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Unspeakable: When Our Adult Children Want Nothing to Do With Us

john driggsYou know, e v e r y holiday and birthday is like a dagger in my back. Sometimes I just lie on my bed and cry my eyes out. I adopted Maria when she was two-years-old as I couldn’t have children of my own and had no husband. Her mom died of a drug overdose. She was the cutest little girl and loved following me around. I became her everything. Every time I left the room without her she would scream for attention. It took a long time for her to be a relaxed, regular child. She was quite popular with the other kids at school who thought she was charming and smart.

Unfortunately, when she got to be a teenager she would stay out over night with friends and not come home. Finally she would come home after I nearly lost my mind and then she acted as if everything was OK. She told me I was the best mom in the world. I eventually took her to counseling and was told Maria has an attachment disorder. I didn’t really understand what that meant. But I eventually learned. When Maria turned 18, she ran off with a boyfriend and has never been heard from again. It’s like I never mattered to her. That was 20 years ago. My only comfort today comes from knowing through indirect contacts, that she is still alive and that my suffering over her loss at least indicates how much I loved her and still do. This is not something I talk about with friends although many of them already know my story and feel sorry for me. Every holiday I privately ask, “Maria why won’t you come home?” I never hear from her.

Hardly anything is more heartbreaking than having one or more of our adult children simply disappear from our lives for no apparent reason. Yes, it seems inconceivable but it happens a lot more often than we think. The cruel grief of such a loss is often more than any of us parents can bear. Even the idea of such losses sounds absurd and can send most of us packing. The sadness and possible shame we bear is not something we discuss idly with fellow parents, many of whom are enjoying seemingly rich connections to their adult kids and grandkids.

It can send shivers down our spine to know that our kids are alive but not seeing us. The trauma from losing our kids in this way can be worse that losing our children to death. Such pain affects all of our relationships. Generally we may choose to not even listen to happy talk about family life, even though we very much approve of others enjoying their children and grandkids. Obviously it’s very easy to blame ourselves and ask, “What did I do wrong?” There’s no hiding from the guilt and shame. It haunts us and cannot be put into words.

Parental abandonment is especially hard around holidays, birthdays and family ritual times. It is made worse when everything on the TV and media excessively praises the joys of extended family. Such ordeals may visit us year after year much like trauma memories disturb their victims. Due to our own shame and vulnerability most of us abandoned parents find such losses unspeakable.

There are other reasons why we lose words over such losses. They’re simply incomprehensible. After all, how do you tell a friend, “Oh yeah, my daughter never calls me or visits during the holidays or my birthday” or “You know I haven’t seen my son in years. We used to have such a good relationship when he was a boy.” The most obvious response from a friend is, “Why would your children not contact you? Have you done something to turn them away?” The unfortunate truth is that you cannot explain, even to yourself, why your kids have distanced from you. There is no obvious reason for it. In sympathy, caring friends may react to us with silence or well-meaning reassurances. These UnspeakableWalkingPath500x465efforts only make things worse. Most of us simply lack our own explanations for why our kids just drift off from us in their lives. Most of us hate to burden our friends with suffering we ourselves can hardly bear and are very reluctant to let the cat out of the bag regarding our wayward children. Hence, we live in the isolation of unspeakable silence.

Let’s be clear. It’s indeed not normal for kids to disown their parents. As long as they are not currently being abused, adult children do in fact have a natural drive and responsibility to acknowledge parents no matter how imperfect their childhood may have been. It’s reasonable for parents to expect calls from kids on holidays, birthdays and uneventful days throughout the year. But in fact many parents do not get such calls. It’s not something parents want to talk about and it’s not something that parents are even able to talk about, even to themselves. Hence such losses are unspeakable.

If this article applies to you, know that you are not alone. Almost all parents have at least one adult child they can’t talk about because it is so painful to do so. Some parents have it even worse than you do. It’s normal for you to have recurring and intrusive anguish over being ditched by your kids. Often nothing easily can be done about it. Some of us are just appointed in life to bear burdens for no particularly good reason. Unjust suffering is a fact of life, according to Buddhists. There are benefits to suffering we do not choose. One of which is learning how to self-forgive. It is possible to move beyond and grow beyond unspeakable losses.

Why do children disown their parents?

There are numerous reasons why adult children abandon their parents, for what appears to be no reason. Most of these reasons don’t amount to a hill of beans when you as a parent are in the throes of traumatic lost memory. However later, when you are calmer, you may want to understand why such losses occurred. In the example above the daughter was diagnosed as having reactive attachment disorder — when a child cannot securely bond with an adult, has a fear of being abandoned and does not easily hold on to emotional experiences with a primary caregiver.

Most of us cannot get our parents out of our head. These children can do that quite easily, and they find it terrifying to stay connect with parents that they have abandoned for years. Such adult kids when asked might say, “Oh I have the greatest mom in the world. I just haven’t seen her in a while.” It’s hard to grasp such thinking but it is quite common for unattached people whose whole life is about surviving, and not bonding.

Sometimes, children who were once close to us have been manipulated by the other (usually absent) parent in a painful parental alienation syndrome. If the other more absent parent is vindictive and sees the children as objects to be used, then he or she can brainwash the children into not liking you through lies or bribing children to distance from you. Often such behaviors occur with the children’s partial cooperation as they long to please the absent parent and also enjoy the spoils of being catered to. Finally, if children have grown up in a hidden traumatic childhood experience, in adulthood they may not want to touch their families with a 10 foot pole later in life, while they simultaneously truly love their most caring parent. Few of us grasp the strong impulses of traumatized people to flee and we instead see our children as rejecting us. Such children are not running away from us, they are running away from being mentally out of control and helpless. The love for us caring parents is always somewhere in our children’s bodies even when they disown us; it’s just too painful for our kids to access it.

I have two adult boys who live in the Twin Cities and they want nothing to do with me. They are good looking kids and used to be my little sweethearts. I send them cards, invite them over for dinner and remember every birthday they have. I get nothing back from them. Times were hard when they were young but we stuck together as a little family, sometimes without a home. My ex and I used to drink and he would beat me up. Finally one day I told him I had enough. I took the kids and we lived on our own. I had three part-time jobs and we made it as a family. My ex told me when I left, “Someday I’ll get them back.” Well, over the years he did. He sobered up and started being like the Disney Land dad to our boys. And he also started telling the boys what a whore I was and how I had kicked him out of the house. When the boys got to be teenagers they decided they would move in with their dad and his floozy girlfriend. Over time the boys started not seeing me. They might think that it was me that ruined the marriage. They don’t know what it was like being beaten every day. Sometimes I hate myself for not staying. Mostly I just cry and miss my boys.

Forgiving ourselves

Personally I think there is a special place in heaven for those of us disowned parents, near where Mother Teresa lies. Often we have been the best thing that ever happened to our children. The problem is that we ourselves don’t think so. Many of us are haunted by unending feelings of failure for how our children turned out. Sometimes we have done some ill-advised things around our children in their growing up years, only compounding our shame. We are only human. At least we were the ones around our children.

It is critical to understand that no matter how problematic our childrens’ childhoods were there is absolutely no justification for their rejecting us today from their lives. If they do so, they are doing so out of their own spite and cluelessness, not because they were harmed in childhood. All of us are obliged today to forgive our parents. If you have any doubts just ask yourself, “Would you disown your own parents today for the mistakes they made years ago?” Most of us know the answer to that question. Sadly, adult children who disown their parents are only abusing themselves and making their own lives worse.

Beyond these observations it’s best to allow yourself to grieve the unspeakable loss of your children while doing the best you can to minimize that loss. Let yourself be as sad as you need to be, for as long and repetitively as you need to be and don’t expect that such losses will go away easily. Often, personal shame and guilt will be part of the feelings of loss. It is best to accept those feelings too, not as facts about your behaviors, but as normal responses for people who grieve unspeakable losses. If the shame gets too bad, focus on something positive in the present, like how beautiful the flowers are on your table at home, the flowers you bought for yourself to comfort your loss. Consider being more open with close friends about the complex grief of being a rejected mother or father and ask them to check in on you every anniversary and holiday. Don’t dwell on your pain more than you need to. Move on with your new life in positive directions, perhaps by involving children who would like to be around you. There are plenty of kids out there who would love to have you as a substitute parent. Keep in mind that your adult kids are not running away from you. They are truly running away from the positive way you live inside them. You will live forever in your kids.


John H. Driggs, L.I.C.S.W., is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in St. Paul and co-author of Intimacy Between Men (Penguin Books, 1990). Call 651-699-4573

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99 Responses to Unspeakable: When Our Adult Children Want Nothing to Do With Us

  1. Brian C. says:

    My boys are 17 and 22. Both are proving to be very selfish. They didn’t get that from me. They had no problem taking money from me when they needed it. Had not problem asking me to intervene with their mother when they didn’t get what they wanted. Didn’t help that their mom would routinely do their homework for them and let them get away with crap that they shouldn’t have. She bought them lock, stock and barrel. Some people tell me to put up a wall to keep out the hurt. Some people tell me to forget them and move on. Some people tell me to pray and with time my kids will return. I find myself doing little pieces of all of the above. If they would just text me back when I say hi, I’d be ok. They can’t even do that! I swear child support payments should come with stipulations and requirements that bind ALL sides to certain responsibilities.

  2. Prefer to be anonymous, angry mother may read says:

    Well if you asked my parents they would say they don’t do anything wrong. However, they are constantly hostile and angry, berate me and my children if we hold a viewpoint other than theirs, send us pointed messages to drive home their philosophies, oh yeah, and when I tiptoe and politely ask that they not, bam angry texts. I’ve been texted F you idiot in the past. Today, when I very politely asked my mom to have my father stop sending political things to my kids because they find it off putting, she said so be it. I was trying to help them realize why they don’t have much of a relationship with any of us. I’m over it, my father is a narcissistic tyrant, and my mother a manipulative, angry, borderline codependent. You can’t have a relationship with people afflicted with those issues.

    • Juliane says:

      You hateful adult children have no respect for your parents. How dare you put the people down who have raised you. Unless you have documentation of actual abuse there is no justification for your behavior. READ THE BIBLE.

      • Jenny L says:

        Correct. I have no respect for someone who continuously abused me throughout my childhood and would continue to abuse me and my children if I had her in my life. The Bible says to turn the other cheek, it doesn’t say to make yourself a punching bag. There are only so many cheeks to turn.

        • J says:

          The amount of parental narcissism on this thread is extreme. This entire article was dripping with narcissism and grandiosity with no true appreciation for the children’s perspective. Jenny L, I’m sorry you suffered as a child and I wish you health and healing.

          • Kathy K says:

            I respectfully diagree.

          • AYT says:

            I found this article terribly disturbing. There is an assumption that children are obligated to not only put up with abusive parents, but also expose your children to it. Whether that be by denying children love bec they don’t live by ur values or rules or if they feel constantly in pain in your presence.

            There is zero perspective on the kids and tons of empathy for the parents. Which is wholly unfair. If you have children, u have them bec u want to love someone unconditionally not bec u want someone to owe u something.

            I would wager that most parents get the kind of love they gave their children. Children learn how to love from their parents, so there should be no surprises about how that love is manifested.

            Blaming the children is a convenient way to avoid looking in the mirror at the places where we need work, where we need to step outside of our selves and do some personal work.

            Your children become who you are, not who you say you are or who you intend to be. Children show you who you are and if you don’t like that, its time to examine that. It’s very difficult for a child to become someone you are not.

            And good intentions or selfish desires to be loved in a way we have not mirrored do not create the ties the bind.

  3. AJ says:

    I divorced my husband in 2010 and remarried later that year.
    My 2 adult children had already left home at that time so it was just me and the future ex at home.
    I realise that it came as a shock to my children that I had started divorce proceedings but I wanted them not to have to take sides in a messy divorce. Neither of them were in weekly contact with us. Daughter had moved to live with boyfriend who was and is a control freak and I believe he made sure that she was ‘so involved’ with his life and family she didnt have time for her parents. Son had started up a business and was totally involved in that. But I do realise both of the children could have said hey I need to check mum/dad are ok. (They do have minds of their own) but they chose not to.I apologised if I had hurt or upset them regarding the divorce. Its now over 15years since I saw my son and over 12 since I saw my daughter. I have tried to meet up with them but they both refused. I have sent cards at Christmas and Birthdays until this last year. Son never contacts me but daughter sends a text at my Birthday, Christmas and Mothers Day. All it says is the very bare minimum, no how are you mum. I send a thank you back and thats it again for another year. I have asked what I have done wrong without a reply.I have apologised for any hurt I caused regarding the divorce. Many hours are and have been spent wondering why things have turned out this way and yes it has made me ill at times. I really blame myself and yet I dont know why or what I have done wrong. Would it be wrong of me to just ignore my daughters basic texts? in some ways its like opening up wounds as they are healing and I am becoming more accepting of my life.

    • Ellie W says:

      I read your message, and wondered if I had written it while in a fugue state!!! It mirrors my situation so very much. At least I know the reason for my children’s abandonment of me, my ex truly played the victim, to Oscar award level. Never 2 sides to a story right? However, life goes on, I met and married someone else, and have built a new life with him. But… the hurt never truly goes, I sympathise with all you human parents out there, who are not perfect.

  4. Jane M says:

    My son is hospitalized and it is breaking my heart that he wants nothing to do with me. This is mainly because of things an ex has said to him. It’s like he has forgotten all the wonderful times we had together while he was growing up. I have been reaching out but he does not respond. If he is in town and visits my daughter I already go see him to try to make connection again. His health is very bad right now but I am not welcomed. As a parent this is so hard, but I can’t make him want me.

    • Nada says:

      Forget the past and build a bright new future for yourself. Let your son in, if he approaches. If he doesn’t, it may be because he needs to build his own bright future. If you send good thoughts and well wishes, don’t expect anything in return. Don’t force it and don’t expect anything in return. Forgiveness from him is likely to take a long time. He will see the potential for wonderful times in the future, if you have wonderful times without him for the time being.

    • Linda says:

      Thank you for writing this article. In the depth of the anger, shame, guilt and loss at having both my beloved boys leave has been too much. I had no idea so many others have also experienced it. I am seeking perspective to move forward and stop waking up at 2am each morning wondering if I’ve missed something.

  5. Cindy says:

    I want to mention one more thing to that individual that said if your kids disown you it has to be because we were terrible parents. This phenomenon is new. No other generation has done this to their parents. Do you think that there wasn’t problems in our families? There was. I used to get really mad at my mom and dad. There were a couple times we took a short time out, but never disowned them. My philosophy , in terms of raising my child, was that her grandparents loved her, and no matter what issues we working through the more people loving her the better it was for her. I would never dream of depriving her of that valuable foundation and gift of love. Both sets of grandparents were always welcome in my home and in her life. I didn’t care if we didn’t get along, that was her relationship and an entirely different situation. That is unselfish real love. Yes,?she was my child, but first and foremost she belonged to God and my job was to provide love, stability, discipline (not beating or berating) – but discipline/guidance , and to be a good example as an adult! I did that. Now tell me again why I deserve this.

    • Anonymous says:

      In previous generations, people were more dependent on their families for immediate survival. Now, many people are able to forge their own way in the world. With this comes the realization that you can separate yourself from a toxic family dynamic and still get by in the world. Ideally, this should be having an improvement effect on family members’ behavior, as adult children are less likely to stick around and tolerate being mistreated or expected to fill emotional voids their parents never addressed for themselves.

    • Linda C says:

      I agree Cindy. It seems to be a particularly difficult generation. There are some young people who seem completely unable to fathom the consequences of their values and actions on themselves or others. I’ve been told it’s the “me” generation where compassion has been translated into allow themselves to do and think as they please without consideration of others or giving back to the world.

  6. Brad says:

    My two young adult girls (18 & 22) wont talk to me. Their mother in divorce after 22 years has been incredibly destructive sharing various communication between her and I in a contested divorce with my daughters…information that was either completely out of context or clearly packed with emotions at the time. As a result my Daughters wont talk to me or even acknowledge me in any way. I grieve every day with all the expected emotions of sadness and anger. It makes it nearly impossible to move on in my life with this big gaping hole in my heart. There seem to be so few resources out there to help us as abandoned parents. I am just so sad.

    • L. P. says:

      Please remember that though your children are 18,22. They’re not really adults yet. Keep trying. Don’t bash the ex and in time they’ll form their own decisions. Never give up hope. No matter how long.

    • ian j says:

      I have two kids, both now in their early 20’s. For the last 18 years I have suffered the classic parent alienation. Despite some hugely tough times and people telling me not to bother, I can put my hand on heart, I say I have done all I can to be an active, positive part of the kids life.
      But now longstory short, looks like I have lost the battle. Trying to combat ongoing manipulation from an ex is virtually impossible. Over the years she has tried to destroy me and the very sad thing, all in the name of spite. By the way she cheated on me which caused our divorce. Honestly though time would make things better but it hasn’t. Not seen my daughter now for 5 years and my son has decided to simply ‘call it a day’, as I had the gall to not be able to give him some money he wanted to go out with. Only time I heard from him over last year was exactly, just to ask for money, always promising to pay back, which never happened. I could go on and on but its not going to make any difference.
      So how do I feel? Cheated. Not in a sense of feeling sorry for myself but if feels I have had to constantly battle three ex’s within the children. I struggle to find how cold and clinical they can be. How they can so easily cut people out of their lives, unless they have something materialist to gain. Neither one has any contact with either set of grand parents for six years, which I constantly told them was wrong, no matter what rubbish their toxic mother had filled their heads with. The toxic mother as no contact with her own mother or siblings. On reflection should of seen it all coming. Honestly have little idea how to go forward with any relationship with kids as there is obviously zero respect.

  7. Cathy says:

    My husband and I had 3 children. The first 2 were typically developed. 4 years apart each. Our 3rd child is profoundly disabled. From the time he was born there were issues, health and behavioral, and developmental…I went 11 1/2 years with out regularly getting sleep due to his many issues. To get help with his care (line of sight, infant level for a lifetime) we were told to devorce or make him homeless. We ended up in court. Finally getting help, but the damage was done. I was exhausted beyond telling, our other 2 not sure how to deal with it all. My husband tried to keep calm and carry on but we are all very effected. So they just abandoned us. They care for no one in the family or our extended family. We still see, visit, go to church, have our disabled child over to visit. Even though not talking still managed to shows us more love and respect then our other 2. Yes, it’s hard but they have it easy compared to there profoundly disabled sibling. I find comfort in knowing that we brought them up in the way they should go. They are doing well in many respects. I have been allowed to mail our grandkids gifts by our oldest. But they will never know what sorrow they have given to me, or care it seems. I was a stay at home mom, cooking gluten free… due to Celiac Sprue, then our special needs child was gf, dairy free, egg free, soy free….in some respects we have lost all our children and then our grandkids too.

    I found the above article very helpful. Maybe my kids didn’t understand how hard it is to get help. Maybe they felt they could be abandoned, so they abandoned us first. We didn’t abandone their sibling but had to have help and had to take what was offered. (We ultimately had to trade custody for care). Then also our daughter in law manipulated and brain washed our kids. Then finally all the hidden trauma of the on going daily battle to survive the care and safety issues their siblings violent behavioral issues caused became to much. They felt they were out of control, we all did. It just took too long to get any real help.

    • Jeff says:

      A couple possibilities:

      * The disorder/unhealthiness was so all-consuming in their childhood that they took on a lot guilt and stress from it. At some point, they just wanted nothing more to do with it. They realized they’re actually healthy and can live completely healthy, normal lives if they break free. They decided they weren’t going to let disorder get in the way of healthiness.

      * They feel like they were neglected by you and their father, as you were putting so much focus on your disabled son.

  8. Nic says:

    Debbie, I just had this happen to me and I feel your pain. It literally came out of no where. My heart is broken but my story is almost identical.

  9. Nigel says:

    I’ll go against the grain here, I’m one of those awful people who has abandoned his mother and his sister
    My dad died via suicide when I was 13, I’m 54 now. My mum had a tough time, and I was given severe emotional blackmail by my mother for at least 8 years afterwards. I knew there was something wrong in the family dynamic, and I was also convinced it wasn’t my fault. I know that sounds arrogant but bear with me.
    Every time my mum and I were 1-on-1, it was a constant barrage of minor criticisms from her, nothing is ever really good enough. Having her in my house is/was a genuine ordeal. She criticises everything almost all the time. If I pull up her up on it, she then states she is “very proud” with how things have turned out. Within 15 minutes, she’s back on the case. Its like this ALL. DAY. LONG. If there is one other person in the room, then she is nicest, sweetest social person one could wish to meet. Within a few minutes of the other person leaving the room, she’s straight back on it. She has 3 grandsons, all over 24. Not one of them wants to be left in the room alone with her. 3 grandsons, not a problem, 2 grandsons, not a problem, 1 grandson, and he’s out of there as fast as possible. My sister tried long and hard to figure out why this is, and all 3 have a total code of silence.
    My mum is obsessed with money and status. She lies and lies and lies to defend her point of view. Then the next day, she will argue the opposite point because she can’t remember yesterday’s lies. Her sister is even worse in this respect.
    She hates my brother in law with a vengeance, and after a 2016 Christmas day morning from hell, criticising everything that’s wrong with my sister, her house and her husband, she then spent the rest of the day at the house stuffing her face with Christmas dinner that my brother in law made. She saw nothing wrong in this. I did, I haven’t spoke to her since.
    It’s taken 3 years of me seeing a psychologist and going back through the history of why’s and wherefores to realise I am dealing with a hard-core narcissist.
    My sister has been a drama rich environment for the last 40 years, with boyfriends, 2 ex-husbands, a full-on business, one son has been on drugs- thankfully no more. I have had phone call after phone call after phone call with my sister crying at the other end of the line not having a clue as to where to go next and pleading for advice. I offer advice, she never does any of it, and then asks for more advice the next weekend. After 3 decades of this, one has to wonder if this situation will ever improve. Most phone calls are at least 50 minutes of hard-core emotional download, then it’s a quick “and how are you?” … “ermm I’m Ok”, “oh that’s good to hear – got to go – bye”. So, my life doesn’t really matter then because I’m single, never married, have a decent job and look after myself? I know where I stand now, and it isn’t in their lives. I’m just there as an emotional whipping boy – Great. Contact has now finished.
    Please don’t assume this was a “flash in the pan” decision – it took me 5 years to finally act, considering what the fallout would be, and what would happen then and if I’d known it would have been this easy, I would have disappeared completely 30+ years ago.
    The incredible feeling of peace cannot be put into words.

    • JC says:

      What you are doing is wrong. The Bible says honor your parents. I’m sick of hearing about narcissism and toxic. Give your mother a call and ask how she is doing instead of bickering and arguing and trying to ruin the life of someone who cares deeply about you.

  10. P. Smith says:

    My sister abandoned our family 15 years ago. We had a wonderful childhood with two devoted parents, who gave us lessons of every sort and college educations. We had family vacations, and my two sisters and I even took a few trips together. We were all pretty close. Then when my sister was 50 we all got a form letter from her, saying she was working through some life issues, and that she did not need input from her family. We left her alone and she never came back.
    When my mother was dying, mom asked me if “my sister was coming to see her”. It broke my heart. Friends of the family asked me where my sister was after my Mom’s memorial service. It was embarrassing to have to tell them that we had not heard from her in years.
    People ask about her and then ask me why she did this. I have no answer. It’s depressing and hurtful and I am upset that she did this to our Mom.

    Since our mother died four years ago, another sister wants nothing to do with me or our two brothers. We do get Christmas cards, however, she does not want us to visit or talk with any of us on the phone. This is another heartbreak for me. So now I have lost both parents and two sisters who want nothing to do with me.

    I think it is possible that this behavior runs in families. Just never thought that it would happen in mine.

    • L P says:

      I think I agree it could become a trait. I have a dysfunctional family and came from one as well. 6 kids who are scattered across the states. Our parents were the glue out of respect. Now that they’re gone so is the sibling relations.

  11. So sad says:

    This just happened to me recently. I just don’t understand. I personally don’t know a perfect parent. I also don’t know a perfect child. We are all doing the best that we can. My goal was to raise good, self-sufficient and respectful adults. All adults make mistakes whether you are a parent or a child but it is a form of emotional abuse to love your child for decades only to have them grab their things and go without looking back or communicating any problems that may have been able to be corrected. I don’t know if I should reach out or stay silent and wait. My fear is minutes go by that turn in to days and then weeks and months and years. I am so sorry for any parent going through this because I am heartbroken. No adult son or daughter should have to establish their independence and maturity by severing their parents with no communication ~ that, in my opinion, is a sign of immaturity, poor communication skills, disrespect and cruel. I just don’t know what to do, this just started for me and I am so confused and my heart is broken. I wanted my adult child to move out and establish an independent life. So often it’s not what someone does, it’s that way they do it. It upset me and I was clearly hurt and upset but it is okay to be hurt and upset. It doesn’t justify ‘no contact’. Again, I am so sorry for anyone going through this.

    • Bonnie says:

      I’m going through this my self after a marriage of 36 years. I’m blamed for it all. He is 36 years old getting married and loved to tell me he doesn’t want his new family to know me. He is going to have his first baby. Pain is unbearable. It all started when my x hubby beat me up because I forgot to turn the bathroom light out. My son can’t believe he did it. I CANT either. My hubby was a wonderful man until he had two strokes. He changed! Thanks for helping me vent.

    • Lisa says:

      I’m going through the same thing.

  12. Lucy says:

    What is finally happening is that adult children are realising that they were not treated well as a child and a seperate human being and parents cannot get away with behaviours that are no longer acceptable. It is often an abuse of power of the parent over the child and at some point the child grows up becomes an adult and says hang on a minute. And the parent has the audacity to complain? Loving well nutured, well loved children don’t turn around and tell their parents to p*** off. Emotionally neglectful,emotionally unskilled parents, abusive parents are told to p*** off and rightly so.
    If you never bothered to create a secure attachment with your CHILD what the hell do you expect?

    • Angela says:

      Parents do the best they can. That may not be enough for some children born with certain congenital temperments ( look it up: congenital and temperment, Psych 101). Children’s temperments, (activity, energy, sensitivity, emotionality, etc.) instruct their parents how to raise them. It’s natural but wrong for children to blame parents for their unhappiness or lack of success in life, but parents have lived with that for millennia. Better to look at cohorts (peers) and genetics. This story is so old it’s amazing it never seems to sink in, with parents or children, despite the significant body of knowledge to support it…

      • Lucy says:

        Seriously, blaming peers and genetics. Come off it. Between bring born and the age of 3 years old is where the framework for the future of the kid is laid down. This is primarily done by the mother. If you don’t have a properly attuned mother who is too anxious/nervous etc (basically someone who can’t look beyond themselves) the child will interpret itself as being the problem.
        Now that knowledge is well researched. Check out Dan Sigel and Mary Ainsworth.

        • Diane says:

          Yeah, um, Lucy, for my Criminology degree, it required pretty extensive psychology classes. As a battered survivor who has raised my kids side I “curbed” their violent waste of a “father,” I also took training to council battered women. Might I introduce to you the nationwide Duluth Model and a book called “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” authored by Lundy Bancroft who was also instrumental in creating the Duluth Model utilized by the NCADV created after the PCADV. Further, depending on whomever’s development theories you prefer, personality traits are firm any time between 3 and 7.

    • Dad45 says:

      We honestly expect nothing from our children. Parenting is about love, with nothing expected in return. We loved and took care of our aging parents but now expect to be abandoned by ours, because this generation has better things to do. What did my family ever do for me they say. In truth, most of us are finally experiencing some peace in our lives once you egoistic, empathy-less little sh*ts, who we put up with for too many years, who haven’t a clue as to the nature of true love, are FINALLY gone from our lives. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass

      • Pam N says:

        I agree Dad 45.
        I was a young Mom at 17 ,not that skilled or educated and married an abusive 5 yrs older guy.I basically raised my 2 kids alone and went back to school and moved a fair amount.I had so much guilt for the life I put them through yet could not stand living with their father.Their father never helped in their upbringing Both of my adult kids tell me I guilt them when I feel like I’m being pushed out of the tribe.I had a very fragile relationship with my son when he was a youth.He was an angry soul and I had to ask him to leave at a young age.Now when I speak up about my feelings he basically tells me to shut up that I’m wrong and call him when I’ve thought about my problem with him and his sister.So i think you are very right and will let them both go,my life is getting shorter every day i need to focus on me now.They have made their choice nothing I can do or say to change it.Their loss, I loved them too much and allowed them to get away with behaviours to justify them being deprived of a family lifestyle.They both are like their Dad so I will now move on admfter today.Its all come clearer..Thanks Dad 45

    • White says:

      FINALLY someone gets it.

    • Monica says:

      You are so misinformed and have some anger issues. Most of us did our best in a very hostile, unsupportive society. Your words are poison.

    • Alice D says:

      Yes!! Adult children are not always at fault. It does not mean something is emotionally wrong with the adult child because they choose to protect their peace.

    • Cindy says:

      Whatever happened to you as a child is horrible if that is behind your judgmental response. Not every adult child that abuses their parents and abandons them was abused as a child. I had my only child, my daughter, at age 22. Her father walked out on us before she was a year old and never supported her and years would go by before he even checked to see if she was okay. I adored her and although we were poor, I provided everything she needed and sacrificed everything I had for her up until she was nearly 40 yrs. old. She never lacked for love and attention. I never remarried so my focus was on making her life as happy and secure as humanly possible. She married and had two boys. I bonded with my beautiful grandsons ,who loved me dearly, and half the time would forget and call me mom by mistake. I never had a great deal of money, but everything I had including my home was sacrificed for her. She , her husband and my grandsons lived with me until recently. Finally, I could no longer tolerate the abuse from her and her husband. It cost me everything when I stood up for myself. They left and stole many of my belongings. Then they cut me off from my two grandsons. My great sin was telling them I wouldn’t put up with any more abuse. At one point my son in law actually threw me down on the cement in the parking lot of Olive Garden after I just treated the entire family to dinner to celebrate their marriage con validation. He was getting in my daughters face, and I got in between them to stop it. Keep in mind ,I’m a 58 yr old 110 lb woman with disabilities ( spinal injuries and a spinal surgery, fibromyalgia and lupus) He is a 230 lb law enforcement officer. She was mad at him at the time, but afterwards everything was forgiven and to be forgotten. I never posed any kind of threat to him. They are both verbally abusive and have gotten thousands of dollars from me to help support their family. If I had been so terrible why would they have asked me to get this big house so we could all live together? They left before I could sell it ,and the mortgage is so high I’ve lost everything. My other home was affordable. I only got this to help them out because they were having financial problems and my home wasn’t big enough or in the right school district. I was expected to never tell anyone it was my house (to protect their pride)and they refused to help me with chores. If I was so bad why not get the hell away from me earlier? Could it be they were using me? That is exactly what they’ve been doing for years. The leverage they use is those beautiful boys, who are my heart and soul. They punished me by using their own children , who love me and are bonded with me, to hurt me. It’s an unimaginable pain I wouldn’t wish on any human being. That wasn’t enough. While I’m forbidden to have contact she rolls out the red carpet for who she now calls dad and allows him to visit. This man molested her step sister and whenever he has had any contact with her he brings her to tears with his blatant crude insults. He also brought my grandson to tears. He didn’t even know the youngest ones name until he was almost 6 years old. He’s never done a thing for them! NOTHING! How do you blame someone like me for their cruel behavior? I’ve been on the brink of suicide and my heart is in thousands of pieces. I wake up in the middle of the night to the sounds of sobbing and realize those sounds are coming from me. When you love that deeply, unselfishly, and completely unconditionally you don’t deserve someone telling you that YOU must have been a horrible parent. That’s a terrible thing to say about people you don’t know. I don’t know if you’re a parent, but I do know this much, you can do all the right things, bearing in mind that nobody is perfect – parents are no exception, but if you were a kind, decent and loving parent this can does happen, in spite of everything. As a parent , you aren’t responsible for all the DNA in that adult child nor are you the only source of all the information that influences the formation of what they chose as a value system. There comes a point you can no longer blame your mom or dad for your actions. In my generation , you never could. Our parents would not let you get away with that for a second. It’s on you when you’re an adult.

      • L.P. says:

        Bravo. From one enabler to another, glad you finally realize the scam. Terrible about the grandchildren, though. When they’ve matured, they may end up seeking you out. Have no regrets, but don’t fall prey again.

    • Jc says:

      Read the Bible. It say honor your father and mother. I’m sick of hearing adult children excuses of why they want to pick apart us parents. I did everything right. My daughter ran away and was rebellious, and I still tried to live her. Then she had my mother (74 yrs old) escorted off a campus for no reason. She doesn’t come to holidays and found a boyfriend and is telling lies about abuse that never happened. Quit arguing and sticking up for hateful cruel adult children. Find another cause.

    • Laura J says:

      You are just not registering are you? You are imagining that you know it all. Well you don’t. I loved my daughter deeply. Whatever she wanted I gave her, within reason of course. Her father and I treated her the same as our son, in fact more so, when she was in trouble we supported her and her and her broken romances, piling debts and fall outs with people. She started to turn against us from the age of twelve. My son on the other hand is loving and supportive and sees us regularly. My daughter has some sort of mental problem that has estranged her from us. She only phones me when she is in trouble or wants money. I think many adult children have this attitude as well. Loving parents must never blames themselves. Blame Satan instead, he seems to have stolen the hearts of our wayward adult children.

    • Hugh s says:

      You got it all figured out ! So profound! Excuse me if I may suggest you strike me as “hard ass” and judgmental individual. Could you be one of those opinionated know it alls that people avoid?

  13. Family Matters says:

    Sounds like a very much more complicated story here. You seem angry and defensive, in lashing out mode. You not seeing your mother protects your child exactly how? Suspect you might be trying to punish her by withholding your love -and presence in her life-, which may also be a pattern.

  14. Misty says:

    There has always a social stigma or perception to love your parents as they will one day not be around. For the most part, this is true. However, there is also a misconception that one should allow abuse simply because it’s coming from a parent. All mine had to do was discontinue saying horrible things about me to my child. She could not respect my boundary. The love and desire to protect my child was higher on my spectrum than to see my mother.
    Regardless, there are three sides to every story. His, hers and the truth. Stories are irrelevant, but patterns aren’t. Look at the common denominator. If most of your kids have “abandoned” you, it’s likely you that is the issue. Work on you then apologize. That’s all my mom has ever had to do. But she refuses. I can’t and don’t want to control her, but I can control the abusive people I allow in my life.

  15. Alease M. Davis says:

    This is now my experience with three of my five adult. My other two, Norman died, cancer st 19, he was a good one, he would not approve of his sibs, Jay my youngest at 30. These 3 are strangers and distance to me. Just this week #3 treated me like an inconvience and stupid. My one daughter I now realize never bonded with me but used me. I have felt like the other mothers. My worldview was children naturally loved thier mom. I loved mind, she had issures but I knew she loved me. My parents divorced, but they were civil. At 9 I just felt they didn’t like living together. It was what they did, so no big deal. Mom never said a bad word about, nor did he about her. I could see him. But my sib dif. Point being I felt no matter what family was always family. But the way they are has shocked me. Because I know me I have to find a way to put this in perspective, so I can start to have a life. I have been devistated for 3 yrs. At 79 I am miserable. My realization is I must and will dispose my old worldview and creat a
    truth for me, color them gone fact as they have me..it will not be simple or easy but the pattern is there. If you want to drive yourself cazy keep hoping. Noyhing will change and will spend what life I have left in stupidity…I am a survor….there fine and I will be to…there is no law that says one can not change, as the one constant in the universe….new world, I love to laugh, enjoy doing nice things for others, perfer not be alone but there is a big beautiful world out there plus getting old takes guts and a hell of a lot of laughter….I am at it…..with my fat cat and a great curiosity. WISH ME LUCK…..AS I WISH YOU THE SAME…color’d them gone……Smile it will fool the hell out u’m…jokeS on them they will be OLD someday, payback will be hell….80 here I come…..THIS ARTICAL and YOUR SHARING SET ME FREE….Thanks….Who the Hell do think they are any way…they get Global Warming, Trillions in debt, comets head this way, and someone just like them in the WH……ooops….lol….

  16. Elizabeth B says:

    My youngest daughter has disowned me several times. This time I had to live in the same apartment complex for 2 years while I watched her come and go with her children I wasn’t allowed to see. The pain is brutal. Yesterday I watched her fill her vehicle up with her belongings and move out of state. I’ve never actually met my grandson. Its been the hardest 24 hours. I have been confused, bewildered, grief stricken. No reason given why she has such dislike for me. She was just done with me. The last time I interacted with her was at her daughters birthday party which I paid for. She left upset and it was over. Thank goodness I have 2 other adult children I am close to. She hurt them deeply also by rejecting them too. What sermed unforgivable with all of us is she tolerated if not embraced with her boyfriends family. I will never understand her and her ability to be so shallow and unloving towards the people who have loved and cherished her the most in life. It is like she has no concept of how special it is to have a family. She has never had anyone leave her or experience a loss. Maybe once she does she will understand how deeply a heart can be wounded. I find her actions vindictive and selfish and its shocking to me how far she has taken this. I do look back on how I raised her. I was always there for her, to a fault and I wonder if I overindulged her and created this lack of sensitivity in her. Am I disposable to her because she just never appreciated me? I loved my mother deeply and there were times my mother could not be there for me. I never wanted my children to experience this…I was raised in an era where there was a keen idea of loss, and how precious life is. I believe part of all this is because this generation was not exposed to people dying in wars, famine, disease.

  17. kathy says:

    i think its bunch of crap that some of you said that we as parents are to blame for this .and that our children should not be obligated to love us as their parents .maybe the word obligated might be to much of a word for it. so let’s use when you have a child and nurtured them , take care of them love them and do everything in your power to make the happy that they would want to be with us out of pure love . then they get older and just all the sudden for no reason just stop talking to you . and you ask beg and plea to them to tell you what have you done for them to behave so irrational against you like they are . it hurts very deeply .everyday, you rack your brain to try to figure out what have you done so bad to them for them to behave the way they do to you . you cant come up with one damn thing . my family and i got along great . my mother and i did as well. oh sure we had disagreements and we worked them out . we never stopped talking to our parents because of a disagreement or such .these kids now and days call us names such as a manipulator when in fact they are the true manipulator . they call us crazy why ? because we try every way in the world to get in touch with them because we love them, we miss them, even before the grandkids come along . and when there is grandkids in the mix it makes it even worse especially of us that have raised them until a certain age and then our kids decide to take them away and never speak to us again . we sit at home lonely on the holidays while they were with other family members that didn’t do a damn thing for them there whole life . they are even with their spouses family and they don’t seem to care that we sit at home alone ad so sad . its an epidemic that needs to be stop . for the sake of stopping a curse that could be carried on from generation to generation starting with our children and to their children and so on . it did not start with me or my mother or my grandmother or with my generation of folks ! but my daughter has simply showed her own daughters how to treat her when they get older . they see their mother ( our daughter) how they treat us so they grow up to think its ok to call their mothers names and to not see them on holidays and tell lies about your mother . so the ones that said anything different then to agree with this article does not know how bad it feels to do be done this way so i beg to differ with you all. this pain is real and it hurts everyday there is no closure for it. all we can do is hope pray that this will end one day soon .we want to spend time with our kids and grand kids ,.the grandkids are suffering from this dont they see that ?
    love and peace to you all
    thank god for your blessings
    anyhow for they will come back to you
    recently my daughter is making contact with me
    but i am very leary and so scared she will do it again just as she has done it to me many times before i keep hoping this time it will be forever she stays in my life . we can be a normal family for the rest of what life i have left on this earth
    blessings !! <3

    • Alexandrine says:

      Amen to you Kathy. Adult children feel they have to control your life and if you don’t abide by their rules they disown you. I was taught to respect your elders and parents. The millennium think they have all the answers but sadly mistaken they haven’t lived long enough to learn from their mistakes and learn how to forgive, have empathy, compassion, compromise, listen, be patient, be understanding. This comes with age, wisdom, and me faith and trust in God!

  18. Crystal D. Kelly says:

    Quite honestly, times have changed. Many children simply perceive their parents as disposable — once raised; until they reach the age of young adults or late teens. Many are ashamed of their parents if they’ve experienced lack, poverty and all the struggles that the parents had to endure while raising them also. Much unwarranted judgement and shame is projected onto their parents because they were forced to raise them throughout the many struggles via providing for their children the best way they knew how. The many hours and double jobs in order to provide a safe home, clothing, food, environment, education, outside activities, ect. is not considered as acts of love. They’re simply perceived as something parents are suppose to do. It is! Yet, many children have no love or thankfulness for any of it; therefore, when they get a chance, they abandon their parents because they are perceived as disposable; particularly when these such children can provide for themselves. Unfortunately, many remain ashamed, judgemental and even hateful towards their parents if their parents had to struggle financially in order to raise and provide for them properly. Many are ashamed to even allow their friends, partners , ect to meet their parents. I once dated a guy who took a very long time for me to meet his mother. He was in his early 40’s. He finally told me he was ashamed of his widowed mother because she had only a third grade level of education; AND that she wasn’t attractive!! She was in her late 70’s for crying out-loud!! She had lost her youth, yet she was not unattractive. He did not once consider that she and his father raised him to the best of their abilities. She was a stay at home mom; while his father was a hard working man, husband, father and provider for them all. He also built their home with his own hands and remained intact in a committed, loving marriage with his mother; while providing for him and his siblings who are all successful adults as a result. Yet, he dared be “ashamed” of her while keeping her from ever meeting his friends, ect.! He died before she did. Realizing how awful he was towards his mother was far too late to make amends and to embrace his mother with love.

  19. Moses Manning, Jr says:

    I divorced his mother when he was about 5 years old. He had some special needs, but he was still very gifted and I never discouraged him from becoming the best boy in the world. In fact, I used to tell him that every day. I thought our relationship was solid until one day he told me that he didn’t really need to see me that much anymore and I could just pick him up to take him to the store and take him back to his mom’s house. I thought nothing of it at the time because he was about 12 and I counted it as a young man trying to grow up. Well, he must have meant it because I haven’t seen him now for about 13 years, except for the accidental glance from a distance. I tried several attempts to stay in touch with no success. I called him to ask if he was okay, he said he was “doing well”. I asked him to call me whenever but he balked at that notion. I think the most painful thing for me was when I saw that he had become an outstanding young man, graduated college Magna Cum Laude, and he changed his middle name to omit my portion of the name. I felt like I had been shot in the heart, like a physical death, and he pulled the trigger. Ironically, my father died just 3 weeks before I was born, and I thought when I have a son that I would never leave him the way my father left me. I would make sure that I gave him so much love and support that he would want to have me around as a mentor to guide and mold. I guess I was wrong about everything. Now I have been reduced to a son without a father, and a father without a son. Some irony, huh?

    • Brandon says:

      I know exactly how you feel Moses. I raised three children and during a divorce they abandoned me. My exwife brainwashed them after a 20 year marriage and made me out to be a bad guy. I did 28 years on the police force, surviving several attempts on my life, put my exwife through chiropractic college, and worked weekends, nights, holidays for my family plus supported my wife when we opened a chiropractic office in California. My children are young adults and don’t care that I was the primary financial provider for all. I never would have believed that my children would simply abandoned me. I was a great father and put my life on the line every working day for them and my reward is abandonment. My exwife that claims to be a Christian woman did a great job in brainwashing them and elevating her boyfriend over me that my adult children respect and honor him. I believe in Almighty God and to dishonor your father is a violation of the 5th Commandment with a promise by God. God wrote the 10 commandments in stone with his finger and my adult children simply ignore God’s commandment. God knows the truth, knows my pain and if my adult children do not repent will have to answer to Almighty God sooner than they think including my exwife. The irony is my father abandoned me as a child.

    • Marie says:

      Ive been reduced to a daughter without a mother or father (both alive), and Ive also been reduced to a mother without a son or a daughter, basically (both alive). I worked so hard to undo the damage my parents did to me. Now Im being punished for my good deeds.

  20. Janet says:

    Our son is heading to the point of ‘abandoning’ us. And no, there is no reason that is at our door. He had a loving, nurturing home and was supported through Uni and beyond. He met his girlfriend and it was clear from the get-go that she had no use for us. He didn’t/doesn’t see it. And of course, if we pointed it out it would because we ‘are jealous of Kathryn’.
    Thing is, he had a period when he got in debt and spent money on gambling. We helped him through (and he helped himself to a lot of our money it must be said) . We love him so we just wanted to help him get established. We were pleased when he seemed to come round…all young people make mistakes, and its part of growing up. He always had our love. I think he now has a ‘new page’ with someone who doesn’t know (or pretends not to know) any of this. And so we get misrepresented because it appears we haven’t given him much in money terms. Which isn’t true at all but it was all to put negative stuff right and we are not wealthy. Anyway, I think he just doesn’t want the baggage we respresent. We never ever mention the things that went on….and like to talk about the good stuff. There was LOTS of good stuff. Last time I visited, he was horrible to me and said he was ashamed of us and our lack of success. (He means money.)
    A lot of the ‘reasons’ adult children give are simply excuses they make for their own callousness and self-regard. It lets them off the hook and is a double whammy for the parent.
    We always look for reasons to justify treating people badly. It is always comforting to make it their fault.
    The bottom line is we are of no further use to him. He has friends, work colleagues, his partner and her family. (Her mother insisted on cutting all ties with her husband’s family and she seems to be bent on doing the same.) He earns a lot of money, so does she, and in this materialistic world that is what counts. The sooner we get out of the way, die, whatever, the simpler life will be. Yet they have no children, nothing but their own selfish selves to think about.
    And ITS MY FAULT. ITS OUR FAULT. TRULY. People of our generation had harder upbringings, we were not indulged. We didn’t get pandered to and we had to be respectful. Sometimes we were afraid of our parents, we had to please them, not the other way around. So what did we do? Tried over-hard to not be like that. I wanted to be perfect and never pressured him, like my mother pressured me. I simply supported him in what he wanted to do. I never demanded anything of him, expected him to do lots of chores, or interfered with career choices etc. In simple terms, we have spoiled them. We made it All About Them. And they believed us.

  21. Scott says:

    This is just completely false: “adult children do in fact have a natural drive and responsibility to acknowledge parents no matter how imperfect their childhood may have been.”

    I am a 55 year old man and I have no “responsibility” to see my mother. My mother disowned me at the age of 18 because she hated my girlfriend (whom I eventually married). I have seen her twice in the past 37 years, once accidentally in a restaurant when she approached me and said, “I hope your wife is dead.”

    Many of us estranged from our parents do so for VALID reasons, like hating our spouses.

    • L.P. says:

      From the children’s point of view any reason is valid. That doesnt negate the feelings of sorrow we have. My eldest finally explained his reasoning after years of no contact. I respect his reasons now but at the time it was just abandonment .

    • Dee says:

      Every situation is different. No one should choose between their spouse and parent. Most children who do this were NOT abused. Mine were not. You were justified in ypur decision, but what about the parent who wasn’t abusive? Are we supposed to be in pain forever?

  22. L. P. says:

    This article was what I needed today. I know I was not a perfect mother and there was definite mental hardship involved, I just never expected 2 of my children to just leave and not look back. My oldest son told me he left because he could longer endure the family drama from an alcoholic family member. He says he hasnt disowned me but he never gets in touch me. Ive texted with one word responses.

  23. Sterling says:

    Broken heart syndrome is a very real medical condition. Look into it. I feel for every mother who is dealing with abandonment by her adult children. My son, whom I was very close to, has done the same to me. He would only call when having problems in his marriage. He told me I was always there for him. When things improved, I never heard from him. He and his wife are both high earning professionals. She controls the relationship. It breaks my heart every minute of every day. My two grandchildren don’t know me. This is especially difficult because my other son and DIL died 6 months ago. I had a great relationship with them. I have zero family now. I never would have treated my mother like this, even though we always had a strained relationship. My conscience wouldn’t allow me to do that. I was there for her.

    • Joy says:

      Sterling, I am so sorry for you. I have been on this heartbreaking road.. My son who I love with all of my heart has abandoned me.

  24. flavia says:

    I’ve had 4 for 4 do this to me now everyone who knows me can’t understand why. I myself can’t understand why. My youngest I bailed out of jail over and over the last three years he moved in an out 3 times, He moved in again with his now wife they got married 4 months after dating I payed for the wedding. He walks out again haven’t heard from him in 6 months now I find out through friends shes pregnant. Here comes a 4 the grad child from 3 of my kids Ive yet been able to hold or see. It hurts the most about my youngest son who did all this because we were the closest. My daughter started talking to me recently I thought she was changing she tells me im nothing but a hypochondriac and nutts an that is why all my kids left. Then suddenly my other daughter calls snooping for info. I don’t think it will ever be fix at this point and it does hurt like my hearts been ripped from my chest. They always seem want to make me feel down the one daughter went so far as to say she was going to make my life a living hell for the rest of my life.

    • Annie says:

      “…everyone who knows me can’t understand why. I myself can’t understand why.”

      Your youngest daughter eluded to the answer, and respectfully, you are unwilling or uninterested in her experience of you. Many times adult children just want to be heard. It would be helpful to listen.

      • Sterling says:

        Remember, these adult children are ADULTS. They’re too hard on their parents, expecting them to be perfect. These ‘adult’ children expect actions, whatever from parents, that they wouldn’t expect from friends, strangers, anyone else. I’m sick of giving these spoiled cry babies a pass for hurting people who care deeply for them. Unless, of course, they’ve been abused. Which, in most of these cases, isn’t the issue.

      • M. Robbins says:

        I have scrolled through some of the comments in this thread and I’m reminded Naomi Watts’ therapist character on ‘Gypsy’ (Netflix, one season). One of her patients is a middle-aged woman who’s adult daughter pushed her away because she was overbearing. The mom drops by her daughter’s apartment only to be informed that she has moved but didn’t leave a forwarding address. Further details are hazy since it was quite a while back that I watched it but I found that circumstance relatable.

  25. Shamed Anon says:

    This happened to me when I discovered that my daughter had become a prostitute and drug I looked at the age of 21. I tried to intervene, but she just vanished. Her lifestyle is more important than our family. I’m so sorry you had to go through this and I definitely hope your daughter is doing better than mine.

  26. sandgee says:

    You are so wrong. Abusive parents can continue to abuse an adult child. It is up to every adult to protect themselves from such people, even if they are called a “parent”. There is absolutely nothing about parenting that justifies treating your children worse than strangers, actively hurting their souls day-in-day-out.

    • L.P. says:

      I agree with you and understand why they left me. It’s a grieving process on my part and a cry for forgiveness. Even though I came from a verbally abusive household, I never stopped talking to my parents though.

      • Lucy says:

        Just because you chose to continue to speak to your verbally parents does not mean that someone else will make that same choice.

    • Lynne says:

      I was the scapegoat of my narcissistic mother and eventually the entire family. It never ended and continued well into adulthood. It was “their right as parents to discipline me”. I owned my own home, owned a wonderful business and took care of myself and my teenage daughter. I hosted all family holidays and was very good to them. I guess I was still looking for their love which would never come. Nothing I did was ever good enough. My father thought he still had the “right” to beat me ( for my washing machine making too much noise according to my mother) while calling me a F***ing B***h and F***ing C**T. It was Over. Done. I put up with 46 years of this. I should have called the police. But, they were my parents. Yet, both went around telling people they had no idea why I cut them off – playing the part of the victims. My entire extended family believed them and abandoned me in return. BTW- I was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder compliments of my “We didn’t do anything! We go to church Every Sunday!” parents and their years of abuse.

  27. Carla says:

    I needed this also but it made me sad all over again. It’s so sad to have your children stop having anything to do with you for no reason and I mean no reason. The divorce was hard on my children I understand but it was also hard on me not just their dad. It wasn’t because of any other person. I have three kids and none of them have anything to do with me. I am sick and they don’t like that. My mother was an alcoholic and abusive at times and I never thought it was an option not to have anything to do with her. I loved my mother and took care of her till the day she died and miss more than life itself……I will never understand this and I have a hard time not blaming myself even though I can’t come up with a reason for it. I need a support group….

  28. Anonymous says:

    Its Christmas time and I was feeling so sad and hopeless because I know my adult daughters will not be connecting with me and in desperation, I googled around looking for a new perspective that might give me some answers for the completely inexplicable position I find myself in. I came across this article and it was so dead on and hit so many resonant notes that I know it was an answer to prayer. I sent it to my dearest friends who, like myself, are stymied by my situation of complete rejection by my adult daughters after the breakup of a 33-year marriage. This article had such empathy and understanding of what life is like for a rejected parent whose heart has been broken by this most unspeakable suffering. God Bless You, John Driggs.

  29. Jackie says:

    My son has a girlfriend whom he married. My son and I got along fine until she came into the picture. My son now hates me. Never talks to me. I feel he has listened to his wife. I know I am a good person. I have sent him texts which she gets also. I have been set up and he doesn’t care. It has not robbed me of my self esteem. It has only made me stronger!

    • L. P. says:

      My son who grew up in special needs classes his whole schooling; where I participated in every activity with, has disowned me after finding “the girl of his dreams”. He’s an adult (22) and has moved in with her family. He will not see me and rarely responds to my texts. I’ve heard they’re getting married after 3 months of “courtship”. I’m not invited to the wedding. Just gone in the blink of an eye. Family life was not perfect. Alcoholic father. Stressed out me trying to be a single parent of 4 children. Should I have had 4 children with this man? In hindsight. No. Ive been diagnosed 4 years ago as bipolar which was untreated.

    • Marie says:

      Not the same details, but I, too, have become stronger. I used to blame my son’s father for brainwashing him, but now I just think my son may be Narcissistic. I just didnt see it coming.

  30. Linda says:

    My daughter won’t talk to me hasent for two yrs she can’t face the fact that she’s an abuser of her oldest daughter, She would do things in front of me and challenge me to say something to stop her ways and protect my grandchild.She always says she’s done with me over and over again every time there is a situation or disagreement. Last thing I saw was her slap this child full force in the mouth, she said it was for talking back, she didn’t, I threatened to call police next time for that we were shunned for mos by her. Then she started acting strange would ask us to come over because she didn’t want to be alone while husband worked ,with three little girls to take care of . At one time she would call at least 3 times a day I would say how are the girls she would say, oh driving me crazy!Then she started giving some gifts we gave the girls back to us or giving them to her older sister (welfare queen) to sell. The same child was being targeted with the selling of her toys, so I thought.I finally was talked into reporting them to cps . I didn’t lie and was trying to get her to see the .consequences when we physically hurt young children especially in front of the grandparent and expect us to say nothing until she really hurts her?for physical and mental abuse of the childAll it did was cause me grief and heartbreak and her not talking to us anymore and saying I made it up and lied. Now I’ve lost everything over it her and the girls. I’ve even gone so far as to ask her to forgive me, I’ve said I’m sorry she won’t give us a chance even after two yrs of no involvement with us. I wake up every morning with extreme anxiety over it all we even moved away to another state, but nothing works. I just turned 70 yrs old and have the worst fear nothing will ever get to the point of reconciliation with her. I try to talk to her but she hangs up calls family members gets them involved and attack me when I try to make things better so we could at least talk and see pictures. I feel like I’m just living to die without them. It’s the loneliest thing in the world to not be forgiven and be looking back from the outside in. I don’t care what she says or does concerning me I would accept her asking for forgiveness hands down in a New York minute I could never leave her hanging and with hold love from her, but I guess it’s our job as a parent ? I think it will never be resolved we will continue toget older and eventually pass away she has said she won’t care when we do, very sad,She May live to regret the time wasted on anger and no way to go back.Her and the little girls were my whole life I don’t know what to do now?

  31. Anonymous says:

    I think your article is a bunch of crap. Adult children are not obligated to maintain a relationship with their parents if it brings them nothing but manipulation and stress. If your children have chosen not to have you in their life it is because of you and your behaviour. Take some responsibility and stop believing you are wonderful and innocent in the whole situation. Your children have probably told you several times why they don’t want you in their life and you probably chose to ignore that and to blame them.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I have read many articles on adult children estrangement and none of them touched on it like this one did. Most of the ones that I have read seem to put blame on the mother and tended to side with the adult child. Because of that I didn’t feel like I received any help with the torture that I’m going through. I want to thank you for this wonderful article because it has put a different spin on how I feel about myself now. I thank you so very much.

  33. Crystal Baker Conner says:

    Thank you much!!!!!

  34. Joyce B says:

    I too have an estranged daughter a lot due to her narcisistic father my ex husband, worse I can’t see my grandchildren that I seen everyday, til one day I was blocked completely from their lives, it hurts clear to my soul

    • Bonnie says:

      I totally understand your pain and bewilderment with the same situation I am experiencing. it’s awful.. never thought I’d be living this nightmare!

  35. Eric Tagesen says:

    I am the only son in a broken family. It’s been 30 years since having any type of relationship with either my mother or father. They divorced in 1988. Neither put forth any effort to maintain any form of “family” with me from that moment to present time. My father has moved from state to state, and my mother remarried and has blended into her new family. I don’t understand it at all. I have been in the military for 31 years, and married for 29 years. I have two beautiful daughters (one is an architect, and the other working on her master’s degree). Neither my mother or father have been part of my daughter’s lives. So sad, and such a waste to have raised me for 18 years, only to walk away. Sometimes it’s not the adult child who does the abandonment.

    • L.P. says:

      I’m sorry for your lost.parents.

    • Lucy says:

      So very true. I think when a parent or both parents emotionally neglect their children they have abandoned them already. Your comment hit the nail on the head for me. I was never bothered with emotionally by either parent and till this day (im 35) they still don’t. All I get is excuses.

    • Milly says:

      Two of my adult brothers refuse to even speak to our father. True, he is not the most logical and emotionally- connected person, but I believe he does the best he can. He was not mean to us as children, but once we became teens he nor our mother showed any physical affection. What makes no sense to me, is that these same two brothers cut me out of their lives, too. What did I do to cause this? I’m only the older sister who refuses to burn bridges. I never expect a deep relationship with my parents, but I do believe they deserve a second chance with their grandchildren ( my children). The rejection from my brothers comes after my parents threatened to ostracize me for marrying a man they refused to get to know. That created detachment from me toward my parents. But this rejection from my siblings will probably always haunt me with grief.

      • Lucy says:

        Sorry to hear this. For me, it was only from observing someone I knew who hugged and showed his love for his children emotionally which opened the door for me. Before then what I grew up I thought as normal and regret not seeing this in my 20’s. My Dad especially bought things etc, house food and all that but I’ve realised you can be dirt poor but have rich emotional connection. Ultimately that is what life and relationships are about. Anyone can go out and buy people things. That’s easy. Showing your love/vulnerability to someone. Whole different ballgame.
        As with regards to your brothers? I don’t have the answers. Were you close before? Do they feel that maybe you were the favored one growing up?

  36. Debbie Reynolds says:

    My heart is heavy as I was rejected by first one and then the other daughter. I was a good mother who worked two jobs to give my children a better life, a better education and I was proud of their accomplishments. Both have masters degrees and excellent jobs. They loved me as children and I don’t understand why they turned away from me as adults. I was looking for some explanation as to what or why this has happened and this article was excellent. Thank you for writing it. Now I know that my shame is not my fault.

  37. Carol Long says:

    Thank you for the article it was very helpful. I too have been abandoned by my three children. Even if they feel that I was a horrible mother and they don’t have any need to have me I’m their lives it breaks my heart. I love them.

    • Marie says:

      I believe that is why it hurts, it is because we love them, but it is not returned. If we didnt love them, it wouldn’t hurt. My son doesn’t seem to love me, and I fear for my daughter…just waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. :'(

  38. Jullie S says:

    I agree with the other comments. John Driggs has written with a depth of understanding and consolation that touches me. Other articles I read didn’t seem to be about me. I’ve thought so hard about my situation for years and also think that my two daughters were manipulated by my destructive ex-husband (beginning at their birth). He was so successful at it, they believe I was a very poor mother and that’s why we’re not close. Their accusations are rarely specific and when I have something to respond to, my intelligent and accomplished daughters can’t hear the logic of my words. For example, I betrayed my daughter by allowing her to visit her father even though I knew what he was like. A legal document gave him that right and I had no evidence to present a judge. Both daughters protected him by being silent so I didn’t know. By the way, this daughter is a lawyer! I’ve apologized with tears for what I did do wrong (one thing in particular), but their need to blame me has persisted. So I agree with John that they avoid their painful feelings by avoiding me. And that they love me as the mother and person I really was. I don’t expect anything to change. I want to ask: does anyone have a physical condition they could trace to their sadness over their children’s abandonment? I have terrible pain walking. The sadness from the wounding of my soul implies, there’s no where I want to be so why move at all? This insight came to me today.

    • Linda C says:

      Hi Jullie. I spent years with what was diagnosed as firbomyalgia, muscle cramps, inability to digest food, sleeplessness (ok it is 4am as I write 🙃). My lifestyle circumstances has gifted me with a couple years off work during which I have travelled extensively on my own, exercised a whole lot more, cared for others and explored new career pathways. The loss has not gone, but the physical complaints have reduced massively. I think it has been the physical shift enabling a repair of the nervous system.

  39. Charles Garcia says:

    Good read… It puts a lot into perspective… Thank you 🙏🏼

  40. Lori Nolan says:

    I needed this

  41. CHRIS STURM says:

    Closest explanation to what we’ve experienced I’ve found. It helps to know we’re not alone, though I hate that anyone else should ever have to endure such loss. It is absolute torture. Thank you for your article. It helps more than you know.

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