An adult daughter’s criticizing: When the child holds onto offenses

Sheri McGregor

Image by Andrea Bohl from Pixabay

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

Q: Dear Sheri,

How can I handle my adult daughter’s criticizing me, berating me, and forever finding fault. I supported her when she lost her job five years ago. She still sends me texts bringing up things I said in trying to help, that she thought were wrong. She also has a long list of what she sees as my failures and is quick to bring those up.

Signed, Janey

A: Dear Janey,

You could apologize for any hurt she feels, explain that you understand why she may have seen your words like XYZ-her perception, and tell her you hope that she can move past the feelings of hurt that were not intended on your part.

Five years is a long time for an adult daughter’s criticizing to continue. Beyond approaching her with kindness and this sort of giving attitude, if she holds the offenses against you like a dog might hold onto its bone, consider how much (or how often) you are willing to get bit. A tug-o-war will not end well. Say your peace, observe the response, and then decide what’s next. Sometimes, walking away makes the bone less tasty.

Let me add that you, Janey, are the true expert in your own life. Each situation, its duration and intensity is unique. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to tell you what is right for you. I can offer my thoughts, based on the thousands of situations I hear about–and my experience with the estrangement of one adult child, as well as the relationships I maintain with my four others. And then I can step aside and let you come to your own conclusions.

Loving parents will often put up with an adult child’s abuse (criticism, berating, judgments) because they fear the alternative (estrangement). That doesn’t seem like the basis for a mutually respectful relationship.

As the questions in the reconciliation sections of my books allow readers to do, parents can weigh how a relationship with an adult child is defined in their eyes against what they’re willing to let go, put up with, or insist upon. Then, if parties are willing, negotiations can be made.

Hugs to you,

Sheri McGregor

Related reading

Parents blamed by adult children: Are parents’ mistakes worthy of hate?

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96 thoughts on “An adult daughter’s criticizing: When the child holds onto offenses

  1. Anne

    For a little over a year and a half my adopted 20 year old daughter has been distancing herself from me. (I’m a single mom and always have been). Has refused to stay in the home we created together. Stopped hugging me. Stopped checking in on me (I’m alone) during bad weather or after doc appts. Other things as well. It culminated at Christmas when she informed me she would not be making the 1000 mile journey home with me, rented a car and left our family celebration early and left me to drive home alone on my arthritic knees. We’ve not spoken since then, despite my attempts at written contact (I cannot call; I will break down). The reason? I yelled as she was growing up. That’s all she will give me. Did I yell? Yes. And I’ve acknowledged this with her. Problem is I will not cop to all the yelling she remembers happening. And it angers her that I won’t. (She wears that anger like a comfy robe). I’ve agreed that, perhaps, what I did not perceive as yelling was sometimes actually yelling to her. She will not agree that, perhaps, what she perceived as yelling sometimes was not. Anyway, at Christmas she told me talking to me makes her want to “puke” and that she doesn’t like me. I’m heartbroken and still crying everyday about it. When does a parent move on? A little over two months of actual estrangement doesn’t seem long enough to move on (Although things have been going steadily downhill for, like I said, over a year). How does a parent move on? Until this she was the light of my life. She used to ask me to hold hands as we wandered thru Target. We used to watch old movies together and make popcorn. Scour farmers markets. Teach each other about our separate tastes in music. Maybe the good times weren’t actually that good. I’m confused. Sad. Lonely. Frustrated.

    1. Joyce M.

      Hi Anne: My live at home 45 yr old daughter was the light of my life. Wedid
      the same things you did with your daughter. I thought she was happy with
      the life she choose. After Covid, she became more isolated and unable to
      cope, lost weight, met a strange man and had neighbours give her pot and
      liquor when the wife was away. It was so bizarre that night that 911 had to
      be called and she screamed and fought with everyone. I was so traumatized
      and 2 more events had me send her to a hospital and now she resides in
      a lodge which has a nice family rapour and she likes it there. She wants
      all her pottery and stuff taken to this place (one room) and came over and
      was very verbally abusive to me. I told her to only come over with another
      person to sort out her possessions. I gave her boundaries and she yelled
      on the phone and I really do not want to talk to her until she settles down.
      also she never refers to the last 12 mos of her erratic behavious.. It is like
      itnever existed. The reason I had to reach out for help because she
      refused any kind of treatment. This has been so difficult for me and I am
      alone. I have had support from some friends and next door neighbour.
      I really do not know where all this is going to end. She has joined a church
      and I do pray for her. Since she is an adult I cannot control this situation
      and I cannot be her therapist.

      I pray things will work out for you and I and that the future holds something
      better for us.

      Take good care of yourself. I am trying. You are not alone, ever.

    2. Victoria

      Where do I start. That I didn’t leave my abusive first husband fast enough for my son who was three when I finally removed his father from our home, or that I that removed him at all (my daughter was 10) and fantasized that her father wasn’t really crazy and abusive, but that I was the problem even though his abuse towards me was starting to manifest in neglect and abuse of her baby brother and her. That I remarried five years later to a man whom I thought was a loving and kind man who turned out to be a serial cheater and was unkind (albeit not outright abusive to my son) and belittled my son while showering endless praise and affection (bordered on creepy but I don’t think it ever went THERE) on my daughter while also bringing in two very dysfunctional boys of his own to the blended family, the oldest of whom is still not right in the head. That I never spent enough money on my mentally ill biological son whose illness began manifesting at age 13 and endless psychiatrists, therapists, medications, hospital bills, suicide attempts, and eventually my giving up my six figure career to stay home and be on standby to drive him to his college classes and be there every waking moment to be a safety net for his mental breakdowns so that he would not succeed in taking his life. He just recently, this month, during a text exchange when after a year of zero communication other than his asking me for some family records I was trying to determine if there was any hope of his being my son again he accused me of not spending enough money on his needs. He attended expensive universities, was given all that we could give, went into massive student debt because he chose to live and attend school in the most expensive of the campuses of the California university system and it’s my fault. He even brought up my annual girlfriend’s trip where I would go away for a week with my friends to a comic convention and split a room with them, eat cheap by buying groceries to eat in our room and, well, basically the trips rarely cost more than $600 or $700 for the week’s vacation and his response was, “well that’s money that could have spent on more therapy sessions for ME!” If I spent $100 on the trip it would have been $100 too much to spend on me. Nearly ever dollar I made working freelance jobs remotely from home was spent on his college textbooks, his clothes, co-pays for his medical appointments, co-pays for his medical appts. and prescriptions when he contracted STDs from not one, but two reckless sexual escapades from being picked up in gay bars, which leads to his next false accusations, that I am a homophobe because I do NOT celebrate the alphabet agenda. I do not celebrate any sexual agenda. I am not interested in the social justice demands of the alphabet agenda, nor do I believe that it’s my problem. I am not prejudiced or biased. I do not, nor have I ever, rejected or judged anyone based on whom or how they love. I knew my son was gay probably before he did and I did not love him less, if anything, I was more protective because I was worried and afraid that his mental illness would make him more vulnerable to those who would prey upon him and hurt him. When he made friends, as a teen, with one particular young gay man who showed him friendship and kindness I was so relieved that this young man wanted to get to know me as well and he became a welcome member of our household, welcome in our home always, and I was glad that my son had someone with a level head and could help my son navigate a world I knew nothing about and hopefully keep my son from engaging in reckless behavior and yet even that friend could not stop my son from doing utterly self-destructive things that led to serious dangerous situations. I am accused of being a homophobe because I am repulsed by the drag queen reading books to children in libraries concept and the “family friendly” yet sexually explicit drag shows where children are exposed to sexual themes that are inappropriate and yes, are grooming events. I am also opposed to a child being read books by strippers in their professional attire or being taken to strip clubs, this is not a bias against homosexual sex performers, I am clearly opposed to children being groomed to be sexual, period. My son was harmed by groomers, despite every effort I made to protect him from them, he found his way to them and was secretive and hostile and based on texts I found on his phone, he was hostile towards me as well, and this is when he was only 14. He is 27 now and blames me for everything that is wrong with his life and I am done apologizing for the mistakes that I made, and I made plenty. No one handed me a manual when he was born and said that the beautiful healthy happy loving affectionate and loyal little boy you just gave birth to is going to turn on you when he turns 14 and become an angry, hostile, lazy and entitled brat who will never be satisfied by any of your sacrifices and will blame you for every failure, will try to kill himself over and over and tear your heart apart and wish you dead. And then there is his sister. College didn’t turn her in a social justice warrior, she did that all by herself. My daughter’s resentment started early on. I can’t be sure when, but she weaned herself at 9 mos and to be honest she’s been pushing me away from the day she was born. She was always willful, demanding, and spoiled, and I am to blame. She was pregnancy no. 4 after two miscarriages one stillbirth and I honestly didn’t believe she was going to make it. So, of course, the sun rose and set on her blonde beautiful head and I just assumed that her independence was a healthy sign and not that she was a self-absorbed vicious viper. It’s taken a lot for me to finally accept that if I met her as a stranger, I would not like her. I would see through her vapid self absorbed judgmental personality and not trust and this is something that many people have done as I have watched “friends” come and go in her life. People who were her bosom buddies one day are enemies at the drop of a dime. This was a pattern that started to manifest in middle school but I failed to notice because it was my daughter who was the “victim”. See the pattern here? All of these children are “victims”. None of them are “Victors”. My daughter, who enjoyed the privilige of growing up in fine homes and never knowing true financial stress other than the realities that I decided to share with them when they were older in order to teach them economics. My daughter who had violin lessons, skating lessons (albeit paid for by her father’s mother) that I had to get up and take her to early on Sat morning after slogging in a 60 hour week at work, dragging her baby brother along because daddy was too lazy to watch him. Karate lessons because she wanted them, and of course I paid for them. I paid for EVERYTHING. I paid for health insurance…yeah, remember those days when health insurance for families was NOT mandated? I did it all, and I did it alone because I husband no 1 was also mentally ill and refused to work, refused to get treatment, and even when I divorced him, refused to pay child support and disappeared (later surfacing in Korea, no he’s not Korean, but he went there to hide from me and start a business). So now the well UC Davis educated scientist who reached a six figure income in the first few years of career (that it took me 25 to achieve because, oh wait for it…yep, I never got to go to college) also uploads videos of herself grinding on a pole in stripper shoes and g-strings to Tik Tok and Instagram because she’s an exhibitionist. She can call herself a dancer if she wants, but she’s an exhibitionist and that’s fine, that’s her life. Personally, I am mortified. But that’s her, not me. When she graduated from college she asked if she could move back home for a year or so to pay off the student loans she took out. I don’t know why she needed money. Her school was paid for by a trust fund combined with the VA waiver that my second husband provided (one of the reasons why I stayed in a toxic second marriage- wrong yes, but my kids agreed with my decision AT THE TIME – more on that later) and her father, the one who fled the country, popped up and paid for her housing, and I paid for the rest, with a student loan that I paid off on my own, and with cash on demand. Anyway, she wanted to move home to pay off bills and stockpile cash, no problem, and I told her of course she was welcome. No rent. She stayed for 18 mos and was treated very nicely, and we were happy to help. The same offer has been made to my son, although not as easily done, but he rejected it. There are many ways a family can help and adult child pay off student debt. Daughter was carrying on a secret relationship with a man 5 yrs older than her from the time she was 13, thanks to the internet. The internet is the greatest scourge to the safety of children. This sick secret affair went on into her college years and thanks to her recklessness, she blew a $9,000 a year academic scholarship she won because she blew her grades the first year over a breakup with the creep. The on again off again affair went on for years and her grades suffered and I am sure it is why it took her 5.5 years to graduate. There were excuses but of course, because of privacy laws, parents are not allowed to view a student’s transcript if they are 18 and over. She was a 17 yr old freshman…oh did I not mention they are both geniuses? She skipped 8th grade. After the final break up with the sexual predator who by the refused to meet me every time she asked him if she could bring him home to meet the parents…he had excuses…he could fly across the country from the East Coast to sleep with her for the weekend but of course, he didn’t have time for dinner with mom (we lived less than an hour away from her campus). After him she dated a few duds, and then finally took up with a wonderful young man who was everything I could want for her. He was crazy about her, a medical student and he wanted to marry her, and just like that, she ended it. Everyone was stunned. After him was a series of leftist losers who sponged off of her while her behavior and her personality morphed from a fiscally conservative libertarian into a leftist social justice warrior who has such a fear of missing out of every victim hood that it is nauseating. I can’t even talk about the last bout of recklessness that nearly got her killed. She also declared 5 years ago that she is bi-sexual. Okay, fine. She seemed dissipointed that I was not upset. My children seem to want to shock me over and over and are continually angry that their actions don’t shock me and that I try my best to show them empathy. Maybe I SHOULD show them the vitriol they accuse me of. When she finally met a man whom I thought okay, he’s a liberal, but that’s not that bad, at least he has ambition, he works hard, he has goals, and he is serious about her and wants a future, and this man is thinking marriage…he is a man who wants someone to spend his life with, not playing games, and not sponging off of her and in fact, probably makes more than she does. Then, just like that, he is no longer in the picture. No explanation, poof, gone. Covid hit, and she and her brother condemned me for taking an experimental drug AFTER I survived Delta (just barely btw, I almost died because I had an unknown congenital heart condition). I had surgery to fix my heart, and they told me that anyone who refused the jab deserves to die. That was 14 months ago and I have not spoken to my daughter since…not a word. Nothing. My son surfaces when he has a demand, and god help me if I don’t respond immediately. I don’t btw. They are both miserable from what I can tell and they are both convinced that unless I vote for leftists politicians, I am the enemy, so be it. I won’t be gas lighted by own children. I reached the point where I can take a step back and look at both of them and know that I did my job and I did it well. When they were sick, they did not want for care. When they were troubled, my arms, my lap, my heart and ears were always open. When they faulted, I always forgave. I was a mother first last and always and now I am me. My last words to my son were that he has a mother if he wants one, and it appears that he does not. I do not like my children, and I am on my way to no longer loving them. Love is something we feel for someone who is worthy and these two are not. Grandchildren? Oh that train left the station. I will never have grandchildren and I have reconciled that. I will die alone and I am still struggling with that one, but in time I will come to terms with it, hopefully before it happens. What I would give though for children who love me, respect me, and appreciate what I am and have always been. It’s true, writing does allow the mind to flow and the more I write, the more I realize I am healing.

    3. Joan P.

      I am so sorry you are going through this heartache.My son was artificiality inseminated ,so does not know anything about his biological father/donor.Our two children have many things to work out regarding their unknown history.Please also remember ,there is a part,or all, of them we do not know.We do not know what role genetics plays in their behaviors toward us or just in general.It has taken me awhile to realize everything is not about me.Have cut myself some slack.That has brought me some peace and acceptance.It has been 5 years( this time!),and I miss my precious grandsons.They are the reason I grieve.

  2. Lucy

    I am somewhat new to the situation of having an estranged older daughter. Evidently, over the years, she is 30, so three decades, I have treated her very poorly. I was not aware of all the things that offended her. that have hurt her. Never my intent to ever hurt either of my daughters. My daughter has had ample resources, counselors, and support in every situation of her life. She never expressed the error of my ways, I had no idea there were all these problems. I have stood by her when she was sexually assaulted, when she tried to end her life, when she was married for only 25 days and had to have her husband arrested for domestic violence. when she went to school for nursing watching my granddaughter so she could get to clinical shifts, when she went through all the court proceedings to get custody of her daughter. So many things we have been through and now she wants nothing to do with me. My daughter has a new husband and somehow I am a horrible mother now. The new husband compares his “perfect” family to our family, we have come out on the low end of the spectrum. My granddaughter and I have been very close. She is five. I have been her anchor through all the upheavals with divorce, domestic violence, moving, etc. I miss her so very much and I know she misses me too. My daughter wanted me to take accountability and responsibility, which I did. She rejected it. Don’t ask for what you don’t not want to receive. The heartache and sorrow are beyond words.
    Thank you all for sharing these difficult stories, the difficult journeys. Ones we never could possibly imagine. My heart is with you all. <3

  3. Ed

    My wife and I are now estranged from my son and DIL. My wife is a step-mother due to son’s mother passing when he was a child. Anyway, son fathered a child out of wedlock – didn’t marry the woman. He then got involved in a very fundamentalist religion where he met the DIL. Issue: DIL resents the out-of-wedlock(OOW) child, the child has never been to her father’s home and he hasn’t seen her for last 8-10 years of her 15 years of life. DIL doesn’t get that we babysat that grandchild every weekend for first 3-4 years to help the mom. This all recently came to a head and in a screaming tirade DIL told us we’re “toxic and should just give any money we were going to give to her kids to that kid!” Money is an issue to – DIL has told us directly “you have so much, why don’t you share it with your kids”. We are not rich, we are careful – wife and I each make roughly $50k. We can’t help it my son can’t keep a job more than 3-4 months and they buy expensive stuff whenever times are good.
    DIL also informed us that “my father told me you guys would always consider me a homewrecker”. Not true – there was no home to wreck, my son had casual sex and relations with someone, that’s it.

  4. Thecagedbirdsings

    Today is Easter. Its been a challenging day. I try not to imagine what the other holidays will be like. Feeling the need to make excuses to others as to why I’m alone today. Feel very embarrassed as though deep inside others will say, “there must be a reason.” The big question? The reason and the why? I could never imagine doing this to my mom. Not for one minute or one day. The hurt is a deep. One I’m not sure I’ll ever get over.

    1. Lynn

      I feel exactly the same. I have two daughters that have cut me out of their lives. I divorced their father years ago, and it took a long time before either would speak to me. As the years went on though their was never really that closeness we had before. They treated more as an acquaintance. I tried so hard to be a part of their lives but they always kept me at arms distance. Every was okay as long as I was doing things for them or buying presents so forth. They would put me down constantly and I just put up with it to be in their lives.. At the beginning of the year I had a disagreement with my oldest daughter over not being let in and more of a part of my Granddaughters life. She now says we are through. Then my youngest daughter followed suit and won’t talk to me either and I can’t see my Grandson. I am devastated, exhausted, many emotions I can’t begin to explain. I have decided that I just can’t beg any more. I will go to my grave alone if I have too. I need to move on…..

    2. JanPhyllis

      Been there done that! First my oldest, now my youngest!
      Be kind to yourself. Be gentle with your thoughts! We may not be perfect but neither are they! The only one to judge me is The Lord!! I admit I pray a lot…….it helps to talk to him and Our Holy Mother, especially during the tougher times!!
      Also Sheri, is my helper in life! She her books, workbooks and her rejected are SO MUCH help to me in my sons estrangement! I am glad, so very glad I found them. And to all who share their stories of estrangement….Thank You all! May we all find our peace and tranquility in our lives!!!

  5. Stacy

    I wish I could go back and right all the wrongs I did according to my daughter. She is 30 and I’m still being blamed for things that happened when she was 11. But, somehow I’m sure knowing her I’d be back here anyway. Mental illness mixed in with toxic family members and a verbally abusive husband is her recipe for hate. Sadly, my 4year old grandson is the collateral damage here not seeing him hurts so much I try not to think about it. Many people see kindness as a act of weakness.. and will abuse that. My door and heart are always open for my daughter and grandson and she knows it. It’s the anger and blame game she can leave behind. No ones perfect and that includes them. But I do sit here now trying to mend a broken heart and can honestly say I tried my best to be a good parent..I tried my best to fix what is broken…and now I will try and heal because I’m tired of hurting..

  6. Quincie

    It’s been since my granddaughter was 6 months old since I last seen her. She will be 4 in September. I feel so bad for my daughter as her husband has his family and my daughter has his family but not her own. I miss my daughter terribly. I keep thinking eventually some day she will come back but I am not sure that will ever happen. My youngest daughter is getting ready to have a baby, but still nothing from my oldest daughter. I guess we will never get over her disappearance from the family.

  7. Lauren

    It was both comforting and heartbreaking to read these posts. I’m sending good wishes to each of you. My elder son ((26) along with his wife and two children has cut my husband (his dad) his younger brother and me out of his life. Like so many of you , we were falsely accused of countless actions that caused this. It is the most bizarre and nonsensical situation. I’m trying to maintain a sane balance between hoping for reconciliation and torturing myself mentally fearing that it won’t ever happen. It’s been 3 years.
    Wishing strength and comfort for all of you and myself-❤️

    1. Clare

      Hi Lauren.
      My self, my husband and younger son are in exactly the same position as you. He has a wife and child. He wants nothing to do with us all. I stopped sending gifts after time but still sent birthday cards. No mothers day or fathers day cards for us. It can be heart wrenching. I feel it every day. Then I remind myself of nature’s way of how the female bird hatches her eggs and allows her babies to fly the nest to make their own way in their life. Also my mantra, I say to myself many times a day is. I am loved, I am worthy, I am enough. I know we are good people. My son has lost his way but hopefully one day, will fly home, when he has developed emotionally.

    2. Wendy

      I too feel the same pain and it has been 10 years. I never met my only grandchild. I pray my son softens his heart but fear it will never happen. God bless you.

    3. Kathie H.

      I feel your pain deeply. I’ve found for myself, and I don’t even understand this feeling, but the longer two of my estranged children stay away, the less I want to repair things if they came back. You hear a mother’s love never ends? And it hadn’t, but it’s hard for me to want to come back after all they have destroyed.

    4. Missy

      I wish for all of you that things
      will get resolved. However, if it
      does happen , feelings will never
      be what they once were. Sometime
      the Hurt is too great and will
      never be 100% repairable, I am
      In the back of the line, I would love
      for our family to be as it once
      was, but hope has run its course
      and there sometimes no returning.
      I finally stopped the crying and
      really when friends ask just say
      we decided to visit later. Also,
      for anyone to put blame onto
      anything they only see from the
      Outside,,Well attitudes are not
      a rarity so just know people will
      think what they want to.
      This abandonment is hurtful,
      Ugly, and unwarranted.
      Now, live your life , after all
      they are living theirs.

    5. Melinda

      I feel for you. I was constantly accused of implying things, saying things, doing things I didn’t do. My oldest daughter would get mad at me if I ask how my Granddaughter was doing or how school was going! I would get accuses of manipulated her by asking her to call me or text me so I could see how she was. To try to form a bind with her. I really wasn’t pushy at all. I just wanted her to know I was think about her and cared. I don’t and won’t every understand any of this.

  8. Catherine B.

    Sheri, I found a very fitting poem it is put in a way for us to let go or at least release the bond we have for our children while still loving them from the sidelines.
    By Kahlil Gibran:
    To the prophet speak to us of children, and he said, your children or not your children they are the sons and daughters of life‘s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor Tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so he loves also the bow that is stable.
    From the book “the prophet”

  9. princesswarrior

    Wow! All of you have shared such insightful things that I will embrace them for my sanity. I was feeling guilty for dropping the rope in the game of tug-of-war with my daughter. I finally set boundaries with her. I already made amends to her, but she continues to torment about all the faults she sees in me as a mother. I finally told her that I have resigned the role she assigned me as her emotional punching bag. And if she wants a relationship with me, we would both have to talk to each other in a respectful manner. I am letting her go and moving on. My mantra is “Surround yourself with people who respect & treat you well and give the rest to their Higher Power.

    1. Violet

      Well done !
      That can’t have been easy – to let go of the rope – . I recognise a lot in your comment about my situation.
      Ultimately however hard – and it must have been extremely hard – it was to let go of the rope – your decision is the healthier one for yourself and your daughter -even if she doesn’t accept and recognise it – but that’s up to her – her responsibility.
      Again WELL DONE – couragous – respect to YOU !
      If you hadn’t shown your respected yourself she never could / can.
      best wishes to you

    2. OurHappyFamily

      I understand that we are the parent…that is our role…but we are still human:) if it makes anyone feel easier, try to remember how much you honestly really didn’t think that much of your parents when you were at their age…I know it sounds hurtful but it’s true… we get caught up in our own lives and now we know maybe what our parents were going through and what we were mindless to.
      Sometimes I wish that I could just disappear for five or 10 years and come back when my children realize all the things that I’ve realized with my parents being gone in the 20 years that I’ve lived without them.

    3. Healing heart

      Princess warrior,

      Your situation sounds exactly like mine. Our daughter has harbored those same dislike and contempt feelings for her mother for over 15 years. My daughter is 42 years old now and still can’t get over the fact that I didn’t allow her to do things she wanted to do as a teenager. I love the way you put an emotional punching bag. My husband and I have agreed that we could never take her back until she had a change of heart.
      It is been many many years for me and I have healed and moved on past her. I am sad as I have never met my grandchildren and probably never will. But I have a healthy heart. Thank you for sharing your story it truly helped me❣️

    4. Lynn

      That’s exactly what I was to both my daughters, a punching bag.. They both have lives that they are not happy with and have decided its all my fault.. When I finally stood up for myself they threw me away like a bag of trash. I can’t believe I raised daughters like this. I was never by no means a perfect mother, but I would never have treated my Mom this way. I love your mantra and will embrace it everyday. Because I can’t do this anymore. I am slowly killing myself for them to love and respect me as their Mom. Thank You

    5. Paul M.

      I have two adult children. I saw my son for about 10 minutes on New Years Day 2018. He immediately started in on me. We hadn’t seen each other for better than a year. We were at coffee shop. I got up. I didn’t say “good-bye”. I just left. Later I apologized for all the twenty year old transgressions he accused me of, but the more I thought about what he said the more I fumed. I sat down and wrote him a brief letter resigning my role as his Dad effective immediately. My wife, not his mother, said don’t mail it. I did anyway because I was mad as hell and we had been thru this more than several times before. I have moved on. Does it hurt? you bet, but it hurts more when he interacts with me. He has two children of his own. I miss them terribly, but seeing them is too high of a mental price for me now. My daughter has taken his side so she doesn’t speak to me as well. I am not sure I want a relationship with very unpleasant people.

    6. Suzanne

      Letting go of my rope after almost 2 years of our sons walking out of our lives, the pain has been enormous since we were so close. I start counseling this week so that I can move forward and find my worth again. I used to be fun, strong, I had dreams and goals. Now I am a shell of that woman. I feel broken and lost. I am now hoping through counseling to work on me and my next chapter.

    7. Yassy

      I have been going through this with my 27yr old son. I have not spoken to him for four months. He does not return call or texts. I have left messages just telling him I love him and asking that we fix our situation. I have repeatedly reached out. I have cried many tears, but no more. I love my son and cannot believe the way he is behaving towards me. I have not reached out in 3 months. It hurts too much to not have him respond and I won’t continue to torture myself. He has changed his number twice and has not given it to me. His sister has given it to me, but I have not called. My feeling is that if he wanted to hear from me then he would have given me his number. With Mother’s day coming up, I know it will be difficult. I still have my daughter and I know I will receive a call and/or card. My son will most likely ignore my existence. Maybe I’ll receive a half-hearted text, then he will resume not speaking to me again. I just pray and keep going. If he needed me tonight I’d be there in a minute. He lives with his father about 7 min away. So close and yet so far. The struggle is real, but so is my strength.

    8. Mary M.

      Isn’t it amazing how quickly they see all our faults as mothers but they don’t see any of their faults ! They can be so very cruel to us. So horribly cruel I can’t believe it and yet they pretend the cruelty is ok. I like your analogy of the tug of war rope. It certainly does feel that way sometimes and if we let go everyone blames us for not trying.

  10. Rudy

    My daughter has been critical and hostile for years, aligning with her father and his 2nd wife. Now in a legal battle with an abusive alcoholic; my daughter is embarrassed over 88 pages of arguing text messages introduced as evidence. How many messages fit on a page? 6-10? So maybe 800 hostile texts back and forth between the two of them.
    I’m glad I never engaged in text messages with her but then, I would never have that much to ‘vent’ to any other human being.
    Disengage from the nonsense. Participating in contrived drama and fueling all of that turmoil is just silly. Lead your own healthier life.

  11. Susan

    The last time I saw my children (in their mid30s) was a lovely day. I drove 4 hours to see them and their significant other/spouse, we shared a meal, toured a local art show and hugged and kissed with the usual I Love You as I got in the car to drive home. That was 4 years ago. For a year after that they didn’t accept my calls, did not respond to emails or texts. My sister, who has always thrived on confrontation, told me to leave them alone because they needed to “heal” from years of abuse. She instructed family members not to share any information about them with me (I live 550 miles from my sister and cousins – both my parents have passed and my ex-husband has also passed, so the family is small.) None of this makes sense. My friends who have known my children since they were little don’t understand. They don’t have recollections of bad times with me and my kids over the years. Therapy does not eliminate the sadness. What I have learned is that most media sites encourage adult children who may find life challenging and not always rosy to eliminate (I want to say encourage) toxic parents from their lives. I’ve read these definitions of toxic – and they don’t describe our family. There is very little out there that supports an estranged parent. There is nothing out there that encourages these young adult children to keep communication open – all the stories and blogs tell them to run from any parent that did not perform perfectly. I would gladly accept any hate mail that would tell me why they cut me off. I , like many of you, have tried to apologize for hurting them, even with therapy I must admit, with zero communication and our last encounter a positive one, I’m not sure I’ve apologized the way they need me to. If you have the opportunity to communicate with your children, do the hard work and don’t throw them out of your life. I miss my children terribly and I will never close the door, as many of you have advocated. I want to understand what caused them to abruptly shut the door on me. I fear I will never know.

    1. candleinthewind

      What about the Zen proverb that states “If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are”. Damning emails/communications of supposed explanation are horrible, the difficulty/challenge is accepting that our children don’t give a xxxx and we are alone.

    2. Strong

      candleinthewind is right. You will never ever get an answer that will satisfy you or explain the estrangement with any clarity or satisfaction. Let go and move on. You are an amazing person and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

    3. Joanne

      I totally understand you. My ex-husband and I have 2 daughters (26 and almost 27). We divorced in 2006. When I left, I had nowhere to go; I just new I could not be in the same house as him. It was miserable there. He’s the one who got full custody of our girls. He thought I was using drugs (I was not). He turned them against me. I last saw my daughters 5 years ago; the texting and phone calls stopped about a year ago. They won’t reply to me, and they’ve cut my mom (their grandma) out, too. They won’t tell me why they are ignoring me. My heart is broken.

    4. Justice

      Susan,Many of us parents have decided to stop feeling like we’re not worth living because on like many of us, our estranged children have made accusations of us being bad parents. We didn’t just make the decision of saying enough is enough and decided to close our doors to our children.
      we deserve respect because many of us know what kind of parents we really were. It’s been over 3 years now that I haven’t talked or seen my daughter and son and I miss them every day. Holding on for a miracle to happen and not taking care of yourself or the people that really love and care for you is not healthy and yes I believe in miracles but I have to just accept that my children just don’t care to have a relationship with me ever again or maybe one day that miracle will happen, but for now I choose to live and stop torturing myself. Maybe you dont understand how a parent can say no more, but believe me I went for so long of crying uncontrollably and thinking I was better off dead. Don’t let it take control, because we will never get the answer. Sending you good wishes.

    5. Wendy

      I have been through the same and I think you are right that bad advice was given. We are all human and there is no perfect parent. Sometimes I wonder if there is a mental illness that flares up and it is not managed properly.

    6. Marrianne

      Dear Susan, my heart breaks as I read your post and so many others. So many of your thoughts parallel mine, it feels so familiar. My daughter used to ask me to babysit or do special art projects with the grandchildren; she would even call me sometimes for a recipe or advice. But something changed in her behavior & her husband’s a couple years ago & I’m not sure why. It feels like much longer but it’s only been two years since my daughter sent a very hurtful email cutting me off in every way (even unfriending me on Facebook!) & telling me not to contact her or anyone in their family; which includes her husband, 3 children + now the newest baby that I haven’t seen or received photos of. She still maintains a relationship with my husband & her brothers & sisters which leaves me an outsider & it’s caused problems in our marriage.
      The most painful part that tortures me is she has never explained why. I thought we had a good relationship and this was such a blindside. I’ve sent one apology letter pleading for forgiveness, asking just for her to talk to me so I can understand what I’ve done to upset her so; no response. I had such a fun and happy relationship with our grandchildren & now I haven’t seen them for 2 years & feel as though I may never again. Like you, I miss them all terribly and want more than anything for our family to be whole and together again. I don’t understand why this is such a widespread epidemic of pain inflicted on families- tearing families apart. It’s so wrong. The therapists that plant those bad “toxic” seeds are destroying families all over the world. “I’m with you, I’d just like an explanation! And my door is open; and heartfelt prayers continue.

    7. Missy

      I so agree. We are not raising
      children any longer, it’s time for
      them to be truthful and stop
      hurting us, it’s little like I said
      before, I feel as though I have
      been arrested , sent to prison
      however no one will tell me what
      I am charged with

    8. Eeyore

      I suffered an estrangement from my daughter for over four years. I did the whole crying, suffering and therapy route. Mainly asking the why question over and over and thinking of myself as a rotten person. Then she suddenly came back for a little over a year. I walked on eggshells, took her lunch to work every time she asked and spent a good amount of money on her and whomever was her latest boyfriend. Then, just as suddenly, and for no apparent reason she was gone again. During the summer of 2020, she married unbeknownst to me. She is my only child! I sent her expensive wedding gifts to which I received nothing in return. This time around I feel exactly opposite as last time. Her father has controlled me fir 17 years and now it has been passed in to her to continue. I love her, but I know she can never be fully trusted. I also refuse to allow her to control my life fir one more day. Of course I am not perfect, but I know I do not deserve what she has done to me. There is no answer to the why question. I did nothing wrong. It is all in how she perceives things. That may be the case in so many of these situations. Prayers to all!

    9. Saint Cecilia

      My youngest daughter, 22, is mentally unpredictable. I don’t have any way to figure her out. My oldest, 23, however was always steady. Then one day, like flipping a switch, she just cut me off. On mother’s day. With a phone message. I have written a letter of apology for that which they both think I’ve done wrong, although they’ve never said what it was. All I could do was let them know I love them and will always be here for them. Just like so many of you have done.
      It has been almost a year and my emotions have run the gambit from “I would do anything ” to “I don’t even know these people and considering their behavior, why would I want to.” It’s a heavy burden to be hated by the children you love for reasons that aren’t real. I lose hope and expectation everyday. The time will come when I will be on empty. Sadly, having lost my own mother to death when my youngest was born I know what a sad and empty void they will have too.
      Then again, maybe there’s just not the emotional intelligence or maturity it takes on their part to ever change. It totally my strength to just leave it alone. In their eyes, any effort on my part would only make things worse.

    10. Bairbreaine

      Ungrateful children nowadays. My two daughters treated me with no respect. Painful. But i am glad they left home. I need a peace. I realise my two girls may be a bit narcissistic. I had to say sorry many times to keep my family in peace. I got weary and i got tired of their selfishness.

    11. Evelyn

      Susan your story reminds me of my own.
      At this point in my life and after reading so many stories I am beginning to feel that my children were simply spoiled rotten. They wanted for nothing and think it’s ok to treat me like something they would scrape off there shoe.
      I have 2 beautiful granddaughters ; I rarely see them or speak with them. My son won’t let me talk with them on a Saturday or Sunday morning because they have things to do, I, as their granny am not a part of the equation. I send gifts for birthdays and Xmas to the children. I have stopped sending gifts to the parents as they were never acknowledged.
      The level of disrespect meted out to me says as much about me putting up with it as it says about them handing it out. I have decided to show respect and love to myself. I have never deserved to be treated so badly.
      I’m letting them go.

  12. Steadfast

    REALLY needed this today after another text-attack from my offspring. Offered to have a conversation rather than text, so I could simply listen. A last biting comment, then silence. Thank you for these posts and replies.

    1. Maria-Therese T.

      Truly heartbreaking stories here, and the pain overcomes us like nothing else! I only heard from my estranged son when my mother passed away a year ago, to say he loves me and he is scared I will go next. Our conversation seemed to be going well and I felt hopeful, after a while I needed to take a break from texting as I was devastated from losing my mum, and said Son I am not myself right now. Then low and behold he lashed out at me with all the old abusive nasty messages, this proved to me that my son had not changed one bit! I made the hardest decision of my life after that and changed my mobile number. I knew I had Enough. I never thought I would, but after that final abusive shocking tirade, I knew I needed to let go for good for my sanity. It was a turning point. A year on and I feel so much better for my decision to finally heal.

    2. Missy J

      They do not want real conversations. They prefer text which so often can be misconstrued. I think it is also a form of manipulation
      Going through this second discard with daughter no. 2 feels so much worse. I knew th as that her older so sister as pushed her all along. The pain is excruciating but I have to let go. Like in my marriage and my older daughter, I am tired of the abuse and lack of positive actions. I have to get off the boat and swim towards the shore.

  13. jane W.

    Hi I am so thankful for this site and Sheri’s book which is my bible. I have been estranged from my daughter for 10yrs now. I split up from her father after 12rs married. I could no longer go on with his manipulation and control. My daughter lived with me and my partner for 5yrs my ex had equal access, which he’d always tried to change to his benefit. There was never any discussion that my daughter was unhappy with us her school work was always on point and had very good friends and support. I went into hospital for a major operation, and my daughter then 14 had to go and stay with him and his girlfriend only for 10 days until I was back on my feet. Except she never came back he kept her, brainwashed her and bought her. We’ve had little contact there are times it looks like she wants to see us and then she stops answering. she went to Uni to study phsycology and went on to gain a degree, I had no envolment with her education. I dont know where she is now only the city she stayed after her Uni finished. My ex husband still controls her she is now 24,. We take birthday and christmas cards to his address so he cant say we have forgotten her birthday. This time we found out he’d moved on and is in a new relationship after 10rs with his ex. The people in his old house gave us his address, so we took card there put through door. I now have a police charge against me for harassment and can’t go near either of them anymore. I don’t contact him only to deliver the cards twice a year. Like a dog with a bone resinates with me soo much he wont let her go he is never going to I have got no choice but to let go , I hope she knows I still love her and will be here forever

  14. Karen

    I needed to see this today. Been thinking a lot about my estranged son. Been 6 years now.

    My offense?

    I parented as my husband and I had been parented the first 6 years of his life. One day my father came to me and apologized for being too rough and strict on me and my sisters. His apology woke me up to what I had been doing and how I had to change that. I sat my boys down and apologized to them at 6 and 8, and told them I had come to realize that there was a better way…and from that day forward, I was a much better mom.

    My estranged son studied in Europe, backpacked Europe, and had the best education and life experiences, due to his mother’s working hard to make sure he had those things. He cannot remember that part.

    Flash forward all these years later, he came out as gay (which we supported…”mom would you still love me if I were gay?” ‘Of course, I could never not love you, you are my world’ is what was said about that…)but in the course of that he went to regression therapy.

    Therapy had him believing I had harmed him and wanted to kill him as a child. None of this is true. Everyone who knows me knows this in not true, his brother laughs and says he is nuts (2 years apart, they saw everything together) but no matter what I do, he now believes this. Being a harsh disciplinarian is NOT the same as being an abuser.

    He is now sending his brother lists of all the wrongs his big brother ever did to him from age 3 on. His brother is about done with HIM.

    This all makes me sick, and I don’t share it often, but I did learn this.

    Mourning is hard. Mourning for someone living is harder still.

    I have found there is a time for mourning, and there is a time for rejoicing.

    To be blunt, my eldest says God must love me greatly to have taken such a toxic being out of my life.

    There are now days I believe this!

    1. Cleopatra

      Decades ago I did regression therapy. Who knew .. that I was Cleopatra a long long time ago (in a galaxy far away?)

      What a crock it was.

      The therapist steers the session(s). So you can go anywhere the therapist leads you to. You can also say whatever comes to mind.

      The Cleopatra was not a joke. My therapist thought it was mighty interesting. Today I still laugh about it.

    2. NorthwestSunshine

      Wow? sound like what I’ve been going through with my grandson also. He has stated , would you still love me if I were gay to me also. I don’t care what his sexual preference is. I will always love and care for him. Then got a boyfriend, or maybe already had boyfriend? He lived in my home had his own life , however he had to pay rent. So I tried to stay out of his personal life .
      He has went from being gay , to wearing tutus using a female name, sucking on a binky and wearing diapers soiling them and leaving them in his room, until I complain about the odor. I found out what the odor was when he left in middle of night and I had to clean up his room. I took 16 bags of garbage out , most of them were full of soiled adult diapers that were as heavy as bowling balls and as big, my grandson is very large 6’5″ and was 440 pounds, has lost about 100 pounds since his illness. The gay part does not bother me , however I have struggled with the inability to teach him how to clean up after himself. He has just refused to do it. He to has decided that he is doing age regression therapy with out the aid of a professional . A councilor did suggest this type of therapy to him. He told me about it himself. Also told me he was not interested. My thoughts about this age regression therapy is I have spent 27 years trying to get him to mature into a adult who can take care of himself. He want to be a baby again ! I also have ruined his life , (according to him ) stolen from him, because I have made him pay rent since he was 19 after he got his first job, also made him start paying for his own cell phone bill, auto insurance . I can’t help thinking he is being heavily influenced by this boyfriend. He has always been easily influenced by peers, he wanted so desperately to fit in but never seemed to be able to keep friends that would include him in any activity’s. He spend most of his time alone on a computer games even when he was suppose to be working.

  15. ForeverHopeful

    I am amazed at how so many of us share such similarities with our difficult children…and have endured the criticism, the verbal abuse, berating that they continually keep/kept doing for so long. My daughter, in all her texts, keeps bringing up all of the ways I have hurt her with a comment or action. I have apologized when I wasn’t even in the wrong, but because I wanted to save the relationship and still be able to see my grandchildren. In every text she has sent, she will repeat the laundry list of what she thinks are my faults and her sister’s faults, who she feels has ruined her life. She has cut us both out of her life, me more recently. This has been going on for the last 3-4 years. She get downright vicious with her texts and when we were seeing each other and I said something that flipped her switch, she turned into a raving, out of control Hateful woman, screaming, accusing me for telling her I was going to visit her sister, who she is estranged from. She has never apologized for anything and has never agreed to go to counseling. We would like to reconcile, but she is not willing to sit down and talk in a calm manner because she would blow up like Mt. Vesuvius. Nothing is her fault…it’s everyone else’s fault.

    1. Gail

      Our only son and his wife asked to come to dinner a few nights ago – then after dinner verbally and emotionally attacked us…again. Our son brought up events from 20 years ago when he was 17! We’ve been semi-estranged since we moved to Texas (where they live) in 2018. We moved because they encouraged us to and then realized things were worse. I really think they wanted us closer geographically to make it easier to control us. The sad part is that we have our first grandchild due in a few weeks and should be filled with joy. Instead we are being given more “rules” to live by. Our son is convinced that he’s right to treat us this way. We are ready to say “enough is enough.”

    2. Daiseyhead

      Gail I am where you are. My 1st grandchild was born a year ago. My son has agreed with rules made by his wife. Her mom is allowed to visit anytime and babysit on her own. We are only allowed 1 hour on Saturday’s and had to be both my husband and I babysitting. We never got the chance because we were going to arrive in 2 separate vehicles where my husband and I were arriving from 2 different directions. Not only was our chance to babysit cancelled but we were told we are dishonest and manipulative. We were cut off for 6 weeks. I spent my birthday crying in bed because I was not allowed to see my grandson. I did not bother with a Christmas tree because we were no longer allowed to have meals together. My grandsons 1st birthday, we were allowed to attend. We sat awkwardly with her family. She ended up lying to our son ,saying my husband told me to smile and look like I was having fun…that was never said. We were positive the whole time, hiding any negative feelings and had all smiles for our grandson. Now we are at 5 months, my son just celebrated his 50th birthday with her family. Easter is coming up and my son said they are not comfortable eating meals with us so we wont be celebrating with them. I’m waiting on results to see if I have stomach cancer. My son knows this. The fact that he still does not want us part of his family, even though cancer could take me away, he still chooses not to be with us. I cry everyday, he had hurt me so much. My friends tell me we should tell him we need to live our lives apart, for now. They think I need to move on with my life instead of living the hurtful torture he is putting us through. Until he married her , we were such a loving and close family

  16. Gail

    I’ve just finished reading all of your posts and each one is heartbreaking, some common threads each with different individual experiences. The common denominator we all have…pain and tears. Here is a snapshot of mine. It has been 10 years since I last saw my oldest daughter, son in law and 2 grandchildren, 2 grandchildren I have never met. She walked out I’d my life on a Mother’s Day weekend. It’s complicated and I won’t go into all the details. But nevertheless I just don’t understand not being able to forgive or extend grace to loved ones so far that it prevents children from having a relationship with their grandparents, unless it is truly horrendous. The oldest is now 17, youngest 5. I will never have those lost years. I have gone on with my life and choose to live in joy, loving others God has put in my life to the fullest ( I work with elderly and Those with Alzheimer’s) but the hole in my heart for them still bleeds especially during birthdays, and yes Mother’s Day is the worst. Thank you all, especially Sheri for your healing words. They have been balm on my soul many times. I read the poem ‘‘Twas the night before Mother’s Day and it felt that it was wrote for me. My words of encouragement to all is don’t allow this to make you bitter but allow God to keep you soft and sensitive with a bigger heart because of what you’ve been through. Give that love to others in need, there’s many out there in need.

    1. Marlaine

      I read all the posts and reasons why the estrangements happen. My heart breaks for all of you. I do not like the word estrangement because I feel what is happening is “shunning.”
      I’ve pleaded and begged for forgiveness from my son and daughter for whatever I did as their mother that hurt them or why they are distant. The separation and alienation is huge to a point if overwhelming depression and sadness and developed Tako-Subo syndrome. ( not sure if I spelled that right) but cardiologists call it broken heart syndrome. I did see a therapist and psychiatrist got treated for depression and is ongoing. My therapist told me for my sanity and well-being that when someone is avoiding you and it Doesnt matter who they are, never bother them again. I’m their mother, I can’t walk away. I love from a distance if it’s the only way I can.

  17. Rubyruby

    I agree. We put up with adult child’s abuse because we fear the outcome of estrangement but I’ve recently come to realise I don’t want to live this way. I need to let this go and be good to myself. To set those boundaries. Reading throughout RP has given me so much support to come to this realisation. I don’t expect it to be easy and everyday can be different but I am hopeful. And maybe someday there will be a good reconciliation. Happy Mother’s Day to UK mom’s!!

  18. Julia S.

    This is very familiar, so sad too, we are in the uk, I can honestly say that I feel lucky to have two other grown up children who have made an effort to let me know that I am appreciated and loved. My middle daughter is like this ‘dog with a bone’ mentioned here, she is like that, and at the moment there’s no moving on in the sense that she seems very stuck, despite what we do. We can only hope that our grandchildren are being looked after and loved, we miss them too terribly.

    1. Jane W.

      Hi Julia, I’m here in the UK too, with an estranged daughter, from a bitter ex-husband who won’t let go of my daughter, or the fact I walked away from him and his controlling ways, I walked away to a better life with my daughter, until he took her away with his poisoning ,I have no other children. I have been with my partner now husband longer than I was ever married to my ex, my ex had a partner for 10yrs until last year that failed and he’s in a new relationship of only a few months and moved away, yet he still can’t after 16 yrs let me have my daughter back in my life….so I have two dogs with the same bone. He wants me to apologise for leaving him , that I won’t do I wished I’d have done it sooner. It is my worry that when my daughter has children I won’t be allowed to see them or still not have any contact. I live in hope that one day it will change but can not ever see that

    2. Jain

      4.22 am. I’m awake, I still can’t believe that my beloved, only daughter who is nearly 50 years old, has suddenly rejected me & her dad. This happened nearly 2 years ago for no apparent reason. We’re heartbroken. You have my sympathy ❤️

  19. Nancy

    It makes me very sad to read everyone’s comments. All the suffering we’ve had in our lives because an adult child and spouse decided to throw us away. My story isn’t much different than all who are here. I have one child, my 45 yr old son, who I mistakenly made my life. He married someone who only knew a life of heartache and parental abuse. Someone who’s expectations I could never live up to. Unfortunately she threw her parents away. I had years of us being a family until major stress came into their lives, then before long they wanted me gone too. I have 5 beautiful grandchildren which I haven’t seen for 6 years. The youngest doesn’t know me. I was a good grandmother, they all came first for me. They had their hands full & I did whatever I could to help them… the drop of a hat. It’s taken me this long to realize that I deserve to have a life without such pain and it’s time to give up banging my head against a wall to reconcile. They moved a few years ago and I don’t know where they live. I do know they are not far away. I had a glimpse of hope a few months ago. I asked if they would consider reconciliation with counseling and my son agreed. I arranged this for us, then he started dragging his feet. I waited months for him, he was actually going to come see me, then cancelled at the last minute. Bottom line he told me he’s not ready to revisit everything, he’s working on his relationship with his wife. I understand that’s not an easy thing for him. I was heart broken but told him I understood and I want peace for him above all. I said that was more important to me than the horrible loss I feel. I deserve peace too. I’ve finally realized that. I’ll never give up though…..ever.

    1. Kelly P.

      I feel for your pain as I go thru the same. I often wonder if this Me Me generation throws us away due to convience, one less person in the world to consider and be honorable to. I have written letters asking my son to turn the page. I will give it more time, prayer, and then move on. Yes, we deserve respect and peace. This sorrow can really eat at you.

  20. Margaret

    Hi Happy Mother’s Day to all in UK

    You deserve an amazing day!

    My best friend (my husband that is! : )) and I are estranged from all 3 of our adult children why? Because we expected a 50/50 relationship (How dare we!)
    We put up with titbits, verbal abuse and being pushed to one side!

    All I ever wanted to be was a Mum and I loved it! my husband was a great Dad
    Would you let anyone else treat you so poorly?? The answer is NO so don’t accept from your adult Children!

    Expect from your Adult Children Respect and consideration by deed and if that is not the case then you have become their optional accessory to be used when it suits them!!

    Acceptance for my husband and I is an on going work! but we’re getting there, do something you love get out in nature and be observant read Sheri’s book and her emails they are so inciteful and a great comfort!

    Our very best wishes to all Mum’s and Dad’s suffering.

    1. Kelly P.

      I thought I was the only one who had all 3 adult children estranged. What are the chances of that? A friend mentioned they were ganging up on me. Thank you for the comments. I wish happiness for you.

  21. Annette

    This particular article really poked at my heart. my son, aged 56, had now disowned me for the second time. The first time he just appeared at my house with absolutely no explanation and we acted as though nothing had happened. This time I tried explaining/arguing to no avail. I think of him every day and my emotion vary from hurt to angry. Other people do not understand how this feels and why I have given up. Trying to fix it just causes me more hurt and makes him angrier. Thank you for writing these articles.

    1. Shari L.

      I so feel your pain .. being discarded by your children is the most painful life’s experience for me . But when I read these blogs , I feel at peace that I am not alone. Although I have died in my heart and soul

  22. Barbara

    My son, now 55, has cut myself and our family out of his life, including myself for more than 11 years now. I found out through my granddaughter 10 years ago that he believes I did not believe him about my husband telling him he did not say what my son insisted heard. At the time I knew my husband said that because he confuses things but not out of malice, only his confusion problem. I told my son I believed both of them and never said I didn’t want to see my grandchildren. If he had stopped to think, my son would know that would never happen my lifetime. He cut us out of his life afterward, would not give me his address or phone number when he worked in Europe for his job. After these years, I’m positive he lives back in his house in the states, about 3 hours away. Last week he sent an email to me with one line, ” just want to say hi”. I responded with Hi sweetheart, and wished him a good year. I have not heard back. It may sound strange, but I believe he only wrote to see if I was still alive or dead. I had cancer and now cancer free. This broke my heart that is all he cared about. There is no love, no concern, no compassion or forgiveness on his part or it would have happened by now. I made mistakes as a young mother and so immature but I gave all my love to him. I have helped with my adorable grandchildren, and now all that is turned against me. He is an intelligent man who knows well how to be vindictive when not necessary. I admire all his accomplishments however the one accomplishment he has failed, is to grow up realizing it’s ridiculous to cut out your family because he thought I didn’t believe me. I mean, how would an intelligent person do that to his mother over something that could easily been talked about and resolved. Maybe my son never loved me the way I thought but in the end, it’s up to him, not me. I must keep my mind healthy and no longer carry this hurt and pain. If he ever reaches out or comes to my door, I will throw my arms around him with no questions asked. Because it will be hard on him to actually do that. I pray for him and realize I may never see him again. Yet at 73
    I do hope I see him before my death. I think of all who are here with the same loss and hope things change for us all. Barbara

  23. Phoenix12

    I have tried to reconcile with my narcissist in the past and have to chalk that up to Maya Angelou’s quotable quote about how we do the best we know how at the time, and when we know better, we do better.

    I might not have lost all of my kids if I had remembered to take out the trash. My narcissist was the “trash”.

    It’s an oversimplification and a metaphor that makes me feel just foolish enough that I won’t fall into the trap of trying to reconcile again. No, I cannot forgive my narcissist’s behaviour in light of the fact that her actions have consequences. One of those is that my octogenarian parents have cancelled me with their smartphones as well.

    They weren’t great parents, but, like everybody else here, I would NEVER have disowned them. The narcissist only cares about hurting me, so now I have lost my ability to care for my elderly parents. They are going to die horrible deaths and it’s all my fault and I can’t fix it.

    And all of this happened because I forgot to take out the “trash”.

    Narcisstic Personality Disorder isn’t a do-it-yourself project for homepsychiatristing; I homeschooled all of mine independently (no charter school funds, no zoomschool lessons, nada; it all came out of my pocket or I made it myself) so it hurts me to say this just as much as it hurts any parent of a severely mentally ill adult child to read it.

    You can’t. It isn’t possible. If you have other children, you need to remember to take out the trash. Even if you don’t, if you want to be part of a family, you still need to take out the trash.

    You can’t keep the Thanksgiving Turkey forever and serve it again year after year while you throw away all the gold that is buried in the back yard in mason jars because families just don’t work that way.

    1. Mary M.

      My son, age 51, has NPD, and his favorite mode of punishing me is giving me the silent treatment….. to the extent neither he, or his wife have communicated with me for 3 years and they will not allow my grandsons (ages 18 & 16) to talk to text with me. This estrangement like many others started for no known reason. Although I suspect his wife had a strong role to play in it since she has always been jealous of me. They have been so verbally and emotionally cruel to me I almost commit suicide a couple of years ago. They even managed to turn my daughter against me. They destroyed her marriage and now she is alone with a 7 year old son, whom I don’t get to see either.
      I’m to the point I don’t think I would want to reconcile with my son while he is married to her. I have caught her telling so many lies about me to him. She has been trying to break up our family ever since she met him. I think she has succeeded, at least for now. She wants only her family to be in my grandsons lives. My son needs to start standing up to her and get our family back in shape.

  24. Judy

    Reading all your stories is very comforting to me. Being able to move on is so very hard as we love our children. I haven’t spoken to my daughters for almost 6 years as they determined I was evil and shouldn’t be allowed to live and wished I was dead. I have prayed during those years and finally I received a tiny ray of hope. I texted one daughter on her birthday and did not expect a response. I haven’t seen my beautiful granddaughter in 6 years. I asked my daughter to consider sending me a photo. It took her a month but she sent a photo!!! I was overwhelmed and thanked her and asked her a few things. No response. Then yesterday I texted my younger daughter to wish her a happy birthday. I didn’t receive a response, which is what I expected. My husband and I live in another state now as I could not live in the same town always hoping I would get a glimpse of them. When they first banned me from their lives for numerous reasons I still do not understand. I thought I would never breathe again, or laugh it be at peace. I still cry during the holidays. The thing is: my children are wonderful people. Extremely intelligent, great personalities, etc, unless you supposedly do it say something they don’t like. Then it’s a torrent of verbal abuse.
    I keep praying that one day we will have at least a respectful relationship. Thanks to Shari for this website. It saved my life! God bless all of you. I wish you peace, love and contentment in your lives.

  25. Jeanne

    My narc grown daughter has a 4 month old son…and a 3 year old who I babysit for once a week..gladly! I was washing her dishes that included mounds of bottles, nipples and breast cups for her breast pump…and was thinking that she seemed a bit depressed. We had gone out earlier to the park with the boys..and she seemed very quiet. She went to the store when we got back to her house and I was worried about her. When she got home…I asked if she was depressed at all and she said “No..I’m fine”…I said thats good but if you ever need me to talk to let me know…I know that it is hard. She said “Why are you so negative!!!” …I got defensive as usual. Whenever I put out my heart to her she is like an vicious dog.

  26. Susan G.

    The complaints my daughter (aged 51) has about me are ones she has invented. For example she said after I gave them $2000 for their wedding (years ago) I kept “throwing it in her face”. Only I did not give her $2000. There was no $2000. So how can I throw it in her face? I have loved and supported and given to her all her life, until she rejected me, and I never ever expected anything in return, let alone throw anything in her face. Another lie she made up was that I “stole” her wedding dress. I did not. I have absolutely no idea where she stores the dress in her house. Most of our interchanges over the years were by email as she lives 15,000 miles away . So I have written proof to show that her accusations are simply false, but that makes no difference to her. My sister who lives closer to her, has stepped in to become my daughter’s surrogate mother. My sister backs up my daughter every way she can. This does not fill me with love for my sister who, by the way, has always been horrible to me. So I live in a country far away with no family at all, just me, aged 80.

    1. Ursula

      Hi Susan; I am so sorry. Which country do you live in? I am the same age and have the same situation with my daughter. Would love to keep writing to you. Ursula

    2. Natalia M.

      Oh, Susan! I’m so sorry! I live alone at 47, a country I wasn’t born in, so I understand the pain and wish I could help. No one should be alone at 80! Please, reach out if you would like a friend!

    3. Shari L.

      I am so sorry that at this age , we have to be alone .. I have self doubted me for the last 5 years . Gone through hell with my son who has discarded me too . It is what it is . God bless you

  27. Connie

    I think about my son every single day. He is very ill and I spent many years feeling guilty because I am the only living parent. I put my son first, always and neglected myself and my other son and his family. I would have went to the ends of the earth to save him and in exchange, he spat in my face. I put my life on hold to help him for 15 years. If you ask him I never did anything for him. If I attempt to offer him an olive branch he would say, ” what the hell are you doing, you stuck me in the eye with it.” I am trying to detach with love but it breaks my heart! The cost of the relationship with him is just to high for me. I wonder how I could have raised such a hateful individual but, his decisions and behavior are out of my control. I honor his decision to live his life on his own terms. I intend to do the same! See

  28. Gail R

    My daughter is very ill from a chronic disease, and her husband wants a divorce. We did everything we could to help her but she blames us for ruining her life. Her abuse was so bad that we had to leave her home and return to ours.(she lives out of state). After getting home I kept receiving emails from her telling me how much she hated me and wished I was dead. I finally sent her an email and told her I knew I made a lot of mistakes but we loved her,sent her to college, and gave her a beautiful wedding. Then her emails stopped. When she was angry she would throw things at me, or slap at me. She has suffered so much with her illness, but I couldn’t stay with her.

  29. Debs

    We are still estranged from our daughter, more so after a broad social media character assassination just over a year ago. I told my daughter she was no longer our daughter after she said she had told everyone what terrible parents we were, that we never listened to her and that she wished we were dead. Many family members saw it but only one checked on me to see if we were OK. Times like this really help you to understand who cares for you and I subsequently wrote most of my family out as they were happy to sit on the fence as they didn’t want to ‘take sides’, something I hadn’t asked them to do. I’ve had to speak to them this week as my eldest sister passed away. I’ve told them, like my daughter, I will always love them but I can’t be with them. My estranged son on the other hand has been in contact now for about a year, more so since COVID. I think he is the son I always hoped he was. He cares. Meanwhile we have had a new life for the last three years, away from the bitterness with no contact on social media with the family. Its better and we can see light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel, mostly because we put ourselves first for a change and carried on living our lives.

  30. Melissa

    Does anyone think that their adult child a Narcissist? After listening to some podcasts about Narcissism by a psychologist that specializes in Narcissism, I now believe my daughter is a Narcissist!!! She absolutely has no empathy towards me! We have been on again off again with our relationship for 15 years. She is now almost 37. She never asks about what is going on in my life or is interested. I feel like she doesn’t know anything about me. Anytime we did have a conversation, for the most part it is all about her and her life.

    Two weeks ago I called her and asked her if she could pick me up from work because my battery was dead. I had picked up and babysat my grandson numerous times. She told me to get an Uber. It was at night in the dark and I felt like she had stabbed me in the heart. I did get an Uber and wasn’t aware that she had ordered me one as well. She did send a text and said that the uber was on its way, but I assumed she was asking me if the uber I ordered was on the way. I did not respond and when she called, I did not answer because I was hurt and I felt like she didn’t care!

    Later that night she sent me a text saying that she was deleting me from her life because I was an irresponsible parent and grandparent. She had upset my grandson about all of this and he was worried about me. I had no idea. She has done horrible things to me over the years like moving to another state.

  31. Lovearttherapy

    Thanks for all you share. In a world where we cannot easily share such things because of added injury and judgment from the ignorant this is one of the rare and safe places for us to share and support eachother. I for one have done so much apologizing for all my mistakes as a mother and than some. One day I realized my son was causing me so much harm and heart ache with his slander, and even lying about things I did or did not do. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I saw his latest relationship, his new wife starting to treat me like dirt, while knowing I have been nothing but kind to her and I was always confused and feeling bad every time I saw her wondering why was she acting this way when it struck me.. my son’s slander was continuing.. It was this that made me say enough! I realized that I would never acquire resolution or reach any healthy communication with a son that was hell bent on crucifying me for decades and would never stop so I walked away.. I said enough.. like the title of your book.. enough crying.. all the tears in the world would never get him to stop his cruelty… I am done and heck I sure hope he is half the parent I ever was to his children… You know what the bible says about judgement and forgiveness and mercy… the measure you use will also be used against you… Ouch! I would not want to be him. Impossible standards! Anyhow it hurts like hell not to see my grand chlldren but he never stopped his garbage and I really had enough…. If my finally drawing a healthy boundary does not wake him up… well he has to live with his cruel hard-heartedness and the consequences of that. God bless everyone and stop blaming yourself.. you are human.. None of us were perfect and none of our children will be either.

    1. emily38

      Hello Arttherapy,

      Yours is my situation with one of two estranged sons. Like you, it took me too many years to ‘figure out’ the dynamics in that household with the DIL. In the second situation, it’s the DIL who is unbalanced. But neither situation could exist without both sons. They are responsible actors too, regardless their reasons.

      Both situations were an albatross around my own sense of Self. Like so many parents, I believed I must have been the responsible party in the alienations, then estrangements. “What did I do?” had no answer. I’m not perfect, no one is. All I had to do, apparently, was ‘be.’

      These dynamics stole years from my life, almost 25 years. Such a waste of years, years lost for what? Therapy, reading, praying slowly reframed my outlook, my awareness of what was really going on and my understanding. The last push, the one that found me across that last barrier, was Sheri’s work. Her book, her Forum, her commitment, her non-judgmental helping were, and are, unmatched anywhere.

      So many parents write about their EC, about what the EC did, didn’t do, about WHO they are, WHAT they are, or are not. The focus.,their energy, is still on the ‘children.’

      In my experience, healing begins when the focus becomes only about us, the parent. ONLY. We acknowledge all the circumstances that led to our situations, we forgive ourselves, yes ourselves not others, then get about the business of fixing what’s broken. Us.

      This is very big business. It demands time, commitment, patience and determination. Slowly, slowly, changes happen. To you.

      The world might say I lost two sons and five grandchildren. I say I found mySelf.

      Read Sheri’s book. Read it again. Read the posts at the Forum. Post there too. Help others. Even I, close to 80, can tell you,it’s never too late to be whole, to be well.

      Welcome. You’ve found the right place.

  32. Leddy H.

    My friends,
    It helps me so much to read your comments and to realize, again, that I am not alone. Others have been abandoned by their children and no matter how many times we’d say “sorry,” it seems it was never about anything we did or were perceived to have done. We could bring up a dozen staunch and true witnesses to what “really” happened, and show videos and 5×7 photos, and it wouldn’t help. Our daughter in law decided to be a victim, with quite a story about how someone at our church had “laid hands on her and shaken her.” There were no witnesses to this supposed event and the accused woman is simply not capable of such an action. The excuse? Well, my daughter in law says she had been abused as a child (again, no witnesses, ever, to anything of the sort), so she’s “allowed” to be upset and traumatized and if I wouldn’t accept her statement and banish the woman (President of our Board!) from our church, then I clearly did not deserve to see my grandchildren ever again. Our daughter in law has a history of “ruining” people and badmouthing them to others, abandoning them, so her husband (our son) and their children know she isn’t bluffing when she gives that “look” that lets them know they must side with her or she would abandon them, too. They know these things didn’t happen, but they cannot stand up to her because if they did, she’d threaten our son with divorce and he cannot bear that. He knows we will love him always, so he stands by her. If she says the sky is green, the green it is. It’s been five years since we’ve had any response from them; we used to text, email, even invite theme to come and have an “evening with his brother and his wife here, where no one would mention anything about the past,” and I’ve shown up to cheer on our grandson after a play in which he had a part, but when he saw it was me in the cast greeting line, he turned away as though I were a pillar of fire. We’ve changed our will, we’ve survived. Now photos of our granddaughter and her wedding plans are everywhere on social media for mutual acquaintances to see. If they came to our door, we’d smile, say hello, and make some excuse, like, “Oh, my, we have a Zoom meeting right now. Hope you’re safe and well. See you another time.” That would be it. It wouldn’t have been any different if I’d been the President of the United States and our son had been my VP. She’d have found a way to blame me for something because it was never about anything I did. It was always about her having complete control. I love my son like life itself, and therefore, cannot bow and cringe for this narcissistic personality. No apologies would satisfy her. Me hanging on a cross wouldn’t satisfy her. She is satisfied that we are out of her husband’s life. He is an adult. One day, perhaps he will awaken. But I have given up hoping that he will. A person that would alienate a partner’s parents over trivia or “perceptions” is not a person who loves the partner. I put away his photographs. I will not reach out again. This is the best I can do for him. One day, he may realize that he is not inherently valuable to her. But he has to figure that out on his own. As for the grandchildren, we have done nothing but love them. They are adults now. It isn’t fair to my wonderful husband for me to mope around about the son who “left me.” I want no revenge. I just go on, and I miss them less and less. I am healing.

    1. Shryl

      Leddy your story sounds so much like part of mine. I have two sons, the oldest has pulled away from us quite sometime ago. We or I should say I speak with him about every couple of months, but he hasn’t spoken to my husband, his father since Nov. 2017. Our youngest son is married and has my two grandson’s but like your daughter-in-law ours is very controlling. As time has gone on our son has had less and less to do with us and always makes an excuse for why they can’t come to see us. He always has to do something for his wife, etc. that seems to take all of his time. It’s become very obvious that she is controlling the situation as they always find the time to spend with her family. The last time we saw them was the 3rd of January when we were finally able to celebrate Christmas together, have hot heard one single word from him since. Like you and your husband we’ve just gone on with our lives but deep down inside we’ll always with things were different and we could be one happy family with children and grandchildren again. Finding this site has helped us a great deal.

  33. Dotty

    My son hung on to so many perceived wrongs, and I apologised many times. After one six month estrangement, our elder daughter organised for us all to go to see a counsellor. Our son did most of the talking, complaining about me and all the terrible things that I had done. I apologised so many times in that session, and promised to do better. The counsellor was actually out of her depth I realise not.

    Any harmony in the family was short-lived. More rules were made, so many rules that I couldn’t keep up, and in the end – well, you know what happened.

    I still wonder if I should have apologised again, though. The accusing emails went on and on, and as they were full of lies and mistruths, I tried to defend myself. This just made his attacks worse, and eventually he said I’m done with you, and blocked me.

    Our son was still texting my husband, (his step dad) as if nothing had changed, nothing was wrong, and life was still good. They’d always had a great relationship; better than the one my son had with me. He actually put his step dad on a pedestal, and he could do no wrong. But we needed to retrieve our caravan off the life-style block son lived on (which we had financed) so needed to maintain the relationship until we could do that.

    When we had done that husband visited him with his belongings that were stored at our place, and said ‘We’re a team. You cut your Mum off, you cut me off too’.

    In hindsight, perhaps we could have waited a bit longer before my husband visited him to tell him that his behaviour was intolerable, and that we would have no more of it. This haunts me a bit, but as hubby tells me everyday, it would have come around to bite us again. The goal post would have moved again many more times, there would be more rules, the girls would have been the ones to estrange as he’d been so mean to them as they grew up and continued to be so. Hubby also reminds me that even if I was in their lives, now that they have a baby, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything right, and the whole thing would have been a stressful and miserable time.

    Good to read your article today. Thank you

    You don’t need to reply, Sheri. It was good to just vent today!


    1. Dee

      Thank you for sharing Dotty…. i feel like you are writing a lot of my story with my son as well! It amazes me how many of us have had to apologize over and over for things that were not that big of a deal, to us anyway!! I know, I’ve apologized for everything, even though I feel like my sons had a really good upbringing!! One son is grateful, the other is absolutely resentful and hate-filled, bent on making me the punching bag every conversation! ….I believe there’s some kind of personality disorder that has affected the millennial generation! Not that we were perfect parents!! We weren’t but we certainly loved our kids with all of our hearts and gave up sooo much for them….there seems to be no awareness for that at all… and way I am grateful for all of you moms and dads that are sharing your stories….it’s comforting to know I am not alone in this….blessings to all of you,

  34. Shawlana

    Let her miss you. Don’t call. You have explained and apologized to her. Now let it go. She will begin to wonder about you and will eventually call to say hello. Just be friendly but cool and be the one to hang up first…you have things to do. Wish her well and then say bye. Let the weeks and months go by but don’t pick up the phone to call her. It worked for me.

  35. Lil

    I’m practicing taking care of myself first and not taking responsibility for my child’s choices or actions. My love is still there, but their control over me using guilt, lies, manipulation, and estrangement has ended. It’s shaken and angered them that I have detached myself from their abuse but I can’t control what they feel, I can only control me. I took responsibility for my faults and shortcomings but if a person, even if it’s your child, can’t accept your apology, it’s on them not you. I’ve decided to be happy and if my child/children choose to put me out of their life, I accept their decision and pray that they find peace within themselves. As I said, my love is still there for my child, I just don’t let it be used as a weapon against me any longer.

    1. Wendy

      Lil, I appreciated your words about taking care of ourselves. I am just now learning to do this. I am new to this and just became estranged from my daughter a few days ago. From other posts I’ve realized that I was afraid of losing her and have actually compromised a lot of what I feel to maintain the relationship. She very much needs to be in control of everything to the exclusion of every one else’s needs or feelings. I gave so much to her! There is no doubt that she has suffered some horrible things in her life. The thing is she is still responsible for how she treats others and her suffering doesn’t give the right to be nasty. I have been a good mother. I have been so busy accepting responsibility for the difficulties in the relationship that I’d forgotten both of those things. I needed to put some healthy boundaries up and sadly it’s resulted in the end of our relationship. I am feeling so much better though. I’m destroyed over my great loss. I love my daughter so much! But if I truly love her, I won’t let her act that way nor treat me in a manner in which I don’t deserve. Thanks so much for sharing!

    2. Betty

      Thank you for your wise words. I have copied your post and have sent it to myself so that I will be able to read it whenever I need to center my thoughts. I had been thinking of making ‘just one more try’ at apologizing for the imagined transgressions I have committed, but now I think I will start taking better care of myself instead.

  36. Linda

    I had a daughter who did this kind of critiquing and fault-finding. One day, after she finished with bringing up again something I did in the past, I said forthrightly , “This is the last time I’m going to apologize for this, _____. “ No yelling or threatening in my tone, just that fact. I felt it was time for me to stop her from bringing up my faults and acting like I’d never done anything right. She treated me more respectfully right after that but, months later, she estranged me. It wasn’t the outcome I had hoped for but I don’t regret speaking to her abusive rapport with me. She never wanted to hear my side , only the same old story she told herself. Had she been open for talking it through, I would’ve embraced it. That was more than 7 years ago. Sandy, I appreciate what you said about it being our decision. No incited me to do that, it was just time in my mind ; I had endured enough and she was well into her twenties and had a child of her own. I have peace and a good deal of grace and happiness. Thanks for your posts…

  37. Linda C.

    Harsh words were said between me and my daughter age 47. For my part I’ve apologised, once. Nothing from my daughter in 3 months. Silence is very punishing. I stood up for myself at last and that lost me my daughter. But I could have lost more, my self esteem and my trust in myself that took years to build up. It’s still painful to not have contact. But I cant go back now

    1. Susan r

      So sad that our daughters don’t appreciate having a mother. There are plenty grown daughters who have lost their mothers. Somehow our daughters have gone off the rails and there is simply nothing to do after apologizing and continually reaching out. I fell bad for my grand children – but who are the collateral damage however- there is simply nothing to be done but be grateful of the life we have with or without them.

  38. Fiona S.

    “Loving parents will often put up with an adult child’s abuse ( criticism,beratings, judgements ) because they fear the alternative ( estrangement ). That doesn’t sound like the basis for a mutually respectful relationship .”
    This sentence from Sheri made me stop and think. So true ! Reflecting a great part of the struggle I have had. Extremely helpful ! My thanks Sheri

    1. Steph

      Fiona, I just took a screenshot of that very same sentence because it resonated so much.
      It’s Mother’s Day here in the uk. I’m going to use it to help me through today (thank you Sheri)
      Kind Regards Steph x


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