Neglected parents self-love exercise

By Sheri McGregor

Valentine’s Day post

Most holidays, you will find new articles here because I know how lonely those special days can feel for neglected parents. Adult children who rarely call, have cut their parents completely from their lives, or only reach out when they need something, leave their parents’ hearts in shards. For neglected parents, the only way beyond the emotional pain is through. That means digging deep for your own strength, looking for ways to support yourself, and then taking action. Valentine’s Day provides an opportunity to let your love loose on your own life and for your own benefit.

In my work as a life coach, I’ve routinely used exercises and questions to help people guide themselves through a variety of situations, increase productivity, and get out of their own way as they move way forward. Today, I’m including a short exercise for neglected parents and, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ll use the word “LOVE.”

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • An open mind
  • A willing spirit
  • A sheet of paper
  • A pen or pencil

Option: Fancy paper and/or colorful pens/pencils. Use what makes you feel good.

Don’t discount the first two bullet points. Those may be the most important.

FIRST STEPS

As you see in the photograph, fold your paper in half and then half again. When you unfold the sheet, creases mark off four sections. Eyeballing the space is okay, too. Or use a computer document and not worry about space at all. There is no perfect way to do this exercise other than to see it through for your own benefit.

BEFORE YOU START

You’ll be writing, so make up your mind not to censor yourself. If this exercise prompts you to spill out your feelings with no action steps, let it happen. You may be holding onto energy that needs a place to land. Let those thoughts and feelings emerge. Your feelings are valid—even the ones you judge yourself for.

GET STARTED

To the left of each of the four paper sections, write each of the letters in L-O-V-E, one per section, so that the word is spelled out vertically. Use flowery writing or make it bold—it’s up to you.

Below, after each letter, I’ve chosen a word that starts with that letter. You’ll also see a few questions. Spend a few moments answering them as they pertain to your unique situation:

  • Estrangement from adult children
  • Coping as a neglected parent
  • With a disrespectful adult child living at home due to Covid-19 (or for some other reason)
  • Your unique circumstances

This and similar exercises work for a variety of situations where the aim is to analyze thinking and behavior, and then move toward better self-care and past the problem.

L: Limits. How can I limit how much of my energy or thinking goes toward the estrangement (or: problem, relationship, situation)? Have I spent enough time being miserable? Have I let my adult children surpass the limits of how I would let another adult treat me? Is it time to set some limits now, and get on with living my life? What does that mean to me? What can I do right now to start setting limits and/or enforcing them?

O: Observe. Am I listening to myself think? How often does my mind wander to this problem I can’t solve? What’s a new way to think about this? Do I still think I’m the only one? Do I still blame myself?

V: Value. Does what my adult child say about me, or how s/he treats me, truly define who I am and who I’ve been? (HINT: The answer is NO.) Does this other adult’s decision or opinion change history or define who I am now? Have I been devaluing myself? How can I show myself the value I deserve for all my hard work and loving care?

E: Evaluate. Where am I on this journey as a neglected parent? (Name your spot like a town or venue, i.e., Tearsville, City of Hope, Onward Town.) Where do I want to be at this time next year? How can I get there? (Name at least one step.)

Same Time, Same Place

Once you’ve spent some time considering each of these and writing out your thoughts, fold the paper so the writing is all on the inside. Then pen yourself a silly note on the blank side: Same time, next year. Or, Will you be my Valentine? Whatever feels right. Then tuck it away somewhere safe. Next year, pull this out and see how far you’ve come.

If the thought of looking at this later to observe your progress pricks panic, don’t ignore the feeling. If you worry that you will still be crying and miserable, take action now. Let this be a solid step toward your progress. It’s for your own good. Get your copy of Done With The Crying, read it again and use the WORKBOOK, or do the exercises for the first time (some readers skipped them). To move beyond the pain, you must set goals and work toward them. After a while, taking care of yourself becomes a helpful habit.

EXERCISE YOUR OPTIONS

If you have ideas about how to make this exercise your own, feel free to put them into action. Creative pursuits are freeing and fun. Honoring your own ideas is validating and helpful. Here are a couple of options:

  • Use your words. My example words for each of the letters aren’t set in stone. Come up with your own or even choose a word other than LOVE to start. The point is to get your thoughts on paper, begin the work of setting goals for your own happiness and self-worth, and move toward a fulfilling life only you can design. You’re in the driver’s seat on this self-love train. Don’t get sidetracked or derailed.
  • Get crafty. Create a keepsake. Once you’ve done the exercise and tucked it away, use the basic words (limits, observe, value, evaluate) as a visual reminder. Make a painting or a Valentine card and display it as a gentle reminder of where you’re at and where you’re headed. Make a bookmark and tuck it into something you read daily so your goals will be in front of you—or just as a reminder that you deserve your own kind care. (I’m tucking my folded page with my note into a book where I can see it often, plus find it next year.)

Do you gain insights from using this exercise? I’d love to hear about your experience. When you comment, you help other neglected parents move forward too.

Hugs to all on this journey, Sheri McGregor

Related Reading

Cut off by adult children and feeling lonely

How do I love me? Let me count the ways

Estranged from adult children, Love Yourself

 

44 thoughts on “Neglected parents self-love exercise

  1. AvatarPhoenix12

    Thank you again, Sheri; I love this idea and find that I naturally gravitate towards looking up journaling entries or saved sent emails from exactly a year ago, exactly two years ago, etc. at times.

    I said that talking about myself didn’t help and then I go change my mind and get my password reset today just so I could do exactly that, lol. Maybe I’d like my nice, new, shiny, straight off the presses several-odd years ago paperback even better if I actually wrote letters to my future self in the margins.

    Books age like fine wine anyway. I’m lucky enough to have some actual physical objects from my childhood with yellowed pages and that wonderful “used book store” smell. You can’t download that from the internet or have it delivered overnight by clicking on the buy-it-now button.

    Reply
  2. AvatarSheila

    It breaks my heart to see so many parents going through what I am just now starting to go through. Our daughter is no longer speaking with us, last summer was so different she would talk, text and video chat, but then October came and I saw her growing distant from us and it only became worst. When I asked her what was wrong it was either nothing I’m fine, or if it pertains to me she would tell me. Then December she quit sending pictures of her daughter my granddaughter, only to send them to my sister. I tried calling and texting her to see what we had done wrong and her response was I don’t want to talk to you and dad and, please respect my choice I’ll get ahold of you when I am ready. it’s been a month and still nothing. I feel as though she wants us to feel pain, when my sister mentioned to our daughter that I wake up everyday sad and crying she basically did not care and had no emotion.

    I need to move on, I have a wonderful son who doesn’t judge me or make me feel worthless. I have devoted so much of my time to my daughter I feel my son has lost out on a lot.

    It pains me that I may never see my granddaughter ever again

    Thank you for letting me vent, this helps me to get through today. Small step but at least it’s a step

    Reply
  3. AvatarMaggie

    Hi Sheri
    Thank you for this Valentine’s exercise which my husband and I did together.
    It bought about a lot of conversation and a strong realisation that we need to move forward!

    Reply
    1. rparentsrparents Post author

      You’re welcome, Maggie. Can’t wait for the update “ssme time, next year.” I hope we can all look back and see huge progress.

      HUGS to you and your husband. I’m glad you guys were able to do this together!

      Sheri McGregor

  4. AvatarElizabeth L.

    Tonight I found out something shocking. A couple of years ago, both myself and my daughter did a DNA test. Paid for by me if course, and part of an Xmas present for her.
    The testing company are very informative and send through new information as it becomes available.

    Among the details are new relatives, and I got one this evening. When I opened up the list, my daughter was absent from it, like she didn’t want to be connected.

    At first I thought it was probably due to her work, which can be strict on online privacy.

    Anyhow, I sent a request asking why her profile is no longer available. Hopefully it’ll put me straight as to why she has unsubscribed.

    Reply
  5. AvatarKathy

    I had no idea that I actually am a part of a large group of people who know this pain. My children were adopted through foster system. I always knew there were challenges to deal with but in my wildest dreams never imagined such pain. It’s been almost 20 years x 4 kids of only hearing from them when they need things, want to blame me for all the problems in their life, accuse me of loving other kids more than them, not loving them the right way and so on. It has not been easy but I work on it every day to remind myself I am a good person, a loving parent, and owe it to myself to love me too. Tonight was another slap mom across the face with hateful remarks cause I’m not getting my way (because mom won’t give in anymore). In trying to find some funny or uplifting things on the internet I found this site. We don’t know each other but in my opinion we are a family. A family can also be described as a group of related things and we certainly fit that description. My heart goes out to all of you. If I had one piece of advice to offer it would be this. You can’t change anyone but you so if you think that maybe next year or the year after that will get better you are only hurting yourself. You only have one life also. Be alive and present in it with those who are there.

    Reply
    1. AvatarShawna

      One life! I needed to see this, I wish I could follow through. My emotions get the best of most days. Practice, practice, practice.

  6. AvatarJeanne

    I’m still trying to figure it all out. How I can be the target of my children’s wrath…and as we all say…I wasn’t perfect..but I tried my best. My heart was always open and I gave unconditional love and attention to my 3 kids. I gave them the childhood I didn’t have. They have turned me into their enemy.
    I have had some insight into the way our society is right now…and it has showed me some things. The other day I was watching a Youtube video about Casey Anthony..the woman who was aquitted of killing her daughter Caylee. But many still believe that she did it. I was looking at the comments under the video and was shocked at how many people blamed the PARENTS…especially Casey’s mother!! They were saying the parents “didn’t raise her right” and they said the parents “shouldn’t have forced her to have the baby”…etc! They were actually blaming the parents for their daughter murdering her child absolving this psychopath from all blame because it was the parents fault!! They seemed like really nice normal people who were gutted by this tragedy!! Very sad.

    Reply
  7. AvatarJane R.

    I have been reading a lot about Narcissism lately. I wonder how much of this comes into play with these issues. My daughter had latched onto her mother-in-law because she provided her with money, Coach purses, expensive nurseries for the grandkids, along with free babysitting at the drop of a hat. Well, it seems that now that the grandkids are getting older, my daughter did the same discard technique on her. They idealized, devalue, discard and then when it is convenient, they “hoover” you back in when it is convenient for them. The difference with me is my motto is “when the rules are not fair, I don’t play the game.” I love my daughter very much but at the end of the day, I guess I really do not like her. I am now 65 and concentrating on myself and I am much happier ☺. I guess I would never turn my back on my own family like she has. She uses her kids like a weapon. They are the real losers in this game of hers.

    Reply
    1. AvatarLeana

      Hi Jane R. Thanks for writing this, it helped me today. I had a lot of trouble with my own mother growing up. I think she was narcissistic. I limited my contact with her but I did not cut her out of my life, like my daughters have me. Both of my daughters have adopted new and better (in their minds) mothers. One daughter has adopted my ex-husband’s new wife, and my older daughter adopted her (sort of) mother in law. She is not married just living with the woman’s son. My pain is excruciating. It’s been two years. I think my ex-husband was very narcissistic, and my daughters became like him. I saw how my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother lured my daughter with gifts and money. I was not very concerned about it, until the last Christmas when my daughter insulted all my gifts and told me her boyfriend’s mother got her all these wonderful gifts. God that was painful. She left my house and left all the gifts I ever gave her. I had just bought her some nice leather boots about a week before she left. She used the boots to walk out of my life. Both my daughters blame me for the failed marriage. I do have one child left, a son, who is kind to me. Right now life feel like a horror show. Your letter helped me to see that, perhaps one day they will discard the incredibly wonderful new mothers as they did me, because, it’s the way they see people, to use and discard. Happy Valentine’s Day, Jane R.

    2. AvatarShawna

      Hi Jane,

      I came onto Google looking for some type of something that showed me that I am not alone and here you are. Happy Belated Valentines day! I have been crying and do often whenever I get off the phone with my 30 year old daughter who will never take responsibility for any of her actions and as we speak the strain on this family is 1000 times horrible. I grew up in a different time era and family is so very special to me, not so much to her. When it’s convenient for her is when she will be my friend. It’s typically when she needs something. She is my only child and I do not like her right now either, sad to say but It feels good releasing that off of my chest. My daughter has put this family through some very sad and difficult times and i have had her son more than her over the years due to her decision making. Well now he is 10 and she tells him some pretty horrible things about us to make herself feel good and I am CRUSHED! You can brainwash children and she wants to create these horrible stories to play victim so her now new boyfriend and family coddle her and make her feel like she is an amazing one. Meanwhile we are over here crying, hurting, therapy and trying to get this little boy through as stable as possible. In her eyes this new live in boyfriend only knows what she wants him to, so nothing that we have gone through and why things have happened the way they happened over there years will ever come out so she has to take on some type of responsibility, she just tells everyone we are abusive to her mentally. (IT’S BS) So she has this clean slate over there and we are not invited over for dinners and or birthdays which is fine because I’m not fond of her bf….they both suck as parents. I will never get an I’m sorry or a thank you mom for all you have done for me over the years ( money up the wazoo, guardianship over her child most years, emotional trauma that I still see therapists for ) makes me so angry. I can’t change the situation but I also hurt over it all daily. I try so hard to make myself happy by finding things that do but lately I just focus on my 10 year old grandson making sure he is safe and happy and has stability. I have written her letters but never sent them because they are super nasty and just did it to get it off my chest….this helped a little but I sometimes wish if I could just let her have it. I refuse to stoop to her levels and fight back and forth within myself on what is right and wrong. My grandson will be the one who suffers because she has anger issues and is bi=polar so I just bite my tongue.

      END RANT…SORRY FOR THE SOAP BOX.

    3. AvatarPamela

      I could have written the above paragraph. I am 65 and my my daughter is 35 . I’ve been doing the same research on narcissism. I’m realizing I have been part of her “supply “since she 15 years old. Only needed for money, support during her times of difficulty and only continues reaching out when I agree with her take on life.. Her daily drama involves alcohol and raising her 6 year old son and it’s become just too much. I have had to detach with Love. When I read your words.” I love her ….but really don’t like her, this really resonated with me. I need to be okay with this in my heart and soul as I agree with this sentiment.
      Also starting to look after my self as mu mental and physical health has been impacted. My Alanon support group has been a god send.

  8. AvatarShirley

    It gives me great strength to read all of the patient resilience each of you have acquired during the most difficult times. Our parents lived through the war but growing up we were given care and love until I was a teen when Mom had, I believe, PTS (post traumatic stress….however, I’m not a Dr.) a mental health disorder. I became resilient in my teens as a result. I believe my inner strength came from God. I always felt that marriage and family were so important. My son and DIL plus 4 lovely Grandchildren went to the States, somewhere someplace and I have been estranged from them for 7 years. The first few years were the most difficult and somehow I came across Sherri McGregor’s book, Done With the Crying. I could only read a couple of pages at a time before my eyes watered. I’ve been making a life for myself and husband. My daughter surprised us with two beautiful Granddaughters in her 40’s and I feel Blessed to have them. I kept a handmade Valentine’s card near my bed on the bookshelf that my son wrote to me. Beautiful words that I re-read often. Happy Valentine’s Day. ❤️

    Reply
  9. AvatarMarg

    I know that I would not be in a healthy place today without Sheri’s book. I am so grateful for the book, this site, and this community of support. My heart breaks reading the recent letters because I can relate to all the sadness and roller coaster of emotions. I was literally done with crying, having shed millions of tears on my yoga mat. I was so tired of feeling sad from my son’s silence and the loss of contact with our only grandchild. Doing the exercises in the book (many times over) got me to a healthier place where I could accept that I had no control over this estrangement. I needed to move forward, nurturing relationships that supported me and brought me joy. Finally, I was in a good place again. And then my son called saying he wanted to hit the restart button. It had been well over a year since we had been in contact and even before the estrangement, he was always angry at us. My husband and I will probably never know why he reached out again or what caused the estrangement in the first place. But during the estrangement, we all changed. There is now some distance between us and that is okay. I continue to read this newsletter, I read your letters, and I have kept Sheri’s book. Today I did the LOVE exercise, to examine where things stand with our relationship. I continue to stay connected to this community to remind myself to keep my heart safe and acknowledge that I worked hard to get to a healthier place.

    Reply
  10. AvatarPatty T.

    Thoughts of the loss of my children sneak up and
    my first thought is I want to die. It’s overwhelming.
    I cried through all of your comments. I’m in a place
    in my life for the first time I don’t have to struggle over
    finances. I can live an enjoyable life and do all the things
    I could not do before. When will I let that be enough
    for me? I have so much to live for and just don’t want to.

    I willl keep trying to get there. Thanks for listening!

    Patty

    Reply
    1. AvatarSuzanne

      Dear Patty,

      Do not give up! Thank you for sharing your raw honesty. I have been there and have felt the excruciating loneliness. It never occurred to me that I would need to learn how to live without my daughter in this life. I had fantasies galore of the future and my place in her life. The reality of estrangement has been a baffling disappointment of epic proportion. It is humiliating and embarrassing and can be a very lonely and peculiar journey. My perspective has changed as each year has passed. And I will say it has taught me an inner strength I did not know I possessed. God bless you and keep you safe.

  11. AvatarSuzanne

    It has been seven years since I have seen my only child. The journey has been messy. She maintains a relationship with my step daughters, who I have a strained relationship with. They participated in her lavish wedding, although my husband and I were not invited. My story is very similar to those posted here. I have relived every moment ad nauseum trying to figure out which misstep caused such total rejection. I have attempted phone calls, written letters, sent cards and invitations for holiday dinners. All met with more rejection. Fortunately, I have given the outreach up for my own sanity. Someone told me that she closed the door and only she has the key to reopen it. That helped me immensely, as it relieved some of the pressure I was putting on myself to ‘figure it out’ and make things right. I pray for her every day, and I still have times when I go down the rabbit hole of obsessing. However, I am moving more and more toward acceptance and wanting to rebuild my own life. I was once a victim of a violent crime which I thought was the worst thing I would ever have to deal with. This estrangement is right up there. It toppled my world and I can only now say, after seven years, I finally feel like I am adapting to a life without my daughter. I am no longer on hold, waiting for her return and her love to return. I do believe I deserve to live, in spite of this brutal assault to my soul. Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you kindred spirits.

    Reply
    1. AvatarSandra

      Dear Suzanne, thanks for sharing your feelings , for your courage to put these feeling in writing . I am a warrior , but I am the biggest coward with my daughters’ estrangement. I am an avoider, I have patched things and a times I even pretend this is not true. I have used every possible excuse to not accept my reality: My daughter wants nothing to do with me, it’s been 2 years and I am still counting, she hates me , she hates my guts so much , it hurts so bad , to say it in words. She is only 20 years old , I keep telling this to myself, what did I do so bad , she calls me ” an abusive mom” , yes , I was not perfect , but I keep looking for that moment when she started it hating me so much, was it when I got divorced , was it when I tried to teach her not to lie, to eat healthy, to do her homework , Did I yell too much? She adores her father and wants nothing to do with me . In the other hand his father has enabled her behavior, lies , manipulations and lack of empathy, or may be not and she is just like that. I can not avoid the truth anymore. This book , this group is a great support , sometimes I feel I am the only person in this world going through the horror of not being loved by my daughter . I have my son he lives with me and he loves me very much, I just adopted a dog, too . I have a great boyfriend. I am not a monster , why do I feel like a monster , sometimes? I like the thought of letting it go , she closed this door and she is the only one that has the key . I have to be patient , I pray for her, I send her love every single day , but I will not wait for her anymore, I have to move on with my life. Much love and blessing to all of you beautiful and caring people

  12. AvatarDebs

    I really feel for all you lovely people still in the throes of grieving.
    I recently found some poetry that I wrote to express my feelings three years ago. I know I have moved on as I felt nothing. All my sixty odd years, I have tried to be loyal and loving to everyone except myself.
    I have minimal contact with my younger son but I do know he cares. My daughter is out of the picture along with her evil tongue and aggressive nature. My eldest son, who had mental health issues and addiction problems is stable and well and studying for a degree after they cut us off due to helping him and humiliated and abused him. I’ve found sadly that lockdown has worked for us from the point of view we couldn’t see each other even if we wanted to.
    We also made a decision that when we eventually die our home will be left to our eldest son to ensure he has a roof over his head and will be sold on his death and divided between the grandchildren. My younger son has done very well and won’t need financial help. My daughter is out of the equation. I feel that our grandchildren will eventually be more than grateful for the help.
    My husband and I were engaged on Valentines day 44 years ago. He’s still my best friend and I will now only love and support those who love and support me.
    You will get there. Don’t give up!

    Reply
  13. AvatarFran

    I am new to this forum and frankly surprised that there are other (its seems from reading the comments…moms) that struggle with estranged adult children. I thought I was alone in the heartache.
    I have 7 children and 42 grandchildren. Our children are all very successful in their careers. We have one who is a Physician Assistant, another a Surgeon, another an Optometrist, another an engineer, another a Corporate IT Manager, another a Mechanical Engineer and our youngest is a Dentist. We raised them to be hard working, church-going, contributing members of society. But yet, since our youngest child left 1996 we have been cut out of all their lives with the exception of 2 of our daughters. The other 5 have established their homes and started their families but we have never been invited to their homes for any holidays including Christmas EVER. They do not come home and visit us. We live 4 hours away from 4 families so it’s not that far to for them or us to travel. They don’t sent cards, letters or even call us on the phone. We do all the effort to try and communicate with them. We have 2 daughters-in-law that have sent us very hurtful and caustic texts telling us we are not to have any contact with them, including texting, calling, or coming. We are so overcome with grief over this. Growing up as a family, we were so close and did so many things together. We prayed together, sang together, danced together, vacationed every year together. What went wrong? I have tried counseling but have not been satisfied with being told that I need to pray more and have more faith so that the Lord can help me with my children. Too late…been there, done that over and over. It has been 8 years since I have talked with my oldest son. He has turned his 2 oldest girls against us. We have received nasty letters from our oldest granddaughter telling us we will never see her 2 children EVER. On and on it goes. I had one therapist tell me I was killing myself with my grieving. She right! I am glad I found this site. I am going to try to take care of myself and try to forget about my children. That just doesn’t seem possible or right to me at the moment! Thanks for listening.

    Reply
    1. AvatarSusan A.

      I feel such sadness for you.I could have written your letter myself,I have only one daughter and three adopted grandchildren who I never see.
      Like you I have prayed ,cried ,begged,I send Birthday and Christmas gifts,but never get a response.
      I feel like a leper too.
      Is there no end to this heartache?

    2. AvatarKen C

      My heart goes out to you, Fran. Yes, this is a heartbreak unlike any other. Love is the choice you have made, though your children have chosen differently. I myself have been exercising the discipline of letting go while keeping the door open. May you find the strength and courage to shape a response that fits your unique situation and that results in health and peace. As with most pursuits that are worthy of struggle, the rewards are worth the effort. May God bless you.

    3. AvatarBree

      Fran,
      I am so sorry for your many losses, my heart goes out to you, and I am empathetic. In my situation, I have suffered too, and I have found that it is best, for me, to be grateful for what I can get, in the way of contact, and if this means some of my children, then I am grateful. This is tragic and the most difficult part of life, for me, to date. I continue to stay in touch with my children, all four, although one only reaches out when a crisis arrives and another is just too busy. Two stay in touch. For a long time, from the two, nothing, but this has improved slightly, since I began to do one thing for all four of my children, who live across the country from me, and that is, I text (no phone calls) just once each month for the estranged, which as I said, I have two, and twice each month for the other two (who are close and maintain contact). Often, it is nothing more than, I am thinking of you and I just wanted you to know that I think of you daily and I love you. I hope you are well and happy. Or, as I did this morning, Happy Valentine’s Day, enjoy! I love you. Nothing more. In the past six months, I have received more heartfelt replies from both, even if it is only a simple comment. It is something, but it is more than I got before. I was able to find out why one is ‘estranged’ and it was simply that my views were not his. He did not like even the slightest reference about my spiritual beliefs, or anything else, for that matter, so I now stay very neutral and I am very grateful that I am at least getting some brief reply. My heart goes out to you and I wish you the very best.

    4. AvatarViking

      Hi everyone. My therapist told me to forget about my daughter and I told her that was the wrong thing to say to me. You can’t forget about your child. It has been 4 years in March since I have seen my daughter and 2 grandchildren. It doesn’t seem to get better. I have 4 other children that talked to me. My only comfort is knowing others are going through the same thing. I pray for strength every day and continue to hope she will call .

    5. rparentsrparents Post author

      Dear Viking,

      Of course you won’t “forget about your daughter.” It’s an insensitive remark. With all due respect to you and the feelings I know so very well, could you consider setting aside the memory and the hope long enough to put yourself at the top of your list? I ask because I truly care about all the parents who find themselves in this situation. Praying for strength and hoping is sensible, and you don’t have to let go. I just hope you are also LIVING your life and making the days about fulfillment and joy that bring your own contentment regardless of what happens with your daughter, because she is not in your control. BIG HUGS to you, Viking, and to all the parents here.

      Sheri McGregor

  14. AvatarDiNo

    This year I decided to make Valentine’s Day about finding JOY and GRATITUDE in things that make my heart smile. I agree that we need to nurture ourselves as our own best friend. The questions posed in the L.O.V.E exercise made me realize I’ve spent way too much of the day thinking of my estranged child. They are living their life. I need to live mine. Thank you.

    Reply
  15. AvatarLinda

    sigh. I wish I could be as strong as the rest of you. Holidays are so brutal for me. My oldest son turned 50 this year. We have a cordial but not particularly close relationship. One winter we were snowed in without power, heat, water etc for three weeks and he never called to ask how things were going even though he lives only about 15 minutes from me. He just doesn’t seem interested in family. Although he says he doesn’t understand why our family fractured following the sudden death of my husband 10 yrs ago. My daughter 48 moved after her dad died and flippantly said she was going to be with the people who made her happy now. I hear from her occasionally. I was excluded from all things related to the birth of my two grandchildren which has been painful. She did contact me when she wanted help paying for her wedding. We were appropriately close prior to her dad’s death. I’ve read accounts by adult children who have become estranged and they all seem to say it’s the parents fault and the parents say they don’t know what they did but the children say that’s ludicrous. But I really don’t know what I did wrong. My youngest son 46 has mental illness and addiction issues. I am his rock as it were however this is not a reciprocal adult to adult kind of relationship. I’ll be 74 in a few weeks and I think as I decline there will be no one there for me to keep watch on things if I no longer can. I would never expect my kids to care for me but I would have hoped we could at least have loving relationships with one another. I try never to intrude as I know it is not welcome with my two older kids and I don’t give advice. I listen if they want to talk. Sorry to blather on. It’s the holiday, my upcoming birthday and also upcoming date of my husbands unexpected death getting me. Thank you for kindly listening.

    Reply
    1. Avatarmikef

      I would simply give you a hug right now and fix your coffee and offer some pie. Please refuse the notions of a gloomy future. You’ll be 74 years young and your life is valuable and the stories you have about living would fill a train car. Get on with your getting while the getting is good.

      Love to you, ma’am
      Mike F

  16. AvatarDoreen G.

    After reading all of the heartfelt comments from everyone, it just seems to me that all we can do is show ourselves lots of love and caring and try to make our own lives from this point forward as happy and fulfilled as possible. That is what I am trying to do. We have no control over our children and what they do, so we may as well move on and live our lives as best we can. Life is so short and I will not let the estrangement of my son negatively impact the time that I have left on this earth!

    Reply
  17. AvatarJennie

    It has been almost 3 years since we talked to our son and his wife. He is our only child and the pain snd hirt that I still feel every day is excruciating. It is so very hard for me to move on. I read everyone’s comments, but I am not there, yet. My husband has moved on, doesn’t want to ever see them again and can not understand how I am still so very sad and tearful. Counseling nor drugs have helped. It is just so very hard for me to let go. I am still praying that there will be a day when we can be a family again. My husband tells me that if he could fix it for me, he would, but that our family is no longer the same as it used to be and I need to just accept that fact. I am going to try this exercise, but not sure how it will go. Thanks so much for listening to me. I pray there will be a day when I can feel happiness again and be able to move forward.

    Reply
  18. AvatarDiane

    It’s great to hear all of your comments. I so appreciate them. Then I don’t feel so bad. Lately, I’ve been wondering if my daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren are OK. I think that maybe they are ill, have been in an accident, etc. The truth of the matter is, they choose not to contact me. If something happens to one of them, the others have my phone number and email address. I was doing really well, but this holiday brought up some fears in me because I don’t hear from any of them. I must face the fact that they choose not to be in touch with me. The worst part is not knowing why. But in the book, Done with the Crying, it does say that we may never know. No use trying to figure them out. Tomorrow, I will make a special meal just for me. I will make it a good, happy day. Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!

    Reply
    1. AvatarSara

      I drew a circle & divided it into segments of the important people and things in my Life . Leaving my children last . The loss & pain in my heart remains but this exercise. Helped me to put it into perspective . Hope this helps a bit Jennie with your journey of grief . Best wishes Sara.

  19. AvatarKaren W.

    Is there any writings toward advice to us parents on a will/belongings/ money outlining what we wish to do to have our needs taken care of in case we need that. I took care of my parents and handicapped sibling but don’t see that happening with our two mid 40’s sons and wives. Is there a course to take to express what to do with our life’s earnings/possessions? My two daughters in law communicate through obligation on holidays or birthdays but it’s cold and strange. Our sons council care less and never initiate. The DIL’s are subject to their thoughts, therefore non participants. And no grandchildren availability. So, are there attorneys or ways to make a plan that outline rejection instead of inclusion? I feel the need to explain to our grandchildren that we love them through to plan ahead for them. I don’t require our sons to be involved with the remains of our lives. Not my art career collection/possessions. Thankyou!

    Reply
    1. AvatarBree

      Happy heart day! I have struggled with this myself and do not have an answer. One thought, for me, is to give to charities that support my views and values.

  20. AvatarAnna Maria

    March 14th will be four years since my daughter estranged, got married in Barcelona, Spain and did not invite us. She bought a house, has moved up in her career as a dentist and has moved on. As have we.

    In the four years since her estrangement, I have been viciously bit by a pit bull requiring five stitches, had a tree limb fall on my head, had a fire at our business, had a total knee replacement 18 months ago and just had a total shoulder replacement two weeks ago. I am strong. I am a warrior and have gotten through all these obstacles successfully.

    She has not made one attempt to express any type of sympathy for what we’ve gone through, nor has she honored our birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or Christmas. We tried family therapy and the therapist concluded that we were a wonderfully loving, realistic and respectful family and sent us on our way telling us that we were just wasting our time and money.

    So we have gotten on with our lives, have removed all her photographs and have given away things she gave me. We also cut her completely out of our will and left everything to our younger daughter and nieces and nephews.

    Yes, I gave birth to her, but she is no longer the sunny, sassy and selfless child I knew. She is vengeful and nasty. We have already decided how to handle things when my parents die – we have decided that since she did not want a family that she deserves no parts of a family. She will not be allowed in to any memorial service. She will have to grieve on her own terms.

    Everyone tells me that she will be back when she has a child. We already have decided that we will not be there for her and do not want to ever see her children.

    By scorning our family, she no longer has one. I rarely think about her. As the song goes, she is just someone that I used to know.

    My wonderful and loving husband of 44 years, who is my very best friend, was born on Valentine’s Day and we will celebrate his birthday and our love as we always do, with laughter, love and resolve.

    Reply
    1. AvatarChristine V.

      Anna Maria, this is the conclusion I am coming to & the one that gives me the most peace…if she ( my daughter) doesn’t want me as a mother then I release her. Tired of wasting time pining over that relationship. Thank you for sharing your story!

  21. DanaDana

    I like this idea so much. Valentine’s Day is also my estranged daughter’s birthday. I am spending the entire weekend doing stuff that brings me JOY, as last year the day kind of blind sided me. I look forward to adding this to my weekend. And even better….reading it in 2022.

    Reply
    1. AvatarRebecca

      I’m better this year than last too .
      It’s our grandsons 2 nd birthday today who doesn’t know us .
      I’m proud I’ve done better this year xxx

  22. AvatarElizabeth

    Very nice ideas, Sheri…thanks for sharing them!! Well, there is one thing we can depend upon…we will not hear or receive even so much as a card from our troubled children. THAT is a constant. BUT we are able to choose to live those days however else we please too now. We do not get snow every year here, but right now there is at least a foot and more to come…what fun we have had eating in our almost dark apt, with drapes open so we can see the snow all over the cars and grass while eating meals. Very pleasant. If we must have snow what a nice time to have it. (We got engaged on Valentine’s Day…will be 49 yrs ago). So there is always something to celebrate I think. Last week we began an online zoom class for a few weeks…so yes, we have one this Monday eve to look forward too as well.

    Reply
    1. AvatarCarrie-Ann S.

      Elizabeth, Happy Anniversary!! May you and your husband enjoy each moment…Loved your description of you guys eating in an almost dark apt. enjoying Mother Nature’s snow…I felt like I was right there with you…(You both might consider writing a book journaling your “parental couple” experience in this so-called “estrangement” experience…)
      Beautiful Sheri, Thank You for your “parents self-love exercise”…I will be doing mine tomorrow…It will be my Valentine to myself…I love that I can use it as a reminder all year long…
      For All Of Us: Remember we “ARE” Love…It is ALWAYS inside of us…in the stillness..in the silence…As we become more present in the NOW MOMENT WE ARE THE AWARENESS…THE LOVE…THE PEACE…THE JOY…As Einstein shared, “Everything is a miracle.”
      HAPPY VALENTINES’ DAY TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU…

    2. AvatarElizabeth

      Aw, thank you Carrie-Ann. I am writing already in a couple of books for my daughters anyway. Hopefully copies will be made later for others, including grandchildren. Plus my daughters know a lot more than I am putting in these books. I am trying to concentrate on positive things and the very good kin I came from too…but interspersed in all of it, I hope will remain hints about some things too. We have what I call partial estrangement…there is some contact, little, sporadic, and no cards, gifts, letters…but at times via text or skype for a short conversation. One family lives far away from us and we have not seen them in over 3 years as we cannot travel anymore…they do have reasons that travel is hard, however, at times, they have gone great distances…and so many things have happened. I cannot remember them all. One tries to forget painful things, but the more extreme events one maybe never forgets. We were once estranged down to maybe 2 times a year contact, via letter, or email and at times a phone call with the one daughter we live near now (at her request)…she has gone through hell and back during these years…she and I especially have done a lot of talking. I am glad for where we are now. But it has come at a horrific cost, to her especially. I am not sure we can ever share the whole story in writing as it might cause distress to our beloved grandchildren and so I am only writing things that I think are helpful…in some cases, there are articles from newspapers, books, online etc…that are similar…so as to spare the innocent ones, I paste them in the books, sometimes with no comments. Long story…but thank you for your compliment and good wishes. I wish you the very best too. If there are grandchildren or might be, I encourage you to write what you might wish to share with them. And encourage you to write about YOUR kin whom perhaps they might never hear about, or at least not get a complete picture of things that happened. We all deserve to know from whence we came I believe…and those ancient grandparents we may find a lot in common with…so write!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *