Trying to reconnect with estranged adult children?
Your own growth provides perspective
by Sheri McGregor, M.A.
Fiddle Leaf Fig trees (ficus lyrata) are known for their big leaves. So, when I found a scrawny one at the back of a crowded nursery shelf, I wasn’t worried and took it home. Unfortunately, my waiflike ficus struggled all summer. Pale, misshapen leaves, a toothpick-thin stalk, and holes like windows etching into her foliage was the norm. New buds would start but then dry up before developing.
Discouraged, I donned magnifying glasses and checked for pests—none. I fed and talked to that plant, set her next to fellow fiddles who had already doubled in size, and hoped for the best. Still, her paltry leaves curled. Determined, I pulled her from the pot and was surprised when the soil fell away. Only a plug of dirt near the center clung to the stem. A small net bag imprisoned a tiny ball of roots. No wonder my fiddle had failed.
Online digging–(okay, research)–revealed that some growers use what houseplant enthusiasts refer to as “root cages.” The disdained seed-starting nets are touted as easy for the roots to penetrate. Not the case for my sickly fiddle—and lots of plants people fret over in online forums. The cages can stunt growth.
Parents of estranged adult children: Inside the net?
People usually have wonderful memories of time with their kids and take very seriously the role of parenting. We love our children. When they reject us, we’re devastated. Eager to regain a good relationship, or to prove we’re good parents undeserving of rejection, we may take the high road and keep trying to reconnect with estranged adult children even to our own emotional harm. And there are plenty of opinions out there to keep us stuck.
Like those nets that imprison plant roots, opinions about what it means to be a “good” parent can keep us bound. Idealistic views such as a parent’s unconditional love and ceaseless patience, or even that we’re in control, can keep us in the realm of wishes. It stunts our growth.
Have your attempts to reconnect with estranged adult children been rebuffed or met with silence? After enduring an adult child’s disrespect, disdain, or disregard, parents are wise to reflect and reevaluate. The same is true when mentally ill or addicted adult children refuse treatment and engage in abuse. Deeply rooted beliefs, fears about how we’ll be perceived or what might happen can motivate us to hang on, to our own, or even to our adult child’s, detriment.
My book, Beyond Done With The Crying More Answers and Advice for Parents of Estranged Adult Children, covers the way parents’ emotions evolve in a continued estrangement or when there’s difficult, intermittent contact. Our actions may not keep up with our emotional changes, or we may have trouble admitting our feelings. We may think: What father wouldn’t always be there for a daughter? What mother says “no” to a son needing help? What kind of parent gives up? This is particularly true around special times when we may ponder what is “right,” ruminate about how we’ll be viewed or worry how a change in us might affect our adult child’s feelings.
The reality is that estrangement does change us, and those darling kids that exist in our memories have changed too. When we refuse to see them as they are today, we aren’t acting on reality. We risk opening ourselves to repeated hurt.
Some of us do this knowingly for a time. When is enough, enough? Only you can decide when you’re ready to halt attempts to reconnect with estranged adult children. Just make sure you’re facing the truth of your unique situation and not caught up in a net.
Friends and family members whom we love and respect may also influence us—and not necessarily on purpose. Frequently, other people’s opinions for our lives, and their thoughts about what we should do, are misinformed or sometimes self-serving. That’s why it’s crucial to examine our own circumstances, which shift over time. We can renew or refresh our decisions about continued attempts to reconnect with adult children, and whether to acknowledge special occasions, keep them as next-of-kin, or disinherit them. Each of us and our dilemmas are unique. There is no one size fits all answer. However, setting boundaries, in your thinking and in your actions, helps a person cope.
Beyond Done With The Crying More Answers and Advice for Parents of Estranged Adult Children includes tools to reflect on deeply rooted beliefs and motivations, as well as the facts of the current situation. Even the wisest, most worthy pursuits may no longer serve us or our estranged adult children. If we can always be counted on, despite mistreatment, then what’s their motivation to change how they treat us? Just as an addict whose parents keep funding substance abuse enables addiction, parents who send the message of unconditional forgiveness without consequences despite meanness and disregard may be enabling abuse.
Break free but stay aware
As I carefully cut the net from the roots and repotted my ficus, I recalled the early daze of my adult child’s estrangement and how my worries, what-ifs, and wishes negatively affected me. But life is not static. To cope and thrive requires self-examination weighed against shifting circumstances, and then recognizing how that relates to enjoying life regardless of one’s ability, or inability, to reconnect with estranged adult children.
A few days after repotting my little tree, I noticed growth. Wow! Without the root cage, a new leaf had unfurled, swiftly followed by another. Overnight, that second leaf swelled to gigantic proportions. It grew so fast that the fiddle’s narrow trunk bowed, threatening to break. Freed now, it seemed to overcompensate for lost time, just as I once did in breaking free. It’s a common occurrence among parents—and apparently in plants.
Breaking free for ourselves can result in a sense of urgency, fueling massive leaps forward that can stress our foundations or cause us further injury. That’s why awareness is so important. In Beyond Done With The Crying More Answers and Advice for Parents of Estranged Adult Children, I tell more about my own and other parents’ overcompensating experiences, to help you avoid precarious pendulum swings in how you take charge of your life, parent other children, or otherwise interact. Even when our relationships with our adult children don’t live up to our expectations, if we’re honest with ourselves and focus on solid growth with needed support, we can embrace our own brand of resilience for a fulfilling life.
To progress, my fiddle leaf fig tree will require a new strong foundation. For a little while, until her roots grow sturdy, I’ll let her lean on other trees and maybe even provide a brace. I hope this website, my newsletter (subscribe below), and my books will enhance your continued growth. Be sure to read the article comments and leave a reply to other parents’ thoughts. We can encourage each other.
Adult children won’t talk to you: What does it mean to cope?
Join the newsletter
Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
My husband and I have been estranged intermittently from our only child (our 39 year old son) for almost 4 years. After our son and DIL urged us to move to Texas to be closer to family, we felt wanted. They told us geographic closeness would be an advantage as we age and as they started a family. We now realize we were being lied to and manipulated so we’d be easier to control. When we were given rules to follow about communication, visits, and events to attend, and people to see, we were in shock! We have been blamed for everything from having a pet (our DIL doesn’t like dogs & cats) to “inappropriately” wanting to talk to our son alone. I sent him a card almost two years ago and was told to never do that again. We have been blocked and unfriended and ignored: our email, texts, phone calls. Our son has also isolated himself from high school friends and other family members. We believe this is a technique our DIL has used to make her family and herself his only positive relationships. By convincing us to move to Texas, they did the same thing to us – cut us off from life-long friendships and then began to find fault with every thing about us and every decision we make. August 2022 we made our last attempt to reconcile: we were told to stop harassing them.
We’re done. We will not try again. We know God knows what He is doing. A couple of big steps for me: 1) Trust God totally to handle this 2) Accept that reconciliation may not happen in our lifetime 3) Live my life fully – we went on an Alaskan cruise last summer 4) Removed our son as beneficiary on my life insurance
I agree with several of you: It’s a spiritual thing and Satan is having a great time destroying families. One pastor said that when a person is deceived, they don’t know they are deceived. That may sound like circular logic but they really don’t walk around saying “I’m deceived”. They walk around saying “I’m right and everyone else is wrong.” How do you fight that? You don’t. Only God can change a person’s thinking and their heart and attitude.
Letting people be wrong about you or a situation while keeping your peace and focus is the most misunderstood power move you will ever make. – Morgan Richard Olivier
I remember in my twenties I became involved with a man who treated me good, when he was there, but he would disappear for months while binging on drugs, then would call me to pick him up when he was homeless and starving. I got him back on his feet, then after he was doing great and back on his feet again, he would do it all over again. This went on for five years. My mother became increasingly intolerant of it and eventually told me that he would never be allowed in her home again. My mom’s strong opinion about him, along with the fact that I was tired of it too, was what I needed to finally end the relationship. Sometimes you have to NOT be accepting if your child is in an abusive relationship to show your child that you won’t support it, no matter what. It may be what they need to hear and if not, then at least you know you told them the truth about their situation and that the abuse is NOT acceptable or will be tolerated by you. Tough love shows that you truly love them and care that they are in a destructive situation. I didn’t like my mom for doing that at the time and pulled away from her, but knew deep down she was 100% right. It just took me time to admit it.
Dear friends. I have just been informed that my first cousin’s son died today. a beautiful boy of 29 years. a quite famous Mexican poet. My soul ached for his mom. And I thought… if being far away or forced to live at a distance from our children I thought once that it was as if he had died today I realized something my friends… at least we know that they are in this world and leave that open door so that one day we will see them return to hug each other…we have that hope…it can happen…but whoever loses a child because they left this life loses him forever…I felt blessed that my son is still sick Well, he has type 1 diabetes, he’s alive in this world and so am I, and maybe the world will bring us closer again. My cousin, the mother of this child who died, cannot say that. Let’s look at the glass half full. I love .
One section of Sheri’s essay above stands out for me, “A few days after repotting my little tree, I noticed growth. Wow! Without the root cage, a new leaf had unfurled, swiftly followed by another. Overnight, that second leaf swelled to gigantic proportions. It grew so fast that the fiddle’s narrow trunk bowed, threatening to break. Freed now, it seemed to overcompensate for lost time…”
That’s what happened to me. I went through the stages of grief, but me being the me that I am, I dwelled way too long in the anger phase. I clung to it for comfort. Some people dwell too long in the despair stage, or denial, or hopelessness, or shame – everyone is different and everyone needs to cope in the best way they can – but here’s what I learned: Get out of that cage if you can. Strive to move forward, let go.
Sheri’s message is true: We deserve happiness.
Our estranged children would choose for us to be miserable, but our happiness is not theirs to choose. It is for us to choose. They made the choice to kick us to the curb, but it is OUR choice whether or not we go on to be productive, involved, creative, connected and HAPPY.
So much easier said than done.
You stated this so beautifully. Thank you.
I am also estranged from my two daughters. The youngest who still lived with me at the time wanted her boyfriend to be in her room with her alone, etc. I said no. She said she could do as she pleased and I said yes, but not in my home. (She lived rent free and I was paying her college tuition.) I gave her 4 weeks to move, she moved in one. The middle daughter and I have always struggled. During her teenage years her two siblings used to ask me why I was so nice to her even though she was so mean! Mother love, grace, forgiveness.
I was a single mother and the ex-husband had no visitation and did not contribute to raising our 3 kids. YET, whenever I enforced rules the middle daughter would call dad and complain, he would tell her mom was mentally ill, he was trying to get custody, etc. We divorced due to him having a stroke and losing his “filter” and he became short tempered and abusive. After a child abuse report (from the daycare) it was him or my children – I chose my kids. He rarely saw the kids, yet my middle daughter has such a bond with him and he is her hero. Why? He never show up to anything, even though he told the girls he would – Christmas, birthdays, graduation, etc. I am the villan and every 3 or 4 months her stories get worse as to “things” I did to her. Now both girls are bonding and feeding off of each other with their experiences. Most recent is the accusation I made up the entire abuse investigation story, it wasn’t true, etc. (They were 3 and 5 at the time.)
My son (3 years older than the girls) remembers everything. He thankfully is still in contact with his sisters and me and is navigating the situation quite well at this time. I am very careful to not to put him in the middle, I don’t inquire about his sisters, etc. Once in awhile he will bring up the subject and remind me I really did my best and to continue to follow my own path. He is correct, as is my counselor, in that I need to keep moving forward. I put so much of my life on hold for my 3 kids and now that they are gone it is my turn to live again!
It is painful my daughters do not want to talk to me and say such horrible things, but I am okay right now. I have told them both I am here if they want to attend counselling together or if they are in urgent need. I believe they both know I love them and I know I am proud of them and me! I raised them myself, put them all through college, and they all have good jobs and are self-sufficient. That is what I remember this Mother’s Day – THIS MOTHER guided 3 children to adulthood and they all are doing well!!!!!
I won’t say “happy mother’s day” but “happy pat ourselves on the back day”. I see the common thread, we busted our butts, did the right thing, tried our best, put them first, gave our all and then, for whatever reason they come up with, it’s over. To endure all of the abuse and love them anyway shows the pure love we have as parents. Love is love, respect is respect, unfortunately the two do not always happen . Respect other’s as you would like to be respected in return, is my motto and how I live my life. Let’s give ourselves a huge pat on the back today, through this process we become stronger and more resilient. When life gives lemons, add vodka, Lol. 😉
You’re a better woman than I am, Maureen. I have nothing left to give these girls. Like you, I put my life on hold for so very many years – their dad married the woman he met at work – and then when two of them got pregnant – one while in nursing school – all 5 of us lived together and did quite well sharing chores and babies. And I, of course, footed the bill for everything. Anyway, we both seem to be going forward as best we can. I will carry the hole in my heart until my days are done, always wondering what I did wrong.
All the best to you!
Being the youngest of five kids, I know the influence my older siblings had on my life. After fifty years I found out about huge secrets that were kept from me, it explained so much and has been the root cause of all the dysfunctional chaos. It is truly UNREAL my entire family can live a lie and cover things up because they did not want me to ever find out. The one thing I learned is things are NOT always what they appear or seem to be. Others dishonest behavior is NOT our
doing OR our fault! It is their fear and guilt that keeps them away, it’s tough to face the person they’ve lied to and it’s much easier to make it about something else to “flip the script” on them, instead of seeing them. It’s much easier than admitting to lies and just go along with what everyone else is doing. Consider the possibility that maybe a lot is going on that you don’t even know about. I would have NEVER thought it could be possible, but sadly, it was and is. Today was just another confirmation of the truth.
Today will be the 7th Mother’s Day since I have heard from two out of three of my daughters. My third daughter – a twin of one of the other two – brought me flowers today after not hearing from her for almost a year. Wonderful, you say? Not even close. Said 3rd daughter is engaged to a convicted felon with a 25 year history – and several stays in prison. When I started doing some background checking because of the speed of the relationship/engagement, I made this discovery. I showed her the report and told her that they both lied to me (by omission). I became the bad guy. Had they been honest from the start, things might have eventually worked out. She told me I forced her to make a choice – him or me. She chose him. When she brought me the flowers she told me she loved me and I would always be her mom but she loved her man and well – you know. That was it. I gave the flowers to my neighbor/friend down the street. They did not make me feel good and I knew I would not enjoy them. As for my other two daughters – to this day, I have no idea what I did that was so unforgivable. We went to counseling once, 6 years ago and they both trashed me because I guess they didn’t get the Beaver Cleaver lifestyle. I was a single mother to 3 by the time I was 24 – never remarried. I worked several jobs at a time, they all went to a private Catholic high school (I couldn’t give them “stuff” but I could give them an education) and then I helped them raise two grandsons – one of whom doesn’t talk to me either – why? Who knows. Do I love these people? Truthfully, I don’t think so – not anymore. The trust is gone but the hurt is unbearable. I will be 74 next month and never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be so alone in my golden years. I feel invisible and used up. And yet – life goes on.
To see so many people experiencing some of the same similarities is hurtful. My daughter is 24 who hadn’t spoken to me since 2-14-22. She got upset because I did a welfare check on her because friends and family were telling me they would always see her boyfriend in her car and not her. She sent me a lengthy email pretty much bashing me. She was raised and reared with supportive and loving family. She went from spending time with us and communicating to nothing. She will communicate with her youngest sister from time to time, but it’s never engaging conversation. Reading you alls comments, I was hopeful I would hear from her on Mother’s Day because she’s never not acknowledged that day. This is also my 2nd year without my mom for Mother’s Day. I’m really trying not to think about rather or not if she will call or text me, but now that I’m reading you alls comments it’s highly unlikely. I know she’s being influenced by her boyfriend who doesn’t have her best interest at heart. Thank you for creating this forum and giving a platform where we can share our experiences. I will try to keep myself busy on tomorrow. Happy Mother’s Day!
I feel your pain. I too wondered if I would hear from my estranged son today on Mother’s Day, even though deep inside I knew I wouldn’t. It will be 3 years this Christmas since I have seen him. We would exchange texts, usually him being hostile up until last June 15 when he blocked my husband and I from all phones. He moved so we don’t have an address and have no way of contacting him. I can honestly say I didn’t think I could go on living. But time and friends have helped some. I thnak God I found Sher McGregor. I am reading her book, “Done With The Crying”. I highly recommend it. God Bless you and give you strength.
I’m so sorry you’re going through this. New boyfriends (or girlfriends, wives or husbands, as the case may be) often times influence our children to make the choice to estrange us. It’s a control issue in many ways. The way the new mate gains control is by separating the adult child from his/her parents.
I’ve been estranged for five years, and for the first few years I would hold out hope every holiday that my ED would “soften” and come back. I wrote notes. I sent gifts. Once we almost reconciled, but it didn’t last.
It is every estranged parent’s hope for each other that we all reconcile with our children, but we realistically understand that clinging to that hope is usually (not always) extremely painful, or even impossible. We are disappointed too often. This Mother’s Day I was stronger than I have been in years. I expected nothing from my daughter, and you know what I got? Exactly what I expected. Nothing. It was just another day.
Hang in there. Invest in yourself, in your own happiness. You have this group’s understanding and support.
Dear Birgit, Sophia, Sheri, and All,
I read the daily posts here and always feel that the stories shared could be mine. The words you brave authors choose could often be mine, verbatim. Please know that I send loving and peaceful thoughts to all of you every day.
Sophia – Mother’s Day will be difficult as it always is, but I plan to spend it with my 98 year old mother-in-law in order to make her feel special. This will do me a world of good because I lost my own mother a few years back and this lovely woman has also been estranged by one of her sons. As is unfortunately typical of the other situations represented here, no one knows why one of her three sons abandoned the family. I do know that it has pained her for many decades. Making this Mother’s Day special for this wonderful woman will bring me peace and joy, too. I look forward to it.
Birgit – You are absolutely correct that social media has profoundly (and negatively) influenced this generation. “Therapists,” who can often be found online for little to no cost, are also poisoning the waters. My ED (26) has been misguided by these influences and the additional leverage that her exceedingly wealthy boyfriend and, in my opinion, plastic, family wield over her. I do not, however, excuse her outrageous behavior as she is intelligent and well educated and should be able to make better decisions on her own. I am so very sorry to hear about your bicycle accident and can completely relate to your situation. In 2018 I was diagnosed with an incurable illness that first put be into a major Boston hospital for 24 days. There was a stretch when I almost didn’t survive and my daughter only called twice to check in. She never came to see me. Her only concern later was whether or not my particular ailment is hereditary (it is not) and if she should be concerned for her own well being. (Rest assured that I am doing very well and my ongoing medical treatments are keeping me healthy and strong!)
This past weekend I attended the Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque. Although I am not Native American I do have great respect and admiration for all of the nations. The thing that struck me most about the Powwow was that the elders were highly respected and celebrated, something that many other young people living in the U.S. fail to recognize as important. Before the “Golden Age” dancers (over age 70) came to the central dance floor the MC called upon the large audience to celebrate these special people because they are the keepers of wisdom, history, and family. Since my daughter separated herself from me I have often wondered how these key components of what I believe to be is healthy living have escaped her. I have tried to explain to her that her decision to estrange from me will be harmful to her in the end but she refuses to accept that as a possibility. Some therapist(s) along the way have told her that I am toxic (their words) even though I have never had any opportunity to participate in any session in any way. I don’t know their names, they don’t know me or anything about the reality of my daughter’s privileged and quite loving upbringing. At the Powwow, it seemed that elders were respected for their life experience and wisdom no matter what. How sad it is to be losing some of that.
I thank you all for the support that you provide through this forum. I also, again, thank you, Sheri, for bringing this societal epidemic to the foreground and for your myriad resources.
Love and Peace to All,
To comment on the treatment of your ED after your serious bicycle accident, ( glad to hear you fully recovered from!) I, too, knew something was very wrong when I had a trip to the hospital by ambulance and had to take a taxi home when released because neither of my children would pick me up. Two years later, I suffered a fall and broke my shoulder, I literally sat for three months completely alone. I begged my daughter to come once a week to open canned foods and bottles for me and help me shower. I could not take my hospital gown off for three weeks. I doted on my kids whenever they were sick, literally their servant with a bell and everything! It is abusive and beyond hurtful. Talk about adding insult to injury! It is truly unbelievable and inhumane. Give ourselves our own Mother’s Day gift of self love and hugs on Sunday for a job well done. Peace be with us all
With Mother’s Day approaching, how are you spending the day? My ED was born on Mother’s Day 29 years ago. We have been estranged since the week after Mother’s Day last year. That Mother’s Day I received beautiful cards from her how wonderful a Mom I am. To think a week later, months before her wedding, she would cruelly cut off contact. I am reluctant to send a card for her birthday as she didn’t respond to my letters or emails. She did nothing to remember my birthday. I simply do not feel that anything I do or say will change her views and I have been spending my energy on me. So, my sister had invited me out for the day with her and her family.
I think that’s great of your sister to do! My youngest daughter got upset about me talking to my son (they haven’t spoken to each other since 12/2020). I’m just done! She did this less than 2 weeks after I threw her an engagement party!! All the planning, time, energy and money that went into it. For nothing…she told me “she no longer sees me as her mother”. The nerve this generation has! How can anyone say that to their mom? She’s almost 29 also. Please take care of yourself and do what makes you happy! Hell with the rest!
Reading your post almost exactly described my situation approximately five years ago. I lost the relationship with both of my kids (son 39 and daughter 28). I did NOT understand What was going on, but now I do. I divorced my husband 10 years ago, after I left found out there were HUGE secrets going on behind my back in our home. Seems there is an ‘alternate society’ that encourages non traditional societal norms and is spreading viral, especially with 20 and 30 year olds. It encourages children to disassociate with their parents (if they have traditional views on life) and join their “family” who accepts them and encourages destructive behavior and non traditional lifestyles It’s not anything we did. Please find peace and know you were everything good in their life. I pray to the Lord for comfort and read His words of encouragement on a daily basis, which is the only way I’ve been able to cope with all of this. I just recently found this organization.
Hi Sophia, my daughter has gone “no contact” in December last year. Since then, my birthday, Xmas, New Year and Easter have gone by without a word from her. Even when I had a bad bicycle accident around Xmas, she refused to help. There is method behind this madness: Our children are being braonwashed by certain online groups and communities, labeling parents as narcisstic monsters. Their recipe and solution for any problem the child may have with her- or himself: Simply go no contact! The promise: Then you will be free and your life will be perfect. So my daughter wrote me a 9 page letter full of accusational bullshit that has nothing to do with me. I have been a single parent from the start, I am self-employed, and everybody says that I have done a terrific job raising her. But now she (20) is in a claustrophobic relationship, they live together, her boyfriend acts as the gatekeeper. I am in counselling now; we are trying to find a way to make contact with my daughter and prepare a conversation in the presence of two female counsellors. I hope she will agree to this. But I won’t contact her without my coach / alone anymore! And there won’t be a mother’s day. Take care :)!! Love Birgit
I pray for all of you to find peace and lately between my different blogs, I have found that when there is one dysfunction there is many more. While I have not totally cut off my youngest daughter, she is manipulated by her sister, her dad, her generation, and her ADD. I show her MERCY. I do not excuse her behavior or look the other way. But I know I control how our relationship goes going forward. It is like dealing with a 21 year old toddler, It is on their terms too! I abide and pretty much have no relationship. Minimal contact via text. When you decide that you can let go and not need the relationship, you equal the playing field. I want mine to finish college and her and her dad don’t always pay tuition. She is a junior in engineering but no concept of obligation, time, etc. like her dad. I also did not minimalize past behaviors and need to pay tuition. It is the last time I rescue her. I also realize she is so like her dad and I will not enable anymore.
So I got a little confused. Is she paying her tuition, her dad, or are you? I believe one reason my son has chosen estrangement is because I am not paying his tuition. Although I have co-signed with him on more than $30,000 of loans and pay $570 monthly towards the interest that doesn’t really count. Even though most of that money hasn’t gone towards tuition, but towards an apartment for him to live in with His friends. I initially thought the loans were for college and he would get a job to pay for rent, but that never happened. All four years the loans have gone towards rent. Maybe $500-$600 a semester has actually gone towards tuition. I feel so guilty. I read on the internet that 84% of parents pay for their kids college. I don’t Understand how. Then my son says I told him he had to go to college. So since I told him he had to go I should pay for it. I wish I would have never told him that, but he was smart. I didn’t want him to waste his intelligence by not going.
Yesterday something happened to me a lifelong friend came to see me. She already knew what was happening to me with my son. And yesterday when talking about the issue of distance with my son and expressing my pain to him, his reaction was to tell me that it is normal for children to grow up wanting to lead their lives and that does not mean that I stop wanting to be away? I say … what happens to this society and to the people who can sustain that a 29-year-old adult child who was given both material things and all the love in the world refuses to see his mother for 9 months. That he doesn’t want to share anything that happens to him… that he treats her without any affection as if she were a stranger who forbids her to go visit him at his house that I gave him? I gave him an apartment… how can that attitude be justified as normal? what society are we living in? On the other hand, I also realized that we cannot share what happens to us because very few have empathy and minimize it… we are very alone battling against a permissive society where any action against parents is justified. My conclusion is that despite being a very close friend, she cannot understand my pain. Before his minimization of my pain, I defended my beliefs… that I deserved good treatment and a loving attitude from my son towards me and that I was not going to take as normal something that for my principles was not. A hug to all … better to speak here because we are all in the same boat and we understand each other and a hug to Sheri for giving us this place.
Hello, Holidays are SO emotionally difficult even after 3 years of estrangement. So our youngest son reached out to his oldest living brother that he wasn’t angry with his parents but because we drink wine after 5:00 p.m. we cannot ever see our grandchildren as long as we are drinking wine. Granted we are retired, have no arrest records, never, ever drive after drinking a glass of wine. So we think because we have money and our son’s in-laws have no money for Disney vacations or big gift that this is the excuse to eliminate us from their lives…jealousy.
Yes you are right. It is an excuse. I know I have suffered from estrangement also. Money certainly does not buy love. Be careful let the estranged son come to you, hopefully he will not ask you for money to go to Disney. It’s a different chapter in our lives. The hurt is incredible I know. But look for all the good in your life now. Keep busy that always helps me. I try to focus on being happy and healthy. My JOB as mother is completed. I was a good mother. Some people grow to be mean and cruel adults.
Hello everyone. I am just joining this blog and I feel so bad for all of you. I know the pain. Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be a way out of the despair. My situation is a little different in that my estranged son is only 18. But I am looking for any advice from anyone who has seen this with a teenager.
My only child left home at 16 because he didn’t like the rules. He was caught with alcohol, pot, and having sex with a minor (his girlfriend at the time). My soon-to-be-ex knew about all of this, didn’t tell me, and actually turned a blind eye to some of it. So when I found out, I set some boundaries as the only parent who was actually parenting. Well, my son simply called me some awful names and left home. That was 2 1/2 years ago and he has been estranged ever since. My cowardly husband left two weeks after that (by sending me an email) and then served me with divorce papers 3 days after the email. My son and husband got an apartment together and there is no contact at all. My son was court-ordered to come to dinner once a week at home, but he came only once and that was to ask me if he could come to Christmas. I was so hopeful that we were on the road to reconciliation, but man, was I wrong. He showed up Christmas Day only to open presents, and left before the meal. He barely spoke to me and did not seem appreciative of the gifts I had rushed to buy at the last minute. He hasn’t spoken to me since, and that was 2020. He has since graduated from high school and gone to college; I was excluded from it all. I reach out to him occasionally, but never get a reply. This past Christmas I had my family members see him a different day as I couldn’t go through another horrible holiday. So if there is anyone out there who has an estranged child who is so young, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Wondering if there are others like me. My ES said some horrible things to me 6 years ago. No contact since then I have not tried to contact him either. I’m hurt to my very core I love him dearly, my kids were my life However I never want to be hurt like that again. I don’t know this person….he is not the person I raised. Am I wrong?
I have been estranged from my daughter for three years and we reconnected two years ago but she never called me mum and always still found something to blame me for. I also don’t even know who this girl is as I never raised her to be this person so I would rather remove myself completely than to be continually mentally abused I refuse to be as I was a good mother and I need to keep telling myself that
Patricia, your story sounds as if I am writing my on estrangement story from my son, it will be 6 years when my sweet loving son turned on me for no reason and to this day not a word. You have been I believe right for staying silent. I reached out to my son over and over again and each time with no answer took me on a nose dive into depression which so many times if felt like my life was over. But for a year I have tried not to communicate and after a few months I have stated living a almost normal looking life. God bless you, we just have to pray for guidance from God and leave it in his hands.
I am sorry. It’s not morally correct. My heart too has been broken by my estranged children. They loved their father more than me . He died 30 years ago and they both treated me terribly. I don’t want to be hurt anymore so I stay away. I still love life and made friends, but the loss never goes away. Take good care of yourself like John Milton said better to have loss than never to have loved. Stay happy
Karen it is so psychologists without danger there are some good ones but many bad ones who, as you say, carry their own backpack and make catharsis in the situations of their patients. They unload their own frustrations and in impressionable adult children who are looking for someone to blame for their problems, it is fuel for this distancing bomb to explode. I say: who controls them. How can they give an opinion without knowing us. The judge to give a sentence listens to the accused. Many of us were condemned here by counselors and psychologists who did not give us the opportunity to defend ourselves. . Thank you all and Sheri. He loves them.
I believe you couldn’t be more right! I look at it like this the memories I have of my children are mine but my children don’t remember those memories because they were too young. When they became adults and we became a estranged I realized it was in my memories that I hurt not in my reality as it is. He is no longer the child you raised he is an adult influenced by the choices that he has made. You’re right in saying you don’t know him any more than I know my son after not having spoken to him in 12 years. His life experiences have made him who he is and I was not a part of that he is a stranger to me just, as your son is to you. Putting you in your feelings first is the right thing to do, in fact in my opinion the best choice.
No, Patricia you are not wrong. My oldest son has been estranged from me for four years because according to him, I favour my other son. I love my children equally and with all my heart but couldn’t convince him. He accused me of being passive/aggressive and gaslighting him. I had to look up the term! After several months with a good therapist, I understood that none of this is true. I have attempted to talk to him, assured him of my love and pride for him with no response. So I am carrying on with my life and finding my joy. When all this estrangement happened, I was a new widow so I felt his treatment was simply cruel.
I will always love this son but won’t risk this hurt again unless things really changed
Patricia, I read your letter, it could have been written by me. My son broke off all means of contact with us all last June. I never thought this could ever happen. What happened to the sweet little boy that I remember? My two sons also were my and my husband’s life. Everything centered around them. Our oldest is still family but our youngest will have nothing to do with us. I would never wish this pain on anyone. If you haven’t I would suggest Sheri’s book “Done With the Crying”. I just got it last week and it really is helpful. I thank God I found this group. We are not to be blamed, the world is changing and not for the good. I wish good things for you.
I’m constantly amazed to hear that others share this heartbreaking situation. How does this happen? It’s been 8 years since I’ve seen my son or heard his voice. His daughters don’t know us and it’s been a trip through hell for my husband and I. I was always close to my son and it’s unimaginable that this break occurred. Why? I don’t have a clue. His wife was estranged from her mother, but I never saw this coming. Again, how does this happen to so many?
Your post pulled at my heart strings. My son who was a gift from God suddenly, without talking to us sent an email telling us that we had been horrible parents and worse, yet, horrible grandparents who could not be trusted with their son. They had asked us to move to the town where they lived to be near our grandson. We soon became attached to our grandson so when they sold their home and moved away without even talking to us or letting us say goodbye to our grandson we were totally shattered. We sent an email requesting that we be allowed to see our grandson for his birthday. The reply was the most scathing email, filled with horrible accusations and finally telling us that our grandson, who is only 3 1/2, no longer loved us or had any kind thing to say about us. Obviously, he has been filled with vicious lies; we think it comes from our son’s wife. We were always close to our son. He never talked to us without telling us he loved us. Sheri’s newsletter arrived today just as we were struggling with continuing to show our love, sending birthday presents, and reversing a decision to remove our son from our will. We hope, pray and keep on praying that our son will come back to us. But we also have faced the reality that, even though we can blame his wife, our son signed the emails as well. Our son loaded up his family and left town without telling us when he was leaving or where he was moving, We are getting stronger. Some days are better than others. Like you, we don’t have a clue about what we did wrong. Only those of us who have suffered will comprehend that this has happened to thousands of families, loving parents who gave their children the best lives they knew how to give. Heartbroken, but I fall back on something I was told by a friend years ago, “Now I lay me down and bleed awhile, but then I rise and fight again.” Your son does not define you. I pray that you will find peace and accept the fact that you were a loving mother. Sheri’s books and the posting of other parents helped me tremendously – I do not blame myself or my husband. We did our best. We gave him our love and support. So, we know what we gave him and as someone said (maybe Sheri) but we do not know what he received!
Mary, you ask :
” How does this happen? ” in my opinion, its a generation thing.
Many of us on this site come from a generation where family were everything and parents were respected but that is clearly not the case for our children no matter what we have done or not done. Alas, todays society continues to push the idea that ” you can pick your own family ” encouraging our children to lean on influences outside of the traditions of their own family structure not realising that those ‘others’ can in some cases be damaging.
I am here in the UK and for many years i worked in big Supermarkets and Shopping Malls as a demonstrator, my job was to demonstrate new electrical products or introduce public to a new ice cream, cake or drink by allowing them to “taste before buying” it was interesting but very hard work standing around all day with swollen legs from 8am to 6pm every day. I often worked with a lady who always spoke lovingly about her wonderful talented son, she would take on all the spare hours she could because she was paying for him to attend acting school, both our sons were then 10 years old.
Years later now in a different job, i came across an open letter printed in my local newspaper, a daughter was writing about her mother who was very ill, how their home was riddled with damp and black mould, how she alone could no longer make enough money to deal with the repairs to the home and mother was too ill to work, and how her father had died after a long illness. She was asking for help from her brother who lived in sunny warm America ” could he please send a plane ticket for Mother so she could get better in a warm climate? and could he please send money to help with the house repairs ?”. It was a begging letter, but, who was she begging to? she was begging to Christian Bale the actor. He had abandoned his family for a better life and never looked back, he didn’t even send invitations to award ceremony’s, his mother ? ..was the hard working lady i had worked with all those years previous.
I know she must have been heartbroken, her daughter was clearly very angry hence the open public letter printed in the newspaper for all to read in an effort to shame a high profile actor into helping his own family in need , back home in the UK. I don’t know how the story ended but i do know the ” mindset” of the child now grown into a man i have seen it in both my sons and here.. on this site.
I am sorry. It’s not morally correct. My heart too has been broken by my estranged children. They loved their father more than me . He died 30 years ago and they both treated me terribly. I don’t want to be hurt anymore so I stay away. I still love life and made friends, but the loss never goes away. Take good care of yourself like John Milton said better to have loss than never to have loved. Stay happy
I don’t know, but there seems to be an awful lot of us out there. Both daughters went stage left in July 2021 and I haven’t seen them or our grandchildren since. Christmas was horrible and Mother’s Day…I can’t even think about it.
I’m intrigued by the acknowledgment that adult child estrangement has become more widespread than ever. My only daughter and I were always very close, enjoyed each other’s company and had mutual respect. One morning after staying with my 3 grandsons while their parents went to a wedding, my daughter asked my advice on how to handle one of her son’s temper tantrums. I replied that I honestly didn’t know as she was a well behaved child always and I never had to cope with any problems with her as a child. I then suggested that she seek the advice of a family counselor, someone trained in this sort of thing. That was my death knell! After participating in family therapy, my daughter and son-in-law no longer wanted anything to do with me. They also kept me from my grandsons.
I got an email from my daughter stating that I was to blame for everything wrong in her life, and did not deserve to be her parent or her sons’ grandparent. She has a master’s degree herself in counseling, so she knows all the buzz words and terminology to shut me down. She preemptively called me a narcissist who never takes ownership of my mistakes and a conspiracy theorist (so that I couldn’t question where she got these ideas). To make a long story short, I truly believe that there are many loudly vocal “therapists” that are encouraging people to reject their parents. Whatever their reasons are, they are not acting in their patients’ best interest but making amends for their own failed relationships.
Happy Easter to Sherri and to each one of you who after 9 months of distance and without support from family or my husband in this sad process have become my company and daily support. in feeling that I am not alone in this madness that I have to live. An outcome of life never thought. But as many parents say, here is a very difficult process to get out of this. disbelief and pain surprise us again when I think I’m better, so that some circumstance or occasional encounter and the eyes of hatred with which my son looks at me or the indifference with which he treats me makes me fall again. I will never get tired of thanking this site. and to each of my friends who already considers each member. . Today I don’t have the strength to do therapy, I try but in the first interview and without knowing details of the story, the psychologist told me that this had happened to me because I, giving my son all the material I gave him, wanted to buy his love. Nothing is further from reality. What I gave her was out of love and I would have given her my clothes and I would have stayed naked as long as I didn’t get cold. Say everything. Today I have a broken family and a husband who is almost a stranger. He says that he victimized me and makes a plot with my son when he has to come get my car key, which he borrows without asking me, leaving the keys hidden under the wheel or in the door of the building so that he does not have to come up to greet me or say goodbye I am so alone with this, that’s why I thank you and this website that Sheri made possible. Thank you all. he loves them
I understand your situation. I have a similar situation with my adult daughter. Apparently, a therapist told her to text me because she blamed me for her actions that have caused problems. She got histerical and used the blame game for lack of anyone else to pounce on. I tried to no avail to assure her I love her and always will, and I have no I’ll will towards her. Didn’t work. She kept going and going. I gave all I had to make sure she got a good education and I worked to provide all she needed. Not enough. I can’t fix her problems, so I don’t talk about her, or try to reach out which I had been doing. I don’t want to be blamed for anything else I didn’t know was a problem — like the school she went to – never heard a bad word about it until now. She made good grades. She had friends. We got her a car when she graduated. Every way apparently it wasn’t right it good enough. So, I am enjoying for now no blame.
In my case, my son always saw everyone as a possible enemy, but he always kept me close and I always tried to pamper him and make him feel safe. A new partner with whom she moved in advised her to go to therapy and the psychologist was, according to her words, told her that I was a toxic abusive person and that she had to get away from me. Nothing further from the truth. It’s been 9 months now. How a professional graduate can separate an impressionable adult child from his mother who loves him more than anything in the world. How much injustice. !! And to that professional who destroys what comes to her mind because she has influence. Who judges her? I didn’t even find out his name. It’s not fair that I ruin a relationship of a lifetime. I’m sure I was wrong and I must have done something wrong. but I assure you I am a devoted and loving mother. How did society come to this? How much power does it give to psychologists and counselors!!!!
I believe the same Francine! I think it was a therapist who filled my daughters head with such nonsense and accusation, that was simply not true! Where else would she have gotten this brain washing!! We were always great parents, who praised,loved, and gave our kids our time and Money. Paid fully for her college, wedding, business loans (gifts!). It’s been three years since she has talked to us. Has written scathing ,condescending letters, and accusations of what a terrible childhood she had! Duh.? We always tried to be the parents that we did not have. So maybe mothering, and fathering weren’t our best attributes, but we gave them everything we had. Our son, says he does not know why she is that way, and she must have been living in a different home! But all in all, How do you apologize for something you did not do? Frustrating, but we have moved on and still have the relationship with our college age grand kids. We find joy in the kids in our neighborhood, and their parents treat us as if we were theirs! So, have a happy life, and try to find joy and companionship in others. Marsha
I agree fully with your appraisal of what happened with the “therapist”. When our estrangement first started, our daughter must have scrolled the internet and labeled all of her family with terms that you would read from a mental illness website. You see, she and her husband are great, and have done nothing to create this family’s suffering and estrangement. She recently is actually seeing a counselor, and she told her sister she had been putting up “With Mom and Dad’s s….. for so long, but because of her blind loyalty to us”, she did not realize it for what it was!! Maybe because she did not have anything to “put up with”?? I believe her “counselor” has opened her eyes to all of her so -called abuse. After all, he/she has only heard her side of the story, and they carry their own personal baggage. My son in law, is an emotional bully and abuser, and has used every insecurity our daughter may have had, to blame us and the rest of the family. I can only imagine what they told the counselor.
I relate in some way to all of these postings. Our situation is different and the same in so many ways. It has been almost 2 years, and our hearts have been broken. I gave up the situation to God because I could not fix it, nor even help it. It dawned on me, in our situation, my daughter wanted to keep the situation going. They do not want it fixed. They like the fight, the separation. We cannot win with that attitude. I also remember Sheri’s wise words when she essentially said, do not let them abuse you any longer. We may have to let them go.
It’s really easy for a therapist to blame parents rather than perhaps tell their client there may be some shortcomings in themselves.
Thank you from all of us who are in this impossible situation. I have often thought I would have never spoken to my parents the way “our” children speak to us today, (and that is the ones who do speak to us). We never would have cut our parents out of the picture, assuming they were doing their best. But, I have not had contact with my daughter in years, (her choice) or seen my grandchildren. I am blocked and she has instructed everyone not to tell me anything about either her or her children, under threat of additional estrangement to anyone who doesn’t go along with her “rules”. I can’t even figure out what happened, or make any sense of it. When I make an attempt to reach out, I am verbally abused, accused, and end up in tears. So, like so many of us, I decided not to reach out again. Sad, but it is what it is.
that’s me and my son! have no idea what my husband and I did to keep him from us. It’s been 8 years since I have seen him. When his father passed away, he didn’t show up for the funeral. off and on over the years i would reach out to my son for brief phone calls. The last time I called, two years ago, it was to wish him a happy birthday. When my son asked who was calling I told him “mom”, the line went dead. That was the last time I tried to contact him. It is what it is. One day, it might be too late.
Please know that you are not alone in your pain and confusion. As another parent stated, it’s not something you freely share with others for fear of judgement. I mean, whose child writes their parents out of their lives for no reason? Well MY child for one!
I know exactly how you feel. My daughter is doing the same. So I stopped as well. The last bit of communication I got from a “friend” of hers was that she was safe and considering moving “west” (she had been evicted from her apt). I felt that was manipulative and said enough is enough.
I keep staying strong, I hope you do the same.
Some psychologists are instilling adult children with a lot of nonsense . I too was a good mother, teaching right from wrong. The devil has done this to American children who came from loving families. People want someone to blame for their own mistakes and the mother gets the blame . Ridiculous!!!! Once a person is an adult, it’s their own responsibility to make their own choices. And stop blaming mother.
Thank you, Sheri, for your email this Easter morning which I desperately needed. Your books & words are invaluable. I have been through 14 months of estrangement with only the occasional text from my 50 yr old ED, although I have reached out in every way several times. The “WHY” is unknown to me. Yesterday, I decided it was time to give up. Reconciliation would be lovely but I have now finally lost hope and strangely, with that, I feel I am at peace today. I am 75 yrs with heart & kidney problems. I hope to live out the rest of my days with the love of my other daughter, son-in-law and 2 grandchildren. They live a significant distance away from me, and flights are expensive, but they do try to visit me at least once a year and my daughter will always be there for me when I need her. Thoughts to all who are suffering this nightmare…..be well.
I love the fact that by reading these forum comments, I know I am not alone in this wilderness of estrangement. It’s been 4 1/2 years since our son wrote a horrible letter to us claiming all kinds of things about us that weren’t true. They moved away from us 8 years ago to Florida, and due to some real financial hardships, we weren’t able to visit them. A new wrinkle appeared last fall when he told his wife of 17 years he didn’t want to be married anymore and she moved out with the 2 kids. He had forbidden her to contact me when she was in town or let me see the kids. With this new reality, she had e mailed me saying she wanted the kids to get to know us more, as we were like strangers to them. She almost immediately found someone else, and we are back in the dark again as she has begun a new life. I have always suspected that she was part of the reason he is unhappy with her exclusion of him from her social activities as she reestablishes relationships from friends from her past in Florida. Our son turned 40 in March and again, our communications with him via email have gone unanswered. The grandkids now have a substitute “grandma” now and last night’s picture on Facebook of her struck another knife in my heart. I feel I am making progress with letting go and then these, posts pop up which move me backwards again.
Our daughter in law began posting hateful things on Facebook, including pictures of our grandson with a friend,”who really loved our grandson and had taken our place.” It was so painful to look at those pictures and see our grandson, who was the center of our lives, with that smile that we loved so much. I took down all the pictures of my son and we have one picture in our home with our grandson to remind us of the wonderful gift from God that we enjoyed for 3 1/2 years. We no longer see any pictures or posts on Facebook. I, too, felt stabbed in the heart, but I no longer allow my daughter-in-law to have any power over my life and my happiness.
We gathered up all our grandson’s toys and are giving them to another family. We found a young single mother at our church, with 2 small children. We are becoming friends with them. It won’t replace our grandson, but we can make a difference in their lives which does bring us some level of happiness.
I am so thankful for Sheri because through her work, I know that I am not alone.
Thank you to everyone for sharing. I believe that we do get messages when we need them. Last night I got a text from our Estranged daughter, the first communication in 5 months. Just more garbage about how we needed family therapy, and threats about cutting us off unless we agreed. Hah! About the last thing I would do at the age of 67 is to be locked in a room with a therapist who would probably encourage a completely manipulative person. As my husband says, “We’ve already seen that movie.” We worried over trying to get our daughter to self-sustaining adulthood for years. She is and I am grateful for that. But some people are their own worst enemy. Its pretty hard to be happy and be a victim at the same time.
While I do have intensely sad moments, mourning what I thought life was going to be, estrangement is better that the abuse, and the near constant stress.
Thank you Sheri, for reminding us all that our lives need not be over, that we can release those years of expectations and still be happy. Happy Easter to everyone. Maybe we can all have a fresh start today.
Seeing this email this morning was in great timing, just when I really needed it, I also have an ED, it will be 3 years in just a couple weeks since our last verbal conversation. We were texting here and there up until this past Christmas, on Christmas Day when she texted me that she does not want to have a relationship with me, and that she has “forgiven me” but that her forgiveness is for herself and not for me, this is when I had to make the decision again that I am done with the crying. I have not tried to contact her since, and I struggle with the feeling that I quit. I have to remind myself that she quit on me long before this, I have grandchildren I haven’t seen for 3 years, I try every now and then to sneak a look at pictures on Facebook but am hit with the reality that she still has me blocked, I see nothing. My oldest grand daughter who will be 21 on Tuesday will text me once in a while, but only when she needs money, the last text I got from her in January, she was asking me for another $300, for the first time I told her I didn’t have any more money to send, the bank account is dry. It is painful beyond words, I know I was, I AM a great mother, my daughter made many bad decisions since she was 16 years old now and she’s about to be 40, and she blames me for everything wrong in her life. Reading all these stories from other parents helps me to feel not so alone, I recently started a new position in my job and I’m meeting / working with new people, listening to women talk about their beautiful families, their beautiful children, their beautiful lives, and I have to try my best to hide my sadness , to pretend my family is just as beautiful. Thank you all for your words of wisdom, for giving me that feeling I am not alone. Love to you all God Bless
A big hug to you and Ditto on your remarks and conclusions.
Have a blessed Easter and bask in the love of Jesus who bears all our pain and suffering.
Happy Easter and God Bless You. Thank you for your comforting words. Hope your life “un-complicates” itself!!! Take care.
It really helps to read Sheri’s messages and also the comments from parents. I am one of those mothers who has endured on-and-off estrangements/reconciliations for several years. Last year it seemed the reconciliation with my ED, 50, was going to last. But it didn’t. We had a few good times together and then, out of the blue, she would erupt in rage at me, pointing out what she considered my many flaws. She criticized me for ridiculous things, such as the careful budgeting of my money and, as usual, my politics, and more. She criticized other family members and reminded me that my mothering skills had lacked.
Although I have repeatedly apologized for my mothering mistakes (leaning on her emotionally, not abuse or neglect), she knows that it hurts me and so does it again and again. I have been patient beyond belief with her. I will not keep apologizing and showing unconditional love to a daughter who treats me so poorly.
The last time she raised her voice to me in anger, I finally told her that she was being verbally abusive to me. I asked her to leave my home, immediately. Her first response was, “So now you are the victim.” I was shocked at that, but I know she seems to want to be the only victim in life, blaming me, her father, her deceased husband, her extended family and others for the problems in her life. She has made some bad choices for sure and doesn’t seem to want to get professional help in any meaningful way. She goes to counseling for a while but then leaves, saying the counselors don’t help her. (I’m thinking the counselors tell her things about herself she doesn’t want to hear…)
Now we are estranged again, and I am working hard to not get re-involved with her. I do not call or text her, although I did send her a generic birthday card recently. I do not want to be the mother who enables her to keep abusing me. I have been doing this for years. But I’m finally getting the picture that it is not good for me or her. She does not have to change as long as I keep taking all the blame and letting her use me as a “punching bag.” She does not want to address how poorly she has been treating me for so long. I have put up with it too long. It’s difficult to not reach out (again). She is my only child and I am not married. I do have close relationships with my sisters, who are appalled at how their niece treats me. It helps to have them in my life. They knew her when she was younger and cannot understand what happened to her, as she used to be a nice, friendly, kind young woman.
Anyway, we are not alone, my friends. We are all suffering in our own ways with estrangement. No matter what the details are, I have great empathy and sympathy for your situation. Thankfully, Sheri is here to help.
I have the same situation. My only child, my daughter is 46 years old and has my only 3 grandchildren. We had what we both thought was a loving close relationship. When she had children she wasn’t nice to them and I thought I could say anything to her about how she was treating them. It broke my heart and I wish I had kept my mouth shut! She is very mean and hurtful to me and her good father. She just threw me out of her house in front of my grandchildren. We have been trying for years, but I think it is time to give up, but I cry all the time for my grandchildren that we were very close to.
Thank you Tricia for posting this and for being so vulnerable. Thus helped my so much. Blessings to you.
Thank you for your post. It helps me to stay the course.
Thank you Sheri! Your words are always a comfort. After dealing with the estrangement of my youngest son for over 20 years I have moved on thanks to you and God. I have been getting a happy birthday text for the past 5 or 6 years from my estranged son and sometimes pictures of my 3 grandchildren. I send back a “thank you” text and on his birthday (10 days after mine) I send him a birthday text. This is the extent of our communication and I’m Grateful for this small token. I used to ask for something like a picture or send a nice, warm “Hope the family is well”, but now I keep it simple and have no expectations. My life is as rich as I choose. My husband and I are re-retiring and building a home in Florida and are excited to begin our new adventure. We have a rich and beautiful life! Our world has changed much but we can choose to be happy everyday! Bless you and all of the wonderful parents who face the pain of estrangement.
Wendy, thank you for your contribution. Two things you said stood out to me today, that I needed to hear —“now I keep it simple and have no expectations” and “Our world has changed much but we can choose to be happy everyday.” Three of our six children cut us off 2 years ago, after a family discussion (which they invited us to) about the BLM movement and all of its tenants. Because we expressed opinions that differed from theirs, they decided they no longer wanted us in their lives. It has been devastating, but between our help from Al- anon and Sherry’s books and this forum, we are recovering. It’s truly a blessing to know that we are not alone in this tragic turn in our life. We’ve been through many stages of grief, and still have hard days. But TODAY I choose to be grateful, to let go and let God, and choose to be happy. Thank you.
For me it’s been 6 years of pure hell with my ES who officially walked away 2 1/2 years ago. She’s had done smatterings of reappearance that brought so much drama and meanness. Last year she told me she no longer considers me her mother. I have 4 stepdaughters who are also estranged. 1 from her father totally as well. The other 3 are just manipulative with him. It’s definitely a generational divide. I’m beyond thankful to have 1 daughter who has my grands that we spend a lot of time with. But I’m still constantly reeling from the accusations and shear hate from my ES (honestly, I’m not at all concerned about the stepdaughters – it’s really less stress for me that way). I was/am a good mom. My therapist suspects my ES has borderline personality disorder and after much research on that topic – I think she has that too. She has 9 of the traits. She also is addicted to marijuana. She was involved in sports and had a lifetime of very prestigious private education which I think contributed to her behavior. Hindsight is always 20/20. She was loved unconditionally and deeply. My family has wild unrealistic opinions on the matter which further complicates my coping with it. I am constantly torn on what to do or say, or not. This forum and Sheri’s book have helped me not feel alone. Much light and love to all of us trying to navigate this madness.
Thank you for this lovely and very timely post, which arrived to my inbox on Easter Sunday. Congratulations on your well-deserved book award honor. Your books and newsletters provide such amazing support to parents having to navigate adult-child estrangement, including Parental Alienation. You and your efforts have provided a lifeline of Hope to validate our feelings and experiences and help us not feel so alone. Blessings to you always! With love and friendship, Marni
I can relate to all of the feelings everyone is expressing and i also realize how far i have come in the process of creating my life without the constant pain of estrangement. I heard from a friend that my daughter has moved to another state and that news didnt not occupy my mind for any more time than simple curiosity. What a gift to get back to my life, interests, friends and not be consumed by someone elses choices.
If it can happen for me it can happen for anyone as i was truly sickly co dependant and 100% pre occupied with someone who wanted nothing to do with me..
I must agree with you Marilyn … I’ve been thinking along the same lines myself. Gosh this forum is so brilliant… just when you start to disappear down the rabbit hole of your own guilt and pain, someone speaks a truth that both resonates and comforts. It’s such a balm to know I’m not alone.
Very well said!
Reading that I am not alone is so very helpful. I still can’t talk about the estrangement as it is so hard to explain. I don’t know how it happened or why. How do you tell people without them automatically thinking I must be a horrible person, a bad parent? I did go to therapy. The one thing that stands out is when my therapist yelled at me. Yes, yelled at me, why in the world do you let your children treat you this way? Would you let other people treat you this way, I had to admit of course I wouldn’t. I never went back after that day because the last thing I needed was to be yelled at. She obviously made an impact on me. I love children and I am very lucky to have several neighbors with small children that include me in their lives. It is not quite the same of course but it helps. The neighborhood kids adore me. For now, that has to be enough. I have finally gotten out of the house. My husband signed me up for Pickleball. I am loving it and have made many new friends. Please do something for yourself. You all deserve to be happy even if you have a knawing pain in your stomach everytime you stop long enough you feel it.
This letter of Hope really helped me Sheri. My heart continues to ache and then I get this blessed newsletter just in time. I agree that we Boomers tried to give our children more than we had growing up. Now, paying the price of being good parents.
I think, yes.., when I grew up I watched my parents do without to give to us. We were a different generation. My husband passed away this Oct. 7 year’s ago. After his parting, my children have become very selfish. One of them, I haven’t heard from in 5 years, the other wanted to take control of me. I not even that old!
Sheri, everything you’ve written sounds just like my situation.
Still thoughts back and forth.
Your letter gave me some peace just in time for Easter.
I do want to say, I have raised children onto adults that love their children, even if I never see them I’ve done a great job on my part. They’re not those little baby girls I had, nor children my husband and I raised. I have done my part.
I pray for them often and will always do so. I just hope their children respect them when times change. Love is sharing, caring deep. Thanks again all of you for posting making me feel I’m not alone.
As ever, this forum lifts me when I am feeling low and having a wobble. Like many of you, I have an intermittent estrangement with my son and I don’t need to explain how that feels. I have two grandchildren- one of whom I haven’t seen for nearly two years and one I have never met. I have not been invited to my son’s wedding in the summer. Sometimes the pain overwhelms me and I feel at a total emotional standstill but, due largely to you Sheri , the books and the lessons learnt , I am making progress towards a stronger me and learning to value what I have rather than what I have not. Go gently all.
Thanks for all your comments. I had my ED contact me out of the blue. I think to check in to whether I have changed enough to be acceptable. My first thought when reading the text was I no longer feel the same about you…it has been 12 years and do I want to put myself through this. Am I being horrible or just realistic? I will take her phone call if she rings but I am prepared to walk away if she starts talking at me. Can I have your thoughts please.
Proceed carefully, Anne. She might be truly hoping for a reconciliation or she might just want to use you for money or something else. Good luck to you!
Thank you for your comment Anne. I have 3 children and their father was the catalyst for the estrangement. Their is mental illness there and there isn’t anything I can do about it. The degrading insults have been too much from my oldest son who parrots his father. The other 2 children don’t buy into it. My goal is to teach them how to treat people by not accepting the nonsense. As time moves on, I don’t feel the same about them either. Something shifted after I confronted the pain and allowed myself to grieve.
I see my once Ed with her children every 2-3 weeks now and have just spent
Easter morning with them amongst other family members and friends. I felt a bit awkward at first amongst the other people but on reflection more confident in myself and have grown as a person and everything has changed. I will never put her first like I use to and see myself more as a whole person with my own interests and the choices she makes in her life are really none of my business. Its nice to see them and walk away without feeling I have to help out like I use to. Thank you Sheri for your books and helping me to grow more into being a happier me. Xxx
I think if we get in ouch with the truth of who we are, that we know we tried our best, and that we are good parents and good people (you may want to look at other relationships with other kids or other relationships in your lives) then you get to the point where you can safely say the meanness, and hostility, coupled with the sometimes being nice- belongs to THEM, and may be a result of copying abusive behaviors they see in others (or another parent), their own insecurity issues, their own messed up -ness, their own selfishness (promoted byt he age we live in) , and just show compassion with limits, then we can move on.
but my question always is: how do i find the fine line of maintaining some kind of relationship with the estranged ones, the ones who sometimes show up, appear, or are in superficially in touch, how do i know how much to emotionally invest in these kids? i have a few of those, in addition to a daughter who does not speak to me as a result of parental alienation. that daughter is always trying to influence the others to look at me negatively, and to reject me int he future.
I definitely feel your situation. I have a very tough love approach now and sometimes you do have to tell them your are done. won’t be treated like that again
Ever wonder that it seems all ES children act the same? THE Same unfounded disrespect, arrogance, hostility and selfish anger???. Why, you might ask, do they all act sound and behave so similarly??/WHY??/BECAUSE THIS IS A SPIRIT_ THE SPIRIT OF THIS AGE!! They ALL have it!! ITs not YOUR Fault hey are selfish mean spirited little assholes!!! THEY to blame you for their own inadequacies and issues, they Chose to remain infantile!! ITS THEM ,NOT YOU!!!i. Pray they will have such a miserable life soon so they can repent and get a life. They deserve nothing but trouble and hardship- it will make a man outta of ’em!
I think estranged parents become easy targets for all and sundry to blame. However, I don’t think trouble and hardship necessarily makes a man or a woman out of anyone, or a prodigal son or daughter. A mature man or woman is someone who’s prepared to show vulnerability or accountability, and that is what our estranged adult children are not prepared to do.
dear peter I understand you perfectly and there are many times that pain wins me. bewilderment and I have those feelings. that bad things must happen to them for them to grow up and reason. then I look at myself and I can not cteer have those feelings about a son so loved but my attempts to get closer are taken not with disrespect but with an indifference that hurts in the soul. and it hurts me terribly added to that the total lack of support from my husband. the loneliness in this and the pain bring out bad things in me.
a hug to all and you are the ones who give me strength. thanks to each one.
I agree. The behavior is so unexplainable, and the level of bitterness so extreme that sometimes I feel like they have been bewitched. Three of our 6 children have shunned us for almost two years, and my every attempt to contact has been either ignored or met with hateful, bitter responses. This came about after a family zoom call about BLM. We shared our views very respectfully but we’re treated with rudeness and disrespect and the of them cut us off completely. I do think it’s a spiritual darkness they are under. I continue to pray but the pain of losing them is unbearable at times. We were both teachers, and we had a happy family life overall. I’m really done taking the blame. Just have to learn how to move on and enjoy life. I’m so thankful for this forum and all the lovely people who share their hearts and experiences. There’s so much comfort in knowing we aren’t alone. I will always hope for reconciliation, but I’m done trying to force it to happen. Love to Sheri, and all of you..
I feel your pain behind your anger. And ive said the same– this generation is NOT like mine. I NEVER spoke to my mother in such ways…
I think us baby boomers did TOO much and they became narcissists.. i warn young parents– say NO more often!!
Sometimes there are genetic factors involved. My ex husband was tentatively diagnosed with “Inadequate Personality Disorder.” He was a pleasant empty suit, who became hostile in situations that highlighted his emptiness. His mother had a similar temperament. I took my daughter to a psychologist at a very young age due to her failure to bond with the family.
Otherwise, by all outward appearances she is a successful, normal adult. However, I know that she has the same hostile emptiness. She is estranged, and has a very superior “attitude.”
Mine is a rare situation, but that doesn’t make it any less devastating or enraging.
You are enraged, but your ideas are bent, and you need to get a grip.
Agreed. Thank you
This is one of the best explanations I have read. After enduring over 15 plus years of estrangement from our only son we are truly done. He only calls when he wants money and only sends a text when he has something to tell us about his life. Yesterday he sent a text, all about him and his life. His father has Parkinson’s and dementia, can no longer walk, as a result is in a nursing facility. This selfish self centered son has not once ask how I am doing after over 3 years of taking care of his father by myself. Watching my husband of over 50 years decline daily is the hardest thing I will ever have to do. I am responsible for taking care of a large house, a huge yard and my husband is overwhelming. I could really use a kind word and maybe a helping hand once in a while. All of the sacrifices we made for this son mean nothing to him now, that is past history. At present I do not have a life, it is all caregiving and chores. This week ,my a/c quit, so I am tasked with calling for service. I know I have been spoiled by my husband, he took care of all repairs, the cars maintenance, the yard except my flowers. I am just depressed, angry and so disappointed. Even the psychiatrist I have been seeing has said I should just forget my husband and get on with my life. So now on top of everything else I must find another more caring doctor. This is the doctor I have seen on and off for over 20 years. I thought he cared but obviously I was mistaken. Enough pity party, another holiday by myself and tomorrow is Monday. Have a blessed day.
Thank you. I want you to know how much I appreciate you and your site. You are a true blessing. And, thank you , also, to all those who comment,
Thank you! Your thoughts keep me going!
Big HUGE hugs!
Me too.I am glad I found your website. It gives me a lot of inner strength.
I am on the road to recovery and solid growth. It has been 2 1/2 years since the bizarre display by our son and his wife cutting his family out of their life. Our 1st grandchild was 5 mths old, we had seen him twice for timed one hour visit up until the great divide. Since then our son has expressed several times a willingness to reconnect but fails to follow through. He has never been conflict adverse or a controlling drama queen. His wife is. I have tried repeatedly to re-unite our family understanding time is the enemy of reconciliation. I was also motivated by gnawing desire to know our grandchild, they live nearby. Until our DIL decides, nothing will change, unless he figures out how to break the co-dependency. I have no choice but to let go and rebuild my life. At 67, I have been harmed enough by this nightmare of estrangement. I am getting there. Little by little.
I also have a 2 1/2 year old 1st grandson that I’ve held for only 30 seconds when he was 3 weeks old and that I haven’t seen for over 2 years, when my ED would nit let me even touch him. I am learning to make a good life for myself but when holidays come around, I fall backwards. I just saw a grandma with her little grandson and I want to blow my head off now. A feeling that I fought for a long time at the beginning of her estrangement a couple years ago. Her and her husband have robbed me of the joy of a first grandchild. They are robbing him of a loving grandma. How cruel. They don’t see my parents either anymore so they are being robbed of a first great grandchild. This little boy doesn’t know we exist. I feel your unbearable pain. God bless and thank God for Sheri.
If you are truly feeling as you say, please seek local help or dial 9-1-1 or the emergency number wherever you are. You can also open the crisis information page here at the site, which is under the “about” tab. Having said this, please know that you are worthy of a good life and your folks (no doubt) love you, too. Please take kind care of yourself. You are not alone in this sorrow and there are many who can relate to your feelings and the situation and actions of a selfish person who caused the circumstances. Take kind care of yourself, Cheryl. GREAT BIG HUGS.
Hugs to you dear heart.
Lupin: I too only saw my granddaughter a few times before my daughter took herself out of my life. It happened over a very minor thing. I didn’t like what she put on fb and let her know about it. She then messaged me telling me never to contact her again. I thought this would blow over but it didn’t. Now, after 7 years still no contact but I suspect my daughter has made up lies about me. I know of one lie which is a terrible lie she has told others about me. Since she isn’t contacting me I have no way to talk to her over all of this. She has blocked e-mails she gets from me and even an online birthday card I sent her. I just want her to tell me why she is acting this way. My two other daughters see her and her family when she has an event but she excludes me. I do feel kind of betrayed since the two other daughters don’t defend me to this estranged daughter. They most likely know of lies she is spreading but keep don’t tell me about it. I know that they feel this estranged daughter will dismiss them from her life if they stand up for me. So, I don’t express my feelings to them on why they don’t stand up for me and deny lies she is spreading about me. It hurts and I know this daughter has had mental problems in the past when she was living with me. I’ve tried counselling in the past with her, etc. but you can’t force someone to seek the help they need and she is in her 40’s now. I think the worst part is for all of us is not knowing what you’ve done or what is being told behind your back to deserve this abandonment. I wonder if others have this situation with your other children in contact with the estranged adult child. I do hope things will change for the better for everyone on this site.
After multiple communications from me, a year’s silence and then a hostility-filled email from her, I will not attempt any more communication. After most of a year, for myself, trying to figure out what happened, I have decided that I will not accept this kind of treatment or written nastiness from any adult. Including my own daughter. Many, many years ago, my mother told me that just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have to like them. This is very true.
I still have the good memories, the pictures, etc. of the past. I have no idea what the future will hold for a relationship (if any) with my estranged daughter. But my husband and I have moved forward in our lives. All we can do is wish her the best and walk away. Although I still wonder sometimes how we ever got to this point.
Thank you Sheri for such a good message. I’ve been at this estrangement for many years. I fully relate with your thought about solid growth. As I am in my late 60’s now I am finding it interesting that my body of course is aging but my spirit is growing. I’ve gone through so many of the issues of estrangement. Knowing there are so many parents like me and your website to read have been a godsend. My relationship with my Lord and Him teaching me that I am loved unconditionally gives me that solid growth. Thinking and praying this day for all parents that suffer and hope they will grow and thrive and not let the estrangement net define them.
*Should be “sprat to catch a mackerel”
Congratulations on solving the problem that was ailing your fig tree Sheri. This forum and your books have certainly provided a brace for me when I’ve needed it over the past nearly 6 years of estrangement. My husband and I and our 2 other loving, caring adult children have been devastated by our ES’s treatment of us and had many wobbles between us over the years but, after the initial shock and his reluctance or inability to answer questions and to acknowledge the hurt he had caused, we’ve all presented a united front – your treatment of us has been unacceptable, no you can’t casually saunter back into our family without addressing the issues and no, we’re definitely not giving you anymore money. The latest is that he messaged us to say that he’s going to become a father. We messaged back congratulations but that’s as far as it goes – a sprat to catch a mackerel. No good would come of us being involved with him again. He’s an adult who has made his own life choices and he’s living the life he’s chosen, just as we are. To everyone who uses this forum for support regularly or in times of terrible desperation, know that the hurt won’t go away but it will fade and there is love and support here for everyone who needs it. You’re not alone x
Thank you for this encouraging note. You have put perspective on your situation in a healthy way for you.
Hugs and much love,
This email has come at the right time for me too,after years of on again off again abuse and excluding me from her life (very dysfunctional one at that )My heart has been Brocken over and over by my only daughter who has five children.
I have tried so much to accept her as she is,and her ignore her outbursts of total disrespect and disgusting things she texts me .
I called my 11 year old Grand daughter to ask if I could drop by to give them there Easter gifts ,I was told I could leave them at the front of the house but Mum said you are not to come in .
Another occasion spent crying with a sick pits to my stomach feeling .
I have two sons who would never ever speak so disgusting to me and have for years felt so sorry for me how she is ;ENOUGH IS ENOUGH,
I have to learn to some how move on and stop letting her blame me for her poor choices in life,if I dare say no to money or iam working when she needs me to do
something its like iam the most pathetic Mother and Grandmother ever.
The abusive texts start and the name calling ect.
Iam no longer going to allow my 38 year old daughter to keep treating me so badly,yet it still breaks my heart every day..
So grateful to open this email tonight and realise iam not alone ,it helps.
I pray for her that one day she will actually see the life she leads her (particularly with the criminal partner)
Is what is destroying her and her children lives.Not her long suffering Mother who has been there every time he hurts her or lets her down.
How dare I go to work for a living or say no sometimes!