When your adult child wants nothing to do with you: Is it time to go with the flow? 

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

when your adult child wants nothing to do with you

Photo by Gëzim Fazliu from Pexels

Have you read about that man in Munich, Germany, who floats to work every day? He got tired of the stops and starts of traffic, the long waits that got him nowhere fast, and the road rage. This man, Benjamin David, did something different. He looked to what was in his environment to help him, decided on a plan, prepared himself, and plunged into the river. Now, he floats along with the current each day—and it delivers him effortlessly to his workplace. He goes with the flow. 

Maybe it’s a stretch to compare this man to parents rejected by adult children—or maybe not. Especially as estrangement drags on, it can feel like we’re stuck in a sort of traffic limbo. We may be the recipient of anger we don’t deserve, or get angry ourselves. The tiniest breakthrough can get our hopes up and then drop us into a pit. Like when the cars go from a standstill to a crawl and we breathe a sigh of relief… only to get snagged in another snarl of traffic up ahead. 

CHANGE DIRECTIONS 

Like this man who made a change for the better, parents rejected by adult children can assess their situations, realize they’re getting nowhere, and try something different. A realistic analysis is the first step to a solution, and new direction that drives progress.  

Parents around the globe continue to send holiday cards or gifts yet remain estranged.  As the holiday music jingles and the messages of family and restoration abound, they feel a mix of obligation, hope, and confusion. They start to ponder whether to reach out again this year.  

They may worry that not reaching out may be used as proof they don’t care. Or that a heartfelt message of love will be viewed as a manipulation tactic to “guilt” the son or daughter into responding. Grandparents who want to make sure their grandchildren know they’re loved face a dilemma: How can they choose gifts for the special family members they no longer know? Or worse, will their gifts given to innocent grandchildren be subverted to the trash bin?    

WHEN YOUR ADULT CHILD WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU:
START A NEW ERA 
 

As this year comes to an end and a new one begins, I implore you to consider what one of my adult children who is not estranged recently said about estrangement from the sibling who is:  

“We’re about to start a new era.”  

We really are beginning a new era, moving into the third decade of the millennium, and far beyond the time when our estrangement from one adult son began. It’s a new era for our family as a whole, with fresh starts, changes in direction, and a time of renewed joy. Being stressed over something we couldn’t change has no place in our family’s future.  

How about you? As 2019 comes to a close, can you ring the holiday bell to end an era of heartache, and think of the season as a time of rebirth and joy? 

GET OUT OF THE TRAFFIC JAM 

Make decisions that move you forward rather than keep you stuck. If you’re pondering whether or not to reach out this holiday, reflect on a few critical questions. Consider using a pen and paper to fully explore your thoughts. Ask yourself: 

  • Whether or not my estranged offspring has ever replied, has my reaching ever made a difference? 
  • If I’m worried about how my behavior will be construed or misconstrued, what are my fears specifically? Do they make sense? Or are they keeping me stuck? 

Don’t Stress 

There’s an old story about a woman whose daughter asks her why she cuts two inches off each end of the roast and throws them away. “That’s the way my mother did it,” she says. Curious, the daughter asks her grandmother the same question—and gets the same answer. Dying to know why it’s so important to cut two inches off either side, the girl calls her great grandmother to inquire. She’s surprised when her great grandmother laughs, saying, “Because the roast wouldn’t fit the pan!” 

At one point, reaching out may have kept the hope that you would reunite alive. Even when your adult child wants nothing to do with you, it has been a way to demonstrate (at least from your point of view) that you still love your child and were ready to forgive. But what’s the purpose now? Is it helping, or keeping you stuck in a cycle of hope and disillusionment? Is the expended energy doing you good, or are you only throwing it away? 

Times change. Feelings do, too. At what point do you listen to the message your child’s silence (anger, gossip, abuse. . .) sends? Is it time to decide to put your energy toward your own life, your emotional wellness, and the people who love you?  

Like the man in Munich did, is it time to take the plunge … and go with the flow?  

To prepare and plan for your new era, get a copy of Done With The Crying. Its advice and information based on current research and the input of thousands of parents rejected by adult children will help you take the plunge into a happy life beyond the pain of familial estrangement. Or, if you’ve read it once, now might be a good time to do some of the exercises again (the new Done With The Crying WORKBOOK: for Parents of Estranged Adult Childrenwill help). 

This holiday season, give yourself a supportive gift: permission to go with the flow. 

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

59 thoughts on “When your adult child wants nothing to do with you: Is it time to go with the flow? 

  1. Lynn

    I have a 25 year old son who I have not spoken to for 3 years. I have been a single mother of 2 sons with no child support working 3 jobs 7 days a week. Once my sons graduated high school, I asked them if they they would live with their father so that I could downsize into a studio apartment and I would be able to pay their collage tuition. This was an agreement. One son did great and took full advantage. The other son whom I no longer have a relationship with, dropped out of school and did nothing. He would continue to ask me got money as I barley had any because I was paying all expenses for college. When I would ask him what he plans to do, he would tell me that he would get a job and it would be a lie. Then he would ask over and over for money and give me different lies and not do anything at all. I finally told him that I would not give him one more dime till he decides what he plans to do with his life and when he does, to give me a call do I can help him. 3 years later, we have not spoken until now, it took the death of his father for us to speak but only because he needs me. He never did do anything with his life and from what he tells me is that he and I have spoken more since his fathers death then he and his father have spoken living together in a year. But because I am making it a point to go and communicate. But he is telling me that he can not reciprocate love and affection back . Not to me, the family, not anyone who wants to get in using him and he feels no guilt whatsoever if it hurts anyone. He just wants the court/ estate issues to finish and now he is ready to join the military and disappear. I don’t know what to do. I want to keep trying but unsure if I am wasting my time and keeping myself in pain unnecessarily. I just keep remembering my little boy and it’s killing me inside.

    Reply
  2. Clare

    My 2 adult children 21 and 23 haven’t spoken to me for months because I would not let my younger son, aged 19, come live with me unless he could show me he was making an effort to get a job. I’ve been a single mum of my kids since my eldest was 5 and have been the bread winner whilst their father refused to pay child support. My youngest son was living with his sister until she decided to move in with her uni mates which left her brother with nowhere to go. I felt that if he moved in with me, unemployed and smoking weed and no intention of looking for work that I was just enabling him to continue to be a bum. My parents and close friends all advised me to be tough and tell him no until he gets a job. I knew his best friend would give him a bed and if not then of course I would never see him homeless but I had to make a tough decision to force him to get a job. He’s now worming full time and has his pride and self respect back and I’m helping him find a place of his own. He has forgiven my decision but his siblings will not forgive me ever and are refusing to have anything to do with me even at the request of my youngest son.
    I am heartbroken. My family lived in the UK and they are all I have. They forget I raised them on my own whilst working full time and putting myself through uni aged 40.
    Some days my sadness is so bad I just don’t want to keep going. My youngest son keeps me here for now.
    I’ve reached out to my older two so many times and no response. I’m consumed by it.

    Reply
    1. rparents Post author

      Dear Clare, you’re a remarkable woman. Don’t forget that. If those two have forgotten it, take an “it’s their loss” attitude and rise again. You know how. You’ll be setting a good example for them too (as you always have).

      Hugs to you. You’re an inspiration to all you meet.

      Sheri McGregor

  3. Sadmom

    My oldest daughter who is mid twenty, married no children. Six months ago shared with her 15 year old sister that she is in a polyamorous relationship and has had there lovers around my youngest. I was very angry that she shared this with her teenaged sister and will no longer let her go to their home. We (me and dad) then where told that we either resect who they are and all their partners or they will not be attending any family gatherings.
    My son in law sent me a text calling me all sorts of names.
    I cant except this, can’t have my married child and her multiple lovers at my house around my teen daughter or other family. Maybe this makes me a bad person but I am allowed to have my own view right?
    Anyway today is Father’s day and the girls alway take their dad out but not this year, a quick text and that’s it. I guess I got what I was asking for by telling her she could not bring her lovers to my house.
    Me and my daughter use to talk daily and now I haven’t heard from her in months, I am heart broken and so confused

    Reply
    1. A. N.

      Sadmom, you are not a “bad person,” if anyone is “bad,” it’s your daughter and her husband; you’re doing the right thing, stand your ground. Don’t be pushed around and your son-in-law has some kind of nerve. I’d keep my teen daughter away from them, too!
      Of course your daughter isn’t talking to you, she knows what she’s doing is wrong!

    2. Angela W.

      That’s a tough one. I would probably do the same. Being heart broken is expected. It is heartbreaking on several levels. Life is always forward moving and absolutely no guarantees. Polyamorous is a new word for polygamy so you are right in it being a hard pill to swallow. Statistically, those relations don’t transcend time, and she’s young. I wonder how my mother felt when I left on my own. And how her mother felt when she left the country with her 4 grandchildren never to see them again. So, there are many situations where estrangement occurs and it is heartbreaking. I hope you find new avenues for daily friendships.

  4. jspsj

    Hello everyone,
    I recently listened to the book which was helpful and I felt like I was beginning to heal after a year of no contact with my 42 year old son. Our problem started because I took him brownies for his birthday. No joke. He hates his birthday and refuses to celebrate so I was being ‘fun’ and thought a plate of brownies for the ’41st anniversary of our meeting’ would be okay. It was so not okay that he didn’t speak me to for over a year.
    This weekend there was a large family event and he and his wife showed up. He looked so handsome. I was very very nervous and very careful, but at first they walked right past me ignoring me. Later on, I tried to talk to him and he refused to make eye contact with me. I asked if it was okay to talk to him and he said ‘I need more time.’ So I said hello to his wife, told her she looked pretty and asked about the grandkids. I haven’t tried to contact the grandkids directly except the 20 year old. (And of course, it is okay to give the kids gifts for Christmas and birthdays as long as I don’t expect a thank you from anyone.) Later on, I was able to at least say to my son “I have apologized twice, I have asked what I can do to fix this, I don’t know what else to do?” He again said he needed time and space. I mentioned the kids and they both said ‘we have never withheld the kids from you’ so I asked ‘ how am I supposed to contact the children through you if you won’t respond to anything?’ No answer. I have never said or done anything to offend my DIL but she is 100% in the thick of everything.
    They left the event and I am going through the shock of everything all over again. I realized that I had begun to adjust to the ‘death’ of our relationship, then it was resurrected for a few hours and now it’s gone again. All over again, my heart is broken.
    I must mention I have five other children who are absolutely wonderful and with whom I have excellent relationships. They are very supportive and loving towards me, and I know how blessed I am. But, losing one is losing that one and the loss is unbearable. My daughters both believe he is narcissistic or possibly has Borderline Personality Disorder because of the way he hurts everyone around him.
    Thank you for listening. I do have a therapy appointment next week and am hoping to learn some skills to get through this. Right now, I am a weepy shaky mess. Part of me just wants to cut him out of my life completely so I don’t have to ever go through such heartache again while the other part of me yearns to be with my child again.

    Reply
    1. Alice

      Write him a note and say I will always love you because you are my son. However I will no longer tolerate how you disrespect me. Therefore I let you go and wish you well. My door will always be open, but you have to walk through it.
      Then let him go and ask God to heal your heart ache. Live your life and enjoy the children you do have in your life. Don’t ever talk about him again, especially with your other children. It only holds on to the negative energy. When you think of him be grateful for the 40 years you had him. Look forward and enjoy. Choose happiness. On the difficult days, know the Lord is by your side and you are loved.

    2. Noble in Nebraska

      Remember, his power is what he likes. There is no solution. He is narcissistic and his wife might be too. Their comments were gaslighting. I have the same problem. Same silly illogical complaint to cut me out. Same other offspring and grandchildren. Painful as it is, it is not my fault. It’s narcissism of my son and his wife. Having the capacity for such cruelty is so offensive to how I brought him up I can’t even begin to share. I now focus entirely on my other adult children and grandchildren and I leave it up to God to knock sense into those two narcissistic family members.

  5. Barbara U.

    I have lived many of these examples, so that would just be a repeat of what others are going through so I will not elaborate, what I will say is what type of person wouldn’t want someone to love ,teach, and give 100 percent of themselves to their children, like a grandparent would do, these are miserable, selfish adult kids taking things out on their parents, in most cases for their own poor decisions that they have made, I would be lying if I didn’t say how heartbreaking this truly is, but after awhile enough is enough my whole goal in life is to create happiness for myself and my husband ,I saw a saying once that said” If you can’t change something, change the way you think about it !! I live by this, the best I can, and pray for guidance in every other area of my life!! If our children come back in our lives, we will welcome it,but we will not waste our golden years paralyzed by depression over someone’s (our adult children) else’s unhappiness!!

    Reply
    1. SJc

      Reading this helped me for the moment . I am recently going through this and it consumes me 24/7. I’m doing alot of reading trying to understand how this happened. Thank you for your post.

  6. Lily R.

    My son is 20 and I had to kick him out because he was so disrespectful all the time. It killed me the 1st time but then the 2nd time it was not so bad. We were fine until Mother’s Day he decided to block me from his cell, not call me on Mother’s Day etc.

    I know he is always angry but I don’t understand how I gave him so much love and attention that he can just cut off himself from me completely. Yet his father treated him like garbage and I am the one paying the price?

    I hurt all the time but I know that I need to move on because my 26 yr old loves me and so does my stepson whom is going to be 12.

    Everyone is very shocked by his behaviour. I am just trying to move forward but it is so darn painful

    Reply
    1. Gail

      I feel your pain. I have two sons that are in the early 30’s and both of them don’t seem to care about me at all. The oldest rejects me and wants no relationship with me ever . I try to love him and tell him so but he seems to push me away and has all kinds of excuses for it. he cuts me off when I even try to talk to him about or reason with him. He recently contacted me only to ask if I could give him back a gift he bought me . He wants it for his collection. He clearly told me after that he still wants nothing to do with me. He signed his email to be ” regards” and his name. I cried all day and suffered deep depression.
      I then tried to call my youngest son and hopefully take my mind off of today and what hurt my oldest inflicted with with. He was also nasty to me and behaved arrogant and rude to me. He has issues with being manipulative at time and selfish. my councillor says he is a narcissist and I believe it is true. When his girlfriend dumped him he came to stay in my home and disrespected and treated me badly. I had to ask him to move out because it was destroying me. he then called the police on me and lied and made horrible things up about me and tried to destroy my reputation for asking him to leave. I am alone and have no other kids or family around and totally alone..well I have my little dog and he is family. I am deeply depressed and feel life is not worth living any longer. My whole life has been emotional pain and trauma. I am so disappointed I had children right now. I gave up my whole life for them, made sacrifices for them, put them first,I gave up my music dream for them and stopped playing guitar etc.., I gave up everything for them. I have nothing left and now I am much older 57 and exhausted with life .I think many kids these day are ungrateful and self centred. I know mine are. It hurts so much ! I am in a very dark play emotionally right now.

    2. Angela W.

      Of course it’s painful. It’s heartbreaking and unbelievably cruel. It’s okay to grieve. Put more thought into the others in your life. Focus on them. It is what it is.

  7. Lindsey

    Thank you for sharing. I have a similar experience. My adult son and daughter are reluctant to continue to have a relationship with me. We had a very loving and fun family until I left their father ( a good man) and re married. Although they attended my wedding, neither of them wanted to be there . My son, although functioning well as a teacher, has an alcohol problem and he uses it to get him through difficult situations. This makes him much more aggressive towards me and in the few occasions I have seen in over the past 10 years, he has been abusive towards me and shown no respect. He rarely, if ever, contacts me but will occasionally reply when I send him a message to ask him how he is doing. More often than not, he reads the opposite into my messages and replies with a hurtful response. My daughter has had her first baby this year. Again, she and I had the best relationship growing up but recently she sent me a letter with a list of things she expects me to apologise for throughout her life. The letter is full of hatred, bitterness and resentment and it breaks my heart, I spend most days now wondering how I went wrong. My heart races with anxiety at many points in the day and I don’t know where to go next. We live in different countries so its impossible to be physically near them.

    Reply
    1. Gail

      Replies with hurtful responses ? That sounds like my oldest son. I cannot even stand up for myself when he is mean to me or he just responds even more hurtful to me. If I write him a thoughtful letter and try to be respectful in it to speak up for myself he misreads it and attacks me again only worse. It is unbearable to read the letters he writes me.

  8. Susan C

    My 38 yr old daughter has been on and off with me since l divorced her father. Her father died 11 years ago, a day after her 1st baby was born. Herself and my 40 yr old son have never been the same. I have remarried but they don’t consider my husband as Dad. I have 3 grand children, all boys. Two of the boys are my daughters and one is my sons 3 yr old who we have once a week. She divorced her narcisitic husband 3 years ago, she wanted us back in her life to help her. So we did, financially and looking after the boys, then she met another guy, same thing didn’t want us anymore. 3 years on, she lives not far from us. I have been to psychologists, to help me get through the worst of this. Of course there is much more l could write, but the truth is l don’t have any trust in her and her behaviour, she has hurt myself and my husband. And it’s beyond belief that l had a daughter so so cruel. I am not sending anymore presents or cards to the grand kids as she either doesn’t let them respond or they don’t want to respond. It’s damn hard, but after losing my dad, mum and brother who l miss so much, she doesn’t derserve who l am, nor does she derserve the wonderful enrichment we could have continued as grandparents to her children.

    Reply
    1. KRJ

      Susan, I wonder the same thing. My son is 35 with 3 kids and fourth on the way. My daughter is 31 with two girls. I have been called the worse grandmother 4 times in the last month because I refused to keep them on the weekend for her to run up and down the road. My son is a gamer. I feel sorry for their kids. They live in filth and it breaks my heart. But Mother’s Day was the last straw. No call, text, or nothing and then lied. I am tired of all the use and abuse.

  9. Chris

    I communicated to my youngest daughter that i hurt for my mom because daughter didn’t call her for Easter, or call me for that matter. I never got to wish my granddaughter a happy Easter. Pandora’s box exploded, her live in boyfriend even called, and from the things he said I can hear what she’s been saying to him all along such as she never had a good relationship with me, she’d like to call her step dad without having to talk to me, etc. My entire family sees my side, and S. spoke to her but she always dangles my granddaughter over everyone’s head, so they are all wary of saying something, although two of them did which is why I suspect Pandora’s box exploded. I apologized for upsetting and hurting her to keep the peace, but I’ve been down this road, it’s be years before we’re ok again. I can’t take the subsequent anxiety and deep sadness anymore. I’m so sick of this.

    Reply
  10. Cathy

    I used to have a close relationship with our daughter. Until she got married and moved to another state and now lives next to her in-laws. Her husband is very close to his mother. It’s to the point where he will follow his parents’ wishes over our daughter’s. (There really is something to be said about the point “a man leaving his parents and cleaving to his wife”.) His mother commented to me, after our first grandchild was born, “I’m so blessed that all of my grandchildren live close by.” Well, just drive a dagger into my heart. We went camping with them (a HUGE mistake) and the entire week, my son-in-law and his mother were asking our grandson which grandma he wanted to give him a snack, a bath, etc. I finally said, ” well, that’s a loaded question…” Naturally he’d pick the grandma who lives next door! Our daughter just blew it off and said, “well, don’t come next time. ” She’s been brainwashed. The other grandparents have a key to their house, and just let themselves in whenever they want to drop in. The other grandma will give out suckers any time of the day, but when I hid plastic Easter eggs with mini candy bars inside, I got into trouble because they “don’t want him to have sweets. On and on. Our daughter is the main breadwinner; he works part-time. I feel like I am no longer wanted or needed in our daughter’s life. 🙁 This is the result of an Internet dating site.

    Reply
  11. byhislove

    It just makes my heart ache when I read the responses to this article. One of my adult children has not ‘walked away’ the one with my only grandchildren, but for years only called when she needed a babysitter. It would be the only time I could see my grandkids, and of course my daughter was nice before, but when I was done watching them, she just turns so cold. I don’t want to get into her coldness, but just that hurts deeply. I don’t know what I would do if any of them just cut me off and ‘blocked’ me. wow. It is so disrespectful and unloving. The problem is in this article, yes it is important to take care of ourselves, and we always have. It is the broken and hurt heart that is difficult to deal with and…I am tired of going to the beach, hiking, etc…alone. I’m tired of hearing other grandmothers/moms mumble how their daughter called them to meet up for coffee, or invited them to go to Disneyland…that is how I wanted things to be. I can’t understand why it is not, and what happened? I’ve asked, she said that everything is fine but actions are so very different than words. Anyways. We must hang in there and do the best with what we have.

    Reply
    1. Mary K.

      I am living this same experience, and it HURTS! Every day I carry the deepest pain. I wish I understood how a daughter so cherished can have no interest in her family and can be so brainwashed by her husband’s family. It’s a daily struggle to not resent the people involved.

  12. Pixie

    I have read so much about how adult children suffer at the hands of parents and yet very little information about parents who suffer for no good enough reason from lack of care from their adult children. I was involved and interested in all my children as they grew and was always there, always loving and going that extra mile. I am no saint, however I always tried my best with genuine consideration for the needs of my children. I had and continue to have, a close relationship with my now elderly Mum and have spent much fun time with her throughout my life and my own children have seen this loving connection. And yet all my adult daughters drift further and further away from their connection with me as their Mum. There is rarely a phone call, sometimes birthdays are remembered by some of them, often it may be months later or sometimes not at all, same for Mother’s Day. There is rarely an invitation to meet up and do something together and after so many years of this I have now ceased making all those attempts over and over after continual refusals and lack of interest. There is however still the expectation from every one of them that I jump to attention with understanding when they require assistance of any sort. There is simply no interest in my life or my well-being or my person from them – I do not think they actually wish me any ill, at least I hope not, however they are just not interested nor care enough to be interested. I have spent many a day thinking and hurting about this situation and have come to the decision that one must step away from their adult children, not in the hope that they may change their attitude, but in the hope that one can stop and hopefully neutralize or dumb done the hurt from such lack of care. I have no answers for anyone who has posted here who is suffering, as I have no answers. I do very much believe now, that given my time over, I would pursue a career whether paid or volunteer and not have children as the sense of abandonment one feels from your adult children who do little to show any kind of care is too heartbreaking.

    Reply
    1. Denise

      This resonates with me, my children are 25/29 and it’s a struggle. I try so hard to be part of their lives with call or texts and they have better lives with their partners family than their own. Just today I was told oh we’re not going to be around for Easter we are spending with the partners family in a voice that makes me sad. My girls are good people but I feel that we as parents are just embarrassing not worth the time. I just don’t have enough words to express or explain how my children make me feel. I’ve done so much for them but don’t want much from them except to be treated with patients, kindness and respect. I would really love some advice good or bad

    2. Pixierose

      When I read this it was if I wrote my own story. I understand and feel the pain you feel. I believe society and the meaning of family has changed so much because of social media. Relationships are now fed by a keyboard and screen. Whereas when I was growing up the circle was smaller communication was family and friends face to face and real. If the answer our children seek is not want they want to hear it’s easy to find an answer they like from thousands and that feeds their thoughts and makes it all acceptable. Clearly the majority no longer think for themselves. It’s a go with the flow society.

  13. Joe

    I have to say, that I feel better already finding this supportive community. I am a father of two. I left their mother for reason I will not go into. My eldest and I have a good relationship that includes open communication, honesty, forgiveness and acceptance. My x spouse started trash talking me early on in the divorce (I have people who have reported this to me), and had negatively effected my relationship with my youngest. He was too young to see through some lies she was telling him. Let me be clear, I am no angle and made my mistakes as well. Bottom line, my x spouse put herself before my youngest son, and trashed their father, which in turn wedged distance between us. I asked her to go to post divorce counselling, to co parent, to hold a united front and parent our kids as co parents. She gas lighted this. I have never trashed talked their mother to them.
    My youngest became distant, and refused to stay with me, only coming over for the odd supper. He told me flat out, “I won’t with you dad.”
    After my eldest became an adult (and moved out), combined with my youngest Son’s distances, and for other reasons, I chose to move to another City, which as compounded the situation. Before I decided to move, I explained how I was feeling, and my current situation, and new opportunities in another City. They both supported me with moving. We talked about what we could do to stay in contact, and I have done my best to be connected with them (letters, text, phone calls, sending care packages, leaving the messages, and travelling to see them Once per month for 3-5 days at a time.
    Over the last 4 years since I moved, there has been some challenges, and I have stuck to my word of staying in contact through various means. I have apologized to both kids for my mistakes, and how my choice to move may have negatively effected them. My eldest has been open, forgiving, and has actually apologized for moments he treated me unkindly. I realize how my choice to move has compounded the situation, but I am at a point of needing to stop beat myself up. The constant guilt is overwhelming. I do my best to practice acceptance, and self forgiveness.
    This leads me to my current situation. I was visiting the boys a month ago, and my youngest told me he considers me his dad, but not his parent. I accepted this, and thanked him for being honest. He also told me the past is the past, and not to bring it up with him. I talked to him about forgiveness, and he stopped me, saying the past is the past. I believe he is harboring anger and unforgiveness.
    Later that night, I was joking around with him stepping in front of the tv while he was playing a video game. He lashed out at me, telling me to F Off. I asked him to stop, and I didn’t appreciate this. He continued to say F Off, and he has the right to say this, and he won’t stop. I got space, and did not push the subject.
    Upon returning home, I texted him to say that I did not like how he talked to me, and that there was other ways he can communicate his frustrations. He got defensive, rationalized, blamed it on me, and stated that it is his right. after a little back an forth, I told him I love him, and that I will never be ok, or accept him telling me to F off. I suggested we re group later after he had some time to process. This has been two weeks. Despite my reaching out to him, I have not received a response. I told him that I was sad that he has not contacted me, and told him it was natural for disagreements, and differences in opinions. I asked if we could move forward with me in this. I am afraid he is going to cut me out of his life. He has always been distant emotionally, responding to some texts and phone calls while just ignoring others. I am ready to drop my expectations, stop pursing him give him the space he may need, and this scares me.

    Reply
  14. m

    My estrangement stems from my meal health issues, however, sadly, knowing where it comes from seems to make it much more frustrating since I had very little control over it. nevertheless, I have spent 4 YEARS creating a new life and new compassion for myself with yoga and meditation. interestingly, this transformation has had almost no effect on the estrangement, and has in fact exacerbated it. I am at a loss, but my sense is they are also frustrated at my new found mindful healthy self, wishing I was functioning in this way during their childhoods. We just don’t seem to have much in common anymore or even like each other at all. I have recently been invited by them to family therapy, but at this point I am wondering how this will resolve this simple fact? At this point, I feel through the years, we have just grown vastly apart from an already toxic dynamic and I’m not willing to recreate it for their sakes or the sake of some arbitrary social construct to appease instagram. thoughts?

    Reply
    1. candleinthewind

      You’ve worked hard at creating a new life for yourself, well done you, and I would think carefully about unsettling that for what could turn into a family showdown rather than a useful conversation. Do our children become somewhat peeved when we find a new contentment? I think we go too far in trying to appease them. Sounds like you’re on a winning wicket – keep on track.

    2. Julia

      I think I’d go if you’re invited to family therapy as this may be your estranged relatives reaching out themselves to try to fix things. If it’s well managed it might give you an opportunity to give your side of things.

    3. Angela W.

      I wouldn’t go. Nothing good will come out of it for you. I think a lot of 20, 30 and even 40 year olds like to bash their parents. just stay quiet.. enjoy your peace.

  15. Vickie B.

    I have been estranged from my son for over twenty years. I made many attempts to see/talk to him, all rebuffed. Last year a relative impulsively googled his name and his obituary came up. He had died before his fortieth birthday leaving a wife and daughter. We all were in shock about the death and having a d-I-l and a granddaughter. They never called any of the family to tell them he died. It’s been over a year more and I can’t seem to realize he’s dead not estranged. The chance for any contact is gone now. The chances for contact with his wife and daughter aren’t promising.

    Reply
    1. Lisa

      I am so so sorry for your loss. It’s a horrible and painful experience to lose a child .. in a sense, twice. I have thought many times about this happening to me too. It easily could .. you are a brave and loving person and I hope you know that

    2. Chris

      I am really sorry for your loss. Both the loss that came before and the loss after discovering that your son passed. I’ve experienced estrangement from my son for 15 years now and I can imagine this very scenerio .. it is something I’ve feared. My sisterinlaw who lost her son in his 30s to a sudden medical emergency — I see what she goes thru and I honestly hear some of the same things and see her process the loss in a similar way as I have the total “cutoff” I’ve experienced. I know it’s not really the same as a final knowing that there is no chance for contact. But, the grief has to be similar. My heart goes out to you and to all of us who have experienced estrangement.

    3. Gigi

      I am sooo sorry, words cannot express..somehow try and forgive yourself..I can see it is difficult.

      I am afraid of that, have not had a relationship with my son for 7 years due to my separation from their dad and his girlfriend has been rude to me Sso to keep the peace he stopped coming around.

      He is a Fireman in georgis and I am so afraid of something like this happening and I will not know and we have not come together..I just dnt know what to do…..I pray…but I love him so much, he Is my only son.

      So God bless you and being a mom..I am sooo sorry

  16. Melinda

    I am new to the community I am so glad I found the support group I have cried buckets and buckets of tears asking why are they treating me with such hatred my adult children I live in a retirement community because of health problems and 64 I have auto immune hepatitis now I have not heard from any of my family or my adult children since last November 2019 I stopped asking why are they treating me this way and decided to work on myself for personal growth and empowerment I blocked all calls change my phone number they probably haven’t called me anyway I felt like empty soul I do a lot of journal writing read a lot read the Bible because he’s the only want to listen to me and finally got myself up And decided to do kind things for my senior neighbors are taking the pretty flowers to him an inspiration card just sitting with my granddaughter is 18 and I have a grandson at five and I decided that there’s a Lotta 18-year-olds that would love to have a mama and five-year-olds that would love a mammal I give my love and kindness and empathy to other people I knew that no matter if I said a pretty card close presents for Christmas birthday graduation it wouldn’t matter one way or not they just don’t want to be a part of my life I quit looking at the front door to see if I would have a visitor from my family or a card or letter or a call I was delusional that they could have any empathy I have to except the flow of life I’m still Working on not let them have rent free space in my head it’s hard I just take every day and do something for myself to better me or help someone else it really does help I also am working on my emotions and trying to stay with them to figure this all out or maybe I won’t be able to figure it out My heart breaks for everyone of you the torture and trauma that you go through your adult children are strangers thanks for listening blessings to all

    Reply
  17. Nickole

    I literally have NO idea why my 19 year old daughter refuses a relationship with me. This is the most excruciating thing that I have ever been through. All growing up, she would barely let me out of her sight and wanted to be with me all of the time. When she went to college, she became depressed, cut herself and met a friend, a girl about 9 years older that is a bad influence while claiming to be a Christian.

    Honestly, after replaying ever moment of her life over and over, searching foe what I did wrong, I believe that she cannot have a relationship with me right now because she is doing something so horrible that she couldn’t bear me knowing/commenting. I don’t know.

    My husband is verbally abusive to me, specifically when she was 15 to 17. Maybe this plays in. Maybe she thinks I’m pathetic or not worthy of respect. Maybe she’s mad at me for staying. I don’t know. My husband is getting counseling and I am also.

    I just want to know if this is ever gonna end? Will she ever come back and resume a relationship with me?

    Reply
    1. Nickole

      Btw, she has a closer relationship with her dad now than she ever has. At the same time, he has little to no more information about her than I do.

  18. Mary H

    It’s comforting to hear others experiences. I never thought this would happen to me. I have a daughter and 4yo granddaughter who lived with me and her stepdad for 8 months. In February 2020 I asked her to move out so we could sell our house, as we had to reduce some stress because my health was declining. We were having financial issues and the house was way too big and expensive. Plus I just never got a break and I require time alone to rejuvenate. I was watching my granddaughter every weekend. I love her but I was just exhausted. She was back on her feet with lots of money saved and had a job, and was not respectful of my home. She started to turn on me then. I could feel it. She was turning my other three kids against me. I could feel that too. COVID hit and she didn’t manage being alone with a 3 year old alone and over time she just talked to us less and less. Her anger about moving out was evident and COVID was just the icing on the cake along with her job loss. I tried to talk to her but the anger was just too much to cut through. She moved away in June and then when her boyfriend broke up with her in September she told me I was the reason she could not have a healthy relationship and she wanted nothing to do with our family, blocked me. Haven’t talked to her since, I’m heart broken. I missed a 4th birthday and all the holidays. Not a word from her. Heart sick!

    Reply
  19. Kathleen B.

    I am a single older parent king through this. It’s especially difficult going through this estrangement. I think it should be called strangement and just leave off the e. Ha! I do two things. Try to keep my sense of humor about the ridiculous nature of this whole thing, and realize I’m only responsible for my behavior and I’m not going to reflect their lack of care. I try to rise above their behavior and don’t turn myself into a pretzel trying to figure it out. One day at a time is my mantra and I try to put as much joy and laughter into it that I can.

    Reply
    1. Richard F.

      My Eldest son hasn’t spoke to me for over 4 years, and I’ve since found out I’m a granddad. It all started when he met a religious girl and said he had to marry because of her religion, and I didn’t agree that was the right path. He has since got married and had a child, and ignores all my texts, In 4 years I haven’t had a reply and It cuts me to the core. I love and miss him more than words can say, but I doubt I will ever see him again. I read this article to try and help with my pain, which it has slightly and helped me realise, there is nothing I can do or say that will change this, to the point I have had to mourn him in a way. His brothers miss him very much as well, and even if he spoke to them it would be better. Out of desperation I drove to the In -laws house for the first time to drop off a card, and i was not welcome at all, and for the first time ever speaking to them, I now understand why my son changed the way he did. Religion for me, most believers are the most hypocritical, I thought god taught forgiveness and love, not the case for most religious people I’ve met, unless your a part of their club they don’t want to know you.
      apologies for the negativity, its just hard not to see my son or even speak to him, when he was my shadow for years, now he is a stranger

    2. Sunnyside2019

      Kathleen: That is a good outlook. My estranged daughter started all of this estrangement over some ridiculous reason too. She was never abused or mistreated. Sometimes I think these adult children enjoy hurting their parents because their lives are in such chaos and they take it out on the ones who are closest to them. Thank God for my two other grown children and grandchildren.

  20. Christina W.

    I have read this newsletter since I bought the book and it has helped me a lot with my daughter and our previous estrangement. The reason being that I supported my Grandson ( who she also has a strained relationship with) and not her during an incident in which she was wrong-her language to me was one I could not repeat but I wrote her a letter and said how dissappointed I was and couldnt understand where it all came from. I have to say I was a mess for months but I did go to counselling and this helped me a lot. What I got out of counselling is that this is my life not my daughters and even though I love her and miss her being around me I do communicate-mainly by text. I keep the door open-so to say.
    I continually look at our relationship and now I just get on with or try to! This Christmas day she has not mentioned who she is sharing it with but as we have her brother coming she wont come here as she is at odds with him to. I often wonder where it all went wrong as we were loving and close family for years, of course it upsets me. I love her and am proud of her but it just does not work anymore. I got so sick that my husband called her and said it had to stop, she apologised for the outburst and the names she called me. My husband just does not care like I do and he just ignores everything so sorry for prattling on but this has mad me feel so much better I am wishing you all a safe and healthy Christmas and roll on 2021!

    Reply
    1. Poppy

      I do feel your pain and have the same problem but now all 3 plus grandkids are estranged due to their poised behavior.

      15 and 20 years plus 12 months and 3 months. Now all in the same. Luv without their awesome dad and beautiful me .
      I cry everyday but am aware of my mistakes loving and helping them too much but I cannot change them and have now moved do they cannot hurt me anymore.
      My husband is like yours more detached but this year coming I pray for strength and feel sorry for them they are so missing out on sharing a fabulous life with their dad and me plus my grandkids have been punished due to their decision . Presents and cards for 16 yes it’s time to stop ! They have caused enough pain ..

  21. Therese H.

    I pray for all of your “situations”. It can be so heartbreaking. Although my situation may be a little different, it hurts just the same. I have also read Sheri’s “Done with the Crying” and it was helpful. I must say though, having an estranged child still hurts. It has been 3 years since I have seen my daughter and my two grandaughters, now 6 and 8. She has cut all her siblings out too except for her “birth brother ” and his family. I adopted my husbands two children from his first marriage (birth moms rights…. husbands first wife…were terminated due to drug addiction and abandonment). My daughter was 6 years old and now she is 32 years old. She is my youngest and 6th child. She has reunited with her birthmother and states that I was a horrible mom to her. I wasn’t a horrible mom to her. I recognized as a young child she was severly emotionally impaired as I have worked with special needs children most of my life. I tried my best to get her the help she needed. She will “sort of” talk to her dad. I think this will be the last Christmas we will reach out to her. She doesnt respond and wont let us talk to our granddaughters. It is time for us to stop “hoping” and trying, and go with the flow. I just need to know… when it will stop hurting?

    Reply
  22. Leeann S.

    I have an adult son, 31 years old, who is estranged. I had a messy divorce, dad was a drug addict, and he turned my son against me. He won’t speak to me or tell me why. I want to know if he has children. I know I have no rights toward any grandchildren, but can I at least know? Can anyone give me any advice? I know the city he is in, and have bd and ss number.

    Reply
  23. Toni

    Yes , it is time. Last Christmas I sent gifts to 3 yo and 10 month old. Not this year. Won’t be hurt again.
    They don’t know me or who the gifts are from. They have the mother’s parents as grandparents so I am written out of that script. I will not waste the money or get my hopes up. If I send; I will hope for a response. Now, I don’t hope for anything. Just wishing life keeps going on and that Karma comes ’round!!

    Reply
    1. Gene

      Toni….I hear you loud and clear. Very similar circumstance for us. It’s been 5 years for our entire family. Out of the blue our son and DIL directed us that they wanted “no contact” from anyone. They even went so far as to block/remove all of us from FB….on Christmas morning, no less…presumably for maximum effect. Thus far all attempts at reestablishing communication have failed. Our DIL still has her father (who she reveres with a cultish devotion) and step-mother in the area who function in a limited degree as grandparents. We don’t bother anymore to send birthday and Christmas cards to the grandkids…I’m sure they all went straight into the trash bin anyway. What kind of a man allows his mother and grandmothers to suffer this degree of heartache and sadness without even providing a reason? We do pray that they all stay safe. When they’re older the grandchildren will look us up. It may be some years away yet but I plan on being here and that’ll be a glorious, beautiful day. Hang in there everyone.

    2. Pam Pam

      Hi Toni. Yes, I’ve found myself in the same boat. I send clothes for my grandkids but never see a lot of them on the kids. If I have a chance to ask my daughter about the clothes, I’m told “we didn’t like them”. We’ve given birthday presents to the 3 year old never to see him play with them. My daughter’s birthday is at the end of December. I always pick a lovely card to send so she knows I still love her in spite of all the ups and downs we’ve been thru. They go unacknowledged. This year, 2020, I’ve chosen not to send a birthday card. I haven’t received one from my daughter since 2016. If I do anything, I’ll send a text message at night, when the special day is almost over, and say just “Happy Birthday”. That’s what I get from her. I tell myself that’s not the way I should act but at this point, that’s what I feel I want to do. As for the holidays, my husband and I have bought and put up a beautiful new tree and put lights outside our house. The tree is truly beautiful and we like to turn off the house lights just so we can enjoy the tree ‘s lights. I always feel sadness creeping in around Christmas time but now I know I must move forward and self talk to say positive things to myself. I was told in 2016 when my first grandchild was born that the holidays were for immediate family only. Guess I was put in my place. My daughter truly doesn’t want me in her life. I deal with my hurt and sadness but I have to pick myself up and move on. I have read Sheri McGregor’s book and it has been a lot of help and support. I urge everyone suffering from a child’s estrangement to get this book. Thinking of everyone who finds themselves in such a situation as I, and wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. Let’s move forward together!

    3. Rita M.

      When your Grandchildren get older I just know that they are
      going to want to know you. That happened with my dear
      mother! When they are older write to them! God is with you
      Rita

  24. Leona P.

    My youngest , although they have opted out of face book …so ‘ve I posted this, I have gotten too posts one about alzheimers (I done have ) an one saying , so ethi g to the effect of blah, blah that you (mean I g me)did…etc…I deleted them both…ty, adult child , keeps putting words in my mouth zi haven’t done or daid…

    Reply
  25. mimi

    I have been seeing a man for two years. He is married and his wife has late stage alzheimers and has been in a home for 4 years not recognizing him or family members. We met theougha third person in pur area. My children whoare 37 and 41 are intolerant of our friendship and have taken my grandsons out of my life. I havent seen or talked to any of them for over a year. I am heartbroken but have been told bu othera to go on with life and be happy. I don’t know how long this will go on….maybe forever.

    Reply
    1. Don'thateyourself

      Hi Mimi

      I really don’t understand how your children can be so mean to cause you so much pain.

      Is it your new partner they don’t like more than the fact you are dating him?

      I am estranged from my son and granddaughter. The reason, his new girlfriend like the last one has serious mental health problems and used to insult me daily and make up lies. I was supposed to accept this with them living in my home. I handled it really badly. I ordered both of them out of my home.

      Why am I telling you this?

      I had to look really deeply at all aspects of what had happened. How, I should have handled it. How, I could have compromised and given consideration that despite the awful presence of this woman for me; for him she was the love of his life.

      What is done is done? You cannot turn the clocks back and neither can they. Understanding why it happened does not stop the pain, but it is essential for your sanity.

      Don’t give up hope, but don’t live solely for it, as well. I have known a close friend and her husband who cut off contact with his parents just as his parents were moving to their remote village to be closer to them.. The reason, a disagreement over the date of the wedding conflicting with the father of the groom’s farm schedule. For that, the poor man was estranged from his son,daughter-in-law and grand-children until he died. I never thought it would happen to me, yet it has happened too, A hard lesson to learn. We are not alone either.

      I, sincerely, hope your children and yourself are reunited now or will be in the future.

    2. maybebaby52

      you must be feeling awful, we have similar situation with our daughter and grandchildren. Do you know why your adult children don’t like this friendship you have?
      I just wonder why they have such a strong feeling about it to remove to you from their lives, seems a bit,,,,extreme?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *