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. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

    • 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

  4. 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 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

    • 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

  5. Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

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  6. 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

      • Jessica
        Posted April 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Not all parents have to be “bad” for a child to need to have some form of estrangement from them. My mother was a wonderful loving mother all through my growing years. She was a close friend, someone I could always go to. She always promised me I could, and we shared every part of our lives.

        And then she got married. And I had moved out to college, and then to grad school, so no big deal right? Except over the next ten years our relationship went from close close close to hardly capable of talking with any sort of understanding. Agreements would be made…and not kept, on her end. There was always a good reason. I forgave and forgave and forgave, and tried to have a new relationship with her each time. Everything she said she would do to help heal the rift was never followed through on, though she is full of apologies now.

        And apologies for the loss of income she’s caused me (promised to support me like her parents did her when grad school went bad, then I quit and her first words were, “Well, how are you going to support yourself?!), but can’t fix now or it would jeopardize her retirement. Gee, I guess my retirement doesn’t matter as much (fyi the money I’m still paying off for her “semantics” issue is coming out of MY retirement, and thank god I had friends so I wasn’t forced to STRIP to survive, no I’m not joking).

        Apologies don’t fix the relationship with the (black) boyfriend who was more than a little upset because my mother told me he’d have to stay in the hotel for Xmas as my grandparents wouldn’t appreciate his blackness. She has since told me I should have just told her “screw you” and brought him home anyway, as though that were an option at that point.

        Or how about the surgery scheduling issues, the forcing of a family member I didn’t know well on me during recovery from surgery?

        So what does one do with this situation? Did she hit me as a child? Actually, yes. I have no memory of it, but after 8 years of leaving therapists because they wanted to focus on the abuse I must have suffered as a child, I found out, off-handedly from her, that she HAD in fact hit me as a child.

        So do I hate her? No, I miss my best friend and cry over it everytime I think of it. But she’s not my friend, she has proven that over and over, that when she is with a man she is not my friend. That she will turn her back on me when I need it, when she’s come to ME to promise ME something, then when she doesn’t come through there’s some “semantic” reason for what happened.

        And she’s always very sorry, very apologetic and HURTS when she talks to me about it. But the problems don’t stop.

        So every time I read about some parent who is mystified about why their child is estranged from them, I don’t waste time wondering. Just feeling sad for the child, who’s never going to have that parent back who will listen to them, or hear them. If you wonder why your child is estranged, try thinking a bit more about it, it’s really NOT a mystery to anyone but you.

        • 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.

    • 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.

  7. Posted April 9, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

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  8. kathleen
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Hi. I read your letters and try to figure out what each of you did wrong, but I also know that it’s something SUBTLE that we all did wrong. I know people who’s parents sexually assaulted them or burned them with cigarettes, and they are still in communication. So what did we do? If only I could identify it, I could take responsibility, and maybe say the “right” thing to get my son back into my life. Here’s my story: my husband was abusive, he didn’t let me work or have friends. When he left me, I hadn’t had a job ever. He left me with the 3 kids, and he didn’t pay child support. We went from a 1/2 million dollar house to the soup lines. Still, I managed to get money for a down payment on a small house and filled it with renters so I could keep the kids stable. I’m still here. The first few years my ex wasn’t too interested in seeing the kids. The 4 of us were really close and, really, joyful. After 5 years my ex came back and wanted the kids, saying I had “alienated” the kids from him – hey, he left and never came to see them. Me, with no money, couldn’t get an attorney and I lost the boys. My ex let me see them rarely. D was only 8. The first son came back to me as soon as he turned 18, but over the years D has drifted farther and farther away. He’s 22 now and won’t answer the phone from ANY of us. We haven’t seen him in a 2 years. The kids I raised went to college and are doing fine. D flunked out of high school and doesn’t have a steady job last I heard. I know it is because of his abusive father, but why won’t he let us help him? I’d do anything. Why can’t I share his life? Every day I worry about his very existence as well as missing him terribly. If he won’t let any of us communicate with him, I don’t see any way he could come back into our lives. I can’t understand and so I can’t accept. Why do child abusers get a relationship with their kids and I don’t? I feel as our lives go on he will think about us less and less and never, ever come back. I can barely face the idea of a future without him in it . . .

    • Susan
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      I know what I did wrong, but Im not even sure that is what is continuing the estrangement with my son. He was estranged before I did it. We had a very close relationship before he met “Carol”. She was 7 years older than his 25 years and had two young children. We took them in and loved them but Carol has a chip missing. I ignored that, I wasn’t going to be my ex mother in law. But she didn’t like how close my son and I were so she started making stuff up and he chose to believe her. He didn’t want to be his father and destroy what he had for the sake of his mother. I still ignored. Then he gave me a random ultimatum regarding a choice between him and his sister and I didn’t jump. He didn’t speak to me for a year before I got cancer…Carol sent me an email from my sons phone saying it was a shame I survived the surgery but to not worry…the cancer would kill me yet and they were hoping it was slow and painful. This was her third in a string since I let my son know I was ill. Finally I found out that he not only knew about the emails he was okay with them. I am not excusing what I did next…just explaining…I fell down the stairs the night I got this death wish and was taken back to hospital by ambulance. I was hurting physically, emotionally and on some very powerful pain medication. I felt like I was in my right mind and decided that I would not spend my life waiting for him to return, but would send him such a nasty email that he would hate me forever and I would “know’ he was never coming back. I have not seen my son in just over 3 years. He is now moving to another province and I don’t anticipate ever hearing from him again. So today I sent him a text. I told him I was sorry I hurt him. That I had hoped to apologize in person but that at least he would know I was sorry. I wished him well and told him I loved him. And now I am dying inside.

      • Anonymous
        Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

        So sorry for what you are going through in your family. It is an epidemic. It is not random that this is happening. Your DIL Carol was very cruel to send you that awful message. I tell you today, love yourself, and live your life as happy as you can. You can’t depend on them to love you, forgive you, etc etc Leave it on their plate, forgive them, as you did, and move on & find peace & happiness. Some people are just cruel, even if we gave birth to them. Hurting people,,,,,,hurt people. Forgive them & write them along loving letter, so it will free you to move on. Sending love your way, Ret

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      I have seen kids treat the abusing parent better than the loving parent. I think they knew we love them, and are trying to make the abusive parent love them. Kids get used as pawns in divorce, and usually aren’t strong enough to stand their ground or even have a right to their own opinion. They usually side with whoever they are with. It sounds like you did pretty good picking up the pieces after he left and getting somewhat on your feet. We can only hope our adult kids will one day grow up, and realize, what life is all about. Life is short, and most don’t get that. Love to you, Ret


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