Communicating with Estranged Adult Child: Why Do I Have to Hold Back?

Dear Dr. Coleman,

Re: your book, When Parents Hurt: “Would love to hear more about why we have to not argue, not demand of our kids, not tell them our feelings. I am willing to do it, and it does help, but I would love to hear more about that whole way of thinking. Thanks again for writing the book.

Dear Reader,

I get asked this question a lot and it’s an important one. I recommend this to parents who have been estranged from their adult children because I think it’s critical that they keep the door open long enough so that one day they can have a more mutual relationship. But, if things have gotten so bad that there’s been an estrangement (or it’s on the verge of one), it means that you don’t have the luxury of a mutual relationship in the way that you might with a non-estranged adult child. With the non-estranged, there would be plenty of room for both of you to talk about your feelings and even have more open conflict because the whole basis for the relationship is not on the chopping block. With an estranged child, you have to create the conditions where some time, maybe years later down the line, there’s enough goodwill for your child to either see you more clearly or accept your perspective. If they’re estranged, they’re probably not yet ready to hear your perspective. It may make them turn away because it makes them feel too guilty; they may think that you’re defending yourself for something that they just want you (wrongly or rightly) to take responsibility for. They may feel (wrongly or rightly) like you’re blaming them for their feelings.

This isn’t fair, of course. I know that. But I’m a pragmatist when it comes to families. We have to start with where the 2 of you are right now, not from where it should be.

You can’t be demanding because you don’t have that much power. It’s a little like a marriage where one person has a foot out the door and is willing to divorce. The person who doesn’t want the marriage to end doesn’t have the same power to make demands as the one who is okay with it ending. I know this is very hard to do, but it’s a good thing to do, nonetheless.

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  1. PJ
    Posted March 16, 2015 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    18 yrs ago I divorced a bullying spouse. I was trying to finish my degree and made a huge mistake. I allowed our 1 yr old to live with him and his mother while I finished my degree, because “I couldn’t raise a child on $6/hour”. Progressively the grandmother alienated me from my son, she fed him his bottles, read him the stories, etc. I eventually won enough visitation to see my baby boy fortnightly. There were times I was so desperate I took him to classes with me for a week. My professors didn’t appreciate it and by the end of the year they probably let me break all sorts of rules to graduate. I tried to get 50/50 but now my son had lived with his dad and grandmother long enough for the courts to say he was “settled in”. I met an Australian and eventually was married and started a new life. We would drive long hours to pick up my son and would see/share everything we could. More court rooms, more custody battles, my ex wanted child support. I made next to nothing and the college bills came in. I eventually became pregnant with my first baby with the Aussie and my ex’s lawyers were going nuts. Then 9/11 occured, everything and everyone was in chaos. A month later the courts granted my ex whatever he wanted, he was now working for their county as a policeman….. I had no hope. That Christmas we moved to Australia. I was pregnant right away, a surprise. 2 new babies 1 of them Aussie 1 of them American with an older brother they may never meet. That older brother is now in the US military and isn’t talking to me. I tell him I love him until it’s probably annoying. I flew back to see him 9 yrs ago and haven’t been able to get back due to the expense. I am afraid to call or I’ll get the bullying cop and not my son. Knowing my ex I think he still has a strong controlling hold, but what if he doesn’t? What if my son has let go? He told me last year he wanted to get a transfer to Australia… I can only hope he still feels that way.

  2. Posted October 12, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

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  3. Mary
    Posted February 22, 2014 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    My son started dating a girl and after about a month he couldn’t cope with her mood swings and broke up with her, well she went nuts calling him all day and leaving horrible messages. Well a few weeks later she told him she was pregnant and after a few months he went back to her because of the baby. She was basically homeless and only had a bag of clothes when they got together. My son’s dad and I helped them with furnishing their apartment and when the baby was born I babysat for them full time (for 3 years) when the mother of the baby got a job, even buying diapers and formula because they couldn’t afford to. We tried to make the best of it and tried to embrace this woman, letting her borrow our car and driving her to work. They came by unannounced at lunch and dinner, so we invited them to eat with us on numerous occasions. Then they got a government loan and somehow bought a house and moved in with us until the loan was finalized ( about 3 months) she didn’t do anything but complain, she said she had OCD, but she was a slob, didn’t help with anything. Well as soon as they moved into their house she was done with us, she hasn’t spoken to her sisters for years, he dad for the past 2 years and she just started talking to her mom again after 2 years off no contact, now it’s my turn.
    My husband and I were very close to our grandchild, I had him more than his parents did and we haven’t had contact since November, we missed Christmas and his birthday. They live 5 miles away. I don’t think I ever want to see her or my son again. Never thought I could feel thus way about my own child!

  4. Barbara
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    My story is quite like all the rest here but she became estranged with me when I find needles and Harion on her kitchen table (we have always had key to each other’s house and just go in if we are’nt home) Of course I was hurt …..well you can imagine through seen. She said some hurtful things and so did I. I did write her apologies and judging not trying to understand..if I email her she will answer but doesn’t talk to me. We have always been so very close. Should I keep trying to talk to her or is that making situation worse by bugging her. Even with the dope within 2 feet of us she sit there denying using even with red dilated eyes. She did have this problem about 13 years ago and of course I tried being there for her.
    I have been to meetings.

    • Desiderata
      Posted May 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Love. Support. Encouragement.
      Anger. Nagging. Accusations.

      Which are the qualities of a parent?

      At what point in your life as a parent will you realize that your child is her own person, and that being in her life as she is an adult no longer involves the running of her life? Your daughter is not an extension of you. She is her own person. She is showing you that. But it is not about you. She is showing HERSELF that.

      I wish her all the luck with her problem.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 20, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Been there, so I understand your situation. You cannot deal rationlly with her while she is on heroin. My only daughter was also a heroin addict who abandoned her chidren with us for 6 years. Keep in touch with her, dont giv her any money or rides or pay her bills until she goes to rehab..PERIOD. My daughter is now 4 months clean and doing great. It has been horrible, but you can get through it. Jst go on with your life.

  5. Maureen
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I have two boys one of whom I am very close to and the other who I have not seen or talked to in 5 years. The one I have not talked to is married and has two kids. I was never told about the second child but have seen the first one 4 times and he will be eight next week.

    I went through a bad divorce in 2006 and both boys were living with me at the time so they saw what went on. I treated them equally. My son got married the year I got my divorce and things were so fine until then. I still saw him and his wife after the wedding but it got to be less and less. After the first baby was born I had to call to go and see the baby and when I was there they were not at all receptive to me. I was an intruder or at least that was how I felt.

    We then got together once a year for my birthday and I asked my daughter-in-law what the problem was that and that I wanted us to be part of each other’s lives. She told me that my son was not ready to discuss it yet. I told her I would be happy to meet anywhere to discuss this as I wanted relationships with both of my boys. I said I would also pay for a therapist if that is what it took. All she said was he is not ready to discuss it.

    I have not seen him for over 5 years now. He won’d take my calls, answer my emails or respond to certified letters. We never had any fights or disagreements so I really have no idea what this is about. I have gone over it in my head so many times, it waked me up at night. I don’t know what to do.

    He has not been in touch with my younger son either and I see and speak with him regularly even though he lives farther away. My younger son says that he was never a “fan” of the older boy’s wife. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I have exhausted everthing I can think of. I can’t go up there and confront him. He probably would not even answer the door.

    • Lisa
      Posted February 10, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink


      It’s impossible for you to know what went wrong in your son’s mind. It almost sounds like your DIL has taken control of the “situation” especially since he hasn’t or won’t contact his brother either. Until or unless HE makes the decision to no longer be estranged, there is little or nothing you can do. I hope for your sake that he comes to realize that you and his brother should be in his life and that of his children. Best Wishes — Love, Lisa

    • Anonymous
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      I have resigned myself, after unable to bear the grief and drama any longer, that my adult daughter and I are better off ‘divorced’ . It ‘s ok.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 20, 2014 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      You have to let them go. Send the children birthday and Christmas cards with a gift card. If the parents don’t give it to them, thats their guilt. Yu can connect with the gandkids when they are adults. One final short letter to your son should be your last attempt.

  6. Geneva
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    My husband is estranged from one adult daughter, the other is living with us. The non-estranged daughter just started living with us after her graduation from college.

    The primary reason for the estrangement is alienation during childhood. During and after the divorce, their mother basically punished both girls for expressing anything but contempt and hatred for their father. Two different therapists expressed the opinion that she had Borderline Personality Disorder, and discouraged him from fighting to see his daughters, despite court-order joint custody- because they feared the more he fought- the more she would enmesh them in the struggle. (one example – the girls were often encouraged to call on speaker phone to tell him they hated him- while mom whispered suggestions of things to say in the background)

    Side note: I was not the cause of the divorce. Mom left to be with another man. I did not meet him until he was on his own. But his ex did become angry that he found someone else.

    Fast forward to adulthood. The estranged daughter is a mother. We’ve seen the granddaughter about half a dozen times in two years. ED is about to have another child, a son.

    What can my husband do to help mend the estrangement with his daughter? Is there anything that I can do? Should we send cards and gifts to grandchildren, knowing that they will never be acknowledged and perhaps never given to them? What should we be doing to acknowledge birthdays and holidays with estranged daughter and her husband?

    So far, we have been giving them gifts and cards and texts for special dates. I’d like for my husband to send a letter, but he is reluctant to apologize.

    Both daughters seem to have developed complete amnesia about the rages and phone calls they were forced to be part of by their mother. They also believe everything their mother told them – even when there was ample evidence that it was not true. (example- mother told them she didn’t want them to see their father because he wasn’t feeding them- even though he filled the refrigerator and cupboards with special food they requested during visitation times)

    Sorry for this long note- my primary reason for writing is not to revisit the past- but to provide some context. ED is so angry and hateful – is it possible to go forward without correcting her misconceptions about the past? Just looking for what will work- don’t need to be ‘right’- just want to help mend this relationship.

  7. kristine
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    ahh flesh of my flesh…..almost blind /cancer…..betrayed and abandoned over money. black soul…greed compassion..society has created outside beauty with no substance ..childless ..karma..lost…tomorrow no page..lost faith..death.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 26, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Not many would understand what you posted here Kristine….but I actually do….

  8. Joan
    Posted October 19, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I’ve been scouring the internet for helpful sites for parents who are estranged from their adult child. The problem is…it only makes the pain worse. Sometimes, it is not the parent’s fault. Sometimes there is an issue totally separate from them that causes the estrangement. No person is perfect, but sometimes, someone cuts ties with someone for reasons that having nothing to do with the parent. Sometimes, the adult child has problems of their own. If I had done something to cause this, I would be on my knees begging her to forgive me. I have listened to her…I have helped her when she asked…I have apologized for past mistakes in my life…I have forgiven her when she did something “wrong”. My crime is loving her unconditionally. She doesn’t want me to. Maybe she doesn’t think I should… She doesn’t like me, and I accept that. But, to not allow me to ever see her again? EVER? That is cruel, and I am broken.

    • Kelly
      Posted October 21, 2013 at 4:48 am | Permalink


      I am astranged from my Mother. It took many years to finally give up and it is permanent. My Mom is not capable of loving me and never has been. She is ok when she doesn’t have a man in her life but if she does then I rarely hear from her. I finally gave up and moved on with my life. I am the oldest of four children and her least favorite. I was closer to my Father who died in his 50’s of Leukemia. My Mom is a “divide and conquer” type Mom. She never allowed us siblings to be close with one another. I was disowned from my siblings but not her when my sisters husband made sexual advances towards me and she chose to be disfunctional rather then keep the family together. My Father would have never allowed it. After he died she went on a crazy spending spree. She had the will changed on his death bed cutting all of us kids from the will. She then blew almost everything he worked for. She hooked up with a user type man and spent a lot on him and on expensive vacations. When she found out he was a pedafile a few years later she dumped him and for a few years she was more friendly. She came to visit me and my son a few times a year but I couldn’t visit her. Then she met a man at her 50th high school reunion who was rich and she is helping him spend his money now. It got so bad that I would go for almost a year without hearing from her and could not reach her because she was on a ship in another part of the world. Then she split up her assets so she could retire and I got nothing but some dusty junk from her attic. Her fav children, my brother and younger sister got waterfront property! My son was her fav grandson and she gave him 40 thousand dollars. Still I called her or tried to keep in touch but then she said My son and I could never visit her boyfriends house which is less then an hour from me. She must have told him some things she didn’t want to be exposed. Then she got on Facebook and never told me or friended me. On her page there were pictures of my brother opening a coffee shop in Boston! It is sick how she keeps us all separated. She could never have me on her Facebook becaue once again I could out her for her lies. I never would but she could never take the chance. The last time I finally got a hold of her about her annual Christmas visit I asked her why my son and I could not go to her boyfriends and meet his children and she said it would never happen. I asked why and she said she was in therapy and changed the subject. I asked about Facebook and why she didn’t friend me and she again said she didn’t know why. That was it. I cried an let it go. I would not take her one call and she had the police outside my home that did a well check on me. She couldn’t come in person and ask me what was wrong although she knows deep down what is wrong. I think if your adult child will not speak to you then you need to pull your head out of the sand and be honest about what you did to alienate them. No excuses, just honesty about your part. My mother played me like a chess piece all my life but she can’t even see it. All I ever wanted was a normal mother and family but after my Dad died my family fell apart because of my Mothers manipulating and games. It just became easier to not engage in a sick relationship anymore and live in peace.

    • Janet London
      Posted November 1, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      I have an adult daughter (26) and she refuses to answer my calls or make plans to see me. She holds me responsible for not being there for her. Our home was a difficult place since my husband can be quite mentally abusive-we are doing okay now, but he does have lapses into that behavior-and neither my son or daughter acknowledges the effect of that verbal abuse. Also I had to work many many hours and all that combined made it difficult to be the kind of mother I wanted to be. I did many good things for my children, but I am not a woman of means so I can not offer finances as an incentive to stay in touch. When she does talk to me (which is rare, she is short tempered and often ends the call early). It is painful that she is not moving on, getting a decent job (she has two college degrees), or finding someone to start a family with. It is like I have no daughter and I have to question myself as to whether to include her in my will. I wake up in the middle of the night with a tremendous void since I miss what we could have which is not enough for her. So she is basically quietly cutting off ties and I know she is depressed. No one will help me get through to her and if I email my feelings, she will call it lecturing if she responds at all. She will hang up or leave if I try to talk in person or on the phone and I know she would refuse to see a professional with me. So I need coping strategies and other women as friends who are going through this.

      • kelvin tan
        Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        Take it that she is doing okay. Don’t cling on to the past. We all go through life learning to be a better person. Just live life the best you can and know how. Look at the bright side and offer your blessing and loving kindness to all. Unless she open up, no point seeing a professional.
        Don’t worry unnecessarily.
        Take Care
        Kelvin Tan

    • abandoned parent
      Posted February 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Was stunned reading your note as it was as though I had written it. This is my first time finding online there are so many others going through the same scenario as my husband and I. We are the bio. parents, we’ve been married 38 years. Our home was filled with our children and all of their friends and then it changed. If only FORGIVENESS were still a virtue, all of us could heal and move forward. So sorry for your suffering, I know the horrible pain from all of this. Thank you for posting, and may God grant you more grace to get through this.

  9. Free At Last
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    As an estranged daughter myself (my mother was emotionally, verbally and physically abusive while I was growing up. It’s pretty obvious she has some sort of personality disorder which makes trying to have a healthy relationship with her impossible) I would advise any parents who are (rightly or wrongly) estranged to read some books to offer insight from the other point of view. “Toxic Parents” is a really good one to start with. Be really honest with yourself to see if you recognise anything there.

    I am a mother of 2 daughters myself and I know how hard it is to be a parent. I have had an large number of challenges (not just my upbringing) that have made me fall way short of my ideals. No, I have not repeated my mothers abuse. But I’ve made mistakes.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that it is not usually the mistakes, per se, that do the greatest damage between parent-child relationships. It is the inability to OWN those mistakes, make genuine and heartfelt apologies for them without shifting blame. To really LISTEN, to EMPATHISE and be willing to change and make amends.

    After all, we all stuff up (not all mistakes are equal though, and it’s important to acknowledge that) to varying degrees. So being willing to actually be WRONG and admit it is a vital relationship skill. If you don’t value your children’s (even if they dont make sense to you)feelings you are essentially giving them the message that they don’t matter. And that will devastate any relationship.

    The other point I want to make is that as a parent I know that I don’t own my children; they are essentially on loan. If they continue to have a close relationship with me after they’ve grown that will be a bonus and largely a result of whatever work I put into nurturing the bond now. But, they owe me…nothing!!! I chose to bring them into the world and so it is ME and their father who have the responsibility to do right by them, NOT the other way around. I don’t expect them to be grateful to be fed and have a food over their head – that’s a basic human right! If they’re grateful for some of the other things I’ve done right then I’ll be very happy but there is no expectation. In my experience, girlfriends of mine who had wonderful mothers genuinely adore them and are grateful that they got so lucky when so many of us didn’t.

    • Free At Last
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      One thing I’m trying to say is that (if a miracle were to occur!) and my mother wrote to me and said

      “I know I’ve made terrible mistakes. I know you need to talk about all those things if we are ever to have an honest and true relationship. I am willing to listen to the whole story even if it is painful to hear. I want to so everything I can to make it up to you because of all the suffering this has caused you. I will not accuse you of lying or distorting the truth even though I can’t remember or it is too hard to face those truths. Above all, I will for the first time in my life LISTEN to you. I want to do anything and everything I can to have a healthy relationship with you.”

      Well… If she were to say those words my jaw would drop! But I would put aside my suspicions and defences and give her another chance. If she were to follow through and DO these things we would have a chance at a new and better relationship.

      I really don’t think there’s much chance of my mother changing. But I offer these words because maybe it will help another family.

      • Susie
        Posted October 2, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        I would like to make a comment what i have read so far. It sounds like my daughter, Wendy age 23 described about me being toxic, personality disorder etc. If you are a real mum, you should look deep inside of your mum’s heart. If she ever hurt you because she is over protecting you , and she knows the pathway you are taking, will affect your future etc. She has no intention to hurt you. If you expected that your mum will write a letter to you and asking you about your condition and patch back all the loves you both have shared , chances will or not be happening at all. My daughter Wendy, was a loving daughter and she was special to me and also spiritual too. Until she mixed with wrong people and wrong boy friend. she manipulated me of trusting her by putting money into her student account to earn interest. Why I should not trust her. I have no doubts about her. I have spent 23 years of raising her on my own after relationship with her father was ended when she was young- little toodler. I did not make it happen as it was a full of mistakes of the marriage as her father betrayed me and married to him. ( Hidden agenda) should not be happening if a person wants a good relationship and good foundation with another person. All have to based on honesty in terms of the past and also do not allow money to be a greed and thinking money and materials in relationship issues.

        You are not my daughter and as far as I know she will say : Free at last. I never expected her to look after me when i am old etc. She wants to be a medial doctor , i supported her all the way and even plan out for her in the long run. As far as I know, I have spoiled her by loving her and caring her. In other words, my care and loving towards her was not good enough for her in her life.
        she stolen money of $6,000/- and went holiday with this boy friend of her who has many issues from the time she knew him.
        I could not understand why she cannot resist sex temptation with him. I have found out that she basically wanted sex so much for a long time but waiting for a guy to come along then she will experiment with it. I am not against her getting to know the guy . If she knows a good guy and she has to brain to read – using her head instead of her heart, she will not ruin her future with him. This guy has already planned to pick any girl who has intelligent and capabilities to support his future such as luxuries holidays , and waiting for her to earn big bucks to get him expensive properties at the rich areas.

        To be honest, this guy has no motivation and behaving like a little boy from year 1. I met his parents and the guy when he met me at his house , did not show welcome etc. Totally a different person who i met him outside socially.

        right now, my daughter walked out from my life. After all i have done for her was to betray me because i do not support her relationship with her present boy friend.

        As a mother, I will never abuse my own daughter. I know and understood what is abuse etc. My parents was strict but not abusive towards me. Especially, my dad had a personality crashed with me so we unable to relate to each other. I told my daughter everything about my child hood etc. because i took her as my close friend and a bond with each other was strong. All what I have accomplished so far , is to make her to hate me and she even took me to court for violence restraining order against me. I did not appeal as I gave her what she wants. however, I am not hoping that she will contact me either. I am a principle mother and I do not believe Tom and harry sleeping around over guy’s home is an ideal relationship as far as a good girl will not perform any sexual acts before marriage. if she is a good Catholic girl, she knows ten commandments , she will refrain her desires for it. Yes, when she found a good guy with no manipulation and strictly good and motivated and good prospect in his own career then relying on her , I can say that the guy can look after her and it will be mature for a guy to be a good husband to her and to her children. this present boyfriend is a thief too. Stolen equipments from hospitals and overseas too. His parents also have no religion and they do not care , he is ok or not. Only view i know is about money and how to rob others in the future. Why i know so much about this guy , was because my girl sharing with me with all his problems. I have encouraged her contact with him but until three months later, he was planning her to stay over night to his house etc. then issues about his problems with works and over all etc. All about money status. I cannot see what future he has and I know if you have a good plan and a good person , a good guy should stop sitting around talking about money and money.

        My daughter even connected my home foxtel to his mobile phone who idea was that . It was his idea. My girl has committed a fraud by doing it against the contract with foxtel company.

        You tell me what I have done so far wrong. I told her if she did marry this guy in the future etc, i will not in her life. I asked her what she wants, She simply tell me that she is leaving me and not given a chance or days to discuss.

        To be honest, can i forgive her doing. Who is right or wrong. I can said that i did something to her in which I was not proud of. But she was gathering information from her friend advice that she should take me to court. Then i saw in the facebook etc. So she called me a thief and toxic mother etc. I started to write a full story of Wendy’s life , how she was brought up etc. what was she given so far in her life to display like a princess in this society. She was given a brand new car and all the expenses paid by me and her dad.

        Well, To be honest, i have also found out that she did not love me enough if not she will not do such a thing to me so far.

        Should i forgive her if she did contact me? should I forgive her . There is nothing to say forgive or not. I will be surprised to know why she wanted to contact me if she knows that she breaks my trust and can she gain back my trust or love.

        One day , when I am gone, it will be too late for her to say well, I should contact my loving mum. she can only feel the urge to do so when she becomes a mother one day. yes, I love my own parents. My parents accepted me good and bad times.

        Well, As far as I know she looks down on me and her dad. Why she sold bad remarks of her dad to the guy’s family. Her dad was useless etc. Even stupid enough to reveal to the guy’s parents that she is the only child and she will be inherited big goodies from the estate from her dad in even of his death.

        I am very deeply disappointed of her actions. Her mental evil and actions had allowed greed to take over. Yes, I would have given her all what I have so far in my life. Due to this incident, I have donated all my estate and assets to Charity for good. leaving her no cent to collect except I have the Will update that she had received the $6,000/- in advance from stealing money from me and $1/- in the WILL and a diary for her to read upon my death bed.

        I have been praying to God , why given me this child for the past 23 years and now she turing to be evil, snob, greed, elegant. Calling herself duchess. She keeps telling me that she is indigo child and she is old soul and she does not have to return back to earth. Is she talking to devil or real angels.

        To be honest, I have nothing to feel guilt because I did my part to guide her not to control her life. She took wrongly of me.
        During period of our life, when anger speaks out with words that does not meant it. Anyway, I wish her the best for her own decision. I have said to her when friends of her have mother to call home, she will have no mum to call and it will leave her a big hole in the heart for the rest of her life.

        Yes, she is young , she will not realise now, but she might not realise in her life time once she becomes a medical professional with their snob and elegant pride in her . Only god can save her soul.

        right now, she is living with her dad and filled her dad with all the lies. She is manipulating her dad , waiting for him to handle $200,000/- to her after 2015 for her lst home deposit. basically, count her dad death bed so that she can count her goodies in her basket how much she will be getting from his estate and super fund too.

        Some mistakes that make cannot make it right. In conclusion, i only hope that she will come to her senses. If she continues to behave this way towards her friends especially stabbing their backs by doing it for herself. What goes around will come arounds. Hopefully, her eyes and her mind will open wide
        enough to realise the truth about honesty, integrity and real love.

        If you are wendy , what will you think. Yes, I have not kept any of her childhood items with me since she left home 5th July 2013. All her childhood and teens etc, ( all have been destroyed) ruined my soul and heart. I do not want to remember of her because she is like a devil to me not a child.

        she thinks i am stupid to be Asian and a also a mum for her.
        she has not stopped telling lies about me that i am trying to steal her money from the bank. All she does, was to steal my money from my saving account to be transferred automatically every fortnightly into her student account. Therefore, the bank advised me to close the account to avoid any more funds to be made by her.

        Money is not an issue. of course, right now I am working hard to save as much as possible so that I can look after myself. Luckily I have cut my losses earlier because I would have given her the whole lot in another 20 years times when i am really old , most probably , no good vehicles for her etc in her life, she might be throwing me out of the street.

        she stated that I ordered her out of the house many times. That was not truth. She complaints about what I given to her not good enough and she also labelled me no PHD not fit to be her mother and she also labelled me for months as i was antisocial etc. she even diagonised me with mental disorder after her 10 weeks mental health clinical rotation in mental facility.

        Only god can save her . I have lost a good friend for this life.

        I can only talk to God when I get there one day.

        I am not expecting her to return to my door step. What goes around will come around in due times.

        Who expected children to be goods and to be repaid in future.
        I do not expect Wendy to repay me any conditions and financial that I given to her from the moment she was born until the day she left home. I just want her to be a respectable person with good heart and compassion person. She becomes like a snob , elegant and greedy person. Two faces personality to encounter social contacts with people around 409 to 50 years old.

        We all were young before, and she will be old one day. Well, what you mentioned in your context, is what my girl wendy will be using. However, I also suspect that You might be Wendy. Your communication sound familiar unless she copied from you. If you are Wendy, Free At Last!

        Only your actions and god will knows best. I just want to let her know that her mum has cut her loses and she will not contact her in the future. she can save all the troubles of renewing her Violence restraining order from the court after 2 years.

        Wendy, You have to open your heart and soul and not your head and sexual desires. Because what you are going on now, it will suffer big blow in your life. That is the only true. Board game or no board game , you answer your own actions.

        I answer my own actions as to allow you to leave and be free for yourself. We are not more daughter and mother .

        To be honest, I also begins to realise that I do not know you either. You might think I am mad. I am not. I am protecting by god not to be broken my human soul on this earth.

        god bless and hope that this message will reach thousands of readers.

        • Anonymous
          Posted November 22, 2014 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          Hi, My heart goes out to you, I am in a similar circumstance. Please meal me if you can at ”

          God bless

  10. Linda
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    My daughter who will be 33 yrs. old October 2nd, will not have anything to do with me. She says that I am a toxic person and she wants me out of her family’s lives. I have three grandsons, ages six, eight, and fourteen who miss me a lot. My question is that I have a beautiful birthday card to send to my daughter but I want to write something really nice in the card. I cannot think of a thing to say that she will not take the wrong way or make fun of. Do u have any suggestions?
    Thank you.

    • Roxanne
      Posted October 22, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Hello Linda. I read your post and I am in the exact sqme position. My son will turn 32 on Oct. 23rd; I am sending outr a card and $100… In this case, is sometimes less is more?

      • mtnmamma
        Posted April 24, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        Why send $ at all?

    • kelvin tan
      Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      With Unconditional Love
      Peace Be With You
      Love From Your Mum.

  11. Petunia Mary
    Posted August 20, 2013 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    I was raised in a home where my mother and sister made fun of me, calling me ugly and excluding me. I always felt like I was unwanted and a third wheel. Dad was absent. I became very hurt by this and withdrew. I was also somewhat abused sexually by a stranger when I was 11 (no intercourse but forcible other). I lost boundaries and became very unsure of myself. At age 14 I began drinking heavily; I also began rebelling. I hated my mother for the way she treated me.

    I found God at age 22 and became a Christian. I had two kids then. Over the next ten years their father did a successful job harassing me to the point that I had troubles. The kids were alienated from me and went to live with him and his family. I admit I made mistakes with them and was not a good mom sometimes. I had trouble financially and was always stressed out through court battles that I could not afford. In other ways, I was a good mom. I spent time with them and taught them about the Lord.

    My family has still not forgiven me for basically not fighting in court for my kids. I stopped doing that when the kids were 12ish for several reasons: the kids did not want to live with me and told the judge so. They wanted their dad and his more wealthy family. I had nothing to offer them but me, God, and struggles in a trailer park. If I kept fighting as I had done for 12 years, I would have just prolonged the inevitable. My kids did not want to be with me. Their father and his family were what they wanted.

    I had no idea that my decision would result in my kids cutting off contact with me for the next twenty years or so. They treat me with disdain and remember no good times. I have had to cut off contact with my mom as she is constantly blaming me and telling me I cannot be respected at all. She won’t let me live a life.

    I have, through counseling and prayer, realized that my kids are in their thirties and able to reconnect with me if they desire, but they do not. I don’t try anymore, as I am tired of the rejection. I am tired of the hurt. My daughter and I almost reconnected, but she scares me. I do not trust her one bit. I fear giving her any of my heart; she will trample it under foot. She also still gains approval from her father if she shows contempt for me.

    I have repented of all my sins. I have wept over this loss. I don’t know what to do anymore. I feel guilty and so unworthy of even life these days. I want to quit work because I do not feel worthy of my job (daycare). I want to crawl in a hole. I do not want a relationship with my mom because she trashes me online and refuses a relationship with boundaries. My kids still relish in hating me and the approval that brings them, and the pity.

    Basically, I walk the narrow road with Jesus and feel really bad right now. I am very alone. I really sometimes hate myself as well. I must really be a crappy person to have so many family members hate me. I just don’t know what to feel anymore.

    • Vicky
      Posted August 26, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      Mary: You need to stop returning to your past and how your mother and sister treated you. Tragic as it was, it’s over. And to keep wallowing in it is to give your mother and sister power that they should no longer have. Today is the present. And the one thing that you can and should do is start to live in it. You alone have control over your mind and your thoughts. Make that control positive. Give yourself a chance. Live your own life and find pleasure in it. Do not let others control you any longer.

    • kelvin tan
      Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      You can overcome all hardships.
      Have a big heart with lots of compassion.
      Just radiate loving kindness to them with your loving heart.
      Live your own life meaningfully.
      Take care

  12. Maria
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Hi Patricia – if you get 2 posts from me, it’s because I wrote one before this and then it disappeared. Not sure if it was sent or not. I’ll try again. Firstly it is nice to hear from you. I’m very sorry to hear about the circumstances with your grand-daughter. That must be heart-breaking. The dilemma is whether to offer advice, intervene, or do nothing. Will anyone listen to you? If I were in your shoes I would try speaking with your daughter, your grand-daughter’s father, or maybe even directly with your grand-daughter. Some quiet time one-on-one, maybe. See if you can make a difference through those channels first. Bear in mind that not one of them may want to do this. They may not want to hear. And they may back away from you. I’m like you in that, when faced with an obvious problem close to hand, I want to help. But I’ll share a story with you when I tried this myself recently and it back-fired. A gorgeous young man in his early 20s has been part of my life since he was born. The son of friends I had known. He and I were very close, and I viewed him as a son. Problems started to brew when his mother became depressed some months previously. Happy get-togethers became tense. Everyone was affected, especially her son. Then one day I was approached by friends of this young man. They asked me to help. He was in strife, living a double life, was anxious, and didn’t want to tell his family. What was I to do? I couldn’t sleep with worry about him, and also his friends. His mother was going through a bad patch herself. Could I sit back and watch a potential train-wreck in slow motion? I had just watched a television program the night before about suicide in young men. So the potential for chaos and tragedy was highlighted. I tried a few approaches to open up some form of communication, and they didn’t work. No-one returned my calls or emails. So I never got to talk to his parents, or to him, about the issue. The problem remains. I don’t even know whether his parents are aware. But his friends are keeping me up-dated. And all I can do is watch. In some odd way, I feel annoyed that I hold a burden of this young man’s problems that should be for his parents to carry, or at least share. But it has landed in my lap and yet I have no way of helping. And the reality at this stage of life is that (unless someone tells me otherwise) people don’t really want my input. I’m like you – I cannot sit back and watch someone I care about heading in a potentially destructive direction. Because this is your grand-daughter, and a young woman you obviously love deeply, I would seek a professional opinion first. Is there someone you can speak with? Otherwise, follow your heart. Even if you are judged harshly for intervening, at least you did something. And that will rest better with you than doing nothing. Come back and update us when you feel like it. Thinking of you. Maria x

    • Patricia
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

      Hi Maria and Lisa
      I was able to have some one on one time with my granddaughters -thank goodness our relationship is still as strong as ever. It is very telling the things that they say to me, granted they are teenagers – but the world they live in is all about secrets. I am not that way and speak to them very truthfully. My oldest appears to be on track (as well as a 16 year old can be) and looks happy. With this site’s help I have moved on – there is still no money – her mortgage was up for renewal but I have heard not a word and there is nothing I can do nor is there anything I want to do. We all make our way with mistakes =but I choose not to get past the financial hardship she handed me. I guess I will never get how a 45 year old woman would not want to give back. The money was never a gift – that was made very clear – That is getting under control thank goodness. Hope all is well with you guys.

  13. Patricia
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I have been estranged from my daughter for close to 5 years – with one attempt to make it better – as long as we forgot about the way she treated me. Yesterday my granddaughters were both to come and sleep over but the 16 year old decided she needed to stay home so the 14 year old came. My dilema is this-when I took my granddaughter home today – I went to the oldest granddaughters bedroom – now this is at 12 noon, I wanted to say hi – I opened her bedroom door and was completely taken aback by her room. Now this room was not a messy teenager’s room – the clothes on the floor were at least 6 inches deep -everywhere. I had to say her name 3 times – and she finally woke up- my issue here is what is my daughter is doing to handle this situation. We know clearly that my granddaughter is depressed – but the state of her room confirmed to me that this is a deep depression. I am caught here – do I report this to social services – I believe my granddaughter needs to be put in a hospital, not left to her own devices. My daughter has all the tools and help she could possibly need to deal with this – as she is a mental health nurse. I cried all the way home – I don’t want to be put in a position that I did nothing and she be successful in hurting herself. Yet, this weekend she is going camping with her boyfriend with no adult supervision. I just don’t get it – Completely know that my daughter will be so mad that I saw that room – (she herself is a hoarder on a small scale) and I can only hope that gets her moving on taking a stand with my granddaughter and getting her the help she needs. She lets my granddaughter dictate the situation – I know that- but stand up -and get something done before its to late. Hence the reason of the estrangement – she turns a blind eye to everything.
    Thanks for listening – Lisa and Maria – you always say very encouraging things to the people who post here -

    • Lisa
      Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink


      You are in a tough situation. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Like Maria said, follow your heart and do what you believe you need to do. It sounds like doing nothing will eat you up alive. Perhaps it would be a good idea to seek a professional’s opinion. I hope it all works out for you. Love, Lisa

    • Free At Last
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      I feel for you and at the same time can empathise with your daughters position. My mother would often overstep the boundaries when it came to advising me on my own daughters (which galled me as she was a crap mother herself!) so this can be a very tricky area. Can you make some attempts to build a closer bond with said granddaughter? Maybe she will get to the point of confiding in you? I fear that anything you say to your daughter will be interpreted as interfering. Is this so? This is a very awkward and painful situation and I hope your granddaughter has some support around her.

  14. muddlingthrough
    Posted August 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    ok well I was not by any means a perfect parent and I have apologized to my estranged daughter more times than I can count. I have explained what I was thinking and feeling and where I was coming from to no avail. I have spoiled and helped and on and on. I would like to share our situation as our relationship is a deep and abiding pain in my heart and the endless guilt, chastising of myself and turning it over and over trying to figure out if I am so selfish that I cannot understand that my mistakes really do justify this incredible disrespect, alienation and humiliation. First let me say as the result of a very abusive childhood by a mentally ill mother and alcoholic stepfather- I was a very emotionally messed up kid who left home at 15 and in turn became an insecure, emotionally unstable young woman who ended up engaged to a 29 year old man at 19 and pregnant. After he cancelled the engagement due to my pregnancy I began trying to raise my child on my own while also raising my younger sister on and off. We struggled and I worked ALOT. My child was never left with babysitters that I did not know, and I discovered commission sales which although alot of hours- they were flexible and i could stay home and did when she was sick, go to sports, school etc events. Not all of them but Many.
    I worked us out of the low income neighborhood in two years, but at timid, scared and afraid to be alone I dated here and there not bringing them home until I was in a serious relationship. I married and had two more children when she was four that marriage ended (he had an affair, and after reading a story about good touches bad touches to my oldest i found that he had been tickling”” with her and getting obviously innapropriately excited) Having grew up with a stepfather who did this- I did not wait for his behavior to progress to touching her and left him taking nothing. within a year I was in another short relationship and I also decided that no ones luck was that bad and took myself to counseling for 7 years and moved to another state with my 3 chilren ages 7, 3 and 2. I was 27 and at 45 now still live in the same town. During that time I remained single, worked nights as a cocktail waitress, took courses, in Sales, business and management so that my kids could have their Mom there when they were awake. our house was where all the other kids played, painted pictures, made crafts, and put on lavish plays and musicals which they put on for our neighbors, my kids were in sports and cheerleading and FFA and we had a membership at the Y, we did alot together and each child got one “special day a month to spend with just Mom. I made a network of other single parents and we helped each other out and yes on the weekends all of us got together with pool parties, cook outs and responsible adult drinking as well. I never did any drugs, was not an alcoholic or heavy drinker. I did date a little here and there had one serious boyfriend for 3 years who although good to my children- was clearly not ready for all that came with them. I bought our first house and remodeled it when I was 29 with the money I had saved cocktail waitressing. I flipped this home and others each time saving the money, never moving more than a mile away, my kids never had to change schools or playmates. I also moved on to a demanding but successful career as a sales trainer and manager for a large international company. During this time my children had a wonderful 55 year old Nanny referred by a friend, my sister, and a live in nanny who had started out as a teenage foster child as babysitters. My oldest child did however have to watch her younger sister and brother at times and be more responsible than many other kids her age and help out with chores. They ALL did as they got age appropriate. I Finally purchased, our dream home, us into our last home in the same neighborhood 7 bedrooms 3 and half baths on over acre in an upper Middle class subdivision when I was 34. I also introduced my kids to a wonderful man whom i had been dating for 2 years unbeknownst to my children. We married a year later and every one- ALL of the kids adored him and he them. My oldest let me know of her hatred of me about a year later, yet still adored my husband. At 39 even with endometriosis, and ready for a hysterectomy we became pregnant and had my last child. My husband died unexpectedly from a gallstone and a hospital error 10 months later. My oldest child does have reason to wish her life was different. I am sure that my inability to remain alone raising her damaged her emotionally and the poor choices I made in men when she was little as well and the guilt has been overwhelming, to the point that my other two and my late husband said that i spoiled her and allowed too much disrespect. but they always came first. My jobs were chosen so I could be there for them, i did not go out every night not even once a week, and I did not keep anyone in my life who did not understand that they would always be second to my commitment and responsibility to my kids. I have acknowledged, apologized, explained and begged forgiveness. We barely speak, although I bought her several vehicles all no less than 10,000. paid the last one off brand new, co signed student loans, helped pay insurance, for books, rent and whatever emergencies and help i could until she was about 23 and she has graduated with a Masters. She live s in another state has married a fine man, and just had my first grandchild. I am included very little and not recognized at all publicly for the things I do paying for honeymoon which they bought furniture with instead, but The money was there, wedding veil, jewelry and decorations for the reception, coming early and organizing and decorating the reception hall, baby shower, handmade toasting glasses, keepsakes etc,. the usual proud Mom stuff. I dont need to be publicly acknowledged , but she tells every one i have never been and am never there for her. That she raised herself and overcame this ghetto awful life which simply is not accurate. She also posts the smallest things on FB that anyone does for her, yet you would have to search her 890 pictures very hard to find any of those with me at her wedding, birth of my grandchild, etc. she even went so far as to drop her middle name, which is my first name. I just cannot seem to make it up to her or gain her forgiveness for in her words” not being a married stay at home Mom, who wore peter pan collars, baked brownies” She told me when she was 117 she had wanted the kind of life you see on TV and she resents me for not giving it to her. I feel so guilty about having her when I was clearly not ready to be a mother, and that I couldnt seem to get it together soon enough, but I cannot continue to subject myself to the constant and hurtful, exclusion, disrespect, insults, minimizing, litany of all my mistakes and faults, and propagandizing to her younger siblings- who although they have had normal teen issues with me do not have the ones she has and have expressed to me that they wonder if they should since she tells them that they just don’t remember or see the way I really was and am. It is excruciatingly painful and I have often lost hours , days, turning it over in my head as to how to fix it. is she right? AmI crazy, selfish, blind etc and is she justified in just behaving in most every way as if I don’t exist or am this lowly person?

    • Marie
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink


      Your experience sounds very similar to my own. I believe I was more like a nanny, or foster parent to my daughter, just someone to take care of all her needs and make sure she was always having a good time. That’s all I was good for, food, clothes, a roof over her head and entertainment. Now that she doesn’t need me for that, she’s gone. As a child, she was always off chasing strangers, my other children weren’t like that at all. I’ve come to believe that some people are born missing something important, that makes them able to attach to others, and return love that was given to them. I don’t believe that all estranged children are like this, but, if your daughter was loves as you describe, maybe she is missing it, also. I now just like to think of them as you would a blind person, and accept that they can’t help it, continue to love her, as much or as little as she lets you in her life.You couldn’t choose to do anything else, maybe she can’t either.

  15. MeeMee
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Dr. Coleman –

    Why are you allowing the comment section to become an entitlement-fest for people who obviously have not read your advice—let alone plan to take it?

    On one hand, yes, these folks need support. On another, they are just enabling each other to make really bad decisions (a lot of the advice many commenters are giving totally contradicts your excellent article).

    As an estranged child, I really appreciate what you wrote. Wish my mother would read it (though I doubt she’d ever follow it). My stepfather is violent (and so was my biological father). My mom is very manipulative and has gaslighted me most of my life. She’d rather put her child’s physical and mental safety in jeopardy rather than admit and take responsibility for tying down to crazy nasty men. My decision to cut her off was one of the most difficult things I ever did, but protecting my child and husband comes before my relationship with her. Sadly she thinks she doesn’t get to see me or my child out of me being spiteful. Thinking of how she starts fights with me in front of my kid or possibly putting my child in danger around my stepfather invokes my inner mamma bear and my husband’s papa grizzly. What can I do? I find friends and get support outside my biological family (which most I don’t know well or are bs crazy). Used to think I was crazy and worthless. The longer I am away from my parents, the more I realize that was a lie they made me believe.

    • MeeMee
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your article. I hope someone actually pays attention to it and it does end up helping people (both parents and adult children).

  16. V
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    With each posting I read, there was something with which I could identify. We have been estranged for two years and three months. G and I were always close. He was an only child/grandchild for eight years and spoiled. As a young adult, I thought we were close friends. He became a father at 23 with my first grandson. G and the mother never married and eventually broke up when G found someone else. He paid support for a few months then began to hide from the mother, me and the law. I continued to pay his truck insurance and cell phone. Finally, he cut the ties and I stopped paying his bills. However, I began the support for my grand baby and still provide for all his needs. My husband and I sued the mother for visitation rights and she ended up giving us my son’s rights, which he signed off on the court documents. I have gone from angry to grieving from the heartbroken feelings of loss to now only allowing myself to think about him once a day. It is my husbands and my opinion that this situation is a result of G’s girlfriend. From conversations, we found her to be controlling and self centered. It seems she wanted to keep G away for fear he would listen to our advice or opinions instead of hers. G had a good income and could support her and her two daughters, very well especially if he didn’t pay child support for his son. So, he cut all ties. I attempted many times with cards, letters and messages to speak to my son, but things were returned. Now, two days ago I got a Facebook message from the girlfriend appearing to encourage a reconciliation with our son…under conditions of course. We have to not argue and forget the past. Okay, that’s not a problem. The thing is…I do not trust this girl. She has lied to me, called me viscous names, and caused this estrangement. Do I give up the peace I have now and allow the drama just to see my boy? I know it will not only cost me emotionally but financially. What about the grandson he doesn’t support or visit? I have him every other weekend and two night a week. I refuse to mess with the structure and consistency we have established for the baby. He is the center of our world. We are upper middle class and provide well for him at his mothers apartment and at our home. I am sure the girlfriend has seen evidence of this on Facebook and wants a share for her two daughters. I love my son and don’t know what to do. I always ask myself what a person has to gain from a situation. She will gain the because she is from a low socioeconomic background…welfare, and G will think he has access to things he once enjoyed…vacations, gifts of money. I guess I’m scared. Any thoughts/advice?
    Heartbroken and confused mom

    • Lisa
      Posted June 23, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Dear V,

      Gosh, it is so confusing and yes, heartbreaking as well. I sure wish I had an answer for you but I don’t. Is there any way you could possibly have contact with just your son in a neutral/public location to start and maybe leave the girlfriend out of it? I know all about “grubbing” DILs…..

      I hope you can work out some sort of equitable solution to at least get some nice time with your son without disrupting the even keel your Grandson currently enjoys. Love, Lisa

      • Maria
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        Lisa – I just wanted to say Hi. You copped a bit of flack from Jess (to whom I have replied further below). Remember you are mostly ‘speaking’ with people of your own age here. People who have gone through similar experiences of estrangement with their children. We understand. And we care about you!! Keep that close.

        Hug from Maria x

        • Lisa
          Posted July 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

          Thanks Maria,

          I guess I worded my post all wrong because it certainly did infuriate a few people. I guess I should realize that not everyone who posts on this page reads through earlier posts so they really can’t see that I truly empathize with anyone estranged from their children. I also feel bad for those “children” that post here as it sounds like they have really been treated badly and for that I am very sorry. So, thanks for the support Maria, I honestly do appreciate it and need it. I still have my good days and my bad days. Love, Lisa

          • Anonymous
            Posted July 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

            Hi Lisa
            You are very supportive to anyone who writes on this blog both you and Maria have the right things to say at the right time. Keep it up

          • Patricia
            Posted July 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

            Hi Lisa
            I am not Anonymous – lol didn’t realize I needed to fill in my name. The comment was from me

          • Lisa
            Posted July 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink


            Thank you for your kind words. I hope things are going better for you. Let us know how you’re doing. Love, Lisa

    • Maria
      Posted June 27, 2013 at 12:41 am | Permalink

      Dear V – I understand your feelings of mistrust. You have carved out a niche that allows your grandson into your lives, and that must be protected. Lisa’s suggestion of speaking with your son on neutral ground is sensible. But even then, keep your guard up. I would also be wondering what G’s girlfriend wants from you. Why now? Sitting on the edge is your grandson’s mother and of course your grandson. My view is that your son owes you a solid and heartfelt explanation for his behaviour, not only about his treatment of you and his father, but also about his own little son. Unless that sounds sincere, then I would think carefully. Above all, you and your husband deserve peace. Allowing G’s girlfriend and her children into your life may not give you that. It will certainly add to a complicated picture. Listen to your own guidance, V. You’ll know what to do. Nothing stays the same forever so in time the circumstances may heal.

      My own daughter discarded me about four years ago, and she has re-built her life without even a turning of the head to see how I am. It’s all a disgrace and I’m so ashamed she has grown up into someone I cannot believe is the same beautiful young girl I called my daughter. Sometimes….there are no answers.

      Trust in yourself, V.
      Maria x

    • Sonya
      Posted June 27, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      As many others have commented, I am so glad to have found this forum as I am estranged from my 21 year old son and have not known where to turn to deal with the absolute heart breaking pain. It is like a grief that never goes away. I am finding real comfort to know that I am not alone. Thank you Lisa and Maria in particular for your great advice.

      • Maria
        Posted June 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Hi Sonya – I agree that it is so reassuring to know we are not alone. People who don’t have these estrangements with their children find it impossible to understand. In fact, one friend asked me a couple of years back: ‘What did you do to her?’. Judgement on his part that I must have done something terribly wrong. In some ways, I wish there was a clear answer and that may make it easier to heal the rift. But the whole thing is a sad and bewildering mess. I may never understand.

        Believe it or not, the grief you are feeling will lessen over time. I hope that you and your son are reunited. That is the best possible outcome. Should that take a while, please value yourself again. I know what it is like to feel unworthy due to these horrible rifts. My own advice to myself is: Be your own best friend. Try that, Sonya. It has helped me. Treat yourself as though you matter – because you do.

        Come back and talk to us when you feel like you need to.

        Maria x

      • Lisa
        Posted July 1, 2013 at 6:53 am | Permalink

        Dear Sonya,

        This grieving is a process that no one should ever have to go through. I believe we will grieve forever but the pain will get less. You are not alone here – My heart hurts for you.

        Healing is hard work but once you start to see the light you realize you are more than a mom – you are a person who is lovable, talented and remarkable in your own special way. Never give any other that much power over your identity or self esteem. You will have good days and bad days on this journey but you can get there —– one day at a time. Love, Lisa

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      “He was an only child/grandchild for eight years and spoiled”

      I hate to break this to you, but children only become spoiled because their parents let them. It has nothing to do with being “only children.” The fact you say this makes it clear you are trying to avoid the responsibility for raising a spoiled child or you only perceive him as spoiled.

      My husband is an only and so is my daughter—and neither of them are spoiled. In fact studies show that only children tend to grow up to be better adjusted than most kids with siblings (note: I say most). So please don’t blame your kid’s personality on his birth order. That’s a load of bull.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Hi I have a similar situation,

      They live together and they are getting married in
      May in Las VEgas, I’m not invited .

      My son and I Had a great relationship for 28 years until she came along, but it is he who allows her behaviour, she just keeps on pushing.

      My other son, his elder brother is stuck in the middle,

      I need help too.

      • Lisa
        Posted July 23, 2013 at 5:28 am | Permalink

        Are you the only one in your family not invited or do they just want a real small event? I hope that’s the case. It’s a tough situation with sons when they decide to settle down. For some reason, some of them perceive that they must make a choice and in a lot of cases their wives or wives to be put that onus on them. With both of my sons, I’ve tried to step back so they don’t feel like I’m forcing them to make the choice. I know it’s hard because I desperately miss the close relationship I had but it is something I had to do for my own peace of mind as well. Take it one day at a time. Love, Lisa

  17. Lucille
    Posted June 1, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    My 25 year old daughter has been drifting away for about two years. I’m in the middle of a divorce and just when I thought things couldn’t get worse; they did. She hasn’t responded to me in three months.

    We were so close, I just don’t understand how ANY family member can do this to another. I’m cycling between anger and grief. I know I haven’t been a perfect parent and never claimed to be.

    I know she has a lot on her plate as a young married mother or four children ranging 2-8. I watched helplessly as her life circled the drain; going from a promising young woman with her whole life ahead of her, to becoming a pregnant teen with twins boys who were eventually diagnosed with autism.

    I let her know I was there to help when and wherever I could and offered well intended advise in hopes that she would listen, but never forcing issues as I knew she’d get her back up.

    She is very paranoid about her kids and her environment Eg: only butter knives in the house because the boys might get hold of a sharp knife…no hand towels in the bathroom to dry hands, because she thinks they’re dirty…. No vacuum, because it’s too loud, no cleaning solutions because they’re all toxic (?) This is a small example of a larger picture that equalls what I couldn’t even begin to describe as a filthy dysfunctional home.

    She then proceeded to have 2 more children, whom, I feel, take a back seat to the disabled boys. She caters constantly to them while they tear around the house with no clothes on chewing holes in everything and throwing food everywhere; literally.

    She was finally letting my little grandaughter spend the odd night with me and she and I were getting close before my daughter cut me off :( I know she enjoyed it at grandmas because it was the only quiet one on one time she got.

    I believe my daughter is in denial about the boys and their condition. She seems to think that the next new therapy or vitamin or whatever is going to cure them. It’s sad to watch. She has been given good advice from friends and professionals alike and refuses anything outside her comfort zone. I think her husband has also thrown up his hands and goes along with whatever she wants.

    I belive this estrangement started about two years ago when she had a meltdown and finally asked my opinion about the boys and what I honestly thought. I (kindly) told her that: We all hope that the boys will get better BUT it’s important to hope for the best, prepare for the worst and THAT she should look into all options including medication and long term care…..for the good and love of the entire family.

    She seemed fine with my input and even agreed with most of it. Then two days later while talking on the phone, she got hostile with me and said she never knew I felt that way about the boys and that she’d never “medicate them” or “throw them in a home” This is, of course, is not what I said, or how I said it. I know she’s hurting, but they’re diagnoses has effected the whole family (my 82 year old mother included) She seems to have lost sight of that. “No man is an island unto themselves.”

    If you’re still here, thanks for reading this,


    Please tell me it can’t get any worse.

    • Lisa
      Posted June 3, 2013 at 5:32 am | Permalink


      My heart aches for you. It must be so difficult to see your daughter in such deplorable conditions and not be able to help because of choices beyond your control. I can take comfort in the fact that my son and step-son are both successful and have beautiful little families that are healthy and happy. At this point just try to take care of yourself in hopes that one day your daughter will reach out for your help. I hope this happens soon for you. Love, Lisa

      • Marg
        Posted June 5, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        Why mention your own healthy situation? It was really mean to mention your own “successful, beautiful, happy, healthy little family”. That’s just plain mean. Estrangement can happen at any time, to any parent. Don’t think you’re immune. You’re not.

        • Lisa
          Posted June 6, 2013 at 5:29 am | Permalink


          I’m sorry you misunderstood me….. I certainly didn’t intend to be mean. I AM estranged from my sons’ families and believe me I feel that pain. I meant to empathize with Lucille even more because she has to feel helpless about her daughter’s situation when she wants so much to help. I, at least, can take comfort in the fact that my sons (again, from whom I’m estranged) are doing well and so are their children. I only suffer from the fact that they want little to nothing to do with my husband and me and they seem to not care at all about our well being. I have plenty of posts throughout this blog articulating my situation. Again, I’m so sorry if I came off as anything but supportive. Love, Lisa

        • Anonymous
          Posted July 10, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

          I second that it is cruel and sickening to mention your perfect little family! It makes me hope that you suffer some adversity so you will learn to have some empathy.

          • Lisa
            Posted July 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

            Anonymous, again, I don’t know where I said I have a perfect little family. I’ve apologized for a badly written post and my heart still aches for Lucille. Your wish for me suffering adversity came true quite a while ago so perhaps you can take some comfort in that. I’m not sure what your situation is but I certainly wish you peace and resolve in it. Take care, Love, Lisa

        • Lisa
          Posted July 13, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          I aplogized for my post coming off the wrong way. I don’t see anywhere in it that indicates I am perfect or happy with my situation. I only meant to point out that Lucille is suffering even more than I am and my heart truly does ache for her. I have been on this blog for a long time and I’ve garnered a lot of support from it and I’ve tried to give some back. Please don’t pass judgement on me so quickly over one mis-written post. I appreciate your point of view as a child who is estranged from her mother but try to understand that we are all different as are our situations. I wish you did have the answer for all of us but you don’t. I won’t apologize for being thankful that my sons and their families are doing well and healthy. It IS what every Mother wants for her children. The fact that they only want me (and their father) in their lives when they want or need something will always hurt us. We would like to have continued to be good friends with them but they’ve chosen otherwise. I hope that someday you can resolve the issues with your own Mother. Love, Lisa

    • Maria
      Posted June 27, 2013 at 12:49 am | Permalink

      Lucille – you posted this some weeks back but I have only just read it. From what you write, your daughter (like mine!) doesn’t value your input. Heart-breaking stuff when all we are trying to do is behave like caring parents. My only suggestion is to be there for your daughter and your grand-children but maybe at arms-length. Step back a bit (which I didn’t do, by the way). Make peace of mind your aim, and stay on message with that. You can’t help someone who won’t acknowledge there is even a problem. Your life matters and, from the way you write, I know you would do anything for your family. But just take a step back from the chaos for a while, and watch. Focus on taking very good care of yourself. I really do hope that it all works out well. Maria. x

  18. Estranged son
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been estranged from my father for almost a decade. One day, he picked up and left our family and moved out of the country to marry his mistress who is only 2 years older than my sister. He would claim we’re estranged because “he did too much for me” when he really wasn’t there when I needed him the most. I see a lot of parents in denial here and you really need to stop acting like you’re innocent. It makes me so angry when I see comments like that.

    • Maria
      Posted June 1, 2013 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      Dear Estranged Son – we all need to remember that every situation is unique. Don’t be angry when reading comments from parents. I suggest not many of us are in denial – we are simply trying to understand how our respective lives got to this stage. There is a lot of sadness associated with estrangements, and I can only assume that you also hold that emotion about your father. I hope there is a form of reconciliation between the two of you before too much more time passes. Take care of yourself, ES, and don’t judge the rest of us too quickly. Maria

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        Wow, Maria –

        You started out making a lot of sense, but you ended projecting yourself into Estranged Son’s situation. It is only his business to choose to reconcile with his father. No one has any business suggesting it to him—save the people who actually are aware of the details of the situation. He may be happier, healthier, and saner than he’s ever been by not having an abusive leech in his life.

    • Lisa
      Posted June 3, 2013 at 5:28 am | Permalink

      Estranged Son,

      Maria is right. Please don’t put the rest of us in the same category as your Father. It does seem that he blew his chances with you and believe me, I’m so sorry for the pain you feel from that. I wish for you peace and resolution to your particular situation. Love, Lisa

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      Estranged Son – I totally agree with you. I wonder how many of these “parents” actually read the article (and why on Earth “Maria” keeps answering with contradictory advice from the article). A few of these folks may be in the right, but the sense of entitlement and abusive attitudes that generate from the majority of them make it clear why their kids aren’t really in their lives. They need to go back and actually *read* this article.

  19. Patricia
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi –
    Once again Mother’s day is here (and nothing) I might add this was going on a lot longer that this estrangment – and I can’t imagine how my daughter must be feeling in thinking that this is OK. For those who have not read my story – my daughter is a pysc. nurse, and got to that place with all of my support both emotional and financial. Since then -in the course of 5 years past we have communicated face to face only once, she wasn’t prepared to explain to me why she feels that ignoring our situation is going to be good for her in the long run. My story is a long one and I am past all the anger I feel towards her so I will not diarize it again. The biggest fact for me -is the part of this situation that she believes that I don’t have a life – and and owing me so much money -“what does it matter”. My biggest thing is getting off her mortgage which is coming up – might you not soon enough. I would love to retire – yet helping her put that out of reach for at least 7 years. Always I can’t figure out why that part of her -the part that she doesn’t think she is accountable to me and what goes on in my life. For me – I am lucky tI am not sad on having that relationship with her ended.-there was too much take and not enough give . There has to come a time in one’s life that the door slams shut and is locked. After I found this site – the people on here helped me to get to that point with their situations. I have a very comfortable relationship with my grand kids who are teenagers now – who love me -and listen and appreciate all that I can do for them So HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all of you.

    • Lisa
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 5:22 am | Permalink


      I remember your story. I’m so glad for you that you have a good relationship with your grandchildren. You certainly deserve it and you surely deserve to be treated better by your daughter. It’s impossible to know or figure out why it is that they don’t appreciate the sacrifices we’ve made for our children. They seem to have no clue as to what it took to get them where they are now. Like you, probably, if I had “invested” our money elsewhere, I could be retired now. Still, I’m luckier than you in that retirement is in my sights so I feel for you that your ungrateful daughter has delayed that for you. I does sound, though, like you’re getting other aspects of your life together and that you’re at peace with your situation. I’m so glad for that. A belated Happy Mother’s Day to you and I wish for you continued healing. Love, Lisa

      • Maria
        Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Hi Jess – I’ve just read a few of your posts. I know you’re angry but your comments a bit harsh. You are speaking to people who have ‘children’ of your age. Please take it easy.

        When I was 36 (your age, I believe) I had a completely different view of the world than I do now. Life experience and the passing of years will alter your perspective also. What I have learned over the past years is that two people in a shared experience can often recall that memory with no commonality. One’s recollection can be the opposite of another’s. Human nature at work. The parents on this forum are trying to find out what happened in their families – and their perspective is real for them (as it is for me).

        I found most of your comments were directed at Lisa (whom I don’t know). Your interpretation of Lisa’s words are judgmental. And she doesn’t deserve a smack on the wrist from anyone. She, like all of us (including you), are doing our best. Life is a complex beast. When any of us have problems we search desperately for answers, for solutions. And sometimes we can’t see or find any. So we become stuck. I am in that situation. My best way of coping is to look after myself and create new chapters in my life that make a difference. When the time is right, I pray there is a resolution to my own differences with my daughter.

        Jess, go softly through life. It will unfold in ways that you cannot anticipate at your age. Some good, some not so good. In my 30’s I was strong and opinionated and I look back at that young woman and wish I had not judged others as I too easily did. The years pass quickly, Jess, and one day you will be our age.

        Thank you for taking the time to post on here. All input is valuable.

        Maria x

        • Jess
          Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

          Hi Maria–

          Thank you for your thoughtful post. I appreciate what you are saying even though I do not agree with all of it. I understand that as time goes on I will look back and not feel the same way about events perhaps than I do now. I have lived long enough now to realize this :) and I do spend a fair amount of time thinking about how I would feel is X happened and I can actually extrapolate to a certain extent what my possible future will be based on how the past and the present go.

          It’s interesting to me that I do not find my comments harsh (though I don’t see how they can bring much comfort to the person I was responding to–comforing isn’t my goal as much solving the problem). I find that providing comfort while coddling the exact opinions and beliefs that led to the pain that required comforting does not actually help a person. It simply enables and continues the negative situation. I know that lots of people other than the poster read posts, and my comments are as much for them as for the person I am responding to. I see a lot of confusion as to why estrangements happen, and I’m trying to provide the very perspective the poster is perhaps not aware of and is asking to know. I know from my own situation that what one person says is not necessarily what another person hears–a lot of parents here are asking WHY?? And the answer is usually very clear. I have no doubt that children HAVE explained, but the parent didn’t understand it. I know I’ve said flat out to my mother what the problem was, in the clearest terms the English language has, and she still would come back to me later and ask WHY? It’s taken years for her to understand what I’ve been saying, to hear what I’ve been telling her. I suspect the same is true of many people posting here and their situations, and I would like other people to avoid the pain my mother and I currently are in. If my experiences could help even ONE family avoid what mine is going through…well, that wouldn’t make my pain worth it, but it would be better than not helping someone. I don’t want anyone else to go through this. It sucks.

          I also see a lot of parents expecting something back from their children, and I’m trying to express why this is perhaps not going to help them end an estrangement. Just as the estranged children must put aside expectations of the past in order to begin the forgiving and healing process, so too must parents put aside THEIR expectations of the future. I see a lot of parents expecting to talk with their kids frequently, or expecting to have a certain type of relationship now that they are getting on in years, and what I want to help parents understand is that the relationship that people have in the present is typically the result of how the relationship went in the past. My mom and I aren’t friends now….not because she hit me as a child (she did), not because of ANYTHING that happened in my childhood. Unless of course you include the loss of an important relationship. I lost the relationship I had with my mom because she walked away, though she doesn’t see it that way. She is slowly beginning to, and she does agree with my perspective to a certain extent (while she doesn’t agree with everything, she does agree that she left my in the lurch both emotionally and financially–she did not agree with this even two years ago but talking with her and explaining my situation repeatedly has changed her mind).

          Raising kids is hard, it’s expensive, and just like everything else in life not everyone should do it. I don’t have children, and while there’s still the possibility of that in the future I am grateful that I did not have them before now. I would have been a “good parent” just like the parents on this blog–provided them with money and opportunity, focused on them etc etc etc. Everyone says this is what they would do as a parent, and every parent I know believes they do this for their children, even the ones who I think don’t and who I believe are going to have some of the same problems down the line that my family has had. It’s like watching a train wreck and having no one listen to you when you warn them about what’s coming down the line. But I would also undoubtedly be in the same position as many of the parents on this blog. Because the best you can do is still not necessarily enough.

          That having been said, I think you are right in that I am angry and frustrated with how things are going in my own life where my mother is concerned, and with some of the parents on this blog, and for the same reasons most of the time. I will in the future try to be less harsh, though I don’t see my posts as being harsh. They’re honest and perhaps not easy to hear. The truth is not always easy, but it’s usually the only way to fix a problem and move forward. I would like to fix things, not make them pretty or easy or nice. I’ve tried nice and patient and mature, and it goes nowhere. Sometimes the only way to move forward is to realize and integrate a painful truth that you have blocked, or ignored, or pretended wasn’t true.

      • Maria
        Posted July 6, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        Hi Jess – you wrote openly further below to my post to you. But I couldn’t reply to that as the Reply button was missing – technology gremlins, I assume.

        Thank you for telling us more about your story.

        Most parents will agree that having children is one of the most challenging parts of life. And, you’re right, it isn’t easy and isn’t for the faint-hearted. But bringing a new life into the world is (if we are given that opportunity) a wondrous event. And the truth is that most of us just blunder our way through the years, hoping we do good and hoping we do no harm. Somewhere in the middle is probably what we achieve. So when your mother says “but I loved you”, she really means that. It is as simple as that sounds. She loved you. No-one is privy to what occurs in a parent/child relationship, so only you and she know the truth of that. But I suggest she probably did her best. None of us have the tools to be the perfect parent.

        When we get to my (and probably your mother’s) age, there is a lot of reflection on the past. Looking back over events and wishing we could change them. Running parallel to that is the looming reality that we have lived most of our time. Life is finite. We are beginning to tire. The ageing process is quite emotional and confronting. Finding peace in what we have done, and haven’t done, is at the foremost of our minds. I went through many years of anguish trying to understand why my daughter changed when she met her (now) husband. Years that were traumatic and dramatic for all of us. We have both stepped back from each other’s lives (and that wasn’t done calmly – it was awful), and in some ways I think it has saved our respective sanity. I pray that it is only temporary.

        Jess, there may be a time when talking with your mother and trying to thrash out the reasons need to be put to one side. Step away from the drama, and let it rest for a while. Is there any more to be gained by trying to point out your perception of the ‘truths’ to your mother?

        I doubt any of us can ever understand another person (or even ourselves) fully. You are young and you have your whole life ahead of you, and I hope it is filled with joy. But there will be those low moments also and it is from those that we learn our greatest lessons. If anyone could give me advice when I was in my 30’s – and would I have listened?! – I wish it had been “Go gently. Don’t struggle so much. Be kind. No-one is perfect.”

        You are obviously an intelligent and thoughtful young woman. And, after reading your last post, I now realise you were trying to break these patterns of estrangement in others’ lives. And that is a decent thing to do. But every story is so different and unique, that it is impossible to advise anyone with absolute clarity or certainty. Each formula for change will be dependent on that situation and the people involved.

        If there is any chance of seeing your mother in a different light, and accepting that as a human being she made many mistakes (like all of us), then try to do that.

        My father actually did say to me and my siblings often: Don’t struggle – so I did get that advice. The problem was that none of us had any clue as to what he meant! We laughed it off. But the wisdom from a man who had lived more years than us was right. I hope you understand what I mean by this, Jess – but try to just ‘be’. That is not mean to be patronising. It is a mantra I use for myself whenever I feel it is all to hard to work out. Just be. Find that little place of peace inside yourself, and hopefully the answers will reveal themselves.

        Please come back when you’re ready and let us know how things are working out for you.

        Maria x

        • Jess
          Posted July 8, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

          Hi Maria–

          I’m sorry that you seem to think that my issues with my mother are rooted in my childhood. They are not. I do not blame my mother for how she raised me–I was lucky!! She did love me, just as she does now, but the difference is that she paid attention to life and things and me when I was a child (after she left my biological father of course, not before). My issues with her are how she has acted while we have both been adults. You’re right, she WAS blundering through things much like young parents do when she raised me. And what a great job she did! But she was a full adult, over 50, when she stopped being reliable, when she stopped listening to me and started making empty promises, stopped remembering conversations, stopped paying attention to my concerns (tears and public displays eventually became a part of it, and this moved her…not at all). I have never doubted her when she has said she loved me. Her love for me is not at issue. My concern is her behavior. I’ve actually asked her to get checked out by a medical doctor, as perhaps something organic is going on, but evidently that is not the case. She’s just stopped listening to anyone but her husband. And while she says she cares when I tell her about what’s going on, she makes promises about what she will do in the future and then she doesn’t keep them. She says racist things and then expects me to not take issue (more than 50% of the people I spend a great deal of time with are of a different race, so yeah, that’s an issue for me). She says she will always support me, but then questions my domestic violence situation and takes someone else’s side. And I’ve never lied to her about anything like that, I rarely lie to her at all. I certainly didn’t when I was a kid (co-dependent I think, I even went home from a house party at a house I was staying at when I was 13 because I knew she wouldn’t like it and she’d told me to never engage in such things (all sets of parents were gone, go figure on how she thought that was ok, to leave me for the weekend with a friend who’s parent’s were out of town when I was 13).
          I have never expected her to be perfect. I don’t think any child does. I do expect to be able to trust her word. I do expect to not be faced with racism when I want to bring a friend “home” (I don’t do this anymore, I was just surprised about the racism when it came up suddenly, out of the blue).

          I’m not sure what you meant with the paragraph about getting old. Please understand that as I speak to my dying grandparents every night while I am going through the tail end of a three-year mid-life crisis (complete with cripling back pain, and co-workers who are still trying to get me fired for the disability I needed to take over two years ago) that I do understand about the passage of time. I face my own mortality every day, while I am watching those closest to me slowly fail, and I do understand that life is finite. That’s why I do not want to waste more on frustration and pain. I do not wish to lose more significant others (I don’t blame them for leaving given their own histories with their own mothers and their own families racism–trust me, you have no idea) because of someone else’s racism (and my bad choice–when told I would have to leave my black boyfriend in the hotel for Christmas, I made the wrong choice and went home without him. I won’t make that mistake again–you’re right, we all do make mistakes sometimes, but I learn from mine).

          I think you misunderstand–I am not interested in making sure my mother knows she is wrong. I suspect that you are in that situation, and think that you believe that is what your children are doing (it might not be, hint hint). That is not the case here. But I cannot go forward in a relationship with her unless I know that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. I was not exaggerating when I said what she has done has been damaging. I cannot allow her to damage my friends, and I need to make sure that should I have children, she and her husband do not damage them (don’t get me started on what he’s like–I would worry sexually about my kids if he were to be around). I will not risk those I love because someone else who says they love me does damaging things to them. I know that I will have to take care of my mother someday the way she is taking care of my grandparents, and I will do my “duty” probably with as much care as she is doing for her parents. This is not about making sure I’m right, but about not allowing one person I love to continue to hurt other people I love, or me (I’m worth that, too, you know).

          LOL and no, I don’t have my whole life ahead of me, though it’s interesting to me that you project onto me and say that I do. The best years of my life, the years when I was young enough to change careers or plans or partners or friends or living spaces easily ,the days when I could be accepted into just about any program without major additional expense and time are over. My life is pretty set. I’ve got my degrees, and my career, and my settled life. It may not be what I envisioned, but it would be excruciatingly difficult to change, so thank goodness I am satisfied with it. My life is pretty well tracked out, and while changing tracks is not impossible, it’s pretty hard at this point. That’s why I suspect that mid-life crises happen at my age (among other related reasons). I may actually be infertile, and if I get pregnant it will be called a “geriatric” pregnancy. My whole life is certainly not ahead of me.

          And I post here because while I realize that every life is different, and every story, there are threads running through most of these posts that are related, or even the same. Isn’t that why you are all here, because you share the same estrangement with your children? Do you not wish to make it better? I am telling you how to make it better by giving you the perspective you clearly do not have, or at least am trying to. The main problem with ALL these stories is the same lack of understanding, the same lack of clarity in communication. Instead of trying to refute what I say, I hope that you can see that my words could possibly be the window to understanding your own situation if only you would listen instead of refute. I often find that a perspective similar to mine but from a totally different person can help me understand my own situation, open my mind to possibilities I did not see before. I am trying to provide that for the parents posting here since it seems they are not aware of their blindspots. Obviously not every one will hear me, but what I say might help someone your age and in your position understand how they got to where they are, and without that I firmly believe that you cannot find your way out. But as I’ve found with my own mother most of the time, the desire to justify and get what you want without doing the work to get it overrides any ability to hear the things that might help you reach your children. After 15 years, I cannot spend more time and effort and money to explain to her what’s wrong. She isn’t able to understand. I was hoping that others might. If I was wrong, well, I tried :). Isn’t that your mantra?

          Again, please understand that I am not trying to get my mother or you to see how she has wronged me. I am trying to get her to stop being destructive and damaging to me and our relationship, and I suspect that many children of parents here are doing the same. I need how we interact to change, or our relationship will simply die. I don’t want that, as I suspecgt you do not want it with your children. But if you are not willing to see how your own actions have contributed to your current situation…well I cannot do anything for you. I wish you the best.

          I am not sure what you mean by don’t struggle. That sounds disturbingly like a sick molestation or rape joke. I love my mother, and miss who she used to be. But I can’t risk her damaging my life, or my health, or my profession (yeah, I didn’t even go into that here) or god forbid my relationships with my other loved ones going forward.

          What you don’t seem to understand is that this really isn’t about the past but about the future. The reality is that none of us GETS to the future without living through and dealing with the past, and the present. I see your desire to just have everything ok, and I feel for you. But wishing won’t get you there. If you keep expecting to get certain things from your kids, I suspect you will continue to be as disappointed by your expectations in much the same way that your children may be disappointed by theirs. But you have the ability to do something, as long as the waters aren’t muddied to much. In your case they may be, much like in mine. Coming back from that situation has added difficulties, and is significantly harder. I can tell you that my mother dearly wishes she had listened to me in the years after her marriage (her words) but she didn’t. If I could stop that from happening in anyone else’s life, I would. And that’s partly why I’m here.

          I do have some answers to my problematic situation, and they all tell me to not put myself into a position where I could be hurt, or others around me. I’m sorry that you see only your situation in my words–I was hoping that my situation might illuminate others’, so that they might avoid the pain I am in, as is my mother.

          I hope that you are someday able to separate your story from your reality, so that you and your children might see eye to eye again.
          And please, if you take anything away from my words (and it does not seem like you do, since you lecture instead of look for a way to use my experience to fix the problem YOU’VE come here to have fixed/answered (“why?”)), take this: understand that no child walks away from their parent(s) without significant cause. If they have as your children have, there is a reason. Chances are you simply have not listened–I speak from extensive experience, and my mother agrees with me at this point about that. Making light or de-emphasizing the pain caused by parental neglect or ignorance or outright direct action cannot help your situation.

          I appreciate that you were not trying to patronize. You still did. Do you see a parallel here to what is going on in your own life with your children?

          I hope things improve for us all,

    • Maria
      Posted May 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Hi Patricia – nice to see you back here again. I haven’t been on here for a while thus my delay in posting.

      Just keep going, Patricia. You are doing well. I am convinced that there are some situations in life that have no answers. And these estrangements with our grown-up children is one of them. Four years have passed since I saw my daughter and each week gets a little easier. Acceptance. I still cry every day but maybe that is a healthy release. Like you, I don’t understand the absence of interest in my life, the disrespect, the lack of appreciation, the total ignore.

      Don’t beat yourself up – or compare yourself with others – about having to continue to earn an income. We are more than likely around the same age, and I have to work. Had I not been such a generous mother then this wouldn’t be an issue. Would I change that knowing what I know now? No. I like being generous, and helping my daughter was intrinsic in me. The fact she has no gratitude or acknowledgement of my efforts is something she will have to bear as she matures. Financially for me, it feels as though I am starting again – a new chapter of working – and the worst thing I can do is feel embarrassed about that, or look over the fence at greener pastures. Everyone is different and we are all dealt different cards to play.

      Stay strong. Maria x

      • Anonymous
        Posted May 28, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

        Hi Maria & Lisa
        Thanks always for the responses. What I hear over and over again – why is it the problem towards the person who gives the help and support and the person who takes can put it in any context. My granddaughters are fun and beautiful, and hopefully growing up right. But as you say Maria – you were happy for what you did for your daughter ,and shame on her and on mine. I’m lucky that I’ve had the same job for a long time – close to home, good benefits -many many good things I am healthy – and really do have peace of mind.

        Thanks again

        • Lisa
          Posted June 3, 2013 at 5:36 am | Permalink

          Yes, I have peace of mind too — most of the time. I admit to occasionally “drifting” into wishing things were different but I look around and count my blessings. I also count the blessings of my son and step-son and I know full well my husband and I worked very hard to get them and us into the nice lives we now have. I also don’t regret being so generous with them. I can go on each day with a clear conscience. Peace and comfort to all of you. Love, Lisa

    • RET
      Posted May 29, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      I think we failed when we listened to how to raise our kids. Let them win, get them a gift even if it’s not their birthday so they don’t feel left out, give them all the things you didn’t have, as we co-sign our life away, and usually end up making the payments on it too, how we never have a voice to speak how we feel, it always get’s turned into a sigh, a silent treatment, or a look, (like more of mom’s blah blah blah) no matter what we bring up to them, it’s never looked at with love, respect, appreciation, or maybe even wisdom. Our kids are doing well today because of the credit cards we STILL pay for, the loans we gave behind our husbands backs, and cut ourselves short to make the payment, I asked for my son’s to write me somethings for Mothers Day, how they feel about me, what they wish we had, etc, I said anything that will make us closer, or you want to share I would appreciate. When our kids leave home, at 19-20, we don’t know them unless they share their life with us, and when you have adult kids that rarely come visit, (always broke) unless I pay them to come, they get large income tax returns that they spend on THEMSELVES, others are not in the equation, that’s my job as the parent, to spend ALL my extra money on them & for them, OR I will be a bad parent, they seem to have a love for money & things, more than people, I did for others, when they were young, they saw me be thoughtful, they saw me sacrifice for them, I thought I did all the right things, so they would see how to show love for others, but I was wrong, they seem to be narcistic, always right, anything you say will be used against you, or you will get the silent treatment if you say or do anything they don’t agree with, they will teach you to be honest, or say how you feel, they start fights, over nothing, and sooner or later you are always the one who gives in to be the bigger person, or better parent, over & over, and after awhile, they expect this behavior, the things they have done to me, they wouldn’t talk to me IF I did those things to them, get large loans, and not pay them, but yet Mom works to pay the loan off to keep her credit good, ask you to co-sign for dental surgery, due to no insurance, and no credit, so you do, and end up having to pay it off yourself, no regard to me working & making average pay, (husband is the main bread winner) so ALL of my check has to pay for irresponsible son’s, who act as though they are entitled, yes entitled, and you know what, at 53, I am tired, tired of being mistreated, all in the name of keeping my family together. Where is their concern & care & love? It’s no where. I am going to do what they have always done, ignore them, not respond if they ask what is my problem, why am I not calling etc etc etc. It’s time I really teach my son’s some REAL facts about life, you get what you give in life. I don’t do this with hatred, I do it with love, so hopefully they will get it before I am gone one day, I am doing it to make the baby birds get out of the nest & fly, I am doing because I am a human being who deserves so MUCH more than I ever got from them, from the limo’s I rented for proms, the flowers for the girl & HER mother, I am going to walk away, IF this is as good as it gets. My husband is the step dad & has been telling me for along time, he could see what my heart didn’t want to see. LIfe is too short to be abused by ANYONE. Us mothers think that kids are exempt, they are not exempt. Love yourself enough today parents, to STOP this disrespect & abuse. Just imagine what they will be like when you MIGHT need them? When you are older or frail. I will prepare & have all my ducks in a row, because I can only depend on me, and I see that now. If I kindly say whats on my mind, or if something is bothering me, I will pay dearly as I am once again made to feel like the crazy mother, who is always bitching about something, it’s always something, etc etc. Yeah, it’s always something because I have lived my life repeating myself, because I was never heard the first time. Stop talking parents, respect yourself, and leave them to their own dismise for awhile, they will either swim or sink. We teach people how to treat us, people show us how they feel, we just don’t listen, Those Who Mind Don’t Matter, and Those Who Matter Don’t Mind, very true. There should be NOTHING you can’t tell a loved one kindly. My kids have top things, they do rich things, spas, etc they have better taste than I do, why? Because they have the money to do it, as they leave me paying their debts I cosigned for. Yeah, they tell me about this rich restaurant, as if they need to give me some class, they lack the class, the class to know when you don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out if OTHERS are paying your bills. I think mothers of ungreatful adult kids should do vacations together, every so often, just to remind theirselves that they are to be loved & valued, as they all pamper theirselves and do things their high class acting adult kids are doing, on our dime. Yeah, wait until you don’t look fancy enough to meet their rich friends, and you see they find excuses to dismiss you. Yeah, they think I didn’t get it, I did. I don’t hate them, I love them, I feel real sorry, for who they think they are. I know who I am, a mother who loved them & gave & gave & gave, but wasn’t even allowed a voice. I will be quiet now to them, I have put my voice away, and will now spend it speaking to those that WANT my presense. Love & good luck to you all. I pray you see yourselves in my letter that was written as it came to my mind, and stop the abuse, with no marks. Emotinal scars are just as bad. <3

      • JV
        Posted May 30, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        I know ladies as I feel the same thing as I struggled to get my kids the nicer things and went without. I just don’t understand their hearts and I have apologized until I am sick. I think the truth hurts and the truth is they don’t really care. I was an adopted child and actually had 3 mothers that I treated better than my children have treated me. I was not a perfect mother who is? there are no perfect children but what happened to love, care, forgiveness. my children have said and done some rotten things as adults to me-or forgotten me on mothers day or my birthday and just about any day as far as that goes. my health is failing and they will not be there for me I know.

        • Anonymous
          Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

          I finally had to admit, this may be as good as it gets with my sons. I had to not look to them for love & acceptance anymore. I had to look within myself. It is hard to do. It’s hard to feel like you a worthy human being when even your kids skim over you & forget you. I have quit calling so much, and have backed away abit. It’s time they start showing me they care. I am trying to fill my life with people who care about me now. I have only been an option to my sons, when they need a loan, help etc, I was never a priority. I know how you feel as we are getting older, will they be there for us? I can’t depend on mine now, let alone when I am sick. Take care, my heart feels for you. Been there, done that. Love, Ret

      • Lisa
        Posted May 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        RET and JV,

        Yes I see myself in both of you. I try to no longer expect anything and that way I won’t be disappointed. I shudder at the thought of when the day comes that I will be too frail to take care of myself. I certainly don’t want my son or my DIL near me because as you say, if they’re this mean now, imagine how they’ll be then. You two take care and as I always say… Take one day at a time and eventually you’ll come to terms with this. Love, Lisa

        • Anonymous
          Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

          I am working on loving Ret now. I can’t depend on them to do it. I have gotten my self worth for years by how others treat me. My life is probably 3/4 over if I live another 25-30 years. I can count on one hand the times my sons have thought of me or went out of their way for me as I have done for them many times. I really think they don’t respect me, we teach people how to treat us. They can’t mistreat us if we don’t let them. I should have demanded more but didn’t. So now I am trying to find myself, and will let them worry about theirselves for a change, as I start to enjoy my later years. I don’t have any regrets. I loved them, did for them, did without myself. Thanks for your comments Lisa. It’s nice to know we are not alone in this. Love, Ret

          • Lisa
            Posted June 3, 2013 at 6:06 am | Permalink


            You keep up that train of thought. You’re not alone and I wish you all the best in getting where you need to be. I’m guessing we’re the same age and I’m doing exactly what you’re doing. I’m very blessed in that I have an amazing husband and together we are looking forward to enjoying ourselves and each other for another 25 or years!! If there is something left after we’re gone, they can have it…. But we’re not going to sacrifice any more for them. Love, Lisa

      • Not the Baptist
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        This is truly sad, I must admit as a parent of two estranged manipulated children. I haven’t spoken with my son in almost five years! Pray all you wan, but the truth and reality is prayers are never answer so stop fooling yourself. I’m a realist and so I’ve lost my kids to this horrible witch. The kids are now adults and I have been intentionally excluded from their lives, graduations, birthdays, fathers day, times that normally should be joyful for any parent never happened. The court system is filled with pond feeders, attorneys, judges, AAG’s who are all judicially negligent and continue earning a living off the misery of NCP’s (non-custodial parents) who have spent tens of thousands of dollars to enforce their due process and; joint custody arrangements are nothing but a joke. These evil people continue to fleece and defraud tax payers in order to milk the system where the feds pays out and rewards the state $2.00 for every $1.00 they collect. Its a business and one that needs to be crushed and treated like the terrorist they are. Back to the estranged kids, I’ve made mistakes as father in the past but have always loved and cared for my children and do not deserve to be ignored because they have been brainwashed to believe that I am no good, a dead beat, that that has paid out $250,000.00 tax free dollars in child support over the course of 18 years and now living in poverty. You can not connect with an estranged child if they refuse to answer your calls. which by the way are funneled to your ex’s cell phone for screening even after 13 years. Imagine that!
        So if you want to do something really meaningful here do this:
        Find a state legislator, introduce and have a bill passed that removes custodial parenting from legal interpretation and eliminates any and all involvement from the state and these money hungry agencies to change the way things are. Remember no cares or does anything legally to help you if your sexual organs happen to be on the outside. If you’re not part of the solution then you are the problem!

        • Anonymous
          Posted July 11, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

          I am a non-custodial mother, and I was treated just the same by the judicial system when my ex refused to let me see my children. They don’t give a damn where your sex organs are located. Women get screwed just the same as men if your are not the residential parent.

      • nina
        Posted July 10, 2013 at 4:35 am | Permalink

        Jess, after reading your comments, you sound very spoilt and typical of today’s generation of single minded individuals who have grown up thinking they are the centre of the universe. You had a loving decent mother who you ditched once she turned 50 because ‘you weren’t her main interest anymore’. Grow up before it’s too late.

        • Jess
          Posted July 10, 2013 at 5:01 am | Permalink

          You are exactly the patent I am trying to reach. I’m not spoiled and even my mother says this. For you to see that in what I’ve said proves my point exactly. It’s not being spoiled to need to know that the people we interact with wont continue to abuse (not my situation but clearly the situation if many here), lies, broken promises, etc. I’m not talking about one act, but years of damaging behavior. This is probably your situation. But it’s easier to name call and self justify than face reality and deal with the consequences of your actions. Good Lu k to you.

    • RET
      Posted May 29, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Same here nothing for Mothers Day. I hope we all pull our thoughts & hearts & heads together to help each other. The first thing I had to do was get real, and admit how bad it was. It’s not easy admitting your sons don’t show you much respect or regard. I watched alittle guy in a shopping cart yelling at his mom, I WANT THIS, etc and he was getting loud. I thought to myself, this is me with my adult sons, trying to stay calm, talk sweetly, trying to reason, and like the little boy, they just yell louder, as they have no respect. I wrote a long story about what I have went through, it’s a long read, but I hope it helps someone. Anyone that really cares for someone, will welcome anything you have to say. Those Who Mind Don’t Matter, and Those Who Matter Don’t Mind. This is SO TRUE. Love to you all, Ret

  20. Liz
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Why is it just assumed on this site that the parents are not responsible for the estrangement of their adult children? My elderly parents are very manipulative and controlling and take delight in denigrating myself and my siblings. This has gone on ever since we were children and about 15 years ago, I got fed up with it.
    I have written my parents 2 letters describing their destructive behaviors, but they refuse to change. Two of my other siblings went through years without contact with them as well. So I suspect that there are those parents who have written of their experiences that can’t understand what went wrong because they are blind to their behaviors that drove their adult children away, either that or they just don’t care to change.

    • Lisa
      Posted April 16, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink


      That does sound the case in your situation but many of the parents who post here have not really gotten a reason from their children. If we did, we would try to fix it. I’m very sorry that you had to grow up in such an unpleasant atmosphere. I can assure you that was NOT the case with my sons. My husband and I worked very hard to make their lives pleasant while still teaching them good morals and values. Both of them are very successful and have lovely families of their own. We don’t begrudge them that. We are, however, dismayed by the fact that they don’t (mostly the older son) include us in much of what they do nor do they display any concern at all for our well being. I have stated many times that they sure know where we are when they want something from us. We have obliged them many times. Other than that, there is very little contact and in the case of our older son, the contact all but stopped since we “denied” his last request for funds. We did not do so out of any vengeful feelings, we made the decision to stop the huge checks at Christmas and for birthdays simply because we are concentrating on getting comfortably set up for our own retirement. Our younger son and DIL are fine with all of that and we see them about once a month or so. Our relationship with them is not as close as it once was but most of the time I’m at peace with that. Until they let us know what has them upset, we can’t correct it.

      So, I’m asking you not to put all of us in the same category as your parents. Most of us who post here are not perfect by any means but we have been very loving, supportive parents who have been hurt by our children for reasons unbeknownst to us.

      I wish you peace and happiness with your situation. Lisa

      • elleng
        Posted May 28, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        Your mother sounds as thought she is very “man focused.” I know a number of people like that and I think it’s unfortunate in many ways, but that’s the way she is. None of us are perfect and as much as you would like her to be the way you want he to be, she never will. It is the same for us all. She is human with flaws just like you and the rest of us. All of our circumstances are unique so suggesting that it is usually the fault of the parent is just not so. It’s time to lay aside fault.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

        I have news for you. My parents were old school, I got slapped in the face and hit on the bottom with Dad’s belt when I was school age. It was not often, but there was love and affection as well.
        Long story short, I was a child of the ’70s, my beloved dad was an alcoholic and Mom worked evenings. I was the oldest, started feeding and changing babies at 8 years old.
        By 13, I rebelled and was wild. Basically, the 4 of us kids raised ourselves .
        For me, no matter what happened, I loved my folks dearly and vice versa. The greatest gift was my Dad’s sobriety the last 10 years of his life. The weddings, Grandkids, the love and appreciation for each other is priceless. And mind you, the 4 of us all college grads.
        I forgave my Mother and Father for their shortcomings and mistakes they made as parents, even though the repercussions haunt me to this day.
        But they were a product of THEIR parents issues, so on and so forth. They did the best they knew how. If they had known better, they would have done better.
        It NEVER would have occurred to me to reject the people who housed me, clothed me, loved me NO MATTER WHAT !
        Now they are both dead and how that has broken my heart! I have troubled relationships with both of my older teens due to a very acrimonious divorce. Never was I the perfect Mom, but it’s incomprehensible to me, that unless you have been severely abused, to cut away your Mother from your life. I have severe depression and my medical condition has been used against me courtesy of my ex.
        Bottom line, everybody loses in this basically game of power. It is a waste of precious time. A young person doesn’t understand and by the time they do, it’s too late. I just wish this mess would stop.
        I am not innocent, I made mistakes. The whole thing reminds me of High School bullshit, only it is deadly serious. I have wished for death so often to relieve me of this pain. Why can’t love win?

    • RET
      Posted May 29, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      It’s true. It can be reverse too. It goes both ways. Parents can be the abusers too. Thanks for pointing that out.

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