When your adult children don’t like you, lean on the bear necessities

When your adult children don't like you

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

I’ve been thinking about bears lately. The massive “Caldor” fire took out much of a nearby town called Grizzly Flats. Acres and acres of forest burned, so the bears (and other wildlife) have been on the move.

Here in the foothills, sightings aren’t typically very common, but more bears are around right now. That means we’re alert when we tread the long path to the mailbox or let the dogs out after dark. We also put our garbage cans out in the morning rather than at night, and we keep pets and their food indoors. People aren’t encouraged to feed wild animals like they were when I was a kid. Back then, we drove through Yellowstone National Park and fed snacks through the car windows to wild bears who stood in the road waiting for treats.

In my neck of the woods these days, we’re striving to dissuade the bears dislocated by the fires, but knowing they’re here is exciting! Neighbors share Ring camera footage where bears step onto porches and amble up streets. They climb tall deer fencing like it’s nothing, and dogs that typically chase wildlife off their property only stare.

The other day while out hiking, I saw a bear in the wild—and it was smiling! You can see from the photo it was really just a tree stump, but I’ve had other sightings. In the shadows of twilight, even a boulder kind of looks like a bear . . .  .

Bears are fascinating and resilient creatures. So, it’s no wonder they symbolize power and courage in Native American spirituality. Ahem . . . bear with me now, as I share more about what these powerful beasts can teach us..

When your adult children don’t like you: Adapt

Bears are good at adapting. They’re omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and meat—and their diet changes based on what food is readily available. Bears don’t get stuck in emotional or behavioral ruts and they will travel long distances to survive.

Bears adapt to “social” change as well. At Grand Teton National Park, researchers have discovered that black bears alter their habits in areas where black bears and grizzly bears both reside. The black bears do more daytime foraging than ones who don’t live in grizzly territory. It’s a tactic to avoid the bigger, more aggressive grizzlies (smart move!).

When your adult children don’t like you, you can learn to think like a bear and adapt too. You can avoid their aggression by not answering the phone. Don’t acknowledge mean texts, have your email program place correspondence in a separate file automatically, or even set up a block. To protect yourself, adapt—physically and emotionally.

When your adult children don’t like you: Listen to your gut

Did you know that bears sometimes wake up to forage during hibernation periods?  I was surprised to learn that they will stir from winter sleep and venture out into the elements to get what they need for more long, cold days ahead. It’s not so different than Winnie the Pooh with his “rumbly” tummy. He never second guesses his needs. Neither does Paddington Bear, who loves his marmalade.

How can you “listen to your gut,” and support your well-being? Maybe a hibernation period helps. Or maybe you’ve been lying in bed, wallowing in sorrow for long enough?

Healing when your adult children don’t like you: A way to fight back

Bears have been known to fight back even when injured. For this reason, some Native American lore paints bears with the ability to heal their own wounds. They’re resilient.

Like the shy bears who try to avoid human-animal confrontations, parents of estranged adult children don’t go looking for a fight. A lot of us won’t fight back, physically or verbally, with adult children who attack us either. Whether or not we should, as well as how to defend ourselves is a topic for another day. Focusing on our own healing is a peaceful and productive way to fight back against the trauma and stress. In healing ourselves, we exhibit the strength and power of the bear.

As we support ourselves, we set a positive example, too. And we’re better equipped to offer an empathetic and helping hand (or paw!). In doing that, we help ourselves even more. By modeling recovery from such a deep wound as our own children’s rejection, we might even help a son or daughter to heal from trauma they might one day face. In that way, even from afar, we can be a momma or poppa bear to a wayward cub.

In what ways have you healed? How and to whom can you be a representation of power and strength? How can/does your own healing help those around you?

When your adult children don’t like you: Appreciate solitude

Bears spend a lot of time alone. Some bear legends depict characters who face trials and challenges underground, and then enjoy a triumphant return to the light of day. These may be representative of bears’ hibernation periods—from which they emerge  curious, hungry, and alive.

When you have alone time, make it productive. Use your cave time to reflect on ways that move you positively forward. Bears need alone time, and so might you. Cuddly and grumpy bears deserve love … and/or respect. Even self-love and self-respect.

How can you take time for yourself? What thoughts come to mind about this subject? What are some activities that nurture you, yet you’ve been putting off?

Bears sometimes break rules

To survive, bears will move into new areas. They’ll even eat out of trash cans or find pet food left outside to devour. They break the “rules” when they must. Maybe there’s a lesson in that.

When your adult children don’t like you, it’s common to start looking for the “right” thing to do. Parents want to fix the relationship and often follow all sorts of advice to try. * Don’t “guilt” your child. * Take the high road. * Don’t give up. It boils down to an endless stream:  Do this. Don’t do that. Advice is endless, and sometimes senseless for our own healing.

Is it time to channel your inner Yogi Bear? I don’t know if he was “smarter than the average bear” as he professed, but he did like to eat, laugh, and enjoy his life. Maybe like Yogi Bear, parents could stop following a bunch of rules, stop chasing adult children, and start pursuing the picnic basket of a full and well-enjoyed life.

When your adult children don’t like you: Shadow work and your inner bear

You’ve been through a trauma. With sporadic, unhealthy conflict that brings continued strife, you may still be in its claws. Do you smile and pretend everything’s okay? When your friends ask how Susie-Q-daughter is, do you grin and bear it, hiding the truth of your pain? Maybe you have always been the benevolent, long-suffering, quiet, and strong one in your family … so letting out a growl doesn’t come naturally or even seem “right.”

In psychology, there’s a practice called “shadow work,” which sometimes means exploring secrets and repressed horrors from the past, or even the darker nature of ourselves. However, shadow work isn’t always scary or traumatic. It can be about rediscovering bits of our nature, or the desires of our heart, which we’ve tamped down to fit social norms, culture, or how we were raised.

For instance, maybe you’ve spent most of your life in service to others. Yet, upon reflection, you realize you’ve always wanted to travel the world, join a theatrical troupe, or spend more time lazing around with a good book. These parts of yourself can be “shadows,” simply because you have denied them or hidden them away in the cave-like recesses of your mind.

You might not have followed these desires because you got the notion, somehow, that honoring your own needs was selfish. Or, you may have been busy raising a family, working, or in other ways serving others. Because of those important pursuits, you didn’t prioritize yourself.

Sometimes, what’s uncovered in shadow work finds beginnings in other people’s approval, which doesn’t necessarily mean assigning blame. Kids sometimes add more importance to something than parents (or teachers or coaches or . . .) intend to convey. So, while you might have been asked to “be still” in church (I was), you might have thought being still everywhere was right, and carried the behavior into other parts of your life. I’m offering these thoughts because shadow work is not about making other people wrong (even though you’ll find the topic presented that way at times). It’s about discovering your inner self.

Foraging ahead

When your adult children don’t like you, it’s beary sad. My books help you to look at the past, see what’s current, and make changes to support yourself and adapt going forward. This journey may have begun because of another person’s behavior, but as I say in Beyond Done, you must make the healing path forward about yourself.

Related Reading

Abandoned parents: Are you “chewing”?

Hurtful relationships with adult children: Have you lost yourself?

Just for fun, for toy bear and holiday lovers:

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57 thoughts on “When your adult children don’t like you, lean on the bear necessities

  1. Peki

    Hi My ES is 45 years old he has been married for 25 years. His wife has never liked me or my daughter. They have been estranged from us 20 of the 25 years they have been married. Those five years they would text but not visit . My son would only visit when my parents died. They never had children until this year, On Mother’s Day they came to see me first time ever, They disclosed she was going to have a baby in November, Thst wanted to be a family and wanted the baby to have grandparents. We were very excited but cautious. Things went fairly well and baby came early last of October. They came for Christmas but them got mad at my daughter for posting family photos on Facebook. They got mad at me because I refused to get involved with their fight with her and make her stop. Now they have said we cannot see the baby.

    1. DD

      Firstly Thank you Sheri for this site and also your books have read the first one and it was a great it helped a great deal. I’ve experienced estrangement on and off from my daughter for Many years this time it feels it is permanent . She was a young Mother and her partner and her had many ups and downs baby came premi and we helped all the time because they were young they were still partying so Grandson was always with us on the weekends so we doted on him then they had another gorgeous boy who we helped with as they worked and studied then they got married we paid for the whole wedding we needed a good celebration they were good times however daughter was always cruel saying they are going to move away and away is a 12 hour drive away , I live in Australia big county .
      well one day they definitely moved of course because of the distance we knew we wouldn’t see the boys as much . but sucked it up and hoped for the best for all of them . Fast forward 12 years in that time they had a surprise baby who is nearly five with moderate needs who we have on occasion been involved with too .just close to year ago we had a falling out with also involved her older sister and Husband and me which resulted in her not speaking to the three of us ,the main reason for the falling out was she started directing cruel accusations to them , she has always been jealous and been cruel with words calling me the lowest of the low and she moved away because of me and my younger daughter wants to move away too because of me[ I have three daughters ] which isn’t true,
      My believe is my daughter thought she could get away by being cruel to me because she had the Upper hand having the first Grandchildren , but since my others girls have had children she lost control of that and wanted to create other problems in the family , I truly believe she does have a personality disorder and a cruel streak my husband says she is mentally ill. I do have support of my Husband especially since she sent a message to him saying she really didn’t want me near her Children and it would be a privilege for me to see them ,that hurt a great deal ., the two older boys are teens and respond to texts and message us well so grateful for that they say they love us which is a blessing but I make sure I say nothing about their Mother because I don’t want to involve them . As for the younger Grandson breaks my heart because feel we possible might not see him for a long time.
      Just letting you know I feel your pain and knowing you have a child let alone a couple not liking you is heart wrenching and soul destroying, what I’m trying to do now is stay present and living in the moment for my other family members which can be a challange .

  2. Patty S.

    Thank you so much for sharing information. While I was reading the bear story, I was thinking, my mind tells me what I should do, but my heart tells me different. As time goes on it’s easier but harder at the same time. Knowing those months or years or days can never bring back. Such a waste. However, I know I need to make me happy first! I’m a work in process, keep the information coming!!!

  3. Linda G

    Back in ’17 when my 2 made the unexpected and abrupt  cut in relationship with me, I was watching ospreys online checking in on a daily basis on a webcam by the Audubon Society.  What I noticed about the ospreys is how they so intensely take care of the eggs, hatched young and will fight to their death  protecting them.  Of the pair caring for the nest, one will stay behind when it is time to make the journey south until all of the young are up and flying, able to take care of themselves and begin the journey south. That will be the last time the parent birds see their young although the parents most likely will meet up in the Spring to begin the cycle again.I cried for 3 years after my 2 made the cut as there was no warning, no reason and I was a good mom, a story very common on these sites.  To get over it, I packed up all the photos, saved childhood memories such as report cards, things made in school and  mailed it to them, each would receive a box weighing 35lbs.  I threw away all ‘stuff’ around the house reminding me of them such as coffee cups, any object I had received as a gift.  To alleviate any worries I would have, I subscribed to a public record site to watch their financial records, place of address.  Just before the estrangement, my narc mother interfered with my travel plans, a traditional 4 hr. train trip, my 2 getting their own hotel room/meals shared with significant others, I made visiting her.  My mother convinced  my 2 could visit without me and behind my back made those plans.  Did my 2 think there were sides to be taken and took her side?  At that time my dad was on the decline, would not be around much longer and upon his death my narc mom made it clear she was only in a relationship with me because of my dad.  Yes, she is my bio mom and it shows what a narc she is.  My sister has a codependent relationship with my mother being she supplies this narc feeding her grandiose and engaging, finding delight  in meddlesome  schemes.  My mother is well off and I suspect part of this is about money.  An outsider looking at this would think there has to be something wrong with me, as after all all family members have estranged themself.  Besides the fact I am vision impaired due to macular degeneration, do not drive but remain independent never asking for a ride or help, I have an excellent credit history, no criminal, drug, alcohol, mental health problems and during school and work years rated high in likeability.     I am beginning year 6 with the estrangement from all and the healing did not start until I gave up all hope, realized they do not love, like or even want to be around me.  The factI have no ties with other relatives, anyone in communication with my 2 has made this easier. For the most part, I have found much peace with solitude, but at times question would I be reduced to a heap of sobs if by chance I accidently ran into them?  

    1. Jami

      Hi Linda. Yeah, my mom is one too. And she’s my bio mom, as well. Hard to accept with the way we love our children as to why we weren’t loved the same. It’s taken me a lifetime to get over the need for validation from my mom but I finally did it. Only for a short time to pass & then my son exited my life. I too am estranged from All of my family except my 16 year old son. But his Narc father is relentlessly working on turning him against me. I am literally to the point of just not caring anymore. And I know that money has much to do with it as my ex is loaded and took all the money, houses and cars during our divorce lying and hiding assets. But I am always holding onto God’s promises from the Holy Book. There are so many in Psalms & His word that ‘HE’ repays evil. Read Psalm 27. Very comforting. Prayers & Love I send to you

    2. Lydia

      Hi Linda, I’m Lydia. I see this is a rather old post but I really relate to your experience on almost all levels, only my Mo. Was great and has passed sense but I have a NARC oldest daughter, she is 1 of 4 severely disliking me. As with you, it appears I’m the problem. After all, they are the majority. Currently, I’m kinda at the point u mentioned of giving up all hope, or as I prefer to say, accepting they really, truly want nothing to do with me. Been hard to accept & even fathom. Feeling “beary” sad over this lately. Have no other family or friends nearby for support and I fear I too may be in danger of being reduced to a heap of sobs if I was to run into any of them, or more likely I would wait till I get home to meltdown/breakdown taking days to recover. Thank you for sharing a most personal, painful part of your journey : ) here’s to our speedy healing.

      1. Therese B.

        Lydia; I’m 78 and your reply helped me so much. I have 2 sons that show their love. I have 2 daughters that don’t seem to like me We just had Mothers Day and I usually don’t hear from one and my youngest hasn’t bothered with me in8 or 9 years. It still hurts. Seeing your reply gave me hope and showed me I’m not alone. Thank you .

  4. Donna M

    Thanks so much for all that you do during the year to help US adjust to the fact that we have a child that doesn’t love/like us. It’s so hard when my friends ask about my kids are doing. But, They know not to ask about my daughter… love the post on the “bear’s and what they do” Hope your holidays were good and that 2022 will be healthy and happy for all who have a child they can’t hug.

  5. Jami

    Liana, thank you for your response & encouraging words. I wonder if you find it as astonishing as myself, that not only is there an epidemic in our world today of our children abandoning us but also of Narcissistic Abuse. And if you’re anything like me ( and I’m thinking very much so) you have studied the ‘ins and outs’ of NPD and all the tools they use which include Parental Alienation. My thoughts on this … we are at the end. And I do mean the end of the world! A time where God is separating the wheat from the tares. And even though it’s hard to imagine our own children as the tares- here’s what I know for sure; before I knew about NPD and Narcissistic Abuse, I was also fooled by my Narc. I was trauma bonded & had Stockholm syndrome. Along with CPTSD & many other ailments that all survivors have at the end of the relationship with their abuser. All that being said, I believe too, that God is working on our children just like He did us when we were with the Narc. He used what the devil meant to harm me to work out for my good. Just like you! I have never been this close to Him in my life. And I am hopeful that this will be the very thing He uses to bring our children back to us. And even though being in Gods waiting room is tough, we remain prayerful and have faith that He knows what’s best for us, and our children. After they have experienced enough of the fake love, drama, trauma and financial abuse (trust me they will experience all these things just not at the same level as the intimate partner) they are getting over there, and are able to fall flat one their faces, then finally take a step back and have the eyes to see where the real love for them came from- and last & most importantly, when God brings them to the point of needing Him! And I do believe that is what God is doing. I, like yourself have been able to let go like I never imagined I could. When the devil tries to come at me pointing out my mistakes I may have made along the way- I immediately rebuke it in Jesus’ name & cancel any accusing words from the enemy. I am keeping you and everyone here in my daily prayers. Remembering always that ‘His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways’ ! He’s bigger. And He’s in control. Let’s trust together and keep lifting one another up in prayer! Many blessings & much love to you, Liana & all subscribers to this amazing platform ✝️

  6. mary anne

    Hello Everyone
    Wishing you all a release from the pain>>> I just now experienced an estrangement from my daughter.I do feel it was totally my fault..Don’t know what to do next. Hoping and praying that shewill be o.k. and happy in her life.
    Mary Anne
    P.A. The tears, the anger, the rationalizations…I see that from all your comments that it may never stop

  7. Jami

    “But those who wait on the Lord
    Shall renew their strength
    They shall mount up with wings like eagles
    They shall run and not be weary
    They shall walk and not faint”

    Isaiah 40:31

    I am going through all this right along with you all. Yes, it is the most painful thing in life. To give all you have to your children and then be treated as if you never meant anything to them is mind-boggling. My 32 year old and his wife and my 5 year old granddaughter made Christmas plans with me this year for the first time in years. I was so excited ! Went out and bought them a bunch of gifts and made my house spotless for their arrival. Less than 24 hrs of our gathering my D-I-L called and said my granddaughter was running a fever and they didn’t want to get anyone sick. 24 hrs later my 16 year old son asked me to drop his basketball stuff off at his dads house. When I arrived both of my children were there with my granddaughter, celebrating Christmas with my ex malignant narcissistic husband. Yes, it hurt. But I can tell you with every year that passes, the less tears that I cry. I never thought I would just give up on my children but I can tell you that I am really close. I refuse to allow myself to be hurt anymore by them. I raised both of these boys without their fathers help. One helped financially but that was all! Trust God. Lean on Him and not your own understanding. He promises to direct our paths if we do so. My heart bleeds for all of you and my sincere prayers are with you. Let’s heal together. Thank you for this platform to share and grow together, in Christ ✝️

    1. Liana

      Jami- your story resonated with me. It’s been 3 years since I’ve positively connected with my two sons. I too have chosen to free myself from a narcissistic husband, their father, and my two sons haven’t “ loved me since” nor D-I-L. He’s a hero. My youngest , my daughter, has chosen to live with me for the last year half. Initially, she too lived with her dad. The heart bleeds. There’s an emptiness but over the years I’ve noticed that my sons “are choosing” to avoid me or call to judge me- ridicule me etc. Here’s the clincher, I’ve now chosen to “allow them to”!!!! I don’t chase them- I don’t about them, frankly – if I hear their names- I nod and say, “that’s nice”. I’ve now chosen to allow God to handle them. My faith has never been stronger. I cannot fix their problems. I can only be responsible for my own. God knows my intentions. I owe my adult children nothing. I’ve done the apologizing – asking – listening …. I am
      choosing to move forward and be happy with happy people- whomever they are. People who do not harbor bitterness. I pray and have hope that IF God wills it, they will return to me. I had a wonderful Christmas for the first time. I loved and enjoyed whom I was with who happened to choose to live me back. I expressed to both my sons , my door and heart are always open for love- compassion and positivity, the rest will not be allowed. So, until they are ready and I do believe it’s when they truly allow God to enter their hearts and minds, that will happen . Until then- it simply will not. I love and pray for them from afar and I remain hopeful. Keep moving forward and do not look back. Great advice someone told me. It helps. Trust me- you’re not alone- never – God always with you-

    2. Julie B.

      My Heart breaks for you. My daughter from Marriage number 1 has always manipulated her way through life. We come in and out of estrangement. I wasn’t allowed to see or have any contact woth my young grandchildren for 5 years and my 3 children from my 2nd marriage missed out there too. But since they are adults shes been contacting them on a regular basis. She came for Christmas with her family last week for the first time in 20 years. Started off well but as the week progressed she got cruelest and ruder only to me. Finally we had a confrontation and she walked out and has cut me off again from my grand children but she’s going to move to where my son lives. Thats the son from my 2nd marriage. So she’s turning my children against me. I’ve decided Im worth more than the hate she bestows on me but it’s so sad shes using her children and my children to hurt me. I can only pray that God will make all of this right one day. Bleed you and stay strong.

      1. Faith

        I have a daughter that does this too! Very sad. I could go into detail but, I’m tired of telling it. I’m so utterly exhausted from these adult kids not getting their way and so they think they can talk to us the way they want, like we are beneath them. They demand respect immediately without earning as we did. Now all of a sudden we are to submit to their demands because they claim we were bad parents!? All I know is, this can become a vicious cycle and let’s just hope and pray that the same mouth that but us… bites them too! (Meaning their children do it to them!) And when that happens, my grand children are more than welcome! Mad? Yes… you betcha! I didn’t give up my life to be the best stay at home mom and nurse them for 6 months, get them ready for church every Sunday, me bring the last. Breakfasts, lunch, dinner. Bed time prayers. Up with sick babies, exhausted from no sleep, sitting in school pick up& drop off lines. Making sure they prayed for a good day every day in line for school. Being there for them for dance and tap and lyrical and doing everything they loved. I was exhausted and didn’t want to be married anymore, he literally didn’t do what I did, he’d go on trips and here I stayed with the kids, so we divorced and he turned into super dad. Ya, that’s what I needed. They (twins) turned 18 leave me for their narcissistic father who gave them whatever they wanted after the divorce. He did this same thing to his ex wife before me and the daughter from that marriage doesn’t speak to her mother either, go figure. And now they run the house while he lives with his gf in a different city!
        And all of a sudden I’m the bad parent? Karma kids…. Karma!

  8. Jennifer

    Thank you so so much Sheri. I never anticipated the complexity of this pain and the waves of grief that linger on. Especially difficult during holidays. I will definitely be purchasing your new book and by God’s grace, will take better care of myself. Thanks to all the parents who share their stories. A common theme seems to be loving and giving our children everything and yet being rejected; outsiders wondering what you possibly did to create this. Very much like the death of a child but no Caring Bridge to support parents. Your work Sheri and all the dear parents on this site who truly “get it” are such a blessing. Praying for us all as we move forward one step at a time.

  9. Dina F.

    Great article! what a great supporting community!
    My Story: I raised my son and daughter as a single mom since they were under 3 years of age. I worked very hard to give them the best life and opportunities that I didn’t have myself including putting them through best colleges in California. My son who I had a bit better relationship than my daughter, have painfully shocked me a day after his wedding with ” I don’t need anything from you anymore, and don’t contact me anymore”. That came after I paid for half of his wedding cost and dancing with him on his wedding… It’s been 8 agonizing years since then, and I never met his son and daughter. My daughter has followed suit and cut me out of her life before her wedding, and then found a way to get me back in her life when she was struggling financially and the hardships of raising her twin girls. Then for several years, she loved bombing followed by dumping me on and off until I had it, and went forward with initiating a no contact which I’m intended to keep for indefinitely . I have done a lot of healing in the past five years, and I’m totally done with the crying. I’m hoping to join this support group and help other women, especially single women, who have no family at all and perhaps we can create a family for each other I hope it is a sound a idea.
    Happy and Healthy holidays to you all!

    1. Cathy

      Thank you so much for sharing this, wow I can relate. I always had a very close relationship with my daughter who also cut me off the day after her wedding. She had a very priviledged childhood, was given so much love and support. Even four family counseling sessions with her and her husband did not help, she was iswanting a relationship with me or her dad or sister anymore. Many believe that we did something to her but I will go to my grave knowing I did nothing to deserve this. While it is easy to blame her new husband for his influence, no one has a gun to her head and it will never make any sense to me.
      I do not expect to be in her life at this point. I don’t think I could ever trust any sort of reconcilliation with her, she would do this again. Her Dad is facing cardiac surgery soon and one of her siblings let her know. She sent her Dad an email that says “hope all goes well”. It was two sentences. If and when she has children, I do not expect to be in their lives either as she would cut off contact and sever any relationship with them which would be hurtful to all.
      What I have done is gone to an attorney and done a will so that any inheritance is spit between my other two children with a small set amount going to her. The kicker is if she contests the will she forfeits that amount.
      So I will always feel this pain and loss but it will not keep me from feeling other parts of joy in my life. I hope you can find yourself in a safe happy place as well. We are all surviors here, of a terrible betrayal and our life goes on.

    2. Gidgi

      I am so proud of you, it has only been a year since my son said he would cut me out of his life. I did so much for him to get to where he wanted to be. I picked up moved my entire family to br here for him..he found a girlfriend, she is a liner, does not want to have anything to do with us…but she snd he see her family every holiday…I will never understand how I did so much for him growing and he just forgets about me.

      I go by his house and dit outside and watch him..I am so sad he is mu only son. I left his dad after 24 years of mental abuse

    3. Tracy S.

      Spoiled young adults these days, so sorry to hear your story.
      Stay safe and take care of yourself, you did your best and they sound like adult brats!

    4. Melanie

      Thank you Dina F. for writing. My story is so similar to yours. My son and DIL were done with me when they started making money. His father and step mother are active in their lives as are the DIL ‘s parents. I was so devoted and made the kids my life from age 5 (in his case) through the wedding and paying for an expensive education and law school. I did all that happily because it was my pleasure to be able to. It just amazes me how I’m not worth a phone call or a kind word. I’ve never asked for anything from either of them. I don’t know my grandchildren although I send birthday and Christmas gifts. My daughter has followed him. It’s like they want to forget me and I think sometimes they don’t want to be stuck with me. They want to have their lives without me. It’s been 5 years. I’m 68 and wonder the purpose of my life –was it to raise and spoil children who have a lovely instagram life ?

  10. Lauren

    I pray everyone can find rest and peace through the next few days over the holiday. (15 years for me with ES) I learned a new thing: the word “merry” in “Merry Christmas” means “mighty”. The one who is mighty is God, not us. Let us rest in His peace while He works on our children to bring them to where they need to be. Their lives are in His hands. For the past few years, any time I thought about making an attempt to “fix” things, I felt the Lord say to me “why are you trying to be God? You are not powerful enough to fix what is broken. You love your son, but I love him more”….let us rest in that fact. God loves our children more than we do. He is the one who heals. He created them and will recreate them, if they allow. Sometimes they have many life lessons to learn. Love is patient, isn’t it…let us continue to be here for one another. God bless everyone.

    1. Becky

      Lauren, I appreciate your spiritual guidance and sharing your heartbreaking experience. I too find it so hard to just let Him take care in his business with my son – but his child. I pray for Him to help me with my desires for unity within the family, to break my sons strongholds and chains that have him bounded. To heal his heart and his mind from infliction and anger. Restore the brokenness that has our family estranged.
      I also pray to Mary, mother of Jesus Christ to intercede on another mother’s hurt, help comfort this mother’s heart.
      I know He will make all things perfect, I might not see it here on Earth but, it is His plans that are perfect and desired.

    2. Lavette H.


  11. Bonnie

    I think your insight about doing “shadow work,” is also applicable to adult children who have chosen to remove themselves from their families to try to find happiness. Families are complex and there is rarely one bad person. Adult children raised in complex families have emotional work to do. Sometimes that work can be done in proximity to the parent, other times the adult child needs space to find their path. A loving parent tries to give their child healthy boundaries throughout their life. Sometimes that means providing space.

    1. Nancy

      Simply want to know why they want nothing to do with me. Have asked the question to both with no reply. There has to be anger, resentments, or some emotional reason behind ghosting me. I am the surviving parent. They know I am an only child. They don’t care. I didn’t treat my mother this way and there were issues. To everyone experiencing this it is NOT OK. In a million years, never saw this coming. If there is reconciliation it will be in God’s time, not mine.

    2. candleinthewind

      This is a reply to Nancy. There is no ‘simply’ or the simple answer is one you/we don’t want to hear, and you have answered your own question. “They want nothing to do with me.” You/we can spend/waste a lot of time wondering why, all roads lead back to the same place. They don’t want to know. Best off conserving your energy and doing some fun things.

  12. Sara

    Dear Sheri ….thank you again for giving me a community and such thoughtful words of wisdom . The Bear is a good comparison as I often feel like everything is wild and l am in a constant survival mode. I try to be strong but my emotions are so raw …always there always hurting. Each post and the comments from other parents give me strength and momentum to continue and move beyond the estrangement. Thank you I am so appreciative of you ,your story, books and advice ❤️

    1. rparents Post author

      Thank you, Sara! I’m grateful to hear that all of this helps you continue with a little strength and momentum. A step forward, no matter how small, is still a step forward. In time, emotional muscles grow.

      HUGS to you.
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Vicky

      If someone could please give me some advice. I am completely heartbroken over my 29-year-old son who no longer wants anything to do with me. He is my only child. His only answer to why is that he doesn’t want to be around anyone and wants to be left alone. I have not seen him in person since May and he refused to come to any holiday dinners and wanted no gifts and did not even want to celebrate his birthday which was last week. If I call or text he won’t respond if he does it would be days later and short answers, the last text about being left alone. I try not to pry in his life and give him space, but it is very hurtful he wants nothing to do with me. People don’t realize when they ask how he is doing, its like a knife to my heart because I feel stupid to say “I don’t know” but I truly don’t know and feel like I have to lie and say ok even I know its not true.

    3. A. N.

      To Vicky: It sounds like your son may be depressed or going through something. I would text him occasionally, maybe every other week. But I’d give him his space right now. It doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with you. Hope this helps

  13. Michelle M.

    Yes, like the bear I am adapting to a new environment. I think in some ways I have known this day would come where I no longer need to hold on to what was. I do not know if it it has been reconnecting with old friends and spending Thanksgiving with her family and feeling appreciated. I am tired of trying with my kids and being diminished in the process. I have giving up any hope for my second daughter, no longer tolerating the abuse, or the constant relationship roadblocks. I paid her outstanding charges at college and fall tuition but I am done. I have asked for her car back at winter break since we have not had a relationship in a year. She has one more year and that will be on her and her dad. She is an adult. I am tired of the eggshells, the diminishing. I have already done this with her dad who cheated on me for years and her sister who has rallied for her to end all ties for years. I used to fix or pay for everything yo keep harmony. It was always what I could do for them. Now it is what I can do for me. I have my plans for Christmas and they will not include my family. i have new decorations and new traditions this holiday. I have made my travel plans for the year. It is time to adapt to my new reality and love my honey like Pooh and let Christopher Robin go!

    1. Francesca O

      Reading your post was a breath of fresh air for me because it felt to me like you are doing a great job taking care of yourself, respecting yourself, and and loving yourself in the best kind of way! I’m happy for you, I can relate to you and
      Sending you warm wishes for your continued journey .
      I now realise how important it is to stop letting others rent space in our heads!

    2. Carrie-Ann

      In reply to Francesca’s comment on Michele’s comment:

      “I now realise how important it is to stop letting others rent space in our heads!”

      It is RENT-FREE…they don’t PAY rent…

      Love To All,

    3. Patricia

      It’s been off & on like a roller coaster with my now 27 yr old ED of no contact and 2.5 yrs now of absolutely 0 zero contact which has ravaged my heart spirit mind & soul & now 2 weeks before Christmas my youngest ED has followed suit. I’m devastated.
      How do I get to the place you’re finally in?
      I’m SO Happy for you! way to go! Stay strong! I’m praying for all of us mom’s & Dad’s who are in this place a place we never could have imagined being in. God help & Bless us all.

  14. emily38

    “When your adult children don’t like you, you can learn to think like a bear and adapt too. To protect yourself, adapt—physically and emotionally”.

    “Focusing on our own healing is a peaceful and productive way to fight back against the trauma and stress. In healing ourselves, we exhibit the strength and power of the bear.”

    “ This journey may have begun because of another person’s behavior, but as I say in Beyond Done, you must make the healing path forward about yourself.”

    Hello Sheri,
    The above taken from your article sums up my journey.

    When I found your website, and interacted with other parents, I’d exhausted myself in every way with my focus and energies spent trying to “fix” two very recalcitrant, adult sons. I mistakenly believed that was my responsibility. Everything I did, thought about, cried over was about them. Nothing was about myself. Such wasted energy and wasted 20 years of my life, years of struggle, years of heaviness and self-recrimination, years of self-blame, for what I never learned. It doesn’t matter to me any more, whatever ‘it’ is, or was.

    This site, your work, and my commitment led me to a healthy, detached, sane place. I learned the work of healing was only about myself. No one else.

    In this season of holidays and new life, I hope parents here will take your words for the clear light they are, shining on a path toward healing. Not about our estranged adult kids. About we parents.

    It’s a scary first step, focusing on ourselves and not putting our kids in the picture, but let’s not feed the bear!

    Thank you, Sheri, for every gift you’ve given. I say to other parents in pain, open one gift at a time. Time and patience will unwrap every gift Sheri has given us. My experience tells me this is so.


    1. rparents Post author

      Emily 38,
      Thank you for this comment. That I hit the right “notes” in the post, and that someone who has been through it all and knows can see that … well, it means a lot. THANK YOU.

      Hugs to you, and Merry everything!
      Sheri McGregor

  15. Through Christ Our Lord

    It occurred to me. Someone said (and I hope it was God) that people are bound to keep repeating the same mistakes until they learn the lesson. My son has repeated his mistake often, every year or so. We are the ones who always look bad. But I had a thought come to my head, and I do believe it was Jesus talking to me. My son has never learned his lesson, because we have always been there to rescue him. He has never learned to appreciate the abundance in his life or his blessings, because he has never been without and never been deprived. He has had moments of responsibility and accountability, but never really learned these attributes. He has never had to fall and get back up again, because we were always there to prevent the fall. So the cycle continues and he keeps repeating the mistakes, and we are always on the outs.

    I think that God wants my son to learn some important life lessons, and to grow and become a better person. Maybe he allowed this to happen so that we would not be able to help this time, and he could finally learn some life lessons.

    Maybe God wants us to learn to let go so that he can learn on his own, and we can focus on ourselves and each other for a change. I felt the veil of sadness lift suddenly, I can breathe a little bit. I’m learning to put it all in God’s hands and will continue to pray for him while being thankful for all of our own blessings. But then a wave of pain and sadness comes back.

    1. Effie

      Yes, It lifts and you can breathe… Then those triggers come in so many ways, and BAM! The pain returns. I know God wants us all to learn lessons that only we can learn on our own without always being rescued… helped yes, but then there is a time to fly, and when we don’t help them this time or do whatever they think they need or want from us… OUCH! we are in trouble, many times in ways we wonder how they learned such disrespect? I can relate to most on here for sure… Effie

    2. Cheryl M.

      I too have let go and let God, and have been doing good, until today when I just found out that my ED is stopping at my parents house to drop some stuff off, for Christmas, even though she’s been estranged from my side of the family for 2 years. (I’m divorced from her father and she still sees him and his family)
      None of us have seen my (our) grandson for 2 years .
      No mention of stopping here, at her mother’s house, just mt parents. I am so hurt and feel that this is such a cruel thing to do right before the holidays. I am just trying to find peace and now this.

      1. rparents Post author

        Dear Cheryl,

        I know this is tough, but you can utilize this as a further turning point. Let it reaffirm that you are correct in moving forward for yourself.

        Easier said than done bit perhaps essential. It’s more evidence that you must turn to sunlight for your own future. Have a pity party of it helps…then onwar!

        Hugs to you dear Cheryl!

        Sheri McGregor

  16. Laura RH

    I am thankful for your first book and will order the second.

    Years ago, My parents died and left me $ which my 2nd husband and I spent for the weddings, many cars, schooling, travel medical, gifts of $,
    etc- whatever of my daughter and
    his daughter( now estranged )and my son
    estranged(no wedding but the rest).

    The rest- we spent traveling-living…
    A lot!!! So glad we spent the $ and ‘lived’. We saw many countries, made friends all over the world, and were able to travel on our own. We have wonderful memories of our ‘European’ families with whom we stayed and they , in turn, stayed with us.

    Now- we have both had medical/financial things where we can’t really ‘go’ as we did.
    We sold our home and moved into a modular in Fla. we are too far away and have had to many car/ financial issues to visit my daughter.

    We did spend the money- but it was ours to spend- we were very generous with the girls
    and my son. We wish that we had prepared more for retirement but we didn’t-we tried to enjoy our life!

    The current and ongoing situation is:

    My husband’s daughter absolutely hates and resents me. She has for years-she did not know the $ for her came from me- doubt it would matter if she knew.

    My daughter loves me and my husband. Very thankful.

    My husband is a dear wonderful person.
    His daughter’s hatred of me and the abuse- mean and hateful- of him has ruined their relationship. I am blamed for all of it.

    So, we both cry a lot… and then try to move on with our live for each other.

    Thank you.

    1. Patricia D.

      Dear Laura RH, I’m so sorry about your step ED it sounds like you’ve done all you can both you & your husband. She needs to look in the mirror grow up & be more grateful.
      You both have gone above & beyond. Take care of You now she’ll come around. ((Hugs))
      My heart just breaks with yours & I connect greatly with your story. I haven’t heard a peep out of my ED 27 in 2.5 yrs, yet she is still in contact with her father his side of the family and my side of the family . I also have 2 adult sons (older) than her whom she’s in contact with however, everyone’s instructed to not mention her to me. I don’t even know her address. And now my youngest ED has decided to follow suit going no contact 2 weeks before Christmas. Both ED live together so I don’t know where the youngest lives either. My family is shattered as is my heart. I’ve apologized, taken responsibility for my faults, failures, mistakes I made whie raising them, begged, pleaded, blamed myself, offered to go to counseling with them, all to no avail. I can do no right, while their dad can do no wrong. ‍♀️ So here I am, here we are. Trying to pick up all of the pieces.

    1. Bonita

      Hi every one I’m very grateful for being able to connect to this support group,, I just joined I have not see my son in 14 years, Each year that goes by breaks my heart and I cry and become depressed, After the holidays is his Birthday and it rips my heart out, I sure love and miss him unconditionally,

  17. M C S

    Great articles! Profound and creative!
    I feel more comforted and sure that I’ll survive these Times of Estrangement thanks to awesome professionals like you!
    Looking forward to read your new book

  18. Linda

    Yeah I’ve heard that too , be still. But , I’m finding move and keep moving works. I don’t send the one daughter anything for Christmas til she sends me something. That enables her to remember me , grrr lol. I never liked Christmas to begin with. It was always give and give. It was never gee mom we love you and we appreciate you. But when I was a child it was special with my parents we always appreciated them and we gathered as a solid family, well til my dad died at 16. Then my brother created chaos every year. I found out years later because he was fighting with his wife as they divorced 15 yrs later. But, anyways it is about adapting sadly away from the pain and trauma which can be painful as well. Next week I’m off to Florida again

  19. Jackie S.

    Very helpful and encouraging articles. Congratulations on your book release!

    Thanks for creating such a platform for parents to receive comfort and support.


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