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Estrangement Takes Two, Part 2

Being cut off from someone you love is not only painful but apparently common, judging from the amount of feedback I receive about the estrangement advice on my website.

In that article, I advise the person who’s been cut off and wants to reconcile to act on all those good cliches: turn the other cheek, be the bigger person, and do whatever it takes to apologize and make amends.*

Outraged By Estrangement

Well.

That advice riles many readers.

One hundred percent of the angry comments I get are from people who write some variation of, “Relationships are a two-way street, you know! I will not apologize. I’m tired of being treated like a doormat.”

Totally reasonable feelings. Unfortunately, when both people feel that way, there’s a stalemate.

Since the angry comments are always anonymous, I can’t respond to them directly. Hence this post.

Be Honest With Yourself

There’s a question I ask in the middle of the article I mentioned above. I also asked it in my post, Estrangement Takes Two.

The question is this: Do you truly want a relationship with this person?

Or do you just need them to know that they misunderstood and/or hurt you?

Someone who really wants to have a relationship will do whatever it takes, even if that means getting an earful of the other person’s anger to begin with.

They’re willing to hear and acknowledge that they’ve hurt the other person. And they’ll postpone receiving any sympathy or understanding.

They lead with generosity and tolerance in order to reconcile and rebuild trust.

If there’s anyone who *might* be able to pull off this superhuman feat of putting their own needs aside for the greater good, it should be a parent.

Sadly, much of the angry feedback I receive about my advice to be the bigger person is from parents who are waiting for their grown children to stop being so mean to them.

They probably won’t get what they want, unless what they want is to believe they raised their kids to be *ssholes.

What Can Parents Do?

Parents, I genuinely feel for you. It’s totally unfair that so much is required of you when you’re already so hurt.

Unfortunately, the facts remain as they are. If you want to repair the relationship (assuming it’s still possible, which isn’t always the case), you have to be the one — probably the only one, especially at first — to make sacrifices. I  know it’s not fair, but that’s how it goes.

Think carefully about whether having them in your life is worth it. If it is, you might just need to withdraw for a while and surround yourself with people who love and appreciate you. Fill the well. Then try again.

If you find it’s not worth it, then mourn the loss fully.

Then get busy making your other relationships the best they can be. You deserve the love you seek. You can have it if you let it in.

Remember that people are mirrors for us. If we don’t like what we see, it’s not the mirror’s fault. Give love to the people who are left in your life, and your love will be reflected back to you.

*If you were cut off by your parent(s) with no explanation, I’m sorry. You probably lost them long ago, and it wasn’t your fault. There might not be much you can do.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

See also:

Estrangement Takes Two, Part One

When Adult Children Won’t Talk to Their Parents

Estrangement: What to Do When Someone Won’t Talk to You

 


About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."
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0 Responses to "Estrangement Takes Two, Part 2"

  • multnoma
    December 21, 2012 - 12:34 pm

    I read these posts several times before I could put my finger on what bugs me about the subject.

    “The question is this: (a) Do you truly want a relationship with this person?
    Or (b) do you just need them to know that they misunderstood and/or hurt you?”

    I don’t know what the difference is. Seems that B is pretty much the definition of caring which is what one would want from a relationship.

    But maybe that’s why I have poor relationships.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      December 21, 2012 - 4:30 pm

      I think you’re right that caring is what most of us want from a relationship, Multnoma. And understanding that they misunderstood and/or hurt you would show caring, so I get the confusion.

      I should have kept it simple and asked, “How much do you want this person in your life?” Many estranged relationships weren’t exactly filled to the brim with caring before the estrangement began. Being apart may be a good time to take stock of exactly what you’ve lost with the contact.

      Does that clear it up somewhat?

    • Tracy
      December 29, 2013 - 10:19 pm

      Hi from candygirl. I have spent the last hour reading a lot of the personal stories and heartache of estrangement, and it does give me some comfort to realize that there are so many of us out there, suffering the same thing. My story is I married an American, who was quite the disciplinarian, and agreed to move my adolescent son and daughter to America for his sake. We all tried to make a go of it, but things went from bad to worse, my health suffered horribly, my children were constantly arguing and telling me how much they disliked my husband, there was never any peace in the house, I was at my wits end. I finally had enough, and went back to England to visit my mother and took my children with me. At this point, they had decided to blame my poor health and all other issues upon my husband, they were justified in some of this. I stayed in England 7 months, during this time my son became very distant, my daughter very disdainful of me because I was so ill, I could not be the mother she was used to (I had severe depression, anxiety and a host of physical symptoms the doctors could find no diagnosis for), my son stated he was going to live with his biological dad, my daughter was going to live with her boyfriend in another American state. It was at this point I decided my children were moving on without me in their lives, so I returned to America to re-unite with my husband. My children gave me sheer hell for this decision, even though they were moving on with their lives. I cannot get them to see my point of view, they refuse to apologize for any of their disrespectful, selfish treatment of me when I was so ill (am still suffering somewhat). They have told me I abandoned them, and have made me feel like such a failure. My husband and myself have tried to apologize, they will not hear of it, and now my daughter refuses to reply to texts, e-mails, phone calls, letter or gifts. My son is not much better either, he states he does not have internet connection at his dad’s house. Neither sent me mothers day, birthday or Christmas cards or acknowledged me in any way. It has been two years, and the pain is still so fresh. I continue to send birthday and Christmas gifts, but get no acknowledgement. They are both so far away, reconciliation is not a matter of a quick drive down the road to their house.
      Can anyone give me any advice on how to proceed? Should I give up and let them seek me out, or keep trying? I wish I could sit down with both of them and have a good talk about all the things they feel I failed them in, listen to them, and do whatever it takes to make it right. Nothing seems to work with them. We were very close before all this happened. They blame me for returning to America and for not divorcing my husband, whom they see as the cause of all the problems. My daughter is now 18 and my son is 17. Thanks for any advice, would be most welcome, and sorry for everyone else’s pain.

      • multnoma
        December 30, 2013 - 11:57 am

        Tracy,
        I am sorry for your situation. I cannot tell you how to proceed.
        But I can tell you that your situation is not the same as the estrangements of parents from adult children described by other posters. Your children are, well, children. It was a mistake to think they were ‘moving on’ with their lives.
        “They have told me I abandoned them” I don’t mean to be harsh, but how do you describe it ?
        hope you find some peace
        good luck

        • Tracy
          January 2, 2014 - 8:42 pm

          Hi multnoma, yes you are correct they were and are children still. I think they see themselves as adults. I guess I would describe abandonment as me making a decision for myself, based on what my children were saying they were doing with their lives in the very near future. I think where the abandonment issue occurred was I returned to USA before they had completed their plans (i.e. going to live with father and going to live in different state) They were literally weeks away from carrying out their plans, I guess in their minds I should have waited for them to complete their transition, then returned to USA. I can see how that would look like abandonment to them, and I have actually apologized for the lack of tactful timing on my part. It hurts that they hold that against me, when I actually feel I did everything else as well as I could up to this point, that one apparent failure on my part seems to have ruined all the years previous. I am not blind to my lack of judgment at that time, but also believe that if a person is truly sorry for their mistakes, real or perceived, they ought to be given a second chance. I guess that is what I am having trouble dealing with. I was pretty angry at the time I wrote my comment, but am now starting off this New Year with renewed hope and a commitment to work at having peace over the past, which I cannot change now, but only hope and pray for a better future and learn from my mistakes. Thank you for your comment.

      • Annie
        December 31, 2013 - 3:08 am

        Hi Tracy, really sorry to read about your situation, it sounds heart breaking and probably needs pages and pages of description to really address the issues. I hope you are talking this through with a counsellor or therapist because I feel (this is kindly meant), you need support with this. Through my own pain, coming from a difficult childhood and a less-than-perfect marriage I have had to learn that children are simply unable to understand the adult world (of course!) so however much you wish you had their support and understanding, they will always approach it from their own perspective.
        It takes years of maturity for children to be grown up enough to understand ‘what it was like for the parent’. It looks like your own children bore the brunt of parents with very different approaches, a troubled marriage, geographical upheavals and a mom who simply couldn’t be there for them (children may not have the maturity to understand that a parent was ill if their own needs are too large at that point).
        Sorry, but parents have to care for children, not the other way round and you can’t automatically expect them to agree with you and support you – especially in a conflicted family situation where you had been their protection from a father they didn’t like (I hope you tried not to get them to take sides) and then you got ill and weren’t there for them either.
        Sorry again, but telling children they have been disrespectful and selfish is just attacking them and it sounds like they responded in kind by saying you had abandoned them.
        You all need help in addressing the bewilderment, hurt and anger that must lie under the surface of your situation. That’s why I say get some professional help.
        Other than that, my advice would be to give them some space and yes, keep sending cards, emails etc but do it neutrally and lovingly not wanting a specific response or immediately weighing in with explanations and expectations. It may take the whole of their twenties or longer before they are able to address their life up until now.
        I hope this doesn’t sound too harsh. Look after yourself first, sort out your own emotions and situation, find a way of loving yourself and then you will have enough love to give some back to your children to make up for their difficult childhood. Warmest wishes.

        • Tracy
          January 2, 2014 - 8:57 pm

          Thank you Annie for your comments. I have been getting some counseling, and I believe my children (who speak to my mother) have been receiving some counseling also, which is good all round. I did not make the children take sides whilst they lived with us, and I do agree that time is a great healer. I have decided to start the New Year off with accepting that I cannot change the past, however much I wish I could go back and do things differently. I was quite angry about things when I wrote my comment, but have stepped back a bit now and realize that time and prayer is all I can do right now about things. I hope that the great relationship me and the children had before will be enough of a foundation to help things heal in the future. I actually did not call them selfish or disrespectful at the time, and have not spoken directly to them in those terms, I was just expressing how I felt when I posted my comment. Anyway, thanks again for your comments and well wishes, I hope your situation improves this up and coming year also.

      • Annie
        January 4, 2014 - 2:50 am

        Hi Tracy, glad you are feeling a little better. It’s so helpful to have somewhere to express our anger and hurt like this blog and to have other people hear and accept. Your situation sounds very complicated and I’m glad you’re feeling more optimistic. Wishing you all the best, it’ll all work out ok in the end I’m sure. xx

    • M
      February 28, 2014 - 6:58 am

      This is the 2nd time our married daughter with now 2 girls, has estranged herself, the first time was for 3 years, no contact, and now this time who knows how long this will be, it is truly the same as grieving, I lost both parents in the last 3 yrs and now our daughter and grandkids aged 5 yrs and one 4 months, We have 3 adult sons who totally support and love us and we love and care for them of course, but this does not fill the void left by our daughter. I have apologized 100 times over and accepted all blame for this to no avail. I have no pride in the matter I don’t care who did what, I just want her forgiveness which is not something she is willing to do. Sometimes I think I don’t really know her at all and perhaps I don’t. So we leave her in Gods hands, pray for them and wait again. it is not easy to carry such grief. I find myself crying daily over this silly mess. They move away tomorrow again to another state far away and I am left with some memories of happiness as they have lived close to us for only 8 months out of the 14 yrs they have been married. The loss of the grandchildren is huge to me. They touched our lives briefly and now they are gone. I do not wish this kind of sadness on anyone. I know I will have happy days once again but I do not know if this relationship will ever be healed and I have remorsefully accepted that.

  • multnoma
    December 21, 2012 - 5:53 pm

    Yes. I would add that one would want to know “why” along with “how much.” thank you.

  • Bevann
    December 22, 2012 - 2:27 am

    I am the mother of six adult children and only this year have felt hurt and rejected. I know that we only have our children on loan and then we launch them, but down deep you think that if you have been the best parent you know how to be (and we do not get a book to always know) they will honor you and keep ties with you. I hope that if any young adult children read this, they will know how a mother feels and hope that they will reach out to them this season. The basics are that you would not be here if your mother did not carry you and brought you into this world to be whoever you are.

  • Elizabeth Martinez
    January 10, 2013 - 11:35 am

    I’ve been reading through lots of your blog posts–and I thank you for taking on the estrangement issue. Lots of what you write is resonating with me. We are over 5 years into an estrangement with a daughter and SIL. Of course, it all started when she met and eventually married him. (familiar theme, huh?) He wants nothing to do with us. She stands by him. The question that got me from this post was do you really want a relationship or do you want them to know that they’ve misunderstood/hurt us? I’ve thought about it a couple of days–and can honestly say–its the later. As I further process that–it’s unreasonable to try to tell them.

    The hardest part of the estrangement for me is knowing whether I should try to do something (send a Christmas card, a birthday gift or an email to say the cat died). I think for now, I need to surround myself with people who do love me–and perhaps heal awhile–and not stress myself about what I “do” next.

    I understand we are not perfect in this. We have apologized. We would again. But, right now we just feel so bloodied by the last 5 years–if they told us everything they were upset about–and we had to just agree with it all–I don’t think it would be pretty. I know she’s my daughter, and it would be nice if I could do that. I am also very human. I am processing that though.

    I will keep watching your blog to see if you post any new information. I appreciate what you’ve done in this area already!

    • Tina Gilbertson
      January 20, 2013 - 2:19 pm

      Thank you very much for your thoughts. I’m blown away by how balanced your tone is. That’s so rare in these situations.
      It is really hard to know what to do around birthdays and holidays. Any choice you make is fraught with permutations. The whole deal is just a huge bummer for everyone involved.
      I’m sorry for your estrangement from your daughter, and at the same time glad to read between the lines and see the support and love you’ve cultivated in your life. All my best to you and thanks again for your comments.

  • Mom in Illinois
    January 21, 2013 - 12:52 pm

    I have read your comments & I am trying to find peace right now.

    My daughter who is now 29 ( someone who I was extremely close to and miss the relationship more than anyone could imagine)

    I did wrong. She was living with a young man who I thought was going to be my future son in law. My daughter started hanging around with a guy she worked with of a different race who was living with someone else. I voiced my opinion.

    Then, she and her boyfriend split up and she started dating her boss, someone she had already told me only dated ” white” girls and was a womanizer. I voiced my opinion. She began the alienation at that time. Which is December 2011. One night I was on FB and her ex boyfriend was online. I was so missing her I wanted some contact to the past .. I spoke with her ex boyfriend. I told him she was dating her boss and that was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.

    My daughter for whatever reason after we had started to rebuild our relationship hacked into her ex boyfriends FB and saw my conversation with him.

    I went to see her in July 2012, we had a 3 hour conversation. We laughed, cried everything seemed fine? late that evening I received a text, ” mom, it was great seeing you, blah blah but I’m not ready”.

    Come to find out she is Pre-engaged at 29 to someone she has known for less than 5 months. Right around the time I saw her last.

    I have tried with texts, phone calls, gifts etc.

    I recently contacted her father ( my ex) she did email me the other day and my counselor says it was “good”. She did say to respect her wishes to not contact her, that she said “thank you for respecting her wishes and “please do” not contact anyone else on her behalf.

    I have been reading ” when parents hurt” so I followed that guidekine and what to say.

    I am heart broken, feel awful that she won’t accept my apologies and wants nothing to do with me.

    I try every day to not cry, not think about her but there has been SO much that we’ve forgiven her for. None that i need to diclose but involved legal issues.

    Everyone makes mistakes, we forgave her, why oh why can’t I be?

    Sad mother in Illinois

  • Julia Moore
    February 10, 2013 - 4:08 pm

    Dear Tina, Your thoughts on estrangement are clear and helpful. I think I have experienced all the emotions you have described–all the constructive ones and all the useless, angry ones. And that’s what I have learned: I can understand and try to live by the belief that it is my responsibility to hold the high ground, to keep reaching out, to own the mistakes I made, and to be patient and hold out hope, and STILL have many moments or days when I crash and become angry, remorseful, depressed, etc., etc. In short, I’m a flawed human with a broken heart, and I don’t have to be the perfectly calm, patient understanding parent all the time. I reach for that goal, but I allow there to be bad days. Usually the bad days are so painful I try to avoid them as much as possible, but somedays you just gotta let it all hang out and piss and moan all day! I am glad to say that after 3+ years of hardly any contact with my daughter, she has contacted me and says she wants a “new beginning” with me. I think we will still have some challenges ahead of us, but I have to say, those 3 years were an opportunity for me to grow stronger as a person, so that I can help create a healthy new relationship with her. I have even been able to tell her this, to commend her for her courage in doing what she needed to do for her own healing, and that I benefitted from it too, even though it has been very hard at times…I mean hard to the point of scary depressive episodes. But in the big picture, I know I will be able to look back at this experience with my child as one of the great gifts of my life, because it helped us to end the dysfunctional way we were relating. It allowed us both to grow. I think one of the most painful parts of going through an estrangement with an adult child is that there is often no one for the parent to talk to who can really understand…the experience is very isolating, very life-inhibiting, so lonely and bleak. The amount of depression that parents feel about this situation is almost another problem within itself, and the most significant issue that needs to be addressed. But I don’t think typical treatment is the key. I didn’t want to take anti-depressants or anti-anxiety pills, because there was no mystery for why I was depressed. For me, the solution to my depressive episodes was to talk with my husband frequently, not hide my sadness from him, make art, do lots of physical exercise and really tend to my health, connect with my friends when I could, and to get deeply involved in meaningful volunteer work. I also did a year of therapy, but we just kind of went round and round and I couldn’t see any progress. My therapist was just there for me and I am sure that helped. I am interested in writing about my experiences and getting it published so that other parents can have a lay person/ insider’s experience to help them. There is still a lot that we don’t understand about why estrangement is so prevalent. It would be nice if we could give it a different name and incorporate it into the psychology books and self help books as a common developmental occurrence with good treatment options and outcomes. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world, but that is what it feels like for too many of us, who feel like we are the only one, and the worst person in the world. Thanks for your thoughtful articles on the subject. I wish I had found you sooner. There is a lot of junky stuff on this subject on the web, not nearly enough good helpful material. Olympia Washington

    • Tina Gilbertson
      February 10, 2013 - 5:22 pm

      Julia, I really appreciate your taking the time to comment. I hope that other readers find your experience and your practical suggestions as inspiring and helpful as I do. All my best to you and your daughter as you work to rebuild your relationship together.

    • Teri
      August 27, 2013 - 9:17 am

      Dear Julia,
      I just discovered this site. Your post was wonderfully honest and really mirrors my own experience. I am estranged from my only child, a daughter. She has a 3-year old son so I don’t see him either. I agree that there is a lot of unhelpful stuff on the web and that there is a lack of resources and support for people enduring an estrangement. I was sorry to read your follow up written in May. I agree with you that this is a very isolating life-changing event. My siblings, coworkers and most of my friends no longer ask about my daughter so it feels a bit like a death. You are correct when descrbing the experience as very isolating, very life-inhibiting, lonely and bleak. I know my daughter is in a tremendous amount of pain and I have great compassion for her. I know that I am depressed but also am not certain about anti-depressants. My husband is very supportive of me but is so angry at our daughter that I am reluctant to share all of my feelings with him. You said it all so perfectly, with compassion and honesty. Thank you for sharing.

  • Adpoted Mom
    May 3, 2013 - 8:33 am

    Strange as it seems, I have received comfort that I am not the only mother in this position. My 40 yrs old adopted daughter emailed us 3 yrs ago, that she no longer wanted contact with us because of something that happened in high school. Your article reinforced that we did 3 yrs ago was ” correct”. We acknowledged her feelings, even though we did not understand and told her we would be here if she needed us. Now she is getting married and we only heard about it through the rumor mill ( I verified the info). After I pulled the knife out of my hear, I wanted to let her know how she has hurt us. I know that won;t help but I don’t know how to deal with the pain.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      May 3, 2013 - 10:14 am

      Adopted Mom, I hope your validation of your daughter will be reflected back to you now, because you need it. How hard you tried to understand her 3 years ago probably set the bar for how hard she’ll try to understand you now. Good luck and thanks for your comment.

  • Julia Moore
    May 3, 2013 - 3:33 pm

    Well, it’s me again, the Mom who thought a new beginning was going to happen for me and my distant daughter a few months ago. But it didn’t materialize. She still has not written. Although I am assured that she loves me, I still don’t know how she is or when she might be ready to communicate. So it’s back to the drawing board for me. Dealing with some depression and hopelessness because Mothers Day is just around the corner and every ad for Mothers Day cards and flowers makes me wince…an actual little sigh of pain escapes my mouth sometimes without any warning. My husband looks over and says what’s wrong? I look back and give him a “you know” look, and he gently says “Oh.” And we go on. We’re too tired to even try to talk about it many times. It is better to just keep going forward, to just let everything be as it is and not question or wonder why. Just live in the moment and be loving to those in my world. Adopted Mom’s thoughts came to my email box this morning, reminding me we are legion, we can help each other to stay positive and that our understanding and patience are our best tools (I just about said “weapons” but that is probably not the best analogy 🙂 which reminds me, humor helps too. Happy Mothers Day to every Mom whose offspring forgets or doesn’t or can’t send a card to remind you how wonderful you are…remember that Mom upside down spells WOW.I am thinking of sending my daughter a Mother’s Day card (even though she is not a mother) and telling her I am celebrating being her Mom and how glad I am that she is my daughter. Then maybe I won’t feel so left out on Mother’s Day if she doesn’t send me a card. Again, thanks to Tina for holding the bowl for our feelings and thoughts. I feel like I can say the truth here, even if it isn’t pretty, and she will find the kernel of wisdom in my rumpled thoughts and shine a light on it.

  • Kristine
    May 24, 2013 - 1:45 pm

    Dear Tina, I found your Estrangement Blogs very informative. They have helped me to sort out my feelings as to why I am currently not speaking to my parents.
    I am 36 years old and in a month, it will be one year since I spoke to my parents.
    Most people are shocked when they find out that I do not speak to my parents and assume that they must be awful and/ or physically abusive people. The fact is, they are both rather nice people who (I am sure) did the best for their children that they could.
    I think that you give some great advice to parents when you say that they should reach out to their children, if possible. After being emotional ignored by my parents for many years, I think that I was secretly hoping that they would reach out to me. I have had to finally admit to myself that perhaps, not speaking to them has been a cry for them to pay attention to me because I could not continue with the relationship the way that it was.
    However, they have chosen not to do so. It hurts me to think that our relationship means so little to them that they would not even attempt to contact me. I understand that I have hurt them. But I am also a mother and if one of my children decided not to speak to me, I can’t imagine not at least trying to reach out to them and repair the damage.
    At this point, I feel that the silence is just as much their decision as it is mine.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      May 26, 2013 - 11:39 am

      Thank you so much for sharing your perspective, Kristine. I’m sorry you’ve felt emotionally ignored by your parents. Of course I don’t know them, but if you feel that way it’s a good bet they do their best to ignore their own emotional lives as well. So many of us don’t learn how to “do feelings,” we end up hurting each other by avoiding them altogether.

      Most of the comments on my original estrangement article are from parents who are confused and don’t know what their kids want from them. Your point of view is a valuable addition to the conversation, and I really appreciate that you took the time to write. Take good care.

    • Jenny
      November 10, 2013 - 5:36 am

      Just to say Kristina, before discovering Tina’s blog I understood that my daughter did not want to speak to me and felt I must respect that, if she wanted to she would contact me …. I didn’t think she didn’t really mean it. Reading your comment makes me wonder though. … in our case I must tread carefully because there are a lot of difficult issues but I’m working on it .. thanks Kristina it gives me hope

  • BallerinaGirl
    August 14, 2013 - 9:54 pm

    I am reading so much about what to do when you are estranged from your child, I would like to contribute my opinion, as the child not speaking to the parents, on what NOT to do.

    1. Don’t expect that you can communicate with your estranged child (by giving letters, pictures, or other forms of communication) through one of the estranged child’s siblings. Just because they have a relationship with your child does not mean you should use them as either a messenger or a sounding board for all your issues with the estranged child. Not only will this strain the relationship your child has with their sibling, it could backfire and then the sibling may decide to cut you out as well.

    2. Don’t call the estranged child and chastise them for not being communicative. Don’t attempt to ask them why they are being “ridiculous”, and don’t attempt to tell them they should just “get over it”. This not only trivializes the issue, it is controlling and mean to suggest their feelings are ridiculous, and if you have not been apologetic for the things you have been told that were hurtful to your child, you are assuming that you don’t need to. I can’t get over something that you haven’t yet addressed and explained to me. Just because it is ancient history to you doesn’t mean I have also put it behind me.. a lack of apology for past hurts can definitely stall a relationship.

    3. Don’t call friends, relatives, church acquaintances, etc. and tell them all about it. This means to me that having sympathy from others is more important than having a relationship with me. Don’t assume I am also telling people about the estrangement, it is awkward and embarrassing for me to admit I don’t have a relationship with my parents and frankly it’s no one else’s business.

    4. Don’t leave daily messages on my voice mail trying to shame me into talking to you, by telling me you are sick, and if I was sick you would be by my side. You definitely weren’t by my side when you were helping my child move away from me and not advising him to repair his relationship with me. Nope, you were too busy being the “substitute grandparents” for my own grandkids, who I can no longer see. Because of your hurtful words.

    5. Don’t keep talking negatively about my spouse behind my back. People have told me the kinds of things you are saying about my hard working, loving and supportive husband. Just because he doesn’t have much to say to you does not mean he doesn’t have a mind of his own. He just doesn’t like the way you have treated me, so he chooses to remain quiet rather than say something he might regret later. Then again, you have always made derogative statements about him to our own kids, so I guess you simply have no respect.

    I have been asked (by others) if there is anything that my parents could do to improve the situation between us. I realize we can’t go back in time and change the past. I also don’t know if the constant meddling/gossiping would ever be controlled, but that is a big part of the problem. Turning my older kids against me is another thing that would need to stop.

    As long as they continue to think they have somehow been wronged by me not talking to them, and focusing on how they feel about it instead of how to change it, and telling everyone who will listen how awful I am, they will have to live without our relationship. I refuse to be ashamed of my life when I am a degree-holding professional, home owner, mother, wife, and friend to many. I miss them terribly, but it is just too high a price to pay when they never can admit to being hurtful, and blaming the failed relationship only on me and my faults.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      August 15, 2013 - 11:13 am

      BallerinaGirl, thank you for your practical advice, obviously born of painful experience. I removed some of the details to make your comment a bit shorter and more universally applicable. I wish you and your family peace.

  • Teri
    August 27, 2013 - 9:22 am

    Dear Tina, Thank you for this forum. For those of us experiencing an estrangement it can feel like a real life-line. Your information and the postings are helpful and hopeful.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      August 27, 2013 - 12:43 pm

      I appreciate your taking the time to leave your comments, Teri. Isolation only exacerbates the pain and I’m pleased to be able to offer some hope and a forum for connection. All my best to you and yours.

  • Derek
    September 18, 2013 - 8:36 pm

    Kids, teenagers and young adults these days are self centered entitled ***holes. Post divorce, mine simply turned on my family and I. Attempts to include them leads to false allegations (supported by their mother and her new boyfriend) made by them to police to try to get orders and just upset all of our lives. I would not help them if I found them drowning now. I can’t believe I raised such horrible people into this society. I see so many other parents in the same boat. I partly blame facebook and social media that has empowered kids to think that being rude and disrespectful is a social norm. I tell young men at work now, never to have kids. It will ruin your adult life.

    • Annie
      November 4, 2013 - 5:38 am

      Derek, no one has replied but I can hear your pain and I share it. My mistake was to marry a weak man who avoids issues at all costs so any disciplining of the children was left to me and I got labelled as the baddie. We are on the brink of divorce and he of course is seen as the one who can do no wrong, such a nice guy. Me, I’m rejected as awful because I expect them to do things like tidy up after themselves, show a little bit of respect and caring for other people’s belongings, speak respectfully. I did my best with our three kids, I never lectured them or tried to tell them what to think, tried to be supportive, did support them financially and otherwise.
      Now the oldest barely speaks after a Christmas row, sparked by her seeing a therapist, and telling me I was the worst mom in the world because I had shouted at her when she was a child. She has a boyfriend who doesn’t do family (so we’ve been told) and two years down the track we have never met him. I did the grovelling thing and ‘apologised’ for having shouted at her (good job she wasn’t me or many like me who often got belted as children for misdeameanors because that was what happened in the past) and now we are polite to each other which makes me fume because it so avoids contact. The other two are ‘too busy’ with their lives to bother contacting us unless they want something.
      I too say to people don’t bother getting married and having children. This current generation have the cheek to turn around and fling this word narcissist about, they are the biggest narcissists I have ever come across!
      Still, I believe the world is in for some tough times ahead with economic problems and big changes coming from global warming, maybe they’ll look back and think we weren’t so bad after all.

  • Ann
    September 24, 2013 - 7:44 pm

    It’s been about two years now. I am fully functioning, we have good friends and can enjoy life, but the pain is still just beneath the surface. I am heartbroken that our son doesn’t want a relationship with us. At times, I fear I must have done a terrible job parenting, although the rational side of my brain says I did the best I could and no-one is perfect. That seems to be a constant battle in my head. I’ve tried calling, emailing, texting, and writing letters. I send cards to acknowledge their anniversary and birthdays. Nothing.

    I pray every day for reconciliation. I know our relationship will never be the same even if we do reconnect. I miss him terribly. My faith in God helps me. God has promised to give beauty in place of ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, and peace for despair. When I get anxious, I think about these things.

    I share these feelings so others might know they’re not alone, and because sometimes, I just need to let it out. Thanks for listening.

    • BallerinaGirl
      September 25, 2013 - 10:05 am

      I wanted to respond to what the poster above, “Ann”, said about “I pray every day for a reconciliation”, because my question to her was, and then what? Because I tried reaching out to my dad after almost a year, over an unexpected death that happened recently to someone we both knew well. I simply noticed the obituary in the paper, and decided to call him to talk about it. So, the first five minutes he was pleasant and seemed happy to hear from me. Then, he started asking personal questions, about my job and a pending legal matter he knows I am working on. Then, he began voicing his opinions, on what he thought I should do, and telling me all the ways in which I would probably mishandle the case. THEN, when I didn’t want to discuss it with him, he became argumentative and abusive, and started calling me names. All within a 20 minute phone call! Finally, when I could get a word in, I told him to just leave me alone and to stay out of my life and my professional dealings as well. I spent the rest of the afternoon depressed, because what I intended as a reaching out moment turned quickly into an accusatory, blame filled mess of a conversation. So, if you end up getting that phone call from someone who is trying to reconnect, don’t pick the first available moment to start reminding them why they no longer want you in their lives…don’t bombard them with personal questions, and then name call when you don’t get the answer you want…at least for me, if he had just listened, and not tried to take over the phone call, it might have led to another. But because he wanted to attack me, the very first chance he got, I seriously doubt I will try again.

      • Ann
        September 25, 2013 - 1:50 pm

        BallerinaGirl: I’m so sorry that was your experience… You asked: “Then what?” (if my prayers for reconciliation were to be answered). Towards the end of your post, you gave the answer… “if he had just listened”. Two years has given me a long time to process, and I still haven’t arrived at peace. I doubt I ever really will. As many parents above have stated, my emotions run the gamut from deep sadness, to anger, to feeling sorry for myself, and feeling sad for him.

        In the end, I am left with this… I am sorry for whatever I have said or done (or not said or not done) to hurt him. I have reached a point where I realize that I was not treating him as an adult when I should have been — I don’t have to weigh in all the time. I wish I had asked questions (what would you like me to do or what do you need from me?) rather than trying to make his decisions for him.

        So, to answer your question, if (when) that phone call comes, I pray I will simply listen, to hear and understand his emotions and feelings, and that I’ll be able to express my love in a way that he finds meaningful and heartfelt. I want the relationship more than the need to be right.

        Again BG, I’m sorry that your effort to reconnect with your Dad was so painful. I hope you will both find a way to close the gap and lessen the pain.

  • Heather
    October 5, 2013 - 6:49 pm

    I am newly estranged from my son, whom I love deeply. 3 months down the line I have tried to make amends, apologising, telling him how much I love him and telling him I am so proud of him. He changed after his daughter was born ( she is 2years old now) and at the same time he got a management job which is very stressful and which he said at the time he did not really want but he needed the money. My son says he doesn`t want any contact with me and he doesn`t want me to have any contact with his daughter. He told me to leave once, when I visited him soon after his daughter was born, he said I should ring to arrange a time to visit – I live 15mins away and had `popped in`. My saving grace is that my daughter in law will talk to me at times, she says she does not agree with my son, but she is sticking by him. I truthfully feel that my son is hugely stressed and depressed and is taking it out on me.
    Your advice and that of other mums and Ballerina girl is so helpful, I can`t thank you all enough. I AM a nice person, I have a wonderful husband and another son who I can talk to. I am going to give my son the space he wants for a while, and then try again. I firmly believe that I should keep trying and I do want him and his family in my life.
    The advice to fill my time rather than wallowing in the upset is excellent and so true. I will grow from this, my heartfelt thanks to you all.

    • multnoma
      October 6, 2013 - 9:08 am

      I grew up in an alcoholic home.
      As we have grown up, sibs and I have dealt with our past differently.
      But I think it is worth noting that the only sib who has children cut off dealing with our parents at the time her first child was born.
      I believe that she did so that she could more thoroughly leave her past behind and focus her emotional energy on raising her children.
      Keeps her life simpler.
      This pains my mother but mom would never consider apologizing.
      I told mom I support sib so don’t whine to me about it.

      Heather, not saying this is your situation.
      I am sorry for your pain.
      Just sharing my experience.
      Prompted by your comment of the timing of the beginning of your son’s estrangement.
      Hope you find some peace.

      • Heather
        October 7, 2013 - 11:49 am

        Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, Multnoma, I had not thought about the timing and you are absolutely right.
        It is almost as if he is using his daughter as a weapon against me ,taking out all his emotional energy in his possessiveness with her. It is true, he has said that it is “simpler” not to have any contact with me.
        It is wonderful to be able to share this with others and to receive messages with another perspective.
        Thank you for sharing your experience, it has helped so much.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      October 6, 2013 - 10:49 am

      Heather, the fact that your son has let you know, at least in part, what the problem is, and that his wife is still willing to talk to you, means you’ve done something right. Apologizing to him, for one thing, demonstrated your willingness to take responsibility for your own behavior. That’s often what estranged adult children are looking for from their parents.

      I have just one thing to add to Multnoma’s thoughtful reply.

      When an estranged adult child is willing to complain about your behavior, such as by saying, “You should call before stopping by,” you have an opportunity that some unlucky parents never get. It’s the opportunity to show your love in a way your child will understand.

      Embedded in his complaint is a golden nugget of information: He’s telling you exactly what he needs in order to trust you again, to let you back into his life. What will you do with the information?

      If you call and ask if it’s a good time to stop by, you may receive a negative response in that moment. *However*, your responsiveness to his request won’t fail to register, I promise you. The key to relationship repair is repetition. Consistency builds trust.

      Good luck, and thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment.

      (If others are reading this, please review my post on how to apologize if you want to follow Heather’s example and apologize to your child.)

  • Deborah Britt
    October 24, 2013 - 8:30 pm

    I wish I could find a way to at least talk to my daughters. HELP!

    • Tina Gilbertson
      October 25, 2013 - 8:01 am

      Deborah, thanks for visiting. I’ve added fresh links to my other three articles on this topic; you can find them above, at the bottom of the post. I hope you find them helpful. Good luck and all the best to you and your daughters.

  • jenny
    November 5, 2013 - 1:21 am

    Tina, thank you so so much, I m going to follow your advice to the letter to try to mend the relationship with my daughter.. you have given me a little bit of hope and new perspective on this terrible pain. I worry though that the damage is done .. my daughter told me , in confrontations that have got worse to the point of estrangement how she couldn’t stand being round me.. …an antipathy that existed since she was twelve and grew worse. she seemed to just hate my presence, everything about me, she has thrown a lifeline though by telling me that I didn’t listen to her…this rings true with your advice… the visit to the dentist who tells you about their own pain instead of fixing yours… ,Its now 20 years on since she was twelve.. I will try .but fear it might be too late

    • Tina Gilbertson
      November 5, 2013 - 7:49 am

      Jenny, I like to think it’s never too late for parents and adult children to reunite. Rebuilding trust can be a long process, and consistency is key. (Not to mention courage, which it sounds like you already have.)

      It can be helpful to sit with a compassionate, non-judgmental counselor or friend while you navigate the path of repairing the relationship. This is because you’re not likely to get your emotional needs met by your daughter right now, and like all human beings, you do have emotional needs. At least some of those can and should be met elsewhere.

      If you fill yourself up with love and peace, you might even become a well your daughter can draw from.

      For the benefit of others I’d like to point out that the dentist analogy you mentioned can be found in another one of my estrangement articles.

      Thank you very much for visiting and leaving a comment, Jenny. I wish you and your daughter the very best.

      • Jenny
        November 10, 2013 - 5:11 am

        Thank you so much Tina for your encouragement , there’s lots to unravel but you re right, trying to establish a sense of trust is what I must start with,…. I think perhaps that also means trusting in myself as well, believing in myself as a mother rather than failed mother. Since posting to you I have discovered ( from a consequent partner of my ex husband ) that he had been actively turning my daughter against me from a young age, even though he refused to have much to do with us, was terribly violent to us both and gave no support.. I m now looking at the possibility of my daughter being used as a tool for parental alienation. She accused me over this long period of time of things that I simply hadn’t done, was resentful towards me, leveled aggressive criticisms and left me with a sense of just not being able to do enough or anything right for her, so much so that I felt unappreciated, unjustly treated and defensive,. no doubt I stopped listening to her, I couldn’t make sense of it all, the tragedy is I fear that among st all this I must have missed the stuff I should have heard. The difficulty is my ex is in full flight with her now I know this because the last confrontation in which she said she didn’t want to see me again she told me that he had been discussing me with her. It feels like climbing Everest, there is so much work to be done here and I feel so exhausted and unwell, but thank you for your lifeline Tina , reading the experiences of other parents means I don’t feel so utterly alone anymore.

    • Ballerina Girl
      November 9, 2013 - 9:54 pm

      Jenny,
      If you are going to repair the relationship with your daughter, let me assume for a minute that you are MY estranged mom…I will tell you what I wish she would not do:

      1. I dread that initial contact, because you always remind me how long it has been since I last called/visited you. I am an adult with a calendar. I know it has been awhile. Instead, tell me you are happy to see me. If you are.

      2. I don’t really want to hear your laundry list of health issues. This is supposed to be something we are trying to fix, please don’t take advantage of our time together to tell me all of your health complaints…it is too personal for a first contact and makes me uncomfortable. It also leaves me nothing to say back, except, “that’s too bad”. Really depressing, isn’t that. Instead, tell me something interesting you have been up to lately, the way you would tell a neighbor or a friend.

      3. Please don’t launch into a list of people we both know or are related to who you also have not heard from. I am not going to ask them to call you, and you should not be asking me to do so. I also do not want to have to tell you my kid’s personal information, because you simply do not bother to call them does not mean I “owe” you the details of their own lives. Let’s talk about something light or uplifting. Don’t leave me trying to think up another excuse to leave again.

      4. You never, ever ask me about my job. I know you do not approve of a “career mom”, but that’s what I am. I spend a great deal of time there, and it is a big part of my life. Ignoring that I have a career has made me feel like you simply do not understand how important that it is to me. I am a licensed professional in the health care field, and you should not minimize it by avoiding the topic.

      5. I love my pets. You hate them. Stop telling me I should put my older dog “to sleep”, just because he is diabetic.If you would at least ask about them, maybe we could have a laugh.

      6. Stop criticizing my weight, my husband, my clothes, or my hair. I have a lot of good friends, and all of them say you are harsh and judgmental. Prove them wrong, and find something nice to say.

      7. Stop making breaking plans with me every time I invite you to go somewhere with me. Invite me to lunch, a movie, a manicure, shopping, or whatever you would like to do. It is much more fun to do something distracting so that we can maybe even enjoy it, in a light-hearted way. Visiting you at your home, which is the only way you will see me, is very intimidating for me. I have to drive almost an hour to your home, and you pepper me with questions while I sit and sweat on your couch…feels more like an inquisition than a visit. Honestly, I really hate being on “your turf”… you know I’m a vegetarian but you never have anything healthy for me, even when you know I’ll be coming over. Nobody would enjoy that. Treat me like a good friend. Give me something to look forward to.

      In conclusion, being someone’s mother does not give you the right to turn them into a captive audience for your complaints, to judge their lifestyle choices or their personal relationships, and definitely does not imply that they “owe” you frequent phone calls, visits, or contact. If every time we connect, you want to behave like that, it is a negative experience that I will definitely avoid. Try for once being uplifting, positive, and stop telling everybody that I am not living up to your expectations…because you are not living up to mine either. You would know that, except I am sure we will probably not ever get the opportunity to talk about that.

      • Jenny
        November 10, 2013 - 2:30 am

        Dear Ballerina Girl, Thank you for your comment but I am in a deeply painful place right now. I posted here to thank Tina for her advice and perhaps get a little support. I wonder why have you targeted me and my comment with your rage? It took me some time to read what you had to say because it was so strong and at first reading felt like it was me under attack. You seem to presume that my relationship with my daughter is the same as yours with your mother. Your comments would have been more appropriate as general post rather than a reply to me.

        I am truly sorry for the the pain that you’re feeling. It sounds like you have lot of anger, but your rage towards me is misdirected and inappropriate. Perhaps venting your rage helped you feel better but how did it did help me ? it only made me feel upset and panic stricken I and have done nothing to you. I’m not your mother or your punchbag, I do not offer myself as someone for you to project onto, I am a stranger you know nothing about. It might have helped for you to be more considerate of my feelings.

        I can see that you are a loving caring daughter who has been hurt, at her wits end, doing the leg work to maintain the relationship with her mother. But have you said these things to her ? She might not realise how upset you are, I can understand your rage but I’m not sure its going to help. it might make your mother shut down like I did on first reading your post. Perhaps you could write to her but edit the list of issues you have with her using a softer tone .. a wish list rather than barrage of criticism . It’s hard to hear someone when they’re screaming at you, ask for and explain what it is you would like ..if she doesn’t hear you then you can’t say you didn’t try your utmost… and you have , she is so lucky to have you .. I wish you both the very best.

      • Claudie
        November 16, 2013 - 2:30 pm

        Wow Ballerina girl. You have soooo much anger towards your mother. You sound just like my daughter.
        If you are an adult with a calendar, put it in your calendar and call your mom once a week to say hi. Keep it light.
        As parents we encounter health issues. That’s life. Do we like it? NO. Do you realize we spent most of our lives taking care of your health issues including countless doctor visits, dentists, hospital emergencies, colds, flu, ear aches, puberty and many many other ailments that you seem to have forgeten. Kids are suppose to be there to take care of their parents if they can when parents cannot, bottom line. And we do talk to our neighbors and friends about our problems? You becha because that’s what friends are for.
        We avoid topics like career choices and husband choices because we do not want to get “into it” bottom line. You say you work in the health care business…and you don’t want to talk about your moms health? Wow.
        Why would your mom want to do something “distracting” just to be with you? Why bother? And of course we pay for those distractions like lunch, pedicures, manicures and movies am I right?
        My mom hated pets. Did it bother me? Yes. Did it stop me from rescuing and having a house full? No. Did she visit? Yes. Did I get her to finally touch one? Yes. Job done.
        And YES ballerina girl. You do “owe” your mom respect by calling and saying hi. Keep it light and short. It’s an easy task.
        Lastly is this: We as parents raise our children to be wonderful human beings. To accept the good and the bad. You obviously have not lived up to your moms expectations. Our expectations are high for our children. We’ve put in soooo many loving hours, loving days, loving months and countless years bringing you up.
        It’s called R-E-S-P-E-C-T. You seem to have lost it. I’m sorry for your loss. Truly I am.

  • Lisa
    November 7, 2013 - 12:46 pm

    (Commented edited for brevity) I am 21, and it is now one and a half years since I cut the contact. I no longer speak to my parents.
    Two and a half years ago, I wrote a long letter to them. I wrote that I hoped they would show more interest in my life and be more supportive and ‘be there for me’. I wrote that if not so, I would not speak to them anymore. They were quite upset, but not for long and soon they forgot about me again.
    I went out traveling around the world for six months. I told them where I went and what phone number they could catch me on in case of an emergency. Those six months away helped finding the strength to cut the contact. It has been something I have considered very seriously for almost four years now. I have had a really hard time deciding this. I very easily forgive and forget and feel like that has been abused.
    The story behind the decision is that I have felt very neglected as a child. My father has never shown any interest in me and my life. We have never had a conversation that hasn’t been started by me and wasn’t about his hobby. My father has hording issues and has over 200 car wrecks. And all he thinks about is cars. My mother has been very passive as well, and has over many years psyched me down. She has for many years been depressed. If I was happy in the same room as she, she would find something to say to me to make me upset or cry. There have been many different episodes over a long time. Of course they haven’t all been bad. But the bad ones have worn me down so much, that I have felt very sad inside and trying to keep my smile on as well. There have been so many crazy episodes that my friends couldn’t believe when I told them. They couldn’t understand it because I look so happy every day.
    I searched the internet for advice and found yours very helpful in keeping my strength and standing up for my decision.
    Your questions:
    “How satisfying was the relationship before things went wrong?” Not very satisfying at all.
    “How much value did it bring to your life” Is has brought me a lot of sadness and suffering.
    “What will you lose if you lose the relationship?” Nothing, I haven’t been as happy as I am now, since I made my decision I haven’t really been depressed or crying over the problems. I feel like I am standing up for myself doing what is good for me for the first time ever.
    “Can you find it somewhere else?” I have a very loving boyfriend who supports me very much.
    Cheers Lisa, and thank you for the great article.

    • Lyn
      May 11, 2014 - 7:01 am

      I realise this is an old post but hopefully it will help. Lisa what you said: “My father has never shown any interest in me and my life. We have never had a conversation that hasn’t been started by me and wasn’t about his hobby. My father has hording issues and has over 200 car wrecks. And all he thinks about is cars. My mother has been very passive as well, and has over many years psyched me down. She has for many years been depressed. If I was happy in the same room as she, she would find something to say to me to make me upset or cry. There have been many different episodes over a long time. Of course they haven’t all been bad. But the bad ones have worn me down so much, that I have felt very sad inside and trying to keep my smile on as well. There have been so many crazy episodes that my friends couldn’t believe when I told them. They couldn’t understand it because I look so happy every day.”

      Have you considered your father might have Aspergers or High Functioning Autism? Some of what you have said makes me think it is a possibility. It’s not too hard to find sites on ASD, although most focus on parenting children with ASD, adult children with ASD parents is still relatively unrecognised, and considering most ASD diagnosis have been in the last 20 years there are many that are not. It is a spectrum and without a definitive diagnosis you will be making an educated assumption, but obsessions- hobbies, OCD and routines; poor social skills and lack of empathy are significant indicators. If he is, by going on ASD sites you can hear an echo of familiarity in other peoples stories.

  • Claudie
    November 14, 2013 - 1:25 pm

    Dear Tina but mostly the moms that have commented. I was googling ” what to write when your daughter hasn’t spoken to you in a year” and here I am reading what seems to be my story.
    One daughter 25 (the one that is estranged) two sons 21, 23 (that love us with all their hearts). Happily married for 26 yrs. great family life, wonderful adventures, values and morals and manners always top of the list. Always involved in their school, sports, friends. Dad is always been their mentor and I was the stay at home mom involved with making our home cozy, warm, fun with much laughter, music and lots of love. Taught the kids to respect all living things as we became a family that rescued senior animals that were left to die. She LOVED her animals.
    I admit I was a controlling mom. Taught my kids to clean and do their laundry at an early age. Even though we had a very good life and made a good living, they were expected to work and earn their own spending money. No problems, till my daughter turned 16 and I was going through menopause. Not a good combo. She started rebelling. So not her personality. We were always tight, together when she was young. She loved me with all her heart.
    It’s been 10 yrs of conflict with me and her dad who helped her through school and many many hrs of advice on choices and career moves and much more.
    One year ago I had a major surgery that has laid me up for over a year. She’s never visited, called to see how I am, never called for my birthday or Mother’s Day. I finally sent her an email a month ago and now that I read your advice Tina, I’m guilty of telling her all the things she hasn’t done in the last year like not calling her brothers, her favorite Aunt and Uncle or her wonderful dad. It’s all about her. I had to tell her. I also told her this was about her and I now (her dad is on my side on this one and so are her brothers).
    She wrote them one evening stating that she was sorry for not staying in touch and that her and I were in a ” Cold War”. That we’ve never had a civil relationship and she was waiting for an apology. There is that word again. I told her what I said needed no apology and if that was what she was waiting for she best not hold her breath. *interesting how children feel it’s for us to apologize when in fact we don’t want or feel the need knowing we were not wrong. She will NEVER see that. She stated in her “subject” that she really thought it was going to be an apology email. Hmmmm.
    Do I want a relationship with her now? I do not. Too many things have “not happened” in the last year. The most emotional year of my life with this surgery. She’s not been there or cared.
    I did not raise her to be like this. Her choice. Damage is done. One day soon she will be engaged and be married. Will I stand there and be two faced and smile for the camera? Doubt it. I don’t forgive easily. I’m 57 and have a wonderful relationship with my two boys and my husband and I have a network of beautiful friends that think I’m very very kind, out going with a big heart.
    So do I write or not? That is the ?
    Thank you for these articles Tina. I’m glad I found you.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      November 16, 2013 - 12:41 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story, Claudie. I wish you all the best, including full recovery from your surgery.

      • Claudie
        November 16, 2013 - 1:08 pm

        Tina I was actually looking forward to some kind of advice or words of wisdom from you unless you feel there are none. I tore up the letter I wrote her after rereading your advice and others. I told her dad to take her out to lunch for her birthday. I want her to know she can have a relationship with her dad. Her brothers can do as they please. If they want advise we are here for them. When I read the letter from the young lady who gave bullet points as to what she would like from her mom when she visits her, is exactly what I’m thinking my daughter thinks to some degree she would like from me. It sounds like we, as parents, have to bite out tongue, say little and just listen. Wow. I’m not ready for that one. Baby steps. Baby steps.

        • Tina Gilbertson
          November 16, 2013 - 9:42 pm

          Claudie, most of my advice on this topic is distilled into the articles on this blog, and the one on my website. But one thing I do recommend, for you and for everyone in your position who feels like they have a decision to make, is to find a good counselor to sit down with and sort through it all.

          You shouldn’t have to go through this alone, and the Internet can take you only so far. Hope that helps! Be well.

    • BallerinaGirl
      November 18, 2013 - 6:23 am

      Claudie,
      Within your post you answered your own question when you said, “do I want a relationship with her now? I do not. Too many things have not happened in the last year”.
      Sounds like you are harboring resentment for past hurts, just as you described your daughter is. You made the right move when you ripped up the letter. She doesn’t need to add any more fuel to the fire, and that’s exactly what the letter (even though you wrote it with true intent) would become to her.
      Instead, as the daughter I can only say to you what I wish I could hear from my own mom… tell her you are there for her if and when she ever needs you, and that your past year and the health difficulties you were facing made you realize how much you missed not having her in your life. She may not respond the way you wish she would, but at least you put it out there.
      Good luck, and I know we can be a tough nut to crack. I actually DO call my mom every week, but she has never ever picked up the phone to call me herself. The poster that accused me of attacking her, I simply stated that I was writing that post as if she were my mom, so if it felt like a personal attack I am truly sorry. I had hoped that maybe actually hearing me vent would somehow help her to understand how much anger and misunderstanding it takes to cause an estrangement. If it felt like I was trying to direct it towards her, that was definitely not my intent. I am, by the very fact that I am on this blog, as confused by what has occurred between my loved one and myself as all of you are. I now recognize my anger once I read back my past postings. But thanks to another poster, I am trying to understand why my mom is preoccupied with talking about her health issues. After all, she is just trying to let me in, and that’s a good thing I am realizing.

      • Claudie
        November 18, 2013 - 12:27 pm

        Hello again BallerinaGirl,
        With all this spinning inside my head I actually dropped in on my daughter last night after shopping. Spur of the moment, now or never.
        Her lovely boyfriend was there and asked me to come in and wait… She was on a Skype call for over an hour upstairs. David and I chit chatted about different things, but not about her. That’s one thing…. he doesn’t say anything and I do not either. This is between her and I.
        She came down and just said Hi. We sat for over an hour. She spilled her guts on how I never listened to her, ever, how I never focus on our conversation because I’m always distracted (that’s what happens when a mom multitasks). How I wasn’t a good mom and it was her dad that brought her and brothers up!!! That was the heart stabber. I was a SAHM their whole lives. Was ALWAYS running like a taxi driver to all of their functions and mostly her voice lessons and gym classes and we cooked together, made millions of crafts, taught her how to bake, how to earn her first dollar…. the list goes on and on.
        At that point I stood up to walk out. She yelled at me to “SIT DOWN” and if I was to have any kind of relationship with her I better not walk out that door. I felt defeated. It went on and on. I told her that if she truly thought that an apology was going to fix 10 yrs of harboured hatred towards me, we were never going to be able to fix this problem over night.
        I never intended to apologize for what I wrote a year ago to her. The truth hurt her, bottom line. As we know, truth hurts. She cried the whole time she was talking, but the only time I cried is when I tried to explain to her why I was “disappointed” in her. When I asked her to drive one hour to visit her only grandma *my mom, before it was too late, and why she came to the hospital the day of my surgery and then never to be seen again. Now her last grandmother is gone.
        I told her I raised her to love the ones around her that love and support her, not the friends that come and go with the wind. She has chosen to not communicate with her 2 great brothers. She said to me “they need to mature”, when her 20 yr old brother is the MOST mature around.
        Bottom line I guess is this: Now that I did walk out, and I took the first step to trying to resolve this, she will hunker down and blame me again. Not sure where this will lead. I told her to stop looking behind and always look forward. Life is too short, even though she does not see this. I’m willing to take that leap of faith with her and leave my pain behind.
        I know you weren’t attacking the other mom, but it made me open my eyes to your want and needs and I had to say something. I hope you and your mom can just keep your visits short and sweet. That’s all I want, because I can never be in a room for more than an hour with my daughter, but maybe one day.
        One more thing. I told her one day she was going to get married, and if and when that day came and we hadn’t resolved this, I will not be there beside her smiling for the camera. And since she thought I was such a bad mom, does she ever think she would ask me for advice when she had children? NEVER. All family and friends say we had the best behaved kids ever. We raised them in such a loving and adventurous home. Go figure. Never thought this was going to bite in the as*. So there is that word I hate so much ESTRANGEMENT. I hope it leaves our heads soon ; )
        Hugs from Canada
        xoxoxo

        • BallerinaGirl
          November 21, 2013 - 7:31 pm

          Wow, just wow. As a daughter that also feels like her mom was never there, I am still absolutely saddened and shocked that you sat and listened to all of that ranting. The fact that she cried the whole time probably meant she was taking out all of her frustrations on you, an she is still very hurt by what she perceives is your inattentiveness… except, you sat for an hour and listened to her. I wish, for both of your sakes, that it could have turned into something positive-as in, well we sure do need to work on these issues, and what should be done moving forward to attempt to reconcile our relationship. It sounds like all she did was browbeat you, and for that I am sorry. It also sounds like she has a “reason” for not having relationships with her brother’s as well, which means she had set unrealistic expectations for them. We sometimes have to be able to meet people where they are, and work from there.
          I would love my mom to come visit me, but she has never even visited once. She also doesn’t call. I am in a slightly different situation than your daughter, as my relationship with my mom always existed until my older son, who is bipolar, began making horrible life choices and my mom not only condoned them, she actively plotted against me and my efforts to get him into counselling. So, my only issue with how my mom behaves is deeply rooted in her interference with my older son and my relationship, culminating in her helping him to move his family to the opposite coast and not even say goodbye. It broke my heart. My mom would not have sat two minutes and listened to my grievances, never mind hours. Don’t ever let that happen again. There is a lack of respect on her part that even I find appalling. You deserve better.

  • Claudie
    November 22, 2013 - 9:54 am

    I’m sorry your wounds are so deep BG. Not sure your relationship will ever be mended, but never give up. Like I said, you have one mom. I wrote to my daughter last night. Here is my letter. I cannot change any world now, but you can tell me what you think. xoxox

    Dear B
    I don’t want any yelling matches with you, and that certainly wasn’t my intention when I came to visit and talk about things. I told David that it might not be a good idea to just sit in your home and wait, but he felt I should wait and talk to you. If I hadn’t made the move to drop in, then I know this would just have gone on and on until everyone and everything was broken beyond repair.

    You described your perspective of the situation. I listened. I’m still trying to fully understand it, but that will probably take time. I think that if we’re going to try to repair our relationship then we must start fresh. Like I stated, the past is the past. It’s over, and there’s nothing anyone can do to change it. It’s the present and the future that matters now. If you aren’t ready to let go of issues from the past, then I will respect your wishes.

    I’ve always been so very proud of everything you have ever done. From the moment you were born, your younger years and your teens, right through to your 20’s. I might not have voiced it in the last few years because we have troubles communicating, but I’ve always been proud of your accomplishments.

    However, we need to get one fundamental thing clarified here before going any further – I am who I am. You said you needed me to listen more, care more, and most importantly to give you 100% of my attention when we are together. I will try to do that, but I can’t promise anything. It would take a great deal to become something I’m not, especially at my age. If you expect me to change my base personality so that I can remain focused on a lengthy conversation without any outside things distracting me now and again, that’s going to be very difficult. I will try, but that’s all I can promise. You, on the other hand, should really try to accept my personality traits for what they are. They have defined me my whole life, as well as yours. The early years of your life was a large part because of who I am. You asked me what I wanted from you – I would like you to accept me for who I am, and not what you want me to be. This is really not different than excepting anyone else for who they are. It’s not very reasonable to expect people to change their basic personality just because you don’t personally like some of their character traits. I have my faults, but that’s life. So do you, David, daddy, and everyone else.

    Your father and I have spent a great deal of time examining my abilities at being a mother and whether or not I was a bad mother. We also talk about how to deal with being a mother now and what I should do or not be doing. I know from talking with your dad that any bickering between us really stresses him out. He doesn’t think there is anything wrong with how I raised you. And you did state you feel you had a “wonderful” childhood.

    For better or worse, you only get one mother and that’s me (faults and all). I’ve never deliberately meant to hurt you in anything or at any time in your life. If I did then I do apologize. Now that I’ve apologized, you’re going to have to just get past the walls you’ve put up and accept me for who I am.

    There is no reason in my eyes that we can’t be “normal” so long as you can accept that our idea of normal might not match your ideal model of normal.

    I’m not going to live on the edge anymore. If you want to drop by and visit, then feel free. If you want to talk to daddy and I, we feel going to [deleted]’s home with no distractions what so ever on no common ground would be a good idea. We would love that. If you come here and the dogs start barking or peeing on the floor I’m going to deal with that right in the middle of your conversation. That’s life.

    I broke the ice by dropping in to have a chat. I think we can talk lots more. But let’s just try to bury the past. Nothing has been done that is so horrible that you can’t get over it. You always had everything you wanted. You were never beaten or abused. You can never change the past. Let’s just get back to being the fun loving family we’ve always been. I don’t really think you want to go through life without your family and it would be nice to have you back in ours.

    If you can take me for what I am, faults and all, then let’s try and make this work.

    I’m always here for you. Always have been, always will be.
    xoxoxo

    • BallerinaGirl
      November 24, 2013 - 12:00 am

      Claudie,
      I think it was a very heartfelt and sincere letter. I hope it was well recieved by your daughter. She may not have the maturity to understand, but you are right about leaving the past hurts behind, and focusing on the present and future. No use rehashing over things that you cannot control, such as what has already happened.
      If, moving forward, she can treat you with more tolerance and hopefully understand that everyone has imperfections, but we can live, love and respect our differences because that’s what makes us who are.
      I think she’s lucky to have a mom like you who actually tries to do the right thing and re connect. I hope she’s ready to try and rebuild the relationship with you, good luck.

      • Claudie
        November 24, 2013 - 8:41 pm

        Thank you BG. And I truly hope you and your mom can see the light also. I haven’t hear from B yet as I’m sure she is digesting the letter. So much rides on her letter back to me. Oh and BTW, I did send her a birthday card with her dad and brothers signing it with love ; )
        Xo
        Multnoma. Just to clarify my daughter is not a child but 25 years old. I understand if parents do not want to talk about the past. Sometimes it hurts. I know I would give anything to be able to talk to my mom and dad about the past, because it was a good past. They are both gone now : ( so no chance of that. If your parents were abusive than shame on them. I have 0 tolerance for abuse.
        Thank you for your comment. I’m listening more and more to all the advice here and from my friends. It amazes me how common this is in family’s. I guess since I didn’t grow up in a dysfunctional family, I’m having a hard time dealing with what my daughter perceives happened in ours with her and I. But she has her reasons I guess. And you might be right about being as good as it gets. I’m ready for that also if that is what she chooses.
        Xo

  • multnoma
    November 22, 2013 - 6:21 pm

    Claudie,
    “I’m always here for you. Always have been, always will be.”
    Unless the dogs are barking, right ?
    I’m pretty sure that’s how your child sees it.
    Nothing wrong with telling her ‘this is as good as it gets’
    but that’s likely to be as good as it gets for both of you.

    I and most of my sibs feel apologies are due us from our parents.
    Not all of us have gone the estrangement route.
    But what prompted those who are estranged to do so, was the refusal of parents to even discuss the past.

    just sharing my experience
    good luck

  • Deidre
    November 26, 2013 - 9:26 am

    Claudia,
    The comments you have written are so true and I have been inspired to find someone who thinks the same as I do, I wholeheartedly agree that we, as mums, give our live to our children, My children both had the same opportunities and upbringing yet one chooses to be estranged. His choice. I read somewhere, ” would your life be enhanced by having this person back in it?” – No, it would not. ! I have sent my son texts and e-mails, he chooses to answer sometimes, often he does not. I am not going to pussy foot around and walk on egg shells to book an appointment to see my grand daughter or call in to see my son as I am passing by. I have had nights of being unable to sleep, worrying about what I should do – how can I make amends. I have cried and cried, felt sick, could not eat , felt utter despair but now no more. What the hell am I doing??
    Christmas is coming. For the past 5 years my son has never given me or his dad a present, I have never had a card with nana on it – ever. . I have never seen my grandchildren on the big day, despite trying to arrange a meeting at their house or mine. I usually see them about a week later when I have booked to take their great grandma to see them.
    Enough is enough, I agree Claudia. I have a loving husband, we have a wonderful loving relationship which has been tested over the past few years – more so over the past few months when my son decided that he did not want to ` socialise`, he only wanted me to help them `with money problems`, he does not want his children to have any contact.
    I have another lovely son who knows about his brother and says he cannot understand why he is doing what he does. We have thought, for the past 3 years, of going away at Christmas and why not?. I am fed up of sitting in, watching the clock,hoping for a knock at the door, its not going to happen.
    I also read somewhere ( I`ve really looked into this and tried hard) that at times we should realise that we have raised horrible people, despite doing our best. Suddenly a light has gone on and it is through reading your message Claudia, thank you!

    • Claudie
      November 26, 2013 - 10:23 am

      Dear Deidre
      I’m glad I have inspired someone, lol. I know it’s not funny, but I try to find humour in most things, if not my life would be nothing but negative, and I do not or try not to allow negativity in my life anymore. Nearly 58 yrs old. Interesting how my daughter said to me when we spoke last week that at 25 yrs old SHE did not need negatively in her life. As a family we do not breed negativity so her stating that was another shock.
      I’ve found such peace here and with my fb friends who have traveled the same road, that my thoughts are NOT consumed with my estrangement with my daughter any longer. Her 25th birthday is around the corner and so is Xmas. I’m also thinking of going away Xmas day with my hubby. It’s not the same anymore but no sense thinking it ever will be. I hope you go away with your hubby. It might be hard, but you must make the move. We have to let go even if we do not want to.
      I do not feel we have raised “horrible people”. I think they choose to be what they want to be despite how we have raised them. I have 2 great sons, which makes this easier. I’ve done something right : )
      I’m glad we are all helping each other. Sometimes it’s time to talk openly about it.
      Pick somewhere nice and warm if you are going somewhere. Sun is good for the soul.
      xoxoxo
      P.S. Over 5 days have gone by since I wrote to B. My question to all of you and Tina is this:
      HOW LONG does one wait for a response? And if that response doesn’t come, do I write her off? Because for me, the longer it takes means she is not ready for a relationship??
      xo

      • Deidre
        November 27, 2013 - 5:52 am

        Dear Claudia,
        I am interested to note that we are the same age and our off spring are similar ages. My son is 27yrs old. Is this a trend, a passing phase for this age group I wonder?
        My son has said recently that he doesn`t want us to have any contact with his 2 year old daughter – `you won`t be controlling her like you did me` I have thought back and as far as I remember, the `controlling` was making him have a wash and eat his vegetables ( he is now a vegetarian). Neither of which I can see as controlling,
        I have felt ashamed and embarrassed to talk about this with my friends, all of whom appear to have a `normal` family life with grand children visiting, trips out with the family for a meal etc. They all appear to be meeting up over the festive period and arranging who will cook the turkey.!
        I have wondered over and over if it is me, both if us, just my husband – but from reading other comments, it appears not to be us but them.
        Thankyou for your comments, they really do help.
        Have a lovely break away over christmas!
        In answer to your question : How long does one wait for a response? I am afraid I am ,losing interest in him. I will always be there for him, anytime, I am his mum and even if he does not like that, he can`t change it, My door is always open and I want nothing more than to be as we were a short time ago, but comments have said they have waited for a year, 2 years, more!
        My dad passed away last year following 4 years in a nursing home with Dementia, its a horrible passing. I am going to move on and have a life while I can, I won`t write my son off, but I will always be there in the background.
        My very best wishes to you xx

  • Anna
    November 26, 2013 - 12:46 pm

    So whatever happened to honour your mother and father? We seem to have raised a deeply selfish and disrespectful generation of young people. I am appalled at the idea that someone should expect their parent to apologise! For dropping a pot on your toe, ok. For not being perfect, for not being the way you wanted?! Wow, little princess stamping her feet. Claudine, I thought your letter was honest and open, let your daughter go with peace in your heart, then enjoy your life. When she’s grown up a little, maybe had a child of her own, she may return as a grown up and then you can have a mature relationship with her. Hugs

  • jenny
    November 27, 2013 - 1:17 am

    Christmas has to be one of the hardest times especially if you have grandchildren.. like Deidre I never saw my grandson on Christmas day or even near it , his first one three years ago I was invited over to the UK but my daughter was furious when I bought her a Christmas tree even though we had gone out together to buy one … she felt I had taken over, in the ensuing verbal attack told me she couldn’t stand me along with host of other personal nasty insults .. I left on Christmas eve with no flights home, I was fortunate that a friend lived an hours journey away and was wiling to put me up, otherwise I would have spent Christmas in the airport.. I did everything for her as a child and adult going through college.. paid for her rent, food, car, gave her money but also encouraged her to stand on her feet by getting part time jobs to supplement her ten years going on eleven years of college. She rang me constantly with her problems emotional and financial …I was always there to pick up the pieces. or drive hundreds of miles to help her out. In her last rant she told me I had never given her anything ever.. I worked out the college expenses I gave her the other day from bank stubs.. apparently 20 k is deemed nothing ..and I still have money put aside for a deposit for her first house if she needs it . in the meantime I m completely washed up have no pension and I m living in rented accommodation My daughters insulting outbursts have got worse to the point of estrangement .and my own deep depression . Strangely after she unleashes her fury on me she seems quite contented and gets on with her life…I wonder why on earth did I break my self for another person like that ? Because I love her……. I m dreading Christmas it will be the most painful time of the year… to estranged parents who feel the dread of Christmas I send my love.

    • Deidre
      November 27, 2013 - 10:54 am

      Dear Jenny, what a sad letter. You say you are living in rented accommodation and have no pension, yet you have money ready for your daughter for a house deposit ………why?
      You are a special person who does not deserve `insulting outbursts` . Yes, 20K is a lot of money but the amount is irrelevant. I am sure this was found by scrimping , saving and going without to ensure your daughter had a good start . You should be enjoying this with her now, not being on the point of estrangement and depression.
      You deserve better than this. I mentioned once a statement which I read ` would your life be enhanced with this person back in your life`? Perhaps its time to take stock and consider your own future.? It will be very hard, Christmas will be difficult, but a New Year is coming up – time for a New You, time to make plans and move forward. Who knows , it might make your daughter sit up and think,if not, you will feel better by being more settled – financially and mentally.
      My very best wishes to you xx

      • jenny
        December 29, 2013 - 1:59 am

        Claudie and Deidre thank you so much for your wonderful support, forgive my late reply I couldn’t visit this site in the weeks coming up to and over Christmas, it was so painful to think about this situation I had to put as much thinking about it all to the back of my mind to survive.
        Oh Claudie what a beautiful person you are to say such lovely things it helps so much to know you care and that you would make such a generous and loving offer to me. I can imagine what a lovely Christmas it would have been. I really hope that it went well. I am so thrilled to read that you have made such great progress with your daughter, you have approached it so well and with such an open heart I really hope your daughter realises what a special mum she has. Your message got me thinking about getting back into working with people and I am going to go about it I think it is a good way to restore balance . Just reading these posts and the way people interact gives me hope and makes me realise how precious we all are.
        Deidre I so hope your Christmas turned out well , I know what is like to have a 2 year old grandchild that you can’t get to see… I hope something good happened for you? Your advice to get on with life is good, thank you so much for your support and words of encouragement, it means so much tome to know you care. I think part of the problem perhaps for many of us here is we are constantly raking over the past to see where we went wrong.. it is so painful, and keeps us rooted in the past. The trouble is what we think as our faults and then try to address often turn out not to be the faults that our children see in us. I think I spent ten years between my daughters 20th and 30th birthday trying to compensate for my shortcomings as a poverty wracked separated mother, it didn’t work and the issues my daughter has with me are ones I can’t seem to get a handle on. She told me I am panicky and play the victim and that I should take a good hard look at myself. She was angry with me because I showed concern that the baby’s car seat was loose and that this undermined her. Her reaction was catastrophic. she told me these were the reasons but I can’t imagine how you would cut someone out of your life because of it. My daughter is a perfectionist though, she used to feel she had failed exams and then have got grade A s, she was always at the top of her class. I do wonder whether this perfectionism has something to do with it especially if she might be suffering from low self esteem… I got a brief call from her at Christmas the first in nearly three months, a card and gift and a wonderful finger painting from my grandson so I was thrilled.. I live in hope things will improve and that she will want me back in her life, but have to be realistic. They live in [deleted] and I am in [deleted]so they are far from me. I think she is happier than before and perhaps with her increasing happiness she might ease up.
        I hope that this year all of you dear people will have a positive journey in coming closer again with your children or parents, your loved ones, they are irreplaceable and we must do all we can to try to keep them at least in our hearts but hopefully in our lives as well.

  • Claudie
    November 27, 2013 - 10:22 am

    Dear Jenny
    I wish you lived closer. I would welcome you to my home, with open arms. Sounds like you are from the UK, I’m in Canada. I’m hoping grandkids do not come into my life for another 10 yrs. I’m not ready to be a grandmother. I know most of my friends say it will change your life, but I like my life right now. I have to be in a great mind set to accept rejection if my daughter chooses to take that route.
    Why on earth would you take such abuse from your daughter Jenny? It’s time to realize that you have a very selfish daughter, like mine. We must stop beating ourselves up and move on. Do something different for Christmas if it’s so painful. It doesn’t cost money to go volunteer at a soup kitchen or a hospital. I think you should volunteer at a children’s hospital. Maybe it would fill the void you have for your grandkid. You sound like a very giving lady and other people that do not know your past will appreciate you so much more than your daughter for who you are. Do something to take away your pain through the holidays PLEASE.
    Deidre thank you for your comment. It’s always good to vent to strangers, yet I feel I know a few here as friends. I finally told my dear friends how it really was a few weeks ago on a private fb page. They have always supported me and I trust their judgement. Some have met my daughter and said how beautiful and talented she was. They say she looks just like me too. So never be ashamed to put your heart out, because sometimes the best advice does come from strangers. We do not judge.
    My mom also passed away 2 yrs ago and all I wanted was for my daughter to go and see her grandma more, but she was always too busy and then me being laid up for the year….. so now off I go to get my hair cut and my nails done. I’m going to go talk to strangers and give them a great big smile, because that is what Claudie is all about.
    xoxoxo

    • BallerinaGirl
      November 30, 2013 - 3:30 pm

      Hi again Claudie,
      I hope you had a good week, even though you expressed some frustration about your daughter not responding to your letter the way you wanted her to…or maybe, she still has not responded at all. To answer your question from your daughter’s perspective, how long you should wait for her response, here it is- you will unfortunately have to wait for as long as it takes her. In the last line of your letter to her you posted here, you told her you would always be there for her. So, from her perspective, she doesn’t need to hurry with her response, or maybe she feels no response is warranted. You put it out there, now it’s really in her hands what she chooses to do from here on out. Maybe the best advice I can give you is, follow through with what you wrote. Leave her a weekly short voice mail or text saying hello, and that you hope she’s having a good week. Repeat this once or twice a week, so she knows she can depend on it. She will eventually respond if you are persistent. Meanwhile, do stay busy and keep your life full without time to dwell on her bad behavior. Do go away for Christmas with your husband. If she tries to last-minute invite you during the holidays, you can tell her you already had made plans, but would love to also make some with her for family time. Maybe a New Years Day get together, or after Christmas bargain shopping. Every time my parents initiate contact I am listening, even if I don’t always react the way they want me to. Unfortunately from my perspective, if you make too big of an issue about her not responding (which I agree is heartless and rude), she will be focused on that instead of focusing on your relationship (or lack of)!
      Hope this helps. One more suggestion… if she had a Pinterest account, Instagram, or other such thing, it might be a good non-invasive way to keep updated on her life without feeling like you are pressuring her. Good luck.

  • Claudie
    December 7, 2013 - 9:22 am

    My dear friends. It is with a beautiful heart that I tell you that my daughter is all for trying to repair our relationship. It was her 25th birthday yesterday. I put together a “memory” box for her. A special book that she loves, an album with her baby pictures and letters to me when she was very young. I also put a special Xmas painting she made when all was happy, and her first hand print in plaster. I also placed little love notes and cards throughout the box. My husband met her for lunch and brought the box into the restaurant with him. He explained that what was in the box was VERY special to us. If she wasn’t going to not take care of them, we would appreciate storing them here. She LOVED the box. They had a 4 hr. lunch and talked about everything. All went extremely well. I didn’t feel left out, it was their time together. Later last night she actually called me to thank me for the “gifts”. If it wasn’t for finding Tina and this blog, I’m not sure I would have taken that leap of faith. Thank you Ballerina Girl for your youthful advice and knowledge about this topic. You helped me see it through my daughters eyes. And thank you to Deidre and the other ladies for your comments also. I hope we can all learn from each other. Thank God for the internet : )
    Love to all and Merry Xmas.
    xoxoxoxo

    • Ann
      December 7, 2013 - 4:45 pm

      Tears here. What a beautiful gift you gave! Thank you for sharing hope with us today!

    • BallerinaGirl
      December 7, 2013 - 10:35 pm

      Claudie,
      Such wonderful news! Glad you didn’t give up on your daughter, I really do believe we should never give up on our loved ones, I guess that’s the part of me that always roots for the underdog lol . Today was a really special day for me too. I ran my first 5K race. I called and left a message with my mom but she hasn’t called me back yet. I know this isn’t a Lifetime movie but I was a little sad my mom didn’t want to hear about it. Please stay positive with your daughter and take it at her preferred pace. I wish you all the best, and hopefully this will be the start of a brand new chapter of your relationship.
      Hugs!

  • Deidre
    December 8, 2013 - 8:30 am

    Dear Claudie, I am so pleased and so happy for you. Thank you so much for sharing this, I have been putting together a memory box for my boys for sometime and It is ( again) inspiring to know that it may all be worthwhile.
    Very best wishes to you xx
    PS please keep in touch so that we can share your happiness, it would be lovely to know how you are getting on,.

    • Claudie
      December 9, 2013 - 8:02 am

      Dear Deidre
      I promise to let you know how it’s going. I called her on my way home yesterday to say hi. We had a nice casual phone call. It was nice. She even texted me the other night. I think everything will be fine. Hubby and I are leaving on the 19th for Vermont and on to N.Y. city for Xmas. First time in 26 yrs that we will be away from home and the kids. It’s going to be nice.
      Ballerina girl. Congratulations BIG TIME on running your 5K. Your mom might not call you back, but good for you for calling her. That’s the main thing. You cannot say you aren’t trying. That’s all you can do right now. Xmas softens the heart, so let’s hope you get that call back. I’m rooting for you sweet girl.
      Merry Xmas to all of you. And thank you again for your help.
      P.S. Memory boxes seem to touch a soft spot : )
      xoxoxo

  • Trish Huband
    December 10, 2013 - 5:08 pm

    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts, many of which I can relate to. We ar eestranged from our adult son….long story……one of .the hardest things is that he is depriving his 2 young sons of their grandparents despite his telling me I was the best ever Grandma. They have Birthdays in the week before Christmas and I can’t call them or send anything. Secondly he has also totally rejected his daughter by an earlier relationship – she lives near me so we have a lovely bond. For the last 4 months I have been doing memory books for the boys..so hard trying to keep the banter happy when my heart is broken.
    Much love to you all at this time when I am finding it hard not to cry every day.

    • Claudie
      December 11, 2013 - 8:16 am

      Hi Trish
      I’m sorry you don’t get to see your grandsons, but you do have your granddaughter to spoil for now. Sounds like a lovely relationship. You are doing something right right? Good for you. Memory books are hard to not cry over Trish. If it’s painful you need to stop doing it. Maybe after Xmas would be a better time. Rejoice in the positive not the negative. I’ve learned to do that and even though it’s very hard at times it’s just not worth the aggravation.
      I called my daughter on my way home last night to say hi. We didn’t talk long, but it was very pleasant. She also called my sister last night which was very nice. She’s coming around. Time is the healer.
      Merry Christmas Trish and try to stay positive : )
      Love Claudie
      xoxo

      • Trish Huband
        December 11, 2013 - 1:53 pm

        Thank you Claudie xx…this blog is so helpful. I am fine with the memory books…it is the rest of the day that the tears just drop from my eyes. I know I am so much luckier than a lot of people and we do have a wonderful daughter who loves us as we are (she lives even further away than he does though). Do other people ever feel that they lose the feeling of love toward their adult child – I am at that stage and so long as I could have contact with our grandsons I would not worry about our son. He has been pulling our heartstrings for years and acts like the victim all the time and I really think he is a control freak looking back on how I have always bent over backwards pandering to him. I really don’t care anymore what he has done to us but I am so upset and angry about what he has done to all 3 of his children. Also his Grandmother who has always been so good to him is deprived of her great grandchildren. Is it possible to “unlove” your own child – does that make me a bad mother?

        • Deidre
          December 12, 2013 - 10:42 am

          Dear Trish, you are so sad and I feel your pain as I too have a son who has been pulling at our heartstrings and acting as a victim for a long long time. The story goes back many years but until I found this site, I didn`t realise what he had been doing. He has said that he doesn`t want us to see his daughter, he does not want to socialise with us. ( his words) Contact with him is minimal, if anything at all,. The reasons behind this seems to be due to his upbringing when we `made` him have a wash and `made ` him eat his vegetables – he is a vegetarian now (?) Its so ridiculous and I have thought often about a statement I heard recently which is, ` would my life be enhanced by having this person in my life`? I have thought often and the answer is no. As parents, especially as mums, we did our absolute best for our children with the money, time,resources etc we had at the time. If it is not quite what they expected, well, tough. we did our best. I don`t think you have `unloved` your son, he is simply not as important now – you have moved on whilst he appears to be hung up on things which happened a long time ago. At the same time, If he needed you, was ill, homeless, anything – you would be there for him, no questions asked.
          No, you are not a bad mother, I have a feeling of numbness, along with confusion, sadness, despair at times, but I have built a temporary wall which can come down at any time.
          I have another lovely son who is so different to his brother and I am concentrating on him, we have become really close and he is mystified by his brothers attitude towards us.
          Keep in touch on this site, I have used it often and it really is helpful.
          Take it a day at a time, love your family, try not to dwell on the one son who is making you unhappy.
          Take care xxx

  • Claudie
    December 12, 2013 - 11:59 am

    I agree with Deidre. I think we “love” our kids, but sometimes we do not “like” them. Big different. Focus on the good things and do like me. Save it all up and lay in bed till 4am thinking about it, lol. Thank God I can sleep in. I’d be in the same boat if my daughter hadn’t come around. We as moms do all the worrying, that’s our job. She called her brother yesterday for his 21st birthday. Mind you it was near 11pm??? (shut my mouth) and her sweet brother invited her and her beau to come over for dinner with us…but she hesitated and didn’t say too much which was fine with me because I’m not ready for that yet. We said baby steps, not dinner.
    There is always hope ladies. We cannot give up, but make yourself sick. They are in the drivers seat, we are not any longer.
    Yes, lets’ keep in touch.
    Have a lovely Xmas in the meantime.
    xoxoxoxo

  • Kristine B
    December 27, 2013 - 6:40 pm

    I have read several comments from other moms on this blog and I seem to be sinking in the same boat. Different story, but same results of disconnection, blame, rejection and no communication.(or very little & on their terms)

    My dilemma is when we seem to make progress, something occurs in my daughter’s hearts and they attempt to avoid any conflict at all cost, which includes our relationship. (is there any relationship that exist that has no conflict?) I feel I can’t be myself, having to watch every word and every action. Who can live that way? I am a decent, caring and loving person. I continue to make amends, asking what I can do better, making every attempt to be what they need. I struggle with whether a relationship with someone who can’t accept me as I am is worth fighting for. I have made some of the mistakes mentioned in this blog in communicating this hurt and rejection, which has exasperated the issues. How did I raise the ungrateful ones and other parents seem to have the closest of relationships with their children? Will my adult children have the same relationship with their children as they age? Is the law of reaping what you sow given any thought here? Why don’t my adult daughter’s appreciate all the good and wonderful experiences? We are all broken people living in a broken world. We will continue to disappoint, offend and hurt the ones we love, but it should matter what the heart truly intends, good will. Blessings of hope and open doors to each of you who are hurting as I am.

    Kristine

    • Annie
      December 28, 2013 - 1:00 pm

      Dear Kristine, I read your post and my heart went out to you – I just had to respond. We’ve just had Christmas with our three daughters and things were better with the oldest a year down the line from when she first exploded and told us how difficult we had made her childhood along with a whole load of accusations of things we could barely, or couldn’t, remember at all!
      It’s been a tough year and we have finally got to the stage where she said she ‘feels heard’ which has meant a lot of swallowing hard and biting of tongues on our part. Well, we said, her reality is her reality. I was apprehensive about Christmas and clearly she was too, conversation skated around things and like you, I felt I had to watch what I said and how I acted. I felt she was judging me and keeping her distance and quite unreasonably she was acting like I was some kind of ‘problem’.
      I found it exasperating and hurtful. We gave this girl so much time and attention, supported her hobbies and her career wishes. Gave her our blessing when she came out as gay at college, let her and her girlfriend come and live with us rent free when they left university. Somehow now though all of those things are forgotten and we are found wanting in our roles as parents.
      I’m glad Christmas is over and maybe in the past year I have distanced myself a little. I really loved, still do love, being a mother. But I can see that kids now don’t necessarily want that and most families are no longer close. I know one or two who are really close where the mothers and daughters spend time together but they are rare.
      I do have a good relationship at the moment with my younger two daughters but I understand now that that may not always continue. This has been a hard year but you have to look on everything as a learning curve.

  • Claudie
    December 29, 2013 - 2:10 pm

    Dear Kristine, Jenny and Annie and all the wonderful moms
    Interesting how we all think we “cannot be ourselves” isn’t it? At our age I do feel that we should always be ourselves. It would be nice to hear from our children about all the so called “bad things” we did as parents or maybe not. Interesting enough my daughter has not had one bad thing to say about her dad (he truly is perfect really), it’s all me. Now mind you if you read my comments it’s always been about not “listening”. My daughter was here with her beau on Boxing Day *the day after Xmas, since we were in NYC. She accepted my invitation. She emailed me saying she would LOVE to join us and her brothers. I wasn’t nervous or on guard. I was “ME”. I have to realize that she is not the little girl we brought up. She is a woman with her own ideas and dreams.
    I did drop in again before leaving for NY. I told her I wasn’t coming in but she insisted. We had a nice hour chat and all went well. So when I did get her email stating she would LOVE to come over, I just smiled : )
    Was I seating on pins and needles while she was here? not at all. She did take a few jabs *little ones mind you, that my husband never noticed, but it was just like before, but this time I just let them roll off my back. Her boyfriend balances her out, just like my husband balances me out.
    Now here is the kick. It’s been 3 days since she was here. Haven’t heard a peep. I do expect *and I know I shouldn’t, but I do expect a call to say thank you for everything or an email or a text. Now don’t scold me on this one, but I have ALWAYS told my kids to follow up with a thank you for what ever reason, that’s just the way it’s always been. You would think after a year of estrangement, she would make the effort to do the things that she knows were part of the break down. Just saying.
    Is this on my mind all the time like before I met all of you and our “reunion”? no. I’ve made peace now, and the rest is up to her. I did it for all of us.
    So my dear friends. I hope with all my heart that you find peace and balance within yourselves. Do not bash your heads against the wall anymore. We are good people. It’s all about balance and if our children do not want balance in their lives, there is nothing we can do about it at this time.
    Will our children have the same estrangement with their children Jenny? I’m not sure, but with the way technology is today I doubt they will ever pick up a phone and call home.
    Sending happier New Year’s to all.
    Love Claudie
    xoxoxoxo

  • Victoria
    December 30, 2013 - 12:03 pm

    I am 46 and mother of three beautiful children. When my daughter turned 18 she moved to Oregon to attend culinary school. I was proud of her for continuing her education and finding a passion in life, BUT she chose to take a guy there that she had only met 6 months prior. I say take because he had lost his job, and did not have any money saved for this trip so she was paying for the trip and to move into their apartment. My mother put a lot of pressure on me to tell her that she was not ALLOWED to take him. I did not feel that it was my business to tell her what she was allowed to do or not. I did voice the fact that he was a heavy pot smoker and that he had a history of not being able to hold down a steady job. This opinion was what broke the ties between us.

    I spent almost a year in tears and wonder of how she was, what she was doing and if she was safe in the big city. I finally received a card from her with her address and cell number. I called as soon as I read the numbers. She explained to me that the guy she moved down there with had left to go to another state without even telling her or his place of employment. I told her that I was sorry but that I knew he was not going to be reliable. She said this is why I didn’t contact you for so long is because you don’t understand that these are things that I need to go through on my own in order to learn. I did understand, but I had always believed that if someone were able to shield me from my pain and suffering that I would have had a better life, and therefore I was going to help my kids to have a better life by showing them the signs.

    I will not explain my situation in grave detail but I experienced a traumatic childhood. My experience left me with no self respect, low self esteem and poor decision making skills. I made a huge number of mistakes. I married a guy who was an alcoholic and drug user, who had problems with holding down a job and I was not able to stay home with my kids when they were young because somebody had to work. Being the only breadwinner of our household was stressful and needless to say there were many fights. I know this had a very negative effect on my kids and I wish I would have been strong enough to fix things then, but I just did not know how. I have apologized to my daughter for many things. I have been there for her many times when the world was cold, and when I bring up these times, she tells me that was my job.

    I am now experiencing the same with my middle son, he moved in with his girlfriend and they live a block and a half away from me, but when I try to make plans with him, he always tells me that he doesn’t know because they were invited to go over and spend time with some friends. I will graciously back out and tell him to have fun with his friends and he always says “are you sure?” of course most of the time, I am disappointed but I am proud that he has his own life, going to school, working and meeting new friends. The few times when we did have the chance to do something together, he was so frustrated with me because he said if I could not make up my mind as to what I wanted to do, then he was going to go hang out with his friends. the next time we were together I showed them a video that I stumbled across and he said ” this video is long, and the guy keeps repeating himself, if he would just move on”.

    I was so hurt that I blurted out that ” I watched all your silly little things when you were young and so it’s only fair that you can sit still and watch mine, without comments” I knew as soon as I said this that it was wrong to put them back into the parent/ child role again, but I was just so hurt that they live such a hurried life that they can’t even take a short time to watch something that I thought was funny.

    My daughter had called me and since she is older now and has a child of her own and we have a somewhat better relationship than we did a few years ago, so I asked her how to fix this, I have tried buying them things (and I am poor but I will sacrifice stuff I need if it will fix this) I have lent them money and not required that they pay me back. I have spent time doing things they enjoy, I just want to fix this. My daughter explained that I CAN NOT FIX THIS. She said that each of us has issues with our parents, and it is our responsibility to work through these things in order to be okay with our parents, and that the only thing that I could do was listen to her pain, acknowledge, understand how she felt and give her time. She said that fighting to justify why we did something will not mean anything to them until they understand more about life.

    I was so upset that I said, if I had known all the years ago that spending time with my kids and standing up for them, and standing behind them would lead me to hurt and pain that I would probably not put so much effort in. and then I realized as soon as I said that, it was wrong. I didn’t mean it, I am just so hurt.

    • jenny
      December 30, 2013 - 3:33 pm

      Dear Victoria,
      It sounds so hard for you right now …you put so much effort into bringing up your kids and now it feels like they are turning their back on you .. right? But your kids are trying to find their feet .. you cant protect them all of the time or hope they are going to want to spend loads of time with you right now, they’re trying to make sense of very difficult things and become adults in their own right .. your daughter has asked you to listen to her .. that’s great .. it means she is willing to talk..the thing is to listen to her rather than defend your own position.. she knows your story , now she wants you to hear hers… I wish I had listened to my own daughter sooner .. its going to take a lot of work and regaining of trust to get my relationship with her back.. you’ve done a fantastic job up to now.. I suggest you just give your kids the space and time they need, you can still be there for them when they need you.

      • victoria
        January 11, 2014 - 1:54 pm

        Dear Jenny,
        Thank you so much. You are absolutely right. I do understand that they are adults and that I need to let them experience the world, it just seems as if they have left me in the dust. I had also realized that Tina made a great point in the article when she asked us if we truly want a relationship with our children or just need for them to acknowledge that they hurt me when they didn’t spend time with me. I recognize that making them feel guilty about not spending time with me was not going to fix the problem, and just as another person on here mentioned I want them to visit me because they “want to” not out of “duty”. Thank you for your support and understanding, and I will be there with you and all the mothers here in spirit and thought as we both work to bring our children back into our lives.

        • jenny
          January 12, 2014 - 2:47 am

          Dear Mary and Victoria,
          I am so much with you …Mary I am so sorry you are having a terrible time.. such a painful experience….especially when everyone around you seems to be so happy. I think Ann is so right you need to share this with someone, maybe a friend you trust ; but perhaps a good counsellor would help because its too much to carry on your own . I thought I was the only one to have this experience until I found this forum , the parents here are so fantastic and send so much love it really helps, we really do understand how you feel. I send my love and support I understand it is the most painful thing in the world.
          It has been like a bereavement to me and in some ways almost worse because there is no certainty or closure . I think about my daughter and grandson all the time and constantly try to unravel it all . Every where I turn there are reminders of them. It hurts so much.
          Victoria, years ago an old friend said ” let them go and they will come back”, it was his experience, . …perhaps this will happen in your relationship. All I can do is trust that and hope that in time my daughter will grow and be mature in the way she deals with me I live in the hope that our relationship will benefit by me giving her space but I realise the precious time with my grandson is slipping away fast. Although it hurts like hell giving her space is what I instinctively feel I should do … I am not sure its the right way , but I can get my self through it if I see it as a necessary job to do .I think it will take long time for absence to make her heart grow fonder, but in that time I can think about the way I have been with my daughter so that if I get another chance I may be more conscious of where it was that I was going wrong. I send presents cards and greetings and she seems ok with that but I haven’t yet written to her in the way Tina suggests as I think that it is space and time more than contact that she craves. When I look back on it I should have put some time and distance between us when she was going off to college instead of holding on and trying to be part of her experience, she wanted and asked for the contact and support that I gave her but then she started to get angry and abusive towards me as though she was torn .I think the arrival of her little boy has been the catalyst for the estrangement but it is very complex and difficult and not down to one thing.. I need to tread really carefully and think it through… I know I do want her in my life.. I am guessing you want your children in your lives too .. so I see this as a job to be done.. the hardest one I will ever have to do.. I know she used to want me and love me.. perhaps she will again ,
          Right now may I suggest…be kind to yourselves and above all else seek kind people to surround yourselves with..seek new experiences and adventures and try to regain your life a little .. a day at a time xxx

  • Mary
    January 11, 2014 - 9:02 am

    I am feeling pretty desperate at the moment – desolate – isolated – its all consuming – so sad – weepy, stomach churning…………………….. I can say many other words but few really allow me to say how I feel. Any mum can understand me though, I know.
    Its been 7 months since my son said he didn`t want anything to do with me and despite my best efforts, nothing has changed. I didn`t see my little grand daughter at Christmas, my husband and I had no invitation to visit. I offered an invitation, but no reply. We didn`t receive a present nor a card. I have never had a card with `Grandma` on it, never. we sent presents.
    What can I do, I can`t go on like this, I cannot keep having such profound rejection . The lies i tell my friends are said so easily now – yes, we had a lovely time, …… Tears are never far away. There is a small barrier forming between my husband and myself, despite my deep love for him, the estrangement is always there, always a deep issue. I cannot see a light at the end of tunnel, but should I continue to wait for it ,how long can I wait? I`ve given him space, messages I have sent to him and my DIL have been pleasant.
    I have had enough, I can`t do this much more.
    Thank you to all for your comments I have always read them and they have helped, can any mother help me again ? . xxxx

    • Ann
      January 11, 2014 - 10:00 am

      Oh, Mary, I so feel for you! We feel your hurt. I would really encourage you to open up to your close friends and let them know what’s going on so they can offer some support. Isolation only exacerbates your feelings. Do you have one or two close friends you can open up to?

  • Mary
    January 11, 2014 - 5:46 pm

    Thank you Ann for your reply,its nice knowing someone is understanding . I have friends, but they all appear to have the perfect family – a nice house, a nice car, 2.4 perfect children who visit regularly with smiles and excitement, you know the ones I am sure. I feel so ashamed which is why lie. I will go into work tomorrow and say oh yes, we had a lovely weekend, we took little …. to the park , it was cold but we had a great time.
    Talking on this forum has certainly helped, I was lost before I found you all.
    I don`t appear to be able to move on, that is my problem at the moment. xx

  • jedi
    January 22, 2014 - 7:59 pm

    There is so much awesome feedback to this topic.

    I so agree with Tina’s statement:

    “They lead with generosity and tolerance in order to reconcile and rebuild trust.

    If there’s anyone who *might* be able to pull off this superhuman feat of putting their own needs aside for the greater good, it should be a parent.”

    It really should be the parent to Lead. Did the role of “role model” end somewhere in the lifecyle of parenting?

    My mother is a complete product of the “Me Generation”. It’s always been “poor me” her entire life. Her cat dies, her father dies, my dad leaves us, my brother becomes a drug addict and it’s always been “poor me”. We were left to raise ourselves while she sulked in her bedroom for years on end, actual decades. She will never realize how selfish that was and how it ruined a large part of our lives starting when we were so small. It’s so sad to think my mother is so self absorbed she can’t see past “poor me”. Depression is in a way a very selfish act. I was depressed a few years back and I got a dog, I’m sure my friends are thankful. I’ve noticed that a lot of my friends have similar selfish parents no matter how it rears its ugly head. I think about all the friends I have that are basically losers and they all seem to have the same type of parents in common. They are all selfish.

    Raising your kids doesn’t stop when they turn 18. It really does take a village to raise children so the entire extended family should even help out. That Aunt / Uncle / Cousin should be pitching in too. I can hear my mom now saying “what am I suppose to do? give up my life b/c I had you two kids”, my answer is “yea actually”. We should be put above your fun. That told me that we are NOT fun to be around. And I don’t want to be around people who don’t enjoy my company. When people decide to have children you need take the time to raise them and sacrifice things for them. Diseases such as co-dependence run through families and gets handed down through the generations. These parents need to look into themselves and ask have they been handed down a “disease” which in turn they may have handed down to their children? Maybe their child realized the “disease” before they realized it and the child wants nothing to do with it. Or maybe vice versa but I still believe the parents should do the Leading as Tina says.

    Another point is that anger and depression and all those type feelings are always because of ego. I read a book called “A new earth” years back and it really helped. I definitely recommend it.

    • jedi
      January 22, 2014 - 8:29 pm

      I’m sorry the book was “the power of now” not “a new earth”. I listened to the CDs. Oh and I read “Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry” which as super funny and helpful.

    • jenny
      January 24, 2014 - 12:50 am

      Dear Jedi. I think there is a lot of truth in what you say but I really hope that your mum turns out not to be as selfish as you think. Sadly depression is not something that sufferers just turn on like water from a tap. if your mum was depressed its unlikely she woke up one morning and decided right I am going to act depressed from now on to serve my own needs. That is not to say the consequences of depression don’t have a detrimental effect on kids. I can understand why you feel angry and hurt and hopefully you are finding ways to deal with all that. I really hope in time you will manage to remember some of the good things about your mum. The fact that you say parents don’t stop raising their kids at eighteen perhaps suggests you have some hope your mum will come round to understanding your perspective and experience ? Whilst its not at all your responsibility, if you could give her a little help in that direction .that could be a truly egoless thing for you to do.

      • jedi
        January 25, 2014 - 1:36 pm

        I think she views listening to other views and trying new things as giving in or giving up her stance. Instead of opening her mind to a whole world of possibilities and potential happiness she chooses to stand her ground of misery. It’s almost like some sort of twisted self defense mechanism. I’m a big fan of crying it out, even wallow in it for a while, feel those emotions but then move on.

        She wallows for decades. My dad left 27 years ago. They are both remarried and she still bad mouths him and makes every holiday or any significant moment miserable. If he is so bad then why did she marry him to begin with? Her entire family is always wanting me and my brother to pick sides, ever since he left. Her siblings are just as kooky. I’ve also always been looked over or treated unfavorably b/c they say “you are stronger” than who ever it is they are playing me against. It’s that point of view that the strong should suffer for the sake of the weak, which is a point of view that I totally disagree with. I have suffered unnecessarily. My brother has been given so many things b/c my mom feels he should have the same things and experiences I have. The difference is that I finished college, I don’t have any addictions, I always kept my name good and I take care and appreciate my things. I worked for my house, he was given his – he lost it. I paid for my own car – he has been given 5 cars and totaled them all. He steals and does drugs. She has thrown me under the rug in her effort to save his life. It’s twisted co-dependence. In her effort to save him she will ultimately destroy him and herself. I figure I’m just protecting myself from the pain of being a bystander. It’s not only my dad leaving and my brother. It’s lots of other things she does that are just plain unreasonable and its annoying.

        It’s been over a year and the longer she goes without considering my feelings the more I just don’t like her. Being mad is one thing but just plain not liking your mom is different.

        • jenny
          January 26, 2014 - 1:34 am

          Wow Jedi ..I am so sorry my dear…I don’t know Jedi but the way your mum is doesn’t sound like just a problem with depression, but something far more deep seated and difficult , I cant imagine however strong you were that you could take all that on all by yourself. I wasted most of my life feeling deeply upset over the way my mother treated me, I wish I had dealt with it when I was young… by talking to her in a way she could handle ,, then perhaps I would have had a mum…..but now I have no one …. I really hope you find a way through this and I really think its important you do ..( perhaps you already have ?).. whether that is by being in the relationship or not .. either way its always good to talk it out and its worth giving it a fighting chance ..If you are strong you might feel you can manage this on your own ..but I would really urge you do it with support.
          Unbelievably its my story as well ! l ! really do know how painful and exhausting it is., My father died when I was nineteen and my mother tried to stop me going to his funeral, she banned me from seeing him since I was twelve. Same story with my brother as yours too. My mother continued bad mouthing my father thirty years after he died.. I had loved him so much but she wouldn’t even let me have any good memories of him.. and they were all good… Two years ago, having suffered from my mothers abuse all my life I ended the relationship after fifty years hoping she would change . I went to counselling and was encouraged to try to work things through. I think if I had been given the tools( ( which the counselling gave me all too late unfortunately) to deal with my mother a lot sooner .. like thirty years sooner… it might have worked out… I should have stood up to her , but any complaint was seen as a criticism and she would go crazy if I ever challenged her.. it has affected my life a lot. and in the end I was too worn out to care anymore. .I hope you have a way to deal with this sooner rather than later Jedi , so you can get on with your own precious life . .

  • jenny
    January 26, 2014 - 1:54 am

    Jedi , I just want to add that when I read all the stuff about your family and what you are coping with, yes it does sound like you are strong… the trouble with that is that none of us are that strong that we can take on so much hurt on a long term basis. As you rightly point out others see you as strong, so they ( and perhaps you ) think you can handle it, all the while you are getting hurt and depleted … Plus they keep on doing it… not a good dynamic for you !!! Perhaps the time out from your mum is a good idea… and if you go back… perhaps get support so that you feel guided in how you handle it. Take care Jedi

  • Julie
    January 26, 2014 - 6:16 pm

    9 months ago my son said that he wanted nothing more to do with me. He wanted me ` if he had a problem, but no socializing ` (- his words). It was completely out of the blue and after hours of tears, soul searching and desolation, I could find nothing to have caused this. It broke my heart, I felt completely lost and went through all the emotions everyone has talked about. Christmas was awful – awful is such a poor word but I know that you all feel the same .
    After tears, numbness, etc etc, I suddenly woke one morning and thought enough is enough. I have a wonderful husband and another lovely son , I don`t need this.
    I have a coping strategy which I thought would work, and it has done , for a time. For the past 7 weeks, although my son ,lives 15 mins drive away, I have imagined that my son lives 300 miles away in a different county. I have told myself that he would not be around because it is too far to drive and I would not see him anywhere locally. I have sent him texts/messages asking him how things are going and it would be lovely to see him at some point when he is in the area.
    And do you know, it worked! I felt alot calmer, peaceful and resigned.to the situation, almost forgetting how it all is…………………until today.
    Today he called at the house to drop off something, after texting me to let me know he was coming. I saw him pull up in his car, he dropped it off on the drive, he didn`t come in. I went outside to say hello, he didn`t look at me but left straight away.
    It is now 1 am, I am up having a cup of tea and sobbing.! It is all back to square one, but I am determined that he has gone back 300 miles away to his own house.
    Does this sound as if I am cracking up, going daft? Does anyone have any coping strategies that works for them? xxxx

  • jenny
    January 28, 2014 - 2:42 pm

    Dearest Julie,
    what a dreadful way to be treated by your son, really horrible behaviour ! You have had a terrible time. Its amazing how hurtful children can be… I am sure, Julie, your son doesn’t realise how devastating it is to be on the receiving end of such treatment… I wonder if your other son and husband are also being treated this way? If they have contact with him are they asking him what’s going on ? I don’t know what others on this post think ???.. and I don’t want to give you bad advice .. but that is my gut reaction..
    I also use the similar coping strategies to you to help with the difficulties with my daughter…but its always really awful when we go back to square one… I have given her lots of space and have taken Tinas advice and tried to show her that I accept the difficulties have been caused by me. But that is a realisation about myself not a tactic to get back in her favour, and means if there is future contact I will approach her differently I hope. . Its early days but I think perhaps it might have a chance of a good outcome , she has invited me to visit.. which is huge because she had said she didn’t want anything to do with me and couldn’t stand me a few months ago.
    I think its up to you to do the work on it .. if you can …its not easy though Julie… one friend gave me very good advice when he said that it seemed my daughter was really angry and I had to roll with the punches, I think it was a good bit of advice, I cant control what’s going on I can only accept responsibility for my own mistakes and be there for her if she ever wants to come back into a relationship with me .I know it wont happen over night but I wont give up.
    Take care of yourself and have hope Julie, in my experience it does get easier. Please remember that you are not alone, everyone posting here knows what you are going through .xxx

  • Julie
    January 29, 2014 - 11:26 am

    Dear Jenny,
    Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts. Yes, my son is the same with his brother and his dad. He wants nothing to do with any of us.
    It is reassuring to find that you have similar coping strategies, I hadn`t thought of this as `giving him space`, but yes, that is what I am doing.
    I will continue, always, to be here for him, Sadly what goes around comes around and he may one day realise how this feels. I truly hope that his daughter does not do the same to him, but she has seen how he can be and little ones watch, take it all in and say very little. In the beginning, I took great care not to be the one to react or reply when my grand daughter was around.
    The advice you gave of rolling with the punches is interesting, I will think about this, thank you.
    Thank you for giving the time to reply to me,I really appreciate this.
    Take care Jenny and thank you xxx

  • Cass
    February 28, 2014 - 1:01 am

    I debated as to whether I would send this letter as I have an affectionate and friendly relationship with three out of four of my children. We have always believed in fairness, supporting our children and encouraging them to have a love of books and open minded conversation. Security was our main aim. We did many things as a family and we believed that they all had a reasonably contented childhood.

    We always knew that our middle son D was different. He was clever, gifted, but uncomfortable interacting with his siblings. Recently since the ‘event’, we remembered on family vacations my husband would take the older ones for an outing as they were very happy together and I would take D on his own in order to give him undivided attention.

    D, in his fifties is very successful. He has never wanted to return to his home town. Last summer on a family visit we mentioned that we thought he didn’t need to be motivated by one of these ‘get rich speakers ‘ as it was pretty obvious he was doing many things well. This turned into an argument and he took offence and became irrationally angry – then decided to punish us for our opinion which eventually led to our becoming estranged. My husband apologised twice – not for what we believed, but for the fact that we’d had the argument at all. Our son refused to speak to us, spent hours on the phone to his partner to tell his tale and win her support. He left our home early the following morning.

    The most comforting aspect of this situation is that at last I am at peace, as he lives abroad and used to email me several times a day for advice, praise, support and recognition, especially if his day was not going his way. His expectation from others was always high. He seemed constantly to sway from being immature and needy to over-confident and boastful.

    I have read many of these hopeful letters today. If you consider the many different relationships, most mothers would probably be saddened by any noticeable loss of affection, respect, fun, gratitude or company. But for many years I have not received any of the above. Instead I have being taken for granted, which as a parent is acceptable, but in between times, if I dared to oppose him, or offer a suggestion which didn’t appeal, I’ve been on the receiving end of disparaging remarks and sarcasm for most of his adult life.

    Although we accepted that he couldn’t help being selfish, after hours of research we realised that he is probably suffering from what is known as a Narcissist Personality Disorder. Unfortunately there is never enough praise or adulation coming his way, which he regards as his fundamental right. He has always been very clever at everything he does, but is also very controlling. His siblings are more relaxed, highly creative individuals and this makes him jealous and competitive.

    We discovered recently that people with NPD keep on reaching for the next purchase or achievement – be it new clothes; car; house; woman; accolades from fans or critics or top class hotels / restaurants, to boost their ego and whoever stands in their way or denies them these things will get hurt or punished. This insatiable need for attention and admiration goes with a tendency to see others in terms of their own needs. They are users of people and usually devoid of normal emotion. D is incapable of feeling empathy.

    If one suggests or implies anything that does not meet with his approval he will seek a way to punish that person. I have finally given up on the relationship that I had with my son. I strongly believe that if I allowed it to continue I would end up being damaged. If he contacts us naturally I will always be courteous, but I will never again be at his beck and call. I’ve simply had enough.

    As Reinhold Niebuhr says ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’.

    • Julie
      March 2, 2014 - 7:12 pm

      Dear Cass,

      I have read your letter with great interest.

      To have a son with the traits you describe is so sad and if you have other children who are well balanced, happy and interactive with you it is an all consuming sadness .

      I had never heard of NPD and I have now read about it with interest as the symptoms describe my son. Even at school when he took time out to have work experience aged 14 years, his report mentioned that he was a “show off, very loud, always wanting to be the centre of attraction, bragging”. Of course, being a mum, I hotly disputed this and was most upset -. It appears I was wrong and I feel so upset that I didn`t see this, but who would,?

      My son too is incapable of feeling emotion and will often send hurtful messages – if he replies at all – to simple requests and invitations. Just today I asked him if he would like to call with his wife and my grand daughter for a cup of tea and cake . The reply was ” stop asking, it`ll never happen”.

      My eldest son and I have talked about this, he describes feeling as though he is ” staff” when spoken to by his brother, who will only speak to him when he wants something doing or he has something new to show off .

      My son is 30 yr old, I am 57. With great respect Cass, as your son is in his fifities, i presume you are older than me? To continue with the attitude my son has for the many years you have endured, is simply unacceptable. After the message I received today about the tea and cake,
      – cue yet more tears, a knot in my stomach, more unhappiness and the usual “why” – I had already decided enough was enough. I fully agree that the constant unhappiness can cause damage to ourselves both physically and mentally as well as damage to those around us whom we love dearly. lt will not be easy to leave him and walk away but having already made that decision just today, I already feel calmer and more in control.

      Thank you Cass for your letter and for sharing your thoughts and your research, it has certainly helped me.
      My very best wishes to you and your family, keep in touch on this site, it helps!

  • Lyn
    May 11, 2014 - 8:11 am

    This has been a very helpful blog. Thanks for writing about estrangement. I am currently not speaking to my parents. I’m in my mid 30’s and have always felt distant from my parents. The easiest way I can describe my up bringing is pleasant civility, as long as we (4 kids) did as we were told. My parents are at a loss as to why we aren’t speaking – although I have told them. I spent many years waiting for my parents to treat me like an adult, then I tried to subtly address areas in which I was not happy with (books, holiday suggestions, I even worked for them for nearly a year), but they never responded. My breaking point was when I had asked my father to consider retuning to the country in which I spent my childhood as a family holiday (my parents spent 20yrs abroad before resettling in their home country – this for me created a lot of cross-cultural issues), my father fobbed me off for 6 months before hijacking the holiday, going behind my back to my siblings suggesting another place, I later found out he never even told my mother. Unfortunately my frustration turned into anger & came out while I was suffering depression, and their response was to lecture me. It went down hill from there. I dumped every disappointment I’d ever had on them, which overwhelmed them – not surprising as they had never in their life ever allowed me to criticise their parenting as a child (I was always wrong, ungrateful or didn’t know anything).

    From the perspective of an adult child estranged from their parents I’d like to add my own suggestions :
    1) Parents need to realise and acknowledge that an adult child’s view of their life only contains information that they knew at the time, so some events are warped – but this doesn’t make them not true. ie. a parent who was preoccupied with financial, health or other significant problems cannot expect a child to factor these things into how they are treated- it is irrelevant to a child. All they know is that you are ignoring them, or angry, and they will take this personally – as an adult they will still see this unless those factor are made known & the parent stops defending themselves and empathises with how this would have looked to their child AS a child.

    2) Children are more vulnerable than adults – physically smaller, lacking in resources (access to money, transport & freedom to make choices), and so some aspects of parental mistakes can have a more magnified/significant impact on the child than parents realise – don’t minimise this!

    3) Anger usually covers some other underlying feeling/belief that needs to be understood – for me it was (is) rejection & fear of being a failure/disappointment. Don’t allow the anger to distract you from the real reason (but don’t allow physical, verbal, financial or emotional abuse either)

    4) Time – tread carefully, sometimes leaving too much time (to let them “cool off”) will look like you don’t care. But rushing in before you have “cooled off” won’t help either

    5) Clear boundaries. What do you want from the relationship? What don’t you want? What can you offer? What can’t you? Be honest, be specific.

    6) Realise your children don’t owe you – they are not a retirement plan. I don’t say that lightly – my fathers parents were demanding, but I resented the time they demanded from my parents & my fathers siblings. Emotional manipulation is no substitute for respectfully asking for help. I was the only grandchild to have regular contact with my grandparents, and I could see how much they wanted to be more involved in their grand children’s lives, but they never initiated the contact, but expected us to make the effort. This they then put onto their children.

    7) Don’t ever write your kids off, as irrational as you might think them what they want more than anything is to be loved & accepted – and you as the parent were responsible for meeting that need in their childhood, and they are still waiting for that proof.

    8) There are always other contributing factors that may exacerbate the relationship – undiagnosed mental illness, Aspergers/ASD, childhood abuse/ bullying you may not be aware of (& obviously your child might think you should have), and sometimes a lack of “obvious” issues that today would be most likely diagnosed such as depression, dyslexia or eating disorders – these are better understood now but may not have been in the minds of parents at the time.

    9) If your adult child does come to you and take back what they said, apologised for their behaviour, attitude or criticisms – then what? Have you though beyond your pain? Have you got some idea how to move forward? (because it will never go back to what it was)

    • Tina Gilbertson
      May 20, 2014 - 12:45 pm

      Lyn, thank you so very much for taking the time and making the effort to offer this insider’s guide. I hope parents find it as helpful as I think they will.

      I personally find your thoughts on the matter to be clear, balanced and extremely valuable. Many thanks!

  • jedi
    June 1, 2014 - 12:05 pm

    I love what Lynn said. Especially 1 and 2!!!

  • jenny
    June 2, 2014 - 4:16 am

    I have been taking the advice that Tina has so generously suggested and will visit my daughter for the first time in eight months , I am extremely apprehensive to the point of not wanting to go. A good friend suggests not anticipating problems , body language is powerful and will speak volumes of how I feel .. and that feeling is hurt.. a great deal of it.. instead I am going to practice mindfulness , enjoy the great privilege of being able to see my grandson and appreciate the fact that my daughter hasn’t given up entirely on me.. I feel like a small lost child right now. Its amazing how long it takes for us to work through our issues, my own mother of 85 yrs will not acknowledge the hurt she caused me alienating me from and denying me access to my father who died without seeing me, and a lot of verbal abuse and neglect, I tried recently to talk about it but she defends her actions vehemently, so I reasoned I must either accept her for what she can offer or not. But this last week with the passing of Maya Angelou something has been in the forefront of my mind, she implores us to ” be a rainbow in the lives of others ” can I do that for those who have hurt me in the past? that would be true forgiveness. .

  • Dee
    June 9, 2014 - 10:05 am

    Tina,
    Your site is great! It provokes thought and really covers both sides. I am 40 years old & rarely speak to my parents, at least not as much as I’d like. My mother calls & desperately wants to be close, but we really don’t get along. I don’t call too much because very often that call is negative & painful so I avoid her frequently. I have lost any “need” to speak to her & do it out of obligation now. She is not who I look to for support, companionship or guidance. I often feel like it’s about her needs & keeping her happy.

    As far as my father goes, we were so very close until the day he dropped me off at college. At that point, the warm & caring man I used to know became a serious and distant man.
    Over the past 20+ years I have so badly wanted to be close to him, but found it difficult. I used to have this fantasy that he would come to me and say how much he misses spending time with his girl & invite me to lunch or something. I waited & waited for years & it didn’t happen. In the meantime, I got kicked around a bit by life & didn’t have the bravery to approach him because if he didn’t want to be close to me after all…I couldn’t have dealt with that, I thought it would have broken me completely. Finally, I asked him if he wanted to get to know me & told him we should hang out & get reacquainted. I told him he only knew me as a child & we should get to know each other as adults. His response was that he already knows me better than anybody else, which isn’t true. He hasn’t spent much time with me since I was a teenager, we hardly talk. All I feel is distance. It took me so long to get up the courage to ask him to be closer. That was about 6-7 years ago & since then we talk once a year & all I feel is distance. Maybe I’m the only one who wants to be close because I have clearly expressed my desire/need to him but I’m still waiting for him too. The unfortunate thing is that my fearfulness to reach out was valid because even though we speak once a year when I see him, it feels like the ultimate rejection that he doesn’t have a desire to get to know me or spend time together. For parents angry about what you wrote, it seems like they are angry that they have equal responsibility in this. It is a two way street when it comes to estrangement & resolution.
    Before I asked him to be closer I thought about the worst case scenario, him not wanting to be close to me & how would I deal with that. My fears were realized, the worst case scenario happened. I kind of had to write off my father to accept the fact that he may die & never know me or me him.
    At the end of the day, I feel it was his responsibility to approach me if he wants to be close, he’s the parent after all. His lack of effort to reach out to me sends me a message that he is fine with things the way they are. So, all you parents who feel so victimized should remember that there are two sides to everything & if fear is keeping you from approaching your kids, you should forget the fear. Just go for it. If your kids reject you, you at least have an answer & can move on. It will hurt so very very much.
    I think it helped me to know & I quit wasting my energy on it. Now I know not to so I can move on & put my silly expectations away forever.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      June 9, 2014 - 11:07 am

      Dee, thank you for providing your perspective. I was moved by your account of your dad’s rejection and feel compelled to observe that it might not have been the case that he didn’t want to know you.

      I don’t know your father, or the ins and outs of your family dynamics, but do you think his rejection could be a misguided attempt to be loyal to your mother? If he’s aware of her longing (and failure) to connect with you, he may need to downplay your bond in order not to threaten their relationship.

      Just a thought. Thank you again for your comment and best wishes going forward.

  • jenny
    June 9, 2014 - 10:42 pm

    Dee, having endured the agony of rejection by my daughter I think understand some of your pain, I also understand the pain I inflicted on my own father when my mother banned me from seeing him and now feel that pain in my own heart because he is now dead. The thing is both your parents are still alive, I wonder how your dad would react if you could find it your heart to understand the pain your own mother must feel because you have made it clear you no longer ” need” her. I wonder how it would be if you could be kind to her and show her that although she does not fit your requirements any longer she is still the person who put her life and soul into raising you. Its difficult to forgive parents, I struggle with it and my own mother but if you make a little more effort with your mother you might find your father will see a different side to you.. I don’t think you should give up on your parents but my guess is they come as a package… take courage and keep trying xxx