlfriend who moved up to MN to be closer to him. The list seems endless of all of the love and support we gave him-but our spiritual walk and our political leanings were what sent him into a rage. How much hate can one hold in their heart to forbid his wife (they are now divorced) from contacting me or seeing the grandkids when they visited from Florida to Minnesota. I am continually told by God to “let them go”-He knows it’s for my own well being and peace. Thank you, Sheri and all who have answered for your perspectives on this sad subject.

    Reply
  19. Jane

    We are spending the morning playing Pickleball, then having a picnic with our Pickleball friends. We have been estranged from our son and 4 grandchildren for 10 years. Just like many others have shared, it is their lose. We were very good parents and gave our son everything. Done with trying to figure out what went wrong. If you are able to walk you will be able to play Pickleball. The Pickleball community is great. We have fun and forget all the world problems for as long as you can play. Check it out it is life changing.

    Reply
    1. Kim

      Pickleball has seriously saved my life. I am so grateful for that community of friends!

  20. Linda

    Thank you, Sheri for posting today and to all you wonderful ladies who are walking this painful journey together. I am 72 and live alone. My son is married to a difficult woman and a big blow up occurred 3 weeks ago. He’s cut off communication. I have friends and a daughter but I’m trying to not to continually bring this burden to them. Friends and family can only listen for so long. I decided to go out with a group for dinner on Friday. Part way through the evening a certain song came on and I broke down in tears. So humiliating. They were very kind but I’m thinking I need to keep socializing to a minimum for now. I am thankful though to have this group, both to hear your stories and to share mine. Peace and love to all.

    Reply
    1. Kim

      Don’t stop socializing. Be around more people. I agree this hurts more than anything…but we can’t let them take the rest of our lives too. God bless.

  21. Kimberly C.

    Thank you all for sharing. The tears are pouring. So many of us “surviving” another holiday. I am sending lots of love and thoughts and prayers and hugs to each and every one of you. ❤️

    Reply
  22. Cynthia

    I am still in bed this glorious 4th of July morning and having read your article has made me feel as if I am reading my own thoughts. I will go to the fireworks tonight as I live by the beach and can ride my bike to them yet the big family cookouts of years gone by are long gone and only a memory. I have three sons and the youngest went “off the grid” about three years ago and communicates neither with his brothers nor with me. Absolutely no idea why. Could it be a residual effect from when their father left the three of us after I discovered he is gay? At 12 years of age I cannot a gone what went on in my adolescent son’s mind then and now as he is in his 30’s.

    Reply
  23. Kimberly .

    Sheri, thank you so much for your words. After my son publicly blowing up at me last year on Facebook, I decided I would not reach out to him for at least a year … it has been so difficult, but I’ve made it so far! 6 months down, 6 months to go! At the end of the year, I will decide whether to try again or not. Because I am a mother and he is my son, and I feel I should be able to enjoy those moments when you see something that reminds you of them or their birthday is coming up or a post comes up on Facebook about “sons” … I give myself permission to buy that item, buy the birthday card and gift and place it in a box. I have a digital file that I place posts in with his name on it. If and when he is ready to reach out to me or after I am gone, those will be there for him. Something physical for him to see that I never gave up on him. I only “respected” him. Every day as I trudge through I am always reminded of the story of The Prodigal Son. It gives me the hope that I need to get through every day!

    Reply
    1. Toni

      Apparently, we have NO RIGHT to expect to be part of our childrens’ lives. It is WE who will not wake up and smell the coffee. We did what we thought was right and this may or may ot be the cause of any estrangement.

  24. Ilene A.

    Sheri,
    How perfect the message in your newsletter is! Holidays are nothing but pity parties for me. I try not to cry all day. Estrangement is cruel and unusual punishment. No matter how hard I try to be positive, the alone time is challenging. Giving myself to others through volunteering has provided a positive outlet. However, I continue to feel as though I’m a phenomenal actress, when I am with friends or out in the community volunteering. At the present time I am working in my community to set up a support group for parents of estranged children. Yes, your books will be the textbooks for this group. I have two professional people lined up to be the facilitators.

    Reply
  25. Linda

    I am also having another quiet and lonely holiday. I am beginning to doubt that the pain ever ends, but I agree there is really no choice but to live on and make the most of a bad thing. I have no husband anymore, no other children, so I am very much alone, despite many friends. And I cannot help but wonder every day how bad a parent I must have been to have my daughter take so much from me.

    Reply
    1. nancy

      I feel your pain coming threw the page. You are not alone I can say my heart breaks everyday. It will never be the way it once was for me but I pray everyday that things change. As long as we are alive I keep my hope of change. Hang in there I am in the boat but we do have life preservers

  26. Mary

    I have four children, ten grandchildren and four great grandchildren. The parents attitudes have been passed on and no matter how I tried for years to find out and fix what was wrong with my relationships, no matter how many cards and checks I sent or invitations to see us on any terms, I get rejected. They call their dad, but not me. My husband loves it. I am not over the hurt and do keep praying, but I don’t try anymore.

    Reply
    1. Judy

      Why does your husband enjoy your pain?? Why are you still with him if he “loves” it when the kids call him but not you? Trying to understand your relationship with him…

  27. Kathleen

    Thaank youuu!!! We are turning the corner on year 3 of our son’s estrangement and his moving “off the grid” so we’ve no idea where or if, he is. But therapy and lots of reading and meditation has brought me to the same place: letting go of what no longer serves me. I’ll Never let go of him or even of the hope he may someday reconnect, but letting go of the daily self-abuse and self-blame. I for sure carry childhood trauma myself and made many mistakes, and wish I could apologize to him for all that. But with no connection, the self blame was killing me – developed a heart condition and landed in the ER. So, again- thank you Sheri, as letting go of the damage while holding onto hope feels the healthiest way forward ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
    1. Debbi

      I could have written this. I’d love to have a normal relationship with him but the walking on constant eggshells isn’t worth it after all these years. We’re entitled to some peace and happiness.

    2. Michele

      Kathleen,
      I too have not seen or spoken to my son in almost 3 years. He moved overseas to teach and ghosted his entire family.
      I still have not found a good therapist, but read constantly and meditate which is the only thing that seems to help a bit.
      I think I am doing fine and then it hits … want to cry the day away and hide in my own little world.
      How to cope?
      Your words are helpful.

  28. Ann K.

    Sheri,
    Thank you for writing. As several of these women have stated, it helps to know we are not alone.
    Having children walk away is heart wrenching. Worse, not being able to fix it.
    I don’t know what I did and after many attempts to “fix” whatever broke, nothing. I seem to exist between confusion, hurt, anger, and a tremendous sense of loss.
    I am blessed to have a wonderful husband (he says “their loss”) but it is so terribly hard to let go.
    Again, thank you for your time, effort, and kindness.

    Reply
  29. Kathleen M.

    Hi!
    I agree with Sheri for a “boring” 4th of July. I’ve had plenty of memorable 4th’s, with families, friends, food prep/cook/bbq, stress, money spent, happiness and sadness. This year, I silently awaited for an invitation… reciprocation… nothing. Hmmm.
    This holiday, I agree, this day will be my permission to do something for myself…. Nothing and alone. I’ll watch the fireworks on tv … if I’m awake. Ha!
    Happiness and Joy-
    Kathleen

    Reply
  30. Ann J.

    We have had similarly “blissfully boring” holidays for 13 yrs, but we have come to embrace them. We do what we want to. Some years, we do a good holiday blow out, maybe we take a trip or hit the local celebrations. Mostly, we stay home and enjoy being together. We don’t dwell very much on whatever it was that sent our son and DIL to the point of not wanting us to be part of their lives (and their daughters’ lives.) To be honest, there are days when we hardly think about them at all. We realized that our grief hurt only us and decided to let it go. Things have been much better.

    We do have a friend that we often celebrate with, and this year, we are going to a picnic with her and her family. We moved here more than 10 yrs ago and she is about the only friend that we have.

    We too enjoy the freedom of doing as little or as much as we want, doing different things, doing nothing. Life is good.

    Reply
  31. Faith

    It’s been 3 years of our estrangement from our youngest son. When I feel myself getting angry because of the unfairness of it all, I remind myself of how he and my daughter-in-law excluded us from holidays and then I remember how hurt I always felt. I don’t miss feeling like that. I don’t miss people pleasing or walking on eggshells. It’s a trade off, we lost him and the grandkids but we also gained freedom from being disrespected, used, excluded, and a one sided relationship. My overall perspective is that they lost a set of parents, and a set of grandparents that loved them unconditionally, would always be there for them, and help them if needed. They lost a lot if you ask me, I think it was a poor decision. I feel sad for them actually, it has to be lonely for them at certain times.

    Reply
    1. Chipmunk

      Helped 42yr daughter care for 10yr gdaughter as her Dad died 9/2021 re Covid. He was primary caretaker while daughter work. Daughter on leave of absence but we stilled help care as daughter said overwhelmed with single parenthood. June, she had us schedule to care for her every end of week. One question abt a chg for us & she went extreme. Stating no one helped her & she could go at it alone. Shut down & refuses to take calls or see us. I swing between tears & getting angry because she know better. I feel her resentment of our boundaries (we are 61/65 retired & husband has cancer) was brewing long before now. So this article alleviated the guilt of going on with our lives. I somehow felt since we are old that we owe it to her to just step in for her deceased husband & help raise grandaughter. Mix emotions.

    2. Debbi

      I could have written this. I’d love to have a normal relationship with him but the walking on constant eggshells isn’t worth it after all these years. We’re entitled to some peace and happiness.

    3. Linda

      That is so true. It has been 14 years, waited until first grandchild was born to cut us totally off. Many attempts to ask what we did, what the problems are, etc. Always a different reason. We apologized for whatever ES felt we did?? Pleaded, actually begged to have a relationship. No. Then list my husband, his father 8 years ago, that didn’t change ES attitude. Finally able to let go of hurt, anger most days. If husband had not died much easier, my best friend and we really enjoyed each other and were a close family until DIL came into the picture. Just keep busy, Pickleball, friends, good days, some bad ones but grateful for what I have. Their loss still love and miss “old son” but now just a dull ache. Thoughts and peace to all going through this

    4. virginia

      Our story as well, Faith. It’s been 7 years and although we miss the boy our son was, we do not miss the mess that is his family.
      A couple of weeks ago, when I was on an outing with my oldest grandson, I, surprisingly, ran into the DIL. (they don’t live here!) She said hello, and then asked if I wanted to meet the granddaughter – that I had learned about from strangers on facebook. Without thinking, I said ” no I don’t think so”. it was an un thought out response, but to me, shows me that I have come a long way.
      She cut off communication a long time ago, forbidding us from seeing no. 1 grandchild and has had two more since. It’s her way or the highway and we are thoroughly enjoying the highway.

  32. Mary

    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and feelings. April 30 my estranged son turned 31, and on July 1 my estranged twin daughters turned 35. Like some of you I have not been able to feel like a mother for years, miss the anticipation of celebrating my children’s births.
    Just recently my brother sent me a simple phrase: “Mental peace is achieved when you let go of relationships that no longer add to your life”. I thought about this for a long time….
    I can’t let the painful past keep me frozen in time. I have decided to let go and live my life for me, I am grateful for my health, my work, my family and friends.
    Stay strong everyone…. much love to you all….

    Reply
    1. Ilene

      Your words of wisdom are an inspiration. How challenging it is for me to allow the “painful past” rule my life!

  33. Grandma Wendy

    The perfect post on this Holiday…that’s all about our freedom to do the best we can everyday! Thank you and may you and your readers enjoy this Independence Day anyway you choose. In peace and freedom!

    Reply
  34. Anne F.

    Sheri, good morning on this hot July 4.
    We are in good company. Thank you!
    Hubby and I also decided to have a quiet July 4 weekend. Thank you for joining us.

    Reply
  35. Memorie S.

    Thank you for your post. I’m fairly new to this as my daughter has just recently cut me off. I’m still in the very beginning of the most extreme grief of my life. Some days I feel it will never get better and I will never feel joy again. I just want some understanding or to know why. How something like this could have ever happened. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this is where I would be. I miss my daughter terribly and some days it’s all consuming. Starting to effect my marriage and how I interact with my other two younger daughters. I feel so incredibly isolated and alone in my feelings. Your website and book has made me feel less one. So thank you for that!

    Reply
  36. Marni Hill Foderaro

    Dearest Sheri,

    You are such a beautiful gift to your readers and have created such a supportive environment in your community.

    Thank you for sharing your journey while helping parents deal with the ever-evolving grief of losing their child(ten) to estrangement or alienation.

    We do need to give ourselves permission to focus on our self-care and be flexible with our thoughts and actions; mindfully present.

    Much love to you,

    Marni ❤️

    Reply
  37. Amy

    Thank you for being there for all of us, Sheri. I fell asleep last night listening to your book, “Done With the Crying” on Audible – I have been doing that a lot lately – and it helps. This is my third time to go through this with my son and I’m exhausted.

    Reply
    1. Terrie K.

      Hi Amy, I just had to respond to what you wrote about going through this for the “3rd. time”. I have been estranged from my one and only child, a son, who decided to cut me out of his life even though I feel I was the wonderful mother and giver of everything for all his 56 years. I went through all the crying and wondering what I did but never was given an answer so walked through the dark stages of estrangement but had friends and family who helped me take the journey. The old saying of you can’t pick your family is more than true here, my friends are my greatest assets and without them I would never have been able to walk through this devastating misery and come out a whole happy person. You can do this but set limits.

      I have to ask why you allowed this person to leave, come back to terrorize you and then walk away again! I have done this once and when you look at the narcissistic personality you also have to make a decision of how you go forward with estrangement but at the same time protect yourself. It doesn’t matter how much we may love these children who have hurt us, it matters more to ask yourself if this person was not your DNA would you want them in your life! It may be a hard decision or question because your love is involved but reality tells us that just because they may be related that alone is not the reason anyone stays in my life and if the trust is gone I want nothing to do what that person.

      Think about who he is and what he is comfortable doing to you and finally tell yourself you need not put your emotions into this again only to be hurt so run like hell and do not allow him back for the fourth time.

      It may not be easy but it does bring peace and that is a gift you give to yourself.

  38. Elizabeth L.

    Sorry to hear everyone’s stories, it sucks to have given so much time and energy into someone’s welfare, only to have it thrown back in our faces.

    I got to thinking, ‘ if this was my friend and they said and done 1% of what my daughter has, I’d have moved on smartly with a cheery goodbye’.

    But I kept on keeping on, just because, flesh and blood, duty, hope.

    Now, the hope is that I have an interesting and happy rest of my life, despite the confusion and pain that hits me randomly throughout the year.

    Sending Sheri and everyone working through this sadness, a very happy fourth of July, whether it involves yummy cake ( Sheri, the cake you describe sounds fantastic), or a quiet night in.

    Reply
  39. Anita

    Today I’m giving myself permission to move on. It is the realisation that even if my estranged children returned I would never trust them again. That is not to say that I would not have a relationship with them but that it would never be the same as it was and it is that, that I miss so deeply. So today I lay the past to rest, and mourn and grieve. What was can never be again. It has been three long years this time for me and all my family and they need me to join them in the future. I can not stay stuck alone in the bitterness and anger of the past. My children certainly are not. Life is so very short I won’t waste what I have left.

    Reply
  40. Charlotte

    Thank you for not forgetting about us, I don’t know what I would do without your website and your book.

    It has been 7 years since I have been estranged from my only daughter who is now 26 and not one day has passes without extreme grief. Today, I will do my best again to make it a good day.

    Hugs from Europe.

    Reply
    1. Mabel

      dear Sherry and loving friends of the forum Thank you Sherry for taking the time to continue writing these articles and to you friends for your experiences. for me they are together with the medication that my company gave me the psychiatrist. I’m slowly getting ahead and starting to think about myself. You gave me the strength, Sherry, thank you. my son partially removed me from his life 1 year ago I only see him on birthdays or cemetery. 10 days ago I made my last attempt. I recorded a voice audio saying how much I missed him and apologizing for an event in the past more than 11 years ago. It was the only thing I found in my conscience that could have been wrong. His answer is that I go to therapy because I must understand that he does not have time for me. My only request was to see him at least once a month. I said enough until here I arrive We will have the relationship he aspires to…distant…distant relatives. 14 years stepping on eggshells. The only thing I don’t have family support or my husband who works with him daily and says nothing to him. As my late mother used to tell me: Take care of yourself, because if you don’t take care of yourself, no one will. I decided to take care of myself. Thank you Sherry I bought your book yesterday. I have a hard time reading it because I don’t know English. I am Argentine and what I write to you I do with a translator. kisses and affections

  41. Bernadette

    In order to retire from my employer this summer, I had to file paperwork in February of this year with my pention provider, and I had to select how much I should receive for my monthly pention as I could get the full amount each month, put half, a third, or a fourth into an account for my beneficiary, which happens to be my ED (I have no other children & my siblings are fairly older than me).

    To be honest, it was a hard decision to make because I don’t want to be that mom that just leaves their child, estranged or not, with nothing after my passing; however, I did decide to make my monthly pention the full amount as I don’t know where my ED is living as the last address I had is no longer good, plus, she changed her cellphone number 3 years ago, and the pention provider needed her contact information if I had selected for my ED to receive a portion of my retirement after I pass away.

    As I’m getting closer & closer to my retirement date, I am realizing that I had to let go of the guilt for choosing myself & my (retired) financial well being back in Feb. because I can no longer worry about what my ED will think of my decisions once I’m no longer here as she is the one that chose to kick me out of her life without any explanation, even after I asked if I’d done something wrong, 6 years ago.

    Reply
    1. Ilene

      I’m so proud of your decision. Yes, I freed myself from guilt, when I had my will rewritten. My estranged children are out of my will totally. My assets and money will go to entities and people that love me for who I am. These entities will benefit far more people than two narcissistic bullies.

    2. Fran

      Hello Bernadette, sounds like your trying to take care of your daughter even after your death. What a loving thought that any of us would feel blessed to be loved that much.

      I haven’t totally shared my story yet on this site. I will eventually, once I can put the words together. But I have taken great solace in Sheri’s book and others’ unfortunate shared pain.

      All I can say for now, but your eternal love for your daughter is wonderful. It’s too bad she can’t feel it.

    3. Toni D.

      Bernadette, I am thankful that you decided to take care of you and use your pension for your well being and life. You earned it. You already sacrificed plenty. Have a blessed and fulfilling retirement.
      Toni

  42. Suzanne

    I just woke up, couldn’t go back to sleep, had a brain full of negative fearful thought and checked my email. And here you are! Thank you for this. Just what I needed today to stop me from sending that next card. You know the one, the RIGHT one, the one that might make a difference and make this dreaded nightmare end. I have not seen my ED for eight years now. She sent me a text this year on my birthday for the first time and you would have thought I received a million dollars. Then came Mother’s Day and crickets. And nothing further at all. She did wish my husband, her step father, a Happy Father’s Day via text. All the excitement, good feeling and optimism faded from that one time ‘Happy Birthday’ text. When I feel like this I question myself and think maybe the psychologist is right, I need to do more work, make amends, write a scripted letter asking for redemption. I’m exhausted. I can’t do it. I have her photo in my office. Some of her artwork is up in the house (she is a successful artist). But honestly I don’t like her much right now. I don’t trust her and I feel on the verge of letting any ideas about a reconciliation simply float away. My experience with this had taken a toll on all areas of my life. More than I realized, I suppose. It is the most peculiar form of grief. Thank you for this opportunity.

    Reply
    1. Olga

      Hello Dear Suzanne,
      I know your pain, we all do. I have a son who is almost 51 years old, I am almost 73. It has been difficult for the past 28 years or so but the last ten years have been terrible. The excuse that I don’t get along with his wife, that I find fault with her, it never ends. He can’t have a normal relationship with his mother and a woman in his life at the same time. I haven’t seen him in almost 3 years and before that I only saw him once every two years, if that. We live thousands of kilometres apart. I was never one to pop in unannounced, but his wife’s parents, brother and step-dad came and stayed with them for months at a time. Finally my son and his wife moved practically next door to her fami on the other side of the country. That’s what she wanted. She is like Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s narcissistic wife. What A. wants, A. gets. She, my son’s wife, also put a wedge between him and his brother, my youngest son. Until she came on the scene 10 years ago, my two sons were best friends all their lives.
      My son sends me a text “Happy Birthday” and “Happy Mother’s Day” but that is two days out of 365 each year. Not once has he asked him how I am doing. Am I healthy? Am I well? Not one word throughout the pandemic, nothing! He knows I live alone. I have written many letters asking, begging for forgiveness for things I think I did wrong, and for things that I am not aware that I did wrong, just in case… I was such a young mother, only 22! I asked him many times to come and visit me so that we could talk and put an end to this nightmare. There is NEVER a reply, no empathy, no sympathy. I have told him about my despair, my sadness, my severe depression and other health problems. There is NOTHING that comes back, only silence. His wife has broken his spirit and destroyed our relationship and also destroyed his relationship with his brother, my youngest son. I have never lived close to my son, so I never interfered and I always had a good relationship with his wife until she decided that she wanted him all to herself. Divide and conquer is her thing. Then with no explanation, her e-mails to me stopped. I was cut off by his wife. I have dozens and dozens of e-mails to prove that I did my very best to be a good mother-in-law and I was! I showered them with gifts and money, although I live very modestly myself. I was supportive and understanding. I was doing my very best to be on good terms with her. My children and their families always came first. I haven’t seen my youngest granddaughter in almost three years and I never get any photos of her. She is only six. I never hear from my son’s other, older children either. No matter how much I tried, there was nothing in return but gifts and money I sent them were ok, I guess. My grief is deep and it is all consuming. How can it be? After being a single mother for most of my boys’ life, after giving them my all, after loving them and caring for them and helping them, I have to live with this in my old age? Thank God for my youngest son. He is kind and warm, loving and caring. He is my rock. He too lives far away from me, about 6000 km. We talk every day. It is so hard though to live with half of your heart ripped out. That’s how it feels. Half of my heart is gone and trampled on. Please forgive me my rambling on but it is so very difficult to describe this nightmare that I have lived for so long. These past three years have been the worst because I finally realized that he really doesn’t want me in his life. There is nothing I can do about it. I have tried to plead, to beg, to please try to understand the situation from my point of view. Nothing works. He has HER family now. New mom and dad and step-dad. So, he has thrown me under the bus. Oh God, it is so difficult to understand. It is beyond me. What was so terrible that I have done (?) to deserve this??? The boys were, are my life. I raised them myself from the time they were three and five years old. I gave them everything I could and beyond. It was enough for one son but obviously not enough for the other. Thank you Sherri for creating this platform. Blessings to all who suffer.

  43. Susie

    I’m so glad you changed your mind & decided to write an article today as it really hit home for me. I have tried everything I know for over two years to make amends with my son, all to no avail. Every time I reach that turning point of deciding to let go & give myself permission to be happy, he upsets me again. He reaches out to my daughter or my nephews & talks horribly about me, knowing it will get back to me. If he doesn’t want a relationship with me, why won’t he let this go & allow me to move on & find happiness? Thank you in advance for any thoughts or advice you may have.

    Reply
    1. Terrie K.

      think of this differently that leaving something you worked so hard for! Would you leave anything to the person who broke into your home and had taken the box on the shelf housing all your emotions? I doubt it! I have made the decision for myself that if you cannot tell me what I did wrong and you haven’t talked to me or wondered how I was going through the pandemic then guess what, all the rescue animals will enjoy my estate because I would never leave anything to someone who kicked me out of their lives. Remember this, DNA does not mean we need to put our lives on the line for anyone who chooses not to treat us with love and respect. You worked hard, you should enjoy the fruits of your labor. Happy 4th.

  44. Gina

    My 4th will be as blissfully boring as yours. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone. Peace be with you, and with all.

    Reply
    1. Sophia

      I am quietly declaring this Fourth of July my own Independence Day! I encourage all estranged parents to do the same. Cut the cord, at least for today, and do what makes you content.

      I’m headed to the movies and then a neighbor’s BBQ. But whatever I choose to do I won’t be wasting my time & money on people who don’t appreciate me.

      Freedom

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