Tag Archives: book to help parents of estranged adult children

Cut off by adult children and lonely

cut off by adult childrenCut off by adult children? You may feel lonely, but you’re not alone

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Many parents cut off by adult children feel all alone. The reasons for estrangement are often uncertain, and are varied. Divorce, parental alienation syndrome, drugs, an influential love interest…. Situations can be complex, and circumstances are unique. Regardless, parents cut off by adult children can feel isolated.

If you’re all alone or lonely this Valentine’s Day—or any day—take heart. Not only are you one of many in similar straits, but it’s even possible to see your alone time in a whole new light.

Valentine’s Day—and any day

Parents cut off by adult children may be emotionally exhausted and feel as if life is passing them by. They’re exhausted by their lack of power to fix the relationship. Estranged adult children ignore efforts to reconcile, or respond with icy words or actions that make it clear: they’re not interested in a healthy relationship.

cut off by adult childrenWhat’s worse, parents cut off by adult children can start to feel as if they don’t fit in anywhere anymore.  While friends share tales of sweet grandchildren presenting valentines with too much pasty glue, rejected parents ache for that connection, and worry they’re being maligned to grandchildren they deeply miss. Yet sharing their circumstances may be met with blank stares or judgmental comments. Arms fold. People look away and sit back in their chairs. Nobody seems to understand. “It’s enough to make you feel like a leper,” one mother explained. “That’s why I avoid people now.”

In reaching out for support and sharing your circumstances, you may have been met with blank stares or hurtful questions (What did you do to cause that?). Arms fold. People look away. Nobody seems to understand. You may feel as if you just don’t fit in anymore.

“It’s enough to make you feel like a leper,” one mother explained. “I avoid people now.”

cut off by adult childrenThese sad, isolating feelings can start to be the “new normal.” Be careful of letting estrangement get the better of you. As described in my recent article, you can positively shape your new normal to move forward in your life. How you look at loneliness can help.

Cause and effect

If you’re hungry, getting something to eat is the natural response. Thirsty? Get a drink. Why then, when you’re lonely, is enjoying the people’s company more complicated?

After my estranged son cut off the family, social situations became more difficult. All around me was the tinkling of glasses, the bubbling of conversations, the rise and fall of laughter…. I felt like an outsider. Similar to Lila, talked about in a previous article, I was disillusioned. It was difficult to trust.

My feelings mirrored those of this mother, quoted here from the pages of Done With The Crying: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children:

“Sometimes, I even wonder if my own friends doubt me, like they’re measuring everything I say or do against the estrangement, and wondering if it was really my fault.”

Other parents cut off by adult children spoke of putting up emotional walls and shutting people out. Thousands shared what boils down to a pervasive fear of emotionally investing. They worry they will be hurt again. This sort of self-preservation is natural for hurting parents cut off by adult children. But it can also be unhealthy.  And the truth is, if you’ve been cut off by adult children, you are not alone.

cut off by adult childrenParents cut off by adult children: Join the club

Kind parents who did their best—yet were cut off by adult children—are everywhere. They work at your doctor’s office and sit in the pews of your church. They are your neighbors and are maybe even your friends. But they may not have told you. They’re suffering in silence, feeling all alone, and afraid to share. They may even look at you and think that you couldn’t possibly understand.

There’s a section in the book about sharing, and then steering other people’s responses. Talking about estrangement will help make known the reality of just how many decent, loving parents are cut off by adult children. You may be at a point when you’re more than willing to share, as I often do. Maybe you’ll even work toward informing society as has been done with this quilt by an estranged mother. Educating the public about this social issue that affects so many is a topic for another day. For now, let’s get back to the individual experience of feeling lonely, on Valentine’s Day, or on any day.

Solitude: Put being alone in a new light

Recently, a young father in his early thirties told me he missed having time alone. His children played nearby, their “watch me, Daddy” and “look what I can do” call-outs making us smile. This father said he realizes that one day they won’t be calling him to watch. He wasn’t contemplating estrangement, of course. Unless they’ve been touched by estrangement, parents of tiny tots rarely do. But he knows they’ll be busy in their own lives someday. And he’s planning ahead for that time.

“I know a lot of older people who waste their solitude feeling sad,” he said. “They’re free, they’re healthy, and they have a lot to offer. But some sit and wait for their family to come around.” He grinned. “And then I know others who learn to play guitar, continue to work, make things, or walk miles and pick up street trash to clean up the neighborhood. They’re happy and talk to people all along the way.” His eyes twinkling, he pointed to his heart as he spoke. “I like being around those people. They have so much knowledge and experience to share.”

I couldn’t help smiling at this young man’s passionate words. He must do a lot of deep thinking while his youngsters play on the monkey bars and swings. He’s enjoying his time with them now, but he’s already valuing the solitude that’s yet to come.

I thought about what he said. Part of me believes he can’t understand these older people’s plight. Still, he makes a good point. If you’re alone, do you value your solitude? Do you use time, and your freedom, wisely?

Parents cut off by adult children: The challenge

I know it’s difficult. It takes effort to reclaim confidence and adjust to a new future. But it is possible, even alone, to change, to grow, and to embrace a new way of life that’s healthy and good.

My book includes tools to help parents cut off by adult children see their feelings and in a new light. You can build on confidence from previous hardships you’ve overcome. You can recognize and give yourself credit for any ways you’ve grown since the estrangement began. It’s okay to admit any positives. There’s no need for guilt.

All alone? Not really.

Feeling lonely may be more miserable in a society that’s so connected. But when it comes to estrangement, you’re really not alone at all. If you’re looking for support and camaraderie from people who understand, “like” my facebook page for estranged parents, or join the conversation in “comments” that follow nearly every post here.  And sign up for my newsletter (the sign up form is on the right, near the top of the page.

You’re not alone among the thousands of other parents cut off by adult children. Mothers and fathers who have been estranged for years share their experiences to help others heal. In the safe company of others who understand, parents of estranged adult children may begin to feel more confident again. And in time, feel more social, and willing to risk getting out among friends and making new ones.

Be your own Valentine?cut off by adult children

Love comes in many forms. Let’s broaden Valentine’s Day to include love of neighbor and kindness to self. Take a moment to smile. You might make someone else’s day. And if you do that for another, you’ll be doing it for yourself.

Related articles:

Reinvent Yourself

Spreading Happiness

Wall of Silence: an artistic expression about living with estrangement

parents of estranged adults

Quilt, copyright: S. Small Proudfoot

This beautiful quilt is an artistic expression about the powerlessness many parents of estranged adult children feel. The quilt itself is gorgeous—-and reveals the lovely soul of a mother who has been hurt, but who has also triumphed. Sharing the quilt here is a way for the artist to help bring attention to the growing trend of adult children who sever ties from caring families. As she said to me this morning, “I hope you are able to continue making strides for a more informed society about this issue of estrangement from family and children.”

Through October 16, the quilt is on display with others at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California.

What an inspiration Ms. Proudfoot is to other hurting parents whose adult children have cut them off. Read the artist’s statement below, and enjoy some close-ups of different areas of this inspiring piece of art:

quilt-wall-of-silence-4-the-skin-horseTITLE:  WAll of SILENCE” Dedicated to all parents of Estranged Adult Children. The grief felt by parents whose adult children chose to terminate parental relationships leaves nothing but everlasting quilt-wall-of-silence-5-the-velveteen-rabbitheartbreak and sadness.  Margery Williams book, The Velveteen Rabbit, is used as a metaphor for this quilt.  Rabbit, rejected by his beloved child, asks Skin Horse “when a child loves you for a long, long time, does it hurt?”  Always truthful, Skin Horse replies “sometimes”.  From the darkness of despair to the serenity of acceptance, a heart once broken never mends, not to the shape it once was.
quilt-wall-of-silence-2-puppet

Wall of Silence: (c) 2016 Sandra Small Proudfoot, AOCA ’89, Mono, Ont., in collaboration with long-arm quilter, Mary Light, Temiskaming Shores, Ont. Canada

Floral Inspiration:    Artist Carrie Schmitt “She Lived Her Life in Full Bloom”

Can creativity help you heal?

In my book, I shared the stories of many who have healed through art in all its forms—-gardening, cooking, knitting, writing, and more. Formal art therapy works—but people have long turned to creative pursuits on their own as a means to work through troubling times and come away stronger.

Maintaining this website, and writing my book to help parents of estranged adult children has been part of my creative healing process. How have you used creative works to manage and heal from your pain? And if you haven’t yet, what might you get started on today that can help you express yourself and heal. Remember, not all creativity is expressed in traditional art forms either. Creativity can be a facet of many activities.

I hope you will leave a comment appreciating the artistry of Ms. Proudfoot’s quilt shared here, as well as share your own creative ideas that help you to heal.

 

 

Thanksgiving for parents of estranged adult children

Parents of estranged adult children:
Can Thanksgiving be a time of harvest?

Thanksgiving for parents of estranged adult childrenby Sheri McGregor, M.A.

This Thanksgiving, many will notice the physically empty chairs around the table. Probably, they’ll be sadly aware of the psychological presence of missing an estranged adult child.

Thanksgiving, for parents of estranged adult children, can bring sadness over the absence of a son or daughter that once fit so uniquely into the holidays (and every day). While frustration, regret, anger, and sadness are typical responses, try contemplating Thanksgiving in another way—a way that helps you take care of yourself and even moves you forward.

Thanksgiving for parents of estranged adult children:
Set yourself on a forward path

Clear, Rest, and Restart: While it’s natural to mourn the loss, try thinking of the holiday in terms of the harvest it is so often intertwined with. This time of year involves clearing away, to make way for the rest and recuperation that leads to an eventual new beginning. If you find that you’re in a rush to fill the void, consider that a farmer clears the fields for a fallow season—which allows the soil to rest and recoup for later new crops. We too can clean the slate for a new start.

Self-Care and Self-Compassion: For some parents of estranged adult children, this could involve a physical clearing away. If you turned to comfort food during the trauma of estrangement, maybe you’ll start a new health routine to lose excess weight. Physical exercise can be a way to energize dormant muscles, and build strength. Healthful foods and plenty of sleep are ways to take care of your physical body, which will also help you emotionally. Take kind care of yourself. Be your own best friend, and step with strength and energy into a brighter future.

Physical Space: Other parents of estranged adult children will clear a physical space like a closet by weeding through things an estranged son or daughter left behind. Is there a box of items you’ve been holding onto, but that makes you sad? Maybe keeping physical items also keeps you emotionally stuck. While it may not be wise to dump everything on a whim, weeding through held items, and perhaps letting go of some things will help. In my case, it was helpful when another person assisted by going through left items, and disposing of actual trash. I could then re-box what might be held for my estranged son, or donated. The box got smaller, and so did my estranged son’s presence in my thoughts. That meant the influence of his estrangement over my emotional well-being—my everyday mood and happiness—grew smaller, too.

Mental Help: For some parents of estranged adult children, the clearing away will be more about losing unhealthy mental habits that dig them into a depressing rut of sadness and pain. Looping thoughts that go over and over the hurt can be traded for new and more positive thinking that spurs you forward to embrace your own happiness. As I say in my book to help parents of estranged adults, moving forward doesn’t necessarily mean giving up. You can hold out hope, even while taking care of yourself. Move into your own happy future—so that if or when your estranged adult child rejoins your life, you’ll be strong and well, ready for the energy and wit that reconciliation may require.

Gratitude: Thanksgiving every day

Any discussion of Thanksgiving, for parents of estranged adults or anyone, would be incomplete without talk of gratitude. As I say in the book, while the practice of gratitude may sound all gooey and wonderful, it does work. Gratitude attunes us to finding the good. A grateful attitude helps no matter how long your adult child has been estranged, whether you’re in the throes of disbelief or years past the separation. Focusing on what’s good can shift your perception to a more abundant outlook, making each day a new adventure.

I chose to post this in early October for Canadians. Thanksgiving for parents of estranged adult children in Canada comes more than a month earlier than for people in the U.S. But the holiday’s ideals are wise for all year long.

To get the benefits, gratitude requires repetition. It’s the practice of gratitude that makes a difference. The Thanksgiving holiday arrives once annually, but a grateful attitude brings a harvest of blessings every day. Benefits like better sleep and health—as is discussed in my book at length, with current research and studies. Gratitude reaps practical benefits. Help yourself to a healthy serving of thanks each and every day.

Copyright Notice: All content of any post or page found on any page at this site is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. To share with others, provide a link to the page on this website where the content is found. Reposting of any content is not permitted without express permission. Please see Copyright Notice/Restrictions in the right-hand sidebar for complete copyright notice. You can always contact me with any questions.

Related articles:

How to heal with an adult child’s rejection

Cut off by adult children: What do you prescribe for yourself?

Holidays for parents rejected by adult children