Memorial Day, 2021: Let me tell you about some heroes. . . .

parents whose adult children disown themBy Sheri McGregor, M.A.

This weekend, the United States celebrates Memorial Day. The holiday honors those who sacrificed their lives in past wars to preserve our treasured freedoms. Since people all over the world read my books and visit this site, you may not be familiar with Memorial Day. But you can surely relate to the peace of mind and emotional freedom sought by at parents whose adult children disown them. Those are the sort of freedoms this article will discuss.

I’ve received many emails from parents about their changed perspectives, their opened eyes, and the new direction they’ve taken for their lives. At some point, most parents come to accept what they cannot change. Eventually, with continued effort and support, most learn to break free from their emotional bondage to adult children who snub and abuse them.

As I once did, these parents make a purposeful decision to stop focusing on the loss. And then they follow through with a concerted effort to remember all the good they did. Things like sitting up with a feverish child or patiently explaining complex homework they themselves may have had to learn first. They served as a team coach, cooked healthy meals each day, or white-knuckled their way through practice sessions with their teen driver behind the wheel. These unsung heroes are the veterans of estrangement who fought their way back to a fulfilling life. Read on and allow their thoughts to inspire you.

Finding her self-worth

Augustyna is a widow whose son is her only living family. As he grew into a mouthy teen, she tolerated his disrespect because she loved him and hoped he would change. In his 20s, he periodically cut off all contact with Augustyna. In his absence, she didn’t miss his temper tantrums or lies, but she was also lonely. Eventually, she always reached out again, mostly to silence.

Once, when her son had lost his job, he reconnected and stayed with her for a few months. At first, he seemed to want to get along, and she hoped their relationship was on the mend. Then, as he regained his footing, he began badmouthing and rejecting her again.

In a fit of anger one evening, Augustyna’s son slammed her hand in the door of her top-load washing machine. For the next few days, she hid the injury from everyone.  A week later, her son arrived to collect his belongings. Augustyna tried not to grimace as she tucked her painful, bruised and swollen hand into her jacket pocket so her son wouldn’t see that he had hurt her.

A few years later, Augustyna was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When she called to tell her son of the diagnosis, he cursed her and said he hoped she’d die soon. Depressed, Augustyna agreed with his hope, but lingered on in misery. Her son cut off all contact again, and at the urging of her doctors, Augustyna continued her treatments. Now, five years later, her cancer is in remission.

Augustyna recently asked a priest and a rabbi why God didn’t just let her die. They both said He must have a reason for her to live. That’s when she found this website and shared her experience to help other parents. Until now, she hadn’t told a soul about her son’s physical abuse.

When Augustyna reflected on her life, she realized the injury to her hand wasn’t the first time her son had physically hurt her. There were previously a couple of slaps and pushes. He also called her deplorable names that I won’t repeat here. His ongoing verbal abuse had left her feeling demoralized, questioning her ability as a parent, and lacking self-worth. That’s what abuse by someone you love and sacrifice for can do to you.

These days, Augustyna looks back on her life and sees all the good she did. After her husband died, she worked to provide for her son. She supported his interests, was always there to help, and says he wanted for nothing. She also paid for his education. Augustyna knows that she is not to blame for the person he has become. His decision to hurt and abandon her is all on him.

As a cancer survivor, Augustyna has looked death in the face. She will never allow another person to make her doubt her self-worth, or abuse or control her. She’s not sure how many years she has left to enjoy life, but she won’t waste another minute on her abusive son.

Sadness: Just a few days out of the year

Martin and his wife, Joan, also had one child, a son who is now in his 40s. Like so many parents whose children disown them, Martin and Joan were sad for a long time over the rejection. They attempted to reconcile, but other than a few phone calls and texts, never got far. At times, their son would say he wanted a relationship. He even apologized. Soon after though, he always shifted gears. He would call them names, lay blame, and make accusations that had no basis in reality.

When their son was to be wed, they received a formal invite from the bride-to-be’s parents. At that point, Martin and Joan had been disconnected from their son for six years, the last three with absolutely no contact. After much deliberation over whether to attend the wedding, they texted their son to make sure he knew they had been invited. He replied with a casual, “Oh yeah. You’re welcome to come.” They decided to go, which they regret.

The event was awkward at best. They were placed at a table with the bride’s distant relatives and were ignored by their son and his new in-laws. During the ceremony and for much of the reception, Joan fought back tears. Martin’s asthma flared up and he ducked out several times to use his inhaler. Distressed, they left before the gifts were opened and even scrambled to get an earlier flight home.

After the wedding, Martin and Joan stopped reaching out. “We gave in like your Done With The Crying book says,” Martin explains. He and Joan felt they had no other choice but to go with the flow.

These parents have worked hard to build their lives in new directions that support their well-being and keep them engaged in life. For the most part, they are happy. “We were parents for a season,” Martin says. “I still have pictures that show what a beautiful a time that was.”

Martin wrote to me around Mother’s Day because Joan was feeling sad. He was looking for something to cheer her up. He and his wife are like many parents whose adult children disown them and find that special days revive their sadness. Some write in utter anguish, saying they are “back to square one.”  Others say they will “never get over the estrangement.” They wallow in a dark alley of thinking that dooms them to continued despair.

I understand these thoughts.  When my son disowned me and the rest of the family, I became all too familiar with the “dark place” many parents describe. I know how bleak life can look for rejected parents. One hopeless thought can lead to the next so that life doesn’t look worth living. The rut of such despair is a trap that I’ve written about extensively to help parents break free. One way is to put things in perspective. Rather than get caught up in the mire of defeatist thoughts, we can think the way Martin does.

Having done the work of building a good life despite his son’s decisions, Martin puts it this way: “In reality, the sad days are only a few out of the year. A birthday, a holiday, and then we’re back to our regular life.”

Martin is right. There are 365 days in every year. How many will you allow to be all about the sadness of estrangement?

Your turn

What can you take from these stories? What can you empathize with, relate to, and learn? You may have another helpful perspective. As these veterans of estrangement have done, I hope you will share your stories of courage in the fight for your peace and emotional freedom. Feel free to leave a comment. By sharing your experiences, you help other parents whose adult children disown them—and you help yourself.

Related reading

Five ways to move on after an adult child’s rejection

Cut off by adult children: What do you prescribe for yourself?

Freedom for a new era

The void: Fill it or feel it?

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74 thoughts on “Memorial Day, 2021: Let me tell you about some heroes. . . .

  1. Renee

    Our relationship with our daughter was difficult from day 1. She was colic for 5 months, years of temper tantrums, packing her backpack and running away several times in her tweens and constant and relentless accusations, yelling at the top of her lungs, emotionally unstable and down and out angry most of the time. I can honestly say she was mean and bossy as a child and cruel and abusive as an adult.

    Believe it or not we still loved her. There were some happy times amidst all this but they were too infrequent and they are now clouded in sadness. We paid for her university degree, encouraged her to take a teaching assignment in Thailand as we thought it would be a wonderful experience and tried to support her the best we could. (Although she felt we never supported her.)

    About 5 years ago she completely cut us out of her life for 8 months over a particular incident however in reality I think things had started to build up and we both lost our cool. Out of the blue she contacted her dad and asked if he would complete her income tax returns. We welcomed her back into our lives however she offered no apologies and we never discussed the months of absence. Shortly after she returned life took a small unexpected turn, she moved in with a wonderful young man and was inevitability engaged. They came to all family functions and special occasions and attended both of my parents funerals. They even came to dinner on a biweekly basis. It was so out of character for her and she was actually civil most of the time. During this time we gave then a generous amount of money from my inheritance to buy their first home.

    But then covid hit, her wedding was put on hold and she became pregnant. She didn’t tell us about the pregnancy til she was 5 months along and totally isolated herself due to covid, which we were comfortable about. Well I guess this gave her 9 months to ruminate. Two days after our grandson was born she sent me a long and cruel text detailing all the things we had said and done wrong to her and that she grew up with no self esteem because of us. Some things she said were completely untrue, some were true but either blown out of proportion, taken out of context or failed to describe her behaviour and what led to these comments. In addition to this as far as we are concerned her ego was so big I’m surprised she could get through the front door. Lack of self esteem? I don’t think so.

    I was devastated and in incredible despair after receiving her text. I thought we had taken a small step forward, but it wasn’t the case.

    Our grandson is 8 months old now and we’ve only met him once. We believe this will be our only grandchild as we don’t believe she wants anymore and our son who we have always had a wonderful relationship with will likely not have any as he suffers from chronic mental health issues and has stated that he does not plan on having a relationship whereby his partner would have to live with his illness.

    It’s so sad, our daughter has everything compared to her brother. An adorable baby, a wonderful fiancé, a lovely home, good job and friends that she has finally been able to retain from university. (She had to long term friends prior to this).

    We don’t know when we’ll see our grandson again and are deeply saddened. What happened? We now wonder if she had been at all sincere those 5 years or had she been planning something like this all along.

    I went to therapy after this and completed a grief recovery program, which helped to a degree but there is a sadness that we live with now that will likely never go away.

    1. Kristine M.

      Dear Renee
      Firstly I am so sorry that you too have had this pain in your Life. We, rejected parents, Did Not sign up- or Deserve this.
      I am writing to you in particular, because your daughter sounds exactly like mine. Also, my only other child, has severe mental illness, BiPolar I, a son, just like you.

      My daughter is 28, just got married at the Courthouse on a whim this summer- & bought a home with her new husband. In short, my daughter is exceedingly manipulative, psychologically abusive, cruel and Lies like a Rug! In my more compassionate moments, I realize she is Mentally Ill as well, but just the same- it’s hard to deal with. Her new husband is equally abusive and deceitful. & they want to have children!

      They bought a home in the town that I live, where I raised both my children. I am in the process of selling my home and moving! Hopefully to Mexico! and altho there are other reasons as well- one of my biggest reasons I am moving, is to avoid what i foresee will most likely happen in the future.
      My Daughter LOVES LOVES LOVES to be the cause of upsetting big plans someone else is looking forward to. She has caused an uproar and left with her brother or former BF’s on two Christmases, a Thanksgiving and most recently- her now Husband’s Birthday. She refused to let me sleep on her couch when i was struggling to breathe, living in an outdoors Caldor Fire(California) fire refugee Evacuee camp for 19 days- ending up with me going to the hospital! She wasn”t even upset with me at the time! She just enjoyed the fact that she had that power over my Life and Welfare! & this Gal was never abused! I never would have left her there had the situation been reversed!
      In any case, my daughter’s husband wants children. She doesn’t so much- but will likely acquiese. And I predict, should those two have children , they will demand babysitting while at the same time, once I am attached, use that poor child or children as Pawns to manipulate my emotions and actions. To boot, I reckon she’ll regal my grandkids with tales of abuse and neglect that never happened. She does this with all her friends- at least the new friends, who weren’t around in her youth.
      I am not going to hang around to have my heart smashed and slashed and broken apart one more time. I see the Writing on the Wall. If we retain any sort of communication over the years- well then maybe Ill pop in for xmas or summer breaks- if things are going well. But given the past 10 years of her behavior, I even doubt those opportunities will arrive.
      Your story of seeing yr grandson of eight months only once, and similar stories among my frriends- cements it for me. Obviously I dont know all the details of your story- perhaps we are hugely different. But For Me- I Am NOT going to walk into being a grandparent with Joy- only to be trampled again! Thank you for sharing yr story. Abusive Adult Children is STILL such a TABOO subject- & yet it is rampant in Today’s society. We “Rejected & Abused” parents need to draw the media attention to this!- & support each other. Big Hugs Renee, I wish you Happiness and Peace on your journey ahead!

  2. Barbara

    About the photographs of my two estranged daughters. I have not seen them for one year and I wonder if I have not seen them for ten years or more. Should I rid of these photos ?

    1. Mimi

      Hi Barbara,
      This is what I did: I boxed up all the pictures and sent them to the respective estranged adult child. They can decide for themselves to keep the photos or not.

      I did keep a few pictures from their childhood to remember them by. I kept the photos from the time in their lives when they loved me. Often I will look at the photo and remember that little person who once loved me. And, I will pray for that person that I used to know.

      In my opinion, it’s ok to cry. But, then I am going to get on with life and be happy again. My adult children have made a decision. I am not going to beg. I have my dignity. I will respect their choices. There is a young family that lives beside me. Maybe they need an honorary grandmother. I am looking to be adopted.


    2. Lynne

      Thank you for the Memorial Day article Sheri. This day … A day of remembrance.
      After many years of estrangement I have come to a place of rest. I know there will always be sad days with birthdays and other holidays. There was a beautiful scene at the end of a movie where a father said. ” In life we so often cannot help those closest to us that we love. We can only love them and love them completely. ”
      After so many estrangement years I think about the fact that people can take many things from us. But they cannot and will never take away my love for them. Prayers today for estranged parents. I hope for peace and a resting place filled with love.

  3. Greg

    There is something so deeply rooted in our love for our children that inoculating ourselves from all the pain they inflict by their irrational, cruel and compassionless rejection is all but impossible. We are human beings whose hearts are broken and require healing. It requires almost infinite empathy and patience on our part to comprehend that their unhappiness has prompted them to choose blaming us for their misery, rather than responsibly confront the challenges in their lives for which they are accountable to resolve, on their own, as grown-ups. Whatever narrative they have constructed to blame us doesn’t solve their problem. Our only remedy is to detach, heal ourselves, and let the reality of their responsibility for their own happiness sink in.

    I’m going through this with my 30+ year-old daughter whom I raised as a single parent from age 2 on with no involvement from her mother. She was provided every advantage socially, financially, and educationally. Every summer I took her on road trips around the country, paid for dance lessons, piano lessons (attended all of her recitals), her college education, paid for her car on graduation, paid for her cell phone (2 years after she had a full-time job) yet now in her view I am a horrible father. In her narrative, I didn’t do this because I loved her, I did it to “impress [my] friends.” After her mother left us, I never remarried. Raising her and her older brother from my first marriage, and working a full-time legal position, left little time for socializing, or having any friends to “impress.” Until she experiences having children of her own, if even then, I doubt there will be any opportunity to reason with my daughter. Life is, indeed, difficult.

    1. Elizabeth

      So often in life it seems, “no good deed goes unpunished”. I am sorry for all you too have experienced, along with the rest of us in this club, Greg. Sometimes with time, change will come. One of mine was almost in no contact for 12 yrs or so…we had an address, cell number, and street address…but lived almost as far apart as is possible in this country, thus saw her maybe a handful of times during those years. We tried not to annoy her and let her make the contact which was rare. When she married, we heard a bit more, when her first child was born, we did not see him for most of that first year (tho some kin did who had done all they could to destroy me in the past however…long story)…not till we were asked and until work schedules permitted did we go to see them. With the next child we were begged to come…then to stay nearby etc. She grew to need us terribly…though no one would wish on their child (or grandchildren) the huge sorrows in her life that brought that to pass. We have not seen another child and family very much in the past 9 years and only a few times via skype the past 3.5 yrs…due to the covid mess, but moreso health issues with us plus we did not feel welcome. The strangest part is that these separations happened in part, due to the religious faith paths…for one child we were way too strict…for the other, way too liberal…now pray tell how can a parent do anything about THAT? So though we have followed GOD to the best of our understanding and with time, there have been changes in that path as we have learned, etc…still we do not suit either side well. So it always boils down to we have to live our own life doesn’t it? One of my friends in a worse situation agrees with me that had we been able to know so many years ago when we married, what today would be like, it is not likely we would have “walked through the same doors again”. But maybe in the next life all this will make more sense? I do hope so… I put my own life on hold while raising the kids and with one especially that was necessary due to health issues…and I would gladly do so again…but has anything I did produced the kind of relationship I always longed for? Nope. Sadly not. Not yet. And I am not a spring chicken…one can find ways to cope with time. One grows to expect nothing. And to appreciate very small things. And very small things can make up a nice day. A pleasant day, if not what we once longed for. I wish you and everyone here all the best!! Thanks to Sheri for this spot to express the contents of our hearts!!

    2. Jeanie T.

      So well said.
      Being told that everything was done for show or to impress friends is a ridiculous accusation by them. Your daughter, my son, any of our kids. Raising a child involves SO many selfless moments and times when truly anyone but your parent would not work that hard. I’m so tired of that accusation and there is no way to prove otherwise…. but I know my heart…then and now.
      I’m so sorry for all you went through. You are definitely one of the heroes, as are the rest of us parents.
      Society used to insist children showed respect for parents but no more. It is a loss because those norms helped til kids had kids of their own and realized all the work.

  4. LookingForASunnyDay

    Hi Molly
    Your story is very similar to mine. My ES was pulled out of my life by a vengeful ex ., who dangled big cheques, luxury holidays and yes, an open-ended credit card in college. The idealistic boy whom I raised singlehanded turned into a moneyworshipping cynic as his father used his wealth to influence him away from me. They are both also problem drinkers.

  5. Molly

    I like what Martin said – “I was a parent for a season”. It took me almost eight years but I came to that realization too.

    Losing my son to my ex-husband’s very deliberate negative machinations plus money (my ex is very wealthy; I am not) and trips overseas was the most difficult thing I have ever been through. (My ex likes to brag about “how easy is was to take him from you”.) It is awful enough to have a child you raised by yourself repeat the same insults and lies you’ve heard from your ex for years on end but to have them cut you out over money? I thought my son had more character and backbone and I was wrong. I tried leaving breadcrumbs of contact over the years – just to say that I was still here and would listen if he ever wanted to make polite contact again. He stomped all over those efforts a few years ago when he sent me a hateful diatribe of insults about me, my character, my being a woman, a mother, and a soldier and he then made fun of certain things I had gone through in life (being sexually assaulted in the military, having 38 surgeries after a nearly fatal car wreck) and I knew then that he had gone so far over into what my ex says that I doubt he’ll ever recover. (It’s a lot like cult behavior but just a cult of 2 people.)

    That was when I began trying to see my time as his mom as just one part of my life. I mean, I always knew the ultimate job of being a parent was to raise them well so they could go out and creat their own life. I never made my life all about being a parent – I had plans for myself after he left for college. However, I always thought we would be part of each other’s lives.

    That we had a very good relationship for his first 18 years made the estrangement so much more painful. I thoroughly enjoyed being his mom. He was creative and funny. Had a great sense of humor. Wanted to be an artist. His father began working on him when he went to college. He flew there and gave him an open ended credit card and told him to “never listen to her again” and so on. Trips to Italy, South America, Australia followed. Another credit card. A luxury apartment for a sophomore in college. He quit college mid-way, did nothing on his father’s dime for two years and then joined the military – but the military service his father said was better than the one I served in. (As if that actually matters! Service is service. Especially if done honorably.)

    I tried very hard to reach the person I thought he was. After his diatribe/manifesto four years ago, I cut way back on leaving breadcrumbs. I still did so but eventually accepted that it was over. (I’m a slow learner on some things.) Like Martin said too – I have pictures to remind me of those wonderful 18 years. I can finally look at them without falling apart. I do feel sadness of course but I also smile about who he once was. I have accepted that our time is over but I will always hope that who he once was is still somewhere in him.

    Anyway, it’s been almost nine years now. I began planning a new life for myself last year, after accepting that it was done and over, including a move but then the pandemic happened. I’m looking into that move again and making more changes, setting things in place to begin a new season for my life.

  6. Alice J.

    Same boat here. I’m usually OK..but the grief hits regularly. Now I’m afraid that my precious son is also cutting me off. He has been uncommunicative lately. He’s always been bad at it, but lately he offers me zero. I am devastated all over again. I feel so guilty and ashamed. At the same time, angry and bewildered. Trying to be OK. Every day is a struggle. I win the battle sometimes. Other days.. I have a very heavy heart. Back and forth, back and forth. Yesterday my daughter texted my husband. I say that I’m happy to get news of her, 2nd hand or any way, but the truth is it sticks a pin in my wound and opens up the pain again, every time.

  7. Erin

    Reading everyone’s comments and books on estrangement helps me understand what happened. It doesn’t change anything but, it still helps. It has been a couple of years now since we had contact with our son and grandchildren. It’s frustrating when you can’t just sit down, talk and work things out. I can’t even send a piece of mail because it gets sent back refused. I wanted to blame my daughter in law but he chose this path. I expect he will change his last name and his children’s. At one time he told me he had done so well because he had the best parents. We had kids say to us, “oh, I wish you were my parents.” I think it’s a case of the marriage partner turning our child against us. She is the alpha and there wasn’t going to be any room for me in the picture. We can still have a good life without them in it, and quite frankly I don’t miss the tension and walking on eggshells.

  8. Ali G.

    I have been reading all your msgs. and feel deeply for each one of you. I understand how you feel as I too have been feeling desperate and worthless this past month.
    My son (30) has not left home but has always treated his father and me with disrespect and contempt. My husband passed 2 years ago. I did not have a perfect marriage. My husband was a philanderer. I literally lived for my children all these years.
    At our last argument on 17 April, he screamed and shouted telling me I am controlling, stubborn, disrespectful, vindictive etc. I felt like dying.
    Two weeks later he got my jeep stolen.
    As a Catholic, religion teaches us that “everything happens for a reason” and “God never makes mistakes”
    I am trying to come to terms with my situation

  9. Diane M.

    I have been estranged from my adult daughter and her family plus with my adult son for several years now. I do OK if I keep busy. The hard times for me are holidays and when I get together with friends and they are talking about their adult kids and grandkids. Then my heart breaks. I can actually feel physical “hurt.” I just have to ride it out. I have no pictures to share with others. No stories to tell. I feel OK when I get together with my lady friends that have no kids or grandkids. for that is me now. The hardest part is not knowing the reason WHY. Then I could make amends. It’s hard though. One friend of mine lost her son to cancer. She told me that’s easier to deal with than the ongoing pain I’m feeling. That made me sad. I’m trying. Some days are better than others. I thank all who share here. This forum is the one place where I feel I “fit it.” Thank you so much for your sharing!

    1. Peacefulgirl57

      I can really relate to your sadness, as it is literally limbo hell on some days. My son is 31, and he hasn’t spoken to me since January 6-the date of the insurrection at our capital. That is my only hint as to why. He has become political and I think he just doesn’t like my values. He says that his father and I brainwashed him to be a progressive, but he has gone into something quite extreme the other way. (We never brainwashed him-but rather taught him to think critically). Although I have respected his differences and never put him down, he does not respect any of my beliefs. I mostly keep them to myself, as to never argue. I walk on eggshells. My heart is broken. He and his wife are expecting my first grandchild, and I’m not sure that I will get to see the baby. I sent a package of baby gifts with a note saying I love and miss him. No response. I can’t do anything, as he has blocked me. Some days I cry a lot, and I allow the grief to have it’s time. I thank you all for sharing your grief-stricken stories. And I thank Sheri for her wonderful book. I have done the exercises, and I truly want to heal, if that’s possible. Take care everyone. ☮️

    2. Barb J.

      Thanks for sharing. I feel identical to you (and many others) in all the ways you described. I have just reached the year mark of being estranged from my daughter. On top of that May and June have been really tough with my son, husband, and daughter’s birthday. Our 30th anniversary and…Mother’s & Father’s Day.
      On top of all this, our daughter also began identifying as non-binary a year and a half ago. We have been nothing but supporting. In January she changed her first and last name. I guess there are lots of reasons for this as it relates to declaring “their” identity, but to say it was a shocker was an understatement (we found out from someone who saw it on social media) especially the last name. Some days I wonder if I will die from the heart break. Other days I am stronger and can stay busy enough to make it through. Like you…hearing and seeing others with and talking about their kids is hard. I too am so happy to have found this group.

    3. Mimi

      I am thankful for this site. I have been reading all the comments and they have helped me. So, thanks to everyone who has shared.

      My situation is as follows: estranged from my 32 year old daughter for no reason, she said she needs boundaries. I have had minimal contact with her for over a decade. My other daughter, 26, just changed her name (although not getting married) and says she needs boundaries. I have had minimal contact with her for the past 7 years. Both say that I need counseling. They intend it as an insult, to imply that I am off balance. This situation is painful and humiliating. I was a regular mom, doing all the mom things. They had a nice childhood. They were much loved.

      My guess is that they got brainwashed by reality tv shows and other media. I don’t watch much tv but the tv shows I’ve seen have shocked me. The level of disrespect shown to parents. My children went to church every week and they were in church youth groups. They were instructed in my house about Biblical truth and values. But, how can Biblical truth withstand the constant, unrelenting assault of mind bending tv shows/other media? As much as we parents try to stop our children from watching that stuff, it just cannot be stopped. Counteracting popular culture “training” is nearly impossible.

      Jesus loves mothers and fathers. That’s why God put in the 5th commandment: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land…” Jesus is on your side!

      The LORD Jesus also warns that each individual will have a personal decision to make for choosing good (eternal life in Jesus) or for choosing bad (rejecting Christ). Jesus warns us that this “process” of choosing will cause divisions. “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. AND A MAN’S FOES SHALL BE THEY OF HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD .” [emphasis mine] Matthew 10:35

      I encourage all my fellow parents to know it’s not YOU. This horrible division is the satanic spirit of the age. This is the time of separating the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats. We have entered the last days. “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, DISOBEDIENT TO PARENTS, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

      I encourage my fellow parents to know you did your level best.

      Find peace and solace in Jesus. He is returning soon and his reward is with him. He will judge for you on your behalf. He will set the record straight. Be of good cheer. Everything will be set right in the end. Much love to you.

    4. rita

      you have told my story except that you are lucky that you have many friends. i lost my friends through this. they would put my daughter down and i couldnt take it and so it broke my friendships. now at 62 i find myself very alone and living alone and only real frind is ‘my brother from another mother’ who has autism so no compassion or empathy. he is a very good person and the only friend who stuck around and supports me now i have become severely ill due to the stress and whipping over 14 years. i wish i would die instead i just get more illnesses. how can i not feel im being punished? thanku. i so grateful i finally found this forum and hope to make some like minded friends who understand the daily pain and i understand the physical pain because it is with me. it physically and emotionally hurts.

    5. Kathy

      Diane, I feel that you have expressed the pain of “ambiguous grief,” which is part of the loss we experience when our adult children turn us away. I can relate. Sending compassion and empathy.

  10. Kimberly Z.

    My heart hurts for all of us who are estranged from our children. All I can say is that I understand and my heart longs for better for us all. Hugging you tightly in my thoughts and sending you all so much love to ease your pain.

  11. MomAndMore

    Sheri – thank you as always for your wise, compassionate articles. Each situation is unique and yet similar. Our grown children, just as when they were young, share a wide spectrum of abilities, interests, flaws, issues. Some are obviously chemically dependent or emotionally disabled. Others are struggling to change and become and in their struggles they can be brutal to parents and others. Some get through their life changes without taking it out on parents or other relatives. Others stumble and screw up but find a way through. Others are like runaway trains – taking out everyone and everything in their paths. While we are quick to see their “good traits” as coming from us or others close to them – it can take time to see that we, too, may have thoughtlessly or purposefully done the same damage to others as we were moving through life. I say this not to minimize the pain and hurt we have all been through – but to say that it is so very important that we stop trying to change THEM, stop expecting THEM to change, stop setting ourselves up for THEM to knock us down and instead to focus on ourselves and our own lives and our own healing. The beauty of your books has been to help us turn our eyes off the damage and hurt and pain and fear and longing and refocus on the only thing we can control (at least to some extent) – OURSELVES. It feels selfish and confusing and wrong after years of training ourselves to focus on the needs and wants and hopes and challenges of others. But it is NOT. It hurts like hell. It is really really hard work. Some days it seems like it is just not worth it and we can barely pass from one day to the next. And those days come back – especially on holidays or “special” days. I guess it never really totally “goes away”. We have been fortunate because we have seen repair and reconnection and we are grateful for that. But the work on ourselves goes on. Because it should and must. It is healthy to keep an eye on ourselves and keep pushing ourselves to grow FOR OURSELVES. Not because things will or might get better with our adult children. It is important in and of itself – to enrich our own lives. It helps us see our own history in a different light. It helps us see the pain and change and hope and sorrow of others and (sometimes) be able to offer a word of help and encouragement. We are not the same as we were before things happened. But we are also not as broken as we once were. I just want to encourage everyone who has read this post to read Sheri’s books if you haven’t. If you have, reread them – especially during those days that seem impossible to live through. Do the workbook. It helps – really. We are more than holidays, than gifts, than visits. We are deserving of our own mercy.

    1. BeginningAnew

      Thank you for your post. Your words were inspiring to me. My husband and I were so hoping we’d be able to go see my daughter, her husband, and our four grandchildren, as we’re finally vaccinated and ready to travel again. But I finally heard back from her today that “it is too busy and chaotic” for us to visit, and maybe “later this summer.” I am stunned, especially after the pandemic of the past year which was so very challenging, for the entire world, from any other year in our lifetimes. I am aching to see them and to hug them again, and her words just sank me like a stone again. I have apologized over and over through the years, for the pain she endured as a little girl from the marriage of her dad and I. But I was a good mother, kind and loving and caring, and fought like a mama lion for my children to be loved and cared for. I don’t walk on water, but I sure try every day to be a kind, loving, and compassionate mother and grandmother. This is truly a kind of hell.

    2. rita

      thanku so very much. i am new and desperate for connection. 14 years of hiding and now many illnesses. thankyou for the encouragement

    3. Elizabeth

      Very nicely stated…thank you!! Though all of us here are in some amount of pain, disappointment and grief due to different circumstances…still the one thing we have in common is enough the same we feel connected. We so need that…others not in our shoes will not understand. I will say with my husband’s declining health, finding ways to develop ourselves is not easy. However, we do take some religious zoom classes now each well. Which gives us something else to focus on at least. And I have been doing some menu changes and improvements too…giving us a little something to look forward to in that area. As if the disappointments from our children were not enough, this past time of pandemic mess has only added to the difficulties of our lives. It seems for us, almost everything we need even, also contains extra stress now. We are in a state with a governor who feels king of all…so many more rules than some states as well. Oh well…tis only for this little life…the next life will be oh so long and beyond anything we could imagine. Thankfully!!

  12. Angelina N.

    I’ve been going through this for a few years now and I thank God for the gift of numbness. I have been so hurt by my adult children that I don’t know if there’s anything else they could do that would even make me feel anything.

    1. Diane

      Angelina, please don’t wait for your adult children to do anything to make you feel better, make yourself feel better. Be extra good to yourself, especially when you feel the worst. I just wrote an email to my best friend about how bad I feel being estranged from my adult kids and grandkids, and she wrote back, “THIS IS THEIR LOSS, THE LOSS OF YOU!” We must remember that we have value. I hope you slowly melt from your numbness and can do more pleasurable things for yourself. YOU ARE WORTH IT. You are worth all the joys and happiness of life. Take BABY STEPS to move forward and make a good life for yourself! Good luck and please write again and keep us all posted on how you are moving on. We’re rooting for you!!! : )

  13. Margaret

    Sheri, I have read the stories. Each is heartbreaking. In July 30th will be 16 years since our youngest daughter left the family. Have not seen or heard from her—no calls, letters, cards or texts, her orders. We are lucky in that there is no contact so the wound is not constantly re-opened. When I think of her, there is nothing there—no emotion, nothing. Like we had buried her, which emotionally we have. We have 2 other great kids, 2 in-laws whom we live like our own, and 4 wonderful grandkids. We refused to let her take us down the road she took. And lastly, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, WE HAVE NO IDEA WHY SHE LEFT. Basically, God did not give me the special
    Ability to fix the unknown. Thank you, Sheri for all you do for us. You can honestly say “I know how you feel”!!

  14. Nan

    My husband and I have 2 sons; the elder and his wife are estranged from the rest of our family. My son and his wife have 4 beautiful daughters that we are not seeing. Our other son and his husband are estranged from them as well. I have tried to to reach out and stay in contact but am not experiencing much success. My heart continually breaks everyday. I had started reading your book and put it down. For some reason I started it this past weekend. Maybe now is my time to heal.

  15. Val

    Thank you, each one of you for your stories. It helps me understand that there aren’t always answers for us and that we aren’t to blame. That we must find a way to bring joy back into our last days. Thank you.

    1. Beth

      My heart and whole being is broken. I now have heart problems and lost sight in my left eye from prolonged crying. I have thought about suicide as recently as yesterday. I don’t think I can bear this. My daughter is my only child and she has discarded my husband and me like trash

      This site is my last hope for today. Thank you.

      1. rparents Post author

        Dear Beth,
        I know the feeling of wondering if you can bear “this,” estrangement, betrayal by someone who has been so very important in your life, and loved by you. Please know that there CAN BE a good life ahead for you. Yes, this is sad (not really a word that gets at the deep heartache, very literally, but sad it is), and you will feel the sun warming you again. Do something for yourself today, Beth. Do something, see something, absorb yourself in something … anything that allows a moment where you shelve the painful thinking and worry, and cultivate a few moments of peace and joy.

        Please know you are not alone, and there are many, many here who know the pain you speak of … and they care. If you have feelings of harming yourself, do seek help in your area. Also, there is a “crisis” page here at the site with outreach numbers and organizations around the world. It’s here:

        Big hugs to you, Beth. Take extra good care of yourself, okay?

        Sheri McGregor

  16. Andrea H.

    I am so grateful for Sheri McGregor. I have read and re-read Done With The Crying. I honestly believe I would have had an emotional breakdown if it had not been for her books and this website. My 35 year old daughter who I have always completely adored has kept me on an emotional rollercoaster for about 10 years. She lives just 2 doors down from me and her dad. She has 3 beautiful children and a good husband. We have had many wonderful years of family celebrations and holidays, but last year she had another raging outburst on me (which started happening about 10 years ago). She no longer wants me to be in my grandchildren’s lives. Her 2 older boys, 9 and 11 sneak over to our fence and we exchange hugs. She forbids her daughter, whom I was extremely close to, to have any contact with me. I practically raised her kids and now I and my husband are cut off. I hate having this pain in my heart.

  17. Jane W.

    How can a beautiful child grow up to cause so much pain, and obviously be in such pain? I take responsibility for not being a perfect mother, but my daughter never owns her own behaviour. She is a truly wonderful person and I will always love her.
    But I taught her how to treat me. I blame myself for everything bad that has ever happened to her, although I could not keep her safe from her alcoholic biological father. When she treated me abusively, I accepted it because I felt I deserved to be punished. I do have wonderful happy memories of our times together, but I was always walking on egg shells because she could be very unpredictable, lashing out instead of talking it out. We’ve each had counselling. Sometimes I do wonder if each counsellor is diagnosing “Toxic mother”, and mine diagnosed “Toxic daughter “ how that works. I now realize instead of mothers always being blamed and accepting that blame, where is the blame for “Toxic fathers”? Society puts pressure on mothers to keep their children safe from everything. We surely do want to!
    What price does a father pay for emotional or physical damage to their child? It seems mothers accept criticism,blame, anger for everything, endlessly. When we do that we set an awful example for our daughters. I think we lose their respect. And we should have more self respect.
    When my daughter was middle aged, I finally said enough; no more. We both have to own our stuff and forgive each other. She then cut me out of her life. It has shattered the relationship with my grandchildren and our entire family. I’ve been grieving losing them for years. This is similar behaviour to my father’s family: they easily cut each other out of their lives and it is forever. Yet they seem to be outstanding, talented, wonderful people. As long as things always go their way.

    Several months ago my other daughter, her sister, tragically died suddenly from Cancer. My two precious girls, my only children. I thought surely my estranged daughter would soften and put our issues aside
    even for several hours at her sister’s hospice deathbed. But she refused to be there if I was there. I left after half an hour so she could be with her sister. I didn’t want to be difficult. Or make any kind of negativity while my daughter was dying. There was no possibility of negotiating. Due to Covid, there was no funeral.
    I returned to my solitary isolation, with no hugs. Like thousands of other people who have lost loved ones during Covid. That alone is a trauma.
    My estranged daughter and I are good people, both professionals. There is a part of me that is so angry with her, but will never stop loving her. Also very sad for her own life that she is unable to forgive. But we can not forgive others if we do not forgive ourselves.

    For now, I grief the loss of my two beloved daughters. I don’t know if my mind and body can go on, if I even want to go on. I’m grateful to have found this website. It’s a lifeline.
    If I could give my younger self advice I’d say never, ever accept any kind of abuse. Including verbal abuse.
    If they do it once, they’ll do it again. If you have self esteem issues, do not get involved in a permanent relationship until you are well healed. In a perfect world, do not have children with anyone who
    has substance abuse issues. It’s not my daughter’s fault that I had such low self esteem I allowed her to behave in ways that were not in her best interest. I allowed myself to be a victim, and that causes trouble for everyone. Just being nice is highly overrated as a virtue. It’s often unkind, in the long run. Maybe even
    Ultimately wouldn’t it be nice if children could realize that their parents also had parents who were imperfect, and sometimes we also were abused and we are products of our own childhoods. Heck, maybe we should realize that too. Maybe we wouldn’t be so hard on ourselves and blame ourselves for everything. Kids should learn about this in school! Yeah, your parents had parents too…..maybe real mean ones, ones who were sick and didn’t know how to act better. Maybe someone could write a YA book?
    Maybe kids could learn about compassion for themselves and others. Preferably at home.
    Maybe fewer dancing lessons, and more life lessons?
    And we could teach them from the get go not to be selfish, entitled, and judgemental. By example. For everyone’s sake, including the planet.
    Sending love to all who are suffering.

    1. RR

      As an estranged parent I feel your pain tho each one of our situations is so different. We just need to go on, taking one day at a time. It’s been 20 years for me and tho I don’t know the reason why I still suffer each and every day in silence

    2. Millymolly

      What a totally thoughtful letter you have written! I could have written it myself as it reflects my own thoughts and experiences. Life is such a rich tapestry of experiences, I wish that you have the good fortune to experience some new ones of love and care, you deserve it. We all do, but for me you have expressed it all so well. I wish you the best.

  18. Elizabeth

    Although our oldest has not entirely cut us off, the contacts are infrequent and we never know, nor any longer expect to hear. I often wonder how it will be if his sons end up doing the same? We have not seen them now in 3.5 yrs. And since we can no longer travel, it is doubtful we will ever see them again as we are a continent apart. It is sort of like dying before we do, isn’t it? My sympathy and empathy to others here in even more difficult places!! We never wanted to join this club…but here we are!! I worry moreso about the time when one of us will be alone because now Hubby and I are at least together. We have moved a great deal in our lives and have not made any close friends where we are currently, for many reasons. We have adapted well to the absence of our son and his kids…but there are still days it is most painful. I guess life these days is maybe meant to be painful, one way or another. I do think this covid mess had caused even greater distance in many families. Not easy to find ways around the rules of it all. For my Hubby and I, looking forward to the next life is something we talk about a lot!!

  19. Rhonda

    They say that when God closes a door, he opens a window. After years of emotional and borderline physical abuse from my son, mostly due to his drug addiction, I finally let him go. Unfortunately, this resulted in total estrangement. At first I felt all of the feelings parents feel when a child leaves them. You all know these feelings very well I am sure. But as the years went by, I finally realized that I will always love my son, but we are not meant to be together at this time. I will always cherish the memories we had when he was young and innocent. I deserve to live the rest of my life with peace, harmony and safety– that is the window God opened for me. I was not a “bad parent”, I was a human being. My son’s choices were his own and for his reasons, which I will probably never know or understand. Please use this day to remember with love all of those we have lost. Happy Memorial Day.

  20. Ann J.

    We have rather accepted that our son is just fine without us. In some ways, I can almost be proud of that. I wasn’t much better to my parents, and I struggle against feeling that my parents put him up to this somehow to get even. I feel like it is all my fault. I don’t even want to try any more. He will call on my birthday, and a few other holidays. He blew off his dad’s retirement. He may send a card for Mother’s Day, but it comes late if he does, and he doesn’t call me.

    I am done with the crying. I just don’t seem to be able to move on to something else, though. It’s just my husband and me. We don’t have any other friends, don’t really want them, but it makes for some very lonely days. I am just tired of trying to find a reason to keep going.

  21. Sherry

    Ditto! I raised my 2 kids alone. Their Dad a drug addiction committed suicide when my daughter was 6 weeks & my son was 3. They had a typical suburban spoiled kids life. I took them to counseling so they would not blame themselves for their Dad’s death. (as kids do many times).
    They pretty much got everything they ever wanted and that included unconditional love. I was an enabler. and I have no clue how I juggled everything but I did. My daughter starting showing mental/emotional issues during puberty. She had been very petite and was eating out of stress and gained a lot of weight. Running away and threatening to beat me up. It actually came almost to blows hen she was in my face
    And from there it just got worse. I do know she is very narcissist even rejecting her own children which hurts the worse. They will need help/counseling for sure. Social services were called several times by school & police. They never did anything. BTW. My daughter had taken child care classes and later went to college to be a counselor. People tell me she is jealous of me.
    I say how can you be jealous of your own Mom. Her brother has given up too. He said and told her older kids she is lying about her childhood of abuse. Thankfully my neighbors, friends & family know her truth. Too me it’s more than narcissism. It’s like she likes to hurt me. I’ve cried, begged, and groveled just to spend few hours with my grandkids. She has never felt guilty or apologized to anyone for her actions. But, I’m moving on in life. Took 20 years to finally come to terms there is nothing I can do to change her. People like her rarely get help no matter how miserable they are. I garden, sew, golf, help elderly neighbor. My dog is also important to my mental well being. I was a shy introverted kid when young & always had a dog as my best friend. They love you unconditionally and keep the lonely nights brief.
    Throw yourself into a hobby you enjoy. Take lessons for something you’ve always wanted to do. I wanted to die 2 years ago then the pandemic. I realized I’ve survived what many my age did not. I am strong and have braved many storms but now I’ve decided to be selfish for the first time in my life and put me first for the 1st time. I can’t remember when I’ve been this content and not laying in bed worrying. My one hurt is the loss of my grandsons that is hard to think about. They love me and have no choice. Even those that are grown are leery of seeing me and making their Mother angry. And to top it all I see her actions in them. So it is probably better to just let go. It’s been over 20 years when she started cutting me out & a Rollercoaster ride for sure. I was diagnosed at 36 with Fibromyalgia due to stress and not sleeping. In closing, I was not a perfect Mom but did better than most including my daughter! To all that are hurting I hope you find the peace I have. It’s up to us to get out of our kids controlling us.

  22. Terri

    I am grateful to have found this group and to have read “Done with the Crying.” It has helped me put my situation in more perspective, with my grown daughters estranging themselves from me except for texts now and then (which never ask how I am; I am widowed and 70). I don’t know why; it may be politics and my taking covid seriously while they did not believe it was real (ugh). Anyway, I am going ahead with my life, whatever that is at this time, but I do still cry sometimes, and that’s okay. This morning I spent two hours with God reading my daily prayers and reflections and also pouring out my heart to Him and praying for all parents whose children are consumed by this material world to the point that they ignore their parents. I hurt so much for us all, but I am praying for us all, and I know God is hearing me; He too has been abandoned by so many of His children. That’s what keeps me going: giving Him my pain and praying for the motivation to keep going in my life with purpose. (Hoping my faith is not offending anyone.)

    1. Quien

      Your faith is not offensive. Your words are a reminder to me that because I have experienced the rejection I can come along side someone else, sincerely pray for them, minister to them. A sermon I heard a few weeks ago reminded me that the Lord is the only one I must please and the scripture says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Thank you for praying for me this morning and reminding me to pray for the other broken hearts in this community.

    2. Sonia

      Yes, I agree. Thank you for the reminder that this has happened to God as well, and to keep praying for us all. Thank you for your prayers! God bless you!

    3. Fran

      I am in agreement. People are so lost without God. Thing is my daughter goes to church every Sunday! I can’t believe she can be so cold. No text or call for mother’s day. I’m so sad.
      I’m a single now since 2008 and feel extra lonely at times. But God is with me to the end. Good bless you and I’m actually glad to hear someone mention God for a change. No offense here sis.

  23. Ingeborg M.

    14 years ago my daughter got married. She was not quite 30. We were very close. Both of us nearly died when she was born and she was small. She was young in her year at school,and it took her awhile to catch up. We di what we could for her,and she was a dream daughter and young person. We had easy teenage years with her. In to her thirties she started to become difficult and unpleasant and rude on and off.
    She started to say I loved her sister more. Her husband did not think I treated my children the same. My husband and I had helped the children financially when they needed it but we did not spoil them for no reason. She had taken me on and off her phone and email, and overreacted for the sightest. I could not understand why she had changed so much. Somebody in the family told me her husband had badmouthed me from nearly the beginning. There was no reason for this. Now I understand. It was tp put a wedge between me and my daughter so he could control her. Eventually he found somebody else and they got divorced. My daughter used me for a while,but then went into a huff again. Her ex committed suicide in November. Now she wants nothing to do with me. In a way it is a relief. I feel I just have to regard her as dead and concentrate on the the lovely 30 years I had with her. It is sad not to have my lovely daughter into my old age,not for company and help.

    1. April

      I can really relate to this. I have seen 3 times (once with my son, once with my daughter and once with myself as a teenager) what a toxic love interest can do to a person and how they can ruin a whole family in a matter of a few words. Your daughter had a very similar early life as my daughter did. I never had really any trouble out of her until she met Mr. Wonderful and blocked me out of her life. Too bad, her loss. I refuse to let her terrible treatment make me feel anything anymore. I realized I am a good person and I found other people that like my company. When you feel horrible because of how she is treating you, you are accepting her behavior and claiming responsibility for her actions. Those toxic behaviors aren’t not yours. Let them rest on her shoulders as they should. There are tons of people on this planet and thousands of things to do on it. Be the captain, quit handing her the wheel and make this life your best excursion possible!

  24. Judy R.

    My husband and I have 3 adult children and 7 grandchildren. Our oldest son is our estranged child, taking 3 daughters with him. I am convinced that what seems like a common thread-the refusal to tell us why, is the hardest and most controlling aspect of it. He has also disowned his brother and sister and their families.
    He has been married for 25 years and I always assumed it was his wife’s fault but have come to accept he could have taken charge at any time. We made the decision a week ago to have him removed from our will. A huge step. If he chose not to be in our living years, he will not benefit from our dying.
    While I am still sad I feel like I have taken away some of his control.

    1. Sonia

      Wow, I think you’re right, Judy. That’s so very hard, not knowing why. I think your son must feel badly too and the longer it goes on the harder it must be for him to pick up the phone. Sending you hugs.

    2. Sharon

      My 35 year old son, married for three years after dating her for seven years is also estranged. Yes, I do place blame on his wife, but, as you stated, he could reach out himself. I have a two year old grandson that I have not met and I hear another on the way. I am somewhat jealous of the statements of “we” above, in that the child is estranged from BOTH parents. In my case, I have come to realize that my then husband began his plan of parental alienation as he became heavily involved in his own affair with a coworker. The fact that I am the outcast makes absolutely no sense based upon past history and my past close relationship with my son. I have NEVER been told what I am being accused of, but, have heard some of the most obnoxious falsehoods that he states about me. Kind of hard to defend yourself when there is no communication! And ironically, my son is an attorney, yet doesn’t present his evidence.
      The absolute worse betrayal is that my grandson was given the name of my ex as his middle name. Yes, the name of the adulterer.

  25. Sonia

    Thank you everyone who has posted and to Sheri for this article. You are all very brave and inspire me. This past year I have been accused by my daughter of causing her to be suicidal every day from the age of 11 on because I was too controlling. Honestly, I didn’t know this before she told me about it this year (at the age of 25) and I was gutted when she told me. Her memories of what it was like for her growing up seem to be very different than my memories of how it was. For some reason she also can’t seem to remember much before the age of 10 and neither can her younger sister, which the older daughter has been told is a sign of trauma, prompting her to ask me if she had been sexually or physically abused at some point. (I was a work-from-home/stay-at-home mom and know that neither of those things happened to them.) When she was growing up I was also put down and badmouthed to her by others in her life, including my husband, who has since left me and has told me that at one point he actually used to hate me, unbeknownst to me at the time. He was also cheating on me (I’m not sure the extent of it) and this same daughter also brought that up this year, telling me that both daughters had found out about it as young teens but whenever the older daughter tried to talk to him about it he never would. Horribly, they felt they had to live with that knowledge for 6 years before I finally discovered his infidelity (which is what caused him to leave as he didn’t want to go to counselling). This older daughter had moved out for a year at the age of 18 and then completely cut off contact with me for 3 years, but then coincidentally on the very day my husband left she emailed me wanting to talk about the problems she had had with me growing up so that we could try to reconcile (at that time she didn’t mention that I had been controlling or that she had been suicidal; that revelation came this year). I tried to answer her questions and also apologized for things. Then about 6 months later she met a very nice young man and brought him over for dinner (the first time she had been home for a very long time) and announced that they were most likely getting married, which they did about 5 months later. Since then we have been in contact when she has time (she’s pretty busy) and she has also apologized for cutting off contact and has done some very nice things for me and tried to help me if she sees I am in need of something. The horrible things she told me about this past year were actually an attempt to clear the air as she didn’t want to have secrets. Sadly though, our relationship, once very close, has been badly damaged. She seems guarded around me now and I also feel awkward and nervous about how I’m coming across now when I’m around her and her husband since I never feel sure what she thinks of me. She is a busy girl so sometimes it can be a while before we see each other (she does live in the same city) and I am trying to take Sheri’s advice and take care of myself and move on with my life so that I can be a good role model and someone she will want to be around when she does show up. I am slowly moving towards being able to completely support myself, having just gotten a new job, as well as take care of my physical and mental health, both of which have suffered over the past 7 years or so. Also, my younger daughter has been back living with me now for about 4 years after moving out also at the age of 18 for about half a year or so and since she has come back we have grown very close, which is a great blessing. I’m really inspired by the stories I have read here today, and your stories have given me hope that life can be beautiful again. I am going to now try to work at remembering the good things I did as a mom, as this past year I am frequently inclined to feel pretty bad about myself as a mother. Sending love to all of you.

    1. ann

      Sonia, I am sorry you are going through this. My story is somewhat similar
      My eldest is now 31 and she lives in Asia. She and her brother had everything they ever needed growing up, including lots of love and support from my husband and I. During her last year in college she became estranged from us and we still don’t know why. We were so happy to have her in our lives again that we pretended it never happened. Now it’s been over 4 years with very little contact. Last year she sent my husband an email, stating that I abused her mentally and emotionally all her life and I was toxic.
      Some of her accusations were unbelievable and incorrect. I thought if I apologized ( even though her accusations were bogus ) she would come back to our family. Have not heard from her since. Now I feel stupid that I apologized to her, when there was no reason to.
      She told my husband that as long as I was around , she could not have a relationship with him or her brother. That was so hard to hear. I have my good days and bad days. To any parent going through this, stay strong and honestly as time passes, it gets a little bit better. I have decided to concentrate on the people in my life that love me, such as my husband and my son,.
      I would like to say I’m done with the crying, but how could any mother be ?

  26. Lucy

    Estrangement hurts like hell. I’ve learned a new term; living bereavement. Five years ago when I moved to a new town, I met a new friend. Her and our husbands both had similar interests and passions. I commented on her beautiful silver hair one day. She said it was from her son. ? She proceeds to explain he was murdered by a gang. (Never proven. Case is still open. He was found run over by a train.) I was in a very bad way then having been estranged about 5 yrs. I told her, no offence or not to diminish your story or feelings but I think it would be easier for me had my son died because every day he chooses to not have me be a part of his life. She said to me “ya, but there is always a chance your son will talk to you or let you be a part of his life. I will never have that in my life.” I thought to myself, in comparison how does this woman have the strength to stand on two feet! In perspective, I couldn’t complain? We are the best of friends now and so are our husbands.
    Finally a text I sent my son hit a nerve. He finally came and visit to talk to me 3 years later almost now close to 3 years ago. He had held things in for 10 yrs. We had a heart to heart talk. Before leaving, he promised to call me. He didn’t call but I was also the following year invited for a visit and then invited for dinner along with my husband and mother at Christmas that same year.
    Then comes the complication of a pandemic and covid social distancing. The last time I saw him was last May in a parking lot for an outdoor social distanced visit. It was in front of my mom’s aptmt bldg. I was visiting her for Mother’s Day. I had seen them masks, brought cookies and chocolates and a bd card n gift for his wife as it was her birthday on Mother’s Day. The visit ended with us both saying we loved each other.
    Last summer, my friend showed me her son’s tomb stone. I cried. Many students had left little trinkets around the base. He was 17 when he died.
    Baby steps … he’s a little warm then cold. I got the longest text ever a few months ago. He and the whole family FaceTimed for my 65th birthday.
    Now, no responses to my last 3 texts.
    It was my grandson’s 10th bd this past Saturday. I put a card and $ once again in the mail. He’s 10. I’ve never been to any of his birthday parties. I’ve never received a thank you for anything I send.
    I was a mess again this past weekend. I can get through most days but birthdays and celebrations like Easter, Mother’s Day or Christmas … only another estranged gets how heart wrenching the debilitating pain is. The silence kills me.
    I did not raise my sons to be this disrespectful or so rude.
    He leaves me so confused.
    When I last saw him, we said we both loved each other. This doesn’t feel like love.
    On bad days, I feel only death will stop this pain. On good days, I don’t go there with my thoughts at all.
    I have PTSD from childhood. I am a survivor and made of iron but my life experiences have hardened my heart. Call it a defence mechanism or a coping skill … it leaves you numb. Hurts less.
    Covid fatigue has exacerbated everything!
    Yesterday my husband and I went fishing and picked up a ready to go pizza. We watched 6 Canada geese families swim by. They were so young and all together.
    I got through the weekend. I’ll coast until Thanksgiving. Then Christmas.
    I would hope covid could teach people the importance of love, family, friends etc. Maybe so only know how to love on condition. I don’t know how to do that. I operate on unconditional.
    My son doesn’t speak to his only brother or father (my ex) either. When he visited me 3 yrs ago he said he worries the same may happen to his two sons. I replied “I worry about more then that. I worry your sons may estrange you or your wife one day.”

    1. Sonia

      I can so relate to this. I feel like I make progress with my daughter ( who for 3 years was completely estranged until she contacted me via email) and then there is nothing for quite a while, including sometimes a special day, and for me I get worried that things have regressed and maybe she is upset with me again. I reach out sometimes via text to see how she is doing or to ask a question and sometimes there is no answer and sometimes there is. I try to look on the bright side that she must be very busy, but it’s still bewildering and hurtful. I wonder if this is a reflection of today’s society, as a lot of people seem OK with ignoring people who are reaching out to them (for example, business people you’re trying to ask a question of) simply I think because there is so much available to us all the time now with all the new technology that we don’t have time to get to everything, and maybe our kids sometimes are thinking of us and meaning to get in contact but life is getting in the way and they know we will be there for them no matter what so sometimes we get put last. In a way, I think it might be an indication that we actually have a good bond that they are comfortable with, and I think in time it should get better. I know in the last year of my mom’s life I realized and ended up telling her she was my best friend (I didn’t know that would be her last year at the time I told her that and I’m so glad I did), but I always felt bad when she would call me or write to me and I was so busy (raising kids, etc.) that I would sometimes be delayed in returning her phone calls (she lived on the other side of the continent from me) and even reading her letters. However, I always, always loved her and was always thinking about her and kept all her letters (and I’m so glad I did that now as I can go back over them now and really get to know her better). As a matter of fact, she was one of the few people in the world I felt most comfortable with and genuinely happy to be around as I am an introvert, but I loved doing things with her as she was very nonjudgmental and kind and a really good listener. I wish I’d prioritized better when she was alive, though, to fit in more phone calls, and the more I go through this with my own daughter the more I realize how hard this must have been for her, reaching out to me and not getting an answer for a while. (Luckily, we did make it a priority to visit back and forth regularly so she knew my kids well and I’m so glad we did that.) I know she’s still with us now and watches over us and I talk to her every day. I feel like we are going through this next part of my life together and and she’s praying for and rooting for our whole family, just like I know she always did. 🙂

    2. Sherri

      Hi Lucy, my youngest sister and I both struggle with our estranged kids. We tried to give OUR kids things we didn’t have and we both believe that we ruined them with our decisions. Many people I talk too have given our children what we thought was the best we were able to do for them but look where/what they have become, hating us. The world is changing and I feel not in a good way. Families don’t stay in the same town or city. Family Reunions are a thing of the past thus further dinishing the ties. I pray my children do have Faith to please God. I don’t think out children will ever feel what we did for them until we are gone and they can’t call, text or send a card or cast blame. I just pray they realize how important it is to continually be in contact with their parents who went without just to provide for them so their children don’t do the same to them. Until they no longer have us to blame, I doubt they will change. Dying for me would be a blessing from the pain.

  27. Jonnie G.

    I deeply appreciate Martin’s statement, “I was a parent for a season.” What a beautiful perspective! Like many, I have been disowned by both my children for over eight years. After several years of darkness, I accepted this new life and most days are happy and fulfilling. I like the notion of thinking as my motherhood as a happy season, with many wonderful memories, just as I can think of my career before retirement. There are new seasons ahead.

  28. Cynthia

    I have three sons and was divorced when my youngest was 12 years of age.
    As time went on and the boys grew older, attended college, moved away and developed relationships the distance grew between us.
    Holidays changed, birthdays were spent with others, etc.
    I have not seen my oldest for almost three years although we talk once in a great while on the phone.
    My youngest dropped out of the family three years ago and communicates with none of us.
    We do not know why.
    My middle son is the one that I see occasionally.
    The divorce definitely played a huge part in all of this yet it should not be used as an excuse for our family becoming so distant.
    As a woman living own her own for so many years I would think that my sons would be caring and concerned for me yet this is not so.
    Is it that being together again would remind them of better days gone by and it is too painful for them to be with me?
    No anger, no animosity ever took place so why the breakup?
    Why the distance?
    It pains me greatly to see others with their families and grandchildren.
    I try to be happy and yet …

  29. DANA N.

    Thank you Sheri! Focus on the good things that we did as parents on Memorial Day. I can say that Memorial Day always brings back good memories. We live near a military cemetery and each memorial day I would take my now estranged daughter and we would get up each and place flags on the graves. There were others who did this too, we didn’t know each other, but we all would place the flags on the graves. My daughter enjoyed this as did I. She was so respectful of the commitment these soldiers gave. She would remark at which war they served in. Afterwards the veterans home provided donuts for the volunteers. Another part of the day she loved doing. My prayer is that she also thinks of Memorial Day and maybe this good memory.

  30. April

    The biggest blessing my daughter ever gave me was freedom by disowning me. I no longer worry about her or my granddaughter because I am giving her exactly what she asked for. She may badmouth me to my brother and niece but she looks like a huge liar when the truth unfolds. She has freed me physically by no longer needing a fulltime babysitter. She has freed me emotionally by taking away any reason I had to worry over her. Most importantly though, I now am financially free from her blameshifting. She claims that I owe her when I allowed her to live with me rent free, nor paying for food, utilities, gas, eating out, needing large sums of money for school or extra babysitting for dates or when she wanted to sleep in or just couldn’t handle my autistic granddaughter. It has actually been the best thing to ever happen to me as bad as it sounds. In my defense though, why would I want to be around someone who gave my silent treatment, lies on me and financially abused me? I don’t. I respect and love myself too much too grovel to anyone, including my child.

    1. Fran

      You go girl.
      We shouldn’t ever allow people to abuse us. Especially our children who should always show respect.
      We do teach people how to treat us. So yes. I’m with ya. I refuse to beg for love and acceptance it’s either there or it’s not.

  31. Linda

    My heart is there with you! Good observation about the single-parent family. Maybe the older girls will realize more once they have children, or not. But I certainly do understand not wanting all of this pain, because the solution seems so out of our control. I still have the pain too, but it has diminished somewhat by de-prioritizing the need to have those estranged daughters in my life. I came to the conclusion that it is not in my best interest to have so much ungratefulness, condemnation and narcissism in my life. So, daily I’m working on making my best life by including the most joyful activities, passions, hobbies (and as a result positive people) in my life. Does it eliminate all of the pain? No. But it does make it more manageable and replaces a lot of grief with joy from the fun adventures that are created with each new addition into my life. I hope there is some hope in creating a better life. Hugs

    1. Sherri

      Without my grandkids whom im so close to/was i feel for their hearts. So young how can they understand. What damage their parents are doing to them. I give them air hugs, kisses,talk to them daily. I feel they receive them all. I pray God will keep them safe and emotionally healthy. I register every letter, card, package I send.

  32. Clare

    Hi Eileen. I am so sorry you are suffering from this awful abuse. Yes…Abuse, this is what it is! I have two sons. The eldest hasn’t spoken to me in 2 years. He has had a son, I haven’t seen either. I have very dark days too. People tell me I have been a great mother which sounds as if you have too. I focus all my energies in to my youngest son. He has a lovely girlfriend who respects me and is caring and isn’t narcissistic, like my husbands wife. Which by the way comes from complete insecurity and jealousy. I wish you well and happiness. Enjoy your loving daughter. X

  33. Penny

    Some days my heart aches to see our son and only grandchild.
    I haven’t seen her for almost 2 years.
    I write each month and put it into a box.
    On her birthday this year I planned a day out.
    We explored a new place- but the tears and ache still come.
    We are pushing forward.
    Broken- but hoping the light can shine through the broken places . It is very hard.
    Trying to do new things and move on.
    Bank holiday weekends especially tough.
    Hearing neighbours with their famillies …
    Had a very Teary day . Today new day we shall see.

  34. AGW

    Several years ago, I received a phone call from my sister, via the State Department. My long estranged brother had died in Kuwait.
    He was a journalist, of sorts, but the family could never find him. He wrote under a pen name.
    My brother had been a type 1 diabetic, but that being said, a family member had to travel to Kuwait to supervise his corpse. I was the most qualified, and felt that it was my duty to take responsibility.
    My brother had died alone, and was undiscovered until the odor of decomposition became oppressive to his neighbors. Plus his two German shepards had been barking in distress for a long time.
    The Kuwaiti authorities knocked down my brother’s door to find a decomposed body that had been partially eaten by the starving dogs. I went in later.
    The US State Department helped me to return his remains back to the US. It was a long process through the police, the morgue, an undertaker, customs, and United Airlines.
    I returned, exhausted, to the US, to plan his funeral. Upon return, my grown daughter said “Just get over it Mom.”
    I turned 70 this year, and did not even get a birthday card from her.

    1. Ann S.

      This is a gut-wrenching story of what you went through to bring your brother back home. I am so sorry you didn’t have the support of your daughter during that awful time. I turned 66 this year and although I actually saw my daughter on my birthday (we drove an hour to walk with her and her partner in a metropark and exchange Christmas presents) that was the last time we saw each other. It was 6 months ago. If I don’t make the effort, we won’t see each other. Holidays are the hardest days for sure.

    2. Fran

      You go girl.
      We shouldn’t ever allow people to abuse us. Especially our children who should always show respect.
      We do teach people how to treat us. So yes. I’m with ya. I refuse to beg for love and acceptance it’s either there or it’s not.

  35. Eileen

    I have 3 daughters. Only 1 is close. I have noticed that this behavior is prevalent in single parent families. I worked very hard, supported my children alone. I was told by the oldest two that their life was not good enough. They both are highly educated and financially well off, but according to them I never did a thing for them. My Mother and Sister undermined me. I was too busy working long and hard hours to notice the sabotage. At least I have my youngest. I wish I never had children. I am in pain all the time.

    1. Emily

      I understand. My husband and I have been married 28 years and have a son who is estranged. Stating that point just because I know it happens in two parent families too. We have three children, two of whom are close, but we broke ourselves in half for this one who had destroyed our lives. He took everything we had to give, and I do mean everything, stepped out of our home at the age of 18, turned around, spit on us, re-wrote the history of our family, and lit the relationship on fire. There are many days where I feel exactly the same way and I am also in pain all the time. Some days it’s a struggle to even go on. Sending love to you, mother to mother.


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