Estranged Adult Child

I am the mother of an estranged adult child who I have not seen in three years.  I am hoping to reach out to other parents are experiencing this painful experience to share and to support one another.

atshemi atshemi 56-60 84 Responses Mar 19, 2009

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i have 2. 2 years for me.... :(

My son of 24 has shredded me for leaving his father 11/2 years ago. He is cruel and disrespectful. My daughter of 21 chooses to have no relationship with me either. I believe their father has discredited me and they believe him. I am angry and just desire to move on without feeling this pain any longer. How can I shelve this power my children seem to have over my heart.

I feel your pain I too am going thru with my two daughters and the youngest is the leader. I want to move on and turn my head the other way. I no longer want the abuse to the heart or to my mind. We as parents can get lost and sometimes we don't come back and I want to live. I did the very best I can do with what tools I had as a single mother and if it is easier to trash me, place blame , etc., instead of showings their appreciation and genuine love then I don't want them in my life anymore . Sometimes tough love needs to take take over and shield our hearts so this is where I start my healing

Hi atshemi, I too am the mother of an estranged adult child, 27 year old son. I have not seen him for 3 years. I got divorced from his father 12 years ago and remarried 3 years ago. My son and husband don't get on at all and my son blames my husband for 'kicking him out' of the house when he was 18. However, this really is not the case as my son's behaviour was the cause of it and he was given the chance to improve it, but chose not to. Up until last Christmas (2012) I used to get a birthday card and Christmas card. But last year he told my mother that he wants nothing more to do with me because 'I chose my husband over him'. I still send him birthday cards etc and cheques but he does not take the cheques. I feel really sad that there is no prospect of any reconciliation - I guess as long as he continued to acknowledge me as his mother (by sending birthday cards etc) I held out hope that the situation would improve. I now hear that he has bought a house and is getting married next year. It is very painful, I have tried counselling which didn't really help. I guess I just have to get used to the situation. The only way I can describe it is like a bereavement - without the body. It is reassuring that I am not alone in this - and I really feel that hearing similar stories from other parents - who can genuinely empathise because they are going through it too, does help.

Our situation is pretty new but just about driving me nuts literally. First she met a man after having been divorced 6yrs. Within 2 weeks she started cutting things out. My picking up my 9 yr old granddaughter. Now it's you can't see your granddaughter, but if you SEND the Christmas presents she'll make sure they get to her. (after she takes our tags off and she puts new ones from her on). This granddaughter was so special to us. We really helped raise her. I can't go to dance recital, school functions etc. Thanks for listening; ON THE VERGE.

Ive been estrainged from my son for four years. in that time i have suffered three heart attacks and open heart surhery. I'm in Christian grief counseling which had heped a lot. i finally had to decide to move on with my life. i cashed in my retirement, sold everything, moved, got a new job and stated a new life. it was the hardest thing to do but i can't let this literally kill me. i know that in God's time He will reconcile us. God does not want strife in a family. i found a strong men's group at my new church. Its been hard at 50 to start a new life but its exciting at the same time. i am now a counselor at a college and love helping my students. The pain is subsiding and my health has greatly improved. I am trusting in God and finally moving forward. One day God will bring us back together.

This is fabulous of you absolutely and my wishes for the best that god will bring to you

My adult daughter holds a grudge since I divorced her father when she was 9 and has never forgiven me, she thinks he was a great dad, she is now 34 I am in the dog house as she keeps bringing it up, I am 70, her dad died 8 yrs ago, guess I should have been the parent that died instead.

Frances, I am glad that you are still with us. God has a plan for all of us believe in him

My step-daughter is estranged of us. She joined us full time when she was 7 after her mother died in an auto accident. It was rocky from the start as her maternal grandparents, with whom she and her mother had lived, perpetuated the idea that she was "ripped from the family who loved her and made to live with people she didn't know." Up until then, my husband had spent a week with her every month to be sure he was a part of her life. After she came to live with us, my mother passed away and I began drinking heavily and because of my addiction and my own family issues was not able to be the mother she needed and my husband is not a nurturing person and has a deep seated dislike of the grandparents which he took out on his daughter. Needless to say, in high school she began hanging out with kids who did drugs and had dropped out of high school. I didn't bother to get to know them or their parents. In her sophomore year I got sober and we slowly began to build a more positive, loving relationship. I was amazed by how much I truly cared for her. She continued to be a good student and in her senior year it all came to a head when she got pregnant. Her father could not deal with the situation and what relationship the had completely disintegrated. I keep trying to convince them that we could use the experience to grow stronger as a family. While I was out of the country on a trip they had a huge fight and she left to live with her unacceptable boyfriend. When I returned a week later, we gave her the choice of coming home or going to her grandmother's. She chose the latter. In hindsight, I think she may have known she needed to change her friends but felt trapped and wanted to save face. By leaving, she was able to do that. Over the next few months, fueled by her grandmother's anger at us, communication dwindled to the point that she refused to give us tickets for graduation. Thankfully, she is in college - paid for by a settlement from her mother's death. Two years have passed. I send cards on special occasions and periodic letters with news of the family. She has not responded to me but has reached out to her half-sister, my daughter. My husband is still angry and hurt and unable to forgive and has given me his blessing to pursue my relationship with her. I am afraid she cannot separate us yet and I'm hoping she will eventually. I know it will take time and it is uncomfortable being vulnerable and reaching out over and over and receiving nothing in return. I have offered a sincere and humble apology and taken responsibility for my part. I pray for serenity, courage, and knowledge - and I have hope. Good luck to us all!

i too am the parent of a estranged adult child, in all my moments raising her, did I ever think that this would be my fate and horrible burden to carry around, I wear the pain loss and sadness and grieving everyday, and every hour. It is a strange loss to cope with, you hope for her happiness and success but no longer even know her.
I am trying now the tough love approach, I get emotionally drained from trying to contact her and then wait for the No response, wanting to throw my phone away, silencing it hoping when I look at it next, she would have had a change of heart, and answered. The resason for the the estrangement? She was in physical and emoitional abusive relationships for 5 years, we were always supportive and tried to help. NOw her life is at a standstill as far as growing as a productive and self supportuing adult
and she knows we feel she has to try to stand on her own, we praise her and try to build up her confidence. I feel she know inside that she has to get things together, but if she hides her self away and shares nothing, we don't know what is going on.
BUt her hiding out, is a big red flag even though she cant see that.....I love her, would die for her, and want her to be happy and able to take care of herself. but miss her every moment, and wonder how she can ever have success relationships since she shuns her parents, who are the 2 people in the world who love her the most.

All the professionals; (therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists , DR.s all say to use the tough love. Well here it is Christmas 2013, and my husband tried an e-mail one more time. We are not going to send all of our granddaughters gifts 5 miles. We told our daughter, we need to see our 9 yr old grandchild. No answer. How does one do Tough Love when we are talking our children and grandchildren. We get close to trying for quite awhile and then....
The worst thing of all is where does our 9 yr granddaughter think we are or what happened to us?

Weirdly, I feel better knowing I'm not the only one out there dealing with this. I sure empathize with everyone. Most of you seem to have a real circumstance, I do wonder if it isn't my daughter's girlfriend that is the real issue but I feel like that's unfair. I have to believe that for whatever reason, my daughter has made her own decision to make me nothing in her life. I admit to moments of thinking that I wasted my time being the perfect at home mom now that I'm single and underemployed. She sure seemed to like me when I had money. That is wallowing however and pointless so now I am trying to figure out how to fill up the hole that is left.

Go on full steam ahead your circumstances sounds very familiar, yes, as long as we were working bringing in the money and paying for everything things were ok..... Well I have to get hard and get living for me and this is what we have to do in order to go on living happily. Give it to god ask him to take care if this for you and get some happiness

I am also in this painful situation. ..since july this year
Four months feels like four years.
Its a pain no one can understand unless you're in
The same situation. My emotions are driving me crazy
I hope we all find some inner peace...Regards to you all.

The first year is the worst because my kids were young when it started (a custody battle their dad started re 3 of our 4 sons to avoid child support). People would tell me things would better when the 3 I lost grew up and that they would never lose their love for me but it didn't help ease the pain. They were right--2 of the 3 I lost for 5 yrs. came back but 11 years later, it's the one who didn't that breaks my heart. Just try to make a life for yourself so the child has a home to return to.

I am sorry about your situation. I too am a mother of a son who got married two and half years ago and is angling for an estrangement because his wife is extremely difficult to deal with. For the past two and a half years, he has not been at our family dinners for the Jewish Holidays and this is because his wife claims she hates my cooking even though I really cook well and have for over 25 years. She claims that my house smells when I cook and she also does not like my husband. We do not interfere with their lives and are fairly gentle loving people. My son did not stop this behaviour of hers from the start and believes he needs to be loyal to her and abandon us. Now they have a beautiful baby girl who we have very limited visitation and my husband is not allowed to hold the baby because in her twisted mind, she thinks my husband is a poor influence. If we do not do exactly what she expects, she cuts us off completely and has written us horrible emails letting us know that we will not be trusted to baby sit and that my husband does not deserve to be a grandfather. My husband and I have gone for counseling to cope with the situation. There is also a doctor that we keep in touch with from San Francisco Dr. Josh Coleman who specializes in this. We have used his strategies and although they helped for a short time, my son's wife finds something else to get upset about and verbally abused my husband. We decided to write a letter to my son expressing our feelings but not saying anything derogatory about his wife. However we let him clearly know that we are not putting up with this abuse. We told him that we want to be active grandparents and have a lot of love to give.
We also have given gifts for the baby but we are expected to have gift receipts in case she does not like the gifts.
I too am looking for support.
You can call me Ronnie and email me anytime. It is painful and you are really in a bad position because I at least have some contact with my son. You can find Dr. Coleman on the website. He also conducts telephone conferences on various topics. Life is too short for this .

I am sorry to see so many women in the same boat I am in. It is baffling. My daughter has always been estranged and it started when my very manipulative MIL began showing her with very expensive gifts as a young child, calling her frequently when I was not home and telling her I was "nosey" and not to share their conversations. My then ,husband, would not man up and tell her to stop calling inappropriately or discuss any gifts she wanted to give for appropriateness ( one was a trip to Mexico at 16). I was always the "bad guy" for approaching her nicely many times about this.

Needless to say, I made a big mistake marrying her son, who was just as manipulative and controlling as his mother. My daughter and son were loved conditionally; if he got something out of giving them attention. He too started with the showering with gifts and would not discuss with me first.There were not too many times he and I were on the same page in how to raise our kids. My family was bashed continually and if I were to contact them or they came by to see me I got the cold treatment, yet his family was given loads of attention.

After my son graduated, he left home immediately to get away from his Dad. I stayed close with him even though he would not see his Dad. I returned to school and worked fulltime to finally complete a degree I had set as a goal many years before. During this school period, my husband had multiple affairs. When I discovered them, he l lied about them, telling our adult children I had a "breakdown and it must be related to menopause". I left the state, got a contracted job for 6 months and tried to regroup and figure out how to move on. Seeing the house of cards fall and realize my husband was not remorseful was difficult. I survived and worked but had to give up the school. I was hit, for a period of a few weeks, with severe depression and when my son would call I would burst into tears and tell him I felt like I had no reason to live. I was not suicidal but in shock, far away and without much support.

I regret that so much now, placing him in a terrible position and wish I could take back the fear it caused him. Long story short, my daughter started calling wanting to know if I was in contact with her brother. Apparently the MIL heard through my daughter of my distraught period and took full advantage of my son's sadness and got him to therapy where he was told I was way out of line and he should cut out contact.

The divorce granted me 50% of all monies accumulated and this did not go over well with my ex. In the divorce proceedings my daughter wrote a nasty report into record of how I was a terrible mother and she would never speak to me again until I returned "every penny" of her Dads money. I got an e-mail from my son several weeks after the divorce stating verbatim that he would cut me off till I gave their Dad back "every penny". Neither will believe their Dad was unfaithful nor that I deserve 50% of what I worked for .....

This was 3+ years ago and I have had the phone slammed in my ear, e-mails and Facebook blocked, a son married and a grand-daughters' birth occur but I am not allowed to be part of any of this. They both stated that because of me they now have to "take care of their Dad" he will not work and blames me for's so bizarre I can laugh now but my grown kids are so enmeshed, to them, it seems to make sense to them. I pray they will get to the truth and it's on God's time not mine.

I have since gone back to finish the degree, try to be grateful for surviving and pray daily for my children, the MIL and the ex. I used to send cards for birthdays and holidays but when their Grandfather ( my Dad died last year) and they did not even acknowledge his death. After that, I decided that although their father/ MIL have a great deal of control, I taught them right from wrong, loved them unconditionally and will always love them but must now heal and take care of my health. They are adults now. I will not try to continue reaching out any longer. It hurts to the core but life is not fair for many. I try to help others who are hurting in different ways and stay close to my sisters.

To those of you in my boat, my heart goes out to you, I know the pain but also know we have lives we must develop, a purpose, even though it's hard to see at first and we are deserving of respect and love. Try to forgive and take care of yourselves. You all have a purpose beyond being mothers. You will survive. Thank-you, Atshemi, for staring this support blog. It is helpful to see we are not alone in this estrangement from our children.

I am so very sorry and surprised that many of us Mothers are being subjected to the pain and abandonment of what were supposed to be our loving children. I have two Sons they are early and middle forties. For over 20 years I was a juggler trying to make them happy by giving money paying rent bills even financing an Automobile from the Auto Dealer. As soon as it was driven off of the lot my oldest son turned into the snake that he must have always been and failed to pay one Car note. I was stuck paying the note and insurance. My son hid the car from me so I couldn't turn it in and finally I found the car and snatched it. I had to call the Police on him because I was afraid he would beat me up.....That has happened twice before. My Youngest Son got on Drugs and stayed on the Crack for over 15 years...The horrible things I went through with him would take 10 years to tell you. The theft the lies I even lost my Home trying to save him from Jail. I have moved to another City and the youngest has followed me here and I now plan to ignore him like a stranger and live my Life. I hope things get better for you too. God Bless

atshemi, Find happiness, hope, love and fullfillment in an additional source. Do not wait for her to make you happy. It is sadly, your job and mine to find that fullfillment. Work on you. Work on being happy and fullfilled. Then if she does not reconsile with you, you are still happy and fullfilled. Happiness attacts happiness. Go back to your 20s and 30s. What did you love and want to do? Do it now. Strive for it. Work hard and tirelessly for it. When you arrive, she may be there with you. Our children are not responsible for our middle and late year happiness. We are. Find it.

I have been estranged from my daughter for over 7 years.I feel a pain and aching that i wasn't aware existed. I have signed myself into a "hospital", been on many drugs, weekly therapy-sometimes twice/week. Sometimes I think I will just die with no effort on my part. And sometimes, I wish I would. My daughter's now husband, sexually abused her sister (15at the time, he was 21). he then sexually harassed her for TWO years, asking her to show him her breasts. Oldest daughter reacted by saying"mom, no one else will ever have me". That's when I knew he had been emotionally abusing her. She stayed w/him and has 2 children w/him. She has cut all ties with her sister, father, step-brother and myself. We were told 7 years ago either pretend by'just making the best of it' or there will be no relationship. My youngest daughter was abused, I would never turn a blind eye to that. Oldest daughter will not/can not admit to the emotional abuse she must endure, not only from him but also from his mother and sister.
I love and miss my daughter so deeply

An almost identical story as mine.
the pain is horrific, no real logical reason given....!
How do you cope?? especially when mother and son were very close.
Could my son have undergone" help"by a hypnotherapist.?
Otherwise ,could we,his parents,agree to meet,explain arguments and iron out differences.How could our son literally reject us? We have done nothing but support him at difficult times.We have always praised him when he shared good news with us.He was always so affectionate towards me as his mother and towards his father,my husband too. I find it unbearable and very sad to imagine that his behaviour is FINAL ?! I suffer physical intolerable pain due to this estrangement from our one and only child ! He is all we ever devoted our lives for.
All we ask for is contact to be renewd and an expression of love and consideration to be shared and reciprocated by us and our son.

I am too. Need to talk to someone who knows what this is. Please help. Beth

Hi Beth my name is Denise and it hurts doesn't it? Turn it around Beth you are worthy and you are loved I am here Beth and as you can see your not alobe

I am the mother of a 30 year old daughter who married a German and she will not answer her very close family's letters, e-mails and has virtually disappeared. She is an intellectual but the story is book worthy. After 5 years of no communication, I cannot stand this treatment and I will be visiting the town in September. This is very unusual behavior of a very very close child who has just gone silent. I am 58 yers old and our family is dumb struck. We have tried communicating with friends of hers but to no avail. Let's talk. Kay

I have been dealing with this for 13 years. My daughter met a retired navy man, 26 years her senior, a very controlling man,and when they were married, they cut her dad and I out of their life.It has been terrible at times and sometimes I function quite well.I joined a Bible group 3 months ago, and when it was time for prayer, the leader mentioned my situation.He did not ask my permission. From that moment on, I have heard 10 people prayer every Tuesday for me and my daughter and I have completely lost control. I finally realized that this was a constant trigger so I have told them that I need their support, but please, pray for us in private.I am sorry it got this far, for their sakes as well as mine because I know they were doing it out of love for me.I am sure that is why i was unaware how much this was affecting me in a negative way. But, in order to live some sort of healthy life, I cannot tolerate triggers.This much I have learned about myself.


Have two Grandsons from son I haven't seen and have been involved with my daughters two kids until last week,She has been trying to fight with me on and off about the stupid stuff and this is a result from having to tell our son he can't come back until he changes his ways...I guess she didn't agree so since Jan of this year been non stop bitching,and fighting

I hear you...Have two adult children who are estranged...It has been so devasting,hurtful and many tears have flowed

"Pain is inevitable, misery is optional". I stopped self inflicting emotional wounds regarding my relationship or lack there of with my two adult daughters. Instead I am grateful for the wonderful relationship I have with my son. Put all of your thought and energy into what you want and put no thought or energy into what you do not want.
Forgiveness is a powerful thing, for me forgiveness is giving up the notion that things could have happened differently and when you understand how hard it is to change yourself you begin to understand what little chance we have of changing others.
And a gem from a former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent".
Sending love and peace to all who wish to receive.

What if you don't have someone to go to and put all your energy into them.?

I am with you Dora,
My youngest daughter is almost 24 with a 4 year old child, she would not work, she lied all the time to me, she stole from me and when I finally put my foot down and said no more, she refused to act like I was alive, we have been "here" many times in the last 3 years. Last month she stole at least $800 from me so I decided it is time to let her grow up, and wow, it hurts like all get out. I have cried buckets of tears and I now must move on with my life. I have 3 adult daughters, one did this until she was 30, my life is better without her. My middle daughter "Amy" is my one true gift from God, as her sisters point out she is perfect, while she is not perfect, she does show me the love and respect all parents that did not neglect or abuse their children deserve. I gave my all to raising my children until they were 25, I did without much so they could have plenty, I think I spoiled them and that is something they have to just get over without me. I plan on not letting them ruin my life, after all, I know I did my best.

Typo: my daughter is almost 25.

I would search you heart and soul for things you enjoyed before you ever had children. I myself enjoyed bike riding, kyacking, camping, walking, reading, woodworking, making stained glass and craft. I am 57, many of these things I gave up to raise my children, I have renewed my love of ALL of them, I cry for 5 minutes almost everyday and then I make myself go do anything to get my mind off from it. An idle mind allows your self conscious to dwell on your problems, but a busy mind does not have time for such nonsense.

1 More Response

Hi, I've been reading everyone's stories with interest and sadness. I'm actually trying to find a UK woman who's estranged from her daughter for a Mother's Day piece I'm writing for a Saturday broadsheet. If anybody would be interested in going public with their experience, I would very much like to hear from you.

I am English living in the USA. Did you want someone living in the UK - it wasn't clear to me

Hi, sorry for not being clear - I need the woman to be based in the UK. Thanks for your interest.

Please reply with authenticity, support, and respect

Hi, I am interested to know if you finally wrote your piece about estranged mothers . could you send me the link if it was finally published? my estranged daughter lives in England, and I am English, and read UK newspapers. This subject is pertinent to and i would be interested in your findings.

Hello Atshemi. My 40 year old daughter refuses to speak to me or accept any form of communication because I got upset with her one day due to her self neglect and addiction to prescribed pain killers. I am heartbroken and feeling misunderstood and powerless. I am open to supporting others and accepting much needed support for myself.

Regards Christina

Learn to let go ..painful yes ..but in you and your daughters interest .
Make your bounderies clear be tough i know you love her but her issues must be addressed and while shes not listening and being angry ...walk the naughty step...your always in the background ..good luck and much peace x

walk into a there is too much choice and my friends it dosent stop there . familys used to stick together or starve ...thats gone ...xxxx so has any respect for or the meaning of MOTHER

I understand! It boggles my mind how a child (adult) can treat their mother with such lack of respect! However, it has been predicted that this kind of thing will be happening all over the world, as it is displayed in this very web-site! Right? I am feeling sad for all of us here. Look up Matthew 10:21! "Children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death". However painful but predicted! This is no surprise that this is coming to pass. All they need is an excuse to behave in this selfish and self centered evil fashion. I have always believed that what goes around, eventually comes around. Hugs to you and to all! Hang in there. Nothing goes without notice from the Almighty. Have faith that things will change! God Bless You.........

I feel your pain. My 24 year old son, a US Marine officer, is in the process of shunning my family and me. The behavior is escalating, and I am at my wit's end. His father and I divorced when he was 5 years old, but remained united, for the most part, in raising our only child, however my ex is extremely passive aggressive, and left all the disciplining, serious talks, unpleasant parenting tasks, to me, ie; if I grounded my son from the car for coming home after curfew, the punishment would not be carried over to his father's home. My son's father is also wealthy, which I am not. My son is very much like his father in that he is a right-wing, religious conservative, both politically and socially, which is very different from my view. My son also seems to be misogynistic and dismissive of female accomplishments, which is unlike his father. Even though he has chosen a military career and a lifestyle that I don't understand on many levels, I support him and have told him how proud I am of his accomplishments. I adore my son and have always told him and shown him this in every way possible. He tells me that he loves me, but his behavior is hard to reconcile. He comes in town and stays with his father and family, visits with that side of the family, but doesn't even tell me he is in town. This has happened twice. After not having seen him since last March, he decided to spend a few hours on Christmas Eve with my family and me, but behaved so rudely (refused to hug anyone, kept his coat on the entire time, never cracked a smile and gave the whole family one gift to share: a book entitled, "Being a Marine Corps Officer".) that by the time he left, everyone was almost in tears, including my mom, his 86 year old grandmother. I have asked him repeatedly if is there is any reason that he is becoming so estranged and he says, "NO", yet the behavior is getting worse! He has been in town for 10 days (staying with his dad), is leaving tomorrow, and won't be home till some time next year. I don't know what do and I'm feeling confused, helpless,hopeless and sick, at this point.

I do understand where you are coming from. When my son was young we had a great relationship but after he left home and married, he never saw us, never called us, showed no interest in his dad and me at all. His wife invites us for the holidays but he is like a stranger to me. It is hard to believe I gave birth to him. He has now decided to dump us completely and stick with his in-laws! Hope that works out for him. I never see my 3 grandkids either and they all live faily close by! You can choose your friends but you cannot choose your family. So true.

my hearts with you all...the pain is overwhelming...but my take on this is like all relationships some people are prepared to put the work in some just arnt...some people skip from relationship to relationship without a thought to the broken familys or responsabilitys they leave behind and some kids think its ok to bin there parents...the fact you risked your own life and wellbeing for them to draw there first breath means nothing the self sacrifice from mother to child is the most wonderful aspect of all life truely amazing....
God bless you all

I am the mother of a 35year old son my only child I. I have 2 grandsons that I have never seen. This happened all over family gossip my heart aches. It is 4years. My husband died when my son was 7 . I'm sick over it. I feel for you. Patty

Please flag post made by women like ELLEN. Most parents suffering the loss of their kids through divorce are already in enormous amounts of pain and depression.

Because the experience is about the person writing about their situation in an already horrible time. No one needs to come here at the end of their rope and read **** like yours to ush them over the edge. YOU are the pain in the ***, ELLEN

Says here " Please respond with authenticity, support, and respect" But how about if I just want to respond honestly? I just got kicked off one site because I said some of the moms were a big pain in the *** and deserved what they got.

There is a special place for people who rub salt in the wounds of others. You need to be sent there. Nobody wants to read your hatred