"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!

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

  1. I am a single parent mom despite my husband being there. I spent 32 years of my life in giving my son the best. He was educated abroad and is now a doctor. He was very close to me though he was away from home studying. Suddenly he decided to break all ties with me quoting the most unreasonable excuses. He completely cut me out from his.life. He is all I have in life but he lives on the other side of the world from me and has blocked me on the telephone and social resources. I travelled 29 hrs by flight to see him and reason with him but he did not let me enter his house. What can I do as life without him is tearing me apart?

  2. Why does it bother us so much? Why does it hurt so bad? Why do we find it so hard to move on. I find myself asking myself that question more & more lately. It doesn’t seem normal or sane. Yet it is our life at the moment. It’s just naturally easier for the child to separate from the parent without tears. We know that! So why can’t we accept it! Why do I need meds & counseling to deal with the estrangement from my son but he just needs to “spread his wings & grow”?
    Is it fair for me to want him to love me the same as I love him? Is that even possible? I don’t know. But I wish it was true. I wish he hurt as much as I hurt. I wish I knew why he doesn’t.
    What is wrong with us?

    YOU ARE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO LET GO WHETHER YOU ” LIKE IT OR NOT”‘ Those kids will come an find you in their own good time….yep it happened to me too!

    Get used to it and dam well stay out of it for your own mental healh…..it is not your job to parent them anyway…..you have already been given that message and badly behaved parent/brats…….should be parented too. show the role model. Ummm….tough love time…….. they are the parents now….NOT YOU ! t TOUGH LOVE TIME….GET YOURSELF THE HELL OUT OF IT…..AND JUST DON’T GO THERE….. and for god’s sake don’t indulge their excuses…..look all excuses are good, even valid, but they never make anyone strong. time for a bit of reality therapy……um…but who for….accept that first, you are part of the problem….not the solution. My heart goes out to you…….get yourself the hell out of it, an the eviction notice that goes with it……want to really make some change….if you have the guts…call child protection on a parent who cannot protect, provide for and your own storty. And stop being a sook about it…. they need some shock therapy……wake them up to parenthood…..your call will be anon anyway……get some guts and stick up for your grandkids for god’s sake do something about it.

  4. To Zabeen
    I know your pain. It is time for You now. Take all that love, all that caring, all that consideration that you lavished on yoir son all these years and give All of it to you now. Reallity is, He owes you nothing and that is what he is giving you. Your son is ungrateful, unloving, cold and mean. Son or not this is not the kind of person you want in your life. You have done enough for him. It is time for you. He has been very clear that he does not appreciate you for who you are. Parents need to listen and respond in kind not insist their offspring is something other than who they show us they are. Disappointing? Yes but we dont choose for them, they get to. You get to choose to deal with the reality that they are horrible human beings that would throw you under the bus in a heart beat if it meant their gain. Cut ties make him. Make him apologize in order to be a part of your life. Forgiveness is important for you. Let Go! Trust me, he will only bring more pain in your life, if he never comes to repent his actions toward you. You are his mother for Gods sake. Be strong you can do this. Be happy in spite of his cruel behaviour and be a better person for you.

  5. Your son might have met someone who has told him to break it off with you. Let him have his life and go on with yours, PLEASE! Don’t travel to the ends of the earth to try to reason with unreasonable. It’s beneath you. You did a good job, he’s a doctor and hopefully successful. Now is your time. Wash your hands. This generation seems to have developed their own mindset and feel that their parents are no longer useful for them, except when they need money. So close the bank, accept what is, and don’t think about them except for the happy times before they went bonkers.

  6. Hello To All,
    I want to say there a time when you has to accepted it time to move on with your own life. It’s painful but also we learned many valuable lessons about love and abuse. Abuse sure never be accepted as love, if your children made a choice to down grade you as a person then say good-bye BABY. Parent always sure be very important and if you’re aren’t be directed and bold. I understand the grief of all on this site, I once was so weak and confuse that I begin to ? my parenting. There was nothing but pure love and supported I gave to my children. I have this saying your kids sure never come before you. The reason I use these words, cause you’re the leader, if you put the army before the leader, the army will destroy the leader cause they want nothing but control. I will ask all to take back your life, happiness and live. I know my heart was broken and I just put all back together for peace and harmony. Bless all the broken hearts.

  7. Well I won’t go into detail but I am a devastated weary person to say the least. My youngest daughter committed suicide-horrifc marriage-my oldest daughter stopped speaking to me five years ago because I would not move to the state she lives in and help her with her three children. I visited as much as I could afford, and paid for her to visit me, but it was just not enough for her. One day with no excuse no explanation she blocked me from her life and my three grandsons. I have desperately tried to contact them to no avail. She abandoned me and her little sister. Now she has turned to alcohol, was close with me and adored me and I adore her. I was blessed to have such a great daughter after everything. Recently she got into the wrong crowd of people…these are bad people with no values… and I am shocked that she is hanging out with people like this … and she has turned on me and against me. I have stood by her, given to her, loved her and anything at all that I say is wrong. If I say “good morning it is beautiful weather’ she is rude and mean and angry. I even began just agreeing with everything because I felt that maybe everything I was saying was wrong and perhaps I was the one who was wrong in every comment even if I agreed on everything it was still wrong in her opinion. I am devastated. I left out the details. I blame no one. I use to blame myself continually. It is easy to do that. I just want to disconnect from them. I grieve daily. My life was my children. I want to stop loving them and forget them.

  8. My heart too has been broken in dealing with my 33yrs old son. Both his Dad and I have bent over backwards to support he,his partner and 3yr old son who my husband and I adore. Not for the first time has he ordered us to leave his house! I haven’t seen him this week no txts no calls certainly no apologies.For three years since our grandson was born we have twice a week looked after him twice a week twelve hours a day,I have cleaned,ironed and baby sat and now once again I have suffered an avalanche of Verble abuse all because my son’s partner and my husband had a something or nothing disagreement which may I say my husband apologised twice! Right now they have cut us off and aren’t speaking to us…I can just about deal with my son and his partner not speaking to us but not to see our Grandson the little boy we have taken care of for three years is crucifying us.

  9. How can they do this to us? We ask ourselves that but only the child can answer it and to them, their answer is The Reason. It can be rooted in resentment that still rankles in their immature minds, still feeling like a child when they are with you or around you or it could be their resentment is rooted in truth. They felt controlled, unloved, a prop for your ego, abused, neglected, resented, or about a 100 other reasons that only a psychiatrist can uncover. It could be that you take too much energy to be in their lives and their emotional quotient is filled with by their partner, kids, and friends. Every reason if valid, if not fair, every emotion you feel is valid, too. It sucks, it sucks the life out of the parent who devoted their lives to the child only to be cast aside as unwanted and unneeded. And in the end, there is no answer or remedy. Only acceptance. You have to find your own life and really, the big thing, you have to cut them out of your thoughts and life. Pack their clothes, make their room a guest room or an office. Become a substitute parent to any needy person that crosses your life. Sometimes those without parents are the best kids to the rejected parent. If you feel you have to have kids and grandkids in your life, believe me, there are tons of needy orphans that are millennial age and can be the best comfort in your old age. You need to find something to fill the empty space they left. You have to live. you may never know why they cut you out, but you have to accept that they have, and realize, you are still a person, with a life to live and one that can live it fully. Imagine what you would be doing if that kid had never been born. Erase their number from your phone, pack up their photos if that causes you pain. Make your life one that counts. Because no one is going to do that for you. Especially your kid. You are worth the air you breathe. Fill that space, make your own life. After a while of pretending you are ok, you will be.

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