"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!

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

  1. I was on another site where the estranged children were commiserating about their parents. Sadly, their comments were more along the lines of they didn’t understand why their parents didn’t understand. One estranged parent, when confronted with all the discipline they delivered told their child – “You’re not over that yet? I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t care.” That’s correct, years of estrangement, finally a meeting and that’s what they gave their child by way of excuse. The parent seemed perplexed that their child found that wanting.

  2. I believe we were great mothers no mother is perfect. We need to take the blame, shame and guilt off of ourselves. Our children are not a representation of who we are. They have some of our genes but also others which could be the predominant factor in why they choose to be the way they are towards us. My ex husband was verbally abusive and my only child a daughter believed everything her father said. Through intensive therapy I’ve had to break the illusion that I will one day have a great mother daughter relationship because it most likely will never happen. I’ve had to accept that we are complete opposites I’m all loving and she is tough, brutal and evil towards me. I have Systemic Lupus I need to finally take care of myself and put me first.
    Love yourselves nurture yourselves and be kind to yourselves
    My heart goes out to all of you

  3. My problems with my adult son are similar & different. He had brain damage when he was 17. He was jumped & beaten. He is now almost 40 with two Masters. Problem is his cognizance, knowledge of awareness, and I believe he is a narcissist. He had an ‘outburst with his dad and would not apologize to his young son nor his dad. We were talking on the phone (I am out of state) & he was saying I was the only one that understood him, always. Then, the next thing he was cussing me out & hung up one me. Weeks went by, all hang ups when I called. Now, apparently I told him he was a horrible parent, I did not. I’m getting ready to call him again & I know he’ll either not answer his phone or he’ll have one word answers. He always knows he right no matter the situation.

  4. Patricia, if you have other children and inlaws that you have a good rapport with, then the one son and daughter-in-law are the ones to blame, not yourself. The daughter-in-law may be the one pushing your son to alienate you from their family. That is so common as they don’t want to compete with their husband’s affection, they want it all to themselves, and they want to know that they have that control over them. Maybe your son will come to his senses when he realizes he misses his mom. Until then, enjoy your other kids.

  5. Just because I gave birth to my sons doesn’t mean I have to like them now,I’ve come to the realization that “they are not my problem anymore” .
    I cut them out of my will,my life,everything,like animals in the wild,I just had to let them go.
    It hurt,at first,until I realized I was happy before I had them and I’m perfectly capable of being happy now that they no longer speak to me.
    I “got another hobby” ME

  6. My daughters are now 14 and 16. We us to be very very close. There mom has tried to put a wedge between us for several years, Well she has finally accomplished her selfish goal. I havet seen or even talked to My kids in a year now. . I can’t get over this pain, it hurts to the core of my soul. I’m afraid I’m not gonna make it through this HURT, it completely consuming my life. 😔

  7. My 3 adult children don’t visit and rarely call. Invitations (only every few months) are rejected. One son never returns calls or texts. Two out of three have had DWI issues; lost their cars for a year at a time and we supported them, told them we loved them no matter what. I have gone to counseling. I understand I am not responsible nor did I cause their behavior but why am I broken? The counselor says, “move on” but how can we, as parents, when they are our family? Yep, I lose sleep thinking about it. No grandkids yet but having no contact will definitely kill me. I have a life; I have joy; but it will never be 100% until my adult children participate (which I recognize may never happen).

  8. I thought my 14 year old son and I were not only close as Mother/Son but also best buddies. I know what you’re thinking… every parent thinks that. But this kid would come find me the minute he woke up and stay glued to me every minute. Except for when he was in school, of course. He had to go for visitation 2 days a week after school with his father. All he talked about was how much he hated going, how he hated the “@$$hole” as he called him, how his father wouldn’t clean anything all week and left it for him to do on his next visit, he was getting yelled at all the time, and on and on. Never anything good. And when his father called, my son would rush him off in 2 minutes or less. Every phone call. His father would say “I love you” and my son would say, “bye” or just hang up on him. But, his father tried to murder me when I was pregnant with him so I chalked it up to that and the fact that the courts had ignored that and granted visitation anyway because “He hurt you. Not the child. So we can’t hold that against him.” What? I couldn’t believe it. Anyway, my son was 4 then and we were forced to be subjected to this man’s lunacy and control tactics for all these years. So, fast forward to December of last year.
    I had just gotten him his first cell phone a couple of months prior due to several lockdowns at his school, shootings at nearby schools, bombs, etc. That is all that phone was for. So that I could contact him if need be in such a situation. Well. Come to find that he had been using it to take part in horrible things via the internet while he was at school, and while he was at his father’s house. He didn’t have his phone while at my house. I took it when I picked him up and gave it back when I dropped him off at school. And I mean things like you see on the news and are shocked by. So, I took his phone. There was much discussion, many apologies from him… the whole nine yards. Of course. But it was still several months before I felt like I could give him another chance. He had to earn it.
    Jump to Friday, March 24 of this year, last day of school before spring/Easter break. I pick him up, I take the phone that he had been given back for about a week and a half at that point. I find evidence of the same sorts of behavior. I inform him that I am taking the phone again. Monday morning I tell his father what he had been up to and ask that my son not be allowed to access the internet via his devices at his house. Jump forward to Saturday, April 22.
    3 weeks ago today. My fiancee (who had a stroke last year, had been diagnosed with cancer a few days before and since the stroke suffers seizures, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart troubles, physical paralysis events and so on….) began having symptoms of another heart attack in the morning so off to the hospital he went. My son usually tags along with me as I drive separately from the paramedics most times. This time he wanted to stay. Needless to say I didn’t get back home until the wee hours when they said my fiancee was stable. I walked into a mess. It’s the size of a small 2 bedroom apt. so things need to be kept picked up. My son had bins and boxes pulled out of closets and cabinets everywhere. Clothes were tossed hither and yon, his backpack contents were strewn about with all the homework papers and whatnot. There were plates and pots in the sink. The only thing he said when questioned was, “I was looking for something. I’ll put everything back tomorrow. Sorry. I tried to clean it before you got home. I thought you would be gone longer.” Longer? I had been at emergency for most of the day! The thought crossed my mind that maybe he had people over, but, why the boxes, bins, and flinging of things? I went to bed. He cleaned it up (well, he helped.) on Sunday. All day Sunday he was his normal chummy hang out with Mom self as I did his laundry and all of that for the next morning.
    Monday morning I drive him to school, we sing along to the radio, crack jokes, laugh, just as normal. He gets out of the car in the drop off loop, say, “Bye Mom, I love you!” like he always did and off he went into the school.
    Monday night he calls me at the usual time from his father’s apartment and says, “Hi Mom. What did you do today?” like he always does. Before I could answer his father was on the phone telling me that my son didn’t want to live with me anymore. “What? What are you talking about?” I asked. He repeated what he had said. I was totally confused and blindsided. Was my son in danger? What was going on? I asked to speak with my son again and my ex refused. He insisted that my son didn’t want to talk to me even though he had just called me. Finally, I said, “Look. This doesn’t sound right. If I don’t hear my son tell me himself in his own voice that he does not want to live with me then I am sending the police to make sure he is okay.” My son got on the phone upset and crying and screamed into the phone, “I’m not going to live with you Mom! I’m never going to live with you again!”
    So, I still don’t know what the hell… but from what I can gather… either my son and my ex (who would have been in my home without my permission as the owner of the home who for years held restraining orders against him and he was not to be near me) or my son by himself trashed every room of my house including my bedroom and took pictures in order to claim that I lived that way and had my son living that way so there could be a reason why he should go live with his father now.
    Yeah. Wonderful child, right? Just a peach. His Mom is at the hospital scared to death that the love of her life since high school (that she finally found again after 30 years of being apart) could be dying right there in front of her and where is he? This great kid of mine that I have given up my life to care for for 15 long years without child support or assistance from anyone? Making dinner? Lightening my load of chores? Picking flowers? Drawing a card? Nope! Not my kid! MY kid felt that what Mom needed during the worst moment of her life was to be set up, come home to a trashed house, and possibly be thrown in jail on child neglect charges when she is the sole caretaker for the guy about to be released from the hospital who needs 24 hour supervision for his daily multiple transient ischemic attacks and seizures. That was his Mother’s Day gift to me. Happy Mother’s Day.
    Now, this is not to say that what he did is worse, better, the same as, or anything else than any of the other situations here. It isn’t. Because it doesn’t matter what they specifically did. It’s that they did it. Period. You know? They did what we wouldn’t do. So, it stabs all of us the same.
    Anyway, that’s my story. I, personally, don’t feel like I ever want to see him. I can’t imagine letting someone who would do that and all the things he was doing online anywhere near me. I mean, if it was someone else I wouldn’t so… why just because I gave birth? It doesn’t seem smart, healthy, or helpful to have anyone like that around. Son or not. That doesn’t mean I don’t cry every day. And I mean EVERY day. I’m just so floored. It’s just so diabolical and out of the blue. (I mean for me. CLEARLY he PLANNED it.) I don’t know him. This is not my son. And, if this is who he is now towards me, I really don’t think I want him to be. Ever. And that is what hurts me. Not seeing the son he USED to be towards me… EVER. That son is gone. And I guess that’s just the way it is. So… I suppose I just accept it. Right? Just… busy myself with everything else I have to do and… move on. ‘Cause that’s my life now. I had one life that Saturday morning 3 weeks ago, and a flipped upside-down life by that night. I just didn’t know it until Monday.
    I’m still going to have a kick-ass Mother’s Day though! I bought myself all the same things I usually buy myself this time of year because he never did… so.. I’m good! Now, go do the same thing ladies! Pamper yourselves! Go to the restaurant YOU want to go to for a change! Get the kind of chocolates that are YOUR favorite! Heck, buy yourself a gift you ACTUALLY want! What would THAT be like, huh? You paid your dues… GO FOR IT !!!!

  9. My daughter has broken my heart with her disrespect and her reckless words. She has done this for years. I’ve always made excuses for her and try to reach out to her but somehow it backfires on me. I believe she is a selfish brat.

  10. How’s this: Today is not only Mother’s day but also my birthday. No word from my estranged daughter…i kind of expected this. What did just about rip my heart in two was the seeming disinterest of my son. His family celebrated twice with his g.f.’s mom and this evening with his grandmother. I had to make a request for time with them and when I did, it was met with a ho hum attitude. So very painful and somewhat ruined what should have been two special occasions…who is this child?!

  11. Ignore ungrateful, rude and selfish adult kids. It hurts at first, but move on with your life! After years of abuse (ignoring Mother’s day, standing me up for a dinner party I threw in her honor, not returning texts or having her secretary say she is too busy to take my call, etc.etc.etc), I’m over it. LIFE IS SHORT. If I ever speak with my 45 year old money-driven, ego maniac, super star financial planner daughter I will say:
    Blaming me results in you’re not having to feel guilty.
    Just because you’re a hot-shot in the corporate world, doesn’t mean you’re better than the women who gave birth to you. Grow-up and get over yourself!

  12. I have resigned myself to the fact that my grown kids do not care about what happens to me. I have to say that I am not quite estranged from my kids but I might as well be. The problem is me, I think. I have to stop expecting anything. I am prompted to write today because I do have an illness that will eventually cause my death, I made a huge mistake by asking my youngest daughter to come help me move some furniture so I could clean underneath it, I need some minor repairs done by the landlord, and I just wanted the place to look decent. I don’t have a dirty house, but I have some clutter. Her response,” Well, can’t you just clean around the furniture and move stuff into your bedroom where they won’t see?” I have invited her many times that DO NOT involve helping me or cleaning. This is the FIRST time in years and years. She always has an excuse: She and her boyfriend can’t find a dog-sitter ( He refuses to board them–I have offered to pay ), Or, she has to work all weekend–but finds plenty of time to post pics, etc., on Facebook. The best one was that she had no vacation days left, but her brother’s wife had hip surgery and she was able to take several days off to go help. In other words, she lies to me. I would rather have a blunt truth than a lie. I have offered to pay gas, or go pick her up, because they only have one car, etc. IShe has ingratiated herself to members of my extended family. They communicate on Facebook constantly, but I am left out of it. I am lucky that I do have a sister who is very supportive. I finally realized that she kind of buddies up to people who might have money, or who could be in a position to help later on–she is opportunistic. I finally made up my mind that I will not try to communicate with her again. It is sad, and it hurts, but I think that this would be best for both of us. I am going to get on with what is left of MY life and take care of ME. If she wants to come around then so be it. If not, I am going to have to look upon this as a death that will be final. I know i must sound cold and heartless, but I am going to look out for me from now on.

  13. My ex and me have shared custody of our 13 yo son. Lately he often wants to stay more with him and even when he promises he will stay for a week he changes his mind day before and says I will go to dad’s early or stays extra days. It hurts so much as when he is with him he does not remember to call or text until I do it and he maybe answers to my sms. Rarely answers calls. Yesterday he said again I want to go do dad one day early…I woke up crying at 4am as I was so sad and thinking what am I doing wrong. I told him how I felt from the heart. He said he will stay and does bot want me to be sad and there is no reason why he is doing it. But tonight he changed his mind after all I told him about my feelings…it looks like he does not care a bit. I am so down…sad…depressed…I have no idea what to think or do…anyone in the same shoes as me?🙁

  14. I feel for everyone on this post. Mothers day has come and gone again and nothing. My heart is so broken. It is comforting to know I am not alone.

  15. I am a little confused as to why some parents seem surprised that their adult kids turned out “entitled” and to be such “brats” and “don’t know how” they became that way. They came out of their mothers’ wombs. You as parents raised them. You lived with them and had opportunities to shape them into who you expected them to be until they were old enough to feel like pursuing independence. They weren’t born kicking and screaming that they hate you. Something happened while they were growing up that made them into something you apparently ended up disappointed with or even resentful at. While I am already 30, I might still be considered one of those born into the “entitlement age.” Let me tell you something. While I cringe looking back at my appalling self-entitlement growing up, I now know exactly how I became that way – back then I truly never thought of myself as self-entitled. It wasn’t the “bad influence” from my peers (I have asperger’s, I didn’t have many friends except for 2 or 3). It wasn’t even really MTV or magazines – those were just factors that encouraged/worsened my sense of entitlement. It was my PARENTS who made me that way. I was actually raised with principles, in a sense that I practiced etiquette at dinner parties, was respectful to people I was introduced to, followed the law etc. but Other than those, the home was mostly chaotic in my teen years to mid-20’s. I became increasingly disrespectful to my parents and even ran away once with a boy but mainly it was because of frustration. My parents and I were never the “open” type. We didn’t talk openly. Me attempting to share my feelings with them was comparable to sharing my feelings with our highschool principal. Us “opening up” was always an explosion. It was either I just avoid talking to them or say something and risk getting into an argument. I could never open up to them about anything because I always felt like they were too busy or tired to cater to a sensitive loser like me (now I realized, only parents can ever really instill this type of thinking in a child). It would make me feel selfish – it’s very difficult to describe that feeling growing up in a family environment like that. their go-to ending statement would always be “I gave you a roof, food to eat, clothes to wear.” That made me equate love to material things. At some point I started to say “yes” to my parents and agreed with them all the time just so they’d provide me with everything I needed – and it made my parents happy because now we’re one big happy cheery family. What they didn’t realize is they were basically just bribing me. As I grew even older, I resented them more and more in silence for making me such a loser – someone who others perceived to be someone leeching off my parents and someone who wasn’t readily self-sufficient. It was true. But it was an addiction. Their grip on me for sure was also an addiction to them. It was toxic. My parents were never really around my childhood because they were both “working very hard” for the family. I believe this is the part that so many miss because we want to believe “working hard” is all that ever matters – it matters, but you will regret it in the future when your children “suddenly” don’t want to see you anymore or “suddenly” demand you to provide for them even as adults. All I can say is, the lesson would have been: SPEND TIME WITH or BE EMOTIONALLY AVAILABLE TO YOUR CHILDREN while they are young and growing up. It’s not enough to “teach them principles.” It’s not an excuse to say you weren’t around much because you had to work 3 jobs. You decided to have children, make sure you are around them esp ages 1-9 or even until they are 15! Or else they will find someone or something else to turn to and they will feel they are entitled to get whatever they want from you BECAUSE you abandoned them emotionally while they were young and growing up and now, to them, you are to make up for it. Children who seem “entitled” are just trying to fill a void, something that was missing in their lives. You might say, well my parents weren’t around much but I’m not entitled. The difference is, parents nowadays bribe their children’s affection using things that they give them, usually when they are already a bit older, after realizing they didn’t spend enough time with them as little children. Back then, parents made their kids earn what they wanted in life – they didn’t bribe them so that THEY would feel better at that moment. They didnt tell them “i gave this so u owe me now” – that attitude will be mirrored back at you with “I am your child, how can you not give me this ans that??” Too late! You can never get back the lost times together that they (even if subconsciously) resent you for. All you can do now is perhaps understand that your adult children didn’t “suddenly” become monsters. It’s not their spouses or friends that made them that way. They would have already lacked something in them that made them so easily influenced by “outsiders” anyway. At least now you wouldn’t have to “wonder.” There is a reason for everything, but they aren’t always what we want to hear. This is just my opinion, based on my own life. Just trying to offer a different perspective. I understand not everyone’s experiences are the same.

  16. Parents are not given an instruction booklet. They do the best they can with no experience, hopefully some day you will learn that. No child has the right every to blame their parents for their life. Since you are 30 years old and still saying it, let me tell you this. YOU have the choice at any given moment to change what you percieved to be wrong with your parents. I use the term percieve because you CHOOSE to look at it that way, that does not make your perception of what happened correct. Blaming your parents for your life is every child’s excuse for being lazy, for excusing your rotten nasty behavior, attitude, and holier than thou righteousness, and becoming nothing, or doing nothing. A real person looks backs, and says forgive them they know not what they do, but I love them anyway. Treat people the way you want to be treated and be amazed at the results. Take your experience and turn it around to what you want out of life. According to your story, your carrying the same behavior. Your adult now, act like one. Make goals for yourself, go to school, get a great job, be emotional available to people do all the opposite of what you loathe in your parents. Don’t buy material things for people if you assume that means you have to buy a person’s love. Give of yourself, but most of all forgive, your parents. Your feelings are your fault, change them as only you can change yourself. The blame game is a cop out. Stop using it, people see right through it. I see many children who grew up in worse conditions than you describe, and move on and change into beautiful young adults, talented, smart, loving caring, giving people. They decided to change for themselves not for their parents. They also decided they like how they turned out because they did it on their on. Then in turned loved their parents deeply, and had a greater relationship because they were proud. If it weren’t for their upbringing they wouldn’t be this great adult. Or just lay back with your lame excuses that its all your parents fault. It stopped being their fault, when your became an adult. Then it becomes your FAULT. Think on that, still want to blame them? Then your just plain lazy and ungrateful. People see through your excuses the older you get and still blame your parents. Own it, its your life now GROW UP!! Have you tried believing in God yet? Try it you may just learn a whole new way.

  17. My son who is 35 just got engaged. The girl who he is engaged to is 27 years old with a big family and he is now living with them. Ever since they got engaged my son has become a person I don’t know. He argues with me (I was a single mother and raised this child by myself and also my boyfriend) who my son hates. I suffer from major depression and major anxiety disorder and my son says to me I should just get over it. I have been receiving treatment for these disorders since 2008. I have worked as a legal secretary for over 30 years (a job I bated but stayed just to afford to raise my son on my own). His wedding is 2 years away and his finance has asked me to get in touch with the remainder of my family (whom I have not seen or heard from in years) they live in two different States and are very poor as am I. I live on disability since being diagnosed with these mental disorders. But I did reconnect with them for my sons sake and got their information I then gave that information to his finance. Since then he now informs me that he has a new family (his finances family) and that is what makes him happy. Since then his finance lost her grandfather and I went to the wake only to be met by my son who then took me outside and started to scream at me about how horrible his childhood had been. Please help me I am past depressed and do not know what to do.

  18. I’ve lost my son and his wife to my former in laws. I never anticipated their influence, and sometimes I feel bereft and I have unexpected anger. These same in laws have nothing to do with my former husband or my two daughters, but they’ve taken part of my family and I feel helpless to reverse the course we are taking. They were always mean spirited and nothing has changed according to my son, but what has changed is my son and his family vacation with them and spend nearly every holiday with these same people.

    What brings me comfort is to think of disinheriting my son and all the different scenarios I could structure. As in leaving his share in a trust to be accessed at his retirement is my favorite. My former in laws will be deceased hopefully then and my funds won’t be paying for any trips or entertainment with the in laws. Sometimes I think of leaving my son’s share of my estate to our church to pay for other people’s large lifestyles. This idea came from the church itself in an email but I didn’t work so hard for anyone else but my husband and my children.

    These issues were never any I anticipated or expected and sometimes I am just bewildered as to how we got here.

  19. Dear Carey,
    Maybe someday you will be a parent. Then you will have a more broad perspective on this issue. I have been a stay-at-home mom for the last 18 years. My daughter is our only child. I have devoted much time and attention to my daughter to make sure that I raised her right. Guess what? She is still a narcissistic, spoiled brat. My husband and I have gone out of our way to make sure that we did not spoil her with material possessions and we have set firm limits with her to ensure that she didn’t grow up with a sense of entitlement. And she has fought us every step of the way. Some children are just born that way. There are personality disorders and mental illnesses that describe this kind of behavior. Sometimes it actually hurts your children when you are always there for them. They never learn to become self-reliant and they never learn to solve problems for themselves. They can drain you of all of your energy, as they are constantly coming to you with all of their problems. Have you ever heard of parents who are too “emmeshed” with their children? Well, what about children who are too “emmeshed” with their parents? You won’t find that topic in a google search.

  20. Totally heart broken. My 34 (soon to be 35) year old son has totally cut me out of his life. This is a person I have supported all through school, college and adult hood. He moved with my husband (not his father) and I off and on for 4 years in a 4 bedroom house. After having to move out because the owner wanted to sale, we decide to regroup financially by moving into a one bedroom apartment. With the low rent I invited my son to rent a one bedroom also where he could have access to our vehicles and I can watch my grandbaby if he had to run an errand. Refusing and deciding to rent at a hotel spending $300 a wk as oppose to $600 a month was mind bogging. So after 4 months of him living that way he lost his security post and could not afford to stay.
    Pushing forward I asked my son to stay in the apartment to take care of my 2 small dogs while leaving him the truck for the weekend. After saying no, but he will come by and check on my dogs, this was unacceptable to me so I immediately took the truck back leaving his stranded at the hotel. My sister decided to take him in Kansas where he is there with my sister’s 2 boys and my older sister son. Now he ignores me, hungup in my face when I asked for a cheap Mother’s Day gift, don’t call just to talk, when I went to visit for my nephew’s graduation I was ignored and his demeanor was I can’t wait until the visit is over. My older sister rode with me, while her son was very happy to see her, even got her nails done, my son continued texting on his phone being very detached.
    Finally he drove back to TX to pick up his son. He called to let me know he was in town. We decided to go to lunch. When I told the cashier (he got this) he paid but was angry. (We ate at the Golden Corral) The lunch was so uncomfortable. We didn’t talk, I kept looking at his face and he ate as fast as he could for it to be over. We only did small talk (might as well being talking about the weather) Afterwards I thanked him and he promise to call when he left the next morning. That call never came and to this day 3wks later, we have not spoken.
    I feel so betrayed All the sacrifices I’ve made while raising him. Surprising him with a car his senior year and another one his senior year in college. Wiring him close to $1000.00 grand to keep him from getting evicted while leaving out of state and not working. Teaching him to have respect for others just for him to lose any respect for his only mother. This is painful. It’s an indescribable pain from the heart I’ve never experienced. There are times in the morning where I debate getting out of bed. The fact that he is with my sister bad mouthing me is even more painful. The bad thing is my sister isn’t backing me up. I only hope when her kids are grown she will never experience this kind of pain.

  21. my daughter is constantly posting on facebook things that my ex and his gf buy for my grandson, but never posts anything that i buy for him so it looks to her friends tlike i don’t care about the lad. this is been going on for years, she took her dad’s side in the divorce and treats his girlfriend great while she treats me (her mother) like crap. she”s not a child, she is 30 years old! she is very rude and disrespectful to me yet i have babysat for her since day 1 and am always there for her. to my knowledge they have never babysat, he only sees his grandfather for bout an hour on sunday night.

  22. I haven’t seen my daughter in over a year. Last time I saw either one of her kids was 9 months ago at a special event I attended for her. Around Christmas time she refused to come to my home to celebrate my birthday and also so we could exchange gifts. She wouldn’t even allow me to pick the kids up so they could come. She cut ties with me right after Christmas . I wrote her an e mail and told her I loved her now I think she wants to finally have some kind of contact again. One of the problems is she put me through hell for a long time and I now am not sure I want to have anything to do with her. I was going through some major health problems and she acted like she didn’t even care. It was life threatening and she didn’t even contact me to see how everything came out. I am trying hard to forgive but I can’t get passed the fact she broke my heart. She has also been very distant to her only sibling and he doesn’t even know why. She has seen his little boy only once and that is when he couldnt even crawl and now he is four years old. She tells his daughter she will come and get her for the day and that never happens either. I love my daughter but I feel guilty I don’t like her.

  23. Again I say less is more – the more you run to your married children the more they will push you aside – I do find I was texting my daughters again asking how they were etc etc but they never ask how I am then I text them both saying this is my last text to you
    That was it – they are living their lives – I am now doing the same – I had a cruel mother so I decided to be the mother to them mine never was ( i am loving, caring and kind) but it seems that was my downfall ( my mother was cruel and abusive but I respected her until the day she died and that is the problem today – lack of respect from children and they feel we owe them something – I love my married daughters dearly – always will but I am not a doormat – be strong all you mothers who are feeling sad and accept that you did your best and you have and are amazing ) they need to come to you – do not chase them, they need to learn respect and if they do not then I’m afraid that is their loss xxx

  24. My response is to Carey.

    Carey- recent research has shown that Narcissism and many Cluster B personality types are inherited. You can raise you child with all the empathy and love in the world and they still can turn out cruel and self-centered. A narcissistic grown child who does not get what they want from their parents will always lay blame at the parent’s feet. It is a tactic of blame they use to get people to sympathize with them. They expect unconditional love and loyalty no matter how they abuse people and accuse others of abandoning them when healthy people refuse to allow themselves to be abused. When a parent of a narcissist refuses to allow the abuse they are accused of neglect and abandonment. This is especially hard on parents who have empathy and love for their children. But- with that said, most emotionally healthy parents will not allow themselves to be used and abused. It is not the right message to give your children- even if they are grown. So many emotionally healthy parents will grieve and allow themselves to be considered the bad guy because they cannot condone heartless behavior. It’s tough being a parent. 🙂

  25. Wow, I thought I might be the only one out there with a problem with a grown(40yr old) daughter. My daughter is very self-centered and has done many things over the years that have hurt me. Intentional or not, who knows. Most recent, she showed total disregard for me and my feelings concerning members of my estranged family and I feel broken because of her actions.
    Like other commenters on here, I provide free child care for my grandsons, taking them to school and being there when they get out of school each day, as well as, full-time during the summer. I don’t regret spending time with them, but do feel taken advantage of because she expects me to always be available at any time and is annoyed when I request that she get one of the grandfathers to take the boys when I have appointments. The grandfathers usually just flat out tell her they can’t/won’t do it.
    Now she has a serious medical issue and I am doing some soul searching and am finding it hard to actually feel anything for her. I find myself worried more for her children and their future. Not sure where we go from here.

  26. I am hoping to reply directly to Anne, who posted about her adolescent and minor son – who speaks of her healthy and loving relationship which was blindsided. She states in length of the toxic behavior from her ex, his father – the manipulation, the abuse. She tells of a loving and healthy relationship with her son. Anne, I obviously don’t know all of the details here – but I beg you to please not discard your son so quickly. He is a minor and his frontal lobe/cortex is not fully developed. You speak about your fiancé and his horribly unfortunate health troubles. I am so so sorry you are going through that. You need to realize your son is also going through that, and he is a child and yes he is not acting responsibily or maturely but he is a CHILD!! His inappropriate behavior on his cell phone is a cry for help and honestly I’m a little thrown off that you are so controlling with his phone at that age.. he’s not 9 a boy that age may have a little school gf he likes to message or something so trivial and stupid, but children (which is what he is) act out and act very cruelly to control when they are trying to assert their adult status – although he isn’t an adult. It seems to me he is struggling with sharing you with your new found love. Any new relationship is challenging on the child – throw in to the mix this man needs much mkre than the normal amount of attention and time… your son loves you and is used to just the 2 of you. Please do not let your abusive ex prey on him during this time of emotional turmoil and lose your son over it. He needs you more than ever. Your fiancé does too and this is hard for you I am sure, but it is your responsibility to your CHILD until 18 to be his parent. He comes first. Not your fiancé. There is and should be a solution to care and be there for both. It will be hard. But in all bluntness and I am sorry but it seems you are putting your fiancé befor your minor child and letting him go to a bad home, so you can be with your love. You made the choice to have him and at the very least owe him a mother until he is 18. It seems very apparent his behavior is out of the ordinary for him so I would be more inclined to believe he is reacting to jealousy over sharing (he was in tears when his father put him on the phone – seems like he was scared and forced). Please be the bigger person and save your son

  27. Joan, Your June 1st comments hit home with me. We must have shared the same child! My daughter was, is, the same type of person. From early school years, teachers wondered if she were ADHD, yet physicals deemed she was healthy and psychs were unsure because of her young age. By age 13, all hell broker loose! The daughter I had gotten along so well with until then and enjoyed so much – disappeared, and I have only seen traces of her even these 16 years later. Through the years I sent her to treatments, theraphy, psychologists, psychiatrists, even “Baker Acted” several times because her behavour turned dangerous, to herself and to me. She began to run away nearly weekly, for days at a time, and to the worst parts of town! She skipped school from 7th grade on for nearly months at a time, fought and argued with everyone, and became dangerously physically abusive to me! I was a single parent, so there was only me. I called law enforcement and finally juvenile services. She was jailed numerous times, eventually committed to a year-long juvenile program, where she lived and was forced to attend school, take her meds (although the diagnisis were never clear-cut) and get counseling. Yet, the acting-out and outrageous anger continued even after she returned home. Resulted in several rapes when she put herself into terrible circumstances, one causing an abortion by age 17. Fast-forward several years, and a few DUIs later, she hit someone while driving and hurt them, badly (Thank God didn’t kill them or be killed!) She spent 6 years in prison for it, with another 3 years of probation. She’s only recently came out of prison and is on probation now, and doing wonderfully in all other aspects of her life – but with me! Apparently, she still “hates” me, “blames” me, for whatever I must have done or not done to or for her while raising her (I still don’t know what that might be and she cannot say herself), and shows her distaste and hatred at every turn! Yet, I know I was a decent mother. Human, yes – not perfect, but I KNOW I cared WELL for her! I spent time with her, talked to her and taught her things – until she decided that screaming at, disobedience, and physically fighting with everyone was a better path. Our conversations now can ONLY be about “her” and her “problems” – period, or she starts an argument and states the nastiest things she can to me, about me – as she’s done since her teenaged years. Others are surprised when they hear her, even tell to stop her behaviour and what she says, yet she’s convinced (or become convinced) that all is my “fault,” and that I “failed” her. (There is little talk of her failing me.)
    The pain of all this, through all these years, has been deeply cutting, devestating, to my own sense of self, and causing severe depression! I felt I had to cut her out of my life for a few years while she was imprisoned. It was horribly painful, yet “freeing” at the same time. Still, I missed her achingly. (That’s what we parents do!) I thought we had actually, finally, regained somewhat of a good relationship her last few years in prison, in part due to my break from her. But the day she got out put an end to that! Why?! I have no clue! We were “great” one day, then NOT the next.
    She can change – that quickly – from one day to the next, one moment to the next, depending on who she’s talking to and focused on at that moment. It seems she can have only “one” friend at a time, “one” relationship at a time. You can leave a conversation thinking you’ve built a good rapport, and the next time you speak she’ll treat you as a stranger. I don’t believe my head’s stopped spinning since she was 13!
    Everyone wants to lay blame at the parents’ feet, also, altough you know when you’re a good parent, and when you’re not. After all these years, though, and all the hell I’ve been through with my child, I’ve come to believe there ARE children who cause the problems, too! Even if society doesn’t want to tell you this – I will! There ARE many offspring who believe they truly DO “deserve” it all – theirs AND yours, and the parents had little with getting them there! Society also plays a great influence in our children’s lives, yet it’s a simplier answer to go after the parents. I hope you go through none of the later issues as I did with my daughter, and I wish you the very best!

  28. I am 71 years old and alone, I am so happy to find this blog but seem have trouble to post my comment.
    I my two children who very well educated, successful, no college debt because I paid for it by working two full time jobs most of their life. I bought a condo for them but thing went sour when he married. He and his wife wanted me to sell my house so they have money to buy a bigger house. The house had been for sale for 2 years but no buyers. So I decided to keep the house. I have not heard from them for over 6 years.and a nother son has not talked to me over 10 years. He blaming me for divorced his father after I got beaten up, constant abused by him.
    I have no other family members. What should I do with my money ? My son ‘ s wife called me once day and told me to draw a trust !
    I did made a living trust and both of my sons are the beneficiaries. Even though they already disowned me.
    Please advise me.
    I have one or two grand kids I have not seen.

  29. I would like to comment for all the people who infer that it’s *our* fault as parents when our children grow up to be entitled and problematic because we must have somehow spoiled and enabled them. Sometimes that is the case. But in our case, we raised our 3 kids to be responsible, self sufficient, and independent; encouraging healthy self esteem. Our 3 kids are now 20, 18 and 14, girl, boy, girl. The oldest *always* gravitated towards boys who were highly enabled by parents. These families have been our worst nightmare; we had no control over what they allowed their kids to do. We did everything in our power to help our oldest become a functioning adult. Excellent opportunities, college, even a modest car; all the while setting limits and boundaries that she had to comply. But no matter what we did, it was never enough and she would always end up back with one of these boys, in complete disregard of our rules. At 20 we finally had to let her go after she quit college and moved in with her convicted criminal, alleged drug dealing boyfriend. The boyfriend has threatened us and is angry that we won’t enable her the way his parents enable him. It has been a nightmare.

    Our other two are turning out to be how we raised them. Our son is heading off to college and the youngest to high school. They are turning out to be really great people and we are proud of them.

    On the other hand, we have a friend who completely enabled her son to do whatever he wanted yet he turned out just fine. So please have some compassion for those of us who did their absolute best yet one or more of our children “came off the rails”. It’s not always our fault as parents. And for those of you who, a bit self righteously, crow how *your* kids turned out so great, know that it’s not always a direct result of your parenting. That it may have been your child(ren) just weren’t going to turn problematic no matter what.

    I used to be one of those self righteous parents… not anymore.

  30. My boyfriend has had his daughter poisoned against him. It brings me to tears to think of how his daughter treats him. I forgive her for being brainwashed but she only contacts him for money. She asked him for 20 grand which he gave to her thinking it was for her house or school. She used the money to get married but didnt tell my boyfriend about her wedding. It broke him…. She is 25 years old now and todag is fathers day and I dont think she sent him even a text message. How can I help him heal? I feel helpless and want him so badly to be happy. Its not my place to tell him to cut her out but this man has tried and tried to get her to love him despite the poisoning her mother has done. alas he is nothing but a bank machine to her and she shows no warmth or kindness towards him. I dont think that he will know when he is a grandfather either. He is much older than I and will maybe die before I do. I have this evil thought of not telling her when he goes. Parents who have been hurt need to cut out the tumour they call children.

  31. This is very sad to deal with after nurturing a child and watch them grow up nicely and then all of a sudden things turn. They turn against us with hatred forgetting how much we care. That’s ok mothers including myself. God sees everything. Move on and enjoy each day. Don’t waste it…not worth it. Hard as it may be…THE CHILDREN MADE THE CHOICE FOR US. Worrying for sure does not help. The children are out there enjoying their lives while making yours hell. Your job is done…your new job…IS YOU! God Bless xoxoxo

  32. IDK, but after reading MOST of these entries, I believe we are TOO involved and focused on our children. Sure, we want to SEE them, spend time with them as adults but it seems impossible!! I watched my OWN MOTHER agonize over not seeing my brother all of his married life and blame his wife. HE WAS HER SON… it was HIS fault too! Which is WHY I have done JUST THE OPPOSITE. Gone out of my way NOT to blame any of my DIL’S!

    My sons (3) are well into adulthood and ONLY ONE comes to see me or do ANYTHING FOR me! They are all busy and active with jobs, homes, children and social lives… AS IT SHOULD BE! However, they ALL certainly KNOW ME when they NEED something or want help, either emotional or financial… The remainder of the time I am out of their lives…. daily, weekly, monthly and only included in holidays!

    No! I believe we’re going about this ALL WRONG. We all, as parents, need to live our lives, develop any hobbies, stay busy and active with OUR lives, OUR social lives and TRY to move on and not think about them. As long as they are healthy, doing okay, LET THEM LIVE! Family is simply NOT what it was years ago. Once they move out of the NEST… they leave FOR GOOD!

    I know it SOUNDS difficult but if you will only take that first step, it gets easier and easier to handle. Doesn’t mean you won’t MISS THEM… doesn’t mean you don’t wish things would be different… only that you’re adjusting to keep your own sanity.

    The focusing on THEM may be the very reason they have a sense of ENTITLEMENT and are NARCISSISTIC! Leave them alone! Let them be! If they love you, eventually they’ll come back around. If not?…. What have you lost but an effort in futility??

  33. My 25 year old son will be getting married in September. We were always very close. I was a single mother that worked 3 part time jobs so I could be with him after school and volunteer at the school. My life has really revolved around him. He went to catholic school, I picked up and moved to a better area with a good public high school. I never had to ground him or discipline him, he was the perfect kid. He wasn’t a brat and he worked for everything he had. Once he went away to college things changed. He has since graduated, got a job and got engaged. He lives with her and her parents. He has changed and I often say he wasn’t raised that way. I’m not sure where it comes from either. He is always busy, never has time to talk, but he can text when he needs something. It’s heartbreaking. I recently got a staph infection and its like pulling teeth to get any help, he is really the only one I have to count on. I try doing what I can. His famous words? “You are a strong independent woman”. Well yes I am, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t break my heart every time he tells me he is busy. I get so excited when I get to see him and I so want things to go back to the way they were, but it seems to get worse. I’m at a complete loss.

  34. I’m so glad I found this blog. My husband and I are parents of an only child daughter who is beautiful, successful, healthy, and happily married. What more could we ask for, right? But she has seemed lost to us for several years now, and no matter how hard we try to have a relationship with her (like in the old days), it is to no avail. We noticed this distancing at about 20, which is completely understandable as children mature into their own person and prepare for lives of their own. But we never expected that the distance would last this long (she is now 28). It has gotten worse since she married five years ago. Her husband is equally successful but is not someone with whom we share any common interests, so getting close in that way is extremely difficult, though we try of course. We are blessed with incredible in-laws and are grateful that we feel close to his family. Our daughter is hyper-critical and sensitive to everything we do and say, and we just can’t seem to do anything right in her eyes. It seems as if everything we did as parents raising her was wrong in her eyes. We are supportive but careful not to give unsolicited advice and tell the kids we are proud of them on a regular basis. What are we doing wrong? My husband is an only child as well and is adopted. He has no family left but us, so this distance with our daughter is very hard on him. And she is especially critical of her dad, which breaks my heart. He did everything a father should do for a child and then some. I have wondered for years if her extreme highs and lows, loves us one minute can’t stand us the next, moods might require medication. She even asked me about that possibility but then retreated and got angry when I gave her my opinion, which she had asked for. I just don’t know what to do anymore and am terrified that when they have a child she will decide that we are suddenly not good grandparents, too. She does not see that she is hurting us. She perceives that she is the one being wronged. Does anyone have any advice for us?

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