Parents of estranged adult children: Is it Groundhog Day?
by Sheri McGregor, M.A.
In the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a self-centered weatherman assigned to the yearly event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He’s in for a surprise when the same day keeps repeating itself. That sort of rut is what this article is about.
In the throes of estrangement pain, we can become stuck, going through the same old motions, and hoping things will change. Even our thoughts may run on repeat, replaying traumatic memories like movie scenes, and bringing us to the same old looping refrain.
- How can I make him change?
- If only I had . . . . or hadn’t , , , X, Y, or Z (fill in the blank).
Unfortunately, as our thoughts cycle on repeat (without the rinse!), our behavior often follows, and we sink into a rut. At some point, we need to wake up and realize we have a life to live regardless of our adult children’s decisions to live without us. That doesn’t mean you must give up hope … but it does require a shift in attitude toward a better perspective.
Adult children’s decisions: A new day
As the tradition goes, the groundhog emerges from its hole and, depending on if it sees its shadow, winter continues or ends. The roots of the holiday can be traced to a variety of lore, as well as to different hibernators who emerge on this day that’s halfway between the winter solstice and spring. If the sun’s out, as the legend goes, the groundhog is scared by its shadow, prompting a retreat to darkness and heralding another six weeks of winter.
Can you relate? Many of us have spent numerous months or even years in a “winter” existence, hiding from the reality of our lives. We may have dreamed up fantasies that our estranged adult children will come around, that they will love us again, and that we’ll pick up where we left off. We may have believed others who told us this was just a phase and that our kids will wake up when they have their own children. We may have even told ourselves we can’t be happy until the relationships resume, that a good parent would never stop trying, or some other lore that keeps us stuck.
Time grows short, and most rejected parents do eventually realize they must take charge of their own happiness. As several books and song titles tell us, it’s an inside job. Yet, when they emerge after a long “winter” of distress, they can be as wary as a groundhog startled by its own shadow. Learning to live well again requires adjustment, which also takes time. My question: Why wait? Embrace your life now. What have you got to lose?
Adult children’s decisions: Face facts
I’m disheartened by some of the suggestions I’ve seen out there that keep parents of estranged adult children stuck. Even when parents are advised to reduce or entirely halt their efforts to reach out, it’s frequently intended as a tactic to prompt change in the estranged adult children—as in maybe they’ll miss you and come running. While that’s certainly a possibility, the idea keeps parents attached to an illusion of control.
The parents who read my blogposts and books are at varying stages of estrangement and its effects. Some are brand new to the disconnect. Others are years, and even decades, along. There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all advice, but no matter where you fall on the estrangement continuum, the reality is that the only one you can control is yourself.
For parents who are in the early daze of estrangement, that lifesaving fact might be clouded by the belief that you must have done something wrong. Why else would your own child disown you? <—-you may think. There are plenty who jump on the “blame the parent” bandwagon, but that doesn’t mean they’re right. While none of us were perfect parents, most of us did our best. In both of my books, I help parents manage their shock over adult children’s decisions, see their emotions in a new light, and look at themselves with clear eyes unfettered by a loved one’s revisionist history or downright abuse (link to article).
As one parent recently said, “Your books are like programs, with specific steps and support that helped me move ahead at my own pace. Finally, I’m feeling free to live my life, and now, I’m looking forward to each new day.”
Other parents who have made the decision to face facts and move forward for their own well-being have shared with me in recent emails:
- “In your two books on estrangement, you spoke to me in a way I hadn’t experienced before. I totally related to you and your approach, and it felt like a cool glass of water on a very hot day. Thank you so much for that.” Elle, a psychologist, and an estranged mother
- “You and your books have helped me so much. I have trained my mind not to reflect on the negativity.” Korrie, mother of two estranged adult sons
- “Thank you for the article referencing stalking estranged adult child. I found comfort in this topic because I decided to stop following my daughter 6 months ago. It was too painful to see my grandchildren. Also, your books are very insightful. I am keeping hope but facing the reality of what happened. Moving forward to recover from loss is my personal journey.” Diane, mother of an estranged child and grandchildren
- “After your books and writing things out, I am so super excited for the future! I will always miss my girls…but I can’t go back. I tried my best and they were always my first and foremost. Now it’s time to go forward for me!” Suzanna, mother of two estranged adults
Just as Murray in Groundhog Day made a shift in himself, parents can take hold of what’s within their power to change: themselves. That means first recognizing the need for change, and then digging out of old habits that keep you burrowed in distress. That’s true whether in your thinking or in what you do.
In Murray’s case, the shift included being more thoughtful of other people. Most of the parents reading this will need to be kinder to themselves. Some will also recognize that their sadness and preoccupation with the estranged one(s) requires the need to better appreciate the loyal ones in their lives.
Self-examination and commitment to positive change puts you on the pathway to self-care and fosters individual growth for your own well-being regardless of another adult’s choices. Whether there are clouds or sunshine, won’t you join the thousands of parents who have made the decision to nurture themselves and grow into a new way of life?
Take courage, face your shadow, and step toward a new season of your life. You can embrace your own brand of resilience and take charge of your well-being and your life. Your adult children’s decisions may have put you on this lonely road, but you can choose your route now. Make this your halfway point, the juncture where you make a turn, steer away from wintry sticking points of estrangement pain, and move toward spring.
Groundhog Day: History and facts
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19 years of PAS since she was 17. Alone and PD.
Thankful for Sheri and this group. A lifeline in the midst of a storm.
After not hearing from one of mine since before Christmas, I get a call. It stats with entitlement and an accusing tone ” Well since I haven’t heard from you for a while, I thought I guess I’d better call you.” Behind the call though, was also an ulterior motive of well, other family issues. The call was not to see how I was doing. Then comes the abuse; I try to remain calm and talk in a normal tone. Then comes the blame for past mistakes; to which I listen, try to explain, apologize for the umpteenth time, for doing things which were in my family’s best interests, only to be abused even further. I have had hope so many times of having a half decent relationship with this adult child of mine, but I it is becoming more and more clear. I am beating a dead horse – as the saying goes. It has also become clear that such adult children live in a bubble of their own making and have completely convinced themselves that we parents are solely to blame – even for things which we have not done They are totally lacking in self awareness.
Yes, my estranged daughter —on and off again estrangement— likes to re-write history saying things that never did happen, actually. And recently saying that I am the SOURCE of anything negative that has happened in her life. Instead of feeling guilty and apologizing to her, I now have found the courage to stand up to her bullying and have now told her, “I think you have lost your mind.” Don’t know if that will impress her or what she will think. At this point in time, I really do not care any more!
I have been thinking lately if after…say 10 years, if our estranged adult child would want to reconnect, that we would more than likely decline. We are in our last quarter of life, I recently read an article that stated elderly people cannot tolerate stress like the could when they were younger. My husband says the only way that could happen was if our adult child has divorced. There is forgiveness but, after being so humiliated and never saw the estrangement coming, do parents reach a place of acceptance in the later years? We are supposed to have all this wisdom. I have read Beyond Done and it has quite a few parents and their experiences of reconnecting only a few were actually happy, it seemed like. Others were like…wish they never reached out. That is one of my biggest fears, to be hurt all over again.
Tamara. I so hear you
I’m coming up to 8 years estrangement from my eldest son.
We were always so close, the estrangement left me bereft and blindsided. Having said that, his partner is the one who never liked me. So, after years of emotional and financial support and taking a redundancy after 37 years full time work, it seemed a good time for her to strike. Like you, if a divorce happened, I’m sure my son would reestablish contact. Wishing you the very best in this heartbreaking and horrible chapter which seems to be all we will know as we age and enter the final stages of our lives. Hugs to you.
Reading thru all the comments made me cry for your heart ache and loneliness.
I could relate to many stories….
The loop in my brain is not the things he said, didn’t say, do or did not do but rather All the sweet precious memories we created together as a single mama and son.
What a museum of memories we have however they are not sustaining.
I raised him alone, homeschooled from kindergarten thru high school and graduated him in 2019.
I had him at the age of 42 and now I am 65 with no family and it never once occurred to me he would give up on ours.
He has told me he wants a relation but not willing to do the work. He has many resentments towards me. I shared forgiveness is where a healthy relationship begins and ends. He knows this, he is just so prideful.
I am a Jesus lover of 30 years and raised him in the biblical teachings of the bible. He at his his core is a generous, kind, forgiving, sensitive, god loving and crazy talented musician however he has walked away from God and now I see self centeredness which was in the making during high school but I did not worry much because he was still seeking God and owning his sin. Then after graduation, he informed me, he would not be apologizing any longer because our troubles were my fault not his. ♀️
So I pray that God would soften his heart for Him and me, I cry out a lot, feel useless often, and if I could lay down and die I am ready then there are days I can say I wait on you Lord and my son with hopes that this side of heaven he will come back.
What I don’t think he realizes is, I have more days behind me then ahead of me and I do not wanna spend what is left without him.
Thanks for allowing me to get this out. I have no friends many have walked away and the others have distanced themselves tremendously because of my pain.
I have done some counseling but pretty sure I was boring him because he began falling asleep during our sessions. Ha.
In His Grip
Please realize that although you may feel alone without any person near you to befriend you, please realize that there are many other people experiencing the same pain you are feeling. So, in that aspect, you are not alone. And always remember, “What a Friend we have in Jesus.”
Hi everyone! Hi Shari, thanks for writing such a thoughtful message. So funny, in an odd way, we start our messages of “how long it’s been…”
It’s been 11 years, she turned 30 at the end of January, (granddaughter is 5.5y now and never met) )and those who have been in my life were all wrong, and I don’t bring it up anymore. She has never reached out, I have the same email amd phone number. Either she is way worse off than me, or brainwashed herself out of hef life or others are controlling her, I dunno. I truely have given up. I don’t know how or wjere she is anymore. Like Pam and Kathy or Karen and so many others, I feel dead inside too, and yeah, I can cry buckets that I feel so hollow without her here or in contact, but again, done with the crying. I have trouble talking things out with my own mother as I am so done repeating “no, I haven’t heard from her, why don’t you reach out instead!”.
What cosmic/karmic situation or crime did I commit? None, I think. I meditate long enough to come up with, we are a vessel to move one body of consciousness into the physical, and. That. IS.all.!! That’s it! The rest is a choice to be in connection and choose our own family that we like to be in connection with of other people outside of the DNA/ biology we share. We don’t own our kids, they owe us nothing.
I am facing yet another diagnosis of cancer (likely) and this time, I am not…NOT doing the extra work of chemo and radiation. They can take out the bits n bobs giving me grief, and I am signing an executive order to provide comfort measures only, and thats it. My due date has already come and gone, got 6 years extra of preservation from chemo, but this time, what’s the point? to intermittently fend off tge enevitable groundhog day hiccups and emotions expecting a different outcome? Perhaps in death,and moving from the physical to the ethers and consciousness level, I will get to hover, haunt, hug and play with my granddaughter and kiddo again.
Sorry for my typos folks.
I am so sorry you are going through cancer again. I understand how you feel as I have bladder cancer just sitting there waiting to invade. So sad that you are suffering so much. I firmly believe cancer strikes when we are under so much stress and heartbreak. Hugs from Australia.
It has been eight years since my oldest daughter severed ties with me. Also, her sister. For reasons I don’t know or understand; and she won’t tell me why. I called her and specifically ask her if we could sit down and talk so that I could understand what I did and/or what went wrong. This was within six months of no response from her when I called or sent cards or gifts to her and my granddaughter. She refused. The first couple of years I thought I would lose my mind. Thanks to God, my church family and a couple of close friends I am much stronger today. I still have times (birthdays, holidays, etc.) that are still difficult and heart breaking. At this point I don’t know how I would respond should she want to reconnect. I’m afraid I would never trust her again. I so desperately want to see her and my granddaughter.
HI CONNIE….I HAVE EXPERIENCED THE EXACT SAME THING….ONLY I HAVE TWO ADULT DAUGHTERS. MY OLDEST IS A NARCISSIST AND HAS BRAINWASHED MY YOUNGER DAUGHTER TO ALSO “THROW ME OUT” OF THEIR LIVES. IT HAS BEEN A YEAR AND A HALF. I HAVE FOUR GRANDBABIES….THE FOURTH BORN LAST SUMMER AND I HAVE NEVER MET HIM. MY HEART IS BROKEN. MY HEART HURTS ALL OF THE TIME AND I AM SO SAD. I CANNOT IMAGINE MY LIFE BEING LIKE THIS UNTIL I DIE. I FEEL LIKE I WILL NEVER FEEL BETTER. I AM DIVORCED AND HAVE NO SUPPORT EXCEPT FOR THE FEW FAMILY MEMBERS THAT MY NARCISSISTIC DAUGHTER HASN’T ALSO TAKEN AWAY FROM ME (SHE BRAINWASHED THEM TOO). SO SO HURTFUL. THANK YOU FOR SHARING. I WILL PRAY FOR YOU AND ALL OF US.
I so connected with your post because I have not seen my daughter or her children for almost 13 years (when I remarried), nor my son (or his family) for about the same about of time, except for a brief, horrid visit during these years.
It still amazes me that when I talk about my “private shame” on this website, which is the only time I really allow myself to express the enduring grief in my heart and rarely talk about it to anyone, except to my wonderfully supportive husband (who has five children of his own & stays is touch with them daily on Facebook); and he is also very angry at my children for cutting me “completely” out of their lives when I married him (after being divorced from their father for over 20 years).
Yes, I, too, almost “lost my mind” with my children’s cruel rejection of me & their jealousy & competition with my new husband. We had to move away from them & my grand kids because we were being stalked by their father (who never remarried, is alcoholic & stalked me during our entire marriage). Needless to say their father overwhelms them, & they actually wanted me to take care of him, & not get remarried!
So these are some of the problems I face with my estranged adult children. My husband and I stay away to be safe from my “stalker ex” (who also plays to my children’s sympathy & puts on a innocent front to them). My ex also uses my daughter in law (who is psychotic & hates my “former” close relationship with my son, & has also turned him against me!). My daughter, who has the same jealous tendencies as her father & hated my dating while she was in high school, and once told me if i ever get remarried, she would never see me, again. And she certainly kept her promise!
I also deeply miss my granddaughter (my daughter “forbids” me to contact her). We were once very close but my daughter blocks any communication with her! This had been a great loss to me, also, & I’ m sure to my GD. She just graduated from high school & we sent her a package but don’t know if she ever received it!
However, life must go on! Holidays are still the hardest for me, even after all these years. I have learned to accept many things that I never thought I would have to. But I continue to be positive most of the time, and I am so thankful for the love & support of my husband. I really appreciate Sheri’s website that has given so many of us the ability to share our grief with the tragic loss of our children & grandchildren. I
I wish your peace and love, Connie.
Your partner in loss,
Thank you to everyone for sharing, your comments help me to keep moving forward. It’s 6 months since our daughter became estranged from me. But she still connects with my husband, who in turn puts the blame on me. But in fact, it is her new boyfriend, that she kept secret, and now lives with, was the catalyst in this alienation. We were never permitted to meet him! I have requested that she simply write me a short letter, by hand, to explain her antisocial behaviour. But she refuses to do so. She was adopted at age 3, and we had to do family therapy for four years, due to her early angry behaviour. I did raise her well, and it seems perhaps I spoiled her. Now, however, after all this time, she continues to ignore me, so I want to focus on my own life. My husband will have to come to terms, in his own time. It has caused a huge rift between us. Would love to know if others with adopted children, have had similar issues.
My estranged daughter was adopted when she was 11 months old. I was always a single mom. It was always just her and I. I’ve wondered whether her adoption has anything to do with the ugly situation she and I now are in. Did she need a father? Were she and I too close—did familiarity breed contempt? She had been abandoned by one parent (or set of parents). Should I have gotten her therapy when she was younger? I don’t know. Will never know. We haven’t spoken in a year except briefly in October for her to say more hurtful things. The trust is broken. I don’t think I love her anymore. I know she doesn’t love me.
Bodhi, adopting a child is a “crap shoot”. Sometimes it turns out OK, and sometimes it doesn’t. Those who advocate for adoption downplay the negative aspects of adopting a child; as in the very real possibility that your child may suffer from attachment disorder.
There is a lot of information published on the internet about this, and I suspect that this may be some of the reason for your problems with your child. I know this because I experienced much of what you have, due to the fact that my child was separated from me at birth for almost a year. She was staying with a relative, but the damage was already done after she returned home, even though we were very close while I was raising her. I also had a friend who fostered three girls, and to say that it was not an easy ride is an understatement. Many foster children, though, have additional problems that adopted children don’t.
I also think that we were, in some ways, too “enmeshed”. I was a very conscientious, “hands on” mother. Sometimes I wonder if this was to her detriment. Even though I wasn’t a single parent, my partner, who is now my husband, was a good provider, a great support for me, and was the best stepfather that he could be. I could not have done it without him.
However, since I was the biological parent, and he was not, I was the lead parent, and I know that she never had the opportunity to experience the love of a “real father”, so to speak. It just wasn’t the same. So she had the “father wound” to deal with, in addition to being separated from her mother at birth (me), which has been shown to cause trauma throughout life, that not only her, but any child in that situation will definitely need to overcome.
I am sorry that you and your husband are having so much trouble. I will keep both of you in my prayers.
So appreciative of this safe place to share! Thank you all. When my estrangement happened it included all of our youngest son’s family members. We thought they were dead and were at wits end because suddenly no calls or messages were being returned. Only a few weeks before they’d visited and we had a good time.
Through support and counseling we’ve found some balance. I pray each day for their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being and let it be. Now I’m afraid that they WILL reach out at some point and wreck the balance we’ve worked so hard to achieve. First I was afraid they’d never reach out to us and now I fear what it will be like if they do.
What you said resonated with me a lot.
It’s been about two years since our eldest daughter dropped out of our lives and one year since our youngest did so.
It’s not a long time compared to many here but it’s long enough to have put my husband and me through a maze of feelings. As you know, a maze can trap you inside of it and that’s kind of what being estranged has felt like, being lost and filled with apprehension.
And yet, we do progress even if it’s in baby steps, and the idea that they will pronounce themselves “back” we both feel wary about reinvesting ourselves just to be dropped into the maze again.
Sheri talked about this as living in the pocket, being kept around for any number of reasons but not because of genuine and pure love but either as payback or financial gain.
The last time our younger daughter returned it was to ask for a car. We bought it for her and she disappeared almost immediately. She didn’t have any response to the gift until much later when she sent a text with a photo of her attached, an exaggerated smile on her face like a garish caricature that seemed to say something but definitely not “thank you.”
We know a man in his 70s whose wife died. His daughter and SIL moved in to keep him company but within a few weeks they had taken over his home and literally filled it with merchandise they were selling, boxes of products filling every corner of his home.
When he asked them to put the boxes in storage they told him to move if he didn’t like it. They showed their true colors and made his life miserable. He did finally have to move to avoid the conflict and stress.
We have heard similar stories about hostile adult children. To my knowledge this man had had a good relationship with his daughter and SIL up until they took over his home.
It’s worrisome to think that you could be exploited and abused by your own children especially at a vulnerable stage of life but it does happen far too much.
Once trust is broken, it’s nothing short of a miracle if it is rebuilt successfully.
I understand the fear of having your estranged child reach out after a long, hard, cruel absence. I don’t think my daughter ever will reach out but, if she does, I think I have to be done. I cried every single day in 2022 and I relived in my head every mean thing she said to me. The only time I spoke with her all year was when she came to clean her bedroom out and, at that time, I told her I loved her, missed her, and that I cried about the state of our relationship. She told me to “get over it.” I really believe I don’t love her anymore. She has killed the fierce, tender feelings I had for her. I cry now because I don’t love her and I once loved her so, so much.
Dear Betsy, As Tovah has said here, if reconciliation does occur in your family, I would proceed cautiously because of trust being broken. I think sometimes it’s better not to be too loving and generous to people, family in particular, who don’t appreciate it nor show any appreciation. “Once burned, twice shy.”
Happy Groundhog Day Everybody!!!
So happy to read Beautiful Sheri’s Article…The comedy movie, “Groundhog Day” is one of my “Very Favorite” movies…So Zen…(One has no little to no control over what happens in the world or in our lives…Change Comes From Within).
In Gratitude & Celebration of Our Precious Life,
Thankyou all sooooo much its rewarding to know im not the only mother going through all these sleepless nights my daughter and grandson are the last thing i think about at night and the first in the morning its soooo painfull….
A friend recommended your site to me. Another friend started a FB group after a conversation we had about our estranged children (both of us have adult daughters who were once friends in JR High before they moved out of state). Reading others stories helps me to process my own ‘groundhog’ memory periods. My husband (not children’s father, we married 20 years ago [they were all adults on their own] and he is so disgusted with my 2 oldest’s treatment of me … their father committed suicide many years ago, I left him with my 2 oldest as he was abusive). My question – since my oldest daughter has alienated herself from me for over 25 years and only wants to communicate in regards to my ‘will’ … I struggle with whether I should have her named in my trust documents as a recipient – she said she wants to make sure my wishes are followed but she doesn’t even know me as a person. She has raised her 2 daughters to hate me … I have been erased from their lives (they are 26 and 18). There is more to this story.
As an estranged mother myself I understand completely. You cannot take your money with you. Although a priest once told me that I should not leave them out of my will. I think it’s because vengeance belongs to the Lord. I am sorry for you and me. Enjoy your life…it’s short
Hi, Julie B. and All Beloved Ones Here,
As always, I sincerely appreciate your willingness to share and your support. You all mean so much to me.
I have taken my daughter out of my will in every way. This is not because of vengeance but because I want some of the community groups that have enriched my life so much to benefit from what would have been her portion of the estate. I love these people and organizations which in their own way have become my family. Hope this helps.
Love, hugs, peace, and joy to you all,
Your money is yours to do with as YOU please. Your daughter wants nothing to do with you, but will happily take you money? Find a more deserving cause or person/persons to inherit anything.
Are you kidding even thinking about letting her handle your estate after you pass. No way. She should get nothing also. Put your assets into a trust now, and list the beneficeries, leave her out, and nominate who controls the trust when die, not her.
So very sorry for your story. I have struggled with the “will” decision also. I have 1 ES for 2 years now..
Also an earlier estrangement from same son lasted for 14 months. Also have wonderful loving relationship with my thriving, happy successful daughter.. My son is living in his dad’s basement now for 5 years, rent free. He’s 32 years old college educated and capable of being independent but lazy and manipulative. How is it fair to divy 50/50 for inheritance? I chose to be very biased in my will unless something changes! Thank you for this website to share our hearts…
Please, leave your money to those who supported you. You can even make them joint account holders so there is no way your kids can get your money as it will pass to the other account holder and not be part of your estate. And for all that is holy, do not put ‘estate’ as your beneficiary on anything! Name someone or a charity. If you decide to leave money to a charity, write to them with your intention to gift them. They will help make arrangements and there is no way your estranged family members will get their greedy mitts on it.
I think people should “reap what they sow.” So, Julie, do what you think is necessary and make yourself happy. In legal terms. we parents do not owe our children money when we die. I think you should do what makes you happy in your Will— don’t be influenced or forced to do what someone else wants you to do.
Madeleine any many others I relate to your pain and hurt. I also have and still am on the journey of Estrangement. I won’t go into details as I find talking about it takes me to a dark place. It’s been a long hard journey but fortunately I had counselling, read books, kept journals and have come to the realisation I have to stop questioning the WHY WHY ?
I know I was a good mother. I’m proud of who I am, what I represent and finally I stopped questioning. Now I live my life for my happiness and well-being. I’ve let go however I forgive them. Unfortunately outside interference can influence them therefore the issue lies with them
It’s the path they now choose and learning acceptance can help move on. In regards to the 2 messages you receive. Please don’t analyse the ifs or why. Your obviously in his thoughts. Much love to all
We have had a similar journey. It’s
Been about a week since I said ‘enough’ and consciously closed the door. I picture myself physically closing the door. I know that I would not answer it if she came seeking my help again. I understand that I am only loved when I am useful. Um…no thanks.
Thanks to all of you for sharing your heart break and thank you to Sheri for your encouragement. My daughter quit speaking to me a few months ago and I had a question.
Does this seem to happen more when there is a spouse involved? My daughter and her husband of 7 years seemed to cut themselves off from extended family almost immediately after their marriage, but they were still in contact with me and my son’s family until this past Christmas. I read there are cases of a spouse isolating their partner and I wondered if this has happened to anyone else.
I’m not blaming her husband, but I also want to be sure she is not being emotionally manipulated. Thank you
Repeating old behaviors struck a chord, not a nerve! My on and off again ES is getting ready to move to another state with my DIL and 4 beautiful granddaughters. I sent a text asking if I could come say goodbye. He told me , no, but call tomorrow if I want to know why. The tone in the text felt cold and harsh. The behavior I would have repeated in the past would be to call. I refrained. It’s the next step in letting go for me. I’m at peace with my decision and thank you for your book, Done With The Crying. I really am!
Bravo!! Their loss. One hundred percent. I hope your beautiful granddaughters don’t learn from dad and kick him to the curb one day!
Knowing others share your experience in some way is so very comforting. Holidays are so hard. My youngest son was such a joy. He and his wife started to pull away and then totally have cut everyone out. I know I was not a perfect mother but I feel they knew they were loved. I dont get to see my three beautiful grandchildren. This has been so hard on my Mother and his siblings who miss him very much. We all grieve for what we had hoped for our family. I will never lose hope and will continue to pray, but we continue to spend time with and enjoy the time we have with my other son and daughter and their families for which I am grateful. Thanks for all the support
Hello everyone . Thank you everyone for your words. I also feel that love has gone. also when we exchange a politically correct message I tell him that I love him but I felt that it was not true. That feeling makes me very ashamed. how can you stop loving I have received cold treatment from you for 1 year and a half. without explanation and when I claimed his affection he told me to get over it. From there we were almost becoming a stranger. and although in some message I end with a I love you. I feel that I lie. Thank you and love to each one of you.
This group is very helpful because the topic of estranged children is rarely dealt with by society or the media. My ES is 50 years old, and has tormented and manipulated me for years. We didn’t speak for 5 years, but we reconnected when he settled down with a woman 17 years younger than him and had a child. The irony is that the reconnection was emotionally draining and painful for me. There were obvious attempts to use guilt to force me to give him money for his house renovations and other big ticket items. He even came out and asked what his inheritance would be. He blatantly told me that he didn’t need anything from me anymore except money, but I wasn’t listening since I can’t relate to such an horrific statement. I wanted nothing from my own mother and I only had love and respect for her.
My ES has all the characteristics of a narcissist, and I have read many books on that topic. I have been doing genealogy work in my retirement, and I finally found photos of my grandparents (his great grandparents) from Ukraine. So, I made copies and sent them to him in a Christmas card, along with a significant amount of money. He claimed that wasn’t enough to buy presents for his son, hinting that I should send more, or he would return the money transfer.
Then, he sent a video of his BURNING the precious family photos I had sent him, including photos of my parents, siblings, etc. from long ago. In the subject line, he put, “Enjoy this video” which was a deliberate trick to make me look at it, thinking it was a video of my grandson. Of course, I was in shock. I know in my heart now, finally, that he only wants to hurt me.
And then I realized that he is a very sick person mentally, and definitely needs help. He goes to psychiatrists and therapists but lies to them that he was “neglected and abused”. And they believe him because they hear no other story and he’s paying them. I’m actually thankful that I live 5,000 kms away from him.
No one in this world needs pain and abuse from others, children or not. He is also estranged from his father, my ex, and his 2 brothers. We’re all flawed, according to him and he’s perfect.True narcissism.
Society paints pictures of families and motherhood that are unrealistic.
We all need to take better care of ourselves emotionally to repair the damage.
Susan and all,
Thank you for sharing your pain and anguish. I wish I could say I can’t relate, but sadly, I can. I would never say I was a perfect mother because I don’t think such a thing exists, but I know I wasn’t a horrible one. I can say with no uncertainty that my child was loved endlessly, provided everything, and left wanting for nothing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Spoiled, if you will. We had a very close relationship until her boyfriend, now fiancé, and his mother entered her life. From day one, his mother groomed my child to take my place in her heart. Now her plan is complete. Add to that, the indoctrination by schools/teachers of a Marxist ideology and actively working to separate children from parents because the parents might have undue influence in their child’s belief system. Finally, the dramatic changes to social norms in our society through media manipulation and outright propaganda, the wholesale malpractice in psychology and medicine, the legalized drug dealing by the cartels of the pharmaceutical industry, and the blatant fascism. They have all poisoned my child’s heart, mind, and body. As hard as I have tried to be a counterbalance to the shear lunacy in the world, I could not save my daughter from the undertow of evil. I am firm and centered in myself that I have done nothing wrong, nor can she substantiate anything except that I have the wrong political opinion, to deserve the emotional and verbal abuse I have received. She is entitled to have a different political opinion than I do, but she is not entitled to use emotional blackmail to force me to change mine. The vile vitriol spewed at me was from a demon that I do not recognize as my child. Still, I love her with every fiber of my being and would not reject her as she has done to me. That said, I will not bend the knee, sacrificing my own thoughts/opinions, therefore my self, to appease her or anyone else. I also refuse to surrender my child to the darkness that has enveloped her. Any ideology that convinces people they must sever ties with their loved ones because they are non-believers, is not tolerant, diverse, equitable, or inclusive. It is a cult and must be denounced and destroyed. Call me crazy if you want or say I’m tilting at windmills, but I refuse to accept that this has to be the permanent state of things. Yes, I know I cannot control her or anyone else, but I can control myself. I will dedicate the rest of my life to slaying the dragons that have robbed me of my relationship with my only child. I won’t go down without a fight and I will keep swinging until my last breath. It’s my only motivation to go on because hope is the only thing worth living for now. It might not get me my daughter, but at least I can die with peace in my heart that I did not allow evil to go unchecked because I did nothing. Eliminating the threat from these insidious institutions so another parent doesn’t have to lose their child is what will give me purpose and hope.
Shame on him. Do some strong estate planning to ensure he gets nothing. Leave it in trust for your grandchild and hire professional trustees.
Yes, we should never allow anyone to destroy us. Somehow, we have to learn to fortify ourselves against the assaults of our beloved children when they are behaving mean-spirited to us. Do the best we can to gain peace and harmony in the family but then when no success, then let it go, and let THEM GO also! Hard to do but necessary to face facts! If they do not care, why should WE?
I’ve realized in the last few weeks that my daughter’s rejection of me and the cruel things she said to me and about me, my sister’s failure to support me thru the whole mess, and my dog’s early death has left me with an inability to love. I still tell people I love them but I don’t think I really do anymore. I’m just empty. Weirdly, though, I am kinder. I never want anyone to feel like I feel. A kind word or smile can go a long way and you never knows who needs it.
Thank you so much for this. I thought I was the only one who had “gone dead.” I am estranged from both my children and therefore my grandchildren. I also say “I love you” because I remember when my love for them was everything. I no longer experience that feeling. Now I feel dead inside and don’t think I feel love for anyone except the four dogs I have surrounded myself with. I have a significant other. I tell him I love him to avoid hurting him but, in truth, I feel absolutely nothing.
You are definitely not alone in that!
I have run the gamut between sorrow, rage, frustration, confusion, and what it all ended in was numbness. It’s the strangest sensation to have absolutely no feeling for your children.
I still love my husband and a few other people but whatever I once felt for my children is either gone forever or on a long term holiday.
It has occurred to me that if I could lose my children’s love that NO ONE was safe to invest in.
I find myself in an unexpected state of renewed mourning for lost relatives who I know loved me deeply, my grandparents in particular. The memories of them uplift me and comfort me. I don’t feel like they are gone and I am welcoming the images and memories of the love they gave that surrounded me my entire childhood. It is some real solace.
As for my lack of feelings for my children, it makes some sense to me that this would happen and it could be due to the intense amount of emotions I’ve experienced resulting in complete burnout. That’s what I think anyway.
The immense undertaking of becoming parents should bring immense rewards and when it does not it can bring you to your knees!
Pam and Karen,
I too, have grappled with the loss of feeling love after being estranged from my daughter for the last 6 years. Do not worry, the feeling comes back; however, it is my re measured and mature. Sometimes I even forget about having another child (I have a son who is wonderful). I had it explained to me once that it is a defense mechanism protecting us. Most of the time I don’t get too excited either. I like it. You are good people. Keep telling those in your life you live them. I think the difference is that I no longer fear abandonment.
I hear ya there and will try to be kinder to myself, but certainly to others as yes, I don’t want anyone else to go through the same pain.
I am so grateful I happened onto this site and found Sheri’s book. My daughter turned her back on us 5 months ago. So I am in the early daze of this tragedy. The hurt is so consuming that I am almost paralyzed by it. I, as most of you have expressed, don’t know where this came from. One day we were laughing and picking out soccer cleats for my precious grand babies, then the next day she told me she was cutting all ties with me. That she didn’t feel safe with me.
It is beyond my comprehension!
I have relived everything and now my life feels like a lie. I saw this article as I sat here contemplating sending her another”forgive”me text. I know I must move on. My faith has seen me this far and I know God will see this through. I have asked him to take this burden and I know he will if I can just let go.
Thank you all for sharing. What a blessing to have others who truly understand. I am so thankful for my new friends
Lola, my faith has been my anchor and I will never lose hope! It is a great comfort knowing that God knows all and will work things out in His way and in His time. Peace and perseverance come when we trust! Praying for everyone enduring such sadness.
You will get through this. The only way to the other side is through the worst fire but you will get through.
Thank you, Sheri. I feel I too, have been “stuck”. It’s only the last two years that I have started to come out of the “fog”. No change in the status of my estrangement with my daughter, but I am learning to come out of my shell, and have made new friends, and while I haven’t given up on her (I never will), I’m living my own life, with out fear of her disapproval. It’s quite freeing. I’m still sad, but I really don’t allow myself to dwell on it anymiore. The next move it hers. I thank you for the help, advice and courage. Much love, Kama
It’s a help just to know I’m not alone in a situation like this. Thank you.
I have been estranged from my daughter for 10 years now. I divorced her dad and she stayed at home with him. My son left home and resided with me. She suddenly took her dad’s views as a victim and dismissed the fact I was leaving an abusive marriage. She has a very public social platform and has decried I abandoned her. It is difficult because I want to say it isn’t so! She was 20 years old. She blocked me for years on her phone, my son has attempted to convince her of the true facts but she isn’t listening. He is fed up and has stated he doesn’t want to be in the middle any longer. I can’t blame him. Her dad recently passed and she made it clear I could come to the funeral but it wouldn’t change anything. I had no intentions to open that door. I think it was then the clouds began to break and I realized how she has been controlling and manipulating me and I have allowed her to beat me down. She had a baby and reached out to see if I would quit my job and move to her state to care for her son. I said no and the blaming and cruel treatment began again. A year later she asked if I was going to be in her son’s life or what? Many responses went through my head but I just said I would love to be in both of your lives. I received another vulgar text message back going over the past again. That was another cloud parting for me to start living my life like I want too. All I ever wanted in life is to be a mom and how awesome to be a grandma. I have began to look at myself and gained the strength and courage to say I am a good mom. I am a good person and I do have qualities that I love. I’m finally tired of looking down on myself it was not healthy to be so depressed and so negative. It is a slow process but I’m finally ready. I just want her to be happy and pray she is safe and pray for healing. I now struggle with the social media account, I was using it not to “stalk” but as my only life line to see how she is doing and to watch her son grow.. I don’t know if I can let it go?.. sorry for the long comment but it feels good to respond. Thank you
I very well know what you’ve faced. I divorced my husband in 88, raised 3 children on my own. I thought I had done a good job. Once they grew up. Things changed, especially with my 2nd child, she has a 10yr old child,, which I never seen in person. My youngest got married I wasn’t invited, my siblings are upset at their behavior. My oldest passed away on Thanksgiving weekend 2021, from metastatic breast cancer, her estranged husband took my grandson without us knowing.I only had hours to see her before her passing. My other two blame me for not letting them know she was in the hospital. My texts nor phone calls are ever rec’d.
To make matters worse, my brother made a lunch date to try and bring closure/change for the future and was insulted by their responses and attitude.
I decided a while ago, I wouldn’t interfere in their lives, nor give in to their tactics,.no matter what was said about me. That has infuriated them, cause it takes two to fight and I wouldn’t bother them
My own siblings are very upset at the lies they keep saying and posting on social media.
Motto of the story. Dam if we do, dam if we don’t.
I basically keep away. Its the best we can do. Learn to keep going with my live and perhaps someday they’ll change their behavior. Blaming ourselves with what it’s, isn’t going to change anything..
Continue to live your life. I’m not saying it’s easy, bit.it can be done. I’ve found a lot of peace attending my church services.
Marilyn – this is almost identical to my story! Even the huge social media following! After opening this newsletter today I have decided to put the online journal I created when my daughter cancelled me. My therapist suggested it as an outlet for me and it really and truly helped. It was being read worldwide and I hoped contributing to others in some way. I took it down and felt ashamed I had ever created it. Tonight I republished the blog. I will not be controlled by my 24 year old daughter anymore.
Thank you Angela for your comment. Got me going.
I needed this.
The length of time between my groundhog behaviours is becoming longer and longer. It gives me faith that eventually the compulsion to resolve the situation will eventually cease. I am estranged from both my daughter and son for almost four years now. My daughter spent years planning to estrange from my ex-husband’s side of the family. But I refused to let her manipulation to hate my ex and his family work. Then she changed tactics and estranged from me and my family instead. My ex couldn’t see the lies and she took her brother with her. In moments of clarity I realise that even if they both turned up begging for forgiveness it would never be the same as what it once was. That unconditional love the complete and utter trust I had in them is gone. The damage to my family can not be repaired. I would never completely trust them again. That is the death I mourn, if I’m honest I don’t even like them as people anymore. As a parent I struggle with the realisation that much as I miss them, what they could have been and the good times we had I now don’t want to be a part of their lives again. How does a parent reconcile that when society shows us being prepared to lay down our lives for our offspring?
Anita, you and I had the same thought at the same time this morning! Not only are we dealing with the estrangement of our children but the shame thrust upon us by society. As mothers we are expected to lay down our lives for our children throughout our lifetime and theirs. Once our children make the decision to leave us it is in our best interest to loosen the grip on our former identity as a mother. Rebuilding our lives is the hardest work we will ever do. One baby step at a time…hugs.
Anita and Catherine, You have articulated what I feel, too. So much time has gone by, it has given me a different perspective than when we were first estranged. It’s too late now, that is how I feel.
It’s been at least 15 years. My kids are close to 40 now. I thought I did my best (not perfect for sure) as a mom. Apparently, I did something horrid, besides divorcing their dad, that is unforgivable. I never told them the details of the divorce. Just because I was betrayed and disrespected, doesn’t mean he can’t still be a good dad. They are close to him; no matter what I have said or done, it has not changed anything for me. They don’t see or respond to anyone else on my side of the family or any of my friends they knew growing up. Everyone that is connected with me is out of their lives. I am the toxic denominator. When I tried to see them, phone, text, or email years ago, it was never returned. I send the grandkids, which I have seen only once or twice, small gifts for holidays and birthdays, but there is never a response. I do not know if they receive them or if they are thrown away. I used to cry all the time. I don’t anymore. I used to have hope, I don’t know if I have it anymore. I’m not sure what to do, or just let it go. If I reach out, it pains me when everything is met with silence. If I don’t reach out, I feel guilty. I did go to therapy and it helped. I was okay for a while, but lately, it is sometimes more than I can bear.
I am one of the blessed where restoration with my son has happened, though I still tiptoe on eggshells. I prayed for God to give me an agape love for my DIL as she was SO hostile, and I do now have a soft and yearning love for her and see her as a little girl with all the hurts and trauma she has experienced. Through a series of miracles, God came in the left field and gave an experience of intense, warm love to enfold and pierce the heart of my DIL’s Rasputinesque leader. Despite being married, besottedly so, she was nevertheless under the influence of such a man and they moved house a number of times, following him. His supernatural ‘conversion’ was followed by my DIL experiencing a very similar envelopment of love which has changed her too! I pray for that love to be extended to me yet I can wait. Without her friendship I will only get to see my grandie every four months or so on special occasions. But God. Don’t stop praying, dear hurting ones. Ask God to enable you to distance yourself whilst not letting your emotions cut off, as can be alarming, especially for a Mum who (used to) trust and adore.
I’ve been estranged from my adult daughter and her family for quite a while now. I even got used to it and was living a pretty good, full life. But recently I ended up going a few steps backward. I was looking around online about my adult grandkids and that’s how I found out my granddaughter got engaged! I received a Christmas card from my daughter and she just signed all five of their names on it. No mention of my granddaughter’s fiancé or engagement. Nothing from each of the grandkids personally. I wondered if I’d even be invited to the wedding. My thoughts were swirling. I kept thinking, “how could they forget all the good times we all had together?” I had to make a promise to myself not to look them up online anymore. That just causes more hurt for me. I know my daughter and her family are close to my ex and his wife. My granddaughter is now very close to her step-grandma. No room for me. So, this was my setback. I’m trying to get back on track now. Luckily, I do keep in touch with my adult son. We have nice phone conversations. I plan on driving out to see him in spring. He lives quite a bit away from me and doesn’t drive (due to a disability) so I’ll have to bite the bullet and just drive out his way. Normally, I’m afraid to drive too far. I am most grateful I still have him. I’m trying to get back into my own life now. Like the movie Groundhog Day, I started feeling like I was reeling and kept going back to square one. Now, I must get back on track. Good luck to all of you. We’ll get thru all this together!
I kust labored on a comment and was reject by this website. LOL. It was a good one, too.
Kay, all comments go to a moderation panel to avoid spam, etc. Your comment was approved.
I know I need to embrace this philosophy in order to have a somewhat contented life. My daughter tells me on a regular basis that she does not want to be around me and she has given me the opposite of support (abuse?) at difficult times in my life. She is 36. Not a child. And still.. I will not give up on my relationship with her. Have you seen “Everything, Everywhere All at Once?” At the end of the film the rejected mother says: “Something that explains why you still went looking for me through all of this noise… But even when advances in science and technology make it seem like people are as insignificant as some rocks, even when nothing seems to matter, no matter what, I still want to be here with you. I will always, always, want to be here with you.” Her daughter isn’t ready to accept this, but the mother refuses to let go of her daughter and says, “Then I will cherish these few specks of time.”
This movie resonated with me. I will keep working on healthy boundaries and being realistic about our relationship, but I will NEVER give up on my relationship with daughter.
Dear Kay, I can understand your not wanting to give up on your relationship with your daughter. I feel the same. My daughter can be so disrespectful, downright mean-spirited saying cruel things to me, and I never understand why. She was a moody, sullen bad-dispositioned teenager and I thought she would outgrow it but no! She is now 39 yrs. old and acting like she is 15 most of the time. Everyone tells me to go “no contact” with her and I try to do this but not for long. A lot of the time she gives me the Silent Treatment for no reason that I can determine. I am now saying to her,” when you want to talk to me, you know where to find me.” I don’t want to be resentful. At this point in time with her, I have taken the attitude that I will not tolerate temper-tantrum behavior and just walk away from her when she acts hostile. I can never reason with her so I give up! I think at her age, I don’t need to worry about her any longer! So, now I am practicing “distancing” from her.
This is perfect. For years I was so crushed, I couldn’t figure out what I’d done. It finally dawned on me that I was sick of begging my son for his affection. If he doesn’t like me, then, what am I doing? No way can I change how he feels. The injustice of it all is what is so hard to reconcile. The fact that I can’t be a part of my grandkids’ lives is heartbreaking, but I have to accept that this is the way it is. I can’t keep expecting things to change. Thank you to Sheri for her books and these articles. It turns a lonely experience into , a community of people who sadly are going through the same thing .
I so understand. My 35 year old son broke off all means of communication (don’t even know where he lives) and took my year-old only granddaughter, after letting me meet her and fall in love with her- away. I cry for her. I loved her and she was starting to know me. I don’t even know what I did wrong. I kept every boundary that he asked of me. It’s been six months. I’m trying to keep my head above water- but some days I cry on and off all day. Ambiguous grief is really hard.
I was 6 months out from my 24 year old sons estrangement (girlfriend that wanted nothing to do with us and manipulated him against us ). It felt to our entire family like he had joined a cult and was brainwashed.
I finally reached out to his dad (my ex, we are amicable) and thanks to his involvement and coaxing my son finally agreed to go to therapy with me. We are just one session in but it’s a start and he seems open to continuing. The first session was very difficult as my therapist instructed me beforehand not to get defensive or upset so I had to sit there and endure and absorb so much angry selfish talk and lashing out. But it was a good strategy because he now feels comfortable enough to continue. So I’m hopeful as we go along my feelings will also get validated as well as those of our family. And therapy will get though his wall and get him to see things objectively.
The advice I’ll give to any parent going through this nightmare – try to reach out to a more neutral family member or friend who can persuade your child to go to therapy with you. Coming from a neutral party and then sitting with a neutral party (and professional therapist) may be the one thing that feels non threatening and sparks change.
I’m a long way from the end of the tunnel on this and it may all be for nothing but it’s a start.
I will also add that we all reached out to my son several times warmly during the six months and he either ignored us or gave us callous indifferent replies. I had my mind made up that I wouldn’t continue on that path past 2022. Had he continued estrangement I would have stopped reaching out to him period. No texting, calling, cards, gifts. Nothing. I agree with Sheri that just keeps you in an endless spiral of despair and made me feel worse. Everyone deserves happiness and sanity, so you have to accept what you cannot change and move on with your life. Prayers to all parents!
My little one dumped me about 12 yrs. Ago. I saw,a shrink for many years and took antidepressants for 3 yrs. Or so. The shrink helped me out only so much.
The antidepressants mask the problem like a band aid does but helped when i needed them.
I do not cry anymore but perhaps i do inside from a broken heart caused by rejection and betrayl which will NEVER go away until the day JESUS comes for me.
For 10 yrs. I begged for mercies and forgivenesses which were TOTALLY ignored. I still take BLAME for it all
and i MUST HAVE TRULY COMMITTEED unforgiveable and horrofic sins. I will blame myself until the day Jeses comes for me.
The name of this all is called FORGIVENESS. I can only conclude that some people will choose EXTREME HATRED AND POSSESS HOSTILITIES and it is very sad!!
Our lives here on earth are like a bolt of lightning!
These so CALLED ADULTS WILL HAVE TO LIVE WITH THIS SELFISH AND EVIL DECISIONS FOR THE ENDURANCE of their lives here on earth.
I have only learned how to forgive myself. The irony of this all is that i will never know the sins and guility crimes i am accused of. Maybe-this is for my good.
I have realized it was her DECISION AND NOT MINE TO BEGIN WITH. I NEVER WOULD HAVE MADE THIS AWFUL AND EVIL DECISION TO BEGIN WITH. I WOULD HAVE DONE ANYTHING SHE DESIRED TO RECTIFY THIS ALL.
I AM A WOMAN OF A DEEP AND FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN FAITH AND PRAY A LOT. IT IS LIKE A DEATH! IT IS ALWAYS WITH ME BUT YOU LEARN TO SOMEHOW LEARN HOW TO LIVE WITH IT. SOME DAYS ARE GOOD AND SOME DAYS ARE OKAY. IT WAS NOT MY DECISION AND THE SAD THING THERE ARE NO WINNERS IN THIS EXCEPT HER AND I AM THE GRAND LOOSER IN THIS ALL!
GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU!
I HAVE 2 OTHER ADULT KIDS WHOM INCLUDE ME WITHIN THEIR LIVES AND THIS IS WHAT I MUST LIVE FOR.
I lost a 36 yr. Old husband to colon cancer 40 yrs. Ago and Never remarried nor had any help in raising them!
They were 4 and half, 3 years old and 7 months old!
Of course it’s always with you. You probably did nothing wrong enough to deserve this. This is about power and control. Spend your last years with those that love and care for you. You cannot control outcomes with other people. Bring your best self to the table of your loved ones.
My daughter “dumped” me 15 years ago. I also had a son who died in 2001. I wish I had another child who could be part of my life, but alas there is no one. It is good that you have other children who love you.
Thank you for today’s article. I’m five years out from our daughter’s decision to remove herself from the family via a series of hate-filled text messages to me. She blamed it on politics but looking back I realize she wanted to sever herself from us for years. She’s 48 now and our grandson is 18. We are forbidden to see him.
After a year of counseling, I came to accept our daughter’s decision. Living life since has been a grueling process. Many times, I found myself in dark places. Many times, I sobbed at our new reality of a life without her and our grandson. Many times, I wanted to beg her to change her mind. I caught myself and didn’t. Your book and the stories others shared helped me to realize the folly of that.
Happiness has been attainable with a lot of effort. We moved to another city. We found a new church home. We chose a 55+ community with numerous activities. I exercise regularly and have made new friends.
We find ourselves living by the adage, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” Our faith in God continues to be our anchor.
I’ve read your books and completed most of the workbook. I’ve had the opportunity to loan your book to other women after learning they are estranged from a child. It is a sad and painful lot. However, I’ve also experienced growth in sharing this sorrow with others.
I’m only able to write this now because I am five years out. I’ve learned to accept what has happened through your book, counseling, and our faith in God. Again, thank you!
Love the article, thoughts (wisdom), and comments by others here.
Our children have not been in touch for decades. I have spent ages trying to find the right words to turn this around, with no luck.
I found a quote which states “Stop looking for closure. You got it the moment they started treating you with disrespect.” ~Mel Robbins
This struck a chord. I am trying to make things right, when I did nothing wrong.
I don’t think it is actually possible to let go, but I but I remain a work in progress.
Blessings to All.
This is perfect. For years I was so crushed, I couldn’t figure out what I’d done. It finally dawned on me that I was sick of begging my son for his affection. If he doesn’t like me, then, what am I doing? No way can I change how he feels. The injustice of it all is what is so hard to reconcile. The fact that I can’t be a part of my grandkids’ lives is heartbreaking, but I have to accept that this is the way it is. I can’t keep expecting things to change. Thank you to Sheri for her books and these articles. It turns a lonely experience into , a community of people who sadly are going through the same thing .
I cannot put into words – just how much i appreciate Sherri’s words.
Every day I choose a sentence or paragraph from Sherri’s books or from someone’s comments.
It really helps me stay in a more positive frame of mind.
My mind keeps telling me to move on. My heart tell me something different, and I stay stuck. I will never get over what happened. I have learned to just live along side it. I wish I could do it differently, but this is just the way I’m wired, and I’m not able to break from it.
Thank you for your posts. It makes me feel someone understands.
Madeline, mother of estranged son and grandchildren.
I was lucky. My son sort of came around but has still not invited me to his home. Having a spouse may have changed him but my dream of everything being great is gone. I keep hoping that everything will just be alright. Still walking on eggshells but grateful that the extreme heartache has subsided. My heart goes out to all mommas and dads who suffer from the torture of estrangement. Hang in there people. We are important too! ❤️
Madeline, I know just what you are saying. But we can keep our estranged kids and grandkids close to our hearts, but can make a good life for ourselves too. My closest friend’s son died of cancer in his 20’s. She was inconsolable for the longest time afterwards. Now, she has moved on, remarried, but always mentions her son in conversations. We will always love them and keep them close. But we deserve to live happy, productive lives too. Just remember, they will always be in our hearts. And who knows what the future holds? I, like you, get so much from other people’s posts and Sheri’s wonderful writings too. Wishing you and everyone here, all the best!
I know exactly how you feel. I know that I should move on and stop trying to reconnect and bring my son (51) back into my life, but he doesn’t want to. I have apologized to him dozens of times for anything and everything that I may have done wrong, I have invited him to visit me and talk, I have hoped and waited. Nothing, absolutely nothing works. He doesn’t even acknowledge that I have sent those letters. I am stuck, I can’t move forward because I feel paralyzed by sadness and depression. Thank God I have another son (49) who is very loving and supportive. I still feel like half of my heart is gone, torn away, burned to ashes and that feeling doesn’t go away. I am so grateful for my youngest son. By the way, my oldest son sends me a text twice a year: One for my b-day, one for Mother’s Day. Both are extremely short. Mostly one liners. I haven’t seen my grandchild for over three years (she is seven now). Some parents might say that I am “lucky” that I even get those two texts per year, because they get nothing. I am convinced that sending those texts is self-serving. They, for a strange or maybe not so strange reason, hurt me. They represent a sliver of hope, but it always leads to a dead end. Nothing ever works. Maybe he feels that he has mistreated me, maybe he even loves me, but I know with 100% certainty that his wife is the force behind this estrangement. She has done a lot of damage both to me and my youngest son. What is so extremely painful is the fact that my son allows her to do that. Not once has he asked me in years how I am doing, how I was doing during the pandemic, how is my health, my life. I am 73 years old. Is it love? Those two texts per year, is it love? Why does he even bother??? What about the other 363 days each year? I DO NOT EXIST in his life. He NEVER asks about me when he and my other son talk. It is also difficult for my other son because he is in the middle. He loves us both. I can’t move on. I am totally stuck in sadness and depression. I am all alone. My youngest son lives 5000 km away from me. I haven’t seen him in almost two years. I have absolutely no one else. No friends, no family. Nobody. I don’t have the energy to even go out for a walk. I know I should. I ask myself all the time: do I deserve this? I was a single mother to those boys. I have loved them with all my heart. I have always helped them. They were always my priority. They were my everything. Did I make mistakes along the way? I am sure I have, who hasn’t, but do I really deserve to be abandoned in my winter years? I don’t think so. And it hurts, it hurts a lot.
Thank you for this article. I have been estranged from my 2 daughters for 8 years . I have 4 grandchildren and another one on the way .My heart is so beyond broken and I’m so stuck and in pain. I have 2 sons that I’m close with but I’m so obsessed with trying to see my girls and my grandchildren . Help me
Your plea for help brought me to tears. I’m sorry for your sadness. I’m estranged from my 29 y/o son. It is devastating. My two daughters, and my husband, are my lifeline. When I feel at my worst, I know I must keep going for them. Stay strong, my friend
I’m estranged from my oldest daughter for over two years now. I’ve never known pain like this. I feel your pain, too, and I read your comments and immediately stopped and prayed for you. I have other children that I am close to and I just focus on them. They have something my estranged daughter doesn’t have, loyalty. They want to be around me…they want a relationship with me…. they deserve all of me. I can’t focus on the rejection from my eldest daughter because it paralyzes me, keeps me from breathing. If I put my effort and time into my other children, I start breathing again.
Cathy, been there. Embrace those around you who love you. Don’t talk to your available children about it. Save it for your friends and therapist. There is no way around it but through it, so expect grief as it’s processed. Look at the joy in your life from what you have, not from what you don’t have. Come to terms with the fact you have zero control over this. Stop asking, stop begging, stop suggesting, stop apologizing. Disengage but reach out on holidays, birthdays, but not from desperation. Text, card, well wishes, short phone call. Whatever you feel is surface level and best. Keep the door open this way. There is no “working it out” because someone who has capacity to work it out would have not treated you this way in the first place. It’s about power, and unfortunately, they like it. The hardest part is realizing you can no longer be open with your child. For whatever their reason, they are not concerned about your thoughts or feelings. Your child is not who you thought they were. Very hard. So embrace those that love you. Don’t burden them. Enjoy your time and love with them. Your child may or may not mature. There is nothing you can do but be yourself, don’t engage in “fixing it”. That’s a power play they intend on winning. I know it’s painful and horrific. That lessens with processing of the grief. Focus on those who love you. Bring them joy and your best self to their table. They will love you back.
Thank you so much, Sheri, for all the encouragement and guidance. What a perfect metaphor – Groundhog Day – for the cyclical nature of grief and all our emotions and actions in this situation, which can at times feel worse than death! Your books, and my supportive spouse, who is not the other parent, have helped me tremendously – to survive in these last two decades of estrangement from an only child, now an adult in the late thirties. In this time, we have tried many times to make it work, but there are too many reasons why things would not change. I have come to see that. Persistence has always been my greatest strength and greatest weakness. I did my best. There comes a time when one must draw the line. Choosing “no contact” and remembering we still have a life to live, with others to love including ourselves is the way to healing. We cannot let anyone abuse or manipulate us on their own or using others. Leaving behind social expectations and assumptions, the stranglehold of the past, and not permitting judgment to define you as the parent are certainly challenges but they are surmountable. “Wish them (and yourself) well, and keep on walking” is my outlook. Humor is my greatest ally.
Hellos to all of us who’ve suffered a broken heart over estrangement. Sometimes during a strong moment I tell myself that the cracks in my heart allow the light to pour in! And also…. To be the hero of this story, not the victim. Someone else told me that phrase which always helps. Perhaps when we share the loss because of estrangement we can feel less alone in this journey. Onwards to thoughtful sharing to get through the pain.
Thank you all.
I can never recall how to come to this wonderful site unless I receive one of these newsletters. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I know well the habitual ruminating and thinking the solution to this horrible estrangement lay in my finding the right words. No, this is my e.c.’s decision and I did the work to let their decision stand and base my future on what I can control and what makes something good of each gift of a day.
I am so grateful and strengthened by your words
Very well put. Accepting you have to endure the grief knowing eventually you will be on the other side of it. I found bringing more joy and more of myself to those that do love me was a panacea for the horrific pain.
Groundhog Day, repeating old behaviors and/or shifting what we can change, led me to think about my most recent change.
We cannot change what has happened in our past, but we can change ourselves today. So, what matters is this moment…this very second, and how we choose to live our lives today and tomorrow. What has happened is the past, and even though we may not like some of the things that we have experienced, there is no need to spend our time and energy on ‘what was’ (even if we feel it still is).
I say ‘we’ in my comments, but I am speaking for myself, and my efforts to drop the looking back and rummaging over it, instead, reflect on who I am right now. I am in control. How I live my life is a choice, and I am so grateful for that freedom! I am grasping it…and living it as a gift!
I love the silly little statement, “Sharing is caring.” I hope the healing words that we share helps others.