The turning point

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

rejected by son

All over the world, as businesses shuttered and people sheltered in place during the Covid-19 lockdown, parents rejected by adult children began to hope. Maybe their sons and daughters would have a change of heart. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of members to my Rejected Parents Facebook page and/or this site, their hope was fruitless.

For those who did hear from their estranged adult children, it was by text, in conversations  that often went something like this:

How are you?

Dad and I are fine. How about you? Are you and XX okay?


That’s good. I’ve been thinking of you. Love you guys.

Then comes S-I-L-E-N-C-E.

done with the cryingAs the social distancing and isolation has continued, more and more parents have expressed their dismay. If a pandemic can’t get a wayward son or daughter to care about them, then nothing will.

Have you experienced this sort of letdown? Did you hope, maybe send a text or two, yet receive little or nothing in response?

Many moms and dads call the lack of concern shameful, a disgrace. Deafening silence or a a bare minimum response triggers a resurgence of all their emotional pain. Even parents who have worked hard to regain their footing feel bewildered and rejected again. They find themselves back to asking WHY?

Don’t Get Stuck

The takeaway from this pandemic is something others have learned in other ways:

  • A father whose heart attack and near-death experience didn’t prompt his daughters to care or call.
  • A mother whose life-threatening illness brought nothing but meanness, and accusations the disease was her own damn fault.
  • A parent whose adult children didn’t care when a grandparent faced life-and-death circumstances or a beloved family pet died.

Don’t get stuck in the sad stage. Don’t allow the shocking cruelty of someone you once knew and loved to dictate your life.

Turning point

Is this pandemic, and the lack of care or concern from your estranged adult child, a turning point? Make positive changes for yourself now. You’ve done your best to love your child, to empathize, to try to understand….

If there was ever a turning point, this is it. What will you do to change for the better?

I hope that you will use my book, Done With The Crying, to help yourself. It’s available in paperback, as an e-book, and on audio. If you get the e- or audio book, be sure to get the accompanying Done With The Crying WORKBOOK: for Parents of Estranged Adult Children so you don’t miss the exercises.  What can you do today to fight past the shock and dismay, and move toward your own healing and happiness? The book’s exercises offer specific assistance to aid your journey forward.

If you already have the book, what did you find most useful? I hope you will leave a comment. Parents who come to this website find relief in knowing there are other parents who understand.

Hugs (and happy Mother’s Day 2020).

Sheri McGregor

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27 thoughts on “The turning point

  1. Elaine W.

    Our grachildren are 8,10 and & 12. My son sees that they receive gifts and cards we send. His wife however tries to pretend I don’t exists. She completely ignores me.
    I’m not sure what answer is correct. Continuing to acknowledge her seems to condone her behavior, not fair to hold my son responsible for her behavior, and it is setting a President with the grand children. They are very aware of their mothers behavior. It’s a sad existence . 10 years of the daughter in laws behavior and 14 years my son ( not her husband but her brother in law) has not responded, acknowledged me. It is so painful to not even know why they both act like I am not alive! Hurts!

  2. Lana T.

    Been going through this for several years, 3 adult children, 11 grandchildren, great grandchildren, only my sons kids speak to us my husband, their dad has dementia he can’t stop feeling extremely bad, I don’t want to ever see them again, but losing our family & grandkids is almost too much
    This story never ends, of the mean things they did to my mother, their grandmother @ 96 years old, and my husband
    Why would anyone do this, controlling, gaslighting, and it makes them happy, I Don’t Want To See Them Ever

  3. Rose W.

    I am going on 5 years of estrangement from my daughter, funny how my youngest and I talk and my 3 step daughters do stuff, talk etc, I moved to a warm location and my husband and I “do our thing”, enjoying life in the moment. Life is what YOU make it… so enjoy it. Pray more worry less!

  4. fredna d.

    I have recently found out I have liver cancer and it is not treatable. Both my adult children as well as my Sister think I am making this up. So they have disowned me. I have 3 grandchildren. I sent them the doctor’s official report but nothing silence. So I am alone and dying/

    We used to be a loving family with I thought unconditional love.

    1. Connie S.

      Dear Fredna,
      Narcissists/Sociopaths Do Not forgive, and thus have no empathy. Many Millennials, Gen Y’s have this mental issue. I’ve studied this epidemic of parental alienation for many years. I feel lucky that I enjoy my work, (teacher, actress, director, writer.. and am curious about so many topics). I feel for the parents of these adult children, and especially if they are not doing work or projects that they love. I always tell others that firstly, this IS AN EPIDEMIC. Second, it’s NOT your fault.
      Third, Follow your Bliss! Narcissists look for someone to blame for their bad choices. IQ has no bearing on this behavior. There were so many manipulations by social media, badly trained teachers, betrayal from friends, boyfriends, girlfriends and all the societal pressures that even if you brought them up with virtues and a good foundation, their behaviour strangely flipped, and they grew Away from you. If I were in your position, I would ask good friends visit me, would read great books, watch uplifting films.. write a journal for your grandchildren, have a lovely pet or whatever you like to do. It’s taken me years to accept that I may never see my daughter again, and I still do not know what I did. Please know that one day, your child will deeply regret and suffer for the neglect you had to endure. Sometimes I just smile remembering those beautiful 13 years I spent raising my amazing, miraculous child, (whom I gave birth to at age 40, fertility issues). I still send her loving cards and brief letters; and although she may just throw them away, sending them makes me feel a connection…
      Best wishes to you, and those that care about you… Cj

    2. Kat

      This is heartbreaking…
      I was feeling suicidal after the betrayals, lies and final alienation….it was all I could see in my future…and my daughters and husband thought I said it “for attention”…
      Mental health professionals say to tell your family; I say “don’t” because you will be faced with rejection. At it will sting. I feel shunned as if I had left a cult. I know how a leper must feel. They should be charged with elder neglect. I so hope you have friends and extended family to comfort you❤️

  5. Helen M.

    Laurie B., I so empathize with you. I am punished often, if I speak in the wrong tone, or sometimes speak at all, or say something someone does not like, although I am not usually privy to what that is, I feel like a child who is being reprimanded and punished for being imperfect. If I say anything about any of it, I am told I am crazy for thinking that way; I do not believe my feelings matter in any sense of the word. I was the family scapegoat, then my husband’s scapegoat, and now I believe I am my children’s. I have endured this for over 25 years and I just simply want off this merry go round. But not sure I can ever get there from here.

  6. Joanne

    Like others, I’ve struggled with whether I should send a card/gift/money to my son and daughter. At first I bought Christmas gifts. Sometimes I’d send cards, sometimes not. And whether I do or not, I give myself a break. I know my own reasons for doing so (they don’t want me bothering them/I want to let them know I care). I’ve realized that my son only contacts me when he wants something (usually money). But I don’t give him money anymore. I’m not an ATM. Either he wants a relationship or he does not. I’m not going to be held hostage. This Christmas I had cards for my kids, but only to give to them if I saw them in person. My son led me to believe he’d see me, then never let me know when I could see him. Who does that to a patent? I didn’t raise my kids that way. I was a loving good mom. We had good times together. I don’t recognize the people they’ve become. If they are so cruel to knowingly hurt their own mother and not feel bad about it, well, that’s just not me. I am kind and gentle and loving. I want to be treated with respect, and I don’t deserve this. It’s very sad, and I don’t understand, but I’m trying to come out the other side of this intact. My dad had cancer last year, and when I let my kids know…silence. So I just have to keep trying to move forward and find a reason for being, a reason to be happy.

    1. KD

      A year has almost passed and I was wondering if you had made any progress in your self-care?
      It is hard to turn the corner, however, if you choose joy in life once again, you will need to shut this door and open another. You cannot control an adult child – especially if they display a narcissistic personality.
      You’re painful efforts are controlling in such a subtle, selfish way – I know – my only child treats me as such – and it has taken me 12 years to be kind…to myself.

      Best wishes in 2021. Turn the corner if you have not yet done so.

    2. Kath

      You sound very sensible; you’ve thought this through…
      I feel the same way…these are not the young women I raised as compassionate, agreeable, intelligent, and kind girls. Our family home had disagreements so rarely that I don’t even remember any…
      But one married a narcissist who became a psychopath after suffering his 3rd concussion in an accident and his rantings that weren’t even true caused the family to implode.
      I hope I can last with health because it will be extra painful to suffer alone…good luck to you all.

  7. Nancy

    I read over these and just cry. I cant understand why and I just don’t know how to move past it. I have two sons but one who does not reply to text or calls. I have noticed a pattern over the years that he does answer when he needs something but otherwise I am non existent. Ive been nonexistent for a while now and even though I keep reaching out- its to no avail. Its so very hurtful because I have been there for him his whole life. I’m broken & so confused. I cant understand how to move on– its my child???

    1. Laurie B.

      My heart is breaking. I thought that progress was made with my son. I was so happy when he came to see my with his bride recently, and told me they were expecting. I screamed with joy. They didn’t get to have a wedding due to the pandemic, and that was hard. But this? My first grandchild. But then, a week later I sit in shock. I had texted him about how crazy the attack at the capital was recently, not even meaning to be political. It was scary to me. It’s as if a switch turned on. He accused me of not having boundaries and then ranted more ( I knew we didn’t agree on politics) but my agenda was that of just plain scared of violence. He said I was toxic to him, and then said I wouldn’t see him for awhile and that he was blocking me. I’ve cried for several days. I never had any agenda. I’ve searched my heart. Now I’m worried he will keep me from sharing his new baby with me. I know he drinks, and maybe he was drunk, but it was such an overreaction that I’ve been in shock. He has shown punishing behavior before. I am being punished. It feels emotionally abusive. I feel shame- shame that I can’t even share this shocking event with my friends. I hope this pain stops soon. Thanks for listening.

    2. Connie S.

      Dear Nancy,
      Please don’t feel broken. There are people somewhere, that you have yet to meet, that need you. My volunteering, performing arts projects, karaoke singing have brought me immense satisfaction. I have come to a place where I actually feel sorry for a child that has no mother. Recently she has done same to her dad. She is an R.N. at the most difficult time to be an RN in history.. I pray for her, think of her,
      wonder how she is doing .. but then I return to doing what I love to do! This is an epidemic that we are dealing with. We must hang tough, help others and hold our sweet memories close to our hearts. If we cannot control the situation, we Must Let It Go.. to heal ourselves.. Best wishes to you, Cj

  8. Barbara

    I have always wondered the same thing. I’ve always sent everyone in mt family cards. Seven years ago is when this rejection really went into full gear. I do send my son a birthday card every year, but to his work, not his house. He may open them but probably not!. I have two grandchildren that are his and every little holiday, big or small, I gave them something in their cards. Believing, shamefully, that the kids would not be given the cards I decided to get two bins, that I keep in the bottom of my closet, and I put each of their cards in a bin.
    Someday they will get them, and know grandma always thought about them.

    1. Dolores R.

      I also have been disowned by my son, who has held my grandsons hostage! The pain I have felt is unbearable, like he put a gun to my head, just did everything but fire it! It was just my 72nd Birthday, he texted me Happy Birthday Mom, love you! He had one of my grandsons call on video chat to wish me the same! The heartache I felt was too much, we live 40 min away and it’s as if we live in another country! I was a single mom for most of my kids life, wore many hats, but love was foremost in our home! My son has always downgraded me, if I turned right, I should have turned left! I should have stopped the abuse yrs ago, hanging on to see a glimpse of grandkids! After I chatted with my 8 yr old grandson, I fell apart, my anxiety stayed with me for days! That dear Mom deserves only a few crumbs, knowing who knows when I would hear from grandchildren again! This is what I messaged him! I am moving on, no blame, just forgiveness! The pain I have experienced is unbearable. The kids are so close but yet so far away! I have lost, but so has the two innocent grandkids! Please do not respond, can’t ride this rollercoaster anymore! P.S. I do also have a daughter who worships the ground I walk on, so not all is lost! Wish all the grieving parents the best, you are not alone! I finally feel free and will enjoy my life knowing I did my best and time to let go!

    2. Jane

      I Love the idea of the cards. Reading these post are so difficult. I see terms like toxic, no boundaries, selfish, abusive. None of which are true. My heart is shattered, but I am closing the door. I can not take the abuse anymore. What we were going to leave to our daughter will now go to our Grandchildren who we are banned from seeing. In fact they moved out if the country
      I do find the commonality of the terms used interesting. The fact that so many children are using the same terminology is a clue that this is a societal issue.
      Toxic, abusive, having no boundaries, accusing all kinds of falsehoods. Even weaponizing their Children, our Grandchildren against us. My dear friends tell me to walk away from my abusive children. It’s like a death that I can stop mourning over. My 2 daughters have said,”don’t ever contact me again, never. This time I’m actually giving them what they asked for. Complete estrangement and it’s killing me.

  9. Rose S.

    I too have now been told I’m a disgusting person who is like the people who hurt the man in Minnesota. I was told about how I only liked certain friends and not others because of their ethnicity. She says she wasn’t raised like that. She wasn’t raised like that because I’m not that way!. It as if she doesn’t realize I have always been conservative raising her and she was always so happy to be friends with me. It’s hearbreaking. I adore this person: her bright bubbly self always lights up a room. But mom bad now and she says she will never forgive me for my views even tho I’ve done nothing to hurt her, her friends or society. I’m blindsided by this, truly blindsided.

  10. Elizabeth L.

    Everything that has been posted here resonated with me. The lack of contact on mother’s day, my birthday, then at the start of the pandemic I reached out because my daughter was at risk through her asthma and recent other lung problems.

    Although she knows I’m a nurse and I’ve been working on the front line, the reply to my ‘ take care’ was ‘ you too ‘ then silence. That was in March.

    But- Sheri, your book has been a godsend!
    Working through the exercises, I came to realise that we were two incompatible people, thrown together by a quirk of biology. We looked like strangers when standing together and our tempraments are completely opposite.

    I came to see that I wouldn’t want to reconcile with her now because she was a stranger for 5 years before cutting me out, and we were just going through the motions of a relationship.

    Once she had gotten everything ( financially) that she needed for her education and her first home, I was no longer useful to keep around and she found a replacement family to keep her in the style she wanted.

    But, that’s fine. I did a good job. She went from being a baby in a women’s refuge to an Oxford graduate. All her goals met.

    It’s my turn now! As Sheri says in the book.

    1. Maddie

      I too have just now feel the pain. My son just graduated last year from UW, has a good job now only calls his dad or comes down to visit what did you just car fixed but now that he has a good job inga’s car fixed by mechanic up there. His girlfriend now fiance is a very lovely , but he rather spend time with her family vacations with them, visit with them comes down to visit his friends in Portland, then just shows up just for an hour for dinner and then takes off to go back up to Seattle. We’re a little more conservative I’d like to think that we’re in the middle of the road but she’s on the other end of the spectrum and that shouldn’t matter if you love your parents assured me we have always been very close now he doesn’t text me at all I don’t get a new birthday card get a Mother’s Day card. And then he started saying I was like other people that are that are like the ones who hurt that man in Minnesota. It was a really big shock to me cuz I’m not like that I believe everybody is different I believe in compassion towards people I believe there’s a reason it makes mistakes coolest ones sometimes really big ones or we’re all human beings and they all make them. It really hurts if you don’t want to talk to me or text me that much, it hurts a lot I don’t think I’ve done anything to deserve this treatment. Then it dawned on me that my son is always been a people pleaser always trying to impress his friends in a good life even to the point of buying their friendship that’s sad because you shouldn’t have to buy your friends I never mention this girl it’s just what I’ve noticed over the years. So his friends wouldn’t like the way we are conservative so he is a ashamed of us and avoids having us meet them. So it’s like we’re bottom of the Barrel in there anybody else is is more special well order dispatch I hope it helps

  11. Molly

    I did hear from one of my daughters recently. My heart got so filled with happiness and hope. I had been praying something good would come from covid. I am clinical lab personnel in a regional medical center and I have have been working a lot. After about two texts my daughter informed me she did not want to communicate any other way no visits or verbal contact, text only. I tell my self that a text is better than nothing. If anyone else in the world were to treat me this way I would Not have anything to do with them. After a couple of weeks of polite texting and several reminders of how she is not ready to see me or speak to me, I informed her I am not willing to have someone in my life that feels I am only worth an occasional text.
    I was feeling so well lately, grateful to be working doing this time. As soon as she reached out It was like walking on eggshells, all the emotional ups and downs came back.
    I don’t want live like this. I would rather not communicate at all. I sent a text yesterday letting her know, this is not really working out for me:)
    I hope I am able to live with my decision

    1. Andrea

      Good for you Molly.
      Though I can totally relate with not knowing if we can live with the decision – maybe think of it as acknowledging there will be hard days. And also this might last for weeks, months or even years more but maybe not forever.
      I tell myself life is all about change and that I am resilient and worthy and emphasize my own self care, something I didn’t make time for before because my priority was always the kids and well everyone in my life except me.
      That was a big lesson to learn and that has been one positive take away in my experience.
      And yes sometimes I am still blindsided by the pain of stopping the pursuit and the pleasing and just leaving the ball in her court. The door is open but she will need to knock to find me… if that makes sense!?
      Hugs to you .

  12. Pam

    For years I’ve struggled with whether or not I should send my estranged daughter a birthday card. My husband (not her father) says I’m the adult in this situation and I should continue to send one so I have. This past birthday, December 2019, I sent a lovely card. When my husband and I attended our grandson’s 4th birthday party in February, there was the card I sent her, unopened, on the counter along with the unopened Valentine’s card I had sent to my grandkids. My heart broke. I have now made up my mind that I won’t send anymore birthday cards to her. That’s it and, no, I don’t feel guilty about it.

  13. Miriam D.

    Should a parent or parents of estranged adult children continue to send birthday cards, anniversary cards? I wonder whether or not the estranged adult child even opens the card received by their parents or whether the estranged adult child even gives their young child a birthday card sent them by their grandparents?

    1. Eva

      No, they shouldn’t. Communication is a two-way street. If estranged children do not want to communicate, it’s on them. If rejected parents continue to forgive and show affection, they validate the bad behavior.


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