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

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 .

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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….

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

    • Sterling says:

      You think all abandoned parents are to blame for this sad situation? You’re delusional.
      Wives make husbands abandon his parents and siblings out of jealousy all the time…for one example. Wake up!

    • THE ONE says:

      obviously YOU are a perfect parent. Man your dont see THAT very often….#highhorsemuch??

  17. 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.

  18. Crystal Baker Conner says:

    Thank you much!!!!!

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. Charles Garcia says:

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

  25. Lori Nolan says:

    I needed this

  26. 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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