Rejected parents: Your happiness can be independent of estrangement

Rejected parents: Your happiness can be independent of estrangement

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Rejected parents: You can be happy again

In the spirit of Independence Day, step away from the bondage of always thinking about the adult son who betrayed you or the adult daughter who walked away. Instead, think of this Fourth of July as a turning point. Then, support yourself in moving forward.

First off, if you don’t yet have my book, Done With The Crying, get it, read it, and do the exercises. People say it saved their sanity, helped them—finally—to move beyond the pain and sorrow, and to move forward in their own lives.

rejected parents

Rejected parents: Gain independence from the pain of estrangement

Here are six more tips for gaining your independence from the pain of estrangement, which may be the biggest shock of your life:

  • Get started. For some, just getting started in taking care of themselves can be difficult. This primer, Five Ways to Move On After an Adult Child’s Rejection , isn’t so much about moving on as it is about dealing with the thoughts and feelings that can keep you from moving at all.
  • Come to conclusions. Maybe you’re plagued by the Why? It’s a common stumbling block because, so often, parents aren’t told why. There’s simply a cutting-off, with no clear-cut answer. Here’s an article, written as I entered the fourth year of estrangement, that might help you come to a few conclusions. Settling on an answer, even if it’s incomplete, can help you gain independence from the question that can run on an endless loop.
  • Handle uncertainty. Another thing that keeps rejected parents from moving forward for themselves is that, as life moves on and events happen, they worry a son or daughter will have regrets or wait too long. But uncertainties are part of living, and adult children need to learn their own lessons. Learn to deal with uncertainty.
  • Get it out in the open— Our society has been conditioned to believe that adult children would not reject good parents. That’s one reason so many decent and loving, yet rejected parents feel shame and guilt that doesn’t reconcile with who they are or all they’ve stood for. It’s also why they might not talk about estrangement. Should you tell people? Taking small steps in that direction can break you free.
  • Get clear on hope. In estrangement circles, rejected parents often talk about hope, but that can be a two-edged sword. Are you hoping for something you can’t control? Are you bothered by lack of hope that you will ever reconcile? In Estrangement: What About Hope? you can start to clarify how hope can hurt or help.
  • Learn to cope. In the wake of estrangement, rejected parents are tasked with the question of how to cope. After estrangement, learn to cope. It starts with a decision.

Rejected parents: Gain independence

The articles linked within the blurbs above offer just a few of the ways rejected parents can gain independence from pain and suffering—and move toward a better future even after estrangement. If you’re a rejected parent, don’t get stuck telling yourself you can’t move forward until the estrangement ends. Instead, work at making your life great now. That way, you’ll be better off if or when reconciliation takes place later. Your happiness and fulfillment really can be independent of the estrangement. Get started by reading the articles linked above. Read or reread Done With The Crying and be sure to do the exercises. They really help.

For more articles, you can always click on the Latest Posts, or use the drop-down menus under “Answers to Common Questions” or “What Parents Can Do.” There’s also a search box that can help you locate information on specific topics.

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18 thoughts on “Rejected parents: Your happiness can be independent of estrangement

  1. movinon

    Thank you so much for these much needed words. I have recently come to realize that much of my pain comes from the fact “I” believe my daughters lack of connection to me is because I have done something. “I” have accepted and taken on that belief because of the culture I have lived in and I have had an internal struggle knowing that while I most certainly have done things, they are only the normal things we do as human beings. I have realized there is no secret transgression I have inadvertantly committed that if I just apologize for will fix things either. My daughter has the right to her feelings and opinions, and I have the right to mine.

    I no longer need to carry that belief and I have felt much better. I still have much pain knowing I have lost my daughter, but it is a bitter sweet pain filled with love rather than a crushing weight of hopeless wondering and fear of my wrongness.


    Now that I realize

    1. happy

      I am finally reading something POSITIVE here. We have to make our own happiness. All of this can be so sad and I am tired of being sad, getting out in the world and enjoying life inspite of those kids. I am new here, hope to find more positive stuff. We don’t need to let them take our joy, I know easier said than done but we have a choice. I choose to be happy and get out there and find stuff to make me happy!

  2. Willow2

    Thank you for the post. It boggles my mind how many of us are on this site trying to make sense of something that by every law of nature does not make sense. My son hasn’t spoken to me in 11 months. There seems to be a common thread to many of these stories. The parent did what they could for their son or daughter growing up, the mistakes that may have been made in the upbringing would seem the normal imperfections of being human, the son or daughter seems to of changed personalities and many times this happened after they took a husband or wife who has very negative influences over them. This is my story…. we had a close relationship although I was a single mom and my son exhibited troubled behavior from a young age. I spent much time trying to juggle work and giving him attention and trying to make him feel loved and safe. He seesawed back and forth, sometimes being very caring and loving even in the early parts of his marriage. His wife also showed some signs of decency but with her there was always an underlying current that made me feel nervous and stressed out when I was around her. A couple of very troubling situations have occurred by her hands. My beautiful grandson has been kept from me. He and I were very tight. I was told I am not allowed to see him after a crazy orchestrated episode happened that left me asking, what just happened??? It occurred on a peaceful Saturday. I was called by my son who was upset about something my actively drinking sister told him. It was so ridiculous that I didn’t even know how to respond. My daughter in law jumped in and started making bold statements about me not being allowed to see her child, which in my eyes has always been her intention. When I tried to take apart the accusations and ask them to explain them, they had nothing to say. Friends who are close are shocked. It just doesn’t make any sense! My friend recently confessed to me that she reached out to my son, who she has known for years. She said she just wanted to help me. Well, he shut her down. My hopes were after all this time there would be a softening of heart. Not happening. Apparently he said several nasty things about me that I asked her not to repeat to me. He also gave her some psychological diagnosis that he claims I have, again, more craziness, doesn’t exist. It made my heart heavy to see after all this time away from me, he has not lost his steam and determination to not be in my life. I can’t imagine ever feeling 100% and I worry about my son and grandson, often. I want to shake him and say wake up and stop this craziness! But instead, I take it one day at a time. Thanks for letting me share. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those suffering on this site and for all those suffering in silence. 4th of July was not fun for me but I took it easy and it’s over.

    1. FiatLux

      Willow2– I am so sorry for what you are going through and can totally relate to so much of it. I wish Sheri could set up a way for local groups to meet as I would love to spend time with fellow travelers. All the best to you.

    2. Liss

      Willow2 your story sounds like my story. My son hasn’t spoken to me in 3 years 2 months. Sometimes I wonder or I think way doesn’t my daughter in law speak up and say don’t treat your parents like that. I know for a fact that’s not the way she treats her parents. I would never let my husband do this to his family. I always encouraged him to stay close to his parents. How did we raise all these heart less children. God bless to all.

  3. Cali

    Well, I’ll post here since I can’t figure out how to introduce myself at the other spot.
    I came here a few months ago after getting the book. My son and I were estranged, then things got a little better, now estranged again.
    I saw a therapist for a few months, which helped a lot.
    My son is a bitter and resentful young man because of negative things in his life. I do so much better when we don’t talk, but I just cannot get past the fact that this just isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. I so want what I see others have. I want that little boy that loved me well. I want us to have a sweet relationship.
    I have been doing fine, but the sadness hits me at night sometimes when I’m not ready to overcome it. Ugh. Thanks for listening.

    1. Sasha

      Near the end of April, my son was told to leave our house, by my husband. He is almost 38 years old, and has some real bad narcissistic traits. Everything is about him and always has been. I have been blamed for everything that has or hasn’t happened in his life. I have not spoken to him since April, and am much happier not having to walk around on eggshells anymore. The ball is in his court, and I have been through the same thing as you. He was my little boy, the one who snuggled with me, gave me hugs, etc. I have always loved my kids and grandchildren and there wasn’t and isn’t anything in my power that I wouldn’t do for them if I could. But when it’s expected, that’s where I draw the line. When his kids were little, we were already retired. He thought because we had “ nothing to do” as both he and his wife said, that we should cater to them by babysitting and being a taxi service whenever they needed. Entitled much??? Her family wasn’t interested in little kids, so they didn’t bother.
      I am happier now, but won’t trust him much again. At 70, I want to enjoy every second I have.

    2. Juanita

      I ‘ve been with this group for two-year now. I am so glad that I have someone who understands my brokenness ad a parent. I live all 3 of my chidren however are relation are not what I dreamed they would be either. I feel unloved unappreciated and left behind a lot because they don’t even care enough to find put if I’m ok. We still talk and I get to see them about 2 times a yea
      My youngest two. I am presently taking care of my oldest daughter because of a extreme health issue. The first couple of weeks she was here she told me how much she hated me and that I was the reason her life was in such a mess. She has no Where to live and a bad boyfriend who cheats on her and does other things that are not good for her. She has hurt me to the bone so much in such a short time. But I keep trying to help her because she will be living on the street if I don’t and she can not make it because of her condition.
      I never imagined that she would have continued to hate me as a parent after all this. I want a real relationship with all my kids but thanks to my x husbands it probably will never happen. I help because I love them and I pray everyday they will learn to love me again just like I am not what they want me to be. Life is been hard sometimes but nothing like trying to be a mom and nana to children who don’t want you. God bless us all parents who have done our best and beyond yet still remain unloved by our children. Juanita

  4. candleinthewind

    My daughter told my sisters that she has put me in a box. She continues not to communicate at all, ignoring my birthday, Christmas and all of it. Now this could be a jewellery box, or a box of Christmas decorations or memories that you put under the bed, or, more morbidly, a coffin. No matter. I recently heard a song called ‘Cornerstone’ by Benjamin Clementine (can’t work out how to do a YouTube link here, but it’s there) and it sums up how that feels. If we are to move on, become independent of the pain, then music is one way of shifting us forward and helping, as it were, to remove the gallstones of pain that estrangement creates.
    Clementine’s album ‘At Least for Now’, I would thoroughly recommend. Pain has universal elements, and in that way we are not alone.

    1. rparents Post author

      You can click ON the word community in the nav bar and it will take you to the forum. It’s also helpful to share your thoughts in these comments to posts, though.

      Sheri McGregor

  5. Nicegirl1212

    My now 22 year old son moved back to my ex 4 years ago my son and i always been close and things been good till now.he doesn’t text or call for a month now and gives me the run arround. And i blame myself thinking iam a bad mom or i did something wrong. How do i approach my son ? Without pushing hom further away

  6. 3DogDays

    Your site gave me new thinking skills…
    Please allow me to post again.
    I first posted this in July ’19 under the “Abused Elderly” comments. After thinking that many of us NEVER think we are ‘elderly’ and may not click on that ‘elderly’ word article… I want to repost it for all ages, rejected parents, adult children, siblings and others that can get caught up in the anger, hate, retaliations, and damning of others. I also FINALLY did the Suicide Survey…I have resisted it for a couple years (posted Dec. ’16). As the suicide rates increase (or reporting is more open to this living societal issue) It is time everyone understands the possibility that it could happen in your family…

    ” I am struggling worst then ever…
    Incest old world man father, no guts mother, idiot Pastor in Church who thought is was OK to molest children. Ran away after molested older sister committed suicide. Married and PG at 15, divorced at 19. two little kids, no child support from Navy. Uneducated jobs. Got break for hard work ethics. Made a lot of money. Kids probably suffered from my having to work and be gone so much. Stayed in the non-married relationship for 20+ years. That long term relationship man bankrupted our business using unauthorized Capital Federal money. My life collapse affected each of my children and right in the middle of that devastation my Marine Corp Son committed suicide at 26. Highly educated Daughter (now 50=) REFUSED to ever talk about her brothers death or the horror of my losses. With Daughters of her own two girls refuse to address molestation of her one child granddaughter …When I cared for and supported that little child and wanted to report the molestation…they STONEWALLED me and have not talked to me in 4 years. I know I am responsible for all the horror in my life! I honestly never knew. I survived in a high end society and gave my daughter and then husband WHATEVER they wanted (cars, houses, cash, support, childcare…) only to be dismissed. Now, it is almost over. No comfort and no understanding about how hard life got..I have long time sober understanding with so much isolation. The young choose not to understand different cultures of upbringings. They will be old soon. Good to see the worlds attention to parents that sexually abuse their children…but for me all is too late.”

    1. rparents Post author


      I’m so very sorry that you have had such sorrow and have been hurt in your life. I’m glad the site has been helpful to you, and I know your post will resonate with others who may need your words. HUGS, Sheri McGregor

    2. Sky

      Hi 3dogdays, sending love, to you today, like you I had a very abusive life when I was growing up. I often wonder if our children realise what it took to survive in a family like that, my father went to prison after mysrlf and my sisters went to court for justice. I have been in therapy for almost 20 years, my marriage broke down also. I have worked so hard on myself through therapy and returning to education and also had therapy with my children, im estranged from my daughter for the last 20 years, some contact every now and then, son only in the last 2 months whom I was very close to, he met someone a year ago, but now decided that he no longer needs me in his life, The pain is horrendous, but I am beginning to see some light now and will hopefully get better at been totally on my own without my children and grandchild. It’s tough when you have nobody to turn to when you come home but I have survived so far and will continue to be the best that I can be, sending warm wishes to you today

  7. Pink

    I am very new to this community but I can’t figure out what to do next. I purchased the book and got to the part where you “give a voice to your experience.” This I did very easily but when I turned the page and was asked to write what I can do to help myself, I just started to cry (again) because I have no clue. I put the book down and walked away. I decided that I needed to keep reading and come back to that question later. So I picked the book up again and continued. It is truly a struggle but I am determined to continue so I can find some way to move on. Hopefully I come back here at another time and share what has been happening and how I’m working through everything. For now, it’s back to my book because I really want the crying to stop.

    1. 3DogDays

      You came across this site for a great reason…you are searching for some understanding. Like all of us here. Trying to comprehend what the heck happened. Is it Over forever? Can this be fixed? When? Am I the only one?
      Crying is a human release of emotions. It is reasonable. No guilt!
      Keep reading everything all over Sheri’s site…You will see a pattern of and in estrangements. Knowing you are SO not alone in this whacked world will give a tiny bit of comfort and you will consider sharing what is happening in your life!

      Pink, Please Write and share!

  8. Elizabeth L.

    As soon as I get paid this month, I’m off to buy the book!
    It’s hard to hear so many stories just like mine.
    Hoping to make big life changes and move on.
    Relate counselling didn’t help as my daughter just backed out after 2 sessions.
    Now I’m alone with no other relatives. Time for me.


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