Today Show

WHEN PARENTS HURT: Al Roker and Hoda Kotb interview Dr. Coleman on the topic of parents who have been cut off by their grown children.

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41 Comments

  1. miss clone
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

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  2. melinda
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your valuable ‘work’ in bringing attention to this painful ‘syndrome’ – have gleaned a lot of helpful suggestions and encouragement!

  3. Sonia
    Posted February 17, 2013 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    i just want to share my experience and testimony here.. i was married for 6 years to my husband and suddenly, another woman came into the picture.. he started hating me and he was so abusive..but i still loved him with all my heart and wanted him at all cost…then he filed for divorce..my whole life was turning apart and i didn’t know what to do..he moved out of the house and abandoned the kids.. so a friend told me about trying spiritual means to get my husband back and introduced me to a spell caster.so i decided to try it reluctantly..although i didn’t believe in all those things.then he did the special spell casting for me. After 2 days, my husband came back and was pleading..he had realized his mistakes..i just couldn’t believe it.. anyways we are back together now and we are happy..in case you wanna contact this wonderful spell caster, his email address is ishvaratemple@yahoo.com

  4. Alexandra
    Posted August 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    so much pain created when we raise children and do ignorant things. When we do our best yet have no idea how to be healthy, how to create routines, secure attachments.
    I have fogiven myself but I guess there is nothing I can do about being other than the mother he wanted.
    I am sorry I am not the mother you needed (or wanted)! I am deeply sorry that evidently you wanted or needed me to be other than who I was able to show up as (your mother). I still love you without conditions and I forgive you.
    You may one day realize that I did 99 things right for every one thing I did wrong. I explained too much, evidently you resented the explaining, the talks, the hours spent trying to get you to understand your actions would destroy your life.
    Guess what? You remember 11 hours of sitting listening to me carry on? It wasn’t much fun for me! You were not born with a manual nor easy to work with yet I never gave up on you.
    You were fortunate that I loved you no matter what you did … refused to give up on you as your teachers did, your father did, as most people that crossed my life did. I kept on loving you my son because I believed in your capacity to make a contribution. Your capacity to love and be loved.
    I can’t hate you … I am disappointed in a way I cannot begin to descrive. Numb with grief at your disrespect, discounting and brutal tone. No matter what this i know: I am deserving of forgiveness and loving kindness, I am deserving of respect.
    Only love,
    daughter, sister, mother
    Facebook makes the pain difficult, especially when they create sites and do not include you, invite you as friend, take down sites to avoid talking to you, one more way to feel humiliation and rejection, shame!

  5. Alexandra
    Posted August 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    First my father, then my mother, eventually my brother (closest to my birth), I eventually ended up divorced, single parent to a son with ‘special needs’ home schooled, angry, antagonistict teen (eventually landed in codependent treatment), the mending never really unfolds. I assumed once an adult and married healing would take place and my unconditional love would create healing.
    Although not completly estranged there’s painful distancing. I am obvious annoying! My only child– talks to me as if i am not deserving of respect, condescing edgy rude without any consideration who is listenting. recently on a visit (every 3-4 years he comes for a few days while on work related trip)…
    I made mistake of attempting to raise conversation: “why the lack of intimacy, the distancing, the anger? ” i find myself in alone conversations (talking to myself) because i am so nercous that I just fill gaps, desperately trying to catch up. to connect. Waves of shame, pain! Anyway all hell broke loose. he went into this very accusatory blaming shaming session in front of my new partner. I was humiliated (glass of water sent flying across room at my face) because i dare murmur under my breath “dear God” I had been ordered not to speak a word. I felt the confrontation was at best vicious, humiliating, abusive and at worst down right … actually there isn’t a word for the pain nor humilation. Just deep shame, loss of will to live. he insisted i should be happy, voiced his version of the truth. problem is? Its not what happened. His version of the story of my life, his life does not include any responsibility for his part in it. he was very difficult child, I raised him alone. His father was missing for almost 13 years, no accident this child was impossible to deal with!
    I have a daiughter in law that has no clue who I am and has little interest in getting to know me. I have no idea what came first his ‘mommie dearest stories’ and her why do you even bother with her? or her skilled manipulation? She has a love hate relationship with her mother, guess I come along for the ride?
    the loss of my entire family of origin (I have one brother that I see once in a while, that talks on the phone but I am cut off and hunbg up on if I dare contradict or speak about (there’s a list )… censorship. other wise i am ridiculed, told about my psycho babble liberal .. very condescending views of what an idiot I am. Religion started rift, cultural differences, prejudice, eventually I handed them a reason ‘homophobia’. My mother is emotionally ill insists lotalty includes hatred and prejudice. I have never been able to tow the party line.
    I feel vulnerable, alone, isolated. I envy families that visit, share, have grands, whose kids can’t wait to see them! I feel waves of despair and shame.
    The rational part of me knows there’s nothing logical nor healthy about such resentment and anger. I am the only one that’s been to therapy, worked a recovery practice, entertains any sort of spiritual practice that includes forgiveness, healthy boundaries. This is hell! i have delt with every disappointment but the los sof my son is too much. I am frail in health and honestly its created this vacum. You lose the will to live? I seem to not manage passion like I once did.
    I guess I have settled at many levels even in my current relationship because I want a family so much I allow disrespect, unhealthy boundaries to exist. One disappointment after another. I never allowed depression to catch up with me even the pain, shame, anxiety… still i always managed to keep plugging along. Refused to give in to give up.
    This last traumatic episode seems to have been too much. I feel wells of loneliness and deep pain. Its a death without a body to bury! i was told how proud his wife was that he finally spoke up! What?? I have been treated without respect and harshly since this now a man was a boy. he has been pissed off and rude for a very very long time! Also that she wonders why he “even bothers with me?” yet she indicates he is like this with everyone to me.
    Both are true I suppose. I forgive myself for mistakes made as a mother to this son I have loved with all my heart and soul without conditions. maybe he learned I would put up with abuse and abandonement from my parents, his father, the people I allowed to violate me? maybe be he believed his father’s victim story and he blames me for his loss? All I know is that I want my son in my life losing him is heart break i can’t manage. I had managed to believe maturity would bring healing. I never gave up hope.

    I feel tested in ways i never knew were possible. The pain cuts deeply in ways that creates a void between life and my daily use of time. Its a fog? I bet others understand how we are consumed with preocupation, lose the will to live, find it diffuccult to arrive at passion daily. Yet I must! Life is too precious to give up or give in! Estranged from parents throw away daughter– queer, going to hell, vile, a traitor to my brother because i dare have opinion he should have paid child support? adopted his daughter( holds a grudge i am the excuse for his shame?).
    If there is a hell this is it. Its separation, rift, resentments and grudges (injustice collectors lists from a mother that has dripped her mental illness narcissistic boderline personality now into a third generation). An evangelical narcisistic father with grandiosity as his guiding principle– where do you hide from this much denial?? i managed to remove myself from toxic abuse. Guess it was to be a test until I finally get it? What happens when my grandchild is born? Will that baby bring healing or be born outside my reach. I have forgiven each and every loss their inability to be present, to listen, to see who I am and to love me as I am.

  6. Sarah999
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes . . your child is evil. Their greatest pleasure and joy is destroying you/having power over you/belittling you etc. In that case there is nothing you can do except ” get the H%^L out!.
    There are evil/psychopathic adults and they were once children. If that is your child, you did nothing wrong. You were unlucky to give birth to an evil child. You had enough heartache bringing him/her up. You owe him/her nothing. Cut him/her loose.

  7. DeannaC
    Posted April 7, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I am the mother of two teenage sons ages 15 & 16. Their father and I divorced eight years ago and I thought were attempting to co-parent. Although there were obvious signs that my ex was consistently turning my children against me. One year ago a switch was flipped and my 16-year-old moved in with his father and cut me out of my life. We have spoken once in the past year, when I thought I was being brought in to begin reconciliation but it was just an attempt to manipulate me into signing over my right to determine where the child resides and stop a lingering back child support issue.

    I have think I’ve had good counseling advice and have attempt to contact me child on several occasions but he refuses to have anything to do with me and makes me out to be a monster, though everyone including my 15 year old can’t seem to figure out why his action is so at the end of the spectrum. This is a classic case of parental alientation and his father has played to victim for years. My son being manipulated emotionally by his father (who still has daddy issues at the age of 40).

    I understand things don’t always turn out how we except but I hurt for my son and the damage that will occur for carrying around such extreme hatred for his mother. Honestly, there are no issues like child abuse, susbstance abuse, revolving relationships, financial, etc. Although his father has been remarried twice, with several engagements and significant relationships and my son has loved all of these women until his dad turned on them and then they were sluts and losers.

    We are going to mediation at the end of the month prior to a scheduled custody hearing which he initiated all to show me he is in control. I think it is so sad that DSM and courts do not recognize the seriousness and legitimacy of parental alienation.

    Although, the first few months were extremely depressing I have managed to come to terms with the situation and realize he is an impressionable young man that has been so manipulated by his father, who always promised the kids would hate me. I do have to keep moving forward for my husband and other son and not get engrossed in my loss but occasionally it hits me and I have to have a good cry.

  8. Jeanne
    Posted April 5, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    My daughter was the victim of parental alienation as a pre-adolescent. She, herself, is a bully and has moved to alienate her children from their father, her stepmother, her boyfriend’s mother and now my husband and I. The grandchildren spent 50-60 % of their time with me and then my husband and I until age 12 and 14. She told us, to stay the *&#@ out of their lives 8 months ago. I have read your article in AARP and can relate, however, I have had a tremendous amount of peace and relief as a result of the estrangement. I miss my grandkids terribly, but understand how parents can walk away from their children to avoid the abusive parent. She has apologized for her abusive treatment of me, only when drinking, but continues with the bully behavior anytime she does not get her way. I really feel that I have done all that I can (more than most would have given) and only deal with a little guilt about not missing her because of her abusive ways. Again, I miss the grandkids, but also feel that she has been forced to take parental responsibility for them now. I always told my grandchildren that I only put up with her abusive treatment of me (in front of them) because I thought that I was making a difference with them. At age 13, her son, began to treat my husband similarly. Sometimes it takes more love to let go. Estrangement

    • DeannaC
      Posted April 7, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Jeanne,
      My parents went through a situation with my older sister similar to yours she raised the grandchildren half the time until my sister would decide for no reason that my mother was horrible, when in actuality she is the most mild loving parent a person could ever want. My parents were definatley enablers and she always came back around when she needed money. She died in an auto accident at the age of 37 and my mother still beats herself up over what she must’ve done wrong, although my younger sister and I have turned out to be pretty normal and successful.

      My 16-year-old stopped talking to me one years ago and I have had to face the fact that I’m not in control of this situation and have to keep the door open and hope one day he’ll want a relationship but that may never happen. But, I put my foot down and would rather no relationship than an unhealthy one where I’m bullied, beat down, and humiliated.

  9. Stella Vera
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    Dr. Coleman,

    I would like to be the one contrarian to the comments above and say simply this:

    Sometimes parents are toxic. Sometimes they have personality disorders or emotional dysregulation that makes them impossible to have a relationship with. And for the adult child this is incredibly sad and painful. Who wants to cut off a relationship with their parent unless absolutely necessary for their own emotional survival? No one.

    And yet—-many parents of adult children will not look at themselves and question what THEY may have contributed to the soured relationship. Because they can’t. Mental illness is a powerful thing.

    Just another point of view.

    Stella

  10. Penny Hoffman
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    I have 4 children. They are all in their twenties. I have a son..28 and daughter ..21 whom we have a good relationship with. We also have two daughters..with whom we have been cut off for about the last 5 years. Absolutley no contact with one…she has threatened to call the police if I ever visit her…the other has called to inform us about her wants if we ever change the will..Our emails are generally ignored or answered with name calling and swearing. One daughter has in the past gotten drunk and phoned us swearing and calling names…this is the one who is getting her Masters in Philosophy. All four children are married. The two estranged daughters have husbands in military.

    I/We have no issues re: lifestyle choice, educational choice, or marriage partners..I think they all have chosen wisely from what we have seen of our son in laws…having only met two of them once or twice.

    The last time we were all together I felt I had walked into a Grade 9 school room of all girls and was being bullied. The dirty looks, the dismissive comments, the walking away as I spoke in mid sentence…it was horrible.

    I keep sending Chrismtas presents and birthday cards…emails to keep them in the loop.but no answer..no acknowledgement..

    Any advice from anyone I would like to talk to one of these children who have come back to their parents life..I want to know what is going on in their heads when they are blocking their parents out of their lives. Maybe if I had some insight to that then maybe I might know what to do next. Life is short and they will feel really badly not getting over this issue if something happens to any of us.

    Penny

    • Pamiam
      Posted August 4, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Stop with all gifts, cards and anything you think shows you love them. It just shows them they have power over you. Do not reward disrespectful behavior, ever. Ever. Let them be and let them wonder what might have happened to their mother.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I just dont understand ‘WHY’ our daughter is with a man that has destroy our family, it is so heartbreaking, our daughter does not have anything to do with her family and we were such a loving family and loved her and would do anything for her, she moved in with the boyfriend away and we were happy for the both of them, and slowly over the last 2 years he has brainwash her and is so controlling. I text her and tell her we love her and miss her, and can we come and see you and she does not respond back to me. She is having a baby in a few weeks time and I have told her that we love this baby of hers but no answer…

  12. Mary
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Coleman:

    I was the grandparent who wrote in 2006 with regards to learning we were grandparents from a local paper and was part of your interview on the Today show. I am happy to say we have reconnected with our son and his family and we recently welcomed our third granddaughter.

    We feel bless this holiday season to be part of their lives. However, it doesn’t make me forget how grateful I am for your help during some difficult times and your work educating communities about this difficult family issue when adult children become estranged from their families.

    Thank you for all your work and publish books which helps so many parents.

    • Posted June 12, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      I am so very happy for you for having reconnected. Reconnection isn’t just by happenstance..there is a reason for it .just as there was a reason for the estrangement in the first place. Some growing on everyone’s part must have occurred.

      Best Wishes to your new and improved family..and may it remain so now forever and ever . Amen.

  13. Carolyn Nelson
    Posted September 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Dear Dr. Coleman,

    Thank you, thank you for your work!

    My 2 sons were ailenated from me by my ex-husband after one of “those” types of divorce. My ex threatened revenge — and he got it. He took the most valuable thing in my life: the loving relationship I had with my sons. But I am writing to give others HOPE. Hope is not frail — so don’t give up and don’t stop reaching out! Keep your heart open and forgive — it is not their fault. Educate yourself on parental alienation thru professionals like Dr. Coleman, attend events and talks. You may feel like it, but you will learn you are not alone.

    My older son stopped talking and seeing me at age 16. I was devastated. I emailed Amy Baker for advise — she was the only one I could find at the time who wrote and spoke about parental alienation — exactly what was happening to me. She advised me to continue reaching out even if there was no response. So I did. Many, many emails I never knew were read, many cards sent not knowing were received and birthday and Christmas presents delivered by a neighbor to my son — never knowing were ever opened. No connection with my family or my parents with whom they were previously close. Neither son attending my father’s funeral with whom I was very close.

    When my older son turned 21 he responded to one of my emails. We met for coffee, then lunch, then dinner — and then I traveled to Japan where he was going to school and we continue to this day rebuilding a relationship torn apart. My son told me he could not live his life without me being a part of it. Can you imagine how I felt? I cried but this time the tears were simply relief. All the seemingly empty prayers and the HOPE is now being realized. I am thankful every day.

    Unfortunately, my younger son took the same path exactly at age 16. He turns 18 September 10, 2011 and I do not stop sending emails. — “I hope you are doing well. How is school? I love you, I miss you. Let me know if you want to meet for coffee. Here is a picture of — Love, mom.” — Only this time his older brother insists he deliver my cards to his younger brother instead of me mailing them & presents I would have otherwise sent with a neighbor.

    I continue to pray and continue to hope. I WILL NEVER GIVE UP!

    Carolyn

  14. Susan
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Aftering my divorce my 29 year old daughter is extremely close with the other woman who my ex had an affair with. I have struggled with the pain and depression for years but it just gets worse. Four years after the divorce my daughter got married and I did not have alot of money to help with the wedding. I offered to help with the planning but she made it clear that I should stay out of it. I do not have a larger family and was only allowed to invite two friends to the wedding. My daughter asked if I would sit with my ex at the head table and I told her yes. The wedding was extremely difficult for me because my ex was with the other woman and I was still not in a relationship. I arrived at the reception a little stressed and feeling out of place. I hugged my daughter and she pushed away and said she had things to do. Went we were told to be seated at the head table my daughter informed my that I was to sit on the other side on the grooms parents and the other woman would be in my spot near me daughter. I was humilated and I didn’t say anything because it was her day. I left the reception at 8:30p.m. After watching my daughter invite her up for a father daughter dance and never asked me. Since then it has only gotten worse. I now have two beautiful grandson who I adore. She posts videos of my grandson saying hi to the other woman. This includes picture and comment about how much fun she has going out with the other woman. I know I such not dwell on it but I would love to feel like a mom and grandma. There is so much more. I need to get past this.

  15. Jane
    Posted May 8, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    This year marks the 17th yr. of our strained and/or totally estranged relationship with our son and his family. Today, Mohter’s Day is always the most difficult day of the year for me. This estrangement has now been for over 3 years, with other periods of total estrangement. Prior to that time, we might see our 37 yr. old son, a couple times a yr., even though it was always brief and always strained. However, now there is no communication with him. (he lives less than 100 miles from us). We’ve been prevented from seeing our grandaughters for over 3 yrs. When rearing our children, we always believed we were an average family of 4, doing all we could for our two children, including giving them dozens of opportunities in life, as well as paying 100% of their college educations to enable them a “jump start” in life. We were not a couple with bountiful finances, so the privileges we provided our children were tremendous sacrifices to my husband and me. Due to the longevity of the estrangement, I don’t cry as often and/or as severely, but the pain and sorrow of the estrangement never diminishes.

    • Linda
      Posted May 25, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      I feel your pain. We were a similar family of 4. Our son married a woman who will not allow him to have any contact with us. We have never met our 2-year old granddaughter. The estrangement is now 5 years with total avoidance by our son. It gets better, but it will always hurt.

  16. Catherine
    Posted March 31, 2011 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    Estrangement – better known as Family Rifts – is not new. But it is put in the “closet” and the door held shut with much strength and concentration!

    Estrangement / Family Rifts are not dedicated to just parents of adult children – injustice collectors have long grocery lists of wrongs they feel others have done to them…. and it affects all aspects of a family.

    Sometimes the situation forces people (who have been abandoned by their Family of Origin [FOO] ) to first mourn the “death” (loss) of family members as they knew it and seek out extended family and friends to cope with the emptiness of rejection from their family….. the family that we all “assume” should love us unconditionally. This pain runs deep…….

    Perception of the family situation by the members of the family can be very interesting – those who believe the family myth / those who do not buy into the family myth. Rejection can come from just that – not buying into or believing the family myth causes the estrangement / rift.

    People with Bi-Polar or Narcissistic type personalities, along with those personalities that need to be in a position of control, are at the root of many estrangements / rifts – but when knee deep in the middle of all that craziness, you don’t consider the dynamics – you just feel the pain of family rejection. Any of us who are people pleasers or enablers play out our roles in the weird dynamic of such families too.

    It is not a situation which can be fathomed or totally understood – and the pain is too great for us to understand.

    I also recommend that you read Mark Sichel’s “Healing from Family Rifts” and check out his Yahoo Group Blog site too.

  17. Veronica Picone
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Dear Dr. Coleman and Ms. Sander,

    I am deeply moved and grateful to see the attention that is finally being given to the issue of family estrangement. I have experienced the particular pain of alienation from both sides of the issue – as an estranged daughter for nearly 30 years, and again as a mother estranged from my two grown daughters for 3 1/2 years. With a great deal of resilience, personal responsibility, and compassion, both estrangements are now healed. However, suffering the awful silence of estrangement, in silence, was the most damaging part of the experience for me. With very few resources available and as part of my own healing, I conducted a search into my family history and found that estrangement has been a multi-generational solution to strife and hardship of many kinds. I suspect this is so in many instances.

    There is much to be said on the topic, and much work to be done to bring this skeleton out of the family closet with dignity. Having faced estrangement most of my life, it has informed my identity and my work with both enormous sorrow and great strength of purpose. As a semi-retired psychotherapist specializing in family reconciliation and writer of a just completed memoir on this experience, I aim to inspire alternatives to a family closing the door on one of its own.

    Again, I congratulate you for your work on behalf of so many parents and children, and for our future.

    All my best,
    Veronica Picone

  18. Betty-Lou Goodwin
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    What is a parent supposed to do when their 29 yr old son decides to rewrite his history only after falling in love with someone ,who from the very start never tried to connect with us-no matter how hard we tried. Our story is like so many others here-we were a very close and loving family,we have 3 sons and only one of them has closed the door on us. He recently married and he and his new wife did everything they could to alienate us at the wedding. I guess we were lucky that we were invited. It started after he met her but in such a passive way that we didn’t notice right away. But when we brought it to his attention that they were always blowing off our family things it started the first fight. The rest is beyond our comprehension. We are heartbroken and cry every day for him. We haven’t seen him in 4 months and before that it was 5 months. He has cut us off from his life and never acknowledges any correspondence from us. Actually refused to sit down and air their grievances with us. Did I mention that his wife is a therapist? We need help and we are not sure how to get it!It is so unreal to us that this has happened I question myself daily-my husband says that we shouldn’t do that because it is his choice not ours but I still feel that maybe I did something wrong!

    • Joan Quihuis
      Posted January 14, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      I feel for Betty Lou Goodwin, my husband and I are going through this with our adoptive son now that is 26 yrs old. He moved out a year ago with his girlfriend and another roommate in our rental condo. We did a big mistake renting to them…they went through 3 roommates in past 6 months and I have been getting less and less rent and now no rent. The girlfriend is like a black widow who controls him in every way. They have so many fights yet still together. He has chosen to not deal with us anymore, because I am trying to evict her or serve a 30 day notice to move out. We let our son live their free, while unemployed, yet we don’t want his girlfriend to take advantage of us and she is. We just pray and wait upon the Lord, it is very hurtful. Thank you for reading our story. We wish you the very best.

      • Kathryn
        Posted August 23, 2011 at 12:03 am | Permalink

        Betty Lou…uncanny … your story could be my own, except our daughter-in-law is not a therapist. I still can’t fathom that the son we love and would protect against all hurt doesn’t care about the hurt that he is inflicting by ignoring us. It, too, started slowly when they got married and now, three years later, we barely get acknowledged. Our once loving son has now created a life we are not included in. The hurt runs deep and I am at a loss at what to do. Contacting him results in a quick text reply, at most. It has now been over a month and he has initiated no contact whatsoever. There was never any issue to cause an estrangement, so we are baffled. The only variable appears to be a wife who wants all of his attention. It is so helpful to read other stories here from obviously loving parents who are in similar situations. I would like to ask if continuing to keep in touch or no contact has brought results for any of you over time? My best to all.

        • Debbie
          Posted November 23, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          This could be my story except that my son keeps in close contact with my husband, but generally ignores me. My words have been used against me so many times by my daughter-in-law that I find myself closed-mouth when I am around her. The power she has to alienate me from my son absolutely scares me to death.

        • allison
          Posted October 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

          I am glad I found this site. My son is with a very unhealthy girl who seems sociopathic. She never had a real interest in knowing me either, like some of the posts above. She lies and believes her lies, does a lot of deception. My son has picked up some of that, I have tried so hard to keep him himself instead of falling into her ways. It is like she took over his life, pursued him, moved him, and immediately upon living together, I no longer could call him, only text. Then I found that they won’t open their door to me if I knock. I have only tried that twice, as the rejection hurt too much. Her parents have been very involved in their relationship, I have tried many times to talk to them about their daughter to no avail. I know that if they knew how she really is to me, they might do/say something to her, but she punishes me any time I ever try to talk to them by my son not seeing me or speaking to me, etc. Then they moved next door to her parents and same thing, no door opened to me, and no ability to call him. I realized her parents actually help this situation, by saying they “respect” my son’s wishes, so they won’t do anything about it. My son told me he told them to not come to his door, if I come and they treat him like the Master telling them what to do and everyone obeys his wishes and they call that “respect”. They do this too with their daughter, so she is extremely self centered, ego, a bully, thinks she is right all the time, is always argumentative, etc. I hate seeing the changes in my son. He does live isolated off from me. With all of their help. It’s insane. And just because the girl is a total witch. You cannot ever talk to her about anything because she always throws words back at you to just plain be poisonous, argumentative. She is a grudge maker and a resentment builder and feeds and feeds….I can not see her or contact her for months and then find she has a new grudge against me. It’s not normal. And of course, she never talks anything out, nor do her parents. I have realized that they are very, very, very bad people. None are honest, the Mom is even sneaky. Dishonest and childish. It is all so depressing, has ripped me up for years now, and this girl never stops owning him. She is into power, and is so unhealthy that way. She is into kicking you emotionally and hurting you thru your son. My son gets caught up in her stuff and she riles him up against me. It is so unhealthy. Sometimes he snaps out of it but lately they’ve been on a roll again trying to kick me. I have tried reading all sides of the daughter in law mother in law stories and articles, I have tried everything, I have remained open. At this point, I feel like saying she is not to be allowed in my life, even if it means not seeing my son, because she is so upsetting for me all of the time and thrives on it. Any text I ever send to him, she “rapes” and makes my texts into something they are not. She is a person who spreads rumors about you, too. She just is a mental case. Control freak. Who scolds me, talks to me as tho I am a 4 yr old bad child. It is totally not all right. My son knows it can never be nice if she is always not nice to me, he understand s that. And he knows it can never be nice with her parents if he has them help bully me. I am furious with her parents for being so terrible that they would actively help a young man harm his Mom’s and his relationship. That is so sick of them! They could have said to my son and their awful daughter, stop that, it makes all of these problems, stop treating his Mom badly. But no. It is a gang up, and it is abusive. And it has consumed my life for some years now. I have given up. If you pay attention to the abuse, and say anything about it, it reinforces it. If you ignore it, somehow it seems to give the idea that it is OK to do. At this time I am not even trying to text my son. I am so done with his girl AND her parents sometimes reading my texts. He seems compelled to show them. I know he is with a very bad person and he does not know it. And I cannot do anything about it and I accept that. Her parents kind of threaten you that if you talk about their daughter that it is defamation of character. It is how they try to keep you quiet from the abuse that she doles out. But the only way out of abuse is to bring it from silence into the light, to expose it. But if you do, then your son may resent you forever. It is all so toxic. I have died just about, trying to keep my family together thru this horrible ordeal since this terrible girl came along. It has literally been hell. Really. She is all about We. She approaches me only as tho they are a united We. I relate to her as an individual instead, heck with that approach his Mom as tho my son believes everything she says, I know he doesn’t. She is so codependent it makes me ill. The kind of girl who improves her station of life thru a man, the kind who would die without a man. She is a climber and gets what she wants by hurting others and has absolutely no empathy at all or any remorse for what pain she causes. None. She acts like she doesn’t believe you, if you are hurt. Never once has said she is sorry. Never has treated me like his mother at all, she tries to treat me like an equal and I am not her equal. She tries to bring you down to her level always, so that she can kvetch at you as tho you are her age. Then my son can treat me the same way. Her idea of being adult is to act bigger than parents. She is an idiot. But very cunning. And bad. By now, I have an instinct of what she is up to/that some drama will happen. I had a very intense gut instinct about her right from the start, and knew it would be bad and it has been. Once in a great while I can almost enjoy her but it never lasts, her niceness can flip within minutes. It is no fun to be around her because she is just observing you so she can cut you down to your son. She makes faces at me when I talk. Recently I believe she had him having his cell phone on Voice Record, when he and I were talking, just because of the nature of his questions – I really do believe he may have. I dearly love my son but he needs to wake up to how she really is. He knows how she is but she has made him think there is nothing wrong with how she is and he seems to look up to her and emulates her and her parents flatter/praise and it seems to be part of what he is seeking, to be treated like that. She can have him think stuff that is unbelievably stupid and distorted about me. But the point is, he really does get thinking the stuff she imagines about me. It is so scary. It is so hard to be nice to him, when he is acting like this. I love my son and know it is her influence, but I can’t let him mistreat me either, any more. I don’t know the answers at all.

          • Rose
            Posted September 30, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            Rose
            I have the same situation and I can add to it. Have you read Josh Coleman’s “Is My Child In A Cult”? Please do so. It held all the answers for me. I was shocked! It brought me a great deal of peace.

    • Claudia
      Posted June 27, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Betty,

      Your story sounds so close to mine… it’s almost uncanny.

      • Rose
        Posted September 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        Claudia,

        It seems there are an awful lot of us in the same situation. Read Joshua Coleman’s “Is My Child In A Cult”. It holds a lot of answers.

  19. Ramona
    Posted December 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    So comforting to know that I’m not alone.

    • Annabelle
      Posted November 14, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

      I am researching this subject because i am in this situation with my son’s wife and am so heartbroken. She has proven herself to be mentally sick and maybe evil. My son is now controlled by her and what was a great relationship is now lukewarm at best. I am both comforted in knowing I am not alone in this but also disheartened at the same time that this situation is so common with daughter in laws treating their mother in laws so terribly. She doesn’t have a good relationship with her own parents even. they are very closed mouthed around her and now i understand why. I have gotten to the point where i know there is nothing i can say that i don’t second guess myself. i can never say anything right and i know that she has pulled this on her own parents. I wish i knew what to do…all i can do is give it to God, pray for her and my son and the kids and hope things get better. I truely don’t know what i have done to get her mad but she treats me like a second class citizen even in my own home when they used to visit. i feel for all of you mothers out there who are getting the short end of the stick here. God help us!

      • Rose
        Posted September 30, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Annabelle,

        Don’t give up praying! More things are wrought by prayer than this world can even imagine. I read Joshua Coleman’s “Is My Child In A Cult” and it made me understand how my evil daughter-in-law and her mother have stolen my son from me and his entire family. They threaten us and blackmail us too. Although I still send flowers and cards to my granddaughters I have not heard from them in eleven years.

        Rose

  20. Kimberly Roberts
    Posted November 29, 2010 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Dr.Coleman,

    After nearly 17 months of separation from my daughter, son-in-law and 3 little grandsons the pain is crippling. My daughter has over the last 3.5 years had begun to develop a pattern of punishing those that didn’t bend to her will. She and her husband had estranged her husbands parentsf or nearly 7 months. During that time I would occassionally tell my daughter that they had done nothing to deserve this treatment. I had also suffered a month long separation prior to that. Little did I know that would be boot camp for this painfully long separation. She has severed ties with her fathers mother, my half sister, school friends and acquaintences as well as her brother. Before this separation my daughter and her family lived with us for about 3 months during my son-in-laws unemployment. When he refused a 40 k job after being fired from 3 jobs in as many years and on the verge of unemployment benefits soon to run out, plus a house offered to them by his parents rent free we were completely bewildered. In haste and against my request to have them sit with us for a “roundtable” discussion to determine what their plans were, my husband jumped the gun and told them over the phone while on a business trip that they had a week to make arrangements. They had been out eating dinner and return home furious, my daughter begain destroying things like her baby hand prints that had hung on the wall. Two days later when they return for more of their things unaware my husband was home, he had the opportunity to tell them he had been hasty and he didn’t want them leaving. To no avail they refused!! and when he went to say hello to his second littlest grandson who just loved him to peices, my daughter whipped back and said don’t you speak to him! My husband was frozen with grief. While my daughter has been diagnosed with Bi-polar I have no idea why we my daughter had turned on us and everyone whether at this moment or in the past. Is there anything we can do. I am having a very very hard time moving on as my daughter and I have always been close. WE have always been supportive, but I have been there with her through so many issues. Lastly, after trying to communicate with her we recieved a voicemail message telling us that she didn’t want to know anything about us unless she was called to be told we were 10 ft under and as far as my grandsons are concerened we are dead. This alone has caused me to feel like I’ve lost my mind, my heart, my joy for living. Please help!

  21. Sue
    Posted July 10, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    It is heart breaking. My son married and I was never given a chance to develop a positive relationship with his wife – who comes from an abused family situation. I have tried in the past to call him with no response. I will always send him a birthday card and have done so for the past two year. I am in therapy and will continue to be. It is so hard to put into words my feeling. He has cut off relationships with his cousins, aunts and uncles on my side of the family. He has continued to see his father, step mother and step brothers. I have been divorced from his father for over 25 years. It is so sad – I have almost given up hope. It has been a little over two years.

    • Pam
      Posted January 19, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      I am so thankful that I have read these posts. My situation with my son and daughter in law is almost identical. I have the same questions and every day I wonder why!

  22. Emily
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Our whole family has been disowned by our son,starting with us, for almost 3 years, his parents.WHY?, we really don’t know. After many attempts via phone, mail, gifts (all sent back unopened) a face to face after a church service; sought help thru our son’s priest and those visits between them made no difference, even tho they behave like good God fearing people; then they served us with papers to not attempt to contact them or anyone else on our behalf. This is an open wound that bleeds every day and has affected my husband’s health. Our only biological grandson, with whom we had a great bond, and relationship adds to our heartbreak, and wonder what he thinks has happened to us, his aunt, and uncle.
    Is there any recourse for us; we live in NYS, and they are in VT, my home state.

  23. Posted February 17, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi…

    Just ran across your interview on the Today Show where you talked about parental alienation. Nice job. Thanks for raising the visibility of an issue that is affecting countless parents, children and extended family members every year.

    Keep up the great work!

    Sincerely,

    mike jeffries
    Author, A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation

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