When Your Adult Child Doesn’t Want You

in Uncategorized
July 13th, 2012

“Alison won’t see me.  She tells me that she hates me.” says Sally, a 67 year old divorced woman. Sally says that Alison has always been high-strung and emotional, but Sally is still sad that Alison chooses not to have a relationship with her as she gets older.

Alison always felt that Sally favored her sister Mary, who is two years younger.   Sally’s marriage to her husband was strained for many years and she coped by attending school and nurturing her two girls.  She believes that she was an excellent mother to them.  When she met “the love of my life”, she left her husband and moved in with Ralph, telling herself that the girls were in college and launched into adulthood, that she was leaving her husband, not her daughters.   However, both girls were furious with her, accusing her of abandoning the three of them, a belief the husband perpetuated.   Sally and Ralph moved out of state while the girls comforted and cared for their father.

Twenty years later, both girls are in their forties.   Mary and Sally have long since reconciled.  In fact, Sally and Ralph visit Mary and her family regularly, enjoying the grandchildren and helping with childcare.  She has made many attempts to repair her relationship with Alison.  In the early years of her divorce, she wrote letters, sent gifts and called.   When she came back to Massachusetts, she would invite Alison to dinner, loan her money and try to listen as Alison catalogued Sally’s many faults as a mother and wife.  Sally visits Facebook and follows Alison’s social life in pictures, which she finds hurtful and humiliating as she is never mentioned.

Sally’s painful situation is no longer uncommon.  Several recent articles suggest there are more parent-adult child estrangements today than in the past.  Why should be the case?

First, there has been an increase in self-focused behaviors and thinking in our culture.  Young people often feel that their individual needs are more important than the needs of others.    People prioritize personal happiness in a relationship rather than duty or tradition.  When a parent-child or husband-wife relationship experiences an ebb in passion, people say “I’m not happy” and simply move on.

Second, in today’s world, parents outsource many of their functions to paid helpers, reducing the amount of time they spend with each other and the resulting interdependence.  Child care, meal preparation, housework and entertainment are provided by others,  allowing the parents to work.

In addition, technology and media reduce face time and may amplify misunderstandings.  Television shows like Friends and movies such as The Squid and the Whale and Mrs. Doubtfire, Revolutionary Road, Little Children portray divorce accompanied by the reliance on friends rather than family for support and companionship.

Many adult children have personal experience of living through the divorces of their parents, exposing them to a fractured family.  Their emotional, physical, social and financial needs may have been trumped by parental needs.  They therefore came to feel that they were a low priority in their divorcing family.

Estrangements often occur when the parent is critical or disapproving of their adult child, the child’s spouse or children.   Well-intentioned parents can be perceived as controlling or intrusive if they are not respectful of their adult child’s autonomy and choices.

Meredith Maran wrote an article in AARP The Magazine reviewing recent findings of a survey of alienated children, finding that 50% felt they bore no responsibility for the estrangement, but 61% would like to resume a relationship.  Joshua Coleman, PhD has written a book, When Parents Hurt to help parents who are struggling with an angry or alienated adult child.   He argues for self-compassion “the ability to believe that, no matter how terrible your mistakes, love and forgiveness are part of your birthright and humanity.”

What can you do to heal the break?

An alienated adult child has a story about you that they sincerely believe.  Listen to the story, see if there is an element of truth in his or her complaint, and acknowledge that you were at fault.  Don’t get defensive and argue about who’s right.  Accept that he or she sees a different story.   Avoid criticism and advice.  Accept your child’s choices of partners, lifestyle and sexual orientation.   Don’t tell your children how to take care of theirs.  Don’t talk about yourself and how you may have parented.  Keep trying.  It may take some time to reach the estranged adult.

In some cases, reconciliation may not work when the child is resistant, troubled by mental illness, substance abuse, immaturity or a difficult primary relationship.  You may need to stop trying if you have reached out repeatedly and been rejected, abused or shamed.   Acknowledge reality and focus on taking care of yourself.  Compartmentalize by visualizing a box in which you can store painful memories.   Some children may believe your efforts at reconciliation offer them an opportunity to retaliate for your failing them with anger, criticism and humiliation rather than trying to negotiate a mature, respectful adult relationship.   If you stop trying, your adult child may have a chance to reflect on their behavior or see what life is like without you.  If your adult child has made it clear that they are closed to reconciliation, it may not be in your best interest to continue trying.  Your child may experience your efforts as further evidence of your disrespect for them.

Many parents misread their child’s signs and don’t see the evidence of hopefulness or ways that they could successfully begin to build a reconciliation when they are clearly there.  They may also not recognize the very subtle ways that they perpetuate the estrangement with the ways that they reach out.  However, deciding whether to give up is one of the most important decisions you have to make regarding your estrangement.

Today Sally is sad, but accepts that Alison is not in her life.   However, she finds joy and satisfaction in her relationship with her husband, daughter Mary and Mary’s family.

By Bonnie Teitleman, LICSW

380 Comments on When Your Adult Child Doesn’t Want You

  • I am sitting here again unable to sleep. I miss my children so much. I am a single mother because their father chose to leave the home. I so am not a perfect mother but gave my children all of me because I felt if I didn’t who would? I had them involved in sports, scouts, school. I tried to impress on them the importance of an education
    but was not over critical. It was not easy. My 19 yr ol & his 20 yr old girlfriend just moved out of state to live with his father. A father who never put their needs before his own but a father they see that can do no wrong. My son does not even call me just to say hi. There are so many things that I could write because I have so many thoughts that go through my mind constantly. I am angry & hurt that I can just be forgotten about so easily as if I don’t exist. I have ways wanted what’s best for my children but for now it is a one way street. I pray for my children to be safe.

  • I’m 27 and just decided to lose all contact with my mom. Of course she sees herself as doing no wrong, but more often than not when a grown child stops all contact with their parents there is a reason. Maybe the reason doesn’t make sense to you but somewhere along he line emotional damage was done. In my case it’s my moms love of men. Sure she’s always been there physically but she has never connected with me emotionally.

    Here’s some advice to all you parents going through this…maybe you should have out your children ahead of your relationships. Be there fully for your children during their darkest hours and put your personal desires on hold. My dad stayed single after my mom left and that made a world of difference. While my world was falling apart it would have killed me to see him move on and find happiness while I was trying to come to terms with my mom leaving. Now as an adult I would have no problem with my dad remarrying but at the time when it most mattered, during my teen years, it would have pushed me away from him and cause me to lose respect for him. After all, children don’t get a second chance at a happy family so why should adults?

    Parents can’t live their lives without a care in the world to how their children feel and then expect respect in return. Of all my peers I know that have cut off contact with their parents it’s the same reason…when we needed our parents the most they were too busy dating, remarrying and all too concerned with their own happiness while we were left dealing with step and half families when what we needed was our parents to ourselves while wendogured things out. instead we were already in pain from our parents divorces and our parents added more issues on top of that by remarrying. Many in my age range basically raised ourselves so yes, we are bitter towards our parents and yes we often times have every right to walk away from our parents, the people who were too focused on their own issues that they were never fully there for us.

  • The last paragraph is suppose to say “when what we needed was our parents to ourselves while we figured things out”. Sorry about the typos, I normally don’t type much on my phone.

  • Of course there are valid reasons for an adult child to stop communicating with their parents but I can’t believe how self indulgent you are about your parents divorce. There are 3 people here to consider and all I can say is the day you become a mother yourself is the day you might understand.

  • my 27 year-old daughter does not want me anymore in her life, I think she feels like the one who wrote in this forum that her mother likes men or prefers men (something like that). I know that writer is not my daughter bc my daughter’s father had been married twice and had several children in different states. I made the wrong decision of sending her to my mother when I separated her father (we were not married) while I went to college and got a career going. Every individual reacts different because my mother always left me on the care of others. I don’t think I lived an entire year with my mother except for his last year of life when I had to take care of her due to her old age and frailty. She passed away but I still love her and I loved her when she was alive. I was there for her and she was there for me. I attended 12 schools from first grade to High School graduation so that can give you an idea how unstable my growing up was. Every year with a different caregiver and a different town. I love my daughter and I wish the best for her and her husband whom I don’t now. I’m blessed in many other ways because I loved and cared for my mother.

  • Just a comment for the parents. I happen to be estranged from my mother, she has also cut off my sister, so I don’t think its me.
    But I’m a mom of three young adults.
    I think one problem you all are having is that you are giving way too much power to your children to hurt you.
    They are adults. You have your own life.
    If your children truly have no reason to treat you thus,
    why are you making yourselves so miserable?
    Make your own life. Be at peace. Miss them, yes.
    But allowing them to torture you is stupid and gives them the feeling that they are controlling you and no one respects that.
    They might very well come around eventually if you back off and be happy without them. Also takes the pressure off.
    After all, WHAT CHOICE DO YOU HAVE? Get a life.

  • I was the parent who was at sporting events, dance shows, school functions, and there when my children needed. I put my children first. I also had a narcissistic mother who was always putting me down in front of my children, stating “Can’t you take a joke?”. Most of these so called jokes led to your mother is fighting with me, she is always fighting with me. This Grandmother also was never around because I she decided I did not have a health issue and told the whole family that I made it up! At this point in my life my children feel that my mother is wonderful and I am the one with the problem. Two out of the three of them is not speaking to me because she will lie to them and change the story to make her look good. My life has been h— since I married my husband because she has tried in her joking way to make me look bad and has won the battle by convince my adult children that I cause all the trouble and does not understand why I blame her. So, my advice to adult children maybe you should take the perspective of your parents and see that your parent was doing their best to raise you with others always correcting them then telling your children that the parent does not love them because they are going out to their one time a year evening out (that only last 2 hours). You should also realize that Grandparents are great but when they want to discredit their children this causes issues between the members of a new family unit.

  • I waited until my youngest child was almost 19 before I left my husband. My oldest daughter lives in another state and was 32, had a good paying job, new car and new home when I left my husband. I haven’t spoken with my oldest daughter in two years this month. She became enraged because I didn’t tell her FIRST that I was moving out of state. She wrote some horrible things about me on FB for all my friends to see. The worst of it was that she said that I was worse than her father–a man who abused her during court-ordered unsupervised visitation when she was a young child. I divorced her father and when Social Services investigated and declared his abuse of our daughter as “founded” I received full custody and he lost all parental rights. I was the one who borrowed money to take her to therapy in an effort to help her cope with the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. He refused to pay child support or provide insurance for our daughter so I dealt with that too. I did what I had to do to make sure that my daughter felt safe, secure and happy. During her teen years, she seemed to be a normal young woman and never voiced any bitterness toward me about anything. What she has chosen to believe about me is not the truth and what I have learned over the past two years is that when your adult child continues to look at you through the eyes of a seven-year-old victimized and traumatized little girl, the truth doesn’t matter. I have given up trying to reach out to my daughter. She will live the rest of her life believing the distorted memories that are a result of PTSD and there is nothing that I can do to change that. She is angry at the wrong parent and likely will remain that way. She also accused me of abandoning her when I entered into a new relationship. After getting over the hurt and shock of her words, I can now say that she needs to shut up and grow up. I only wish her happiness and success but will not allow her deliberate absence to impact my life in any negative way.

  • M,

    You obviously exist. Why does your son have to call you to say hi? I think you may have unrealistic expectations of your son. It’s not normal for a 20-year old to keep calling his mother. He needs to grow up and be on his own. You need to get more involved with your own life, increase your social activities, and be interested in what’s going on with you. For example, what are your goals for the next five years? Are you ready for a third career or fourth career? Do you have any hobbies? Where do you want to vacation next? Do you volunteer anywhere? He is focusing on his life and you need to focus on yours. Don’t try to weigh him down with all of your emotional neediness. That’s unfair! Focus on your adult friendships and your love life to get your needs met. I hope this helps.

  • As I am up again at 2:12 am crying, praying, worrying as at 61 my grown children and 6 grandchildren refuse to have a relationship with me. I did my very best to be a great mom but I had some diseases that I did not find out about for 10 yrs that caused me to make some unwise choices that caused me to lose my entire family 20 yrs ago. I have struggled to make a life for myself,,, I have gone thru 5 years of counseling but I have to say…the only advice that counselors or anyone can give is to create “your own life” well I have tried so hard all these years but at this point I don’t’ even have one friend, or anyone that loves me. I read a lot of self help/spiritual books trying to make sense of it all but how can you let go of the people you gave birth to and love more than anything in the world? I have tried joining things but I never seem to fit in so I quit. I have taken many classes, trainings…but it is always the same. I found one of my granddaughters that I adore on facebook and sent her a note saying I love her…I got a message back for all the public to see from her mother saying I was not allowed to have contact with her…I was so humiliated I took myself off of facebook for a few years…I have never had a positive experience on facebook. well last year I took a class that you needed to be on facebook…tonight I found one of my sons and my ex-husband and his wife and looking at their pictures killed me…so here I am again not sleeping…I have an autoimmune disease and need sleep but it does not come. I am wondering if there will ever be a solution to such a problem..I am thankful to find this site as I thought that I was the only one!!!
    thank you…..

  • sorry mispelled

  • Well, it appears that I am not alone in my heartbreak and never-ending sadness in having to deal with estrangement. My daughter will not communicate with me at all. I have asked for forgiveness, begged to make amends to her, and have made continual efforts in my remorse to make up for any and all mistakes that I did parenting her. I now have no contact from her, when I used to get a phone call once every two months or so. This past Mom’s day was the first time in 25 years that I received no phone call or anything and it just about broke my heart. The no contact began after my fiancee and I took her on a terrific trip to Florida, treated her to a all sorts of interesting side trips etc. Then, nothing after that. On the plane going home, she did not want to sit next to me, but I did anyways, my feelings were really hurt and confused. I told her how much I miss her – all she did was roll her eyes up like she was totally annoyed at me – why??? When I asked her if she had her pass for the train, she yelled at me and told me I was disrespecting her – but I told her that I just wanted to make sure she had what she needed. Then she looked at me like she had not thought of that. After she went back to her home and I went back to mine, I never heard from her after that. Now it has been over one year of no contact. My e-mails, phone calls, etc. go unanswered. She lives almost a thousand miles away since she moved in 2011, so I am unable to just stop by to say hello. I do not know how I am every going to make up to her for the divorce between her father and myself, or for the choices that I made that were not the best. I wish I could go back, I think of her everyday, I long for that time when she was still young and I had the most wonderful little girl in my life. It was the happiest time in my life, and now it is gone, she is gone and I may never see her again or my grandchildren, should she have any children. I am at a loss as to what to do. I have tried to just go on, live my life, so forth but it does not seem to be working well, it is not as though I am not acknowledging that I made mistakes – I am fully prepared to take responsibility for them..it is just perplexing why she will not give me a chance. What is really chilling is that it seems that she has no feelings at all towards me – that I mean absolutely nothing to her and that she has just simple discarded me.

  • Hello my name is dalia I’m 41 years old. My son Adam is 17 years old. And I love my son… a lot. He doesn’t want to acknowledge me as his mom. But its because of my mom that and every one that knows me has thrown it my face. That I’m a bad mom. I have a reason to believe that my son hates me. Yesterday he to lk d ne that I didnt earn the honor to be his mom. Sincerily dalia garza.

  • As I read through the following comments, I am so heart broken that so many individuals have suffered, parents and children. I have lived a life in dysfunction for over 50 years and it wasn’t until I turned 45 that I finally felt that I deserved respect from my mother, father and siblings. However, I also realized that many members of my family are so deep in the dysfunction that forgiveness is not an option and due to my irresponsible mistakes, I lost all support and respect from my two children.

    There have been many tears shed, and prayers begging God to help me fix myself so I will be acceptable; however, I now realize that I have no control over what others feel, hear, see or think. My dream was to have a united loving family; but I guess that was not in the cards for me until now. I have had to move on with my life because I have been abandoned and humiliated by every family member and I do know that despite my multiple mistakes, I am a good person and I deserve love and respect. All I can do today is to pray that God protect and love my children, and perhaps when He sees fit, we will re-unite. Learn to love yourselves, you are worthy of love.

  • I read all the comments about your struggling relationships. I have two adult children, four grandchildren and at seventy years old, with years of therapy, self help books, seminars and retreats, I have the answer that finally worked… NO EXPECTATIONS. You can’t change the angry adult child..you can only change your own life and stop begging and apologizing for what you have done in the past… Why repeat apologies for the same mistake? I hope this helps you all.

  • MEK, I said something similar above. I think some people just drive themselves crazy trying to figure it out and change it (btw, you cannot change another person!), but you give people power over you and they will just abuse you worse because they think aha! she’s trying so hard because she knows she was a bad mother (wrong, but they think it). Even though they are your kids, and even assuming you did a good job parenting, there are no guarantees. (If you were a bad parent, and yes, I mean many of you, you’re probably in denial, you got what you deserved).
    Live the best life you can for yourself.

  • I feel so sad that my daughter made a decision not to contact me .

  • I am a 63 year old woman who adopted two children when I was 37 and 41 My husband is 60. When my daughter was a teen she began the usual rebellion of lying, refusing to cooperate and criticizing us. I was homeschooling her so our dealings were difficult at times. I do believe I lost my temper many times and I am sure that were she asked she would say I was controlling, overbearing, quick to anger, opinionated and inflexible. I do believe I am guilty of these traits yet I do not think they merit the terrible treatment I get from her regularly Since she was homeschooled her opportunities for social activities were in music and sports and I always made sure she was on the swim team and took part in a local young people’s orchestra. Whe she went to college she started to ignore us and didn’t want to talk to us when we were visiting her. She had many boyfriends and took some trips w/a few that we were not told about. She married her college professor after starting a relationship with him while she was still his student.She lied to us about the whole thing. She cancelled the wedding once and then married him ten months later. He is 11 years older. Now the relationship is strained but now estranged. She calls about once/week and will answer FB messages and texts when she is in the right mood. I love her more than life itself. She is in London and she and the husband will go to Korea in August for him to teach and for her to teach English. She has not seen us for seven months and the only way I can see her is to go to Korea for she said she can not afford to come here and it seems his father is more important to visit than we are. My heart is broken for I used to have a wonderful loving close relationship w/her and always thought I would be important to her.The worst is not seeing her except on a grainy image on the computer. I still make a huge effort by sending gifts and contacting her often. I think she might be a narcissist for every conversation evolves around her and what she will be doing. She has a huge loan to pay back and resents my husband as he said that if she married he would not pay for grad school in London. The husband will have to pay it or she will have to pay it from her ESL teacher salary. She is not happy about that. She wants her cake and eat it too. She will not call her brother as he criticized her. Her main criticism is that I was too critical. I find that petty I agree with the person who says that children ought to respect and honor their parents. I was not perfect I love my daughter. I want her to be close to me again. I am afraid of the future as Korea is very far away and she has cut us off two times in the last year due to an altercation we had. She cut me off for six weeks after Christmas. I feel alone and abandoned even though my story is certainly not as bad as many I have read here. i fear every day when she refuses to read my messages or answer them that she will cut me off again.

  • My 28 year old son suddenly refused to talk to me after I went to see him after not seeing him for 18 mos and his new girlfriend was rude to me. He lives with her. I told him it hurt my feelings, and he has refused to talk to me ever since. I raised him as a single mom for all his life, in great hardship, and have continued to help him, even though since he got this new girlfriend they spend every holiday with her parents and treat them like gods, but they leave me out in the cold. I reamarried when he was 21, but my new husband is abusive. My son is a cna and works with older patients, yet I am in older Alzheimer’s and he cut me right off. He won’t even talk to me about why he just stopped refusing my calls. I feel like someone is killing me every day, I wake up to realize he’s gone every day and it kills me. My brothers both died young, 17 and 27. He ostracized me right before his 28th birthday. My husband is abusive, I left him, but the shelter sent me back home due to my disabilities. I think my son doesn’t want responsibility for me. I spoiled him. He is putting all his investment into this 26 year old first girlfriend that he lives with and they spend all their time with her family. He moved far away a few years ago where he met her and her family. I want to die every day. I went through hell raising him as a woman who escaped an abusive relationship to save him, he was molested. I went through hell to raise him, sacrificing so much, not making the common mistakes of having another man in the house or doing drugs or such. Still, I ended up with this. It hurts so much.

  • Hi, so very glad to have found this blog? I guess that’s what this is? I know full we’ll what most of you are going through, as I am too. I am at the point of accepting it, as they but especially my daughter have taken me to my limits, FINALLY! Too late right now for me, after 2, will be back tomorrow I hope!

  • I have a 20 year old daughter that has told me she doesn’t want to have anything to do with me because her father and I do not approve of her new boyfriend of 4 months, that she is already moved in with (his parent’s basement) and are planning on getting engaged in 2 months. I was the room mother, stay at home mom, craft making mom, band mom, you name it I did it all for her. She is an only child, who hasn’t wanted for anything, and has not made very good decisions with guys. She feels that I have controlled her whole life and now she wants me to stay of out it for good. I do not want to miss out on my only daughters wedding and grandchildren. What can I do to fix this realtionship. She says she hates when I make comments about her boyfriend, I just say what my heart thinks about him. He has made no attempts to get to know us other than the first meeting so I feel he is being very selfish refuses our dinner invites. I need to fix this with my daughter because if is killing my Husband that we are on the outs. Help!

  • I am sorry I wasted my time and neglected my talents raising 2 selfish, vain, greedy and arrogant daughters. I wad not perfect, but I was a damned good parent compared to my mother and I always placed their needs ahead of all others. In return, as adults, they still demand my time, money and emotions. Three years ago, when I turned 50, I decided: ENOUGH is ENOUGH! Half a century of catering to first parents, siblings, husband, in-laws, nieces, nephews, children, career, house, friends, social obligations and pets! Now: for the past 3 years, God only comes before me. Husband, daughters, relatives, friends, parents can go jump in a lake. I have realised: It is either me or them. I choose me because God put me on this planet not to be a servant to selfish people and I’d like to live to find out what His Plan is. Oh! I do still love and care for my dogs.

  • I have a daughter whom I adore more than the universe. She was and will always be the light of my life. She is 26 and has unfortunately become a robot of a controlling and abusive , now her husband, person. He told us from the start that she should be estranged from us because we own a television and only trashy people own televisions. Meanwhile at their wedding , his wealthy and “classy” mother were smoking pot with the bridal party in front of everyone. Smoking pot is an individuals choice , so I’m not being judgemental, but don’t say owning a tv is classless.

    Anyway, from day one he got in her head. He charged her rent while his father paid for his apt. My parents and I paid for most of her 7 years in college , while she threw away semester after semester. There were a few loans I was willing to pay after school was done, but he got on the phone with me and said that wasn’t good enough. He said my husband claimed her on our taxes when she was 18 , living at home, not working, and we paid all her expenses and college. He said if we had emancipated her that she could have collected $60-80,000 of free money from the government and that by not doing so, we actually stole this money from her. Also since my parents gave her about $20,000 for college and they told her it was a gift, she said I should give her that money because I basically have stolen her gift. I don’t have 100,000 straight pins let alone $100,000 or more , cuz who knows what else they would come up with, to give her, so she refuses to have any contact with me.

    This child whom I gave the world to , including the sense of entitlement she now feels, is cutting me off for trying to give her the best of life.

    I took her to the Atlantis in the bahamas several times since 2000 when they opened, we went on family vacations more than once a year cuz I had the money then, but the economy changed, jobs were lost, and we are trying to just stay in our home. She says we should have never gone because she never learned anything from those trips except to be an island whore. Huh ?

    Anyway, she has been estranged from me , on and off, mostly off,unless i agree to go to her apt and listen to her and the husband complain about me and money I owe her. I have done this numerous times and she keeps coming up with more lies about me and things I have never done for her.

    She invited me, via text message, to her wedding, said she wouldn’t speak to me before or after the wedding, but she was willing to put aside her differences for the day. She said I wasn’t a part of it. My parents who adore her and have $$$ help support her , and have shut me out of their lives because my mother is a narcissist and has lured her away from me with $$$.

    It’s heartbreaking and everyday I want to die. I have two other children who are my blessings ( they aren’t perfect but they are normal 14 & 20 yr olds ). They have no contact with her although the little one came to the wedding after not seeing her for 2 yrs and my oldest daughter treated her poorly. The kids always say she is like his puppet and blame him, I say she allows it , my therapist says she is brainwashed ( cuz he is trying to be a cult leader and having a following ) , I say she knows its killing me and doesn’t care. I hurt so much I can’t stand it. But I thank God every moment that I have my son (20) and other daughter (14 almost 15) or I would have killed myself.

    I just wish I could let go of this and go on living a normal life , but I’m broke , can’t find a job, in turmoil over my parents , and all the horrible things I have endured for so long. It may sound like it was good with all those fancy trips, but life was not, I gave her a poor role model in accepting bad behavior from her step father. So another mistake I made.

    Sorry for going on and on, thank you all for listening.

  • After reading many comments , I too am.sad to say that I also raised.three rude, selfish, dishonest, and very mean dauhters. After years of.living with their father who had many affairs, is a sex addict, and alcoholic, who swallowed a.bottle of.pills in front of.them, I finally insisted he leave. They lived with me.until their father found a young girlfriend who is close.to.their age. They are great friends with her and even call her step-mom. They love to.go out drinking with her and my ex. They decided to move in with their father and this girl and enjoy the party atmosphere in their home. They do not contact.me unless they want money. I am a single parent.who just became a teacher after my husband and I split. I have little.money. I need to stop crying and see things realistically. I was and am a good.mother, giving up so much for and to.them.Two weeks ago after gjving one money, she texted me said thsnk you, even I love you, and that she would come (2 miles) to see me. She never did, but cashed the check. I am alone without parents and.am not.in a relationship. So many times I have asked.them for help with little jobs around the house. One daughter would help.occasionally when the timing was right for her. Every time she helped I gave her money. Yet this last.Mother’s Day I recieved only a text ir.FB greeting late in the day. Not even a card. They say they have no reason to dislike me, They are so busy with their father and girlfriend. I have cried myself to sleep so many times over this. As I read these comments I think I need to.realize tbese are rude, greedy, and.mean young women. I am ashamed of.them. But.maybe it’s time I stopped.begging for.and paying for.their time. As much as it.hurts perhaps I should back off and let.them go. Danielle, Debra, and.Deanna: I love you yet won’t accept being used anymore. The future of.our relationship is now.in your hands.

  • Needing some advice pls!…I am 45 yrs old, was married for 21 yrs..we have two children, daughter 20 and son 18, We recently divorced about a year ago when I found my ex husband was having an affair with my good friend. She was also married to her husband for about 20 yrs and have three kids. Her husband and I also found out that their affair was going on for about 2 years,,,I chose to file for a divorce and her husband also did a short time after me. This is where it gets messy…When my kids found out about his affair, they were very angry, hurt and disgusted. Not just for him having an affair itself, but because she was my friend (which they know very well) and not to mention hurting his friend too (her husband). They destroyed two marriages/families. It was humiliating because all our friends and family immediately found out and we were all such good friends.
    Let me back up a bit. Before our divorce, shortly after I discovered his affair, I told him he had to move out. My kids didn’t want to talk to him for a while (just a month or so). They finally talked it out, he did apologize to them and said it was a terrible mistake and wanted to make amends with them…even though it was over between him and I. They shared their feelings with him and explained why they were so hurt, embarrassed and disappointed. They asked him to assure them that it was over with her for good…and he said yes. They also said if they found out he was lying to them or had anything to do with her again, then they would lose trust & respect for him and would have nothing to do with him…especially because they don’t like her anymore and what they both did. He promised them and assured them they had nothing to worry about.
    Everything has been peaceful, amiable and fine. I live in my own house now with them, my daughter is in college and my son just graduated (incidentally, her oldest daughter is 19 and went to school with my kids adding to the embarrassment!). My ex was allowed to come over whenever he wanted to see them, hang out, talk & whatever.
    Now we just found out that he is having a new house built and guess who is moving in with him??!! Yup, her! They apparently had not stopped seeing eachother and he was hiding it all this time. My kids are fuming! Of coarse they gave him a piece of their mind and told them they had no interest on seeing him, going anywhere near their house and they would never forgive him if he went through with this. My daughter was more hurt and my son is just very angry at him…we are all disappointed. The only explanation he gave them was this…”Im sorry but I have made my decision, I hope one day you all will accept this and understand” …My daughter cried to him and said she will never accept this and it will never be ok. He honestly seems to not care. I tried talking to him about how upset they are about it and he wont discuss anything with me and.he will hardly take my calls anymore. Its like he just changed over night and has zero regard for anyone else but himself and his ‘girlfriend’
    He honestly thinks that they will be fine and get over it. He said if they wanted to see him or visit him, they know where to find him.

    Seriously? What the hec is wrong with this picture??

  • I forgot to mention that her two younger children will be living with them as well….and also did not mention that she is ten years younger than my ex..

  • I am single mom divorce for 10 years and the one who have raised my children mostly on my own. I was there for my children physically and emotionally. I tried to be a mom and dad. Their dad he never cared if they were alive. When he left he said the children are yours. And I said I am delighted to take care of them. I suffered all these years and worked hard, so my daughters w get the highest education without their dad help. Now that they are successful, they have abandoned me and they spend their time with their dad and his girlfriend. When I asked them why they don’t come to visit me, their excuse is that you are not fun and boring. They said that when they were growing up I was serious and always watched them to study and push them to be successful. But their dad let them do whatever they wanted to do therefore they prefer their dad and they do not want to come around me. My 27 years old daughter, who just got married, took her father and his girlfriend for the food tasting, and other event. She made her father and his girlfriend, her sister and her friends and his in-laws the centre of her wedding. I am so depressed that I do not want to live anymore. I scarified the best years of my life, first for my ex-husband who cheated on me with different women and men and then for my children who have treated me terribly and abandoned me to favoured their father who was only a sperm donor and never was there when they were growing up. By the time you read this I may not be alive….. I have nothing to look forward to….

  • It is the best time to make a few plans for the longer term and it is time to be happy. I’ve learn this post and if I may I want to recommend you few interesting things or advice. Maybe you could write next articles relating to this article. I want to read more issues approximately it!

  • I raised my daughter and her brother as a single mother for 10 years. My mother and my sister made certain that I was seen by my children as a crappy mother. Now, my daughter is 34 years old–she has cut ties with me because I didn’t spend enough money on her as a child. When she turned 16, I bought her a used car but she had to support it–no credit card. We lived on a horse farm and she wanted to live in a Mcmansion. Did I, as a parent, make mistakes? Of course I did but the tirade that was directed at me sounded more like a pissed off 10 year old than a grown woman. Now, she’s pouting and refuses to acknowledge my existence all because I didn’t spend enough money on her when she was a child. Go figure

  • I just don’t get it…..I thought I did the best I could. My son said in a card that he acknowledges that I did the best I could. But I just don’t get why he doesn’t call to say hi, or doesn’t seem like he misses me or even interested. Basically I get no response from him (I’m guessing that why he is still single at 27). I have struggled to allow him space to breath without smothering him even though it’s painful (and I’ve told him that). But why is it that he so unresponsive? Should I just continue to give lots of space or should I just barge in? I have asked him for the past 6 years but I only get a wishy washy answer like” I don’t know”. I have apologized for all my imperfect parenting crap, thinking that’s what the issue is but even when I text him or call him he won’t pick up. I don’t get it. I don’t want to lose him.

  • My son just called me..and I’m happy now

  • Does anyone have valuable, professional advice for my dilemma I posted above?? My daughter especially, is taking this very hard. She simply cant accept it and is very very hurt and upset. I don’t know what is the best way…,and more importantly, the RIGHT way to handle this situation. She is more upset because she feels rejected and he is not considering her (and my son) feelings. My son is more upset because my ex has the nerve to actually move in with someone who was my friend and hurt/betrayed me…

  • My 19 year old son told me that he has moved on from me. He wants nothing to do with me. We had a fight last May and things have never been the same since. I said something terrible to him and he can’t seem to forgive me. He hasn’t eaten dinner with us in about 3 years. It sucks! He ignores me when I say hello or good-bye to him, tell him that I love him, etc. He walks right by me like I don’t even exist. It is horrible. I told him I will never give up on him (even though I feel like it sometimes because he continues to hurt me over and over again). I can’t take it any more. I can’t take the pain any more. I know he is hurting but my therapist said he is mentally abusing me. It’s hurtful and unbelievable he doesn’t want anything to do with me. I can’t believe it! It’s unbearable sometimes, like today. I cried all day today. What should I do?

  • I felt a bit down last night and did a search on estranged adult children and found very interesting parable posted here. I have reblogged that parable on my post in my blog http://littlegirlstory.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/we-are-still-friends/ and I would like to thank the person for sharing the parable but I cannot find his contact here. I am undergoing the silence treatment from my child(ren) and it is not easy but I tried to stay positive and focus on other interests. Thank you for creating this site so I could see there are others like me and I am not alone. God bless.

  • It’s entertaining for me to see how one-sides most of these stories are.

  • Dear anonymous,
    I sure would like to know my daughters side! Maybe the stories are one sided because the adult child will not see the parent and try to work it out with them. I would LOVE to hear my daughters complaints. At least she would have had enough respect for me to share them.
    Entertaining? To see people’s pain loss and confusion? however misguided they may be, these parents are suffering longing and loss. They are people, just like you, not cartoon characters, you know. Or maybe you dont know. If you really felt that great about your comment I think you would have used your name or even a name, not anonymous.
    My daughter and I were close and had a lot of joy when she was growing up. A lot of laughter and succesful meeting of challenges as she tried to make her dreams come true.She thanked me again for being a great Mom on Mothers Day when she turned 18. Two months later she wouldnt even call me MOM and has been angry with me ever since. still I helped her through 2 college degrees and also helped her in any way she asked. I worked hard and gave her most of my money on a clerks salary.She was very loving person buit changed overnight when she left home at 18.. I have never known why. I asked her when I saw her a year ago and she said “Some people told me bad things about you and I believed them.” What things? She wouldnt say.Since that day she graduated with her second degree she has not spoken one word to me. Nothing no response to emails or the gifts I sent her, as I always did before and she seemed to appreciate and give me some too. She talks to and sees her stepfather some, even tho he did not give her a dime for school and told her the whole time she was wrong to go.
    Now I miss her terribly, her voice her smile Her beautiful laugh, her courage.Her brother doesnt underastand it either. BUt I am not going to let her wreck my life. I grieved and lost a lot of sleep. I still love her dearly I am assuming and imagining we will one day have a good relationship and great communication. Or not. BUt its really not my problem, is it? She has a living mother who loves her greatly and wants her to have a great life and will back her up anyway I can. I know some day she will realize what she had in me. I hope its while I am still alive. Because dear daughter of mine I will be dead for a long time. I who love her more than anyone else on this earth. Thank God I have a great husband now and her brother still loves me and that is a joy. So I hope this one sided mystery of mine and my deep sadness has been entertaining for you also, hopefully you will have had another big laugh….

  • Sometimes the estrangement, like in my case, is because a parent is reaching for something healthier. I raised my two step-daughters. I received full guardianship when they were 14 years old. Unfortunately, their incredibly neglectful biological parents continued to fight this in court throughout much of their teen years. Because of the circumstances, it gave them a over important sense of their place in the world. Way to much attention was given to them and their feelings during the most narcissistic time in their lives. Now I have one 23 year old who has just married and has decided that she has no use for anyone who doesn’t agree with he view of the world. She has also made the comment that when I would “get on her” it would make her feel bad. And that she didn’t appreciate that. I tried to explain to her that was called parenting and that when you do something wrong, you are supposed to feel bad. It is called guilt. She wasn’t having it. Now I am concerned about the possibility that she may have inherited some of the personality disorders her parents have. She isn’t open to discussing that either. Soooo I have stepped back and am doing some self-care, while she is running around the family defensively explaining her story. So while I appreciate her youth and her history, I do not believe that parents should have to do more than continue to love their children and be there when they choose to open their hearts to them.

  • Here is my story and I HAVE FOUND INCREDIBLE SOLUTION ! I hope this would help Ronni and many others driving themselves crazy for something that is never possible to change.

    Myself and my Husband of 33 years have a blissful loving marriage; there is no week goes by both of us call our very elderly parents, as we do worry about their well being. On the other hand we have 27 years old Son we both love him so very much, and how can we not he is our only child ! Before he reached 10 every single night he kiss me good night, we shared secrets, every sport game he took with his Dad become Family event. Things changed after son reached 14, and now escalated to the point to talk with him is like walking on eggshells. Doesn’t really matter what and how we say, it is always our fault, he silently HATES us so much, that if there is a way to bury us today, or this very minute he would gladly do so.

    we haven’t talk for the past 2.5 years, and I do not think he ever will. May many phone messages are never returned, my numerous emails never answered. Like many of you both me and my husband blamed us, than looking at my son working history he can’t hold to any job more than for 2-3months, often get disciplinary warning, acts arrogant towards co-workers, had couple of girlfriends who dumped him.He also pathological liar, usually these cases are NOT treatable unless person wants to change.

    Here is my solution came to me after so much praying , so ingeniously simple: LOVE YOURSELF! maybe it sounds selfish, but I think NOT. I stopped reaching him, let that cord go, and finally both me and my DH started to live fully, leading busy lives , working , going on vacations, having a blast!
    Most of us unfortunately have to acknowledge the fact: we brought up new generation of self-centered, narcissistic people, they have no respect, or empathy to any human beings, even their own parents. They are users, and when we are fully used, we are disposable in their views.

    The previous generation (us) were brought up to respect and honour parents and family. These new species (coming from us) are the much bums. In any occasion: kids are given to us for 10-15 years utmost, after that we have to let them GO, no questions asked, no expectations, no nothing.

    I truly wish our only SON well, but I won’t become some doormat, or bundle of everlasting misery especially for this stranger, who doesn’t give a sh—-t about any of us, including the rest of our family!

  • I have read all of the moms comments. I’m devastated over my daughters decision to permenantly have no contact. Is there anyone out there who would like to communicate personally or by email. It would be helpful to talk to another mother who is going through this. Thanks so much. Jan

  • To Ludy, I just read your comment. I can’t tell you how I appreciate hearing your thoughts today. I’m having one of those days. I wish we could actually talk to other mothers who are going through this. It’s heartbreaking isn’t it. My email is pa9jani@aol.com. If you would like to write I would like that. Thanks again for very good advice. I tried everything. Your advice was greatly appreciated. Jan

  • I decided not to have children and the way the culture has gone and what I see with a lot of my peers, I’m glad I made the decision I did.

  • I have a 36 year old daughter who has two sons, 3 (nearly 4) and 1 1/2, with her husband. Five years ago my husband and I divorced,and my daughter wanted very much for me to move here, to be close to her. Over the last five years she has emotionally tortured me. First, she demanded that I get “other friends” so I was not a draw on her time with her husband. I did that. Then she was furious because I had other friends and wasn’t available to her on a moment’s notice. She got pregnant and ran all her friends off – and made a new “friend” with the only PETA person who was ever convicted of a crime (for killing and tossing the bodies of 35 dogs into public dumpsters). She sees this woman as her “family of choice” and defers to her on decisions regarding her extended family and her children. (When I attempted recently to tell her that I am uncomfortable when I know this woman is taking care of the grandkids – a person who can do this to animals is scary to me – my daughter screamed at me and threw me out of her house.) When my daughter was a week away from delivering her first child, she told me she didn’t want anyone around after the baby was born until he was at least 6 weeks old. I stayed away. She is furious that I stayed away. When my eldest grandson was 2, I made a room for him at my house, complete with a twin bed and table/chairs for a little guy to play at. My daughter was angry and wouldn’t let my grandson come to my house for a long time. Then, she finally relented and allowed him to start spending the night. She is now refusing to allow me to see my grandsons (particularly the eldest one) because I allowed him to view 20 minutes of a movie (on the laptop, so I could fast-forward through the inappropriate parts) called “Snake Island”. The child has at least a dozen books about snakes and even more about sharks – he is fascinated by them, and is encouraged in that fascination by his parents. My daughter also alleges that my grandson doesn’t go to bed on time when he spends the night with me. Actually, I get him to bed on time, but he is so excited to be with me that he wants to talk for another half hour – his is, in a word, happy. At “family counseling” (our first and last session) last night, my daughter told the therapist that I think my grandson should just have fun when he comes to my house! And she’s right. For 2 1/2 hours every week, I expect to provide him with fun. Anyway, as I suspected, this isn’t about my grandson or boundaries at all – my daughter wants her family to be “totally separate” , as she told the therapist, (she wants to disengage from me and what is left of my family – just me and 2 brothers) and has been using my grandson as an excuse to hurt me. So, long story short, after so many years of her crazy-making behavior, and in light of her use of my grandson for her selfish and hurtful purposes, I actually said OUT LOUD that I despise her. And, God help me, I meant it at the time. So, I guess all is done. I will never see my grandson again, and my daughter has what she has wanted for years, but what I wasn’t aware of until now. She has her wierdo friends as her only extended family, and she is able to leave behind the rest of us who she has always felt superior to. I wonder how she’ll explain my absence to my grandson. Maybe she’ll just tell him I’m dead. I honestly believe that is the only thing that would make her happy.

  • I can see parts of my life in most of the stories on this page. I to have children and given most of my time to their needs. (All 5 of them). 2 don’t get in touch or ans emails, only when they feel like it or want to, or have anger to vent. 1 get’s in touch when he has had a drink and wants to get everything of his chest till he feels better (I am there for him and tell him so) that’s all I can do and tell him I’m sorry if I did anything to up set him but we love him. Then one get’s in touch and is a bit more respectfully and I am so pleased I tell him and his family every chance I get. The last and 5th one he still lives at home with us I try to make sure I let him know how much we love and care for him but he to can be very hurtful when he wants and is angrey most days and feels the world is his enmany. We try to site and be there for him when he is in need and hope that it is the right thing to be doing for him we try not to judge just be there for him.
    How do we put right the wrongs in life, how do I get my 2 who won’t get in touch to understand what is painful to them can be shared and then may heal quicker and save time for all. I can just be there when they do see the love we all have. And while I’m waiting live my life as well. But still love them. If any one has any idear’s on how we get through to them so they can live better live’s with us then with out do let me know. …?

  • Wow! All I can say is that you guys raised these kids and taught them to be all these horrible things you say they are. Based on the words used to describe your children (yes, the child not simply the behavior)….it is no wonder the adult child feels they cannot reason or talk with you.

    Did it occur to anyone that perhaps their child’s inappropriate words or behavior are due to feeling hurt, betrayed or some emotion, that when ignored turns to anger?

    How about simply acknowledging their feelings, don’t argue or make excuses, simply acknowledge it.

    I suspect they all want good relationships with their parents but with repressed and unresolved hurt, feelings of being unloved or uncared for, having a parent that is too needy or any host of things. Having to be right, not listening or acknowledging the child’s feelings, labeling the child as selfish seem like defenses to me.

    Parents tend to be very selfish or perhaps have children for the wrong reasons, then find other things in their lives more important (careers, lovers, hobbies, etc.). Children from divorced parents are often put in the middle, are subjected to hateful comments and behavior about the other parent, etc.

    Please, look in the mirror and realize how your life experiences or filters shade your perception of things with your children, realize that these people have problems in part because of how they were raised, (or left to raise themselves), treated badly, spoiled, taught life skills, taught self esteem and respect, or whatnot as children.

  • It breaks my heart to see these posts. I had a wonderful family, great wife and two amazing kids, a successful business, and fun friends. Several months ago I began an emotional affair with a co-worker. It started as a friendship and in the last month we talked and texted more and more. While spending the weekend on a college visit with our son, my wife plugged my phone in and a picture that the other woman had texted me popped up. It was an unassuming picture but in my deceitful way I spun various stories of explanation. Needless to say after several conversations and several more attempts to lie my way out, I admitted that this was more than just a simple friendship. My ego and arrogance was so warped I actually convinced myself that this situation wasn’t so bad and now that it was out we could just move forward like nothing happened. Wrong! First, I had an emotional affair, second, my wife had to drag the truth out of me. I struggled with the thought of telling the truth and rationalized that if she didn’t know everything there was still a chance we could stay together and work this out. If anyone out there has this same situation going on, be honest and open in the beginning. If you are trying to reconcile, only honesty will provide a glimmer of hope. Fast forward to today. My wife and I are working on our marriage, trying to figure out the hows and whys. I am in counseling, reading everything I can get my hands on, and the biggest thing is putting God first in my life. The pain, devastation and humiliation I have caused my family cut deeply into my heart. One of the most difficult things my wife and I are now dealing with is our kids. My son is 18 and daughter is 21. They are aware of most of what has been going on (since one of our phones was sitting out and she read the texts back and forth between my wife and I). My daughter is hurt and angry at me and disappointed in my wife for trying to reconcile with me. I have tried talking to her but she just listens in disgust then walks away. I know this whole process will take time and I am willing to be patient, not get frustrated and continually ask God for guidance, wisdom and healing for my family. The hardest part is the roller coaster of emotions with my wife because of my daughters reaction to me. My daughter tells my wife she will never forgive me and that strains my reconciliation with my wife all the more. I think my son is in a “just wait and see” attitude. The happiest days of our lives should be ahead of us, but unfortunately as hard as I try there is a black cloud of deceit and betrayal that won’t go away.

  • I see me in most of these comments. One of my 3 adult sons says our family is too dysfunctional for his kids to be around. Don’t have the energy to explain further. You all seem to have felt most of my story anyway. My sons abuse me and make me feel like I can never be enough. Just the way their father did before he left us. I’ve made a choice most people don’t. And it’s not spontaneous or escapist. My life is not worth living alone. They and my grandchildren will be better off without me. And I just don’t want to stay anymore. I did my duty. I will smile down on all of you from heaven and send what light I can.

  • Ludy…..standing ovation. You are spot on. Reading your post was my moment of clarity. You are right. I had to acknowledge the fact that I brought up these self-centered, narcissistic people with a sense of entitlement to every ounce of my time, happiness, emotions and money and the moment I put myself first, I am branded selfish. I raised my daughters as a single parent. Did I make mistakes…..you bet. A lot. I was critically ill a while back and brought them together and sincerely apologized for all that did and did not to do. I poured out my heart. What I’ve come to realize in the years after is that my apology fell on deaf ears and closed hearts. My eldest tolerates me and my youngest is completely rude and disrespectful and complains about everything. Well, here I am tonight and I am letting this go. I love my daughters but will not continue to live a life in sackcloth and ashes. I am just now 50 and by God, I deserve to be happy, have peace and some enjoyment in this life. Is is sad…immensely. But what would be sadder is if I pass from this life without enjoying it and some peace. I realize that I had done all I can. If my daughters chose not to love me, like me, respect me or want anything to do with me….that is a poor choice they have made and there is nothing I can do about it. I will always keep a listable, accessible email and phone number should they chose to reach out, but I won’t be waiting by the phone….I will be out living my life and learning to enjoy everyday life, one day at a time.

  • Sally,
    Wow. Parents tend to be really selfish? Really? Hmmm…I suppose that can be true. I mean people in general can be selfish and since parents are people, then it would hold true that some are selfish. To say that’s what most tend to be, or that just because some parents find themselves with estranged children, to imply that’s the cause…yeah…not always the case-sometimes, sure-and as many people on here have said, they made mistakes. However, there comes a time when you are an adult that you need to grow up and stop blaming your parents for the life you have/didn’t have. Believe it or not, even those “selfish ones” were probably often trying to do the best they could at the time if they were there for their kids working, putting a roof over their heads and food on the table, making sure they did their homework and were involved in extracurricular activities, etc. I was married for 25 years to a manipulative, emotionally abusive, and physically threatening man. While there were signs that I can look back on and now say, yeah, that was probably a red flag that this wasn’t going to be a good relationship, it isn’t like he was the same person at the end of our marriage as he was at the beginning. When we separated, he was seeing a therapist and was diagnosed as having PTSD, borderline personality, and being bi-polar. He was suicidal and self-medicated extensively with alcohol. What finally lead to our divorce was his having an affair with our babysitter. He refused to end the affair or seek marriage counseling. Within a week of moving out of our house, he was introducing this girl to our children (who were 6, 11, and 13) as the “love of his life.” They were living together soon after and he insisted the kids call her “mom” before we were even divorced (and no this was not a drawn out court battle–we were divorced about six weeks after we filed the initial paperwork). In the intervening years, I have gladly moved on with my life. My ex, however, has not. Everything that ever has or still is wrong with his life can be traced back directly to me. He successfully imparted this idea with my oldest child with whom I had had a good relationship prior to the divorce, but that deteriorated as the post-divorce years went on. Any communication concerning visitation, etc. is hostile. A few years ago, he tried to get my custody rights stripped for being an unfit parent. He went so far as to involve our children in his plan and had them ready to testify against me while they were at his house for the summer. (And believe me, I have looked in the mirror and his claims were completely baseless.) We live in a state where there is mandated mediation before you can appear in court for issues such as this. I respectfully informed the mediator that I was only there on a technicality to get to the court process and that I had nothing to discuss with my ex. concerning custody. If he really thought he had a case against me, then he was doing the right thing by suing me for custody. The truth was, though, that I was a good parent so I had nothing to fear and would see him in court. Soon after returning, my youngest children told my ex. that they wouldn’t testify. Whatever picture of me he created didn’t hold up against reality. I wasn’t the monster the children had been led to believe I was by the father and step-mother. The children were also seeing court ordered psychologists at the time. Neither found any basis to support my ex.’s claims. Soon after he withdrew his petition to the court. The oldest child started acting out by running away (saying they were going to their father’s house which was several hours away) and acting out. The child became violent against me and verbally threatening and abusive to the younger siblings. This same child related events that didn’t ever happen to school officials, events crafted to make me look like a bad parent. The child became very withdrawn and was failing several subjects in school. I found out through the parents of my child’s friend that my ex. was using that friend’s phone to communicate things to my child which “would get them both in trouble” if I found them out. I don’t know what that means, exactly, but those were his words that the parents found in a text to their child that was to be communicated to mine. During this time, my ex. also did his best to alienate my children from their church community and their school-even going so far as to threaten to sue the school at one point for a perceived slight. He made them feel guilty for any fun they had with friends or in activities in the town where they lived. He also caused big, drawn out scenes involving tears on his part whenever they returned from his house on visitation weekends. He went into great detail telling him how his life was nothing without them and how sad and miserable he was in between times he saw them My oldest who was very susceptible to his manipulation, would get physically sick if their father was late calling when he’d said he would or if a practice ran late after school and their father called early. When they were at his house, he took them on lavish trips and made every weekend visit into a party-literally. They had no responsibilities, were able to do many things they couldn’t at my house, and my oldest had zero accountability. When they arrived for their visitation weekends twice a month with him, their room was decorated with streamers and balloons and they had several presents waiting on their beds. I was the un-fun parent. Life wasn’t an endless party because I took financial responsibility for my life post-divorce and didn’t live on credit, I was a single parent supporting my kids with little to no help from their father who was always behind in the support he was ordered by the court to provide, and I was the one that had to make sure homework was done, musical instruments practiced, etc. and referee fights. By the end of the year after he’d made his grab for custody, my oldest child had been picked up by the police for threatening to run away so many times that the officer who responded to the last call informed both my child and myself that once more would mean not being returned to either parent’s home. The child would be arrested and become a ward of the state because the state would say neither parent had control over the child. The officer was nice and tried to go out of his way to clearly explain to my child that this was not what they wanted to happen, that they had a good home and parents who cared about them, etc. My child stood right there and told the police it didn’t matter. They would leave tomorrow. I called my ex. who was no help. My child was no longer seeing a therapist because at 16 they could refuse treatment. I felt I had no choice but to let my child move to their father’s house. My ex. and I drew up an agreement wherein he agreed to see that my child visited me once a month and on certain holidays as well as part of summer vacation. I doubted that he would follow through, but it was that or jail/foster care for my child who was in no way mature enough to see the consequences of their actions. When my child left, they said they’d never return to my house. It has been several years now. They’ve been true to their word, even if my ex. hasn’t. I am “friends” with my child on Facebook. They didn’t “unfriend” me when they moved out–so I guess I have that going for me. I have attended their sporting events and activities when I can. I have sent cards and presents at birthdays and holidays. Letters. Emails. Texts. Calls. They all go ignored. I have seen my child three times at family gatherings. The child seemed to be okay, talking with relatives, even with me, but they were isolated events. I have tried to find out what caused the sudden change in our relationship. I have tried to let my child know that for now, it’s okay to not even try to fix that anymore, but to just try to have a relationship as the two people we are now if that would work. I have suggested that we go to counseling to fix our relationship. Again, nothing. If you’ve never had kids, you can’t imagine how hurtful this behavior is. My ex. left. Not just me, but he left our kids as well. He checked out on them for almost a year. Yes, he introduced them to the babysitter they already knew, and yes, he insisted that whenever they referred to her she was “mom/mommy” and if they were talking about me in her presence, I was “my given name,” however, for the first year after the divorce, he only saw them four times-all with her along. They had no real time to have their father to themselves. They came home crying each time, saying how even though he was with them, he didn’t pay any attention to them. He just concentrated on his girlfriend and whatever she wanted. (I wasn’t there so I don’t know how much of this is true vs. their perception of the events, but I know they were incredibly hurt by it each time.) Even after he started seeing them regularly, he never attended any of their school activities or extracurricular ones. If they had something on a weekend that they were to be at his house, they had to miss it. They adjusted their schedule to fit his, not the other way around. I was the full time parent who was there every day. My “career” was important only to the extent that it paid the bills. I didn’t date or hang out in bars or try to relive the years I “missed out on” being married. I went out of my way to avoid talking about the details of the divorce or my personal feelings about my ex. or his wife to my kids. I didn’t talk badly about them, and didn’t tolerate others who did. I tried to do everything I could to support my kids having a good-or as good as it could get-relationship with their dad and his new family additions. I didn’ t make them my confidant or friend and tell them how hard it was to start life over again when I was almost 50 or how I was scared that when one of the was sick, that meant not enough money at the end of the month, etc. I worked extra jobs so my kids could have clothes and Christmas presents, and a somewhat middle class life. I tried to be fair when dealing with them all, and tried to treat them as individuals. I was their parent, not their friend. And yet, for my oldest child, none of this mattered. Their father got inside their head, and got them to see me the way he does. If you do have children, I hope you never find out what this feels like. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Yes, the relationship I had with my child was far from perfect. As was the one with my ex. Part of that, on both counts, was my fault, true. I could say the same about the one I had with my own parents, too. That’s how life is. I think what you are missing, though, that many people have tried to say about their “selfish” kids is people make mistakes. Adults grow up, they forgive, and they move on. Children, regardless of their actual age, lack the maturity and ability to do so. Guess what? My parents weren’t always the ones I wanted, either, when I was younger. They didn’t let me do the things I wanted, made me work on the farm where we lived, didn’t buy me what other kids had, etc. There were also some things that went beyond just the general list of complaints against parents. Ways they parented that I have actively tried not to copy because I don’t think it was healthy. Even so, I realized as an adult that my parents did whatever they did. Perhaps that made me who I am, perhaps more than I know even, but guess who gets to decide who I am now? Right. Me. That’s being an adult. And guess what else, I only have one set of parents (unlike many kids today) because mine stayed married. So, my choices there were pretty limited. And, I could remain mad, hurt, etc. about what they had done and I could spend the rest of my life and theirs wishing they would just change and be who I wanted them to be, darn it!…or, I could let go of whatever hurt, etc. I had as a child, and try to see my parents for who they are now and let them see me as an adult and try to have a relationship from that because they weren’t going to change, and they weren’t ever going to be who I’d wished they were back in 1977 or who I needed them to be in 1989 or whenever, and the person I was really hurting the most by holding onto all that was me. That doesn’t mean letting go of all that hurt and anger is easy or that it happens right away, but again, it’s the adult thing to do. The child mind cannot do that. And yes, many children of divorce are caught in the middle, as you say. Mine are. All of mine are. However, for whatever reason, only my oldest child seems to have chosen to stay there. The younger ones either are not manipulated in the same way by my ex. or are more resistant to his attempts. Perhaps the oldest even has some of the same mental issues/concerns as the father. I don’t know. Some of the troublesome behavior patterns are shared by both. Perhaps it’s just that the older one was old enough to remember how the father treated me in our marriage and felt as they grew older, they should or could do the same. I don’t know. And yes, as some people suggest, I have my own life and interests. I don’t pine away for my child. That doesn’t mean I don’t worry about the child, miss things about them, etc. I don’t think that makes me needy or clingy. The child I knew was a bright, funny kid with an infectious laugh. I would like to hope some of that remains beneath the sullen, angsty exterior I last saw, and would just like to have the opportunity to get to know the person my child is now. Maybe I wouldn’t like that person. Maybe my child wouldn’t like me. Okay, but at least it would be based in reality. And maybe, just maybe, we would like each other. I doubt I will ever know. As it is now, if I see my oldest, they refuse to even acknowledge they know me. They will look right through me and not even speak if I speak to them. I have no idea why this is. Their father treats me the same way, and has since the divorce. I can only hypothesize that since I usually see them together at events for the younger children, that might be why. I don’t know. As I said, I probably never will.

  • Oh do I ever understand! I find “Dee, July 2013″‘s response to be very interesting as in my case, it was my husband who sought an affair and no leave his children behind. He left the state and was not seen or heard from in 2 years. Before he left he told me that he would not be one of those parents that begged for visitation, his girlfriend did not want the responsibility of our children.

    Like the first post, I was the one meeting the bills and doing EVERYTHING. My ex was not even paying child support. I was left with debts from my husband’s business. Even if I could qualify for assistance it would not have been enough.

    My daughters, especially the older one, yearned for their dad to be in their lives. Once they graduated high school they each eventually moved to the same town as their father. This was a man, who when he did make contact, he tried to fill the girls’ heads with lies about me, us and the past. He was determined to justify his actions and burn any bridges he could between me and my daughters.

    This was a man who messed around not only on me but continued to do so in his second marriage. His second wife left him because he wanted to have a 3-some with her best friend. This was all known to the kids…..talk about someone who was not meeting the emotional needs of his children because he was so preoccupied with getting anyone into bed.

    Yet, who does my oldest daughter want a relationship? Yep, the man who abandoned her. She knows what he has done but yet she finds it all forgivable and I am in the wrong.

    My counselor says children many times will take sides in a divorce and just like the parent who favors a child and can see no wrong a child will do the same with the parent.

  • My 27 year old decided not to talk to me anymore and it all started when I made her two adult brothers move out of my house. I know I did the right thing, but it was this weird alliance she formed with them to sort of build her army. It pretty much fizzled; the older of the two I made leave came around within a month, thanking me for putting him out. He admitted it was the best thing I ever did. Now, with my daughter, she is cheating on her husband who is a great guy..beause…who knows. She even admitted to me that she just wants a variety but wants to have the stability and financial support of a marriage. It makes me want to cry. I don’t approve of her lifestyle and she knows it. Best way I think she felt she could discredit me was to build this huge wall and talk smack about me.

    Frankly, I am GLAD she isn’t talking to me anymore. I don’t want to know about how many men she has slept with now, or how many men she is texting, wll the while acting like she is the perfect wife and mom. She is not coming to me all the time to babysit or loan her money because she spent too much shopping or on her last vacation. She claims I am a drunk. I think I get it…(sarcasm) …anyone under 40 that likes to go out and dance and have a few drinks is partying and anyone over 40 that likes the same is an alcoholic and a drunk. {smile}…

    Hopefully, she will come around. But if she doesn’t, what have I lost?

    I currently have peace in my life. I can plan things without having to worry about what kind of fight she is going to pick with her hubby when we are all out so she can stomp off and go drink and dance without him.

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