Why do adult children estrange? Let’s look at nature-or nurture

Why do adult children estrangeWhy do adult children estrange?
Could it be nature … or nurture?

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

“Know when to hold ‘em; Know when to fold ‘em.”  I used that line from the Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler,” in a section of my book, Done With The Crying, that discusses playing the hand you’re dealt, and the fact that how kids turn out can be a crap shoot. Parents don’t have as much influence on their kids as they might think.

A 2015 meta-analysis of existing twin studies research over 50 years and in 39 countries makes it clear that the old nature-or-nurture inquiry isn’t a one-or-the other prospect. Both play a role, and in many instances, it’s roughly half and half. No wonder you can raise two kids in the same family, yet they can turn out so very differently from one another.

In some areas, the scales are weighted more heavily on the genetics side, and that may be important for parents of estranged adult children to consider. Sometimes, mental illness is part of the estrangement equation, whether diagnosed or speculated. Twins research reveals that the risk for bi-polar disorder is 70% due to genetics and 30% influenced by environment.1 Not all areas are so clear-cut, but twins research suggests heritability for Borderline Personality Disorder between 35% and 65% (with the highest heritability occurring in self-ratings).2,3,4 The role of genetics in schizophrenia could be as high as 79%.5

Genetics also more subtly influence mental, emotional, and behavioral traits. Many parents know that their children arrived with different temperaments. One baby’s nature is to be agreeable and always smiling. Another frequently fusses and is generally peevish. As a mother of five children, I know firsthand that this is true. My children were each uniquely themselves and different from one another. Even my pregnancies were not the same. I’m sure many of you can relate.

Have you been examining your history and looking for where you went wrong? That’s something most of us parents do. We immediately think that if our own child can disown us, then we must have done something wrong. And when we look for help, we hear that belief echoed across the Internet. We’re also told we’re making mistakes and probably going about trying to reconcile all wrong…. Ugh.

In general it’s common for parenting advice to give the message that our children’s behavior is a direct reflection of us—how we raise them and how we interact. That’s not actually true. We can do almost everything right, but sometimes, our nurturing takes a backseat to genetics.

If you have been a loving and caring parent, then you have most likely imagined stepping into your estranged adult child’s shoes. Most parents are good at perspective-taking. They try hard to see things through their child’s eyes—even when their children have become cruel. Parents want to understand, to help, and to keep the peace.

Parents, I hope you will take kind care of yourselves. Don’t give another adult control of your health and happiness. No matter what happens, you will be better off if you take care of yourself, stay happy, involved in living, and well. Think about it, even if you never reconcile, you will have enjoyed your life instead of wasting it. And, if you do reconcile, you will be much stronger and better able to enjoy the connection.

Don’t forget your own needs.  You count. Your nature may be to get along, to try to understand, and to fix. But you may be like a lot of parents who are surprised that, when it comes to estrangement, your caring nature no longer works. You can continue to spin your wheels and get nowhere, or you can turn yourself around.  You can throw off the “toxic parent” label, let go of an adult child’s negative assessment, and reclaim who you are and have always been. You can be Done With The Crying (and even then you can still hold out hope).

For even more about genetics, family culture and history, and how those can interact with and influence estrangement, follow up with my latest book, now out in Kindle or paperback: Beyond Done With The Crying: More Answers and Advice for Parents of Estranged Adult Children.

Related Reading:

Nature vs. Nurture: Research says it’s both

Why parents should stop blaming themselves for how their kids turn out

Largest twins study shows nearly 80% of schizophrenia risk on heritability


  1. Polderman TJC, Benyamin B, de Leeuw CA, Sullivan PF, van Bochoven A, Visscher PM, Posthuma D. Meta-Analysis of the Heritability of Human Traits based on Fifty Years of Twin Studies. Nature Genetics, 2015 Jul;47(7):702-9 doi:10.1038/ng.3285, published online May 18, 2015
  2. Distel, M. A., Willemsen, G., Ligthart, L., Derom, C. A., Martin, N. G., Neale, M. C., Trull, T. J., & Boomsma, D. I. (2010). Genetic covariance structure of the four main features of   borderline personality disorder. Journal of personality disorders, 24(4), 427–444. https://doi.org/10.1521/pedi.2010.24.4.427
  3. Kendler, K. S., Myers, J., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T. (2011). Borderline personality disorder traits and their relationship with dimensions of normative personality: a web-based cohort and twin study. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 23: 349–359
  4. Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Ystrom, E., Neale, M. C., Aggen, S. H., Mazzeo, S. E., Knudsen, G. P., Tambs, K., Czajkowski, N. O., & Kendler, K. S. (2013). Structure of genetic and environmental risk factors for symptoms of DSM-IV borderline personality disorder.  JAMA psychiatry, 70(11), 1206–1214. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.1944
  5. (2017, October 5). Largest twin study pins nearly 80% of schizophrenia risk on heritability. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171005103313.htm

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40 thoughts on “Why do adult children estrange? Let’s look at nature-or nurture

  1. Susan H.

    There are many comments about people being bipolar. I am bipolar. There are 2 kinds of bipolar. One is with dramatic shifts in mood. The other is just feeling very happy then the mood changes to sad. I am of the 2nd one. I also have anxiety disorder and have had bouts of depression. I’ve had some terrible things happen in my teens and twenties. I was only diagnosed with bipolar about 7 years (age 70) when I was very depressed that my son became estranged. I also lost the ability to drive even though I had been driving for 50 years. Estrangement seems so unnatural. When I was hospitalized with depression 10 years before the estrangement my son and my ex came to visit me in the hospital. My son had no hostility toward me at that time. I don’t believe we can blame these kind of mental illnesses as reasons for estrangements. But there are many personality disorders that make people very difficult to be around. My son has aspergers (high functioning autism). Their brain is wired differently. He was close to me until he became a teen. He had a very hard time socializing with his peers. But he got a girlfriend in high school and after graduation they moved in together. She never was very friendly and her mother was very rude. When he was a teen I took him on many vacations but he acted bored with it all. He and his live-in girlfriend married a few years after he moved in together. One day when I came to visit his children he disagreed with something I said and told me to get out of the house. That was 7 years ago. I contacted his new girlfriend on fb. They have a baby and he has 3 other children. With the girlfriends help I am now able to send things to my grandchildren. The oldest one day asked him “Where is my other grandma”? Estrangement affects the grandkids too. The girlfriend wants to bring all the kids to visit me. He has no good reason for the estrangement at least not that he is telling me. Sue

  2. Joh W.

    My 45 yr old child has been estranged from us for over 5 years. They have made it perfectly clear that no contact is wanted.
    We continue to recognise birthdays and Christmas by putting money into their account and of course the grandchildren as well.
    They never acknowledge receipt and we never know if our grandchildren even know about it.
    This year they wrote a more comprehensive accusatory letter.
    The want me to acknowledge all the accusations as they are worded.
    I cannot. Our memories are very different but with some truth.
    I have acknowledged responsibility for what I believe to be true but it is not accepted.

    They have now divorced themselves from the rest of the family as well because the siblings will not side with them.

    I was shocked with the letter which was sent to the whole family. I discussed it with both the siblings and they helped me word the response.

    I am now approaching 80 and feel saddened that this situation may not be resolved in time. It will leave my adult child floundering I’m sure and won’t help them in the long run.

  3. Amelia

    I know letting go of the pain is hard. I’ve had to let go of my youngest daughter. I sent her a MERRY CHRISTMAS text and that was it. After 3 years she sent the same back this year. Her birthday as well I keep it simple. I can’t make her respond so I let it go and keep as busy as I can. As much as I love them I can’t fix it. I’m a handicapped widow so am alone all the time. I read. Watch what I want and call friends. I added this blog (thank you Sheri) primarily because I couldn’t believe there were so many of us out there! Thank you for reading this. It hurts but I know it’s a safe place to let go. Amazingly I thought I was the only hated mother in the world. My children are all in different degrees of separation. I can’t accept the blame as I did the best I knew how. God Bless you all, I pray the pain eases up for all of us. I think of all of you every day.


  4. B Stugs

    My daughter married a diagnosed bi polar sociopath narcissist. My daughter started using our first granddaughter as a pawn in our relationship with her and my family. The first time we weren’t allowed to see my granddaughter for 8 months. We were kept from seeing our daughter and 2nd grandchild before and after he was born. My son in law cheated on my daughter with their babysitter as well as others. He tried to sexually abuse her younger sister. I have not been able to be in my grandchildren’s lives for 4 years+. My daughter left her husband after the babysitter cheating but went back to him. She knows he tried to sexually abuse her sister but it meant nothing. She stayed with him. He took her to another church and used it as a front to get her back in his life. She got baptized and we don’t even know who she is anymore. My husband got seriously ill in Oct 2019. My sister called her in Jan 2020 to let her know her dad was dying. She came to the hospital a few times. He came home and was on Hospice where he died 2 weeks later. She acted indifferent to me, her brother and younger sister who her husband tried to abuse. After her father died she walked out of our home and never looked back. She didn’t even participated in a memorial for her father. She was always very close to me but especially close to her dad. In addition her husband moved her to Florida across the country from her old life. Unbeknownst to us they put an offer in on a house less than 2 months after her dads diagnosis. They closed on the house 3 days before he was admitted into the hospital for his final days. Never said a word to anyone. She has given up her entire family, walked out on her deceased father, ignores her life long friends, and my sister her once favorite aunt. My sister was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer at the time of my husbands death and my daughter refuses to even acknowledge her illness. Anybody from her old life is gone. No connection with anyone. After my husband passed at the end of Feb 2020 we went right into Covid. We just passed the one year anniversary of my husbands passing. She has not acknowledged his death at anytime during the past year. I no longer know my daughter. I am still trying to understand how her husband has been able to control her to this degree. Please understand I am holding her responsible for her actions. She is 38 years old. My husband and I put her thru college and law school. She lives a very good life. I am missing my grandchildren dearly. They are now 6 and 7. I took care of them for 2 years. My husband and I loved the dearly. I can not forgive my daughter for her horrible behavior. I could not do to my worst enemy what she’s done to us. It hurts like hell but I will not allow her to use her children as pawns in our relationship. I told her she was using the as leverage and it was wrong. My husband and I would send cards and presents only to have them returned to us. I am trying to live without my husband of 40 years during such an unprecedented time. I am trying to accept I will never see my daughter or grandchildren. At times it is too much to bear but I have to be strong for my 2 other children who are suffering also. I need help and guidance. I live one day at a time. My heart has been broken into many pieces. I don’t think I will ever find happiness. This is a lot to work thru especially during Covid. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. rparents Post author

      Dear B Stugs

      My heart breaks for you for all you have been through and are enduring. You’re a strong woman and I am sure a loving and wise parent. For the moment, you are doing enough to maintain normalcy for yourself and the others, and to seek information and support. Please know that you are among friends here.

      Lots of hugs to you. It’s a tough thing to see someone you love be involved with a snake and then take on the traits and inflict pain too. My condolences on the loss of your husband.

      I’m glad you found the site, and I know others here will be kind. Some walk in very similar shoes.

      Hugs again,
      Sheri McGregor

    2. Barb

      B. Stuggs, I am so so sorry you’ve had to endure this! I am also living (existing) in estrangement of youngest son, his wife, while getting diagnosed with MS or something equally debilitating. I am alone and devastated. My oldest son still brings grandaughter to visit but no talk is allowed or else I get yelled at. A couple of things hit me like red flags w your post. The fact that she’s married to a bipolar sociopath narcissist speaks volumes to me!! I was married to a narcissist with sociopathic traits and I can tell you she has lost her identity from him! They are truly brainwashing, evil, isolating, abusive, covertly manipulating, just insanity really. It’s almost impossible to escape. I would bet everything she is a real victim here and is so lost. I think that as his bipolar progresses she will have reasons to get out and if you could somehow let her know if you want, that she can come home to you, I do think that may happen. I encourage you to watch YouTube videos about narcissism and sociopathic behaviors and the victims of and get an understanding of what she’s enduring and how it’s changing her and holding her prisoner, because trust me, it is!! I pray for your peace, all of us!

    3. Jamie

      Hugs. Hugs. Hugs.
      I understand the questions, the disbelief, and pain. As you said, I can not imagine inflicting this kind of hurt on another person, and with no explanation!?!
      On my birthday, December 2020, two of my daughters were visiting over the Christmas holiday, when my partner of 8 years, announced that our relationship was over. I was stunned. I am not an emotional person, so there was only silent shock. Both of my daughters left that night, and have not responded to phone calls, texts, or emails. The youngest daughter graduated from college yesterday, and I only knew because a family friend posted pictures. Yes, after the first 6 mos of crying, questioning, I realized I could not live this way, so I stay busy, hope for the best, and have no expectations. Yet, even their two other siblings have also been cut off. My heart aches for us all.
      I just wanted you to know, on this Mother’s Day, my heart is with you. I pray that you find peace.

  5. Maydon

    Sheri, I finished the book and am starting it for a second time. Maybe I will keep it around in case I run into anyone who is in the same situation as I am. Such a wonderfully insightful book! I was shaking my head as I realized the commonality that so many of us have. I’m looking to hook-up on Facebook but can’t seem to find my way. Figures. Lost half the time and looking for myself the other half, lol

    1. Alma

      I am replying to all and to author Sheri McGregor.
      I am in such situation that is not possible for me to describe as “ and here is one more story”.
      Instead I was trying to find how to transfer my letter to my child before or after I die.
      All I came to is : I would try to create – wherever would be good – Facebook may be :
      The open depository of letters of parents to their adult children who abandoned parents, which is pure evil Act, the destroying of third commandment and just acting murderous. Those letters would be open platform of one letter from each estranged old parent to child whom parent still love. I am only ESL . I was abandoned for the fact I am Aspergers. And I only need my letter would miraculously magnet child attention earlier or later. I am not sure I was able to express the idea. I don’t need to meet, to return child, to recover anyhow in adult child the person that I knew for many years. I only need the letter will be read by my daughter. If any ideas or help to make it through- any ideas are welcome. Thank you .

  6. Debborah

    I haven’t been on the forum a few years now but reading the comments here felt like telling the end of my estrangement with my son. After reading thousands of stories by other parents and really accepting the statistics of estrangement and reconciling I found peace in my decision to not reconcile with my son…..My choice. I informed him after no contact for several years, he misunderstood believing he had control of the situation so I had to be very clear I do not wish to reconcile. His response was shock but more anger at no longer controlling the outcome.

    I truly am at peace.

    1. Strong

      Debborah – I have spent years studying parent/adult child estrangements. I started my effort to try to understand when my own child became estranged. They had become involved with and eventually married a professionally diagnosed narcissist. Sheri’s book and work is helpful yet little to no attention is given to the role our children’s abusive partner or spouse plays in isolating our children from their support system.

      I do know this – the person who cares the least has the most power in these situations. Parents typically have no say in the estrangement and by your choice to not reconcile you are reclaiming your dignity and life. I applaud your brave and bold decision to call out your son’s actions and leave him in his own mess. Let him figure it out. He is an adult. Make your own life the best possible. Doing so will likely be much easier without carrying all that extra weight.

      Also, remember this – people who are hurting hurt other people. Our children are hurting. Until they get insights and realize that their hurt and pain comes from within themselves and not from other people, they will continue to struggle. It may take a long time. I cannot and will not do their work for them. Like you, I have closed that door and moved on. It does not follow social norms to say it, but I will. It feels good. Like you, I am finally at peace. I feel good letting my child join the world to learn what they must on their own.

      Obviously, I return to this site on occasion to hopefully gain more knowledge regarding parent/adult child estrangements. I learn from everyone here. I wish everyone here a peaceful heart, health and many blessings.

    2. Kerry A.

      I completely agree with you there..I’ve told both of my 2 kids..no more!!
      I too have made that choice..15yrs.is long enough for me ,almost a life sentence..any mistakes we’ve made over the years..i think parole is granted!!!
      Warmest wishes,

  7. Patricia C.

    I had been estranged from my adult daughter for almost 20 years. Her decision not mine. I believed I was a good mother and I still believe that because I have two adult sons who did not do what she did. She banished everyone from her life not just me but her brothers, friends , extended family and everyone she knew. I did everything to reach out to her that I was told, even though I didn’t think it would matter. It didn’t. Finally I let go and stopped reaching out even though I had a granddaughter I had never met and longed to see. A few years ago I received a letter from my granddaughter and that is when things started to change and I was able to meet my granddaughter and then see my daughter and my son-in-law. My granddaughter and I speak often with facetime and my daughter and her family came to visit a week ago. In the absence of space I could go into a lot more detail but just a modicum of hope to all who may read this. Also my heart aches for all the ones who are still in limbo and I pray for each and every one who still lives this terrible tragedy because that is what it is. But as long as there is life there is hope. Blessings to all.

    1. mary

      Your letter gives all mothers and fathers estranged from their adult children. Thank you and I wish you and your family a great future together.

  8. Joan B.

    Thank you Sheri for your wonderful and supportive book and recent articles. I am a mother of 2 girls, one is 27 and my other daughter is 29. I saw them distancing themselves from me after they finished college. I, like so many, sent letters, gifts and wondered what I had done wrong. It has been a challenge to push on, when I see so many friends with warm and kind relationships with their older children. I have asked them and my older daughter denies anything is wrong. My younger daughter stated “I’m distant, deal with it.” They also have grown apart from each other. I have prayed alot and have become active with organizations that matter to me. I also started to volunteer on a sanctuary farm. Observing the resilience of these animals that had been abused and were saved in the slaughter pen by a wonderful couple that run the farm. I see how these animals live for today and most have been able, over time, to put their past to rest. I am working on putting my trust in God, letting go of the guilt that I felt with my daughters behavior and also putting my past to rest. Joan

  9. Rhonda M.

    I believe I know why I have had no contact from my only son who is going on 36 years old for over two years, and I firmly believe and know that it wasn’t my fault. I did the best I could with our troubled relationship but over the years many things destroyed it, including my son’s drug addiction and possible mental illness. During this estrangement I have grieved as we all have who have lost a child–almost the same as though they died. But through the grief and pain, I have reached out to my higher power for strength and as of today my life so much better than it was three years ago. I feel peaceful. I feel hopeful. What I can’t seem to rise above is the fact that I know in life friends will leave you, husbands/wives/boyfriends will leave you, coworkers will leave you, etc., but I never ever in my wildest dreams thought that my son would eventually leave me. For me, this is the hardest part of estrangement from a child.

  10. Elizabeth L.

    My ex husband was a diagnosed psychopath, I only found this out at the very end of our relationship.
    My daughter never knew him, as she was a few weeks old when he was removed from the family.
    I always worried that she would turn out like him and I tried my best to make sure she had a stable upbringing, but she didn’t mourn the kids of her pets, nor did she care when my mother died.
    I guess I can rest in the knowledge that I could only do my best. I’m not expecting any contact from her again, but at least I don’t have to walk on eggs any more.

  11. courageousme

    That was a nice article. I think it is important to remember, also, that the “nurture” part is complicated. We don’t raise our children in a vacuum. They have siblings (birth order effects), teachers, coaches, parents of friends etc. Self-blame is always my knee-jerk, emotional reaction in relation to my kids. Fortunately, I don’t stay there long anymore as I’ve learned that it doesn’t do anybody any good. When we take responsibility for the actions of our adult child, we relieve them of that responsibility – and that also helps nobody. There are very few disabilities (mental or otherwise) that completely rob us of our ability to make choices for ourselves.

    1. Krista

      You’re so right! Our son didn’t start withdrawing til after he married & soon after college. Before that he was always loving, considerate, faith-filled, funny & bright with a lifelong gaggle of friends. Then 4 yrs ago he started gradually pulling away–“We don’t do Christmas & birthdays” etc. Then just hostility calling us toxic. Didn’t even sound like our son. Dropped us, his siblings, and even his friends. I found out 2nd hand we have a grandchild but have no idea of any further info. I believe he has been brainwashed by the family he married into, very controlling and focused on the high life. Understanding this is NOT our fault and we are not alone helps…yet to want to fix things is what any mother wants to do and being denied that is the hardest part! Thanks for the reminder, some things we cannot. I also deal with Crohn’s–also something out of my hands– and just want to heal our relationship before anything happens. Some days the pain of both is overwhelming. Thanks to Sheri and all who share their stories, there is strength in numbers.

  12. Jill

    Like others I forget my child is an adult now. God gave us life we need to live it to the fullest. I will take back what is my gift and keep praying for my son and his mental health. So many blessings around us if we look forward not back. The past is history, the future a mystery. I choose to live in the now with hope and joy.

  13. Angela R

    I like how you put it Sheri “You can throw off the “toxic parent” label, let go of an adult child’s negative assessment, and reclaim who you are and have always been.” My mother’s favorite statement to me me was the only person you can control is yourself. She was write and you are too. Thanks for this reminder.

    1. Krista

      My husband read a very good article about a study done of 800 families and 11% of them were touched by this exact problem. It discussed the alarming fact there is an actual movement in colleges and schools using the same terminology to turn students away from their families: families and their traditional values are to be seen as “toxic” & to be abandoned using that as an excuse. Even photos of a happy past are rejected because they do not fit the unhappy narrative that is being pushed. We need God to fight this, sure can’t fight it alone.

  14. Carla H.

    This message, and the related comments were so spot on! Thank you all!
    I find myself doing the same thing in that I am constantly questioning myself and who I am. Awareness of self is one thing but this self critiquing is too much and I always come up short. I have become debilitatingly stilted, unsure and self conscious of just being me.
    Why? Because I realize I have given another adult control if my health and happiness! Yes, my heart aches, but today I take it back!
    Thank you all!

    1. Carrie-Ann

      Welcome to your Self Carla!!! You are a Beautiful, Intelligent, & Capable Being!!! You are enough!!! You deserve Peace, Love, & Joy!!!
      In Friendship & Love, Carrie-Ann

  15. bonnie b

    Dear Sheri,
    Thank you for these words of encouragement. I too, like what you said, “Don’t give another adult control of your health and happiness.” I have used those similar words as guidance and comfort before and now I must use them again. I have repeatedly gone over my first family relationships. I was the baby in my family, with an abusive narcissist mother, a scape goat middle sister and a golden child oldest sister. My childhood, what I can remember, was horrible and I was never good enough. I still struggle with this. I have done everything opposite from my mother, so I thought my own family would be different. A therapist told me the only way to stop my mother’s abuse as an adult, was for me to cut all ties. I blamed myself, that this is why my children find it easy to discard me. It has been 9 years that my son has blocked me and now 2 years my daughter has. I also try to see things through their eyes. Maybe they are better off and happier without me. Their happiness is what I ultimately want, right?…I have a question though – Currently, my husband and I live in a 3 story home, filled with their pictures and memories. We are planning to move some place happier. What do I do with all these pictures, years of gathered memorabilia, Christmas ornaments and old toys from their childhoods? I don’t want the sadness to follow us – plus we don’t have room to bring them.

    1. Claire H.

      If I may offer my own past experience with this situation. I moved from the housee where I had photos of my two sons and their toys and art work and momentos. They have both canceled me out of their lives. I packed it all away, and made several attempts to hang a few photos in my new home several different times. The sadness was unbearable. I then stored it all away in boxes in my garage. In the past year, I have made tremendous progress in discarding most of it. It is liberating. I have two very small photos of each of them in my home office tucked into a corner…that is it. I have a few photos out in the garage and additional photos on my computer and stored on CD’s and USB flashdrives. Nothing is displayed in my home. It has been wonderful and healing and I no longer feel sad because I glanced at one of their smiling faces from long ago…. A short history: I went through a horrific divorce from their father who alienated them both from me. By two beautiful intelligent and wonderful sons loved me so much when they were little, but at ages 9 and 11, their father turned them completely against me, as well as the court system. He was an excellent psychopath!

    2. Elizabeth

      My experience is different…but there have been periods of time that one or another of my kids were estranged mostly…not a normal relationship etc. Still there is one, well….he is married….does that explain it? Any rate, some years ago I put a lot of the photos through the grinder…and threw them in the trash. I have not been sorry yet. And I have no photos on display anymore…of them. Yes, I love them…but I am tired and weary…and no amount of walking on glass changes anything…so however it is, is up to them. Fortunately there is no pleas for money etc, though rarely are gifts acknowledged too…only reason I have kept giving to this point is for the kids…but they are now all 13 and up…so soon…won’t worry about that anymore either. Life is certainly not what we hoped and dreamed of…but we too only have a few days on this earth and deserve to live in peace and as much happiness as we can find. Oh and I gave away the dresses I wore to 3 of the weddings that turned out to be not a happy thing…and again…not missed a single day!!

    3. Anonymous

      As someone who was the scapegoated child of a narcissistic mother, I had to finallly separate at just over 55 years of age. Narcissists are predators and killers. I, too, thought I was changing parenting styles for better results. Yet, my oldest child is estranged from all but his close friend/sister and NOW she seems to be pulling away ( and I am not surprised. I was never quite ‘good enough’ for her). The saying, ‘People who are loved draw love to them; those who aren’t loved, don’t receive love’, applies to me, I think. When we don’t have our people, our relatives and friendly environment, we are seen as rejects on some level and it is catching. Certainly it makes us less interesting to others. We all like ambience and movement. Narcissists do damage, no question. You, however, are not to blame for leaving your parents; rather, your children are stronger for your care AND I think they are products of today’s environment where children become estranged cause psychologists tell them it’s fine to do, even when the parent hasn’t been toxic and deadly. I truly believe this. I wonder, have we done them a good turn by helping them shoot for the stars, exceed our abilities and NOT discipline them when we saw this insolence and arrogance (Yes, we did!! }in them when they were 12 years old? If I am to blame at all, itis because I feared more rejection than from my family of origin and didn’t stop caring about my kids even when I should have handled them with a bit less care. Discipline and a bit of dismissiveness would have done them and me some good.

  16. Pat

    I have one grown daughter who thinks I’m great, and one who has stopped all contact. Ironically, the one who stopped contact is the one for whom more was done. It hurts, and I keep trying to figure it out, to no avail. When I read your articles I feel I’m not alone in this. Thank you for all your insights.

    1. Maydon

      Pat. I made a list of everything I had done for my daughter and it was a long list, believe me. It even included a downpayment for a house. A gift, not a loan. It went back and back until I was putting baby vitamins at two and spacers for her teeth at five. Only because she said I did nothing for her! And I was jealous of her AND her clothes. I had to laugh at that one. We were never the same size NOR the same taste. It was all made up crap so she could feel validated on what she was doing.
      I let her talk and talk and when she came to the part where she said ‘you are a bad, bad person.’ That was it. I hung up the phone. Enough was enough. I was a single parent and held down two nursing jobs. It hurts because my grandkids with who I had a wonderful relationship, will no longer acknowledge me. They live out of town now. I am thinking of sending a thousand pictures of my daughter being happy, and being celebrated. Something she said I never did, to my grandkids so they can see just how ‘unhappy’ she was!

  17. Angela S.

    Going back. I always have felt it was my fault for my sons not to have contact with me, to ignore, and blame me. I know what happened. I feel no guilt now. I have apologized for some mistakes that were made that were beyond my control. I do feel anguish, and sadness, but I will never feel like it’s my fault, never allow hopefully to feel totally shut down. I have to deal with them because of financial reasons. I have sent pictures, because only I have them. I will never stop loving my children. I know that I did the best I could raising them. They were loved. They were cherished. I’m trying to stop from having to contact them and take control over my life. It’s complicated. When a child never calls, NEVER, and yet right for this time, fixing it, you have to try and reach out. How can you separate yourself, from them, because of things you have to.

    1. Kristin M.

      I understand what you mean, I trying not to have contact. For years, my phone was always on and I was always hoping to hear from my son. One year after my birthday I sent him a text chastising him for not even sending an emoji. I also told him I was now taking control of my life and blocking him. I have since unblocked him, but he doesn’t know that. All he knows now is that I’m not letting him control me anymore.

  18. Caterina

    Hi Sheri,

    Thank you for the article. I have been asking myself the same question every day:” What did I do so wrong that both of my daughters cut me off”? My eldest, for the second time, cut me off in Nov. I thought things were fine between us but I suppose I was watching a different movie. No explanation, just a series of insults, recriminations dug up from the past and terribly distorted. I was overwhelmed with grief. I accepted that my second daughter’s estrangement but my eldest managed to stab me knowing already how much i grieved her sister. I read the article you posted “nurture or nature” and it rang a bell. Their father suffered bipolar disorder and my mother was diagnosed “schizophrenic”. I suppose I should accept that there is something definitely wrong. So far, my eldest, in my humble opinion is a narcissist. She only talks about herself, shows no empathy towards others and lives in her own bubble.
    In order to cope I contacted my former therapist (20 yrs ago) and she is helping me but inside I feel terribly sad along with a feeling of worthlessness.
    Thank you for your newsletter!
    Best wishes,

  19. Lezlie M

    This was perfect for me today. Despite having taught child psychology at the university level for near two decades and knowing I was a good loving mom, I found myself searching pointlessly for where and when I went wrong with my adult daughter. Through the years I’ve sent letters to my precious daughter apologizing, gifts, texts, cards and emails all to no avail. There is a history of bipolar and borderline personality disorder in our family. I have considered these genetics as being the driving force at this point. However, I adore my daughter and I would do almost anything to get her back. I must resist the temptation to hyper- analyze every interaction since birth with her and live my own best life. Thank you for the timely nature of this article.

  20. Caroline T.

    Dear Rebecca
    I too am taking that same advice, and am gaining healthy detachment from a situation which is not of my making, whilst keeping my heart open to my estranged child.
    I found the summit very helpful and insightful, and took ‘snippets’ here and there from different speakers, insights which resonated in me. I ignored the parts which didn’t, yet they may have resonated with another parent. There’s no wrong or right view, just whatever fits or makes sense for each of us on our similar yet unique journeys.
    Good to make contact.
    Best of luck this year and all the years

  21. Sandra B

    I am estranged from my youngest daughter, it is an episodic estrangement. Only when she needs something will she decide to contact me, she constantly uses my grandsons against me, poor boys don’t understand why Mama stops coming around. We haven’t spoke in 3 months this time so far, she got out of rehab and was unbelievably hateful and it of course was directed at me. She got physically abusive this time. I have decided to move away where she will not know where I am. My boys will be less stressed . I will miss them dearly .

  22. Rebecca

    Dear Sheri
    Thankyou for this much needed contact .
    I’ve done all that and still do where did I go wrong ?
    The advise I’m taking is yours not to let another adult control my quality of life , I’m trying with all of my heart to move forward .
    I understand the summit was confusing in some respects with the speakers but like many of us you have lived and breathed it .
    I loved your first book it saved my life and I’m waiting patiently for your next .

    1. Angela S.

      Sheri, I was listening to the summit, the first day. Then got violently ill. I bought the All Access Pass, so I can go back. Everyone has there own coping skills. The days before, I was dealing with an extremely important issue with my sons. Because of it, and they refused to contact me after my asking, I shut down. I forgot who I am, what I believe in, couldn’t think of anything positive. Music, pictures that make me happy. I am still dealing with it. After I feel better. I had e-mailed a woman from the Warm Line who I talk with almost every day. I asked her how could I let myself or anyone else, make me feel like they have that much power, to make me feel that bad. I love my sons, have sent pictures of their father and them, since then, no harsh words, but I am advocating for myself. I am living my life, music, pictures of anything that makes me smile, posts that I have, books, but I will never give up hope, love, but will set boundaries, and make sure that I’m dealing with things that are necessary. Love, Angi


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