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My Adult Children Cut Me Out of Their Life

By Linda Ward January 02, 2022 Family

I have three wonderful moms in my immediate circle of friends who have been ghosted by their children. Dictionary.com defines ghosting as “the practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without explanation.” The extreme pain this abandonment brings is their daily life challenge.

The Whys

Some moms have no idea what caused this breach, with no way to find out. If the mom does recognize the source and wants to apologize to the adult child, this is not an option.

Other moms can identify a heated conversation where opinions differed. This could have been about political, religious, or lifestyle choices.

Maybe unwelcome comments were made about the adult child’s parenting style or poor choices that set an unintentional estrangement in motion. Sometimes we make mistakes as parents, and as parents we admit it!

In this brief article, let’s NOT go back to the source of the abandonment issue. You’ve already done this, over and over times one million, to figure out where things went wrong. If you do find your answer, there’s no way to go back and change it, even if you could or would.

Remember, the answer may not be anything you’ve said or done. Seeking the whys will drive you crazy. It’s a form of mental abuse to put yourself through this every day. Instead, let’s talk about your self-care as a deserted parent.

How to Survive

Here are some suggestions from moms who have been there:

  • Distance yourself from the adult child. Time will help.
  • You have no control. Release the child and keep moving toward an enjoyable life without them.
  • Cry and get on with it.
  • Lean on your best friends to help you at those times that hurt more than others – birthdays, holidays, or special events for grandchildren.
  • If you have an open communication channel at all with the adult child, just listen… and listen some more.
  • In this tug of war, drop the rope.
  • Write notes and cards to the adult child or grandchildren. If you think they are not receiving them, put the notes in a box for them to read at a later time in their life. One mom keeps sending birthday gifts and Christmas gifts to her estranged daughter. She’s sure they are dumped without opening, yet she will never give up or stop. It eases her mind.

A Kind Word of Advice

Take Care of Yourself

This unsolvable problem can rob you of your health and mental well-being. You may need to seek the help of a professional counselor to learn ways of handling the ever-nagging and uncorrectable whys. Simply take care of yourself.

Look for Abandonment Support

Check into on-line support groups for abandoned parents or books written on the subject to let you know you are not alone.

Find Your Source of Joy and Courage

Where do you get courage? Is it from your tribe of friends? From your religious beliefs? From self-help groups or books? You can lighten this heavy load and experience everyday happiness even though you will never forget your child or stop loving them.

Take Control of Your Thoughts

When you catch yourself for the millionth and one time asking “Why…?” just stop. Stop yourself and say out loud, “Not today, I’m going to be kind to me today.” You have the choice to have everyday happiness in your life.

As you know, life is short. Enjoy the adult kids that are still in your life, or your friends, or your pets, or your garden. Find what lightens your mood even a little, and do more of it.

Not sure how to be more positive? We give you some great tips in How To Fight Negative Thoughts By Changing Your Mindset.

Forgive Yourself

Maybe you were the reason the adult child stopped communicating. In hindsight, you see it, but there’s no way to say sorry. So, forgive yourself.

None of us know how to parent. We just take a very good stab at it and do our best. Sometimes we have said or done things that can’t be corrected now. If you need help with forgiving yourself, professionals in your church or mental health professionals will help.

Figure Out How to Live in the Moment

When something good happens, sit in that and enjoy it to the fullest. You are worthy of this. Your past mistakes or your child’s rejection don’t make it not so! Next time you enjoy your morning coffee, or a piece of fine chocolate, or the sunshine streaming in your window, take note and let yourself be there for it!

This brings attention to the things that we love and helps us experience the good in each day.

Are you an abandoned mom? If so, I wish you courage daily! How have you learned to cope? What gets you through special days or events? Please join the conversation in how you have moved forward in your life.

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Marium

I posted earlier. Not sure if it was removed for review or something else.
I do have a question: How to deal with people who ask why I’m estranged from my children. Most people are not familiar with this sort of thing and they immediately think you’ve done something wrong.
Is there a way to just avoid the conversation altogether?

Deb

I have the same question?

Linda Ward

Hi Deb,
I hope you find the response to Marium’s question helpful! Wishing you the best. Linda

Linda Ward

Hello Marium,
I have given this much thought and consulted with my friend who is in an estranged position with her daughter. Here are some suggestions for you to consider.

  1. To avoid talking about an estranged situation, try telling the birds eye view of the situation, without bringing in the estrangement at all. Here’s an example: “They live in Boston, bought a house and recently bought a dog. As you know, going through training a dog is stressful! Tell me about Mark (their child).” In other words, if you do know some information about your children, say that birds eye view of them, keeping the conversation very light without mentioning the estrangement. Most people love telling about the great accomplishments of their OWN children, and redirecting to their kids gets the conversation going their direction. Remember, you are in control of how much information you give. Thinking through answers to this question ahead of time will give your brain a place to go when the question comes out of the blue.
  2. “Thanks for asking, we are going through a tough time right now, like all families at times. I’m not ready to share about this, so tell me about Mark (their child).”
  3. My dear friend has a different take on how to handle this. She says the more she tells others about the estrangement, the better for her. As the years have gone by she recognizes she’s on a spectrum of healing and reacting to this question. Rather than hiding it, letting it out in the open has been healing for her.
  4. My suggestion for this pain, and for much of the severe emotional pain we go through as moms, wives, and women in this world, is to find a good counselor or coach. This helps you bring the feelings and the pain out in the open with a professional. Friends are not equipped to handle this, even if your friend is a counselor. This may seem like a a standard answer, but as a coach, I know this helps relieve pain life can bring.

Thanks for bringing this question up for all of us. I will submit an article on this very topic, so stay tuned for it to come through Sixty and Me. Take good care of you Marium!

Marium

Thanks for allowing it to post. I raised my children (all girls) with minimal help from dad’s. Both men were MIA a lot and the children saw my first ex beat me and verbally abuse me.
By no means was I a perfect mum…(I was striving for it though). Growing up in state care with no role models, subject to multiple abuse (including sexual).
I did the best I could with what I had available. I gave apologies for where I felt I had gone wrong. Well, that seemed to be a green light that sent them on a roll of stalking, harassment and a massive smear campaign against me. Some true most embelished and some outright lies. I’m followed everywhere I go. My eldest daughter was charged for failing to provide the neccessities of life after not seeking medical attention for her son, my grandson after her boyfriend (not babies dad) beat him almost to death at age 3. I took him out of foster care. They said she wasn’t getting him back. So I made a plan of care and was given custody. Her inlaws and her boyfriends family who beat him, turned on me, not her? I have been stalked harassed and smeared ever since. They even paid people to try to set me up. Drug me, and some unspeakables that make me look like a vilian. I had no idea what was happening until it was too late. No way to defend myself, no way to make new friends. The plan to isolate me and have me react worked. I had never before heard of narcissistic abuse until a few years ago. A few years too late! I spoke with two therapists who told me, my family was colluding against me. I didn’t believe them. I literally told one to f-off that she was crazy. She wasn’t. I was ignorant! You’d think as a person who grew up surrounded by abuse I would know. I did kindof. Couldn’t believe anyone’s fa.ily would do such a thing. I’ve done some terrible things in my life for various reasons but I also learned and grew from those things. This may be too much info. But just in case any of you is experiencing similar. You’re not alone. None of us was perfect people, parents, wives, friends etc. We are first and foremost human. I’m sorry for all who are left without family after all the years you put in to loving caring for and protecting your children. No judgements on my part. I know the pendulum swings both ways. Thanks for reading and for sharing and suggestions.😢Today is difficult.

Marium

Thank you. I have used your suggestions recently. I explained that although my daughters and I are distant, my grandchild are doing well. Ended it there.

Michaelene

It’s been 11 long years and I finally snapped just recently. Foyr incredibly magickal humans I birthed … naturally. They tore up my body . I near died from the first delivery then had dvt (leg blood clots) for the remaining days I have here. I WAS in a good place again in my 30 yr old daughter’s life until I was nearly killed in a car accident eight weeks ago today. She sent me a not very nice message on boxing day. The accident was November 28th, 2022. She’s a Psychiatric Nurse at the jail. Starting wage there? 43. Fuck. My Girl is double degreed with minimal debt as a result of two back to back full ride USA college volleyball scholarships. But apparently IM AN ASSHOLE for not wishing her merry Christmas. I tried to end the Neverending grief last Monday by swallowing a T3 an hour with yogurt and a bit of booze. Woke up on the bathroom floor. Layed there for hours waiting for someone to message, look for or check on me. When no message came, I was starting to feel like I cud stand . Fuck. I’m still here and getting more not nice comments from said daughter. And now she’s raging on my FB account. When does it end!!!

Linda Ward

Dear Michaelene,

I am so sorry for all the pain you are experiencing. The best move for you would be to contact some resources that are willing and ready to immediately help you.

1. 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline-Dial this number on your cell phone. You will be connected to someone who has resources for help in your area.

2.This article tells you exactly what happens when you contact people for help. Please click on it and read today: https://www.activeminds.org/blog/what-really-happens-when-you-reach-out-to-crisis-lines/#:~:text=So%2C%20what%20does%20happen%20when,connect%20you%20to%20help%20locally.

3.National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. You can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or chat.

4.Crisis Text Line
Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the U.S. to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.

Please reach out for help. You will encounter loving trained counselors that will give you advice and action steps to move forward for your life.
Linda

Marium

So much happened and I’m not sure what happened. If you can make sense of that?
The most difficult thing for me after being estranged for so long (years) I still cry.
That said, I’m wondering how other mum’s deal with telling people they’re estranged from their children? I find people turn away from me.
I have no supports because most of my friends are either living far from me or have died.
The strangers who have perfect families distance themselves like I have the plague once I tell them my children and I have no relationships.
How can I avoid the subject and make new friendships?

jackie

I raised my 4 kids as a single mom after a divorce. Ages now 25-31. My closest relationship was with my youngest son. My mother just died in June. I was out of state w her fir 6 months. Now since her death. My youngest wants me out of his life.. It is killing me. Our last interaction was right after mom’s funeral until today w ugly names and threats if I try to contact or come to his home !! My other children and I are speaking but we had no disagreement??

Linda Ward

I’m so sorry you are going through this with your youngest son. It’s a mystery why some children suddenly break ties with their mom, a mystery that causes intense heartache!
You have just spent 6 months of your life caring for your mom, who recently passed. This in itself is heartache. Now not only is your son backing away from you, but has actually called you names and made threats. I encourage you strongly to seek out professional help to get through these events. When it’s so overwhelming, getting help is lifesaving. To do this, contact your insurance carrier to help find someone in your area that accepts insurance.You will be able to specify male/female/and a few other things to get a good fit with the therapist. Then go. Try this. It could be just what you need right now.
Kindly,
Linda

Ann

I am a divorced mom of 3 adult daughters. I left my ex over domestic violence. I was a single parent for many years and was married to a demanding job.
I did everything in my power to make sure they were provided for, but wasn’t there when they needed me the most.
My youngest ran away at 15 and went to live with her boyfriend at the time against my wishes. Then came my first granddaughter
She has never apologized for anything, it’s always been my fault when she’s angry and verbally abusive. She married a dr and now has started being verbally abusive to me yet again.
I don’t have great relationships with my other 2 daughters, I am currently estranged with one and the other has no time for me.
I am currently in the process of having to divorce them emotionally without them knowing so I can still see my grandkids.
I have tried repeatedly to reconcile with each of them but they resent me and harbor unresolved issues, so that is unlikely
It’s been about 20 years or more if hell, and if I’m going to survive I have to distance myself until they are mature enough to have a conversation if ever.
A person can only take so much
I chose self preservation and peace of mind

Linda Ward

Dear Ann,
What you described is almost too much to bear. I agree with you, that in order to keep on going, you need to distance yourself emotionally from your children. Are you able to do this? Then, pursue whatever avenues you can keep your grandchildren in your life.
I do believe that one day, our adult children will understand the choices we made when they were little. They may never agree with them, but will understand that we did the best we could with what we had.
My hope for you is that your heart will heal to the point that you can find happiness and fulfillment in the rest of your life. This may need to be accomplished with the help of a counselor, coach, or therapist. Sometimes we must reach out to get the help needed, then we can move forward stronger. Distancing yourself is a process over time.
Thank you for sharing Ann. Blessings to you.
Linda

Carol

I brought my 3 children up alone after their father left when they were babies. I was there for every single minute of their lives i worked while they were at school. Never left them with sitters, never went out in the evening or had any boyfriend’s. I lived for them and they were my everything. As soon as they got into the teenage years they began to change and started to challenge me on everything they could muster up. This has been going on for over 15 years and they have literally turned into their father. Genes play a big part no matter how well you bring them up with good values. They are now making a relationship with their father, and treat me like I don’t exist. No calls. No kindness. Cruel words. Selective memories. I am living with a broken heart and have tried everything to make things right. They have no time for me now I’m in my 60s. Big daddy has a big house and money. I’ll never get over this, or understand it. They won’t listen to anything I say. They slam the phone down on me. I’m bewildered by this and can only think it’s in their genes. So although I as there for every part of their lives, they have no care for mine. I don’t know how to get through it and carry on. Life had no purpose now. Daddy is even seeing the grandkids. Its like a living nightmare

Marium

All I can say is this; mine have done the same. Our stories are mirror images of each other’s. They don’t have mommy issues, they have daddy issues. But mommy takes the brunt.
It’s easy to abuse those who love you, because it feels safe. Mommy is safe, daddy is unknown. The hard work is over and they’ll never see daddy for his true self. He may have changed by now. But they also will have a different relationship with him than what they had with you. Even if you had stayed together. The relationships are individual. My 2 cents…let the experts handle it. They know so much more.

Kari Jaquith

I have been going through a distancing with both of my children, my daughter texted me yesterday while I was at work, not really sure why, but she called me ugly names and blaming me for everything. I did not “bite” I didn’t yell, I did not use the same awful language back at her, just let her vent. My son (has my only grandchild) I haven’t spoken to him since last Dec. He shut me out over the holidays because I forgot his birthday (he is 30) I did apologize for the mistake. I got nothing but radio silence until 3 pm Christmas day. I had already moved forward with my holiday plans with my husband. I don’t know what happened, I was a single mom for both their teen years, my x is not much to talk about…I did my very best. I guess it wasn’t good enough.

Irina

I am in the same situation. How do you cope with this situation? It’s been frustrating for me

Linda Ward

Dear Irina,
I hope you found some ideas for coping in the article above. My heart goes out to you, as this is so incredibly painful and frustrating. Be sure to seek professional help if you feel you are ready for that. Take care of you. Linda

Linda Ward

I’m so sorry for the distancing of both your children. It has to be your biggest heartache. You mention moving forward, and even if you take baby steps in doing this, you will be moving toward establishing your life without your kids defining you. Sometimes we have to distance ourselves from our own kids, to protect our hearts. I know you wonder if what you did wasn’t good enough. I’ve wondered this too. But, you say you did your best so keep reminding yourself of that! We gave it our all, and if they react this way now, since they are adults, we have to let them. Be sure to seek out a life coach or a counselor if the pain becomes overwhelming. Especially during special days and holidays. ❣️

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The Author

Linda Ward is a Writer and Life Coach living in Minnesota. She specializes in helping mature women find everyday happiness and a satisfying life. She zeroes in on life after divorce, retirement transitions, and finding courage no matter what the circumstances. Her inspiring new eBook is called, Crazy Simple Steps to Feeling Happier. Linda’s Professional background is Social Work and Counseling.

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