Sending a card

estrangement situations

In parent and adult child estrangement situations, we deliberate over sending cards. Moms and dads stand in the card aisle reading verse after verse, wondering how it will be received. Will my estranged adult child read an unintended message between the lines?

Parents click through electronic greetings for just the right words, images, and animation. Is it too jolly, too mushy, or does it overstate the current relationship?

Even when parents find what they consider an appropriate card, they wonder if the effort might be rewarded or only bring them more grief.

  • Will she misinterpret the message?
  • Do I dare hope for a rekindled relationship?
  • He might be mad that I didn’t enclose a gift card or cash.

It’s so sad that, in parent and adult child estrangement situations, contemplating something as simple and lovely as sending a greeting card can trigger such grief.

Consider reaching out a gift

Argentinian poet Antonio Porchia had it right:

“I know what I have given you, I do not know what you have received.”

In the end, the card’s design, colors, pictures, or message, no matter how carefully selected, will be interpreted by the receiver in a way that they choose.

The answer? Give freely.

My intention here is not to tell those parents in estrangement situations that they should or should not send a card. Each situation is unique. Those sorts of decisions are not mine to make or judge you for. But at this time of year in particular, I hear from a lot of parents who are deliberating.

My suggestion: If you do decide to send a card, do so freely—as you have so many kindnesses toward your child from as long ago as forever. And then let the outcome go.

Always remember:

parent and adult child estrangement situationsHugs from,
Sheri McGregor

For more sensible information and answers that help parents in estrangement situations, try Sheri’s McGregor’s books.

Related reading

Parent and adult child estrangement situations: What about hope?

Thanksgiving for estrangement situations.

Thanksgiving for hurting parents of estranged adult children

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101 thoughts on “Sending a card

  1. Teenmom

    I was a teen mom and by no means perfect. When my daughter entered her early teens, she was first diagnosed with a mental illness. Mental illness and problems with addiction run in my family, so this really was not overly surprising, however I was wholly unprepared to handle it (all while going to school and working multiple jobs). Her diagnosis has changed over the years, seeing different doctors, changes to her medications however nothing ever really changed and over the years it became an excuse for all the negative and bad behaviour. Her behaviour impacted her friendships and even my relationship with our extended family. People would tell me to make her apologies or to control her but instead, I ignored it, thinking I was ‘helping’.
    After the last incident, my daughter and I have not spoken in about 2 years (the longest period by far), and she has not responded well to keeping the lines of communication open. When my daughter turned 30, I send her a few gift cards anonymously. A few days after her birthday, my mother and I were talking about her and I mentioned I sent the cards as I didn’t want her day to go unrecognized. My mother told her it was me and later that week, I received an email from her calling me a narcissist.
    Several months after, I followed it up with some positive, light, and easy emails. For the most part, these seemed to go over ok but I made sure to account for any negative responses, giving myself permission to not check for a response (that way I don’t expect anything). My last communication with her, it took me about a week to check the folder and what I saw was miserable. She had originally responded positively, with her school mark (she had returned to school after leaving) however within 24 hours the tone of her emails changed. At the end, even with all the apologies, she still threatening to call the police if I continued to contact her.
    Since then, I only her about her through my mother, it’s heart-breaking and I am starting to find it difficult to keep my relationship with my mother separate. This weekend was no exception. So enough is indeed enough. Today, I choose to move forward. Today I choose me.

    Reply
  2. Mary

    I could sit and read these notes for hours and identify the situations with mine. Both my son and daughter are estranged. My son Is 50 and has been doing this off/on for the past 15 years but always making up after a few months. In the past my daughter has been angry at him when he has treated me so badly but this time she has joined him and it’s been 3 years since I’ve seen or talked to either of them or my grandsons.
    My son has made up all kinds of things that I haven’t done and made horrible accusations against me. I would never do the types of things he is saying. Yelling racist slurs at my grandsons ball games, badmouthing his wife, giving his son drugs, all kinds of bizarre stories.
    And then he tells me I “have boundaries “ and if I break the boundaries, I can’t talk to his sons any more I have boundaries- I’m the parent AND HE IS THE SON!
    One day he tells me he and his family are not talking to me any more, I’m not invited to any more grandsons birthday parties, no more getting together for holidays, nothing! When I ask why – he says I know why!!
    That was 3 years ago. I’ve been able to text message my 2 grandsons but that’s all.
    I can’t bear the thought of not seeing those boys for another 10 years until they go to college. They won’t even know me by then.
    I’m just crushed. I’ve moved across the country to start a new life.
    Mary.

    Reply
    1. deborah h

      Mary – I know exactly how you feel; my son and daughter-in-law have accused me of things that I can’t even imagine. It’s unbearable to think of not seeing or talking to my grandchildren. My grandson is 4 1/2 and my granddaughter turned 1 in November of 2021. I haven’t see her since August of 2021 – it’s now April 2022. I found an Easter card that I want to send them, but am so unsure of what to say… I feel like I should let them know I will do whatever it takes to be in their lives, but I’m not even sure what that would be. I’m not allowed to text, call or send gifts. The things your son said to you about “boundaries” and when I ask him what I’ve done wrong – he says “you know what you’ve done”. He refuses to go to family counseling, which is the only thing I can think of to help facilitate healing; he says “I’m not going to therapy with my mom”, with such distaste it’s shocking! He was always such a loving kid and I just don’t know what to do!

  3. Jules

    This post has come at exactly the right time. We sent gifts to our grandchildren for Christmas whom we were close to before my daughter decided she didn’t want anything to do with us. We used to send gifts for everyone but my daughter made it abundantly clear that she didn’t want our gifts, she took money but said it was ‘compensation’ – just abusive.

    So we started just sending things for the children, it’s not their choice after all. But then we found them in our garden, opened, with a note saying that they will never want to know us after ‘what we did’.

    Yes we made mistakes as parents, of course, but I don’t think we have done anything to deserve such vitreous aggression. And we thought it was interesting that she didn’t say what it was she was referring to. It’s just “someone else’s fault”, that’s what I’m getting.

    So sad, we considered sending the cards back but we’re not going to put ourselves in the line of fire again.

    Reply
  4. Jean

    Can’t send anything. I don’t know where he is. We were cut off his Facebook, email, and phone #. Last year he was picked up by police because a friend of his said he was going to commit suicide. I found this out through my daughter. My ex knew and didn’t tell me. No contact like he has vanished. I am grieving what feels like a death, but he is still alive. Im glad of course but don’t know anything about his life. Awful.

    Reply
  5. Louise D.

    I have just found this website and am so grateful to all of you. The pain of losing our beloved younger son is very hard to bear, but he wanted all the privileges and rights of being very loved with no contact whatsoever. The problem being I had just established Powers of Attorney on which he was named. I agonised over what to do, but the other night I decided that logically speaking it is not safe or even sane to appoint someone who apparently hates your guts except for when they’re taking something from you, to such a powerful role, so I wrote to tell him I was revoking his POA over me. He obviously wasn’t happy and I’ve not read his no doubt vitriolic reply but I have sent a Christmas card to him and his girlfriend to say that if they ever want to re-establish contact and a relationship we can revisit everything. Since his new relationship it became a very one sided relationship for sure, he must have been harbouring resentment and even hatred for me for years. I will be reading all of your experiences avidly and sending a little prayer up for each and every one of us. Thank you for understanding.

    Reply
    1. Jules

      Oh gosh I’m sorry that happened. But for what it’s worth I feel that you made the right decision by revoking POA, your son simply sounds not ready to take on such a role even if you were getting along.
      Have a restful Christmas. I’m trying to focus on the people who are actually here and present. It’s unpleasant to feel hated & I really don’t feel like I deserve it, I’m sure you don’t either. Much love to you.

    2. Av

      Dear Louise,
      Likewise. You have my respect.

      This past summer I revoked my son’s POA over medical and financial decisions that concern me. The idea of having someone who simply doesn’t like me — who screams at me over the phone; who scorns, ridicules; plays the “yank” game with the grandchildren, who excludes me from holiday dinners — have complete control over my life, should I fall catastrophically ill, was nightmare-inducing.

      I worked straight through my career of 42-years, with only one sabbatical. The recurring horror of being thrown in some dungeon-Section 8-type old folks home while my son contemptuously spent down my resources was overpowering.

      After ten years of Zingers and being the brunt of his jokes, of never knowing which visits would be joyful and on which occasions I would be thrown out of his house (I do Not drink, get drunk, or tell off-color jokes) … I fully realized I would never learn from him (and atone) what I had done to earn his contempt. I was free to protect… ME!!

      After the revised POA his cruelty has only escalated with open-message rage-postcards (So that the postal carrier would know that I am “a crazy lady” ??) His hatred has now fully revealed itself.

      I escaped his father — a grandiose narcissist who could suck the air out of a hotel ballroom.
      Like father, like son, it would appear.

  6. Dolores R.

    I have also been disowned by my son, not sure why!! He has taken two grandsons away from me! I raised two children by myself, my daughter worships the ground I walk on! It hurts, here we are at my first Christmas away from son and his family! He wrote me a long letter describing who I was, I am not sure who he was describing ,but that person was not me! I have always had to tip toe around his accusations and demands! My heart is broken, never to spend quality time with grandsons, you can’t make up time lost!

    Reply
    1. Claudia P

      My son never told me what happened. No letter, nothing. I don’t have any news about him and my grandkids. There aren’t anyone that could bring me news of them. I’m by myself, not married and no extended family. I feel like I was abandoned. It is a convenient way to get rid of providing affective support. I’m health, independent and love him and my grandkids, I don’t know what to do. I’m grieving…

  7. Toni

    No, I did not send cards for the past 2 years and this year is no different, even though we have had some contact. Where were they for two years of sorrow , with COVID sprinkled in for good measure. It’s like a broken teacup…. you can glue it together but it is never the same. As my son does not wish to discuss what he did and how to move forward, the reconciliation is hollow and Christmas gifts will not paper over it.

    Reply
  8. Beth

    We’ve completed 3 years without a word or any contact from our middle son. He chose to separate from us and his siblings following his dad’s/my husband’s massive stroke that left his dad paralyzed on his left side. It’s difficult for a “normal” brain to accept being treated as though you don’t exist. My husband’s TBI makes it all the more cruel to me to accept my son’s decision. We were extremely supportive of our son in pursuing his dream of law enforcement. We supported him when he was in the Marines for 5 years including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. We were always financially present. He married and we were excited to welcome a “bonus” grandson. Two more grandsons were born during a three year period we were shunned for 3 months, 6 months, and finally 3 years. His wife is a narcissist. At one point, my son said, “Why can’t you just tell her what she wants to hear?” He changed his phone number and moved without telling us. We have good relationships with our other children and grandchildren. I believe the healthy, happy, and trusting interactions we have is more important than saying I have all my kids. The pain and turmoil caused the last three years of our relationship with our ES was awful. Nothing we did improved the situation. I have come to the point that I have a box that I put cards for the grandsons we don’t see. Small gifts that show I think of them. It’s my Hope box. Maybe one day they will want to find us. I have to be happy in the here and now. The kids and grandkids who choose me deserve my intentional emotional presence. Thank you, Sheri, for your book (I’m working through the first one) and for gathering parents together to support each other. I have shared my story, without shame, because of you. Blessings! ❤️

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      Beth,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I know it will help others. It’s a tough road and you are so right to live this life … now!! Thank you again, and BIG HUGS to you and yours.

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Elizabeth

      My sympathies Beth!! I wonder just HOW can anyone figure out WHAT to say or not to a narcissistic wife?? For what its worth…we have never figured that out either…so mostly we stay very quiet…and let THEM decide on contact…and I myself do not ask them for contact now…Hubby does sometimes…sad…not the way we hoped life would go for sure. Well, you are not alone Beth…wishing you all the best in all ways!!

    3. Corene F.

      Thank you Beth for sharing your story. Yours is very very similar to ours. It’s is sadly encouraging to hear from others who truly do understand. This is exactly what I needed to hear today. God bless you and Merry Christmas

    4. Madeline

      My son is also married to a narcissist. This is a hurtful and impossible situation. My son is unrecognizable in his actions and treatment of me. I just can’t take it anymore. …heartbreaking.

    5. Toni

      Save yourmoney and your tears. Live your own life and gather with those who do love you; not those who do not love your

    6. Polly

      Beth, What a great idea!
      My gifts for the grandchildren’s birthdays this year have gone unacknowledged. The only reason I know the first one arrived was that I was phoned and yelled at. She, only daughter, called me selfish for using her children’s birthdays to make contact. I said it would be selfish of me to ignore them as it was not their choice to have no contact. She cut me off really properly 18 months ago. She left behind a block of hash in a bedside drawer, which she knows I think exacerbates her mental health problems. Could go into it all but it is too long and this push me pull you has been going on for 20 years.. I was never suitable to have around unless there was something to get. Of course, desperate and walking on eggshells, I played along until 2 years ago and realised what I was doing.
      Coming up to Christmas I have pondered for hours as to how I handle this and have decided to do nothing. Because whatever I do will be wrong.
      So taking up Beth’s idea I am going to make a memory box. Each BD, Christmas etc, I will write a letter, a card or put in a keepsake. Gentle things about thinking of them and stuff about what I am doing that might be of interest and hopefully inspire them to live a best life.
      Right now, – to my daughters disgust,- she should have the money,- I have gone back to University to do my Masters in Creative writing as that is what I do now and want to be published.
      After reading Beth’s post I gave myself a good talking to in the mirror. “Polly you are investing in yourself! Your health, your mental welfare and the future. And if that investment pays off your boys will benefit eventually. So don’t doubt yourself!’
      After all those boys may still need a strong role model sometime in the future. I may be putting it all in a box for now but maybe just knowing I always loved them might be a good thing. At the least it cannot hurt.
      So, thank you Beth for the inspiration.
      Cheers Polly.

  9. dot r.

    I am not allowed contact with my grandchildren. Instead of sending birthday or holiday cards and gifts that I am certain they are never given, I mail a donation made in their name to a charity that serves children. My favorite is Project Linus (they make blankets and quilts for kids in distress). They will send notification to the honoree so perhaps my grandkids will someday figure it out.

    Reply
    1. Holly

      Thank you for sharing this idea. I wanted to get savings bonds for my grandkids, but now they require the kids’ ssn and they’re not paper anymore.

  10. Barb

    So glad you addressed this issue. I spend so much time in a card shop finding “the right card”. With the prevalence of adult child estrangement, I still find it so hard to find just “the right card”. So many cards are just not “neutral” enough to fit the situation. Come to think about it, I should probably just send this email to Hallmark. Think of all the money they could make out of creating “the right card for parents of adult estranged children”!
    Posted by a mother of a 52yo son who has not been home in 24 years.

    Reply
    1. Corene F.

      Oh barb I feel your frustration! Our approach is to only send cards now too. Try finding a birthday card that isn’t a total lie…full of sentiments such ” so proud of the man you’ve become “, “ …caring son…” etc etc. I promise I’m not bitter…worked through that phase with lots of pray and support from resources such as Sheri’s…but I also refuse to lie and pretend something is true that simply isn’t. I’ve resorted to looking in the more generic bday card section vs “ son” section This last birthday I stumbled across the absolute perfect “ son” card at Dollar Tree ! No gushy sentiments just a thoughtful message of basically wishing only the best for his future etc I jokingly asked my husband if I could just stick up on that same card and send every year lol But you are right… Hallmark doesn’t make cards for estranged kids …

  11. Penni E.

    Yes, I will send a card for Christmas because I don’t want them to ever say I didn’t send a card. I send them birthday cards and my grandkids too.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      And if one does not wish to spend much money on cards that may well be thrown in the trash, there is always the dollar stores…which carry plenty good enough cards for $1 or less, tho recently heard prices there are going up to $1.25…which is still a great deal. You might find ok ones in a thrift shop as well, for very little. And Trader Joe’s carries a nice card line…all for $1 so far…and these are on very nice cardstock too. And a few times I have found nice, new appearing items in thrift shops for gifts too…a little harder to find perhaps…but just saying…sometimes it is the small symbolic private choices that might be of some comfort too. There is so much grace extended in many cases, simply because one does not wish to make the grandchildren pay for the choices of the parent/parents.

  12. Bonnie

    Hello to All!! I have been where you all have been and I know how hard it was and will always be somewhat hard. It took my mom passing away six months ago to actually get me and my son to get reacquainted and it is good but still alittle hard. My mom and my sons grandmother did not get to see my son or his three daughters for over a year.It was very hard and heartbreaking and my son was able to make peace with my mom his grandmother a day before she died. So now I have to believe that we are back in each other’s life that my mom is happy looking down on us. I have to be a part of my sons life and his girls who are my granddaughters. My mom lost so much at least maybe I have the chance now. I waited two years for this and I was with my son and his family for Thanksgiving for the first time and it was wonderful. So just pray and pray and hope for a MIRACLE!!! Love to all and many blessings

    Reply
    1. Lillian G.

      It is sad that we have to wait until an actual death happens in the family before our estranged grown children realize the true love they had and choose daily to miss out on. I feel like I have lost the three most important people in my life who have estranged themselves from me recently. My oldest son who is 34 has cut off all communication and will not allow me to see my 5yr old grandson, and my 31 yr old who has Aspergers still lives with me, is following his older brother’s actions, and will not even speak to me. We were so close before this happened. I am in total shock and despair. It’s been a horrible two months and I constantly pray that God will change their hearts.

    2. rparents Post author

      Dear Lillian,

      I hope same as you, that they will have a change of heart. But right now, look, really look, at what they are doing to you.. Abusive. Let that sink in. Do you deserve this? Please take good care of yourself.

      Hugs,
      Sheri McGregor

  13. Tammy

    You will never know how your words have given me encouragement and help me bear the pain of estrangement from my oldest son. Truly you have been a blessing to me.

    Reply
    1. lynn

      Tammy said it so well. You are my encouragement through this unbearable pain with my oldest son.

      Blessings on you.

  14. Joy H.

    My ED’s are 39 and 41and I’ve been in a state of trauma for 2 years. I’m in UK and so grateful to read your book Sheri and all the comments here. The accusations against me and their stepdad are vile. Recently I’ve taken stock and decided that all they think is their problem not mine. I know we raised them with Love, opportunities to grow and develop to their best. They are both very clever, good careers etc. They’ve also had issues with my son and his family who lives on the other side of the world. He’s given up with them.
    We all spend too much emotional energy chastising ourselves. We should get on with our own lives. It’s very hard indeed. I’ve found 3 good friends to share with and as a Christian I know God will energise and save me.
    Life is never easy eh. Praying for all of you. Xxx

    Reply
    1. Corene F

      Amen Joy! God is so good and he will sustain us through it all. We can not change our kids hearts…only God can do that… and even He gives us as well as them free choice…He doesn’t force Himself on anyone… our kids can keep us away from contact with them and our grandkids but one thing they can never stop is us praying for them 🙂 hang in there!

  15. Debra R.

    I made a huge mistake in 1979. My husband, with whom I had a small son, left me for someone else, I met someone and became pregnant. My ex in laws, for some reason unknown, believed this baby was their son’s. My grandfather advised me to just let it be that way. No one ever provided support for my children. I raised them myself. The ex in laws only saw the kids a couple times…they lived out of state. So my daughter never knew about her birth father. He lived here and ignored everything. For reasons I wont go into. My daughter experienced trauma, and it never seemed the right time to tell her different….her mental health was in a bad state and has been for a long, long time. So she never knew until she got DNA tests for Christmas. Then she found out. She had already estranged herself once, and I called one day a week before the holiday and we got back together, with a few bumps along. Now this, it seems, is forever. I have been contemplating not sending a card for my grandson; the last check for his birthday went uncashed. I know I made a mistake and should have just told her. I sent a letter apologizing which went unanswered. It seems nothing I ever did was enough. I miss them. I thought she was my best friend, and wish I could get past the guilt and pain, the shame. I read everyone’s notes here and it makes me so sad. I never thought this would happen.

    Reply
  16. Jo

    I `ve had lots of time tan experience to think this through because my sons and their families have been doing this to me for many years now. My daughters in law do not like each other but they dislike me more and enough that they can agree to ostracize me, their mothers snub & are rude to me. They told my grandchildren that I do not love them so many of them ostracize me too, but not all. Some are independent thinkers. Today I am having Thanksgiving dinner at a granddaughters house so I am thankful for her and her husband and children. I have to admit that it is possible that I did something to offend them ( I not perfect) but when I ask them to forgive me even when they did not let me know what I did & when they did not ask me to forgive them. I opened a door they would not walk thru at that time so I send them cards on special occasions and call every now and then just to let them know I love them. I am not begging just loving. Recently two of my sons snuck out to see me and do some things for me around my house but letting me know if their wives knew about it they’d be in trouble. When one or the other of my daughters in law are injured or very ill I show up to comfort/pray for them. I was in the emergency room with my middle sons wife after she had been in a rear ended car accident, the nurse commented on what a wonderful mother she has, my daughter in law snarled at the nurse that “she is my mother in law.” The nurse said she really was lucky because her mother in law would not be so caring. My oldest sons wife had C-def, which is a very bad infection. I drove over to Northern Calif. to her in the hospital, her mother did not think it was critical enough to be at her side until I showed up and then she flew from southern Calif to be with her daughter.They have a choice and so do I, I have decided to be who I am no matter what. The Bible calls it “heaping hot coals on their heads” &” Don `t render evil for evil but over come evil with good” I do not do these things to act superior but rather I do these things because it just seems right. I am careful to not over step my bounds by going to their homes with out an invitation so I have not been to their homes in many years now. When they are ready they will change or they will not, I am at peace. Every now and again I get a little bit down about how long this is taking and then I remember, Jesus was ostracized and he did not deserve it. Please understand I am not placing myself on the same level as Jesus, he is an example to me about how love works. Today is a good day I am having Thanksgiving dinner at my granddaughters house.

    Reply
  17. Michelle M

    After my mom’s death, I found the cards of thank you’s from my ED. I sent gifts for years and never received a thank you. I decided it was deliberate. I have a dresser with the gifts that I have purchased and not sent. It is a reminder that I too have a choice. I have noticed the increase of articles related to estrangement in families. How mother’s more than father’s are the parent of estrangement and or alienation esp. in cases of divorce. We live in a cancel culture these days. My daughter was married this summer and her new stepmother and her family have replaced me as family. Her dad also got married and she and her sister stood up for him. Now my second daughter has become estranged. It happened after a demand for money to pay for her taxes on her inheritance from my parents. Demands for money, lies, and disturbing behaviors seem to also be a common thread where parent’s stop to be present for their kids or in my case a spouse too. I used to be such a people pleaser and would be the glue in what ever way pleased my family. It was never reciprocal. I am usually the first to apologize for my mistakes and I know I made a lot of mistakes during my divorce after a major betrayal and apologized and took responsibility. Therapy helped immensely. I have tried to be sympathetic to feelings, knowing they do not care about mine. It still is not enough and so for now I have done trying, I am living for myself. My wish for all is to find happiness and peace in your lives.

    Reply
    1. Jo

      I found out too that my daughters in law thought that I did not give enough money and gifts to please them. Over the years I would give a gift and then my sons would come to me and tell me that their wives objected to my gift, since “we do not share the same tastes”, so my sons were told to tell me, from now on “just give them money instead”. I ask, ” How will I know how much money to give, do I decide how much or do they decide how much is enough?” I told my sons that “sounded like extortion!” So I just did not give. I would give gifts to my sons and grandchildren but then they would object to the gifts I gave the grandchildren. Their mothers have learned to give very extravagant gifts. I guess I have not learned my lesson!!! Still, I have decided to be who I am and let them be who they are, I just go on about my life.

    2. Effie

      We all have such common stories… Prayers for you on this Thanksgiving day…. One more Holiday and are hearts settle for a bit of rest from one mother to another I feel your pain.. years that we will never gain back it is sad indeed…

  18. Deidre D.

    Hello,
    My children are 48, 50 and 52. They got together 4 years ago and decided to eliminate me from their lives. I have had very little contact with them since then and they have said or texted very cruel things to me that I would have never expected them to say or think. They won’t tell me why this has happened. I made efforts the first 3 years to reach out, sent birthday cards and gifts to grandchildren, etc. The last year I made no contacts and neither did they. I have reached a state of acceptance that there will likely be no fixing this. I love them as always, but I can’t fix something when I don’t even know what’s wrong. I also can’t continue to live in despair so this last year I’ve worked on being happy anyway. It’s time I do that for myself. For the first time in 4 years I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas with my brother. We share an apartment and I am so thankful for him. God fills all the spaces emptied by those who feel they don’t need me. I am also grateful for Him.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      Diedre, Wishing you a peaceful lovely Thanksgiving with your brother!! We will have a quiet one here and I am grateful in part because I can no longer put out a huge spread as I used to do…sometimes we have to hunt hard to find ways to be grateful but indeed there is hope!! So many of us are living lives we never asked for nor wanted…imperfect creatures we ALL are…but we are only given a few days in this life so seems prudent to find the best ways to be happy, in spite of other people…even ones we gave our blood, sweat and tears to bring into the world. (WE in our generation had the CHOICE whether to give birth or not…seems some of these ungrateful kids might think on that one…)

  19. Barbara G.

    This is the first year I am contemplating of not sending mail for the holidays ; been doing it for years and no thank or reply ; I wouldn’t accept such disrespectful behavior from any other person ; why should it be different with my ES….
    To me it borders on enabling such behavior!
    But again it is different for every person and situation; no size fits all approach ; ya the holidays are difficult for sure ; but I learned to accept the situation as is ……
    Accepting a situation completely doesn’t mean the same a liking it ; true acceptance to me means I have stopped trying to control a situation that is NOT under my control !!
    We can love the person ( ES) but very dislike the often unkind behavior; time does make it easier !
    I do write snail mail to people that like it; which at this point excludes my ES!
    Wishing all of you a very joy filled Thanksgiving !!
    Thank you Sheri for all you do !!!
    Blümchen

    Reply
    1. Kelly

      I agree. Last year I sent my son a Christmas card with money in it and he sent it back. I’m done with torturing myself.

  20. Heather W.

    Dear Sheri,
    I am currently working through your “Done with Crying” book and workbook. These books have been a blessing for me as I try to understand the agony of estrangement. I’ve been working through your books for months. I revisit chapters and reassess myself and what I need to work on when I’m stuck. I’m excited to see that you’ve published a new book! This allows us to continue this important inner work.
    Thank you for saving me hundreds of dollars in therapy, giving me a rock to crawl up on and the tools to reclaim my happiness. Thank you for pouring your heart and soul into what is so needed….I believe in HOPE .. The wisdom of Sir Edmund Hillary.. “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves”

    Reply
  21. Kim B.

    Thanks for the advice about sending cards at Thanksgiving. It is hard to find that just right card. I am going to leave a text possibly. I also feeling thankful for circumstances beyond our control is hard to do. But it’s the best way for me to heal. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Reply
  22. Nancie A.

    My son and I have been estranged for 6 years. He contacts me when he needs money. I fall for it every time. I keep hoping we will get back to where we used to be. The only thing I can come up with, about the estrangement, is that 6 years ago he was in an auto collision and had head injuries. Since then he has been a different person-one that I don’t recognize. He started doing steroids, after the accident and exhibits severe anger issues. He has been through 2 divorces. He was in jail and I bailed him out and payed for his defense lawyers. I also paid for his divorce to his second wife. I have 2 beautiful grandchildren I do not see. I am grieving because my son is my only family and as I am aging I could really use his live and support. Finally, after reading Done with the crying, I have come to the realization that the little boy I love and cherished is no longer there. I realize that if you keep putting money into a vending machine and never get the snacks eventually you have to come to the place that you quit putting money into the machine. It’s s hard pill to swallow. I think there are many people that have narcissistic traits in the world. Narcissists only care about their needs. My son is a true narcissist.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Nancie,

      I LOVE your vending machine analogy!

      You may be onto something with the head injury. A TBI can most definitely alter behavior. There are some studies, I think.

      HUGS to you,
      Sheri McGregor

  23. Lisa H.

    I am contemplating sending a card for my grandson’s first birthday, which is in December. I will not send any gift as the last time I spoke to my son he told me he and his wife would throw away any gifts I send. Thank you whoever made the comment, “God is close to the brokenhearted”. That helps me.

    Reply
  24. Lynn

    I am not sending cards, gifts or anything else to my daughter. It’s been over a year since she spoke to me. Last year I went to her house with Christmas gifts and although I could see her though the front window and she has a camera she refused to answer the door. I left the gifts, received a text thanking me for the gifts and that is all. My mom passed away in May and I sent her a text and she didn’t even respond. I have no idea what she told my grandson, but I received a text from him a week after my mom passed telling me he never wanted to see me again after what I did to her. This all involves the fact that we both worked for the same company and she quit and she blames me for not “supporting her”. Considering I am the Manager, and she knew what my role was, I have no idea what I was “supposed” to do considering the position she put me in. What hurts me most is that I “legally adopted” her 4 years ago and now I’m wondering why I put myself through so much pain. When my mother-in-law passed away 2 months later, I didn’t even bother to contact her.

    Reply
  25. Marlet C.

    I have two estranged daughters. My heart
    hurts everyday. There are days I go over every situation every conversation wondering if I had done this instead of that or said this instead of that. Right now I can’t get past the guilt and hurt of the estrangement. I am struggling.

    Reply
    1. Angela

      I have done the same and have no answers. If you are like myself , you are certain that you were the best mother you could have been under whatever circumstances you were presented with. If they received love, protection and their basic needs were met , then stop beating yourself up. We as moms experience guilt for things that are outside our control. God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving.

    2. Jean

      I feel for you. Is it fresh? I skipped church on Mother’s Day this year because I couldn’t handle it. I think in the first year or so, you do what you have to do to survive. I put his pictures away, turn stations if songs reminded me of him, and anything else that’s a reminder. And try to do some self care because it was making me physically ill. At that point you have to find help. My husband is tired of me talking about it. . This website and Sheri’s book have mad me realize, I’m not the only one. And we’re dealing with a death that friends don’t understand and having to grieve in private.

  26. Deb L

    After 10 plus years of complete estrangement with no contact my son, my only child, contacted me about six months ago saying “I am tired of hiding from you. I love you.”. Those words were enough to wash away the last words over ten years ago: “You are not my Mother, just the woman who adopted me.” He lives 8 hours away, is married, and he calls me every week. I have yet to see him and meet his wife, but I am grateful every day to have him say those words, “I love you” every time we end our conversations. It was just like when he was young and we said it together every day.
    Btw we don’t discuss the past. No recriminations, no questions. We talk about present and future stuff. Please don’t give up hope people……

    Reply
    1. Ruth

      So pleased to read that things have turned around for you somewhat and you’re looking in the right direction! It gives us all hope that we may get there one day too.
      Was just wondering if your son ever mentioned any reason for his change of heart? We’re just looking for clues that we could try use ourselves…
      All the best!
      Ruth

    2. Karen

      This so warms my ♥️ I will keep praying my son will find healing in his heart and mind from whatever demons he fights that keep him away from me. I won’t ever stop praying. You provided the ray of sunshine that good things may come in their own time.
      Happy Thanksgiving and thank you,
      KVB

  27. Mary

    The holidays always mean an opportunity for my older sons to reach out and set me up for attack. Every word I say or text is analyzed, turned around and used as a weapon. I finally declined attending an invitation to the annual roasting of mom, wishing them a wonderful time and thanking for the invitation. That caused more anger. The hurting has stopped and I’m learning to care for me now. 50 times bitten, I’m a slow learner.

    Reply
  28. Sandy

    We live in N.C. & last year I gave a signed Thanksgiving card to a friend going to CA to mail from there in her handwriting with her daughter’s return address to our estranged son in VA. That was the last card I sent & don’t plan to send any more. It’s been 15 months since any contact, so it is time to let go for us. We will never quit praying for him nor give up hope, but we are “done with the crying” & trying.

    Reply
    1. Barbara G.

      Ahhhh I like that
      Done with the crying and trying
      Just being reconciled in my own heart is enough ; everything else is totally out of my control !!
      I let my ES reach out if he chooses if not that is ok too !!
      Peace and happy thanksgiving

  29. emily38

    At Thanksgiving, Sheri, here’s a virtual card sent to you! I am grateful for everything you’ve done,and continue to do, for this community. Thank you!

    Real-world cards are another matter. Motivation and expectations around sending them seem most important in my experience. Each of us needs to be clear in our depths about our reasons for sending any kind of communication to estranged ‘kids.’ Some reasons can be healthy ones, others not so much.
    Yes, we’re all different with circumstances particular to every estrangement. Regardless, I believe wellness and our own mental health are universal goals.

    Again, my thanks,
    Emily38

    Reply
  30. MemaRay

    I am fairly, newly, rejected by my daughter, although I should have seen it coming from the day she began to talk. She just turned 35. She gave birth to my granddaughter 2 years ago and my husband and I had to rescue her and the baby from the father. They lived with us for 3 months before she left to live with the fathers’ parents. My granddaughter turned 2 at the end of October and I decided to send a card, one that I lovingly chose for the thoughts it captured. I enclosed a gift card since I had no idea what the baby needed and I knew a check would never be cashed. The next week, I was once again devastated that my daughter had returned both the card and the gift. She wouldn’t even put my name on the envelope, only my address. When will I learn? The pain is constant and real. I’ve read your book and it helped me tremendously. Just when I think I’m okay, I get that not-so-subtle reminder that I still am not.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      MemaRay,

      You dared to hope, acted on the feeling, and she kicked you to the proverbial curb. Now, get up, recognize you did a nice thing with pure intentions regardless of her. Don’t beat yourself up for her issues. Mourn a bit and then go forward again. Where can you put your beautiful energy? There’s a niche for your kindness and caring … One where your caring will be reciprocated. Start with yourself again and take the best care of yourself possible.

      HUGS to you. The beauty of your intentions and kindness are not married by another person’s dismissal.

      Also, by sharing here, your words are helping others. Thank you. ❤️

      Sheri McGregor

    2. Linda Z.

      Hi,
      I really think our children have no idea that we have feelings too.
      I am sorry for how you feel, as I know I will be going through those same emotions in the years to come..
      Linda

    3. Angela W.

      The hardest part of the cruelty is understanding you are not defined by their opinion of you. You sound loving and thoughtful therefore I lean towards you being loving and thoughtful and your daughter being entitled and cruel. Can’t change her. There are many activities you can involve yourself in that you will be rewarded for your love and thoughtfulness. If you miss children have it involve children. If you miss mid age, have it involve mid age, if you miss your age companionship and sharing, have it involve that. Your daughter does not define you. You define you. Hang in there, life will improve

    4. MemaRay

      You are all such an incredible group of humans. I can’t tell you what it meant to me just to read a comment on my post. It’s as if we’re all in a room together, minus the hugs we all so deserve.

  31. Kathleen

    Many comments are about our children. My thoughts also are with a grandchild I can’t see as well. My funds are limited and I have been told my ES and the child’s mother, they don’t want me around the child. Not because I have been a bad Grandmother but because I don’t obey their ridiculous expectations with the child’s mother. If I can’t be with the child, I’m not sending a gift that I don’t know if it would be given to my grandchild. Hard to believe this is coming from a son I raised as a single parent and gave my all to do it right. Heartache is the result. But I am determined to enjoy the holidays nonetheless. In spite of all, It is a wonderful life and no one can take that from us.

    Reply
  32. Richard H.

    Thanks to everyone for their considered comments. After four years of gifts, letters and texts without acknowledgement I’ve decided this is the first Christmas that I send nothing. I just feel ridiculous chasing shadows. My daughter got married this year and made it absolutely clear that she wanted nothing to do with me. Strangely it feels like a massive deal to stop sending anything – I guess it’s accepting that I’ve given up. Terribly sad really.

    Reply
  33. Caroline D.

    Yes I think that estrangement is a very personal thing, and every one of us deals with it in our own way. My daughter turned 43 two days ago and I have no address to send a card or letter to ….I just can’t afford to lose any more sleep, and I am done with the crying. She is my only child and now her in laws are her new parents. I choose to set her free as it’s her choice, and somehow that has lightened my heart and soul. God is always close to the brokenhearted. God bless you all who are going through estrangement. Love’n’hugs.

    Reply
    1. Maureen

      Ah, Caroline…. I can relate. My estranged daughter lives 5 hours away with her long term boyfriend, will be graduating from college this May. She has let my 85 yo mother know they will then move away “somewhere”. She too has made her soon to be in-laws her “new” parents. They all get together for all special events and holidays. I raised her being a single mom, now recently got re-married. My ED had gotten into a nasty fight with him and then… that was that. This February will be 3 years of silence. To top it off, I see the “new mother” sometimes at work meetings. She never will discuss my daughter, barely acknowledging me now if at all. I know once my ED graduates I won’t have an address either. I am going to send a card this holiday season…. as soon I will not know where to send one to. Also my eldest son recently estranged this year for unknown reasons to me has moved and instructed his father and my mother to not give me his new address. I am horrified and mystified. They offered to tell me anyway as they feel bad for me as his mom. I didn’t accept their offer for right now. Something inside of me beyond the aching pain is trying to hold on to some shred of self respect. It will be a quiet Thanksgiving this year with just my mom (who is on chemo), together. My loving husband stayed home with our pets so I could travel across the country to see her. I can not fathom, being a child and not longing to see my loving mothers sweet face whenever I could… especially during the holidays and give back to her in some small ways what she has given to me selflessly her whole life. God bless all of you parents this Thanksgiving.

    2. Andrea K.

      Thank you for your comment. I too have an only child, a daughter who is 36 and has been estranged for 9 years. I also have no place to send a card, even though I know where she lives but she has no idea I know. I have chosen to write her letters and put them in a box for her. I also have a grandson from her who is 8 that I never see and 8 am writing a journal for him. I have chosen to fully let go and let God. I miss her terribly but by doing this it has freed me up and she is no longer controlling me and stealing my joy. Praying for you and your daughter.

    3. DogMom

      Same here, we lost our son to his in-laws. We never could have imagined it would happen to us, not in our wildest dreams. We no longer reach out but are continually working on letting go, learning to enjoy special moments. Practicing being grateful for all we do have in our life including our loyal, loving dog.

  34. Gwen

    I decided to stop sending cards a couple of years ago, and have since ceased sending text messages for my son’s birthday last year. There had been no acknowledgement for at least ten years. He turned 37 this year. I have not seen him for several years and the last phone conversation we had was a few months before his father died last last year. I was not advised of his death until after the funeral (we were divorced but on relatively good terms). I was the executor of his father’s will which I relinquished. I have not had any expectations in the past 20 years that writing letters, sending cards and so forth would elicit a response but perhaps there was an ember of hope. I kept doing this to pass on the message that for me the door was open and the choice was his.
    I came to the view that for my own mental health I need to more clearly accept in my own mind that there will be no coming back from this estrangement and I need to act in ways consistent with this.
    I appreciate that we all need to arrive at our own destinations and we also have to take responsibility for the routes we choose.

    Reply
    1. Linda Z.

      Hi Gwen,
      I am in the beginnings of the estrangement, and I can not imagine the pain of 20 years.
      Linda

  35. Sharon

    I recently discussed sending gifts and cards with my therapist. She asked “How does this make YOU feel?” So, in other words, if it makes YOU feel better to send cards and gifts, then send them, as long as you do not expect anything in return. Happy Thanksgiving all.

    Reply
    1. Patricia D.

      I agree,
      That having zero expectations , giving freely is key. As long as it is from the heart , genuine, & makes you feel better too.
      Happy Thanksgiving.

    2. stoneangel3

      Exactly right, Sharon! I’m learning to accept a situation similar to what we’ve all reported. Sheri is so wise- thank you for the article on “sending a card.” I have to mail everything I want my family to receive, sometimes it feels like there’s a fine line between what is acceptable and what is not. I also stand in front of the card rack, weighing my options. And sometimes I don’t even hear if my adult children or their children receive my card gifts.
      I love the quote about “GIVING FREELY” and that’s what I aim to do.
      Hugs to everyone as we move into the season of celebrations. I hope we can all find something hopeful in this season.

    3. MemaRay

      Absolutely agree! My husband taught me so many years ago that you must give freely, without expectations, or give nothing at all. Ironically, we did that with my ED but it was never enough. Now we are the ones made to suffer.

  36. Gracie2021

    Sheri, your quotation is supreme. Thank you so very much ! You are so right, what the DIL says about us does not change who we really are. Thank you again for this affirmation.

    Reply
  37. Elizabeth

    Due to a lot of factors this year, most of all the lack of time or energy to do cards right now…usually most of our married life I have sent them about Thanksgiving time…but I think this year I will at least wait until January…or whenever…or not. Most who truly care about us keep up with us via one form of communication or another. Thanks again Shari for your ideas and encouragement!!

    Reply
  38. sweetpea64

    Sheri, thank you most of all for providing insight for us to consider in each of our individual paths.

    And thank you for being honest because sometimes we need the truth to slap us out of whatever this is that many of us are living. We seem to be in a trance, held captive by unloving, uncaring children. Facing the truth is always better than living a lie.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      You’re welcome Sweetpea,

      We are all so different and have a variety of situations. There just isn’t a one-size fits!

      Hugs to you,
      Sheri McGregor

  39. Jan P.

    I so agree. My ED’s birthday is coming up soon. I have chosen to send a card. She is still my daughter, and the day of her birth 48 years ago was a very important, happy and special day in my life (she was my first born). I cannot with a clear conscience let it go unrecognized. However, I have no expectations that there will be a response. I do believe it is the right thing to do, and knowing that is enough for me for now.

    Reply
    1. CazaT

      I sent my estranged son a card for his 40th birthday this year. He hasn’t had anything to do with me for a few years. He texted me and thanked me and I thought maybe we can get back to how we used to be. A week or so later he texted and told me not to send him pathetic cards and told me once again how bad a mother I was. Sent me straight back to a spiral of despair. I hope your card is better received Jan. X

    2. Melinda

      Dear Jan,

      Your letter mirrors my situation and reaction to my own daughter’s upcoming 43rd birthday, as well as the holidays. You validate my belief to always do what you feel is the right thing for you to do. I will never have to look in the mirror and feel guilty for ignoring what I believe was the right thing to do.

    3. Wendy B.

      I have been estranged from my daughter for 5 months this time. She will call me when she needs money, but she is just so mean and puts me down so much that when she is in my life, it is in turmoil. She will be 32 in January, and she is not speaking to me once again, but she sent me a scathing text message when I asked if she had moved so I could send her a Christmas gift and she told me that she did not want anything to do with me. I guess I’m not sending a Christmas card or a gift this year.

      I feel like she is a bully on the playground, and she has turned her ire at me this time, and my son and other daughter are just relieved that she is not picking on them this time. She fights with other people a lot too. I am so tired of this familiar stress and I am so weary and have had a hard time sleeping and not crying at random times, which is not like me. This has been a pattern with her since she was a teenager, and to tell you the truth, I feel a lot of guilt and relief that I do not have to be subjected to her ridicule and anger. I have felt so ashamed and alone, and I rarely talk about it with anyone because I know that they will judge me. I swear, I was a good mom.

      Thank you for writing these books. I stumbled on the first one today on Audible and it is helping. Hope you all have a joyful Thanksgiving, and thank you all for sharing. This has been a rough day.

    4. rparents Post author

      Wendy,

      I believe you were a good mom! There are so many of us … Please take kind care of yourself. I’m glad you do found the book on Audible. There’s a workbook so you can do the excercises even with the audio. The second book deals even more with the random crying.

      I hope that you can set yourself free, even for a bit. Turn off the phone sometimes… She will eventually need to get that “pattern” under control. But you cannot do it for her.

      Hugs to yiu, Wendy.

      Sheri McGregor

  40. Lynne

    Thank you for this latest article. It had so very many thoughts that rang true with me. With the Christmas season approaching the thought of sending yet another card has me thinking about this subject. I have sent many cards for birthdays and at Christmas. Never any reply. I think I will not send any more cards. It is one more situation in estrangement that to me is that there is no right or wrong. Each parent needs to decide what is best for them. I think often about doing and taking best care of me. Thank you Sheri for always sending this message. It did take many years to reach this place. Hugs and many thanks to you.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      You’re welcome, Lynne. We all really do “arrive” at decisions at different times, unique to our personalities, history, etc. Maybe this year is another turning point for you (there are many in enduring estrangements).

      Hugs to you,
      Sheri McGregor

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