"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!

459 thoughts on “"Children Who Break Your Heart": A Reader Asks for Your Advice

  1. I have posted on here frequently in the past about my relationship with my 40 year old daughter and how dysfunctional it has been. I can’t tell the story again due to the length but if anyone cares to go back and find my earlier posts, you will know the story and what I did to change it. Now…2 years later…I CAN tell you that it has made a world of difference! It went totally from me giving, giving, giving (money, time, stuff), to me letting HER come to me and ONLY if it didn’t include ‘giving’ something. I FINALLY set boundaries and by God, I stuck by them. And it got better. I went about my life and I did not give to get. And eventually things changed. And honestly? I was prepared to never see her again if it was going to be me having to do things and give things to be in her life. I realized that just because it’s ‘blood’ doesn’t mean it has to be ‘forever’. I don’t work that way anymore. It’s mutual respect now and that’s the way it always SHOULD have been and is definitely the way it always WILL be from here on out. May the force be with all of the parents that ARE in the position I WAS in. I truly hope you can find the strength I had to find to make it better. :)

  2. So what about if your good people that give what ever you can to your child even you really can’t financially or mentally and they still are disrespectful or cutting off huh or what do if your whole child hood you had mental and physical abuse me you hoe it is but yet your child acts up and your like y if I haven’t done anything you I feel like y like I’ve never hurt u try to go out of my to get what u need for school or anything yet u still act out but when I was growing up I had to wear what I was told or that was that it I got my hair pulled or called a name I’m just like why does she act out when I’ve done nothing and I tell her me growing up I did nothing to my foster mom and I still go beat and you you do its like y if you’ve never hand harm come to u but still disrespectful and ungrateful ness I don’t know hat to do I go out of my way to get what ever cause how it is theses days but still I get shit from her and her dad and it the same I can be the best for my husband and he’s the same disrespectful and in grateful and that’s not even her real dad they but act up with me what to do

  3. Hi. i’m in the same situation my Husband’s adult son (my stepson) never seen eye to eye about his spouse she has destroyed our family and torn us apart. when we made it clear she was not welcome around he choose her and disowned us as a result, this has affected his father whom had a loving relationship up until then he now acts as though we do not exist. he refuses to call or visit us this has been going on for a long time we have attempted to get a hold of him but was unsuccessful he just avoids us. we will not live forever and would like to be on civil terms but don’t see this ever happening. he doesn’t even call to wish us happy holidays like he use too i feel like he has changed. what should i do?

  4. I have two married daughters in their thirties but since their father remarried and moved where they live things have altered – I ve made mistakes but so has their father but they have always been loved – my older daughter was ill ( so I ve cared for her but now she is better) but there was a wedding in her husbands family which we were thought we d be going to ( but we had no invite but her father and wife did) it really upset me and we had s massive row and she text me horrible things ( I did not help airing my feelings on Facebook) so she text and said I’m bitter and she disowned me – her husband text me saying it’s his family and he should have told me we were not invited and he was sorry and he and my daughter feel awful but my other daughter was asked and her husband also ( and she never went to any family do s but my husband and I did) but for years mind we felt we should not be at the family gatherings as if we did not talk to anyone they would not really bother and I have always tried to make an effort – -anyway told my oldest daughter you are disowning me ? Well that’s fine as you have made everything a competition for years with your dad and I and I’ve had enough aswell ( for years she said I was competitive but I never saw it like that I just wanted to feel as important as her father !!!!! We be not spoken for months now and I normally contact her because she has an illness but this time I know it’s not my fault ( my other daughter supported me mind – I even had my granddaughter stayed at her house (which I loved ) even though they were all at the wedding- but my youngest at a go and me and her dad ( saying we always put our ill daughter first so we took it all and board. And said we love you the same but an ill child is always a concern whatever age they are- but then Iwe rowed as we booked a caravan as she asked for us to go away then because my other daughter wanted a 34th party my younger daughter said they would only come to caravan for a one night as she should go to her sisters party !!! Which was mentioned after I booked caravan ( my husband who is a great step dad but quiet actually had a row with her ) he’s had enough he said no more – he said I worry to much and care too much for them they treat me bad and had told me to let them come to me – the younger daughter has spoken to me since but uses our granddaughter as a pawn – but I just FaceTime my grandchild now ( as we have a solid bond) but I was asked by my younger daughter if we could have the little one ( I said we couldn’t as we had made arrangements but will have her any other weekend she said ok – no probs – I’ve not heard since ( so I will FaceTime our grandchild anyway ) buts it sad how it come to this – I love my daughters dearly and they have always expected me to run up there ( which I have always done and what they expect but now I want respect – I detest ve respect – they are not always right – it’s as though they are the parents and I am the child – so I am just getting on with life as it did all effect me for months this year – I have a 15 year old son with my husband ( my daughters step dad) and he is in his last year of school – it’s all upset him ( and I realised when he was upset – omg – what about him ???( Then I pulled myself together )

  5. I am a mother,although I never knew how to be,I never saw my mom do more than stay in bed,my sister became the parent. I was not “mother material” I was terrified of the idea,however,I gave birth to a daughter. It cost me my marriage(my husband wanted I have an abortion,I refused),I lost my career my home and returning home to my parents house,my self esteem and family members respect. My daughter was kidnapped by her father a week past her first year,my parents showed no compassion. For ALMOST 3yrs I didn’t know where my daughter was,until I answered the phone(which I was forbidden to do) my xhusband called telling me my daughter was in California.i rode 4days one way to get her,and 4days back. My family members constantly talked bad about me to my daughter,however I soon found a place to live,only for constant interference.I was physically ill however in my family’s opinion I was crazy,so they begin referring to the crazy mommy. What my family didn’t know was my stepfather having raped me and threatening to hurt my child.As ill as I was,I did what I thought I had to to be safe,it wasn’t until I confronted my dad that my mom had always known and pretended she was a victim.They are both dead,my daughter was at their house when I confronted him.she stated that if I accused daddy she would accuse me…that’s when the assassination of my reputation,character in my neighborhood our church people I didn’t know,would call cursing me. Lying,stealing,wrecking my vehicle threatening my life,cleaning out my checking and savings account,because she could….multiple times…I don’t know whether it was ALL my fault..however I know I am flawed,but no time when I needed my daughter would she ever help without stealing or lying ..just because she could. She is an adult now I’m no longer concerned whether she cares,her kind of love is far too costly and the price to have her as a daughter,I gave up everything to be a mom only to be blamed,cursed threatened and rejected. I just didn’t believe in abortion.

  6. Wow, what I can say. I have read many comments on here and some make me sad some makes me angry, I totally agree with LJ. Some people can be very opinionated, people like myself have come on here to listen to likeminded people who are hurting, it does t matter whose fault it is the fact is as parents when our children who we have raised probally breastfed and given our all to. They then turn around and disrespect you, don’t even want to drop you to a hospital appointment then that is sad. Further, they find partners and put them first, not saying that chikdren don’t grow up and move on but for goodness sake spare a thought for those mothers like myself who feel pain, deep seated wound when your children change into monsters heartless people. We can all pray and hope that the situation turn around but please you all don’t forget pain is pain. If a dog bites you it cause pain does it matter that you stood on he dogs tail. I don’t think so… For all the mums and dads on here feeling sad right now, my heart goes out to you because I have felt it first hand I understand your pain, but I tell myself in between the tears that ‘time is the master’. God bless all.

  7. Estrangement from three of my four children began after my divorce from their father after thirty years of marriage. He was a lobbyist, seldom home, unfaithful and verbally abusive, but he supported us. I stayed in the marriage
    for the childrens’ sake, so that they could have a great education and the stability of two, however dysfunctional, parents. When the last child left for college, the marriage ended. It has been seven years and the children do not communicate but blame me for the divorce. My ex has been talking against me and brainwashing the children for years. Nothing is ever the fault of a narcissist and the children give him credibility. My attorney said to
    keep emailing the kids and eventually they will respond, but so far nothing, and it has broken my heart. I loved them and did everything I could for them. How can I heal this wound? Anne

  8. These stories touch me deeply. The last two years have been the hardest years of my life . I raised two beautiful girls without their father who was an alcoholic and separated from us very early on in their lives . I chose to be away from their father and make a good life for ourselves I went to college got a nursing degree worked raised my two girls and tried to make a good life for ourselves . Now one of my daughters in the last two years has come out gay and this has been a real heartbreaking thing to go through , and my other daughter is 19 left my house in a huff when she was 18 and now is pregnant with a guy who won’t keep a job they live in a terrible environment and it’s just a mess . She didn’t finish high school either . Neither of my girls are coming to go to college which I dreamed for them both . I am heartbroken worried sad scared to death of the future for them and spent emotionally . Thank you for your stories at least I know I’m not alone .

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