"Children Who Break Your Heart": A Reader Asks for Your Advice

At the Legacy Project, we’ve asked over 1200 of the oldest and wisest Americans for their advice about how to solve life’s problems. In this post we ask: How do you deal with children who break your heart? For advice on this topic and much more, see the bestselling book 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.

In an earlier post, one of the Legacy Project elders shared her mixed feelings about having children. Loraine,89 , talked about accepting both the joy and the pain children can bring. She stated: “If you don’t have children now, when you have them you will have these moments.  When you look at them and your heart – it’s like your heart takes all the pain and all the love for them that you have.”

We just received a comment on that post from one of our readers, who would like your advice:

What about when your children are disappointments? I would like to hear how parents handle situations when their most loved children are cause for a broken heart? Comments please!

We asked some experts for their advice, which you can find here.

Can you help? Does anyone have advice for overcoming the heartbreak children can sometimes cause? Please share your comments!

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  1. Thanks, leah, for your excellent comments. All the comments here mean so much to me and to us all.

    Dear God please show us The Way.
    Gracias, Amen.

  2. Hi everyone.. I found this site not expecting to see so many people in the same situation as myself.. it kills me to think my little girl with red curly hair and freckles treats me the way she does. she’s been munipulated by my sister who’s son wont talk to her by the way….taking my daughter and granddaughter away from me.. My sister hates me.. I don’t know why.. sister has bipolor.. I’ve lived with her bipolor outbursts that dwindle to loving and effectionate way’s about her. So you see.. my daughter gets placed in the middle of her and I. having to chose .. between me and her bipolor aunt that’s going to blow at her for not following her because she throws money at her and expects my daughter to be faithful to my sister.. cutting me out of the picture from my daughter and my now 8 yr old granddaughter. this has been going on since my daughter was 15. she’s now 28. her behaviur with me is stressed to the point that she . My daughter is numb, Her father and I split up after 18 yrs together 10 yrs ago.. but we always new we would do anything for each other, never married and common law doesn’t excist in ny. either way her father committed suicide just this week on April 14th I found him.. he’d shot himself in the head.
    my daughter is with a man that’s controlling. they’ve only been together for 1 yr. Courntey’s death was devistating to both of us. Then again Courtneys boyfriend is taking advantage of her fathers death and becoming more controlling since she has been named the executive of his home.. it’s a big mess, he seems to think he can go into her father’s home to help clear out anything he chooses. I don’t know what to do.. my daughter is so confused.. she’s in shock.
    what I’m trying to say is that I’ve tryed to cling onto my daughter for yrs.. knowing that if it’s not an abusive boyfriend that’s pulling her away from me to her unstable aunt tearing us apart along with my grandduager..
    I have noone in my life now.. 50yrs old without a family… I don’t know what to do .. we are having a private service for her dad on Saturday. Courtney and I havent had time to grieve together because of the constant pressure from others taring us apart. and that’s what is happening .. how can we I, grieve.. together… she only calls or talks to me when she needs me for somthing. I’m afraid to go to bed.. thinking of how I found her Dad..
    I don’t know what else to say except, our relationship is never going to heal.. her life has been full of hate from the toxic people around her.. I know what your’ going to say.. she has a voice of her own to speak up against what others are saying about me.. but there’s been to much of an influence on her life.. I’m affraid for her mental health.. but I can’t do anything right in her eyes.. so what do I do next?
    I feel as if I’ve been rambling, I hope you get the jist of what I’m going through right now..
    I’m praying for all of us to find the peace of mind that we deserve. I’m all alone in this..

  3. It’s extremely hurtful to raise two intelligent young men ages 25 and 27 who treat you with the least amount of respect you can imagine. The youngest is the worst. He thinks when he is here that he owns the place and he can come and do and take whatever he wants. It doesn’t matter if its his dads tools or my car. He has messed his car up and borrowed my car two months ago and he finally told us where it was only to find out we think he’s ruined the transmission by having it out in the snow and ice a few weeks ago. We raised them playing little league baseball, football and basketball. I had them on the creek bank fishing every chance we got. They had what we could give them and we spent lots of time together and had lots of fun hunting, fishing, camping. Everything boys loved to do. They still love doing all that. They just can’t stand me being a part of it. I don’t know when being a mother became a thorn in their sides. The vile words that spew from their mouths and the hatred that is slung at me literally breaks my heart. Like the rest of you I’ve tried on many occasions to reach out only to be rejected more harshly than the previous time. But it’s to the point where it seems like the hate is what is sucking the life right out of me. We have my mother who is a hospice patient living with us so I can care for her like she needs but again there is no respect shown for any situation I’m in. They will take your money your cars etc and could care less if they leave you so that you have the necessities on hand just in case. How does children that have hearts of gold and would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it but will take their moms car and leave it abandoned and not tell you where it is and then treat you like you are the scum of the earth and its all your fault. I love my children dearly but can’t keep putting myself out there to be the dumping ground for their problems that I have nothing to do with. I feel like I have failed in every way and have no idea how to reach them. Hopefully one day with the grace of god I will have the strength to carry on and the boys can find a way to live bright happy and successful lives even if they need to do it without me. I will let them go if god can watch over them and keep them safe. I love them …..

  4. My husband of 20 years committed suicide in 2008. He was verbally and physically abusive to me and my 3 boys. I left him several times during our marriage but he would not leave me or my family members alone and everyone was afraid of what he might do. I always went back to him, I felt like I didn’t have anywhere to go. When I finally left him for good and cut off contact with him and filed a restraining order against him in 2008 he killed himself with a shotgun. My oldest son who is now 30 seemed to get the worst treatment from my husband (who was not my oldest son’s biological father but with us since my son was 2 weeks old), will not have anything to do with me now. After my husband died I went to school and got my BA in business, I bought a house and I met a man who is very good to me. My oldest son does not like him and they have had words. He tried to get me to break up with my boyfriend and I told him I thought he was being disrespectful. He has pulled away and started talking behind my back to my 2 other children and other family members. Everything I have is mine, and after being stuck with someone so abusive for so long I will not tolerate it in my life from anyone anymore. I have cut several family members out of my life because of the friction my son has caused within my family. To say my heart is broken is an understatement. My heart aches.

  5. melissa and Heather – Melissa I could have written your post. I have an 11 year old daughter who is incredibly disrespectful. She too has always been difficult and has always been a “me first” child. I can’t accept her apologies for her behaviour any more because they are not sincere. She now won’t speak to me, won’t look at me and is staying with her Dad against my wishes. I wish I could say that I caused this because then I would have some control over how to change things but I know I haven’t. There is a distinct difference in the behaviour she displays from the behaviour of my younger children who have never exhibited the narcisstic behaviour she has. I don’t know what to do from here and whether I should even allow her to come back home if she decides that’s what she wants. Is it acceptable to tell an 11 year old that she can’t come back home until she can show me she can be respectful to me and the other members of her family. I don’t want to lose her but at what age is it acceptable as a parent to say enough is enough?

  6. Connie….no it’s not ok! How would you feel if the foundation of your life when you are only 11 gives up on you??? Get a therapist involved to help both of you. You’ve tried telling her before that she has to be respectful and it hasn’t worked so why would telling her again work? At least try that before you give up on your kid.

  7. Diane…I’m so sorry for the stress you are under. But why are you letting them treat you this way??? They are grown men. They can’t treat you like dirt without your permission. I implore you to seek some support for yourself…a counselor or? They should not be allowed to treat you and your belongings in this way. I do know what it’s like to love someone who isn’t capable for any number of reasons of returning that love in and adult to adult relationship but, to allow yourself to be abused is just setting you up to think like a victim which isn’t healthy….it will just allow the abuse to continue. Please get someone on your side! The boys have some serious growing up to do. You didn’t fail them. They are failing themselves.

  8. Disrespect is learned. If you don’t respect your children or always have a better way to do something – or are critical – they will resent you for it. Talk to your kids – don’t talk at them. Be nice and loving. IF they make mistakes – remember nobody is perfect. I’ve never heard a child say they’re mom is a bitch or a pain in the butt for loving them too much. Trying to change them? Yes. Failing to live up to the parent’s expectations and ONLY bc they don’t do WHAT YOU would have them do? Yep.

    Children learn from DOING not you DOING for them… including making decisions on their own. Let them fail. It’s not YOUR failure. It’s their learning experience and your TEACHING experience.

    How about NOT calling them up and yelling at them for not CALLING you or staying in contact? They make an effort then BOOM… whatever is said turns to a disappointment for everyone.

    Take responsibility for your part of what is happening. You might think you’ve done these wonderful things for your kid, but sometimes it crossed boundaries… maybe? You want what’s best for them… but how about settling for WHAT MAKES THEM HAPPY? As long as it’s not hurting anyone?

    I see this alot in baby boomers with kids and feeling hurt – not able to exercise empathy for anyone bc they are the ME generation. Let your kids be who THEY want to be. And everyone will be happier.

  9. What did we expect was going to happen with our children’s generation? Most are from divorced/separated homes and have parents who hate each other, and often times can’t even get along in front of the child. The child support system and many friend of the court offices have turned parenting into a competition sport nowadays. Congratulations court system. You got what you wanted. Money and destroyed family structures.

    My 21yo son has been emotionally distant for virtually his whole life due to my divorce in ’97. He was almost 4yo when his mom and I split up. Now he blames me for not being around more to be more a part of his life. The court system taught him that it’s ok to virtually disregard me as his father and only believe what his mother says.

    I, too, am looking for advice on how to deal with this awful, unnecessary situation. It never had to be this way. Now he doesn’t return calls/texts at all. What to do? Thank you.

  10. Johnny Maguire that is just an excellent letter! So many truisms. It’s about learning how to have an adult child to adult parent relationship. I wish I would have followed your advice more about “Children learn from DOING not you DOING for them… including making decisions on their own. Let them fail. It’s not YOUR failure. It’s their learning experience and your TEACHING experience.” when I was raising my kids. It was a mistake not to do so. What I thought I was doing out of the greatest love was really too controlling. Trying to save them hurt and pain probably resulted in them not attaining greater growth that they then had to face learning when they were out of the nest. However as I watch one two of my kids parenting their own children I am in absolute awe of what great parents they are IN SPITE of my parenting. I think it can be an enormous challenge for parents to learn how to have a relationship with adult children but one so very worth the effort. Keep it clean, keep things on the table, talk. I for one am excruciatingly aware of my parental shortcomings and wish I hadn’t done things the way I did but, that’s then and this is now and I can work at making my relationships with my kids just as healthy as I can. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for your very wise letter Johnny.

  11. a tired old grandmother …a retired social worker of 35 yrs and trauma counselor says this to you…..it will hurt to wait…but wait you will. I had to so why shouldn’t you ? I happened to me too!

    And I cried and I wept, got very very angry…because people don’t get angry unless they have been hurt.
    You bide your time now…..you must task yourself to not contact them…till they contact you !
    The hardest thing I have to do is wait….and I hate it.
    I am not going to bash myself up anymore for their life ages and stages/ choices and voices……we had to grow up too didn’t we ?
    They have their choices to make just as we did……be kind to them…..let them go….to live the life that you gave to them in the first place……after all…wasn’t that the deal to begin with ?
    You just can’t own them…….you just can’t. And you have no right to do that……now do you ?

    Give them the greatest gift you can give them……give them the right to be free…..once day…..when they are ready and even if it ever happens…one day you will open your door and they will be there…or you just might receive a card in a mail one day….or you may never hear from them again…remember what your job was in the first place…to raise them and set them free……why would you grieve about that ?
    The rest is up to them…….isn’t that WHAT YOU WANTED FOR YOUR OWN LIFE ?

    God…let the poor little buggers go…let them find out their own mistakes……let them take their own consequences…however good or bad, those outcomes belong to them ….IT IS NOT YOUR LIFE…it is theirs…..why can’t you hear that ?
    love georgie

  12. As I was reading each post, one by one, my heart ached for these women who so bravely shared their despair with the world. As I moved on to the posts from those with good intentions stating “don’t let them treat you this way,” and “disrespect is learned, talk to your kids, don’t talk at them,” I felt even more heartbreak for these women. None of us know what takes place in a parent/child relationship to cause something as devastating as the total rejection from a child. Assuming we know the answer and offering critiques and judgement is probably not what most parents are seeking when reaching out for help. I’m a special education teacher. I’ve work with many children from loving families with a variety of disorders which bring out the worst in children and cause enormous pain and exhaustion for their parents. If you witnessed these children in public, you may assume these children were “taught” to be disrespectful or the parents “let them” behave this way when the reality is these children are wired differently than the average kid and many behaviors are outside of their control. Some of my students experienced silent seizures during the day or during sleep for years which left them with brain damage. The parents had no idea their children were having seizures until their children started behaving differently and struggling in school. Imagine what it feels like as a parent to find out one day your child has permanent brain damage from a treatable disease you had no idea your child even had.

    Some children experience the onset of mental illness such as mood disorders around the time of puberty. There are countless other scenarios in the world of psychology and medicine that bring about changes in behavior with children that were neither taught nor simply allowed to happen by the parents.

    Is it really in the best interest of parents who are experiencing the painful rejection of their children to immediately jump to the conclusion they caused this rejection in some way? Even if they did enable their child’s behavior, what gives us the right to pass judgement in the first place?

    All children and families are unique from one another just like fingerprints. Only a professional therapist, counselor, supportive friend or family member can safely offer constructive criticism that is often difficult to hear. We are strangers to one another sharing our stories while seeking out others who understand our suffering on some level. We can offer solace and hope through sharing our own stories and what worked for us instead of making assumptions regarding what someone did to cause their suffering. Parenting is incredibly difficult and many of us simply aren’t prepared for the challenges that often occur with younger generations.

    Like I said, I’m a special education teacher. I teach students ranging from 6-13 and take an invested interests in all my students and their families. I regularly research groundbreaking studies regarding new approaches to treat difficult disabilities with no known cure. My own son has a disability that does not respond to medication. I have always taught him the importance of honesty, taking responsibility in one’s actions, standing up for others, and communication strategies when engaged in a disagreement with a peer.

    My son and I shared a very close relationship for 14 years. He trusted my insight and often told me how much he admired my work with children. I supported his interests and was very active in his academics and hobbies. However, when puberty hit, even I was completely unprepared for what occurred. Within a year’s time, it was as if my son disappeared and was replaced by a stranger. He no longer liked the same foods, the clothing in his closet, his own pets, and most devastating, he seemed to forget the close relationship we shared for 14 years. Doctor’s have identified a neurological deficit, possibly seizures, but cannot capture them on an EEG. His EEG’s are abnormal but no seizure activity has been measured. At present, we still don’t know what is happening within his brain or if he will regain his memories.

    He doesn’t like to look at pictures of himself when he was younger because he doesn’t remember being happy like the kid in the photograph. He reacts towards me in a very distrustful manner and is convinced I have not been a good mother to him.

    One day, I came across something online that I had never thought of even though I had encountered this before in other children. Parent alienation. My son is experiencing some sort of neurological disorder but he’s also experiencing manipulation with his memories from someone. Around the time these changes started to surface, his father’s girlfriend moved in. I’ve always had an open door policy with his father and we’ve always parented very well together. Around the time she moved in, his father started excluding me more and more from holidays which we used to spend with our son together. I understood his desire to start his new life with her but never suspected my son was being negatively impacted by this new person in his father’s life. In fact, they both have been negatively impacted. His father is a grown man but our son is 16. He’s been robbed of the joy he experienced growing up and this type of emotional damage is very difficult for a family to resolve and the victim to recover. I have the option to seek legal help, but I fear it will harm my son even more by dragging him through court. Before I take extreme action, I’m going to seek out a therapist who specializes in parental alienation while continuing to work with his neurologists to uncover what is happening within his brain that is symptomatic of seizures.

    Knowledge is power, and while the Internet is filled with misinformation, it also contains a wealth of information for parents dealing with rejection from children and where to find appropriate help. Grandparents have rights now they used to not have. A grandparent cannot be denied the right to spend time with their grandchildren unless a judge determines valid reasons to restrict visitation.

    Within the last year, I have been introduced to guided meditation. Guided meditation has helped me in ways I never imagined. It helps me remain calm, stops the continuos worry, eases my fears and anxiety, and often clears the static in my mind enabling me to access insight regarding my son’s behavior.

    For all parents who reached out on this site for compassion, empathy, and resolution, please know you will each be in my prayers. Don’t give up, take care of your health, research reputable resources, be careful with whom you share your struggles, and tell your child you love him or her everyday no matter what response you receive in return or don’t necessarily feel love at that moment.

    It helps to have faith in a higher power to reach out to when you are completely alone in your pain as I often am with no family other than my son nearby. I literally picture myself carrying my son and placing him in God’s loving embrace. I don’t even have to say anything. He knows of my pain and my fear for my son and He grieves with me. He lifts me up when I feel to weak to face another day. He helps me see the miracles in the children I work with daily, and He helps me stay mindful of my blessings when I feel so very angry or victimized.

    I often wish I had the ability to turn back time, but even this doesn’t guarantee I would be able to prevent the terrible suffering my son and I both are experiencing. So, instead, I work very hard to remain present in the gift of today, identify one thing in which I’m grateful for daily, take care of my physical and spiritual needs, continue to advocate (not enable) for my son, and remind him everyday of how much I love him. He needs one person in his life he can trust to be lovingly honest with him, hold him accountable as best I can which sometimes only involves verbally stating his behavior is unacceptable, and remind him that I love him and will never give up on him.

    One day, he will find his way back to me emotionally. Until then, I have to continue to live my life and refuse to allow my very painful circumstances to prevent me from living out my calling to help bring some peace to other parents by helping their children overcome their own obstacles. God bless each of you!

  13. I do understand, I been am in rhe same shoes touwere in then. I am still am still here, I don’t want to leave because my youngest doesn’t want to leave with me. I will not go no where he is 16 and my oldest soon to be 18. I can wait. I feel there disrespectful ways are due to the fighting and the arguing. I been with my husband dor 23 years I feel I don’t have no support especially when they were younger kept my personal life indoors. U wish I could’ve changed things then, but I feel this way I never put no harm way towards my children. If they are grown and they decide to go there way and blame me for things I know I was wrong for what I should’ve changed a long time ago. I still stay up and cry at night. I do understand you and I hope for the better.

  14. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that we can say no to adult kids. No to being used and abused. No to a one way relationship where we do all the giving and they do all the taking. No to believing we have to accept their disrespect, disconnection and disengagement. It’s not tough love to tell them my way or the highway when they’re old enough to hit the road,or to be very clear that you will not be guilt tripled by them for your past sins as parents, real or, most likely, imagined. Yes, you miss them,love them, and worry about them. Yes, they break your heart. But as post parents we need to look at what we’re doing to enable,infantilize or increase their dependence on us and change those aspects of our behaviour or expectations that contribute to the gulf between us and them. Because we can only change ourselves, not them. Jane Adams PhD, author of When our
    Grown Kids Disappoint Us.

  15. I am married with 5 kids (1 of which is step but ive been there since 10 months and i am all she has ever known. I see and feel her as mine). I love my wife and my children more than anything. I am a former marine and I am crying as I write. If you ask anyone in my family they will say they love me but the truth is only my 5 year old likes me and I know that will change when he gets older. My mind swirls with possible reasons why and I think I have it figured out. My wife was going no where in life and was generally a user who was incapable of putting her child or anyone else first, when I met her. I have done everything wrong in trying to overcome this. After 20 years I realize my wife loves me as a supporter but not as a husband. Generally I believe she loves me but does not like me. We do not have sex or really talk unless its about the kids and then its usually about how I am too strict or controlling(I am) Anyway, the kids go to her for everything (because she tells them to) and me for nothing. I believe my wife, whom I love, transfers her dislike for me into the kids by doing this. I know this sounds trivial but imagine 20 years of dont go to dad if you want something come to me and everyone knows dad is also the one who disciplines so I am getting the double whammy. I really should divorce my wife but I cannot bring myself to do it because I love her, I love my kids and I think me suffering silently is better for everyone except me. I dont know why im writing this but I feel slightly better for the meantime.
    Last night and even now I am wondering – Is this how God feels? Is this a life lesson being taught? I get so depressed thinking about this. I keep trying to change different things to make it better even though I know the problem is I am not with the right women.
    I only have one life. Should I move on?? or Do I accept responsibility “for better or worse” and suffer through it??
    Does anyone else feel like this or is it possible I am just crazy???

  16. Jarret, you wrote: ” I know this sounds trivial but imagine 20 years of dont go to dad if you want something come to me and everyone knows dad is also the one who disciplines so I am getting the double whammy.”

    I don’t have any answers myself, as I found myself in much the same position as you for many years. Hopefully someone here will have something better to say and restore a tiny bit of hope or a ray of light for you (and for the rest of us).

    But please know that “it’s not all your fault!” And writing about it is the first step in trying to find a way out of this mess that we all have found ourselves in.

    I ask God every single day (even though I don’t go to church) to “Show me The Way. And that’s the one thing that keeps me going.

    Please, feel free to continue communicating here and hopefully we will all come up with an answer, sooner rather than later! As they always say in the 12 step meetings: “Thanks for sharing.” This is the first step, truly.

    Your friend in peace and solace, Catherine Todd

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.” Dear God please show us The Way.

  17. PS: Jarrett, what you wrote and feel is NOT “trivial.” Not by any means. Loving our spouses and children who seem to not love us back is one of the biggest challenges in the world. I hope and pray we can all find harmony, peace and solace somewhere somehow in this world. And sooner rather than later!

  18. its time you admit its not going to work . the sooner you do the better for you and your kids . Im sure they all love you its just that the way things are at home it must feel a little strained to say the least. the way you should think about it is would you want your children marrying into the same sort of relationship your in at the moment ? which no doubt they will because they see it as the norm. as soon as you live your life as you want and become happier your children will be happier .

  19. I stay up at night trying to find ways to “fix” or undo what has been done. I wish I could go back in time. I don’t know how this got to this point. Many times I had ideas on how to redirect my child and lead her in the path of success, yet I had no support. I had my child’s therapist tell me that we should try things the child’s way. I have a husband who doesn’t offer up suggestions, I have been the parent dealing with the brunt of this for well, ever. I am lonely. I am exhausted. I am disappointed. I am broken. I am embarrassed. Watching my child’s life unravel and being blamed for it while I try to thwart off the inevitable. She has self sabotaged every good thing in her life. She was so good at a sport, she quit. She is involved in another sport, she hardly tries. She has no real friends except those who are in as bad of shape as she is. Her grades are a mess. There was one time she was on the honor roll. I have spent years coaching her teams, driving her to practices, doing her homework with her, working more to pay tutors & private lessons. People ask me how she is, I can’t even look them in the eye. They talk of how she was good at something…my heart breaks. It hurts to see others succeed, I can’t look at social media, it’s salt in a wound. I feel like a horrible parent/person for being jealous of other people because they have a normal child. At every good moment, and as you are a girl growing up there are some that really stand out and memories that last into your adult life, my child will sabotage herself, dances, first boyfriend, events…even having company at our house. I am becoming more and more secluded, angry and resentful. Teachers don’t even call when she has an F anymore, they have given up, also. She was once institutionalized. She was cutting. She likes to tell people she did that it seems. The school called to tell me. She lied when I asked her. She will ruin every family moment we try to give her. I just want to run away and not look back. I feel like I already know the outcome. So much wasted time,I should have been more strict. When trying to discipline, I am manipulated by “It’s your fault I want to kill myself” or “Today was the worst day ever”. My chest is closing in. I have not had thoughts of taking my own life, but hopes it ends in some way, heart attack or car accident…I am just defeated. She’s not even 14 yet. I love her, the same as when I laid eyes upon her for the very first time, but I am in so much pain, I wish that I had never had a child. It feels good to be honest about these feelings.

  20. Leah, thank you for your validation. It’s good to know that someone who actually “studied” feels the same way about that demon Freud. He has done so much damage to whole generations of adults and children.

    Betsy, I don’t have any advice whatsoever as my relationship with my son was close to the dead end you are on right now. He wasn’t a cutter, but he started drinking at a young age and never has stopped. It has destroyed his life, along with his anger and blame towards me and God knows who else. But I probably bear the brunt of it.

    One good thing is that I notice I use the word “his” instead of “me.” Maybe I am finally stopping blaming myself! There is nothing I can do to change his behavior, his mind, or the situation, but “love him from a distance” and start to be glad he has cut me off so I am no longer pounded by his angry, cruel, designed to hurt me words.

    That doesn’t help on Mother’s Day but I can start to sleep at night now. It’s his choice to live this way, and to blame me, the parent, and our culture thanks to Spock and Freud taught us all to believe this! It’s not true but it might take another generation to figure that out.

    Good luck and I hope you can find some relief. I finally did, when I learned to “put it in God’s Hands,” and I will welcome my son back with open arms. When he comes back respectful, as “love” does not mean I am required to accept abuse. That was a huge revelation for me.

  21. I lost my beloved wife, 8 years ago to cancer. We have 5 grown children. 4 boys and 1 girl. They all were a tremendous support to me and my wife, during her illness. Upon her death, i had all their support. Particularly one son, he was just amazing. Especially, because he himself went through a divorce. He paid a few bills at the time of the funeral, because i had a difficult time of grieving, and was sedated. However, a few weeks later, i made sure that all the expenses he made, i paid him back in full. I was adamant, this was the very last thing i could do for my wife.
    In the mean time, he had met another woman, married her, and than the trouble started. One week after the wedding, shortly after my wife’s passing, she told me, if i ever needed money, from my children i should not come to her husband alone, but go to all my children.. I have a very stable retirement income, and never need to approach any of my children, for funds. The opposite is true, for some of my other children, i have to help them once in a while. I was so disgusted by her comments, she hardly knew me, and blame my son, for this insulting, rude behaviour. I have profusely thanked my son for all he did, for me! She, his new wife, kept telling me i never thanked him enough. He is just acting like a rag doll, and lets her spew out all those miserable comments. Without speaking up! If he had just said, enough, your speaking to my Dad, and i do not tolerate such talk, it would have ended right there and than. In the mean time, she has isolated him, i do not know what he does,and he has totally abandoned me and also his siblings and family, friends. How do i handle him? He refuses to see me! Or anyone in the family. He is making my old age, miserable.
    I still love him of course, i would want things to go back to what it has been all his life, before i leave this World. What can i possible do? I see no way out!

  22. I am so very sad, and so lost and feeling so alone. My 42 year old son has such a hatred for me that he has now gone so far as to block me on Facebook, and not answer my texts when I ask him why he has done this. He has 2 children, little boys, that I love so dearly, and I think he is now going to try to prevent me from visiting them. There are no perfect parents; I made a lot of mistakes when he was growing up, and I have tried to make it up to time and time again. He lives in my house with his family (I don’t live there) and they haven’t paid any rent in over a year. His wife has been sick and unable to work so I just go with the flow. They borrowed my car and kept it for over a year….I’m retired so I went along with that; he brought me the car whenever I needed it. I have given financially until I am broke, and broken, and now have to go back to work to make ends meet. I never criticize him or his wife, I am a decent person; no drugs, alcohol, rudeness, I’m not mean, I tend to be considerate, always trying to help them whatever they need. I love those little boys more than any words can ever express; they are my heart. I cannot understand what I have done wrong to deserve the way he is treating me now, and I just feel as if I want to crawl into a hole and pull the dirt in after me. My heart hurts so badly and I don’t know how to make it stop. He isn’t the kind of person that I can have a conversation with so it will be futile to try to discuss this with him; if he would even listen to me talk at all. Please, I hope God is hearing me. This is just so painful.

  23. My daughter is 29 and is my only child. She cut me off permanently about 3 years ago, even threatening the police against me for no reason at all.

    She has been hateful to me as long as I can remember, going back to even about five years old. She was poisoned against me by her father who harassed us with custody battles until she was 15. But I think that some of it is just her ugly disposition that she inherited genetically from him. I picked the wrong man to father my child.

    I don’t remember anything but hate from her and as a teen it got a lot worse. She even broke up a marriage I had. She has said before that although I was a caring mother while she was growing up, she would like to see me dead now. I know I made some mistakes of instability when she was a teenager, but there was never any abuse or alcohol or drug problems with me.

    She had problems with depression, which runs in the family, since she was 13. I had a hard time keeping her in school but at 16 I put her in a 3 month residential treatment center for troubled teens and it really, really helped for awhile.

    Her hatred really came out after she moved to Texas to attend a college and started having hard times. I could not bail her out. Then she met a young man, and they were having terrible financial problems and I could not bail her out and so that was the end of that. I was cut off then.

    She got married without telling me and had a baby without telling me. The only way I know is through Facebook. It is just beyond me how or why she hates me this much. She claims it is because of the way I have talked to her, yet she is violently verbally abusive to me in the same breath!

    I have thought often of killing myself, as she was my world while she treated me well for a couple of years. But then I began to accept that I only had this child for a short time and now she is gone forever from me. I don’t have much of a life, I’m all alone, but hanging in there and trying to make my life better. I cannot share this secret with anyone, because every time I do I get judged and they wonder what did I do to my daughter?

  24. Well I have 2 grown sons in their early 40’s and late 30’s. All I got to say is you take so much and than when you had enough and you see they could care less walk away pray for them and let them come to you . They may never come back but you never stop praying for them . When they die they will have to answer the Lord to why they broke the commandment honer your father and your mother . No where does it say we as the parents have to honor them or their wives . NOPE NO WHERE ! Life moves and they move on so as parents we must move on too ! God see all !

  25. I am going through the hell of a broken heart with my 16 year old. Actually off work sick tonight because of it. Couldn’t sleep today and cried for 24 hours off and on. Think next week for happy pills us on the cards. My 16 year old us defiant, doesn’t respect me and tells lies at times. Caught her out yesterday and she has decided to go live with hervdad as I don’t trust her!. She did this 7 weeks ago and then came back after 10 days as he told her she had to come home from a friend’s or couldn’t stay at his. She called his bluff then ended up back with me. Here we are again. I am absolutely devastated. We r due to go on holiday in 4 weeks and I’m probably going to lose all my money. I can hardly stop crying when I walk past her room and would feel like shit on the holiday we were supposed to have together or I would go myself. No one available to come and actually think I’m so depressed that I wouldn’t be company anyway. I’m in a rut. I don’t know how to get out and wish my life was over- I know this is a dreadful thing to say. Life with her is stressful and frustrating life without her us too painful to bear, how do you get past this?

  26. Kim, GO ON YOUR HOLIDAY! We wouldn’t allow an adult to ruin things for us, so why do we let our own children? They “aren’t the boss.”

    Even if you cry your way through half of your vacation, you will still find somethings to do where you find yourself ending up with a smile. I had to do the same thing when my only (adult) child put the screws to me… and it still hurts ten years later but I’m growing into my own person finally. Why I would allow a child to hurt me in ways I would never tolerate from an adult in a relationship is beyond me, but that’s what I have to work on.

    Let us know what you decide to do, and good luck and God go with you.


  27. Our only son has broken my heart. Since he married for the second time, he and his wife have never lived near us. Other than a handful of visits, we’ve never really gotten to know her very well. For some reason she doesn’t like us and she really doesn’t like anyone our son has had in his life. She feels threatened for some reason. In their second year of marriage, the two of them went through a very ugly divorce (away from where we lived). We had nothing to do with the divorce other than listening to our son and being a support to him when he needed it. The ink on their divorce paper was not even dry before they surprised everyone and got back together after an ugly four months. They had one baby at that time who she would not let our son see and that broke his heart. So, the only thing we could figure out was that he went back to her because he wanted to see his son. Since their reunion, they proceeded to have three more kids. They now have four below the age of 7. We love our grandkids and would love to see them more, but we live 7 hours away and we both have jobs and cannot get away often. I have never spoken to our daughter-in-law on the phone in 7 years. She has disowned me from Facebook twice and refuses to have anything to do with us. We’ve never done anything to this woman other than try to like her because she is the one my son has appeared to have chosen (never mind the fact that they met… got drunk.. and proposed to each other – AND THEY MARRIED!) I think neither one of them ever thought they could get anyone else. The first time she disowned me on Facebook was because she saw in my list of hundreds of friends – that his ex-wife was on my friend list. I had only had contact with that wife once since their divorce our of curiosity just to see how she and her new family were doing. Then she disowned me the second time because she talked about a car accident my son was in – and I made the comment that I am his mother and I had no idea he had been in a wreck and to please fill me in. That is it. We are not mean people, We have always given them their privacy and you can tell they love their kids. But – they want nothing to do with us. It is SO sad. the lack of communication and feeling that they don’t want us to be in their lives is horrible. I would not wish this kind of relationship on my enemies. I would love to have contact and have tried over and over – she has alienated him for the entire family.

  28. Finding this site tonight was a godsend to me. I feel like my story should be called “Patterns Repeat” because my son has become a meaner, more entitled version of my mother. We are supposed to love and honor our mothers, but in my case I cannot…and my son has a distorted view of me because of my mother, so it’s like a double edged sword for me. I hurt so deeply from not having a relationship with my son AND my mother. It embarrasses me to a point and I feel like I have somehow failed as a parent and as a child by letting them both down. However, I know the only option I have is to stay away and keep living my life. I do try to reach out, as I did with my son today, only to have him text me back and say that he hates me and wants me to stay out of his life. I hope that someday he might come around. Until then, I feel like I am powerless.

    There is so much more to this, but here is a summary. I have had issues with my now 22 year old son for many, many years. They started way back when he was a toddler and my parents completely interfered with my child rearing. I let them, but I was young and in college so I thought it was the right thing to do. 20 years later, I realize it was the biggest mistake I ever made. My son hates me, has verbally abused me numerous times, was a huge factor in my divorce, refuses to speak to me or his sister, has robbed my house, coerced me into spending my entire savings on him, and has never once felt any empathy or love for me or his sister. He has a drinking problem and I believe a drug problem. He got in trouble for drinking and drugs in college, and of course, I bailed him out like a sucker. He is now living with my mother and has manipulated her into giving him a free place to live, have parties, and pay all of his bills. He works full time at a good job. He can afford to live on his own, but thinks by living in her house with her she will let him have it when she dies. I know most people blame me for the selfish brat he has become, as I raised him, but I was constantly undermined by my parents and my mother continues to enable this behavior. He is the “Italian prince” and she is the martyr. She does his laundry, cooks for him, buys his food, pays his car and motorcycle payments and insurance. Meanwhile, he doesn’t help her with anything around the house, not even the lawn. She thinks this is all “okay.” My father died 4 years ago and treated my son like the son he never had. I don’t blame my mother for all of my son’s issues, but she continues to tolerate his bad behaviors. I was an only child and was adopted as an infant. My son got everything he wanted when he was growing up…he played hockey, ski raced, got a TV for Christmas when he was 8, went on ski trips, to NASCAR races, and always had the latest and greatest toys. My dad bought him a race car at 14 and he got a truck when he turned 16 and could drive. Later came an expensive sports car that my mom cosigned for him while my dad was dying in the hospital. I had no balls to to stand up to my parents and my son became extremely entitled and spoiled. He did work part time in high school, then went on to college. He refused to work in college, and kept saying I “Made him go to college.” He would call and text me for money daily…once he needed cold medicine and he got his girlfriend involved in the drama. I gave in every time because I felt like I had to as his mother. I have seen him about 4 times in the last year. The last time was at Christmas. I didn’t get him a gift but went to my mother’s with my daughter and my boyfriend and his son. My son stayed in his bedroom, then came out verbally attacking all of us and screaming at us. My boyfriend challenged him and told him to stop, then we left. He ruined our holiday. I can’t even go see my mother anymore because he always starts conflicts and drama when we visit. He accuses “us” of doing that.. His 15 year old sister cries because she misses him, but he doesn’t care and doesn’t even respond to her phone calls and texts. It makes me very sad that my son is like this. Sometimes I feel there is something pathologically wrong with him.There is so much more to the many, many instances where he has gone off the deep end with me.

    I have my own issues with my mother and somehow feel that I am to blame for my bad relationship with my son because of my issues with her. Perhaps he sees how strained my relationship with her has been and thinks it is the norm. My mother has so many issues that point to a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and she is a textbook definition Narcissist. I had to make the decision to shut her out of my life 3 years ago. I moved an hour away and started a life free from her chains. I see her once a month or two now. Doing that, I also alienated myself from her entire family, which has been much easier than I thought. We don’t spend holidays together anymore because my last one with her 4 years ago on Thanksgiving ended with me calling the cops on her for having a physical outburst on me and my daughter, only to have the cops accuse me of lying about it (she is convincingly sweet when she needs to be) and temporarily evict me, my daughter, and my dog from her house. We have very short, impersonal phone calls a few times a week. She knows little about my life and she pretends we are “close” according to what I hear from others.I lived with her for 2 years after my divorce and my father’s death because she convinced me she was unable to make it on her own. It was pure hell living with her. She would call me names and belittle my friends and my kids. She once told me all of my friends were “drunken whores” and my ex left me because he hated me and my kids. She even caused me to lose a job as an insurance adjuster- it was perfect for me and I could work from home. One day she came into my bedroom (where my desk was) screaming at me because I didn’t let her dog out. I was on the phone with my new boss, who told me that would be my last day of work. The cops were called at least once a month for altercations and did nothing. I tried every avenue to get her some help (my ex is a social worker trained in mental health) and everyone told me that she wasn’t sick enough for intervention. About 10 years ago, my marriage was really on the rocks. She actually convinced me that I was bipolar. Then she told EVERYONE about it, and continues to do so. The fact is, I was clinically depressed from not being able to live my own adult life without her and my father interfering in it! I’ve had over 10 years of therapy to get me to the point where I felt strong enough to break free from “the crazy,” as I call it. I have a good life now. I have a beautiful home, an amazing boyfriend, a teenage daughter I am so very proud of, many close friends, a good relationship with my ex husband, and I started my own company last year. I could not have done any of that if I was still under her thumb. I am proud of what I have accomplished, but somehow feel sad because I can’t share it with my son and my mother.

  29. Daughter spread malicious rumors about me to friends and family that I was never there and I chose new spouse over her.

  30. My husband and I built a home 14 yrs ago. He died left it to me. My children are so disrespectful to me. I moved out town to get my mind togather and left the house took nothing but my shoes. I come home twice month pay all bills. My kids tell me . I can’t just come back home when I get ready and it’s my house ,my name is on land and home.
    Can this be so.
    they are 28 and 26 years old.

  31. No adult should tolerate abusive treatment from an adult child. They need to stand up for themselves, set clear boundaries and hold their adult kids accountable for their actions. However, I think most cases of heartbreak involve estrangement on behalf of the adult children. You’ll probably learn a lot more by talking to the children, and not just their parents. My wife used to be fairly close with her father. However, over the years, he has gotten to be extremely judgmental and opinionated about, well, just about everything. And he seems to be determined to share his wisdom with her whether or not she wants it. It has gotten to the point that his emails are viewed as spam, his phone calls are avoided and all visits are much shorter than they used to be. Trouble is, he just doesn’t seem to see that he is doing anything wrong. He seems to believe that, as the parent, he can’t be wrong.

  32. I feel like have no capability to answer your question because I’m a new mom. In life, I have not good relationship with mother. She scream too much during my childhood and my teenage days. I think she was too hard to me and expect me too much for things I couldn’t accomplished. I feel her presence as a big pressure too me. Though I still respect her so much because she is my mother. May be because I’m feeling close to my religion and I’m afraid about ‘karma’

  33. What many of you forget and I don’t see mentioned is, if you provided a psychologically or physically unhealthy environment for your child, why would you expect your adult child to simply forgive and embrace you? Maybe it’s painful to be around you, maybe they don’t want to expose their children to your failings and psychological issues. It doesn’t have to be outright child abuse that drives them to this. If you made your child consistently sad, uncomfortable, marginalized, unhappy etc…while growing up. What do you expect? It hurts me to not have a relationship with my parents and siblings, but It hurts more to be with them.

  34. Charles, your comment above mine helped me understand that the seeds of being estranged from my children were sown long ago. Knowing that I absolutely tried to give them all they needed as the only surviving parent was not enough to make them feel safe, secure and loved as much as every child deserves. As much as I loved them, my life and theirs was often chaotic and dysfunctional. Expecting them to know that I really did the best I could do given the circumstances doesn’t negate the fact that they had a mother who was always stressed, who was looking to have her own emotional needs met, and who expected them to be “good” and “happy” and “normal” in spite of their home life. Today, they are all amazing in their own way and I just need to accept that they will live their own lives the way they want to and, if that doesn’t include forgiving me and allowing me to be part of their lives, so be it. Thank you again for giving me some understanding that sometimes the best a mother can do simply isn’t enough.

  35. It is some comfort to know I am not the only one who has a daughter who has broken my heart. Her father and I gave her a wonderful life and a great education. She chose to move 5 hours away from us near her boyfriend and they married at the court house. We were not included but his entire family was there. Her father passed not long after that and now there is no way to make up the hurt to him but she continues to hurt me by not visiting or even calling. I have gone to visit her a few times but his family always makes a point on being there too intrude on my visits.

  36. Wow this forum is truly an eye opener. Amazing all these different stories yet we all share the heartbreak of losing the love of a child in many different ways for many different reasons….Sad. I myself have lost the love of my only child, a Son who next month will be 38 years old, married and living with 3 of his 5 children. It is 20 months since we saw one another. For my Son I pray that his conscious be illuminated so that he may see his defects, separate from his eyes the veil of pride that would impede him from seeing them and confessing them to himself, I already have for myself. He knows this because I admitted I failed him as a Mother I did the best I could. I have asked for his forgiveness on several occasions and he forgives me but then an incident occurs and we’re back to square one. At this point its all on him to work on healing his demons so that he may truly forgive, let go and move on, living his life to the fullest! Yes I miss and love him. I have my moments of setback and question myself was I truly that bad of a mother but then I find my strength and get back on my path going forward. I sorely miss my grandchildren I was able to give them a few good lasting memories and for that I am eternally grateful! I pray that their Guardian Angels watch over them and protect them all! Thank you for listening and have a blessed day!

  37. I have 2 beautiful daughter’s aged 22 and 19. They have been my whole life since they were born. I tried to teach them every thing I could think of. I was very proud hearing over and over again how respectful my girls are. As if that isn’t the norm. My oldest started dating her X boyfriend 2 years ago. In the beginning I recall her crying in her room and asking me for help. She wanted me to tell him what a good person she was and that he could trust her and she would never cheat. Like he was a is ring her of doing. So I did. For the last 2 years me and my daughter have been tor mm apart. She is not the same person since this guy ruined het. He told her he liked chunky girls so she ate and ate and went from a perfect size 3 to a size 14 and she is only 5’2. He would only see her during the week at night and never on weekends. I’ve read texts from him telling her not to listen to me and to curse at me, which she never had done. He has cheated on her over and over again. Of course I have tried talking to her about how she deserves to be treated better and to let him go c but that only pushed her more to him and further away from me. All of her friends and family have tried to talk to her as well but she shut them out also. It’s like everything I taught her she did the oposite. So in the end he dumped her and had a new girlfriend the next day. He ruined my daughter and I really hope he meets KARMA real soom. Through her sadness we were all so happy thinking we had her back, the way she wad, but truly nothing has changed. She is still disrespectful and is very irresponsible in our home. In fact I think she hates me more mow. She blames me for the break up. She feels he wouldn’t have left if I would have liked him and allowed him in our home. She messes up our house and does nothing to contribute. She only speaks toe when she needs domething. I have been so hurt inside for the past 2 years. I lost my mother and brother within 4 months of each other 3 years ago, and never thought I could feel more pain. This situation with my daughter is more painful than anything. I feel like I can’t live my life. I’m not happy, I’m so angry that she would do this to me when all I ever did was love her. I’m just miserable.