"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!

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

  1. Forgive me for treating (my) children as an engineering economics case. Reap as much joy (“benefit”) as possible from them while they are young. In that age, they depend on you, they want to be with you, they adore you. Spend as much time as possible with them while they still want you.

    Starting at puberty, their priority shifts, and your heartache begins. Minimize it by not expecting much from them. After all, they never promised you anything, they did not even ask to be brought into this world. Hopefully, in the end, the joy you reaped from them is more than the heartache they caused, or at least you reach a “break-even point”.

  2. I can fully appreciate and sympathize with parents whose children disappoint them, but my experience is this: You can’t change your children, but you can change yourself. It isn’t about who your children are, it’s about who you are.

    If you are a parent, you owe your children unconditional love and support, no matter what they do. This is how God deals with us, and this is how we must deal with our children. Broaden your horizons, reach out to other people who need you, make your own life count. Never stop loving your children, but stop blaming them for your unhappiness. You can build a happy life for yourself and perhaps, in time, your children will come back to you with a changed attitude. But you must build your life, whether they come back or not.

  3. sharper than a serpent’s tooth is an ungrateful child…says the bible. so it is that we often find advice from new age gurus to heal the inner child but don’t find any wisdom on how to deal with the battered adult who has faced foul behavior from his/her children. maybe it works both ways and adults face as many knocks from young ones as the youth face from their previous gneration. it is not a one way street. rather both parent and child re-act against each other and in-ter-act in many subtle ways to shape the taste of life lived in the con-text of the family as an institution.

  4. As parents, we love our children. Sometimes that love can be cause for a long suffering heart. All you can do is love them and pray for them and forgive them.

  5. Overcoming the heartbreak children can sometimes cause?

    Realize that your children have their own journey to do, and it might not be the journey that you have in mind for them at this particular time. The children are doing the best they can, with the knowledge they have at this time. Perhaps further down the road they will “learn the lessons” that we all have to learn on our own.

    In the mean time, always let them know that you love them…..that is all we can do for our adult children……and maybe a nice home cooked meal or out to eat at a restaurant…………….

    If they have their own children, you as a Grand Parent, need to make sure the grandchildren are safe.

    Other then that, realize that you have your own life now, and look for new ways to put meaning into that life………………..volunteer, make new friends at the senior centers….etc. et.c

    When the time is right, they will return to the nest. Anything you receive from adult children are a bonus. God Bless

  6. When you love someone there is bound to be times they will breat your heart or that there will be disappointments. We want the best for and expect the best of people we love, especially our children. Once our children reach the age of adulthood we need to let go, allow them to be who they are, and love them unconditionally. We don’t have control over the actions of others. We do have control over how we allow their actions to effect us. The saying Let Go and Let God is perfect in this situation. You can be there for your child when they need you but you can’t live their life for them and once they are of the age of being responsible for their actions they will have to live with them as well. Love is the greatest gift you can give and sometimes that is all you can do. Let go of your disappointments they are not yours to bare. If your child is abusive, mentally or physically, it is important that you take care of yourself, if it means distancing yourself from them, then do so. Let Go and Let God

  7. A famous philosopher said: “Our children are not of us they come through us.”

    As a parent I too have know the heartbreak of disappointment in a child. I ask myself why should my son ‘be’ anything to me. I must learn to let him go and let him

    be his own man with no expectations from me. I have done the work and now, if I truly love him, I must let him fly free. No interference, no demands, no expectations.

    “If you bind to yourself a love you will the winged life destroy. But if you set it free as it flies you will live in Eternity’s Sunrise.”

  8. I love my daughter with all my heart but I can’t believe the way she treats me. I think she just really, really doesn’t like me. I am divorced from a wealthy man since my daughter was 7years old but the proceedings started when she was about a year old- six years to get the divorce! My daughter is getting married in 3 weeks and I was excluded from all wedding plans. Her step-mother has taken over. I know nothing about the plans, I have never seen the wedding venue. I found out that they will all be going to her father’s house the morning of the wedding to get ready, her step-mother has someone coming to do hair and make-up, as well as get dressed and take pictures. Again I am excluded. I had sole custody and did everything for my daughter and after all these years she has just discarded me! My only child and I don’t get to see her get dressed for her wedding or be in those pictures with her. I am literally just another guest at the wedding. I cry everyday…..am I being unreasonable? Am I making this about me? HOW PLEASE HOW can I stop having a “pity party” everyday? I don’t want to hurt any more Please someone tell me what to do. I’ve already “let her go” she moved out and in with her boyfriend when she was almost 21 so she’s been gone for 4 plus years.

  9. As with everything in life “this too shall pass”. It seems that your daughters father is using his financial power to exclude you.eventually your daughter will look back at her wedding photos and realize that she doesn’t have any with the person who gave birth to her and brought her up. She will have to see that that is unfair.

  10. Kathy I can’t help but feel that I too will experience the same situation when it comes to my children getting married. Being married to men with money have it’s definite problems, one of them is the constant tug of war that we must endure as the power struggle ensues long after the ink on the divorce has dried. I’m sorry you feel shunned, I’m pretty sure your daughter loves you and wishes things were different. In the end she has chosen the money and in doing so she must do as “daddy” says otherwise the checkbook disappears. Hang in there this too shall pass and in no time you’ll have the opportunity to be a part of your grand childrens lives…

  11. I am a 60-yr old woman who was a disappointment to my parents. I am one of their five children. I was a disappointment because I dared to challenge their vision for my life. They were from a time when parents knew what was best for their children, rather than helping children to find their own way. They never forgave me for that. But, I have a good life and a loving family despite them. It’s hard to accept being a “disappointment” when I realize that the problem was with them. Sadly, when my 85-year-old father passed away two years ago, after having been estranged from me for more than twenty years, I was omitted from the obituary. So, I learned an important lesson. Age does not necessarily correspond with wisdom or maturity. My dad took his hard feelings against me to his grave. Very painful.

  12. Same situation. Im the only living biological parent since my daughter was 17 months old. Remarried and divorced because of the other woman. My ex and his wife control my daughter with money. I’ve had my heart trampled. Hard to have peace because my heart tugs with pain. I have missed my daughters life. They even helped move her away and I had to find her. She tells me she hates me. I die a little daily from a broken heart. Doesn’t want me in her life…

  13. I wish to thank each of you ladies who have written in response to the article “Children Who Break Your Heart.” I had just responded to another article and then went on to the above. I have (my only surviving child) a 43 year old sociopathic son, and although it has left me heartbroken, I reach out to each of you with love and hugs. I don’t feel so alone any more and my tears are now free-flowing. It is like a burden has been lifted somehow. Thank you, thank you, thank each of you and God bless, for each in your separate ways has comforted and cared. Gerri JB

  14. As parents we all make mistakes. Children do not come with instructions and life has its way of placing roadblocks. I made some really serious mistakes. Some my own doing, some because of bad advise, bad experiences and choices and some from a bad doctors choice in medication. I have done everything in my power to correct, apologize and never repeat these mistakes yet, one of my children daily bombard me over and over whenever anything happens in her life that she is uncomfortable with, that it is due to my mistakes. I moved in with her as she is having issues with my Grandson who I have always been closely bonded with. I made a “Grandma promise” (which means never to be broken) that I would stay with him. But the constant screaming and accusations and beat downs verbally. I dont feel wanted here. My other daughter wants me with them but cant right now. I am considering going back to where I was out of state. This will destroy my Grandson but he also shouldnt have to hear all the fights…I need suggestions and help on how to break it to him.

  15. Kathy, my heart just aches for you because I know what you are going through in the sense that no one can hurt you as badly as your own child. I have a 30-yr old son, and for his whole young life we were so very close. Too close maybe, in retrospect. Like you and your daughter, I gave him all I could and loved him dearly. He had a rough upbringing at times, he did. I was married to a man, his step-father, who was so jealous of my son and our closeness, that he was unspeakably cruel to him and I both. We were emotionally battered for 5 years by this monster. Why did it take me so long to leave? Same old song and dance, by the time things got really ugly, I was convinced I couldn’t leave. Other than that, God only knows. I did my best to protect my son, honest to God I did. Things finally came to a head and we got him out of our lives. But the next year was a nightmare as well, because after being so emotionally subdued for so long, our emotions came out in a roar and not in a good way. Finally we got counseling and it helped immensely. Jump ahead several years, and my son is now married to a sweet wonderful young woman and they have a beautiful baby daughter. Things have changed so much between us. He is so cold to me, and gets angry and cruel at the drop of a hat. I am sure he blames me for not getting him away from his stepfather sooner, but I did the best I could, and my son never wanted for anything, even though we didm’t have much money. When all this “meanness” started several years ago, I was consumed with guilt and the self-loathing belief that I had been a horrid mother. I wasn’t, but it took more counseling to acknowledge that to myself. I still deal with his anger and cruelty on occasion, and it still hurts very badly, and I worry that he will cut my granddaughter off from me. But all I can do is pray that he comes to grips with his anger and one day learns to just forgive and let go. I have told him the old saying, “Holding onto anger and resentment is like taking poison and then waiting for the other person to die.” He is my son and I will always love him, of course. But I don’t have to let him hurt me. For years I tried to protect him. Now I must protect myself. I did not mean for this to be so long, sorry. But I wanted you to know that you are not alone in this. Maybe we are just a product of our generation, who knows. But we can choose whether or not to be happy. (Even on the days they make us cry.) Will our hearts still ache? Probably. Forever? Probably (hopefully) not. Will our children also face heartaches from their own children? Undoubtably. I will keep you in my prayers. Hang in there, and to use another classic — but absolutely spot on — cliche, “Let go and let God.” (((hugs)))

  16. I too have a 28 yr old daughter who suddenly decided she doesn’t want me in her life. I’m broken hearted. I did everything for her, we did everything together. Inseparable. I don’t even know what I did, but she just wrote me an email telling me that I’ve treated her like deal for 10 years. We truly had wonderful times, her whole life, & she did without nothing! I’m so broken.

  17. My prayers and sympathy go out to everyone experiencing this pain. I just moved 1500 miles away from my 19 year old son and changed my number. He has physically and verbally attacked me for the past three years. I too raised him by myself for 16 years. His father never called, sent gifts and would ignore phone calls. I bent over backwards to try to get him involve in my son’s life. My son was using drugs, cutting screens at the house to get out, having friends over destroying my things. I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I begged my ex to take him for a week so I could rest. That never happened. Now that my son is 19 he has come around showering him with gifts. The legal responsibility is gone and he has had the time to work on his career and has more money and sanity left then I do. The last straw came two weeks ago when again I was called so many derogatory things that I knew if I didn’t remove myself from the situation I simply wouldn’t make it. My heart breaks everyday as I love him dearly. I cry and then I get up and get on with my life. I am going to rebuild my life as I too have dreams and needs. I left a note wishing him love and luck but explaining that it wasn’t healthy and that I am not a punching bag. The good Lord knows I am not perfect, as do I, but I certainly don’t deserve this. I plan to send him my number after I have had some time to rebuild my strength. I am fortunate to have supportive siblings as they have seen the abuse from him and will keep me posted and help him with any major issues. Thanks for listening and again my love and prayers to you all. I believe, in time, the pain will fade. And, of course, my love for him will never waiver. I pray each night for his happiness, and mine. God Bless!

  18. Wow. This hits home with me Kathy. I was a stay at home mom with all three children. My ex was wealthy as well. My daughter, The middle child, really has used the divorce to try to manipulate me and try to make me jealous. I cannot compete with her father s money and his new wife even though I struggle to live in the same gorgeous home. I rarely buy clothes for myself and they have what they need. However when she doesn’t get her way, and wants to use my credit card to go shopping just because she wants to….she threatens and does text her dad that I’m not providing for her. I tell her I just spent over$200 on clothes for her birthday. She says that doesn’t count. She is always talking down to me in front of her friends and talks about me behind my back to her dad ( which he loves because I left him). It has been brutal to live with. At times I really do wish she moves in with her dad at 14as she is really scratching the slate as they say and it is interfering with me liking her and the person she has become. I hope you are doing better than I.

  19. Hi there, my son has broken my heart in pieces. No matter what he holds everything and anything against me. He has alienated his brother and everyone from his life because of his anger and taking no accountability for his life or actions. He has serious health problems that will probably lead to an early death and he still told me to get out of his life after I went to all his Doctors appointments with him. I am broken and don’t know what to do. He feels I have never been there for him amongst other accusations. I love him dearly but he will not accept that.

  20. I have a daughter who is 24 years old and recently engaged. She use to be so close to her family, dad, mom and sisters. We don”t have a lot of money to give her the dream wedding but finally after some investigating into “her dream place” she agreed to a much more reasonably priced place. She wanted a small wedding so we sat down making a list and did quite well so I thought. only 18 from my 100+ family. People are being crossed off like crazy. Now the sisters wanted to help with the desserts and were so exited to be a part. Guess not anymore. The “Maid of honor” is doing it. We are always hearing “It’s MY wedding” I’m so sad, seeing all these people that love her so dearly getting hurt. I’m crying all the time (I never cry). Does anybody out there have any advise.

  21. I maybe the first father posting on this site but after reading everyone’s comments and posts, I had to post one myself. My daughter who is now 15 decided to move away to her mother’s place without notice. She simply went to her mother’s to spend a week during her final summer vacation period and decided she wasn’t coming back home. A little bit about the mother, she was never involved with her daughter as she lived over 12 hour away, at best she would see her once a year (if and when she came to town) when she did, she would see her daughter for about 10 to 15 minutes. I even paid for her to come a few times and stay for a weekend so that she could see her daughter. In the end, I guess I am trying to say that I tried my best for my daughter to know her mother as I never prevented her from seeing her mother. I raised my daughter on my own since she was a just about a year old never asking anything from the mother (not that I would have gotten anything either). In the past year the mother moved back to town after 14 years. This is where things started to take a turn for the worse. I noticed the change in my daughter’s behaviour and also her grades were falling. This is one of those things that you know the child will go to live with the mother so I was expecting this to happen one day. In the end she went to live with her mother and all I got was a text message from the mother telling me that my daughter was going to live with her and that there is nothing I can do about it and to “deal with it”. After speaking with 3 lawyers and told that there is nothing that I can do, I was left with giving up my custody of my daughter and having to pay support. It has now been over 8 months since this all started and I have not seen or heard from her since. I did get one email about a month after she left, telling me that she moved away because I was not her biological father and that I had prevented her from seeing her mother. I won’t go on saying all the horrible and hurtful things she said, but in the end I was devastated! I knew that this kind of thing was likely to happen in her teenage years but I never would have thought she would have taken this to the extreme. Like most of you, I cry at nights laying in bed and it tears me up inside. In fact, I am so heartbroken to think that my daughter believes that I am not her biological father and doesn’t want to have anything to do with me.

  22. I gave birth to 4 babies. 3 boys and then a girl. My husband, their father was with me throughout their lives but wasnt what anyone would call a great Dad. My oldest son is 27, married with a son and another on the way. He and I have an ok relationship, not great but its better than the others. My 2nd son is 24 and cant stand the sound of my voice. My 3rd son is 22 and has chosen to date a girl that I do not approve of. My youngest child is the only one still at home and on most days we get along great..but when her brothers are here she behaves as if she hates me.
    I am so tired of hurting. I just want it all to stop.

  23. Wow. I started looking for words of wisdom and had no idea that there are women out there like me. I feel so alone. I have a 30 year old daughter that I had young in life. Made huge mistakes that she makes me pay for financially and emotionally because of the guilt I have. She has 2 children, 13 grandson and 4 year old granddaughter that I love more than words can ever say. She has kept me from them for 6 months before. I also have a 20 year old that moved in with me about 8 months ago. I sat her down explained I was doing everything, I expected her to be respectful of my home, she has to take care of her dog, etc. I never asked her for a cent although I was struggling before she every moved in. Come to find out she was only taking the dog out once a day (we live in an apt). She doesn’t do anything around the house and is constantly asking me to do “this” or “that” for her. I finally had it and told her she needed to move in with her dad. Now her sister, my oldest daughter is posting things on facebook and I know it is just to get at me. I made the mistake of thinking that doing and giving them everything was the way to show them that I loved them. Now, as my counselor said earlier, I’m just an “afterthought” to them. I hurt to the point I feel like I will explode but know that I cannot go through all it again. I know I will miss out on so many things that a mother and grandmother should experience but I won’t continue to care for people who don’t care for me. Bless all of you above. I wish you all the best and hope that things turn out differently for you in the future.

  24. I appreciate all the responses i have read. I felt like I was the only mother experiencing having a child that hates you. I tried to find the point in our relationship when the hatred started. What did I do wrong? But I did all I knew to provide and be there for my child. Now I am the blame for all that is wrong in his life. At first I thought it was all because his father was not in his life. But from reading the comments from all of you, I see there can be multiple reason, some if which I may never know if the child won’t tell me.

    I have also been encouraged to move on with my life, but continue to love my child. Thank you all for sharing.

  25. There is a website Daily Strength,org and a Discussion group for those of us estranged from our children. It is called “Haven of Peace for Estranged Parents” or HOPE. I invite everyone here there..you will find so many others like us, heartbroken from being estranged from our children. Also Dr. Joshua Coleman has written a book “When Parents Hurt” he has been on TV talking about the epidemic of parental estrangement in this culture. We are not alone, we can find HOPE in the despair. See you there

  26. I have a son and daughter I love desperately. I like my son. I do not like my daughter. I grew up in California and when I was 27 my husband at the time, my kids dad, moved to Upstate New York. This is where their dad grew up. It was a very small town, with 3 stop lights and 1 grocery store. What a shock! After the divorce I chose to stay and raise the kids there because it was very safe. We had joint custody and saw the children equally. My daughter and I were close until she was about 10, than it just fell apart. She always craved her fathers attention because he was very involved in our sons activities. Even though I coached her cheer leading team and was on every booster club for every sport my kids were participating. Her dad rarely showed at her cheer competitions but she would always whine about the fact that he wasnt there. I was at them all.
    When I remarried my husband and her got into a fight and although she was very much in the wrong, he held he against a wall, which was not his place. She was 15. She told me that if I stayed with him she would no longer see me. By this time she was living with her dad full time and would only come over if she was angry with her dad. Although my husband was a wonderful man in every other way possible, I left him…. However, it turned out she didn’t see me anyway. When I would go to her sporting events(and I went to them all) she would go to her dad without acknowledging my presence. When my son graduated high school in 2011 I had had enough of the small town and wanted to return to my family in California. My son agreed to move with me. My daughter was entering her Junior Year. I fought and prayed heavily about my decision. I couldn’t understand why I would have the desire to move while my daughter was in school! The desire was very strong and I moved. Well, it turns out that God had His plan in place and I now understand all too well….. With free time I found Drs in my area and during my first visit to my new GYN she scolded me for not having a mammogram since my baseline at 39, I was 42. I was just too busy in NY with my kids, their sports and working! It turned out I had a tumor in my left Breast. The fastest most aggressive tumor possible. Drs told me had I waited 6 more months the only thing they could have offered me was comfort care. Scares me still! I had been given 3 orders from my dr in NY to have another MAMMO but….. I was too busy. Had my son not agreed to move, I wouldn’t be alive. When my daughter found out she didn’t so much as call or text me. I figured it was her way of denial. Months later she called me to tell me how sad she was for a friend of hers that had lost her mother to breast cancer and would never see her graduate. I told her how happy I was that I would and would be able to see her life, even though I was sorry I missed her last years of high school. She responded, “I dont feel sorry for you. You gave it to yourself because you smoked.” While this may be true. It shouldnt be said. Recently, she said, “Dad was right to divorce you, you’re such a loser.” Friends tell me she’s just being a teenager. However, I know her dad. He is just like this.
    I used to cry constantly and look at pictures of her and of us together, remembering how close we were when she was young(she tells me we were never close). I am now forgiving myself for leaving when I did and realizing I was a good mom and did the best of everything I could have done. I must have since my son is a wonderful young man.
    As parents, we can only do what we can. I still love her and would do anything for her but I will no longer let her hurt my soul. I am celebrating Gods grace to let me stay here and be with my family and son.

  27. I came across this page and so glad I did as I felt I was so alone. My daughter and I had a close relationship. ..will I thought we did. We used to go out drinking on a Saturday night with a few friends and one Saturday night we did as normal but something was wrong and when I said to her “be careful” she went mad well it turned into an argument I went bed but she just couldn’t leave it untill the morning so I got up un left the house apparently she went looking for me, but found out she went straight to a friends place and thats were she has been since. She has had no contact with me or any of her family and im beside myself as a mother I feel like I have failed some how my heart has never hurt so much and didnt think it was possible. Thank you x

  28. I’m still having issues with my one daughter..bit decided to back off. I dont talk wedding stuff or give my opinion unless she asks me. We were able to do some shopping the other day and had a pleasant day. It is so hard not to bring home wedding magazines books or fun stuff for her. Ive just quite doing all the extra things i use to do for her since its really not appreciated anyway. The one good thing Ive done is talked to my mom and apologized for any additude i gave her growing up. She assured me I didnt do any such thing but just in case…. I hope one day this daughter will wake up and see how much family means.
    To the one who says your being blamed for everything……my favorite saying is said “roll off our backs” Lots easier said tjan done I know! Thats what I’m working on in my life right now. Prayers are up for you all!

  29. Yesterday I was met with my 31 year old sons comparing his in-laws to his own parents. His father and I are divorced and I live on the opposite side of the country. Last year I was able to be there for my grandsons birthday which was the first time since his birth (3 years old). My son and his wife said there was a large ticket item they wanted to get for their son. The trip was already taxing my financial situation but I still went and got my grandson a gift certificate to put towards this gift. Spending more than I should of and only to find out that they never got the item for him. I found this out yesterday and was so very disappointed. I wanted him to know that if I had known they were not getting that gift, I would not have given as much because it really did put me in a deeper financial situation. In turn he got so mad at me for saying this to him he replied with “there is such a difference between my in-laws and you and dad. They would never say what you just did. They do not make a lot of money but they are always there for us unlike my own parents. They even put 20 bucks away in an account weekly for my son, you and dad don’t.” My mouth dropped and said he had better NEVER compare me to them ever again. When my business was doing well, I was always forefront helping out as much as I could. In 15 years, the recession has take a huge hit on me and I am walking a tight rope trying to keep my house. If I lose my home, then I will not be able to house my family when they come out. But he does not understand. He recently moved in with his In-laws to save money. His wife is booking trips all over the place with this extra money. I commented that maybe they should hold back the trips and put that money towards their own home. Her response was “We already own a house, I am in control of our finances and take care or it all” No, you do not own your own home. You helped our parents but a house and they put your name on it with theirs. My son co-signed the loan for her parents. I am devastated at the way my son’s outlook has changed since moving in with her family. He has been showing so little respect and I have been shedding tears daily now over it. We use to have a great relationship until he moved in with his in-laws. They want to come out this summer but the way I am feeling right now.. I am just not sure I can deal with them at this time. But in the same time, I do not want to push him away. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

  30. Wow. After reading all the comments…I feel better. I feel like I have been gradually moving to a new place in handling the anger and hurt that have consumed me for the last twelve years. I came to the same conclusion as some of you…just love and forgive and most importantly ….” To thine own self be true”. (To quote Shakespeare). My therapist taught me that I am a “non-person of function” to my daughter. I know….weird. It means I only matter to her in terms of what I can do for her. I am happy to say my heart is not broken anymore….bruised… but still whole and full of hope. I am going to be the best person I can be…knowing I am in charge of my own life and determined to let go of what bewilders and befuddles me! Be true…be you! Love to all who posted on this site.

  31. My THREE grown children have nothing to do with me. One started it and the others just jumped on the bandwagon. Divorce…yep, that’s what caused it here too. Daddy, who has money, found a rich woman and she’s now mommy. I’m reading what others have to say about only being a guest at their daughter’s wedding. Well, you’re doing better than I am. My daughter is getting married and I’m not invited. Two months ago she emailed nicely with me back and forth, then asked for a bunch of my keepsakes. I dropped them by her work and guess what? Not another word. I am nothing to my grown children. They don’t love me. I raised them. I loved them. I sang them lullabies as babies. I fixed their skinned knees. I drove them to school every day. I loved them. But because of a divorce initiated by their dad and their love of money, I AM NOTHING. I don’t even get to go to the wedding. I look at pictures of my girls on Facebook and my heart breaks. This feels like death.

  32. Wow! Someone else said it before me and I agree- Dr. Colman’s book “When Parents Hurt” is a godsend. So why did I find this site? One daughter won’t talk to me and won’t let me see the grandchildren, and another one wants to be a nun! These painful years are teaching me that my previous image of family life with adult children and grandchildren isn’t going to work out in the way I had envisioned. I liked the quote above about not clinging to the winged creature, which connects with something I read earlier in another article about loving the things of this earth loosely, and if God allows your heart to be broken, give him the pieces. Until you DO get the Dr. Colman’s book, two things stand out 1: Having children is a dangerous business 2. There is no quid pro quo.

  33. So grateful to find this piece and read your comments. Like you all, I’m dealing with the pain of being discarded by one child and just about discarded by another. There is very little out there to assist ….. As a mother, it is consistently judged as “all my fault” ……. There is great comfort here in reading like stories. However, i do not subscribe to the ‘false hope’ belief that “one day he/she will realise”. I cannot continue to hold on to such hope that tears at me every day. I must put it in the category of “only a possibility”, otherwise the treatment of me will continue to erode my very being. Hugs to all here.

  34. My daughter has been a source of sadness for me almost her whole life.
    Even though she has had a lot of struggles with not being able to keep friends when she was a child, and even health struggles that she probably inherited from me, I’ve always done everything I could possibly do for her. Probably to her detriment.
    Now she has a child of her own, and she is in her 30’s. I have always tiptoed around her because she made up her mind many years ago that she did not like me.
    Finally, a couple of months ago, I would not give her $300 for retainers, simply because I’m tired of only being her personal banker, and that has caused another estrangement. The last one came when I informed her that her current boyfriend, who was extremely controlling, was not “marriage material.” She would not talk to me for 2 years.
    She tells my other family members outright lies about me to try and get them to hate me too, and I cannot even see my 6 month old grand daughter.
    She is very narcissistic, and I am convinced that she is hard wired this way. Still, my heart breaks for her every day. In spite of her hatred for me, I love her and miss her. It is the most painful thing a parent can ever experience. Any advice from parents out there who have gotten through a situation like this would be very much appreciated.

  35. Thank you everyone who has shared what they are going through. I have a daughter (3rd child, 1st daughter, who one day just announced she was moving out…she was 17,then, and so close to being legal, there was little I could do to stop her that way. Besides, all that would have done is alienate her even more. When I asked why? what brought this on? she just stood there! after a pause and my starting to cry she told me to stop crying and that she would get her things later…and then she left.
    That was 17 years ago. We have sort of kept in touch, I get an occasional card or email. She got mad at me once for not having text! She is happily married with 3 kids. She will sometimes ask me to sew something for one of them saying she will send their measurements but I never get it.
    The latest one has hurt so deep, though. Her sister (my youngest age 26) is enduring a painful, scary mystrious illness that caused her to break out with open draining sores. When I explained all that her sister was going through, thinking since she is a nurse this would help her to better understand what our situation is…she told me to “stop being ridiculous…”
    She ended her email with, ” ‘…As always, I wish for a speedy recovery.”
    This is not the sweet loving cuddle-bug little girl I raised. this is not the kind, thoughtful, compassionate teen I could rely on. I feel so cheated and betrayed.
    Reading the comments here, helps me to take that deep breath and shore up my ‘Intestinal Fortitude’ and left my chin a bit higher…and continue on with MY life. For just as our children have their own lives to live…so do we, their parents. And once they leave the nest…we can enjoy just being US! Not so-and-so’s mum…
    Bright Blessings to everyone here.

  36. Im so grateful that you all have shared your hearts with me. I have loved, protected and cared for my two daughters they have been the best part of my life. Their evil father passed away young which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I never remarried. My children and I were all very close. Suddenly as they both hit 21 they rebelled and started treating me different. Both daughters are with Men who Control them. I don’t think they even like each other? They were the poster children of siblings who love each other. I had the relationship with both girls that many parents envied. But now I’m afraid one daughter is with an alcoholic whom “she” supports. His family loves my daughter she is the best thing that ever happened for them. They other is with a much older man who is using her to raise his 4 children from another women. She loves the big family that she never had. Both daughters are beautiful with great personalities they could have anyone they want. I guess they have low self-esteem to be with the men they are with. It breaks my heart. Until I read on here, I thought I should have accepted the marriage proposals from a few wealthy men who wanted to get Married to me when my children were young. But now I know from reading on here it would have been used against me if the marriage didn’t work. So now my main struggle is trying to get a life after them being the center of my world for so long. (with the exception of the God who was my center. ) So now I still see them, but don’t feel very close. I feel like I am a bother in their lives. I wish I had a lot of money to pay for a vacation to take them on and so I could spend a non stop week with them. But deep down I know that is bribing them. Oh the pain…I miss them. I need to let go and get a new life. Easier said then done. God Bless you all!

  37. I am a 49-year old daughter who is in a confusing position. My mother is 75 and still takes care of my 50-year old brother in her home. Through the course of our lives my brother did not treat my parents well and would be physically and verbally abusive to them. There were times I would come to visit them from out-of-state to find the physical abuse that they had suffered by my brothers’ hands but they would still allow them to live in their home and support him. I would plead and beg my parents to force my brother to start taking care of himself and would insist that they would have my brother leave my parents’ home. My brother has even gone as far as to physically abuse my oldest daughter and this has kept me from bringing my family to even come and visit my mother and father.

    We lost my dad almost two years ago and nothing in my mother’s house has changed; in fact it has gotten worse.
    My mother still physically and financially supports my brother and has recently been spending large sums of money on him for dental work and to start a internet business while he still hasn’t changed much. My brother can’t even drive anywhere without my mother taking him there. My mother tells me that everything is alright but I just don’t understand what she is doing.

    I’ve always believed that my parents worked hard for my brother and I to be responsible, self-sufficient adults but when my parents have literally paid for my brother to have food, clothing, shelter, medical care, transportation and education (my brother has both a B.A. and Masters degrees which my parents paid for) it really hurts me deeply. I try to be a responsible adult and to work hard everyday. I have worked to respect and loved my parents, extended family members and peers and it seems that I am the strange one in our family. All I can do is tell myself to stay respectful to my mother because I know that I have no control over the situation. It gets hard to talk or have a relationship with either one of them. What do you do when a “parent” breaks your heart?

  38. I was crying myself to sleep and got up to look for help online about coping with this pain from my daughter excluding me. Every holiday I find out that my daughter has excluded me and is celebrating with her husband’s family, who have a lot more money than myself and my husband (her stepfather). I really don’t want to feel this way, but I can’t help it…. It’s comes up and I have to cry and let it out. It just hurts so badly to be rejected by my only child. Somehow I don’t feel we were ever as close as we could have been, she was always willful and stubborn…and we are just very different. She married a man who by all appearances is a good man, and yet I believe he has some major flaws and problems. He claims to be a born again Christian, yet so many of his actions prove otherwise. My daughter believes as a Christian wife she should be subservient to whatever he says. I feel that he wants nothing to do with me and my husband… Unless I am cleaning their house or buying them something.
    None of that really matters… I just need a way to cope with the feelings that overcome me… I am crying so much sometimes… What did I do, why doesn’t my daughter care about me? Why doesn’t she call me? She says she loves me but she never calls. She is 25. They live an hour and a half away. She is expecting now… I worry how much they will allow me be involved with my grandchild.
    It helps seeing the wisdom of other women here. I know I have to keep my wits about me and let it go. It’s not that I even want to be there for the holiday, seeing my daughters in laws. I don’t care for them, it’s always uncomfortable. His father never says a word to me. But it still hurts, that she didn’t invite me, she never does…it is always assumed that they are getting together with his family. They’ve been married five years now and I tried the first few years to establish taking turns. I offered to have everyone at my home but my daughter didn’t want me to. Now it’s too late, it’s just understood that they spend every holiday with his folks.
    Part of me feels like I’m being petty, and it’s no big deal… I should just let it go. I do… I really do. Then the next holiday comes along and BAM, it hits me in the gut when she tells me her plans again…I have even begged her, crying and letting her know that it hurts me when she doesn’t include me. It didn’t change anything. I think she acts like things are okay because she likes it when I come over and clean her house and take her out to eat and go shopping. I know she is only being nice to serve herself. But I do it anyway, pretty pathetic, huh?

  39. Wow,a lot of the same theme of being dumped in the late twenties without explanation, once the admiration is not 100%. Maybe it is the society at larges influence, yet now what, and the explaining to coworkers every holiday. I don’t need the pity or the intrusion of the expected norms from an archaic expectation of motherhood either. We seem haunted enough already.

  40. Reading all the post let’s me know I’m not along in this battle….My son is 20 years old…he is determined to live a thug life…he lies without even blinking an eye…his daddy has been in and out if his life…i basically raised him as a single mother…he is disappointing because he is very smart, can be anything he wants to be….for whatever reason he thinks selling weed, being involved in criminal activities will get him respect from his peers, or the young ladies he is dealing with will see him the man..I try to encourage him, he goes to church with me, but none of it is working…all I can do now is Pray him and hope he wake up before it’s too late…I think a strong male mentor will help him..since he didn’t have a father figure growing up…

  41. I am grateful to hear others stories. There is no heartbreak like that of an abusive heartless child. I love my son with all my heart, given him every thing I could, stood by him, protected him. And how he came to treat me so badly is beyond my imagination. Still I love him and always will, but I have to say good by. It is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do and every minute I almost change my mind. May I have the strength. We will see.

  42. I resolved never to speak to my mother again.
    Apart from Weddings, funerals and the like I never did.
    I had “divorced her” and I had my reasons. I still see them as valid reasons. Even today.

    My daughter won’t speak to me. So I have lost my grandkids….her reason’s are so vastly different from myn…I don’t like men who abuse…full stop !

    So I rejected and I am now rejected. Funny it is that I can now see both sides of the story. That helps, but it doesn’t heal.

    Sweethearts…move on. Before it tears you to pieces…move on.


  43. I found this blog while I was looking from to explain how I turned into such a horrible mom. My daughter is 22, moving in 3 days 8.5 hours away taking my 3 year grandson that pretty much holds the moon, stars and sun in his hands. They are going to live with a person I have never seen let alone spoken to. Every day I break just a little more. I divorced her dad when she was 1.5 and I have been married to my husband since she was three. When she got pregnant she even changed her named to her stepdads and gave her son that name. I have given and given over the years, over compensated I’m sure for what I felt like she was missing out on. But she sees and tells it completely different. I found interests outside of the home as my kids were getting older so I’m a horrible person for not being there 24/7. I stopped being an ATM because she won’t hold a job so I don’t care. I paid for her child to be born and have helped with every aspect since so didn’t pay for a college education. (Now had she went to class and stuck with it I would be more than happy to pay) But 3 years later, XX amount of jobs, boyfriends, apartments, and lies I emotionality can not do it anymore. When I end up with plans and I’m not sitting there just waiting to see what her wants and needs are then I’m a selfish irresponsible drunk because I spent an evening out with friends. I’ve been talked do to and about since she was 15, I’ve allowed her to create my selfworth much as I did her dad when I was married to him. But now in 3 days she is moving saying I will never see her nor my grandson ever again and that it is all my fault because I chose not to when they were here. Mind you they live with me and only until I can’t take it anymore because dirty clothes, dishes, crap just every where when she does nothing all day long we are fine but when I break it is usually big. So now she has found someone/where to run to and I’m losing the little girl that I literally have given everything to for 23 years. My heart is breaking and I know they say you can’t die from a broken heart but I think I would prefer it.

  44. Thank-you everyone for sharing painful and heartbreaking feelings. I stumbled across this page today hoping to find help…or solace. My adult daughter walked away from our entire family 2 years ago. I was waiting for her to return with a change in attitude, maturity and a willingness to form an adult relationship with my husband and me. We have been together over 30 years, a stable loving household and two daughters. I had a horrible life growing up and did everything in my power to make theirs special. It was not to be, a nasty, short email to tell us how horrible we were and she feels “nothing” for us….do not contact her again. How to deal with total rejection from a person who is within the closest circle a person creates around them. I do not feel guilty for anything we did, she had a great life. It feels like I am mourning the death of a child but she is still walking, talking somewhere….so sad.

  45. My heart is very heavy tonight as i lay here. i have a 16 year old daughter that is pregnant and has been constant in breaking my heart since she was in 5th grade! -She has been trouble in and out of school all her life. she has ran away 3 times, has done drugs, fought in school CONSTANTLY. She has even turned her father into CPS for “physically spanking her”. The Reason for that was because she was planning to kill me with one of her friends. Thank God another parent found the letter!! I Have put her in counseling, A facility, etc. etc. etc. She continues to treat me like crap 🙁 i am at the end of my rope literally….i have had 3 nervous breakdowns, i am currently on meds for depression myself. i know that i really need the hand of God in my life again. i am so discouraged and don’t know where to turn. Please pray for me, my husband & 8 yr old also and kelly my 16 yr old. my heart is dry lije the desert. i need God to rain on me… thank you for reading…

  46. My daughter married my former boyfriend. If she had come to me and explained maybe we could have worked it out. She was divorced with two children and he is very wealthy. I tried to not say anything and maintain a relationship with my grandchildren but he made her choose. It was going to be him or me, she could not have both. She chose him. I lost contact with my grandchildren ages 8 and 9. I love her but I am still angry that she could hurt me and her children this way. This happened about 8 months after my son was killed in a car accident. I lost my whole family. By the Grace of God, I made it through the last 10 years without them. My daughter’s ex husband invited me to my granddaughter’s highschool graduation. I was so proud and happy to see my grandchildren. I saw my daughter and gave her a hug. She sent me a text the next day and said that I don’t need to sneek around behind her back to see the kids. She went on to blast me about having contact with her ex husband. Anyway, how does she sleep at night? I never thought my life would turn out like this.

  47. Thank you all for sharing, it really helped me realize I am not alone. Both my grown kids having been putting me through hell. My 22 yo son has put me through so much grief in the last two and half years that I had a break down and have been on disability for depression and anxiety for a year and a half. He was always such a kid good kid and we used to be so close. He gave me some attitude and usual rudeness as a teenager, but he was he never got into trouble. He went into the army and was stationed 3000 miles from home in a place so completely opposite of where he grew up. Everything went down hill. He got into trouble in the army he married a stripper without even telling us he was getting married. It was one thing after another and constant heartbreak and stress for me. He didn’t speak to me for almost a year because he and his wife blamed me for something instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. By this time he had a baby so I was not only cut out of his life but also my grandsons life. I was literally broken hearted. He got into trouble again three months ago and was also getting a divorce so he came home to start over. He has been living in my house and when he first came back he still didn’t want to speak to me off even treat me with respect yet he wanted to live for free in my home.

    Their father and I have been divorced for 13 years. But we still communicate about the kids. I had to have him mediate a talk with my son about his behavior if he was to continue living in my home. My son started speaking to me but only small talk and still blames me for the past situation. He has been here for three months and is working but refuses to pay rent or do anything to help around the house. He doesn’t even clean up after himself.

    My 19 yo daughter is also living at home and she has become even more disrespectful since her brother has been home. Her behavior is out of control. Her brother was out with her and a mutual friend one night and they brought her home drunk. She was so drunk we had to take her to the ER for alcohol poisoning. She had a BAC of .145. She has a rage issue. If she is in a bad mood she will start yelling and cursing me out over the smallest stupidest thing.

    I gave them both six weeks notice that they have to move out of my house. I refuse to continuously disrespected in my own home.

    It breaks my heart that I have to do this. In my worst nightmares I never thought I would be kicking my kids out of my house. As a single mom I did everything for them. I worked around their school schedule so I could pick them up. I was involved with everything at their elementary school, coached soccer, Girl Scout leader, etc etc. I did more volunteering than the stay at home moms who had a husband to support them.

    My kids never went without and they always knew I loved them. And now they treat me like I am garbage. They completely ignored Mother’s Day. My daughter has called me the most disgusting words you can say to a person. Then when she wants something all of a sudden it’s mommy can you help me.

    It is just in the past couple of months that I have decided to let go and it’s time to take care of myself. I have come to terms with the fact that I may never see my grandson again, I had to for self preservation. I believe it’s best if my kids who keep telling me they are adults move out on their own. I look forward to having a peaceful home.

  48. Wow! Why is it we always feel so alone when going through things with our children? Why do we feel that we are the only ones having these issues and are believing that other people have it all together. We feel damaged…dysfunctional…alone… I’m dealing with 2 daughters right now and many heartbreaking emotions. One daughter age 32 is heading with her family to live across the country and another daughter age 22 is heading to Arizona with a small child and no job to chase after a guy getting out detention. I was a single mom (not by choice). I had always wanted to have a family and be a mom but was knocked for a loop when my husband had an affair and left me to raise these girls alone. I truly tried to do the best I could under difficult circumstances but along the way I know I made some mistakes. I was hurting from the betrayal and trying to get through college. Both girls gave me hell through adolescence and became pregnant at a young age. There are now 3 grandchildren involved that I love dearly and will probably be taken away out of my life. How many times can you have your heart ripped from your chest and survive?

  49. Don’t give in to manipulation. Love them but don’t be afraid of setting healthy boundaries. Prayer is a mighty force and the only thing that has helped both me and my situation. After we raise them we must remember that we have our lives to live. Don’t give up that God can restore the relationships and family. It’s still not easy.

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