Rejected parents of adult children: Lean into your power (like a bear!)

rejected parents of adult childrenRejected parents of adult children: Lean into your power (like a bear!)

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

When the massive 2021 fires devastated the forests to the east of us, bears moved into my lazy, semi-rural neighborhood. I was both terrified and tempted by the idea of seeing one up close. You can read about how that prospect led me to think about what we rejected parents of adult children can learn from bears in this previous article. The bears eventually left our neighborhood, but I’ve been hearing that they may be back again. That’s because, as springtime finally arrives, much more slowly than is typical for this area, the bears are confused.

Rejected parents of adult children: an icy landscape

The big beasts are emerging from their hibernation dens to find the ground blanketed in snow rather than the fresh spring grass they’re accustomed to chomping down. It’s predicted that the bears are likely to roam around, looking for grass in areas they wouldn’t typically forage. So, humans should be on alert.

Reports say the newly awakened bears have at first seemed a little dazed and confused. That’s a lot like many rejected parents of adult children, who woke up one day to find the landscape of their entire lives changed. It’s like we went to bed one night and woke up the next morning in a strange, cold land where values have changed, and we no longer recognize the family (or, these days, maybe even the entire culture) we have always held so dear.

Again, we can learn from the mighty bear. Instead of cowering in fear at the unexpectedly icy greeting, the bears shake off their confusion. Then they lean into their power and head on out to find what they need.

Rejected parents of adult children: Time to wake up

Especially today, when adult children cutting off parents has become so common, there’s no need to cower in shame or fear. Whether you have heard about it or not, it’s almost certain there is someone in your social sphere who is a rejected parent. Adult children may dismiss us with icy silence, but parents whose adult children have no time or affection for them can mourn the loss, get needed support, and move toward their future. You can always cherish the memories of your once cozy den, and taking charge of your own life doesn’t mean you have to close the door to the idea of reconciling. But I hope you will open your heart and mind to the possibility of greener pastures ahead … for you.

I hear daily from parents who thank me for my books, my newsletter, and this site. They tell me they are finally awaking to the reality of lost time. They’re tired of chasing, pining, and hoping for estranged adult children to bring the sunshine into their lives. These parents have learned the hard way that, while they hid away in a frozen life, time ticked on by—and now there’s not a moment to waste.

The “silver tsunami” of senior citizens is here. Time for the most active among us to wake the world up to us and our wisdom rather than bend, bow, and hide away in shame. If you’re still worried about germs or can’t get out due to physical issues, find ways to get involved and socialize from a distance. You’ll feel better when not so focused on your loss. Even via Internet or over the telephone, you can make a big difference, and have fun.

For example, one mother, in her 80s who can no longer drive participates in Zoom meetings to raise money for a political cause that she holds dear. Another makes artsy quilts that, when sold, provide much needed funds to a battered women’s shelter. A 76-year-old rejected mother and grandmother volunteers with her local Rotary club, helping to effect positive change. A father in his early 80s organized a pickle ball league for active seniors. (I hear from one mom who plays that, during the first hour of pickle ball, they get sweaty and, during the second, they laugh—both excellent forms of exercise!) Another rejected father rescues injured or needy fawns each season and has become known as the “fawn guy.” Last year, when red fox squirrels fell from their nest and their mother never returned, we called the “squirrel lady,” who is retired and says she works more hours each spring than she previously did all year—and she loves saving those furry little lives. These people have found meaning, which (as I talked about in Beyond Done) infuses everything with more energy.

In my county, there’s a telephone calling service that offers senior citizen peer support by way of trained volunteers. They’re always advertising for retirees and others who want to help. Gardening centers and clubs offer in-person and online meetings, classes, and discussion forums. There are dance clubs, Zumba hours, meditation gatherings, and tai chi. What service might need your help or support? What interests do you hold that may have online or in-person classes or groups?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

And here are some ideas for virtual fun that might get you thinking. One mom volunteered on her city’s playbill board. And near where I live, a native plant demonstration garden depends on their volunteer docents and support staff:

Meaningful Moments

Make the most of every opportunity to connect with kindness and make a friend—even if it’s just a few mutually pleasant moments shared on a grocer aisle. Shop when the stores aren’t busy. Stop to help someone shorter than you are to get a jar off the top shelf, ask a fellow customer if they know where some item you need is shelved (because people feel good when they can help), and use any time stuck in a long line to chat and laugh. I recently found myself in a growing line of grocery shoppers as we were moved from one broken register to the next. The cashier looked distraught. Thankfully, none of us shoppers griped. We all just laughed and enjoyed the shuffle. One man even joked that, at this rate, we’d all soon be exchanging holiday cards. These seemingly small connections make a real difference in how happy people feel. They give us something to think about, savor, talk or laugh about later.

This spring, even if you have found yourself in the icy landscape of estrangement from adult children, take your prominent place as a neighbor, a friend, an elder, or a warm and fuzzy bear.

Your Turn

How are you making the most of your daily life? You can make this a meaningful moment by leaving a comment. Your words will inspire other rejected parents of adult children. We’re all in this thing called life together.

Related reading

Looking for good

Parents of estranged adult children: Reinvent yourself

When your children don’t like you: Lean on the bear necessities


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100 thoughts on “Rejected parents of adult children: Lean into your power (like a bear!)

  1. Michael

    I’m new to this devastating scenario. It always happened to “Someone else.” My college-age son walked away from me coming up on a year now. I’m divorced from his mother and happily re-married. His mother is involved with a new man Since they got together a year and a half ago my relationship with my son immediately started to deteriorate.

    Marriages end. We just didn’t get along. He was 9 years old when we got divorced. For many years afterward we got along well enough. All of a sudden we’re held to the four corners of the divorce agreement, when we were all doing what worked best for me, our three children (the oldest one is the one that walked away), and their mother. She won’t speak with me on the phone or in person, and only responds to my texts when it benefits her.

    Over the following year, my eldest son started mirroring her behavior. Over Christmas we got into an argument over a fight he was having with his little brother. I tried to separate them, and my eldest ripped into me as being a bad father. I’ll readily admit raising my voice on occasion, but “bad father”?

    He stormed out the door and back to his mother’s house and cut off all contact with me. He’s heading back to college today. He won’t take my calls but does send me condescending texts. Two days ago I returned from work to find the car I bought for him in my side driveway. He was not in the car. Rather he left a note on the car saying he no longer needed it.

    I have no idea how we got here. I have my suspicions, but he I can tell whenever he texts me it’s not being written by him. It’s either his mother or her boyfriend. I’ve lost him. I don’t know if he’ll ever return.

    My other two children are shocked by his behavior. The constantly assure me that they aren’t going to abandon me. I hate that they even feel they need to let me know. But I love them for it.

    I’m glad to know there are others out there in the same situation. I’m sorry it happened to you. I thank you for the support.

  2. Linda

    I need help if anyone is available to talk with me. My adult daughter 50, rejected me after the sudden death of her father 11 yrs ago. I’ve stopped trying to figure out why. Since then she’s had two children that I have no contact with. She doesn’t keep them from me exactly but makes clear I’m not welcome. I see the photos on FB of the other grandparents very involved in the children’s lives and it just hurts me. I didn’t do anything to deserve this treatment. My daughter texts me especially if she needs something. But I have not spoken to her even on the phone in all these years. I normally do not look at her FB page because it dredges up the grief. I made the mistake of looking today and seeing all the happy family members, camping, traveling, school etc etc. And now I’m sitting in a pool of grief. Any advice? I try to move on with my life always. I’m 76 and reasonably busy. I have a therapist and friends. I think only others who have experienced this could understand. I just stepped too close to that slippery slope and now I’m paying the painful price. Thank you for listening.

    1. Kate

      I understand exactly how you feel. The last time I saw my 52 yr. old daughter in person was in 2014 and she wasn’t even talking to me back then. All I can say is PLEASE don’t look for your daughter on FB anymore—it only hurts you. I know, because a few years back I did the very same thing. And like your daughter, mine was only contacting me when she needed something back then. Your daughter is just using you too.

      So today, I think if I’m not good enough for my ED to even speak to, then I’m not good enough for her to use anymore. Please just try to stay busy, enjoy your friends & take care you.

    2. Jan K

      Linda, my heart goes out to you but next time your daughter texts you to ask for something, don’t answer her. Honestly she doesn’t deserve your help. If you feel you can’t refuse her requests then at least make her have to call you. She doesn’t love you in any way whatsoever. You don’t treat people you love the way she treats you.

      1. candleinthewind

        The thing is, it’s easier said than done. Experience will teach you which course of action causes you the most pain – looking, or not looking, at the FB page. And the more you invest in your own well-being, the less you’ll want to engage in what you already know hurts you. But being lonesome is no joke, being busy is fine, but going back to a home alone is not, facing family does alone is not either. Yet still, it’s accumulative, the more you invest in yourself/do more things you enjoy and never mind the rest and what they’re up to, even if it’s two steps forward and three back, you’ll work it out for yourself. We are saved by grace, not by works (and I’m not religious!) This is a long road. Be kind to yourself and take plenty of pit stops!

  3. Chris D.

    My almost 19y only child (son) cut me out of his life about 4 yrs ago. I had built my entire life & identity around him. I cried almost every day for almost 3 yrs. As I watched him walk across the stage for his high-school graduation from home on the school’s YouTube channel, I made my mind up to COMPLETELY change my life and leave the tiny island where I raised him (Maui, HI). I applied for a program at the Univ.of Lisbon in Portugal, the Institute of Portuguese Culture & Language. I was accepted. I sold or gave away all of my furniture. Packed everything else I owned, moved to Lisbon, Portugal. I have been here for exactly eight weeks. I have an apartment and I will start full-time classes in Portuguese language. Since arriving, I’ve only cried occasionally, when I see a lil boy or teenager who looks like my son. When I see a boy, I turn away and focus my attention elsewhere. I’m having a total blast touring around and sightseeing all over Lisbon. I thank goodness for the strength, courage and tenacity to make this huge life change. It was the best thing I could’ve done to move beyond “losing” my son.

  4. Sophie

    I am not yet in a place of recovery.
    I have four children and one has rejected me completely. I was ashamed and embarrassed and afraid and I didn’t understand why I was thrown away. I am a widow and after my children grew up and left home. I became a nun. I thought everything was good with the family. But I guess it was not. My daughter stopped talking to me and then we can hang up on me and giving me the silent treatment and stonewalling. For a year I beat myself up, thinking I must’ve done…. something.
    There are people, particularly older people, who say, with total confidence that if a child, rejects you, then you were an abuser. Why? Because, an adult child would never reject their parent for anything other than serious abuse.
    Part of me believed that. But I have come round to believing that I am the one abused.
    Just knowing there are people who think that out there makes me feel afraid and alone.
    My three other children love me. One, in particular, has been incredibly supportive. One is very kind and supportive, but mostly heartbroken by the whole situation and the third (the youngest) goes back and forth in whether or not he thinks my daughter has a reason to treat me this way or not. We are in Family Therapy together and hoping that my daughter will join us. she will never attend any family event, holiday, christening, graduation et cetera, if I am there. So the choice for all events is now me or her. That makes me think that I should step aside. Sometimes it makes me think I should kill myself so that I’m not in the way of the siblings relationship with each other.
    Like I said, I’m not doing very well right now. I cry all the time. Every night I dream that my daughter and I are close again and then I wake up, disappointed with my heart pounding. I purchased and read the book “done with crying“ it was very helpful. Hopefully I will be writing again soon with a better attitude. My daughters wedding is coming up in six months and I am not invited. This is very humiliating publicly and personally and it breaks my heart to pieces. It feels as though she has weaponised her wedding. She has told people, I do not know, horrible things about me. These stories have come through to me on social media and these things are not true. I comfort myself, by the fact that she is making things up means that there is nothing I did, in real life, bad enough to make others accept her treatment of me. What she has told her siblings is simply that she feels that she is keeping herself happy in rejecting me.
    My daughter has suffered from mental illness for a long time. She had a serious suicide attempt 10 years ago. She left college temporarily, at that time, and I brought her home and cared for her, following a long psychiatric hospital stay. I know she has issues but something changed in her mind last year. Something that made her decide that all of her emotional pain and all of her Problems in life, are me. I am a scapegoat and a despised person.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Sophie,

      Your daughter is unwell and you tenderly cared for her when she so needed you. She is unwell … and you have been and are a loving mother. She will, perhaps, have a well period in the future. For now, you can leave her in God’s hands. As a nun, you know the tender mercy and have emulated it toward your daughter. Now, I hope you will afford yourself this same kindness. If you need support, doctor’s care, others’ care, be sure to get what you need. Others’ judgments are simple ignorance. I see you for the good, kind parent you are.

      Sheri McGregor

  5. Lisa R.

    Hello, Sophia,

    Thank you so much for your caring and compelling reply to my post. I couldn’t agree with you more that it’s not in our DNA to forget our children. That’s what keeps the human race going. I, too, feel sympathy (and anger!) toward my daughter. A few years ago, when we had the occasional conversation (always on her terms), I did my very best to show her that this was a mistake and that she could very well live to regret her estrangement from me. She totally disagreed with me so there is nothing more that I, or anyone else, could ever say to her to make her see that. I have long felt that she is just an angry person who has great difficulty empathizing with others. I do not wish her any ill will (even though I really am angry!) but I do believe that her behavior from age 17 to 27 (her current age) may haunt her later in life. I know that I did my best to prevent that heart ache for her but I think it’s coming.

    As for my husband and step-daughter, you, Candleinthewind, and Sheri are correct: It needs to be about me loving myself so much that I can love others, especially those who love me. I am extremely blessed to have these amazing people in my life and I know it. It will take continued work on my part, but I have to get to the point of taking back the power in this situation myself. For myself, and them, because they deserve the love that I can give. And I deserve to have the love that they give to me.

    Wishing you all love, peace, and joy.

    Lisa R.

    1. Michelle F.

      Wow it’s like a god wink article see I’m dead to my adult kids ages 25 27 and 29 now for over 10 years post divorce. They have been brainwashed by ex and I haven’t seen nor heard from them 10 years and not for lack of trying,,, I’ve tried I even have a box or wrapped bday and Xmas gifts in my closet over 10 years worth
      I wasn’t invited to my eldest daughters wedding I now have a 2 year old grand daughter I’ve never seen nor met
      I pray daily that god opens their hearts to their mothers love
      I’m destroyed over this holidays are painful
      They lost their grandma a few weeks ago my mom and never reached out
      It’s so hard after staying home as mom raising them for 18 years I feel so dejected by kids I love
      They were my life
      I don’t recognize them
      They aren’t the kids I raised

      1. Effie


        I am so sorry for your pain. I lost both my parents in the same 12 month span. They too were ignored by the grandchildren that they loved while growing up. I am angry and broken at the lack of empathy by adult kids. It is a very self centered generation, and the pain is ongoing especially at holidays.. I pray you find faith in your creator. He sees the hearts and he allows all of us free will. I too was a stay at home mom. Slander from others can do so much damage and it is almost impossible to fight. It is work for sure to overcome and some days are harder than others..

    2. Linda

      Thank you for, ” i have to get to the point of taking back the power in this situation…and loving those who love me.” This is advice that i needed to hear. I have been estranged from my adult son for 4 long months. The feelings go from saddness, despair, disbelief and then anger. I don’t know if i should stop reaching out or just keep trying even though I feel that i am fighting a losing battle. It pains me to think that the months will turn into years. Maybe one day our children will realize that we are not their enemy.

  6. Lisa R.

    Oh, Sheri,

    Your loving post brought *cathartic* tears to my eyes. What you said made so much sense. I have struggled to find a way to step into that mind set but it hadn’t occurred to me to actually create endearing names for them. Maybe that’s what I need to move forward. They are a very special family and the 3 and 5 year old boys call me “grandma.” They really don’t know any difference and I adore their innocence.

    I admit that my daughter still has a grip on me, despite the fact that I am improving and frequently revisit the exercises in your books. My brain knows how to move on but my heart is a bit slower to move in that direction. I remain so hopeful that your valuable suggestions continue to lift me up and move me forward.

    I cannot thank you enough for all you do. I live in a forest of ocotillos and every day when I see them I think of you and your wisdom and strength. (You have mentioned these amazing plants that are also in your area.)

    I am returning a big hug back to you, too.

    Lisa R.

  7. Lisa R.

    Hello, Candleinthewind,

    Thank you so much for your caring and thoughtful reply. I completely relate to your experience and have to fight the urge to retreat as well. This trigger, as you aptly identify, does cause me to have much anger and, at times, panic attacks of my own. I am fortunate to be living in a very rural part of southern Arizona which affords me the opportunity to step right out of my door and into nature. I walk/hike at least 3 miles a day just to balance my stress level and to take care of myself. Nevertheless, whenever we do visit my stepdaughter it is very hard for me. They live in a relatively small place right in the heart of a major U.S. city. There is no real escape, even though I try to make time for myself when I am there. We are considering staying in a nearby hotel for our upcoming visit with them (June) so that I can have some breathing space. How sad that it has come to this but that’s part of my self care. It’s just hard for me to feel that she/they are not my consolation prize, even though I know that’s not true.

    Take good care, Candleinthewind. And thank you.

    Lisa R.

  8. Lisa R.

    Beloved Community,

    As always, I deeply appreciate your candor and support here. While I find that I am getting stronger each day, I do have my down passages and would welcome your advice about a component of my journey that is a struggle for me. I am extremely blessed that my husband’s daughter (my step-daughter) and her family (husband and 3 beautiful children) welcome me into their lives. I love these children (ages 5,3 and almost 1) so much, but I love all children so that comes easily to me. I absolutely recognize the tremendous gift that this window into their lives has been for me. Here is my struggle. . .

    While I am eternally grateful for this opportunity, I also find that my heart keeps viewing it as a reminder of what I don’t have with my own ED. This reminder breaks my heart even more and while my brain knows that I should only focus on the positive aspect of this tremendous gift, my heart keeps feeling otherwise. It’s almost easier for me to not be close to them.

    Does anyone else have similar feelings about a comparable situation? I would be extremely grateful for any input you all have. Again, yes, I am quite aware of how fortunate I am and that I should view this as a blessing. And I really want to do so. But it’s painful and difficult for me.

    With love and appreciation for you all,
    Lisa R.

    1. candleinthewind

      Hello Lisa. Yes, comparisons with other people’s lives is a big challenge. I think it’s called a trigger, in that it sets off an emotional reaction very easily, for me, has brought on panic attacks (a desire to flee from the situation), anger etc. The only way out for me is to count my blessings, or try and look at the bigger picture, the other person’s whole life not just the bits I envy. Frankly, most of the time I just get out into nature on my own as it’s one of the only places I find peace, and have on the whole become a bit of a hermit. I don’t think there’s an easy solution. Estrangement hurts, but it doesn’t have to have the last word.

    2. rparents Post author

      Dear Lisa R.
      I saw a later reply where you said it’s tough not to view the stepdaughter and her family as your “consolation prize.” Please …. do take your self-care space as needed. Lots of people have triggers over lots of things, and “space to breathe” as you said in your other reply, is a wonderful gift to give to yourself. However, can you make a big habit out of changing up how you think of your stepdaughter and her family? You know, give them some wonderful label (darling dears, ultimate family who choose me, daughter from another mother, daughter who chose me …. )? Something good and positive that makes YOU feel good … and that you would feel good saying out loud TO them and around them. My guess is that “consolation prize” would feel horrible to them…. And it is horrible for you to think that way too. Why punish yourself with this mean inner talk? I “get” it. I really do. But you can change your thinking and language around this to make it better. Take a few deep breaths and think okay, what’s a good way to look at these people? These lovely people who truly have made a choice to love on you …. What is a positive and beautiful label you can give them? Something THEY would feel loved by if you said it?

      Please … for your own sake, for your husband’s sake, and for these lovely people who love you … don’t let the daughter who has caused you so much pain ruin this opportunity for you. Do not make the abusive/abandoning one part of this beautiful relationship. She doesn’t get to keep hurting you and hurt them too. You get to be the gatekeeper on this. YOU GET TO take charge, be grateful, be loved … and love in return.

      HUGS to you dear Lisa,
      Sheri McGregor

    3. Sophia

      Lisa, I don’t believe a mother ever truly forgets her own children. It’s just not in our DNA. We all have our ups & downs, we grieve, we move forward, we have a bad day. Very few who are not estranged will ever understand our situation. I don’t truly understand it! Find love and give love as often as you can. Our estranged children are also hurting, believe it or not. I feel sympathy for my daughter—what an awful existence she has chosen! Estrangement is on the rise, unfortunately. Give thanks for the life you have, the love in your life, & those who need you.

  9. Heidi K.

    Wow, I had no Idea how many mothers have been so terribly hurt by their children. My dear friend had a stroke, her husband of 32 years said no thanks to taking care of her, she went to live with her sister 3 states who cared for her on a daily basis, until cancer took her last month. She was a very good mother to her 3 children. A little argument caused the oldest to stop speaking to her, denied her two children access to their grandmother who doted on them. The other 2 siblings followed suit. 1 grandchild is in college. Just a phone call from one of them would bring my friend so much joy. My dear friend is now in assisted living 3 states away living with her elderly mother. I want so bad to reach out to at least the grandchildren to beg them to visit or call. Im on a tight rope with 2 of my 3 children, any little opinion they snap and get angry. I have to be quiet with no opinion about anything, when they do come around. One daughter was in an extremely abusive relationship, because he didn’t HIT her, no one else would address the issue of him isolating her from family and friends, how he verbally eroded her confidence, the more I tried to say anything the more somehow the problem was with me. She’s remarried now, but somehow remembers many times as being my fault. I walk on eggshells with her and her son. She agreed once to therapy, but never had time… I’m always last on the list to do. It hurts so bad. They are part of our souls. I regret the times I sacrificed vacations with just my late husband and I, and took them with us. Sacrificed paying for their college instead of something for my husband and I. My youngest is quite kind, she came by 1x a week when my husband passed. She tries to stay out of the poor relationship with the other 2, it upsets her. The pain is deep, and I am not all the way estranged from my 2 oldest, just a thread away. I feel for my dear friend who has lost so much. And for all of you. Any advice on contacting her grandchildren to explain how much my friend needs to be part of their lives? They are a senior in HS, and a senior in college.

    1. effie

      Heidi… I had to re-read several of your lines because I thought this is one of mine! I have several almost exact comments in some of my post. I have finally stopped reaching out to my ed. As far as the grandkids.. I think its asking for more pain. If they do visit, they may tug the heartstring and then never return to see her? I also, think it is probably too late for them to have empathy if they did not learn it from their own parents. It is growing the lack of care, the love of self and the new perception of ” what our parents” were growing up in light of what we thought we were and what they remember us to be. They seem to blame EVERYTHING on us. I have walked away and stop hoping. I must trust the God who sees.. BUT, trust me I still have very bad days..8 years later. Mothers Day plastered all over tv and the store shelves. I hope I am giving you good feedback. I am NOT an expert like Sheri..just a wounded mom and grandma that has good and bad days.. I said something and have not seen my grandsons for 2 years. They are 5 and 6. I don’t know what I said. But, God knows my heart and he see’s. That brings me comfort.

    2. rparents Post author

      Dear Heidi,

      I sincerely believe your time would be more wisely spent helping her have an enriched life in some other way than contacting the grandchildren. Has your friend asked you to do this?

      You are so very kind to care. But this action may just entangle you somehow.

      Effie has a point about potential for heartstrings to be pulled, too.

      I keep thinking of something my mother used to say: Don’t borrow trouble.
      Maybe it applies here.

      Sheri McGregot

  10. Eve

    One of my AC’s lies, convinces themselves that their lies are true, and then blames me, for not believing them. Another of my AC’s rewrites history to the point where I actually question if I am the one who does not remember things correctly. Every day I think of them and still, wonder how they turned out to be who they are. I wasn’t a perfect mother. But I sure wasn’t a horrible one either.I see so many of their generation as ” me me me ” it’s all about them. They are selfish, entitled, and disrespectful.My parent’s generation were pretty strict, and children just did what they were told, and not to talk back or be abusive to their parents in any way. My generation for the most part, respected our parents; I think a lot of our problems lie in we wanted a closer relationship with our children, and didn’t want to be the strict authoritative people that our parents were, I think that a lot of my parent’s generation had children because it was just expected of them; in those days, they just got married and had children because ” that’s what you do ” and so they did not know how to form a loving close relationship with us – we were their ” duty “. My generation on the other hand, had our children by choice. We wanted a close relationship with our children and maybe because of that, we were too lenient . Instead of appreciating that, so many of the young adults today, took advantage of that and turned out to be basically, spoiled brats.

  11. Reade

    My daughter has been estranged from me on and off since my grandkids were babies. They’re 20 and 28 now and haven’t communicated with me for six or more years now. My daughter made sure to turn them against me, starting with the oldest when she was four or five. They’ve blocked me from all social media and from telephone, email, and texts. My love for them is fading away.

    My son is also estranged, mostly because his sister is estranged, but also because his wife has never liked me much and apparently assumed that she was in competition with me for my son’s love and attention. They have blocked me everywhere as well. At this point I have no desire to see my son again, nor do I feel any love for him.

    Since I was the black sheep of my family growing up, that negative attitude about me has been passed down to the next generations. My two brothers never speak to me, one because he’s a $cientologist who regards me as a threat to their “church,” and the other who is an evangelical who tells me I’ll be going straight to hell when I die. The nieces definitely picked up on those attitudes.

    For much too long I was almost paralyzed, unable to get out of bed in the morning, unable to take care of the house or make meals, unable to leave the house to do anything. Then I spent six months in almost daily group therapy, which helped bring me out of my funk. Several of the women from group have become good friends.

    I haven’t cried for years over the estrangements and am working on following stoic principles, such as: I can only control myself and what I create, the basic idea being that it’s essential to use my mental energy to focus on what is under my complete control and to view everything else as indifferent. Why would I want to channel my energy, time, and resources to my children who don’t want any of it.
    It’s definitely helping me, but I have a ways to go to fully integrate the philosophy into my belief system.

    Indifferent to my children and grandchildren? Yes and yes again. It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen or talked to them, I don’t know them at all anymore. If they contact me to talk or visit, I won’t be eager to resume a relationship. My husband said if I died before him and the children then called him, he wouldn’t give them the time of day. Maybe a piece of his mind, but definitely not the time of day, haha.

    I’ve removed my children and grandchildren from my Will and will instead give anything left to animal charities and a couple women friends in difficult financial straits. My kids have money; they don’t need mine.

    I wish I could say I gave up my children for Lent, haha, but unfortunately I have no religious beliefs anymore. Just as well. Depression in general still holds me down, and I’m sure my children are a small part of that, but basically I’m moving forward one step at a time without them.

    1. Rose

      I have been estranged from my oldest daughter for 5 yrs & while it was hard I have found a peace in forgiving her & moving on. At 1st I would forgive & forget but would unwrap it & dwell on it until I was in a dark place. I’ve learned alot from “done with the crying” & I have since forgiven & learned to :”love my life” without her.
      Strangers are friends we haven’t met yet & I love being a chatty Cathy & laughing with people. Remember ” Life is what you make it, so enjoy it”! Keep smiling!

  12. Kristin

    Thank you Sheri and all who take the time to comment, share and remind us we are not alone. Sometimes it’s painful to accept how much I am not alone because it is doubly painful to know so many others are feeling such intense pain.
    Each of our stories is different; some of us know our EC’s reason, some of us are completely in the dark, some of us have been searching and grappling for something, anything to explain. The pain is still the same. The loss is still overwhelming. The complexity of grieving the living, enduring the rejection, questioning every moment of your parenting life, scratching your head at the enormity of this worldwide epidemic; it’s all very overwhelming.

    I’m in the Spring of my 6th year of estrangement from my daughter who is now 25. I do get to see her on 2 or 3 occasions a year when I am invited to the ex-in laws because my son is in town and my ex-husband insists I be invited. I am grateful. My ES speaks very little to me, if at all on those occasions, but I am grateful for the inclusion and just to get a glimpse of her. The entire extended family suffers as a result of her anger towards her divorced parents. (My ex-husband is now in a gay marriage, the reason for our divorce).

    All this to say, this Spring I received a DCIS breast cancer diagnosis. I am a very active, fit, healthy woman with an amazing diet, perfect bloodwork, no addictions and no history of bc in my family. Grief, isolation, agony, and shame did this to my body. Internalizing the grief, living in loneliness, feeling afraid of betrayal and rejection, I hibernated more than I didn’t over the last 6 years. My work as a Sports Massage therapist with collegiate athletes saved me. New friends slowly came, here and there and they hung on, even though I usually declined their invitations unless it was to kayak or hike where I can feel the safety of the outdoors. I continued to exercise and eat well, although not always enough.

    I am one of the lucky ones. I had surgery on Monday to remove some tissue and the pathology report is clean. The DCIS cancer was caught so early that it’s hopeful that the vacuum assisted biopsy back in January got the few cells and their residual, telltale, microscopic calcifications out.
    I have a new lease on life. I will continue to give my daughter the grace she deserves to heal from the traumatic implosion of our beautiful family. God knows I have struggled with C-PTSD, why wouldn’t she? I will continue to pray for her therapist’s ability to help her, for my ES’s anger to extinguish, for her to realize her parents are human and both did their best, loved both children and gave them all the opportunities we could to create the two thriving adults they have both become.
    Most of all, I will fully live my life again. I don’t want to die an early death from this complex pain. I will make myself accept the invitations, I will stop worrying about money and my future (try anyway), I will laugh more and cry less. I will stop ruminating on what I coulda, shoulda, woulda done differently. I will stop psychoanalyzing a possible mental illness in my ES. I will make a commitment to living well, because I have been given another chance. I will accept what I do not know and what I cannot change and I will dedicate my energy to not wasting any more time allowing myself to die a slow, painful death.

    My thoughts and prayers are with all of you fellow travelers on this path, especially those of you who are alone. I want to get a handle on this so I can find others who are alone and help them in companionship.

    1. Diane H.

      And most of all, celebrate all that you have gone through and all you have achieved – on your own. Allow yourself to have bad days and mother yourself through them. Be your best friend and rest because you have been through absolute trauma. On any given day, you have a friend in New Zealand cheering you on!

    2. Gayle S.

      Beautifully written! Oh, my God!
      I was estranged from my oldest daughter for years, but now she has reached out to me. And I will take what I can get. I have not seen her in five and a half years, but hopefully that will change.
      My second daughter is a psych nurse who refuses any contact. She says I should know why, but I have no idea. She does allow me to send gifts to her daughter. My third daughter suffered a still birth several years ago and I told friends, against her wishes. No contact there at all.

  13. Grace P.

    Everyone in the group is hurt in one way or another by this problem with our children. Wish we could put a magic star on top of their heads that would show the rest of the world the pain they are causing. I have a gift of a blanket that I wanted to send to my granddaughter but don’t know if she will even receive it. I got it for her about 6 years ago but I have not been able to send it . Like everyone else here that have tried in every way possible to mend these situations it does not get better. In fact as I grow older now I have lost both my husband in 2001 and now last year I lost my significant other. Do you think either of my children would even say ha sorry mom. They look forward to holidays because they know how much they hurt. Now I have legal issues that need taking care of. Seems like the harder you try the worse it gets. I told my son Merry Christmas and he said I was sucking the life out of him and I better stay away. I have stayed away from them it does not matter to them that you hurt. It is all about them and how you ruined their lives being a parent to them. I have made some real steps forward. I have no one else. My daughter told me I would be a lonely old lady. How much pain can we take?
    Tomorrow is another day but I was able to take a very dear friend to church Sunday on Easter. Her situation is so bad that I could never deal with my kids having control over my life. I suppose I should turn her daughter in for abuse but she begs me not to. I have known this lady for many years and her daughter has control over her finances and all of her life. She lives in a mobile home park alone. She can’t even go grocery shopping because her daughter controls that. I am so grateful that my own kids have nothing to do with my business or any of that. I cheated and took my friend to walmart to shop. She bought about $100 worth of candy and toiletry items which she told me she would have to put it back as she only had $25 left from the big $100 a month her daughter gives to her. I told her I would buy her whatever she wanted and then when we where headed back to her trailer her daughter was across the street getting things out of storage to go camping with the family. That did not include my friend. I guess her situation is not estrangement but I do think what her daughter is doing is abuse. She tells her she will put her into a home if she does not do what she wants. My heart bracts to see this woman so isolated. I go by every chance I get but her daugher does not want me to visit her. I hurt so much that I wish I could help her. I pray for everyone to get peace within themselves. I am torn between two worlds but I know I will come out of this okay. I am going to fight for some of her rights.
    Well I have drawn this out long enough. God bless you buys for all being together and still keeping up the fight!

  14. Joyce M.

    Hi Sheri:

    How nice to read your upbeat heart warming messages. I have a daughter
    who now lives in a lodge she’s 47 yrs. old and had to be removed from
    my homelast year because of her bizarre behaviour. She says she does not
    want to live with me any more. It all came to a head on of all days Good Friday
    It was a very hard day for me as I live alone. She calls when she wants me to
    bring over our Lab dog a few times a month. Does she not realize that Iam
    the only one who cares about her. She was never marries and does not see
    her brother who lives in a different city. I ruminate all the time and have a
    hard time putting my put-down thoughts away. I do try to get some friends
    over and then there are others who do not want any part. Every day is
    difficult forme but I do try to get out whether its shopping or whatever.
    Thank you so much for caring about all of us. We need constant support
    as these problems of grief, sadness do not go away easy. Some last for
    years. Your newsletter and books are essential for the well being of all of us.

    Keep upthe good work and keep us in your heart.


  15. Susan

    Hi there my son has been working abroad for roughly 7 years time difference aside he has been very difficult to connect with. He married 3 years ago and now has 2 children. Our interactions are very strained He blames me for so many things I have no idea about. He is very confrontational and demands apology for things I have not done saying he will not speak to me again till I agree I am wrong. I have stopped thinking that I will have a relationship with him or his wife or his children. I am completely worn out and just want peace and to move on.I don’t feel guilty anymore I feel like I’ve given enough time to my son I’m ready to take back my life

    1. Karen m.

      I totally understand and am at the same point with a daughter. She hasn’t spoken to me in 5 yr. I am accused of all kinds of things. Have 4 other children who have no idea what she is talking about. Sigh. I raised my children as an ” afterthought.” Also the latest, was 50 yrs of chaos. Don’t even know what she means as I lived life like anyone else. It’s not like I don’t care but I don’t expect it to change and don’t try to change it.Best of luck to us all!

  16. Gilda G.

    Hi! Just found your article and column. Thanks so much for sharing your insights and encouragement! I haven’t spoken to my son since 2014. He’s divorced now, my daughter in law recently gave birth to her third child. Fathered by someone else. I have no contact with her or the grandkids.

    I kept in contact with her parents. Her mother told me things in conversation during the divorce that let me know their grandparenting experience wasn’t as it was when the first two grandkids were born.

    Since the estrangement I have been able to build an art business. I have been able to concentrate on the work, and regularly sell at farmer’s markets and at special events! Making new friends along the way!! My finances are in better shape as well. I consider my estrangement to be liberation! I have my life back! The life I was headed towards before that child showed up!

    1. Ramona

      I’m new to this site, my son has been estranged from off and on. And now he has decided to not contact me at all. The time he went a year, and I went into a depression state. And now I’m back there again. I feel this time it could be for a longer period of time. This heartbreak is so unbreable, I have had to start taking Lexapro. I do have a daughter who keeps in touch from time to time. And I’m married, my husband is not their biological father. I’m so thankful to know that I’m not alone.

    2. Bibi .

      You make me feel empowered!!! I will take up some of what I have read here and move on. The son of mine and his wife don’t talk to me and I have moved here $100000.00. later and I am the worst thing that has happened to them. They’re living with her parents so I am very bad. The two fools are paying the mortgage and most of the bills. My son is up 4.00 am. with two university degrees and is driving a school bus so he can be nearby and they can monitor him. He’s not supposed to contact me I am the worst enemy. I just want to let them know that the energy they’re using to hate me they can better use it elsewhere doing other things that have meaning. So my message to all estranged parents the children we raised and loved and catered for are definitely not worth it. Take your free time and use it doing things that will literally make you forget the hurt and the pain of our time lost taking care of these neglectful children we should have sent them to daycare and just go clubbing and drinking and having fun instead of looking for the best schools to send them to the he best libraries we took them to the best games the best activities. Our time was basically lost on malcontents. I will get up and move forward with my own life now. I could now safely say I am not alone and I don’t need to be ashamed to let my relatives and friends know that I don’t communicate with them. Sorry so sorry for my time crying my eyes out and cringing when my relatives ask how are they doing and how’s the baby. Get up my friends and get… thanks for sharing. Best of luck to all.

  17. Hillary

    Hi there,

    I wanted to share incredible news with you. Two weeks before Christmas my son reached out – out of the blue – after nearly 3 years of no contact. He asked if he and his wife and my grandson could spend Christmas with us. I was so torn up inside as I had finally begun to heal from the loss and I didn’t trust that it would lead to anything more than more hurt but I trusted God and they came.

    I still don’t know what caused the change in her – her being the wife who demanded he have nothing to do with only me those years- she never stopped him from speaking to or seeing his dad, my husband still…

    We have seen them every Sunday since and even many days in between weekly! I am often invited by her on Wednesdays to go on their outing- my grandson is a non- verbal now 3 year-old angel on the spectrum. When we are together I can feel the presence of the Lord. He laughs with me and looks directly at me and allows me to hold him and read whole books to him. Something he doesn’t do with anyone else!

    I believe this is all God answering my many prayers of desperation. Cry’s of torment. Sadness that almost drove me to suicide… He gave me my son back, my grandson, and a friend in my daughter-in-law.

    At times a twinge of fear slips in – fear that they will walk away again. But i quickly demand it leave my thoughts. I will cherish this time with all my heart and continue to trust in the Lord.

    Your support helped me grow stronger and hold onto my sanity through nearly 3 years of turmoil. I can’t thank you enough. You have provided so much help and hope for so many going through this. Please never stop. It is a horrific thing to mourn the living… but people should also know that as long as their loved ones have breath there is still hope. If it happened for me it can happen for anyone.

    God Bless you all! My heart goes out to all surviving this horrible epidemic.

    Warmest Regards,


    1. Nancy

      Hi Hilary. I am very happy to hear your great news! Enjoy every moment making new memories with your son and his family!! Your comment gives me hope.

    2. Linda

      They realized they needed your help with the grand. Hopefully it won’t lead to taking advantage of your loving, generous nature.

    3. Yvonne

      Heart felt Thank you so appreciate reading your story , it brings hope….when we go through these kind of estrangement s they take us into the deepest depths of heart ache. None can fathom unless also experiencing …. Take good care Thank you for sharing and reaching out with understanding and care.

    4. Michy

      You put a smile on my face Hillary!! Praise the Lord for answered prayer!!
      I do understand the creeping fear of things going wrong but we can’t control things so just be you and enjoy the time with your family.

      I too have prayed and cried out to the Lord for my three adult children and three grandchildren.
      It’s been 11.5 years since my middle daughter went to live with her father after I remarried. Her younger brother followed 2.5 yrs later after I invited his sister to attend his Gr 9 graduation and thought things were turning around. I relived the horrific trauma of rejection once again and it’s been over 8 yrs since I’ve seen them.
      My daughter is 26 and has a 2 yr old son whom I’ve never met. My son is 23.

      I have an older daughter who is 31 with two daughters, 11 and 7. I was in my first granddaughters life until my daughter married. I don’t really know the younger one but I cried buckets of tears missing my granddaughter.

      I was suicidal for years but I’m doing better now.
      I thank God for all He has done in my life. I do believe He has a plan for my family as my children are amazing but their fathers are not emotionally well.
      I pray for the day to come when they will see that our issues were never meant to be theirs…

      God bless,

  18. Tam D

    I am so in awe of everyone. My older son has not spoken to me in a year and a half. It hurts more every day. I rack brain every day, several times a day wondering what I did to have this happen. His younger brother is a narcissist and has other mental problems. I spent a lot of time trying to keep him out of trouble. And it was difficult for my older son to live with him. But I do know I tried everything I could to make my older son’s life the best I could. I hope one day I will be like others and move on with my life. I miss him so very much. All of you are an inspiration for me.

    1. Rose

      Hi there. Please don’t try to figure out what went wrong, it only makes you sick & tired & in a darker place! Pray more, worry less… You raised children the best you could & no matter what NONE of us are perfect. We had complaints about our parents but we got over it & we did the call or visit. I remember telling my 5 siblings…they are mom & dad… go see them, when 1 starts up just tell them I love you but I gotta go, if they start talking about one of the kids, same thing. It saved me from getting in the middle & fights. My ed & I were very close but she said things that blew me away & I told her I love you but I will live where I want & do.what I want…I have the same phone number we had for 40 yrs, call me when you are ok. 5 yrs & counting.. but I am on an adventure…living in a warm state, lake & river are 5 minutes away with the live of my life! I get out to walk my neighborhood & meet awesome people!!! Love your life & do something GOOD for you! Its ok to LIVE,LOVE & Especially LOVE YOURSELF. But I go to bed & wake up praising God for my peace… peace & Blessings to you Tam, you’ll wake up 1 day & smile, dance, sing for feeling so good… its happened to alot of us, it’ll happen for you!! LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT, SO ENJOY IT!
      Blessings, Rose

  19. Margaret S.

    These emails and responses are so me what I’ve gone through. It’s unnerving. Exactly like hearing from daughter and strange on the phone bizarre. Leave well alike and work on doing the spiritual work strengthening your own self caring for self loving self. You know the truth as it sits upon your heart. Listen and believe in yourself. Then Let Go and Let God. I too have had no reasons no answers
    I’m convinced this is a World Spiritual battle.

  20. Valerie

    What a blessing for me to stumble on this article about “Bears” by Sheri McGregor. So timely for me and my husband. Just this past week we have come to the realization that we, as estranged parents of an adult son and his family, are not alone. We had ne idea that the problem is so epidemic and there are books, articles and Youtube channels with podcasts posted about the whole “Alienation/Estrangement” now so prevalent here in the US and around the world . We thought our situation was uncommon and therefore never talked to anyone about it. Thank you for this article Sheri and all of the wonderful comments that have been posted on this weekend of Easter. Thank you and God Bless you all.
    V & L

    1. Rose

      I felt the same way Read “done with the crying” & re-read it many times. After 5 + yrs I feel energized & ps… not guilty. I love my life! This site is amazing & has been helpful. I pray for you to have peace. Joy, fun in your lives!!!
      Blessings, Rose

  21. Diane M.

    I wanted to make some of the seniors happy that live here in my senior living apartment. I gave out many Easter cards and little gifts to some that have no family. I just purchased a new picture for my bedroom. The one I had up were birds on a branch. One lady here, that has no family, loves birds. Not many people here like her because her mental issues has caused some problems. I decided to give her this picture of the birds. I left it by her door with no note, just Happy Easter. I’m telling you, that made me happier than I bet this picture will make her. I’m in such a good, happy mood today. A funny thing happened, my ED just sent me an online Happy Easter little note with a pic. Gosh, I usually send her a note first. I never thought about it, being so involved in thinking of ways to make some of my neighbors happy this Easter.

    I want to do more of this now. Get more involved in doing things that make others happy. Take my mind off of wishing for things I cannot have now, meaning a relationship with my daughter and her family. I plan on looking for volunteer positions available that interest me.

    I loved Sheri’s story about the bears just adjusting to things, AS THEY ARE. They don’t go back to hibernating, they forge on. I’m planning to do the same now. Great idea, Sheri, thank you!

    I wish all of you a happy spring. May you find ways that make you happy and enjoy life now! I loved reading all your comments. You are all an inspiration to me. We’re all in a sad situation but we need to go on and live happy lives, in spite of our circumstances!

    1. Lara B.

      I want to thank you and all the parents on here for helping me know that I’m not alone. It’s been about 6 months since our 34 year old son has told us he wants nothing to do with us and won’t even tell us where he moved to or where he’s working. I’ve spent many hours worrying about his safety and in a numb shock and just disbelief. I just can’t believe our son would do this to us. I could never imagine that a grown child would do this to people who have loved and cared about them. I’ve read many many posts and comments in this blog and the resilience and courage of you all has been helping me think that maybe I can survive this. I’m not sure what’s wrong with all these young people nowadays, this is a terrible grievous thing they are doing. Blessings to all of you and thank you for this blog and group!

  22. Donna J.

    We have been on this road coming up to eight years now. It’s no picnic. All kinds of grief stages but now my husband and I are finally realizing we are no longer our kids or anyone’s victom. We look forward to the day when reconciliation will happen. Weather that is now or in heaven some day? Letting go is stages. But the loss of living at this age is a gift we are not willing to give into. We have buried all our parents in the last three years. Standing over their graves and saying goodbye was painful. Waisting my life now is even more painful. Keep living, breathing and just being thankful.

    1. James

      Well said Donna J. It’s been 8 years for me as well. The pain lingers and I sometimes cycle between feelings of resentment and grief on bad days. I’ve cultivated many healthy activities and hobbies these past 8 years to sustain me on those days. It gets me by but still the knowledge that my kids will regret all of this only too late causes me distress that can be difficult to manage when it comes. And it always comes. The pain from this is something I would not wish upon my worst enemy.
      Best wishes and regards to you and your family.

  23. Geraldine

    I anticipate your newsletters and save them in my archives so thank you so much for your kindness and caring.It’s been 14 months since I’ve been estranged from my oldest daughter.This weekend,she separated from her husband.My youngest daughter was with her and the grandkids.I decided to stop in .I went with a friend as I felt she wouldn’t attack me in a group.She immediately commented on my short comings ….digs at me and then at one point blamed me on her bad marriage and divorce because “I had not left bed her properly “ I remained quiet and left as soon as I could.The surprising part was the realization for me that I won’t go back,nor will I accept this treatment.Unless something in her changes there will be no future relationship.

  24. Susan P.

    The best medicine for me was traveling to Kanab Utah last week, and for 5 days, worked with Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. There was no time to ruminate, and days were spent learning about this amazing 137,000 acre community and the animals that inhabit it. We worked hard, enjoying every minute, and crashed each night feeling grateful to be there and able to help. I returned last week, with thoughts again returning of loss and estrangement, but something had shifted in me, that I’m still processing. More purpose for my life, softer, yet more resolute.

    1. Susan C.

      How wonderful you spent time at Best Friends, my favorite animal charity. My daughter and her wife volunteered there a while back and loved it. I’m glad you returned. I’d love to see it.

    2. Linda Y.

      oh that’s so wonderful that you were able to visit and volunteer for this wonderful organization. But what really resonated with me was your comment about something had shifted and particularly that you recognize a higher purpose…softer more resolute. Your words will stay with me. Thank you.

  25. MonaLisa

    One tool that I have found extremely helpful, is writing letters to those who have betrayed and rejected me. It gives me the opportunity to express my hurt, my anger and disappointment. Then after I’m done, I shred the letter. I find that this clears my mind, helps me feel heard and enables me to let go and move on.

  26. Elizabeth L.

    Isn’t this message well timed? The spring is starting to break ground with beautiful colour and scents, and all the gardening is paying off.
    Cheers to Sheri and everyone, happy Easter!

  27. Jane

    Hi Sheri,
    Once again thank you for your wise and comforting words. I particularly loved your bear story although I couldn’t imagine having these large creatures wandering near my home.
    Today my husband and I celebrated Easter with a lovely family lunch with 3 of our 4 children and grandchildren. I can honestly say I did not think of that other one at all but really appreciated the family that were present. I know not everyone has other immediate family but I totally agree with you it’s possible to find joy around you and live a busy and purposeful life. I hope you have a lovely Easter.

    1. Kaye P.

      Absolutely! Among other things, she has slapped me, when visiting her in Mexico where she and her family live, during two separate trips she has told me to pack my s@@t and get the f@@k out. Even if she ever decides to associate with me, she will never be entitled to anything I own!!

    2. Mark H.

      This is an ongoing struggle as my wife is also struggling because she knows how strongly I believe that if the estranged child or children will not respond to my text or email then why should I feel obligated to leave each of them very wealthy where they will not need to work another day in their life. Now that I am almost 70 years of age and my wife is 67, I feel that it is an injustice to just walk into inheritance when they are not hear for me as my wife and I were very much willing caregivers for our parents. The children feels no obligation to honor thy parents as scripture tells us in the 10 Commandments. I have many concerns on how to distribute our lucrative estate as I want the grown children to have a strong work ethic and ambition to work hard to provide for their families. My wife and I earned our assets by working multiple jobs at the same time and living within a budget and excelling at whatever field they choose but be their best at it
      This issue is causing serious problems in our 49 year marriage with little hope of a compromised resolution. We were good parents and did the best we knew how for raising our children in the 80’s &90’s.. Please help as we even consider fled the establishment of a charitable foundation..Just do know know much about Foundations. Our assets are brokerage accounts, 3 homes and Farm and ranch property. What is our best solution???

    3. emily38

      Reply to Mark, re inheritances,

      I understand the questions you’ve asked and know the turmoil that answering them can raise.

      I believe your first order of business is to have an exploratory consultation with an ElderLaw/Estate Planning Attorney. Ask friends for recommendations if they’ve used just such a professional . Ask your pastor if you have one. Meet with several attorneys if you must, until you find the one you and your wife feel most comfortable working with.

      A reputable attorney will ask the right questions, will not suggest charities to you but lead you to consider ones (or their Foundations) based on your answers, and, most importantly, an attorney in the field I’ve suggested will not make you feel any negativity about your Estrangement experience. I think I can safely assure you that an accomplished attorney in Elderlaw and Estate Planning has heard your story and much more many times over.

      And, remember, plans made can always be modified or changed. Yes, changes would entail fees, but putting your mind at ease, whatever the circumstances, whatever the cost, would be priceless.

      I hope this helps you and wish you well.

    4. Leslie

      Yes. I have 2 and we just sold the old homestead they were to inherit. We are building a new home just for us. We have booked a month long transatlantic cruise.
      We have set up
      Some accounts for our grandsons even 1 we’ve nevertheless met. Time is of the essence. We came in the world with nothing, we want to leave with nothing. Bless you Sheri , your books have given me new life. The door is open , but on our terms.

    5. Sophia

      I changed my will & living will. Be sure to consult an attorney. You don’t owe your children anything. I’m leaving mine to my friends & charity.

    6. Bibi

      I know I will I am tired of the hurt and the pain and heartaches. Let them live and we shall all live until the maker wants us back. We all have a place in this world as we will have one hereafter. God Bless. Happy Easter.

    7. Reade

      My husband and I just updated our wills, and I chose to give nothing to my children and grandchildren. Both of my children have good jobs and make a lot of money. Neither they nor the grandkids need anything from me, so I am giving my money to some younger friends who’ve had hard lives financially and also to several pet charities.

  28. Annemarie

    Great analogy Sheri,thank you for this. I always look forward to reading your articles when they pop up in my email. In order for my husband and I to have any relationship at all with my son,DIL and 4 beautiful granddaughters, we have to let them tell us what terrible humans we are, beg forgiveness and grovel at their feet for crumbs. I did this for many years. Always believing in the power of Gods love. I still believe in that love but finally realizing I am enabling them to be cruel AND not being kind to myself. No more!
    I am getting involved in my local Autism Support group. Our 25 year old son who has autism will need a home someday when we are gone. I have been invited to join the housing committee to help create a safe place for our beloved autism population. Also, getting my sneakers ready for some great Spring hikes!

    1. rparents Post author

      Thank you for sharing here. Let me tell you how wonderful you are! What you’re getting involved in sounds like something that will leave a legacy of love (so much better a way to spend time and energy than groveling for abuse).

      Big hugs!
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Suzanne W.

      No more groveling! That is my motto!

      Thank you Sheri and thank you all who have participated. This has been so good. We are not alone.

  29. Janet N.

    Thank you Sheri for being there whenever I have needed you most. And also thank you moms and dads who have suffered the loss of a child who is still actually breathing. I have prayed many times for God to handle the estrangement between my daughter and I. He has helped me in some of my darkest times. After three years my daughter started to realize that I was going to give up on her. I stepped way back even though she reached out to me. I couldn’t trust her anymore. Every time we talk now I ask God to guide me with my choice of words. I leave the door open and my mouth shut. I am praying God can teach her something through my voice. And then I retreat. Our relationship is distant but somewhat exists. I promised myself and God that I can forgive her because otherwise I am sick with anger or despair. And then I move on to live and love those who will let me do so. Someday maybe we will really talk about what happened in another life after this. In the meantime I am encouraged and uplifted by these posts to help me through the difficult times.

  30. Diane H.

    Something I have found helpful is a ted talk by Holli Kenley about betrayal, how the resulting effects impact on people and how it differs from grief. Grief is the loss of someone or something. Betrayal is about the loss of self. The resulting confusion, worthlessness and powerlessness. It’s a different journey to grief.
    It gives food for thought as to what we are dealing with as well as a possible way forward.

    1. Maggie

      Hi Diane

      Thanks so very much for the tip of watching Holli Kenley wow!

      Betrayal = Confusion
      All equal loss of sense of self – somebody had said to me that (estrangement was like grief ) I would think maybe in small ways but I never entirely believed it.

      Just like Sheri’s advice we must look within ourselves and use our strengths to heal.

    2. Laura C.

      Thanks so much for the information Diane. I will definitely watch the Ted Talk on Betrayal.

      I am brand new to the group. I just found it this week. I also just started listening to Sheri’s book “Done With Crying”.
      I have been estranged from my 37 year old son for over 6 years now. I have two other children and two stepdaughters.
      I had a very difficult, disrespectful and exhausting relationship with my oldest son shortly after his father and I divorced when he was about 6.
      Just before he cut me off he also cut his sister (my daughter) off as well. I have been going through the same pain and self blame that many of you have shared on here. Recently I have become very depressed. I think my Dad’s death in early January has magnified the grief of losing my son and I’m now dealing with two major losses together. I don’t think I’ve fully grieved the loss of my son. I thought I had at times but am apparently not finished grieving.
      When I initially went for counselling after my son told me not to ever communicate with him directly or indirectly I was told that he was a narcissistic. Over the years, myoldest son was never there much for my youngest son, they are 14 years apart and now my youngest son, who is 23, is caught in the middle however has kept contact to a minimum. My youngest son and I are close.
      What also makes the loss of him in my life as I believe it’s what his father wanted all along and also the fact that he still spends time with my mother and my brother.
      He got married last year and my Mom and brother were invited to the wedding and they went. I do understand my mom wanting to maintain a relationship but it’s very sad for me at the same time. She actually expected me to contact my oldest son and “smooth the waters” so I could go to the wedding. I think she finally realizes that this is not healthy for me or possible. I’m not interested in humbling myself only to be rejected and betrayed again.
      I’m hoping I can benefit from this group and move forward and heal. It’s shocking to see how many parents have this pain to carry in their hearts as well.
      Thanks for reading. I’m hopeful that it will get better.
      Laura 🙂

    3. Ringo

      Hi Diane,

      Thanks for the tip on watch Holly Kenley’s Ted Talk about betrayal. I just finished watching it and found it inspiring.

      Thanks also to Sheri for her great advice and writing in helping us navigate our way forward.

      Finally, thank you to all the people who make up this community. The support has been invaluable.

    4. Linda Y.

      I just watched it. I will watch it again and take notes. Thank you for this suggestion. It was very helpful. I feel slightly stronger than I did before I watched it 🙂

  31. Maggie

    Hi to all

    Sheri Thank you for your books and all the emails bless you and everyone one else sorting through estrangement.

    Here in Western Australia we are just a month away from Winter.
    There will be no hibernation we’re lucky here we can still get out and about walking with our Kelpie and I can take my camera.

    My Mother just passed away and on the same day our estranged daughter sent a lot of abuse in an email to my husband a set back for a while but like all the other estrangement trials including losing access to our grandchildren we’ll move forward.

  32. Suzanne W.

    Your emails are so timely! And as time goes on in this world of estrangement with my only daughter, I value this connection more and more.This is the 10th year for me, and I have found it to be a real roller coaster ride. Many seasons have passed and it has not been a one and done deal for me. The initial anguish of the first few years was replaced with a dull ache, often accompanied with renewed fleeting hope for reconciliation. I do not give up easily! Usually I go on about my life relatively happy and productive and although the slips are less frequent, they have become more painful. I had one recently. My daughter sent me a Happy Birthday text last year for the first time in nine years. I had the fire of hope lit once again and was eagerly awaiting my next birthday this March in hopes of perhaps hearing from her again. I’m embarrassed to say a text saying simply ‘Happy Birthday Mom’ was like receiving a pot of gold. I thought we had turned a corner but I was not going to push. Well, this birthday there was no text, no call or acknowledgment and my pathetic desperation led me to send her a text stating how I had missed hearing from her and am here if she ever should need me. Gag! It has taken weeks to regain my bearings after that episode. (Of course, I never received a response from daughter). Thanks to a supportive friend who strongly suggested I pray and turn it over to Higher power or my anger and fear would destroy me. The remorse and anger I had towards myself for chasing after her ‘one more time’ felt humiliating and the whole thing stung like it did in the beginning. I thought I had gotten okay with it all. I guess realistically I never will. She will always be my daughter. It truly is one day at a time and I am now getting my balance again and reclaiming my life. It can be a very lonely journey. I am so grateful for the remarkable girlfriends I have met over the last few years. Happy Easter!

    1. Bev M.

      Hi Suzanne,
      I too am now in my 10th year of estrangement. As I was reading your post I could feel the heaviness in my heart and kind of list my breath. My son has also estranged himself from his brother and my husband . He does communicate with his sister though and I’m grateful for that, at least I know he is alive. When my husband had open heart surgery I thought that he would realize that as time passes our health get much more fragile but besides his chest hurting his repaired heart was hurting also. So ten years of family holidays have past this time that’s past us worse than when we lost our daughter,he is still alive but yet dead to us!!! It hasn’t gotten easier for me and I know it should but just the I thought of never seeing him again is hard to fathom. Well it been a long road . I’m always praying it will get better and at times it does, I’ll keep busy and living my life. Stay strong!!!

  33. Mary

    Moving forward without our estranged son has been tough, because not only did it affect us regarding him, but also his 2 children whose minds he has poisoned in regards to us. He divorced his wife a year ago, and we had hopes of starting up a relationship with the 2 grandkids. Promises made by ex daughter in law of increased screen visits never materialized. We live in MN, they live in FL. It is impossible for me to travel due to pain issues. I am thinking he threatened her with loss of custody of she pursues a relationship with us-she has custody most of the time. I am thankful, as a piano teacher that I can have contact with children 5 days a week in my studio, and with our next door neighbors’ children who oftentimes seek my out when I am outside-or they come knocking on my front window if they see me at my computer. They will not replace these ones who have become strangers to me since they moved away 9 years ago, but some of the hurt is diminished by having these little ones to interact with.

  34. Pamela B.

    I do three things to help with my self esteem and express my caring nature, as it can not be be shared with my only child, daughter, and grandson.
    I am a volunteer “baby cuddler” on an intensive care post natal unit at our local hospital.
    I am a” fill in granny “to a 3 year old “and her single mother. This young mom has alcoholic parents so are not in her life. I do Babysittinand having them for meals, helping to set this little nfamily up for success.
    The third thing I do is walk “seniors” little dogs who’s owners are now house bound. The dogs are great company for these persons and I get my canine fix and licks, ❤️

  35. Christine

    When the estrangement happened with my daughter, I was very grateful that I had a volunteer activity going on that basically saved me. I volunteer in different public information roles with the Blue Ridge Parkway in the mountainous western NC. I remember when I first felt the rejection from my daughter, I was outside doing my post helping and answering many questions to the many visitors. It got me out of my own head for four full hours and it was a lifesaver. I could forget the estrangement and focus on others. It still helps me as I navigate forward.

  36. Becky

    This is so true. Luckily, I have always been a good forager. I find that the best way is to connect with a stranger is to crack a joke! The first thing I do when meeting someone new, like a waiter or a healthcare worker, is to find something purely outrageous to joke about (even if a teeny tiny bit inappropriate or offensive) just to get a reaction. The entertainment of my own brazenness, and thinking about the reaction they must be feeling, makes me belly laugh into a wheeze until I start coughing. It is so funny. Often I find that most people are shy to make eye contact and don’t typically return the laugh, but I have gotten a few sideways smiles from handsome young waiters. I have actually made so many friends this way. The local bar tender and I have become very good friends. She knows me by name now and remembers my usual every single time.

  37. Bonnie

    Dear Sheri,
    Your books have help me come to terms with my estranged adult child’s accusations, choices, and behaviors. The estrangement began 2 years ago. My spouse and I sought couples therapy, and I started seeing an individual therapist and attending an outpatient eating disorder program.
    When my spouse of 30 years passed away 6 months ago, the estrangement continued.
    I have been blessed by a loving circle of friends, and loving in-laws with whose help I am putting one foot in front of the other. I am also part of a 12-step program that reminds me to put 1) First Things First, 2) Live and Let Live, and 3) Easy Does It. These slogans, and reading a few pages of your second book start my day. The ‘Live and Let Live’ part is where I turn my estranged child over to her Higher Power and shift the focus back to what I can do to make the most of my day and my life.
    Thank you for your honesty and encouragement.

  38. Sharon C.

    I love your advice, you are helping so many people and I commend you for that. Being in some groups for estranged parents has helped me so much but I am getting tired of trying to hang on to the hope of my daughter coming back. I have finally reached a point in my life where I must take my life back. My daughter decided she didn’t want me in her life 3 years ago, no reason, no matter how many times I asked her what I had done. Of course, now I understand that this is a worldwide problem and they don’t need a reason. The way I explained this to my friends when asked how it made me feel was that I felt I had been sent to prison and I did not know what I was there for. I feel like she is in control and I have suffered greatly from anxiety to panic attacks, my health has gone downhill since this started. So I decided I can either go on this way or take the reins back and save my life. I decided to tell her goodbye. That is what I have done, she will be getting a letter telling her exactly that. No more begging, I am going to start living again even if I am 80, I still may have a few good years left and I refuse to waste them on ungrateful kids. Maybe if more parents would do the same and stop begging them to come back things would change, now they are in charge, they are abusing us and it is up to us to stop it.

    1. Sharon E.

      Oh Sharon! You sound so much like me! I, too, have lost a daughter, my only child and I hate giving up hope but I can’t just lay down and die. I think that’s what she might want. I heard fear in her voice the very last time she called, and I have never done anything for my daughter to be frightened of me? I don’t know what is causing it, I just know she turned her back on me after counselling and she is a councilor herself! I recently found a letter from her that she wrote the night before she got married. She praised me for raising her and gave all the credit to me for doing such a good job. I am wondering if I should send it to her to try to jog her memory. I don’t know what to do. What would you do? Just curious.

    2. Margaret S.

      These emails and responses are so me what I’ve gone through. It’s unnerving. Exactly like hearing from daughter and strange on the phone bizarre. Leave well alike and work on doing the spiritual work strengthening your own self caring for self loving self. You know the truth as it sits upon your heart. Listen and believe in yourself. Then Let Go and Let God. I too have had no reasons no answers
      I’m convinced this is a World Spiritual battle.

  39. Toni D.

    Thank you for caring and for providing this forum for all of estranged parents to feel not so alone.
    Happy Easter and may we all make each day a bit brighter for ourselves and for someone else.

  40. Yvonne

    How am I making the most of my life? I still garden at my age, although it doesn’t look like it did when I was young, it’s still gardening. I enjoy reading good books, watching movies, going for a drive. Catching up with the neighbors, and taking online classes in things I am interested in. I still take walks, although not as long, it’s still my time outdoors. I have found that as I age, simplicity makes stress less, less to take care of and less to worry about. I had always heard of keeping it simple, now I know. I appreciate the small things now, like a good conversation, watching the sunrise, hearing a favorite song on the radio, the taste of a good meal, even rainy days when I can curl up with a blanket.

  41. Fran M.

    Thanks for this article, just the boost I needed on a gray chilly spring day! Instead of wasting my time with painful regret, I want to focus on spending my energy on the loved ones who are still in my life and right here in front of me 🙂 It really helps to hear your cheerful encouragement.

  42. Arlene R.

    Thank you for your encouraging suggestions. I’m so close to total estrangement; my daughter blames me for her problems even though I’ve apologized repeatedly, said I’ve done my best. The stress and hurt are making me sick with gastritis. This kind of stress can be crippling.

    I know that I’m not alone.

    It helps to receive your postings.

    Thank you very much.


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