Dear Estranged Adult Sons and Daughters,


Dear Estranged Adult Sons and Daughters,

This open letter is for you. Every single day I hear from mothers and fathers who are grieving your loss. They can’t imagine how this happened and how the son and/or daughter that they loved and raised could so easily dismiss them from their lives.

For almost 17 years now my child has been estranged from me. She left home as a teenager. At one point she was the absolute love of my life. I would have died for her, period. I wanted more for her than what I ever wanted for myself. When she was growing up many friends shared with me that they wished they had the kind of relationship we shared. I really believed we were close, very close. I never dreamt that one day she would walk away and never turn back. Nor did I ever comprehend her hatred and deep desire to hurt me.  More than 15 years into the estrangement and she still tries to hurt me.

When children are little they are easy and often their love for us comes easily. When they grow up they begin to judge us. I can say that I have letters in my child’s own handwriting that told me how much she loved me. I can say that she attended numerous proms and the one time I could not go to the dress shop with her, she shared this dialogue with me; “Mom all my friends were bringing me dresses, lots of dresses and none of them were right for me. Then I asked myself “what would my mom do?” and “I knew that you would look for an ivory colored gown and as soon as I realized that, I immediately found the perfect gown.”

I share this because it was unsolicited when she shared this with me. My sense was that although I had to work and couldn’t make the appointment she had at the dress shop with her girlfriends, I was in essence there with her! Yet not long after this she would estrange.

For more than 23 years I was estranged from my own mother. What did my mother do to me that I felt this was an appropriate thing to do? It was confided in me that my mother’s husband was a sexual abuser. I believed the child that shared this and I never wanted my children around him after this information was made known to me.  My mother didn’t want to hear it or to believe it. It was easier for her to make me out to be a bad person rather than face the truth about the man that she married and stayed married to until he died. She loved him above all else. I was eliminated from the family. And I made it easy for her to do this by walking away.

Regardless of how justified I thought I was in removing myself and my children, this was not an ideal situation. I was angry and I was hurt and I was disappointed in my mother. This lasted for many years until I came to peace and acceptance.  We never reconciled before she died. My sisters would decide to delete my existence from her obituary. Today I have more peace than ever before, I know that she knows the truth now.

Regardless of the details of my story I am here to tell you that there are no winners in estrangement. As justified as you may believe that you are in estranging from your parents, it is not healthy. It is not normal. It is not an act of love. If anything it is an act of intolerance.

The saddest thing for you is that if you have children, no matter their ages and or how close you may be at this time, by virtue of the fact that you have chosen this, you have now modeled behavior for your own children.  They are very likely to dismiss you from their lives the same way they have witnessed you do it to your mother and/or father. Believe it. Case studies support this.

What you are in essence modeling for your own children is that 1) parents aren’t important and can be easily erased from your life 2) disrespect 3) silent treatment 4) judgment 5) lack of tolerance and lack of forgiveness. What you are losing is your roots, your family history and heritage. If you are a biological child you miss out on your family health history. Your children are missing out on knowing their family and their grandparents. Lost years can never be made up.

I believe that most all parents love their children. Maybe it isn’t perfect but they aren’t perfect and neither are you. No one is perfect.

If you are estranged because of what you have done you should try and make amends before they die. As bad as it may be, most mothers and fathers are loving toward their children. If you do the work and fix what you broke they will probably at least try and forgive you.  And if for some reason they can’t at least you will know that you tried.

Like many of you I have other relationships that I created through the years, I have “other mothers” and “other children” that I have loved and have loved me too. They have helped me to heal and to fill many of the voids. But the reality is that no one can take the place of our birth parents. That history cannot be re-written. And our children come from us. They are a part of our being and our souls and our hearts are forever connected.

Do you need to be “right?” or do you need “peace?” Loving ourselves allows us to love others, loving our parents is an extension of self-love because whether you like it or not, that is where you come from.

No one said that you have to see them every day, no one said you have to speak with them every day but having peace with your parents is what you do for yourself. Remember one day your child will grow up and they too will judge you. Could you measure up to the same yardstick you have chosen to use to measure mom and dad? Would you want your grown adult child treating you the same way that you have chosen to treat your parents?

It’s not over until we take our last breathe. Making peace with your parents is making peace with yourself. Forgiveness is the gift that you give to yourself!

Make 2015 the year of love and of forgiveness and watch how much better your life becomes when you aren’t holding onto anger or ill will toward others.

Peace and love,

Bernadette A. Moyer

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101 thoughts on “Dear Estranged Adult Sons and Daughters,

  1. Carol

    Beautiful letter. I haven’t seen my daughter in amost 8 months. I believe she has estranged herself from the family because she realizes that we found out about her secret lifestyle of drugs and risky sex. We love her unconditionally but she obviously doesn’t feel that way about herself. That’s a shame because we would have moved mountains for her.

    • Lori

      I think this is extremely sad, my son is not exactly estranged but since he got married 15 years ago myself and his siblings have no meaningful relationship with him. He excludes us from any activities he does with his wife and kids but her family is always invited. I finally confronted him and asked him what we had done to deserve this treatment and he said it was his wife that didn’t want us included and he didn’t want to fight with her about it. I have never said anything to her as to not cause a problem for him. It just makes me incredibly sad because my grandchildren barely know me. It’s makes me sad for him as well as I know one day he will be haunted by this decision. I have made peace with it because I have no control over it but it took many years not to be hurt and angry about it.

      • Hi Lori,
        Sorry you are going through this … sadly it happens a lot. Many times a son will do this to keep peace with his wife. I have a dear friend who has a son doing the exact same thing. Sadly the kids are missing out on really great grandparents. Grandparents that were so generous until the wife made an ultimatum. It’s control and certainly not love. Please know that you are not alone! You seem to have the right attitude knowing it’s out of your control. One day the grandkids may come looking for you. Peace and blessings, Bernadette

  2. A lot of it Carol is about what they have done, the lies they told and the inability to face the truth. Many have weaved themselves into a corner and are stuck with the stories they have told. Sad as it is, it is often at the expense of their parents. It takes a lot of maturity for many to own what they themselves have done in their youth.

  3. phoenix2k12014

    My daughter has been estranged for 17 years, and my son for 10. She managed to sway him too. Your letter touched places my heart for obvious reasons. I am just “not the Mother on her spec-sheet” is the way I always put it. Her two baby girls, who I never see, are what I think about most. I completely agree that they will learn from her that parents are expendible. I lays wonder what kind of mother can she be? Thank you for writing this BernAdette. My sentiments exactly.

    • This happens quite often where an estranged child will sway another along. They set up a “you are either with me or against me” mentality and they often divide and conquer a family, if they are allowed. Sadly no one wins. Thanks for reading me and for connecting!

  4. Anthony

    Thank you for the article; it was beautifully written! We have been estranged from our son now for a few months. He texted us this last week and informed us that he no longer wanted to be part of the family and for us to not contact him.
    Someone in the above comments mentioned how they have, “weaved themselves into a corner” with all of the lies they have told. We believe this fits the description of our son. We were not physically or emotionally abusive parents. Our son just did not want to grow up and has avoided responsibility and in most cases, accountability despite our best efforts to teach him these things throughout the years.
    We are hoping that this estrangement is short-lived but we are also hoping that during this time he learns the lessons he needs to and matures some.
    Again, thank you for the article.

    • I am sorry! A lot of young people today seem to have difficulty accepting responsible, truly the entitlement generation. And for many when they fail or fall short, they were abused. Everyone owes them. We didn’t grow up that way. We had the desire to get the most out of life. We worked hard and we played hard. Kids today often have no drive or direction and they want instant gratification. Sad. All the best to you! Thanks for connecting! Hopefully one day the light will go on for him.

    • So now it is January 9th, 2017-I am reading your post and everyone else’s posts. I am finding many more webs like this on the line as well as youtube videos which include dozens on the dates of the posts I can see some awakening begin 2-3 years ago using web, blog posts..and then they if writing became useless-or too difficult for a parent or perhaps they felt embarrassed as the months turned into years and nothing changed or another adult child or even family member dropped off the earth. You tubes are easy to go through, listen with a head on a pillow-turn off when it doesn’t directly answer a question you are looking for nor validation your experiences. Others are very helpful but it all, our society has increasingly caused a division with everyone in our home, perhaps ending going to church or a social group because it became superficial, family not calling, talking and holidays coming to an end perhaps due to our own oppression from these situations. When someone is mature, and face to face in conversation and can explain with reasons why they have shut off communications with us and perhaps the entire family we have a foundation to work with, the reason[s] might seem to be misinformation, a distortion due to some guilt..whatever it is, even the truth of an event that made them so upset they would cut you off it gives hope that the mistake can be forgiven and corrected. When they have nothing to share, no explanations for their abandonment and perhaps add insult to injury by involving people you would have wish to be around you or your children because of their lies, behavior, addictions, trouble, and mostly hate. It makes it even worse to know how to ever get back to dealing with them. We are not to let the sunset on our anger, this means one days rest. Not a week, a month, a year or decades. Think of the worst kind of parent and what they could do to get their child to walk away and never speak again ! Got that image ? Ok… Have you sat or slept in contemplation of what you possible did to them ? I have sat in court rooms advocating for victims of all sorts of abuse even a young adult whose parents sexually abused them or a parent claiming they didn’t know so they did not protect that child. It is more likely the parent they perceived did not protect them for this reason or some other reason, is more likely to be abandon by that child then their real abuser. Maybe the child was hiding their stealing or drug use, or doing someone they think is so bad they can not share it………The point I am getting to is that anything can be brought to closer. It can be discussed, most can be corrected and even forgiven. We also have a world, a school system that shares their views of independence and lack of value of their parents and even siblings. You have a lot of competition out there. There is something more to this then what we are discussing. As with this epidemic on narcissistic behavior, empathy and compassion are void in their brains……….you are highly charged with emotion whereas they can not express much of anything but anger, rage and avoidance. I have two estranged adult children out of 5 and my husbands daughter who is now 40 walked away at 18 and only saw her dad once since this time, not even sharing her getting married or having a some who is now 18 and even a divorce and remarriage. The two I have I saw for 2 days 7 years ago and they live across the US and do not write, call, holidays, birthdays..nothing. No explanation for any of this behavior They are both married one with a daughter who is almost 8 now and they do not even speak to their own siblings nor do their spouses question their abandonment of family while consistently seeing their own family. I hope the host here comes back to open this again..perhaps a notification link so we get email on the responses. I always through a conference call would be great. Tomorrow in my oldest son’s birthday
      it took 2 weeks for his younger brother to get his new address to send a card, the card sits by me with “DEAR ERIC”………..I was even careful to find a respectable card not saying too much and this is as far as I got in a week………..I can not find the words to continue, nor how to close it, my usual would be LOVE MOM XOXO, but I don’t feel like his mother like that word somehow feels like used gum under a shoe. What a shame not to know what to say to someone you raised since before their birth. We have three Feb birthdays, one is easy to write, call,etc. My son and another daughter in Florida are all but walking on egg shells and frankly, I am almost 64 and I am exhausted with doing this. I want a reason before I die. Just a reason. Thanks for listening today !! Blessings and Happy Valentines Day soon to you call, Elizabeth

      • It took a long time and after communicating with thousands of estranged family members to learn that it is different and complicated. What I know for sure is from the Four Agreements “nothing other people do is because of you it is because of themselves” my estranged daughter was covering up many things and runs away from her problems. It was easier for her to run away from me, make me out to be the sick evil one than to face me. When I saw her special needs grown son that she abandoned it all became so clear to me. I hope you find the answers and the peace that you seek. Today in retrospect I should not have grieved so long and hard and sacrificed my peace and quality of life for anyone! Be well!

  5. sue nelson

    bernadett, thank you for writing about estrangement. this is becoming almost epidemic and it is a silent death of the heart. I belong to a FB support group of over 100 women . we tell our stories, we support each other . the women in this group are some of the most talented , intelligent people I have ever met. if any one would like to join, please let me know and I will find out how it is done. it is a private site where stories can only be read by the group. thank you again for bringing this topic to the forefront. we all believe that it needs to be brought out in the open so all can access the information and the best way to deal with this effectively. also, since we have found each other all of us have felt a forward movement away from the deep pain that this brings. because we will never have to be alone with this again. we have people who understand and support.

  6. Pauline Gow

    I really enjoyed reading your article.
    I have been estranged from both my daughters for 9 months now. They hate my partner of 7 years because of us splitting up and getting back together several times. They gave me an ultimatum him or them…I chose them all. I love my daughters dearly but will not allow them to tell me how to live my life. I have a granddaughter who is nearly 2 and I miss her so much. My youngest daughter is pregnant and I found this out from my 9 yr old son who very rarely hears from his sisters.

    • I am so sorry … I understand. I bet your children think they are acting out of love and wanting to protect you! Maybe if they see you happy and stable they will come around? Thanks for connecting and for sharing!

  7. todavidt

    Interesting perspective, but what if it’s the parent who chooses to eliminate you from their life. My father was very disrespectful to my wife at my daughter’s wedding. When I insisted he apologize, he refused. He has since said I am gone from The family.

  8. Gloria

    I am confused. You say you were estranged from your own mother for 23 years ( your choice ); Are you saying you set an example to your own daughter and as a result she became estranged from you? And / OR do you regret not handling the situation differently? If you were the one that walked away, were you not the one who estranged your mother and not vise versa-just asking?

    • My mothers husband was accused of sexual abuse and I didn’t want my children around him. Even though I felt justified it was still the example my children witnessed. Thanks for asking!

      • After 5 years of estrangement and not knowing exactly what the reasons were, I decided to call my ED’s best friend. According to her, there’s no outside influence such as her husband or my ex that have contributed to the estrangement. Her friend says it’s my fault and that my daughter has told me for years what the problem is. Supposedly I was ” not there for her ” I guess maybe I wasn’t, I was divorced from her dad when she was 2 and I was a single parent and sungle income. As my mother watched her, I was forced to work 2 jobs to make ends meet and keep her well feed and in a good Catholic school. I struggled with depression and low self esteem and spent many years thinking that the answer to our situation was perhaps getting remarried, giving her a father figure and improving our economy. So I spent a lot of time and energy in relationships that weren’t the best, but I was vested in making these work. I suppose this contributed to her feeling abandoned. Although I was there for everything important in her life & more, she view this as abandonment according to her friend. Her friend tells me that this estrangement is the consequences I have to pay for the way I was back then. And nothing will change her mind. I guess she came to this conclusion that she needed to estrangement herself from me, a little over 5 years ago guided by a new therapist she started seeing. So my understanding is that I will now pay for the remainder of my life for my lack of good parenting I did in my late 20’s – late 30’s . And that’s my story as I heard today from her best friend. Nothing will change according to her. 😦

  9. Crystal

    Thank you for sharing your story, it’s not an easy thing to share such deep emotional and personal situations or experiences…especially to complete strangers. I too feel your heartache and wholeheartedly agree with you, without family you aren’t just cheating others your cheating yourself of something that can never be replaced. Being right or wrong, anger, spite, mistakes, what they/you did or didn’t do…none of that is worth the time it takes away from experiencing all the joys life has to offer, the feeling of belonging, shared history, unconditional love support and an emotional bond that gives life a sense of purpose a reason for living ….. that is irreplaceable.
    My biological mother (left with little choice) left when I was 8-9 months old ( she moved back to her birthplace in Germany, the first time I saw her since I was a baby was just after my 21st birthday…we have spoken/emailed just a handful of times since. My father remarried when I was 2-3 yrs. old and my stepmother was the only mother I knew. We were very close and never once did I feel like a “stepchild” until my teen years when they divorced. We reconciled our differences when I was in my early 20’s and became closer than before, it wasnt uncommon for us to spend 5-6 hours a week gabbing on the phone and I would drive the 1/2 hour to her place once or twice a month to spend the weekend with her and my much younger siblings. Shortly After my own divorce (and within a 9 mo. period) My father and 2 youngest children tragically and unexpectedly passed away. I was greatful to have her and that side of my families support through such a horrific experience and painful time in my life. Not long after, the fact that her 3rd husband and I did not see eye to eye caused me to not only lose my mom which was my best friend,
    but my younger siblings were forbidden to see me until they were 18. Right after that my ex husband parentally kidnapped my youngest son and moved 3000 miles away to the opposite side of the country. It was/is painful to go through such a battle without family support, but what was harder was my oldest and only other son hurting from not being able to go to grandma’s ( ←my stepmom) and have that close connection with with his aunts and uncle (that were all very close in age) he once thrived on. Then 15 months ago just starting out in college and happy with his new job in another state…he “reportedly” took his own life! Devistated and in shock…I had no family even then. Not one came to my home. If that isnt enough to drive a grieving mother/daughter over the edge…I was the only member of my sons mothers side of the family at my sons funeral! I was able to get a message to my ex husband through my ex inlaws facebook about the tragedy, yet he refused to allow my only surviving (13 yrs. old at that time) child to attend his brothers funeral. I still have yet to be reunited with my (now) only child and he will be 15 next month. Family is more precious than many people know. Without them its not really living at all…merely existing. There is nobody to share in your triumphs , no reminiscing, no holiday traditions or any other for that matter, no shoulder to cry on, no feeling of self worth or that feeling of being needed…wanted. Only memories of once was…existing among a community that dont know your name and wouldn’t notice if you simply vanished ( except bill collectors of course). Family is purpose, I miss my family.

    • Shalom Wilson

      Dear Crystal, my heart broke reading your letter. I am so sad for what you have lived through. I just had to tell you that. {{{{hugs}}}}}

  10. lizzyb

    Bernadette, could I ask why you deleted your mother form your life, if your father was the abuser why would you not allow your child a relationship with her grandmother and wider family? Alienation seems to have started with you, and now you have been alienated… I too have been alienated from my grandchild’s life by a mentally ill adult child, I come from a very close family and no one can understand her behaviour.

    • lizzyb, often I read these comments on my iPhone and later I see I missed something … your comment that “alienation seems to have started with you” is not the case in my family. For many years my mother was estranged from her entire family. They reconciled when her father was literally on his death bed. So I did witness this behavior as a child when I was growing up. Thanks for connecting!

  11. Cindy

    I am praying that you are totally blessed. Shame on your daughter. I cried after reading this. My ED has done this to me many times and Im too old at 61 to keep putting up with the abuse. I am fortunate to have 2 other adult children and grandchildren who love and adore me. My heart goes out to you. Karma will happen, as Jennifer Anniston who didn’t invite her Mother to her wedding to Brad Pitt who ended up leaving her for another woman, yes Karma is a bitch.

    • Hi Cindy! Thanks for reading me and for sharing your thoughts! Thank God you have other children and grandchildren. I wish mine nothing but the best! We have a wonderful son at home that still needs us and appreciates us. He is really kind and se easy to have around. We love spoiling him! Life is Good! Thanks again! Bernadette

      • Cindy

        Thank God you have a son. I feel better knowing that. Your blogs have given me such insight and comfort. Thank You.

  12. I see a lot of parents saying woe is me. I see some even being told exactly what they did wrong to violate that sacred trust between parent and child. I’ve not seen one state they were sorry for their actions. Not one apologize. The responsibility is greater with the parents thant the child, adult or not.

    Understand just because you are the parents does not give you a free for all to demand they love you. Once you violate that trust, you may very well spend the rest of your life making amends if you want a relationship with them.

    I went three years not speaking to my mother. At that point she had turned her entire family against me with lies. She had convinced my brothers I was the one in the wrong. That i was hurting her, simply because I would not talk to her.

    She accused me of withholding her grandchildren from her when I never refused them an opportunity to speak with her.

    There comes a time when boundaries must be respected. Even for parents. And if you cross those lines….apologies are in order.

    If you want that relationship it is time to do what you must to gain their trust again.

    Do I speak to my mom now? Yes. There are, however, very clear boundaries. I will not tolerate being lied to or about anymore, and if caught the deal is over.

    • Good for you Susan! To your health! I have turned myself into a pretzel at various points, taking responsibility for EVERYTHING and expressing sorry for it all too. Parents aren’t perfect and neither are their children. I couldn’t agree more that respect and healthy boundaries are so important to any healthy relationship. Family members often do and say things that a friend would never do and say and expect to remain friends.

      For most parents the hardest part is in the letting go and seeing your child as an adult and not as a child, accepting that they no longer need you. Thanks for reading, writing, sharing and connecting!

    • Many adult children never express anything that “violated” a sacred trust, so it is not always appropriate for the parent to grovel when the adult children are refusing to communicate. Now my own mother was extremely abusive to me growing me – physically and emotionally and she continued the emotionally abuse well into my adulthood ever after telling her repeatedly what she was doing wrong. She never listened. She was very mentally ill so could not and was not willing to respect any boundaries to stop abuse so I had to stop contact with her for the 15 years prior to her death so I could maintain sanity and stop receiving her abuse. Because of her abusive behavior, 4 out of 5 of her children estranged himself from her. Sadly, because of her mental condition, she never understood why. I forgave her for everything she did and felt sorry for her, but because she was so set on abusing and not getting any treatment for her mental conditions, I simply could not allow her to contact me.

      Fast forward to my adult son who estranges himself for periods of time off and on. Even though I am absolutely nothing like my mother and never did any of the things she did nor abused my own kids, estrangement is my greatest fear. For my son, his estrangement tendencies is because he cannot handle stress and he he can’t stand for me to try to push to reconcile things.

      Apologies should come from whoever is doing the wrong doing and that is not always the parent. Once kids are grown, they are capable of making completely wrong choices and doing the wrong things to others.

  13. Kyla Angeles

    I don’t agree. So your saying we should “make amends” with unhealthy, abusive, twisted, racist, alcoholic, hateful parents?
    Ones who don’t want us involved in their lives? We should keep begging for love and putting our children in a bad situation just because these messed up people are our parents? I think NOT!
    Your writing from your perspective asking for forgiveness for what you’ve done in your life and pointing back at your children that they aren’t perfect.
    Sure I get that, we can forgive and have peace, but not live in a lie.
    Sometimes it’s all you can do to save your family and self from more torture is to walk away and take care of your own.
    I will NOT subject my children to a lifetime of abuse from their grandparents or any family just because they are blood.
    It is sad but much better than the anguish of twisted thoughts and beliefs being planted in my precious little ones.
    I still speak to my parents, but hold them at a safe distance to protect my children how they should’ve protected and loved me!

    • Hi Kayla,

      If you read the entire article you know that I have been on both sides! I am not in support of continuing an abusive relationship but I do believe it is probably best to have limited exposure than a full cut off, having said that for years I grieved the loss of a child and now I can see where her decision to estrange has been a blessing in disguise.

      We all have to do what is best and some adult children estrange over a relationship, over a boy and then they grow up and that boy is gone and so are their parents. So instead of accepting their poor choices that many of us make as a teenager they continue with lies and abuse allegations. Look closely this article has over a thousand “likes” and through the years I have heard from thousands of readers who write to me. Bottom line is that parents aren’t perfect and neither are their children. Sometimes tolerance is all that is missing and again I am not talking about abuse. I have removed myself from several abusive relationships through the years and I have no regrets in doing so.

      Only you know for sure what works best for you! Only you know for sure if your parents are abusive and unhealthy. As a mother I chose to cut a child sexual abuser out of all my kids lives only to be accused later of keeping relatives away from our children. It was the right thing then and it is still the right thing to do. If a known child molester is in the family, regardless of who he is you keep ALL children away from him, period.

      All the best, Bernadette

      I hope you have peace and I thank you for sharing and for writing to me!

  14. You are so wise Bernadette, this is why I’m hooked on your blog. Yes Kayla, you must re read the posting. I don’t think you understood. Wishing you peace & love

  15. Belinda

    Hi Bernadette
    This is a beautifully written article, and I can really feel your pain. However, although you approached your mother with the accusation of your step father being a molester, it’s not clear if you approached him, to get his side or at least confirm what you’d been told? I’m also not sure why you chose to estrange from your mother so totally? You could have continued a relationship with her which didn’t include him, surely? You also don’t say why your daughter has taken this same path with you – she couldn’t have simply woken up one day and decided this, there would have had to be some conflict, no matter how petty we might think it to be. And as parents, it’s up to us to set boundaries with our kids – so many parents these days are ‘friends’ with their children, and are horrified when those same children turn on them as teenagers. Children need parents, not more ‘friends’, (this doesn’t mean we don’t love and cherish them, but when push comes to shove, they need boundaries) the time for being friends with them is when they are adults. And because of this blurring of the lines, it’s very tempting to believe that our children ‘owe’ us – basically, we chose to bring them into this world, they owe us nothing, except respect really, and that they learn from our own modelling…….and we don’t even get that from them truly, until they’re adults with lives and families of their own. However, it’s not too late for you and your daughter to reconnect, have you tried therapy (for yourself) and family therapy moving forward?

    • Thanks for connecting! My mother wasn’t interested in a relationship once I confided in her about her husband. Both were confronted he neither admitted nor denied. There was no big fight. I was just excluded and shunned. Thanks again!

      • Belinda

        I’m sorry that your mum wasn’t interested in a relationship with you once you’d spoken to her. However, if she excluded and shunned you, why are you then saying that you were the one that estranged yourself? You can’t keep blaming yourself for the decision she took to exclude you from her life.

        And as for your daughter, I’m sorry that she’s estranged herself from you. Have you tried family therapy as a method of reconnecting with her, healing yourself and moving forward? At the very least you’ll be able to forgive yourself for whatever the conflict was that she felt was so bad she had to leave, find some peace with it in letting go, and know that you, at least, have tried every avenue to reconnect and change what appears to be a generational wound.

        Good luck with it all, and peace and love to you.

  16. stacey

    It’s not always the child that doesn’t want contact I’ve tried and tried with my parents I use to ring them and go round but there never bothered with me or my kids I rung my mum when my little girl nearly died and asked them to come to hospital all I got was what is the point there is only so many times u can try and when there decide there can’t be bothered there nothing elese u can do I will always love my mum and dad but I can’t keep getting in touch to get hurt all the time I have my two beautiifull kids who will know that I will always be there for them no matter what

    • I know some parents do choose this! It happens on both sides and is painful regardless of what side you are on. Parents aren’t perfect! They are people too with their own issues … So sorry for your loss and thanks for sharing and for connecting!

  17. Mary Ann

    Excellent articles thank you. Yes, my world came crashing down only recently – July 2016, with my beloved daughter breaking off contact. I am still trying to breathe, just breathe.

    • I am so sorry Mary Ann! I know just how heartbreaking and devastating this can be … please know that you are not alone! And it isn’t about you, it is all about them. Peace and hugs! Bernadette

    • Mary Ann;

      It’s 6 years for me. As our wonderful blogger and writer Bernadette says, it’s NOT about you; it is them. I have had intensive therapy and read lots of books, self reflection, prayers and meditation. Although my pain is still present, don’t think it will ever go away, unless there’s a reconciliation. But, learning to compartmentalize is key.

      You are not alone, you will alway be MOM , they can’t never take that away from you! XOX hugs

      • In the beginning I blamed myself for everything! And would have done anything to fix it! After educating myself and learning how often this happens I learned not to take it so personally to let go to forgive myself and accept her for who she truly is … Only then did I come to peace with it all. I’m not perfect parenting isn’t a perfect science and our kids aren’t perfect either!

      • Mary Ann

        Thank you for your response. I swing between good and bad days – or should that be moments? I have a wonderful son who has also been cut off but I certainly hope she will still communicate with him. They were always close. I refuse to lie down and die, I have a good life and intend to live it out in enjoyment! Bless you.

      • So sorry Dawn! I know that feeling I was there! I felt like I couldn’t breathe my heart was so heavy. It took me years to accept. Now 18 years later we are strangers. I have nothing at all left for her I never thought I would be here. Perhaps your situation will be different but you must take care of yourself. No one no one is worth feeling so badly over. Surround yourself with the people you love and the things you love. Peace and love, Bernadette

      • Karen

        Dear Bernadette,

        A few weeks ago I spent two days with my son and came away realizing we have become strangers. He is 44, married with two children, and lives 2000 miles away from me and my husband. We have been having problems for 12 years (since he met his wife, though we don’t know her part in this). To hear you say those words, “we are strangers,” truly hit home for me. I too often find it difficult to breathe. On the first day of a new year I feel it is so important to be able to move on. I don’t believe he will change, and he often lies about things that have happened and words that have been said. I love that you said that “no one is worth feeling so badly over.” Your advice is very helpful. Thank you.

  18. Mairi

    I made so many mistakes which I have appologised for , but …
    My estranged daughter even came between my husband an me , now we are separated. Such a mess , I pray for peace .

  19. Help , I’m so miserable. My daughter won’t have anything to do with me . I’ve tried apologising for every thing I could think of , written to her even begged her to let me into her heart . She just refuses to accept me. Her father has been mischief making and had made things worse . I am heartbroken , no will to live and hopeless.i can’t seem to let all my worries go inspire of councilling, medication , support etc

    • I am so sorry! You are not alone I have been there. Try and find a support group and a good therapist to help you get through this … you need people to support you! Take care of yourself, rest and try to gain your strength. Sending love and light! It can and it will get easier in time. Hugs, Bernadette

  20. Candy

    Are there any happy endings here? Grovel. I was told to stop. This estrangement is the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I want to know why.

    • Some do reconcile but honestly it is very few who do. I am sorry for your grief, there is nothing as painful like losing a child in this way. You must take care of yourself. Please know that you are not alone! Sending wishes for peace and much love.

      • Candy

        I understand that every situation is different. In my case this is ( I believe) the 5th time my daughter has chosen to cut me out of her life. The longest we have gone was 1 1/2 years. And it always happens the same way. She just stops. No explanation and no argument. Nothing. I have 2 grandchildren and another on the way ( so I hear). I have always had hope that this wil pass but that hope is gone. It’s something I have to accept and I am having a really hard time accepting it. I do plan on going to speak to someone about this and maybe get some sort of peace. I did not realize that this is a lot more common than I thought. I feel like a failure as a Mother because obviously it is something I have done. Or maybe she has more peace without me in her life. Each time the estrangement passed it was never discussed. I was just happy it was over especially when my granddaughters came along. I don’t understand how she can do this and what will her answers be when the girls start asking questions? They are young and I’m sure don’t remember me. It’s sad. Very very sad.

  21. I am so sorry! I know how you feel hard to conceive that our own children could do this but yes it happens often and in all kinds of families. You can’t blame yourself! Parents aren’t perfect and neither are their children. Sadly one day they will grow up and see how many lives they have impacted by their own selfishness. My heart is with you!

    • Karen

      I know how you feel, Dawn, you are far from alone. Reading about what other mothers are going through seems to help a bit. For me my good days are when I accept the situation. This is not easy to do, but please know in time things will get better.

  22. Love Always Mom

    I am just so baffled by this. And how many parents have suffered through this heart breaking experience.
    10 months for me. No support system. No one to talk to.
    My heart goes out to all of you.
    Can honestly say, I’ve never experienced such pain. I’m not able to function. Don’t see myself getting through the Christmas season.

    • I’m so sorry you are going through this … baffled is a good word! I was where you are she led me to believe we were really close. That first year I wanted to die I couldn’t imagine going on without her. Now almost 20 years later I feel nothing for her. She isn’t the girl I knew and raised. The decisions she has made are all so baffling. It’s like she lost her heart and soul. You must carry on! Get a support system see a therapist. It’s normal to feel this way but take heart it is so new got you and it won’t always feel so painful! Big hugs! So sorry! ❤️❤️🙏🙏

  23. lindaadair

    It really helps to read all these comments; its been almost 4 years for me. I’ve never hurt this bad in my life, some days I feel I can’t go on. I love my granddaughters, miss them,love my daughter but I don’t like her. Can’t do this anymore ,,enough is enough! I have a life to try to live. I’m alone, I lost my husband 16 years ago,he was the Love of my Life. Divorced from my daughters father for 35 years, she is an only child,her husband left her, had a girlfriend , she took him back. One month later, she sent me a mean letter blaming me for every-thing. She became verbally abusive,blame,blame,blame, hence came the estrangement. I have 3 dogs, love them like children. I live for them, NEED something to hold on to, on some of my darkest days. Thank-you for listening, I needed this!

    • So sorry you are going through this and all your loss! Dogs are great company and unconditional love! The best. I no longer miss her at all. Happy again! But only after more than a decade of grief. No one is worth that! I hope you know you are not alone and a child does this it is all about them! Hugs and peace! ❤️

      • lindaadair

        Thank you for your reply. I need to learn all I can about this situation, some days are so hard, that I feel I can’t hang on. The depression and anxiety get so bad I can barely stand it. The doctor has changed my medication so I’m hoping things go better soon. I’m trying to find something to do with my time; something I can enjoy and feel needed. I wish there was a way to stop your mind from going over and over what happened. I have no siblings, parents are gone, divorced from my only child’s father for 36 years, married again, to the Love of My Life and he passed away almost 17 years ago. Then my daughter does this. Four years ago her husband left her and the girls, had a girlfriend, she took him back, crap hit the fan, she started treating me like dirt, keeps going down hill more and more all the time. Never would have thought I’d be in these shoes in a million years! She admits I’ve always been there for her, and I have, but that means nothing. Sorry for bending your ear, but it helps to talk. It’s been quite a journey. Thank-you, Linda. Keep helping people!

  24. AMY L WINN

    Bernadette, I have been estranged from my mother for 2 years and 8 months. The reasons are too many to list. I was sick for many years, and my mother helped by taking me to chemo and I thought it was out of love. Then my grandfather passed away and left me $10,000 in his will. My mother kept the money stating she has done so much for me – what? Taking me to chemo and waiting during 16 surgeries???? Doesn’t a mother do that? Ok, so be it and after the fight of my life, finally I was in remission so how could I be mad, right?
    Well, later that year, I had an old 1999 junker that was on its last leg. While my husband and I were visiting her, she very clearly said “don’t put any more money into that old car. My car is feeling too big for me and I will give it to you and buy something smaller.” We both heard it clearly. Then, only 6 weeks later, she pulls up in front on our home with a new car, and said she traded in the other one. Of course this was her decision, but why make a promise you have no intention of keeping. I said nothing. Maybe I should have, as she clearly saw me weak, and I think she enjoyed that dynamic. She had a routine of kicking me down just to help me back up. It was so confusing. Then my husband and I started to notice that each time I was with her, I always felt worse than before I saw her. I would withdraw and sleep a lot – I kept track. The pieces were starting to take shape. I struggled to be a good daughter and was kind and helpful and as positive as I could be – always calling, stopping by, bringing groceries and helping her with holiday meals, all while my other three siblings did none of that. They were just too busy with their lives, and I felt that she seemed like a friend to me. I sometimes confided in her and told her I wanted to go back to work and get in shape – yet she always turned negative and said that I should wait until I’m stronger. (but I wanted to live!) And, I wanted out of this toxic dynamic, , but didn’t know how to draw the line.
    Well, the last straw was the night of July 30, 2016, when my husband and I experienced a terrifying home invasion. We were dragged out of bed with knives to our throats and tied up as our home was ransacked. Our little dog was held in the air with a knife to her throat as the thugs demanded my ATM pin. I gladly gave it. Then they cut all of the wiring in our home computer and cable and phone and crushed our cell phones, and then stole my car.
    We finally freed ourselves and went to a neighbor who called the police. I ended up at my mothers home. Our home was a little tine home that we needed to put into my mothers name several years ago when my medical bills went through the roof and I was forced into bankruptcy. We lost my business, our car and our credit. (As side note, my mother, brothers and sister all have substantial financials means to have prevented this loss, but we were never taught to value each other or care about each other) …. and so my husband and I lost our family home where we raised our son and had such wonderful memories. .
    So, there I was after the attack – shaken, in fear and feeling so very lost…and then my mother said the words I will never forget as long as I live – she said “I hope you’re not thinking of moving, as that would affect my credit rating.
    WHAT, WHAT WHAT!!!!??? My life was somehow spared by the thugs only 3 hours before and the only thing she cared about was her credit score???? Her words were not “I’m so happy you are alive…..or don’t worry, we can get through this. And she never said, I feel so awful for you – nothing!
    That was the line in the sand for me. I grabbed my shoes, my dog and I bolted out of there, never to return.
    Since then, I have written and explained to her with every emotion in me how much she hurt me. I told her that I had a knife to my throat one night and felt like I had a knife in my back from her the next day. Her response was “I will make no apology”
    So, Bernadette, can you see why this is in my best interest? Since the estrangement, I have lost 70 pounds, I have a new job with a Geriatric Social Service agency, have met so many people who tell me I am nice, and kind and I feel appreciated and valued,. At first this seems so strange, as I have never been told this…..but now, after 2 years and 8 months without the constant put downs and negative comments, I wake up in the morning and feel excited about my life. And I even have a bonus….I work with seniors who appreciate me and are happy to see me and wish me well. I never knew this existed. It’s so joyous to have 16 “surrogate mothers” who fill all the holes in my heart that my own mother created. I stand by my decision and I never want to go back…….

    • Hi Amy, sorry you went through all this … sounds like things are better now! Good for you, just remember parents aren’t perfect and neither are their children. We all do things that we can look back on later and shake our heads. You say she was like a friend but you judge her like a mother? It’s hard. Having appropriate boundaries isn’t always easy. Some relationships are just toxic and we are better off without them. Having had to play many roles with my child I can look back now and see just how demanding that was on me and poorly it affected me and my child. We had a lot to go through and with very little family support. Life is tough things don’t always reach our level of expectation and maybe that is the problem? Your mom probably did the best she could make peace with or without her in your life. Be happy because one day we will be gone. Thanks for sharing! Bernadette

  25. Teresa Sirianni

    I feel so badly for the those who have lost their child to estrangement. My husband and I have an estranged adult daughter.
    While growing up, we did all we could, weren’t perfect but always loved and put her needs above ours. She never worked while living with us, graduated Yale (no student loans) and had a beautiful horse she rode and showed.
    We noticed personality problems when she entered her teen years. The HS Vice Principal asked her to change schools because of her oppositional conduct. Became very promiscuous, started shoplifting and using drugs. I never believed anyone that she had problems. We stood by her in court and thought girls were jealous of her. She saw psychologists and basically told them what they wanted to hear and never wanted to continue going.
    In college her sorority sisters sent me a Facebook message saying that they were worried about her mental state, drug use and promiscuity. I spoke with her, found a psychiatrist and hoped her situation would improve. She stopped going.
    Graduated college and moved in with a man she met in a bar, then with a man twice her age. Worked as a stripper in Atlantic City.
    Was in a MBA program and decided to leave and move to Newark NJ with an illegal alien (non-English speaking) and sell cars (drugs.) She quickly learned to speak Portuguese and Spanish fluently.
    We still kept our hearts and door open for our daughter.
    Discovered she was married & pregnant via Facebook. We started a connection & I was with her during our first granddaughter’s birth. What a wonderful memory!
    We had the start of a relationship and then she began to distance herself again.
    Left her husband & became pregnant by another man (illegal, non-English speaking) Divorced the 1st husband, turned him in to ICE & married the another man.
    Told us about her pregnancy when due in 3 months. Asked us for $1,500 to help pay the rent (she has complete welfare.) Told her no and that was the beginning of the estrangement. I had inherited money from my mother’s passing and she said she deserved some. (She forgets using my mother’s credit card to rent a car and give it to a drug dealer for 2 months!) Thank God I had the charge removed.
    Discovered that she had gone to Mexico (via Texas) to purchase drugs & receive $23,000 during her first marriage, with her infant daughter.
    I could go on…but what’s the use? Too much pain and confusion.
    Our son hadn’t spoke with her in over a year and our daughter has seen her 1 time. They do not want to hear negative talk about us, money she deserves, victim ranting, etc.
    Called today to invite her brother & sister to her 2nd daughter’s 1st birthday party. They told her they would only come if mom & dad were invited & attending. She had a melt-down & talked about how cheap & conservative I am. Why did I pay $3,000 for a sick dog & wouldn’t give her $1,500, etc.
    My husband doesn’t want anything to do with her. Says she’s toxic, causes family dissention and only associates with those she can manipulate. I agree but wish I could talk with her & see if her children are ok. Our daughter appears somewhat stable because she’s very attractive, well educated, and knows how to manipulate but I know she can have severe manic episodes that frighten me, an adult. Her children could not process this behavior. IDK, should I call DYFS to have a well-child visit to her apartment? I do not worry about seeing her, I’m concerned about her daughters welfare. Appreciate any feedback. I apologize for being so long winded.

    • Was she ever abused? So sorry you are going through this … you have to do what is in your heart. You have to do until you alone decide “enough” some kids will just take and take and take … we aren’t ATM’s after awhile you have to let go in love and trust that the universe will right her. She has to learn her own life lessons! Peace ❤️

    • I was like that, maybe it isn’t the amount of years but what they continue to do to hurt us. The last cut was so deep so hateful that I looked at her and was like you are nothing like the child I raised. She was a complete soul less stranger. What she spewed at me was all about her and how she felt about herself. I hope you find peace … Merry Christmas! You are not alone …

  26. A. J. Jones

    Thank you but not every story is as easy. I need to say that I had 3, yes THREE, therapists tell me it is OK to not deal with my mother. She was neglectful, borderline abusive and stayed married to my father until the day he died after she CAUGHT him molesting me at the age of 7. So I have had NUMEROUS conversations with my children who realize I am justified in removing my mother from our lives.

  27. Dr. Baxter

    Bernadette….curious….was there corroberating evidence of the sexual abuse which caused you to leave your family? Working in the field of such, there are many many false abuse accusations which have caused families to estrange. We can’t turn innocence into criminal actions based on one person’s warning. I hope your discernment was accurate or you will be the one surprised by truth when you see God face to face !

    • Agree! After the child who claimed abuse became an adult her actions caused me to question if she was ever abused? Or just manipulative? She never expressed the degree of anger toward the so called abuser and the ones who chose NOT to support her or believe her as she did to others in her life. We live and we learn. I am completely at peace. Thanks for reading and writing. Blessings!

  28. Bunny

    Hello. I am reading everything and feeling a bit better because I’m realizing I’m not alone. My wonderful adult son has stopped messaging me but I have to understand he is going through terrible stress trying to get custody of his daughters. He’s spent $100,000 on attorney fees. I modeled estrangement from my own parents because of alcoholism and sexual abuse so I understand now where he got the idea of continued relationship with parents not necessary. He also has concussive injuries from his time in the military with changes to his personality. I need to dry my tears and understand what he’s going through. Not really much I can do to help him except not keep drawing attention to my feelings, just express how much I love him.

  29. Heather E Dunn

    Hello ~ I have been involved in a relationship with a man for 8 years. We have a lot in common, and he is the only man I’ve ever felt truly loved me and the most compatible with. Unfortunately, the first 5-6 years were rocky. There was abuse involved between us due to his PTSD and drinking. Admittedly, I played a part. I refused to let anyone treat me horribly and it was difficult for me to simply walk away. My boys repeatedly asked me to make him and his kids leave. I gave second and third chances. I tried to shelter my boys as much as I could from the trauma, but it wasn’t always possible. They remember more than I thought they would, and they too were traumatized. I was also traumatized, but I loved him. He has addressed his PTSD and no longer drinks. Things have gotten much better. Neither of my sons wants to be near my boyfriend, and I understand why. I tried to teach forgiveness, but they aren’t interested. Their father isn’t the most forgiving man. My youngest son is on the cusp of becoming an adult. He’s an incredibly astute, intelligent 17-year-old and can size up a situation like no other. All of his pent up anger came out one day when I asked why he seems so angry with me all the time. Well, I asked for it, and I got it. He now wants nothing to do with me. 6 years ago my boyfriend, in a drunken state, told my son that I had an affair and that’s why my marriage to their father ended. My son also remembers some other things from my past (mistakes of mine post-divorce) and is tired of my bull… I’m devastated. I’m trying to be strong, and I know this is a time of his life when he should be spreading his wings, but how long will this last? It’s heartbreaking to think my own son sees me as a loser and a liar (for not sending my boyfriend away the first time). I’m questioning if I stay with my boyfriend (being in this “good place”), will my son continue to want nothing to do with me? My boys will continue to grow and have their own lives and I will be left alone. I’m 53 and have no desire to go back to the dating scene. For now, I’ve told them that any time they want to come to my house, my boyfriend will leave to give us time alone and to be comfortable. It seems so backward, but I made mistakes and want to do anything I can to get my boys (mostly my youngest) back. Will they eventually come back to me? Will I ever be able to have family functions with both families?

    I had a very strange relationship with my mother growing up. She was my best friend, I wanted to be with her all the time. I was her companion. My father was an alcoholic and didn’t treat her very well, despite loving her. I felt I needed to make up for what he lacked. There were times, however, when my mother would get angry and not speak to me for 2-3 weeks. That was devastating. I loved her so much! How could she do that to me? My parents separated when I was 18, but when my mother became ill, and my brother all but kicked my father out of their house, my mother gave him another chance. Not in a romantic way. More of I can’t believe your son would treat you the way he does, so yes, come and stay with me. Talk about dysfunction!

    Thank you, Bernadette. I’m glad I stumbled upon your site, and happy to know I’m not alone.

    Be well.

    • Dear Heather, So much of life is about learning and loving. First and foremost learning to love ourselves warts and all. Learn the lessons from your choices. Be at peace as we are all evolving. You are not alone! Thanks for connecting and sharing your story. Peace and blessings, Bernadette

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