One of the devastating side effects of being unfairly alienated from our adult child and grandchildren is being on the receiving end of disrespect, abuse, and cruelty. We are often maligned and accused of crimes we never committed. 

Many years ago, I was put in the position of having to sign a contract. My son and daughter-in-law insisted that I sign an agreement that stated rules of visitation. I was told that I would be allowed to spend every third Christmas with them and that if I didn’t sign this contract I’d never see my grandkids again. It was unreasonable and extraordinary in its unfairness and disrespect. After many tortured days of wondering what to do, I signed it, against my better judgement. The only reason I signed it was to be able to see my grandchildren. 

Looking back, I realize that by signing this ludicrous contract, I was dishonoring and hurting myself. It was the beginning of walking on eggshells and the demise of my self-esteem.

As the years flew by, I had to learn how to honor and respect myself again. For so long, I felt betrayed, sad, angry, hurt and blamed myself for so many things. Now, when I step back and analyze the events that led to this estrangement, I see clearly what I did to myself. The worst thing I did was to disrespect my own heart and mind which damaged my spirit tremendously.

I have made a commitment that I will never again accept abuse, disrespect or denigration from anyone. No exceptions. With this commitment comes a caveat: It may be necessary, in some cases, to let go of relationships and friendships that are disrespectful toward you. Sad, but, in the long run, it’s the healthiest choice.

Having said that, it’s always best to do everything possible to preserve relationships. Most people behave, at times, in hurtful or annoying ways. In order to have healthy relationships, we must let things go at times and forgive – always forgive.

It’s a harrowing ride, this journey of estrangement and alienation. It’s a trip I was forced to take and it’s no fun at all.

11 thoughts on “Disrespect”

  • When I left my sons’ father, filed for divorce; I had NO idea I would be estranged from not one kid, but all 3..I was ‘uninvited’ to oldest son’s wedding; that was a hurt that took a long time to heal…I didnt hear from him in 4 years. The younger 2 (twins) kept in touch off and on; their contact with me, was to beg for money..which I didnt have and refused to loan or hand over..so then they left me alone, until another opportunity would come along..and then the hands would be outstretched for money..which I said no to. I invited them for meals, but invites went unanswered..so i quit asking..It took over 2 years of NOs, before the twins quit begging me for money..I had made up my mind, none of them would treat me as their dad had done: verbal/emotional abuse..Screaming, name calling, cold contempt, constant criticizing…I came to perfer being rejected, left alone, than that. Some years ago, I finally decided to just quit reaching out. unless I had a reason to. Often months go by, with no texts, phone calls.. A rare lunch date out with oldest son..who thawed out somewhat, when HE went through a nasty divorce of his own. His new ladyfriend, soon to be wife, has a good influence on him. I have my boundaries in place, though…I am open to texts, phone calls, even lunch dates..but I refuse to let any of them start the verbal abuse I got from their dad, for over 29 years of marriage.

  • HI Nancy,

    I’ve read your book and found it very helpful in that I could relate to everything you wrote. What our children have done to us is unconscionable. My oldest grandson lived with us for the first 9 years of his life. My husband was his “father” figure. He was loved and adored by us. My daughter got married and had a second beautiful daughter. When she was 7, my daughter and son-in-law decided we could no longer be a part of their lives. My daughter and son had a rather large falling out and when my daughter learned that I allowed his girlfriend and his baby into our home, she declared she was “done with us.” It’s been 5 and a half years now and for 5 of those years I could not sleep, I started to drink at night to try and sleep and took lots of Aleeve PM to no avail. I did seek therapy which honestly did not help that much. I thought about suicide and thankfully I have a very supportive husband and he has helped me quite a bit. About 6 months ago, I decided I would stop being the victim and try to rise above the sorrow. It’s been 2 years since I’ve had anything at all to drink and I’ve lost weight and have started exercising over the past 6 months. I have actually thought about trying to bring a bill before Congress so that something can be done about grandparent alienation, but, I would not want to embarrass or make things worse for my granddaughter. However, when she graduates high school and if I’m still alive, I will try to get something passed. The sad thing is I know my grandchildren are suffering from the loss of their grandparents as we were extremely close. I do believe my daughter has had issues with me for many years before this all took place, but, no matter how hard I tried, she would not talk to me about it. I do wonder how it is that your son allows you to text the grandchildren as I would think that would be very confusing for the grandkids?? It is almost more cruel for both you and them. They obviously have no idea how much they are messing with our grandchildren’s minds. I do believe my grandkids will suffer for what has been done to them. I just don’t know how our children can live with themselves…..

    • Dear Karen – Thanks for your comment. I am sorry to hear of your heartbreak. Many people have written to me over the years, and one of the things I find curious is that it’s 99% women who cause estrangement from their parents, whether it be a daughter or a daughter-in-law. Sad but true. I absolutely agree with you about the texting with my grandchildren. I am confused and I’m sure they are. But it’s all we have. And now that they’re teenagers, they politely respond but there’s no real relationship there. It’s an absolute travesty. I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself and getting healthy again because the alternative doesn’t work. Wishing you resolution, healing and many ,many blessings.

    • Karen I feel your pain. It’s been almost 2 years for us. I also dove into alcohol and pain meds and tried to commit suicide. Great for you you have a supportive husband. Mine chooses to be the victim. I have picked my self up by the boot straps and stopped drinking and pain meds. Lucky for me, therapy is helping. When the time comes and you would like someone to help you with that bill, I would love to help you and support your endeavors. My kids where raised in an upper middle class family where they didn’t want for much. Paid all their college so they could come out of school without debt. Help put Money on their first home and so on and so on. As with you, my daughter has had issues with me. It sucks and it’s not fair. Good luck to you and will be in my prayers.

  • My husband hasn’t seen the grandkids and am not sure if he wanted to, what her response would be. I have stopped all drinking and take meds only as prescribed. I start therapy on May 6 in hopes to get sometime of help. I do love to be outside in the sun so am hopeful once it starts getting warmer I can gat out. I bought a puppy and she seems to help with my sorrows. I will keep in touch as I will need to reach out to someone during those dark days.

    • Good for you! You’re making healthy choices for yourself. I’m so glad you got a puppy (I did the same when things were really bad, and it helped a lot!). Let me know how you do in therapy . I’m here to help in any way I can.

  • I have recently been estranged from my daughter and her family – 3 grand kids. My daughter and son in law both cut me off as they accused me of slapping my grandson’s hand. I never did. I was on my embroidery machine stitching out his name, my machine jammed – no big deal – so I put him to the side. Once I went to pick him back up he was gone. So I finished his name and in the process my daughter came up and asked me what happened. I told her and then she stomped off. They were in the process of leaving and all the kids hugged us and said they wanted to stay. About an hour after they left her husband called me on my husbands cell phone and wanted to talk to me. We were at a restaurant and my husband told him he would have me call him later. I asked what that was all about and he said that my son in law wanted to talk to me about what happened. I looked at my husband and said that can’t be good. (just knowing how my daughter and son in law act – they are both ministers also) So my husband, my son and I started talking about it and my son and husband both said when my grandson came down he was opening and closing his hand like he wanted something. Then they said my daughter immediately asked him what grandma did to him. They both said my grandson wasn’t crying his hand wasn’t red and they felt she was trying to cause trouble. When we got home, I asked my husband if he would sit with me as I called my son in law and put him on speaker phone. He agreed. So I called him and he asked what happened and I told him. He said what I was saying made no sense and we got off the phone. After that, we got a text from our daughter telling us I am not aloud to see the kids any more. My husband shot back a text to her that she was creating something in her mind that didn’t exist. Christmas came and went and it was horrible with out them all. We got Christmas gifts for all of them after she emailed me a list. After Christmas she told us to take the gifts back or mail them. My husband got pist and said we are dropping them off on a Sunday they are at church. Once we did that we got a call from our daughter that we weren’t invited to their house, we violate their boundarys and then she hung up. My husband called her back and asked why did she give us a list if she didn’t want us to give gifts? A couple of day later our son got wind of what happened and he called his sister. 20 minutes later we go a text from her to never talk to her again and have a good life. A couple of weeks went by and a police officer showed up at our door step to tell us there is no contact on us with our daughter and family. We later find out that it was a cortousy between jurisdictions. Then 4 weeks go by and I find out my husband got an email from my daughter that her husband was filing an official restraining order against me. Ya I was pist because my husband never told me and he knew some day this was going to happen and then what. I left to go commit suicide and my son and mother talked me back. So now my daughter has blocked me and my husband and I don’t talk much after being married 27 years. I am sad, angry, feel alone, embarrassed… She was raised in an upper mid class family went to the best schools and college in which we paid for all of it. Paid for her wedding, furniture for their living room and baby room. Gave them a car and money for their first house to help them out. She was a valvictorian of her HS class and college class. She’s not dumb. I just don’t get it. I would never hurt any of my grandkids. Never. I have stayed in bed for weeks in the dark, I started drinking and taking more of my pain meds to get away from the pain. I went on vacation and took your book with me and read it. I am ready to take my life back the best I can. As in your book with Mother’s day coming, I can’t promise if I will leave my bet. Maybe if my son come home. I don’t know. I don’t have any friends as I am not a people person hence this makes me feel more alone without my husbands support. I do talk to my mom but don’t want to drag her down. She tried to defend me with my daughter and then my daughter cut her off. I refuse to get my son involved as he has his own life. I am lost and alone and will be trying to pick my self up and try and use the ideas in your book.

    • Hi Kim – I’m glad you reached out and shared some of your story. I know your pain because, like you, I have lived it. I hope I can help you in some way.
      Your story is heartbreaking. Your daughter’s behavior is incomprehensible and cruel. Also, I’m so sorry that your marriage has suffered because of the estrangement. Is your husband allowed to see the grandchildren? I’m glad you still have your mother’s and son’s support.
      Rather than concentrating on the ‘story’, I’d like to talk about your recovery. It will take time, courage, and discipline. For starters, I encourage you to start moving out of the pain and grief by deliberately changing your thoughts. When you feel like you want to stay in bed all day, stay for only for awhile, then force yourself to get up. Begin to take better care of yourself by not drinking as much and not taking so many pills. Start eating better, go for walks and take in some fresh air, and yes, make a new friend or two. Have you tried finding a support group or a therapist? They can be very helpful. Is there any way you can bridge the gap between you and your husband? Maybe do something fun together and put your kids out of your mind, and have some laughs. Go out for an evening with the mutual agreement that you will NOT talk about the kids at all. It’s VERY important to find other interests in life and get the focus off your adult child. We parents and grandparents are powerless over our child’s actions and decisions, but we’re not powerless over our thoughts and perspectives.
      Use your talents to find some fulfillment and pleasure. I play piano (you may know this from my book) and I can’t tell you how much it has helped me to sit down and play my heart out. Find some activities that bring you joy,put yourself first, exercise, stretch your body and mind.
      There’s not much we can do about our adult children’s decision to cut us out of their lives and the lives of our precious grandchildren. We must go on, one step at a time, one heartbeat at a time. Don’t let the behaviors of your daughter ruin your life. When you see your grandchildren again, be the best YOU that you can be.
      Keep me posted. I’m more than happy to help and I offer my support.
      Blessings to you.

  • My 29 yo son will not let me see his 2 year old son. He says it’s because I wasn’t involved in my grandsons life his first year. The year he was born, I was in a severely deep depression. I wouldn’t leave my bedroom for days. And rarely left my home. I have depression, anxiety and I’m bipolar. That was a horrible year in my life. He even mentioned me not attending my grandsons birthday party. Actually I wasn’t invited to his party. I didn’t attend any of my grandchildrens parties, nor any holiday family events,. Nothing. To be honest it was all I could do to stay alive. So, I tried to explain this to my son but he don’t want to hear it. He has talked to me without respect or concern. He told me not to contact him ever again about seeing my grandson. He will be 2 this month and he doesn’t know me. I’m heartbroken. I love that lil’ boy so much and would add much joy to his life.

    • Dear Angela- I’m so sorry to hear that you’re being treated with such a lack of compassion for your illness. I feel for you. If your son doesn’t want to hear you, you have no choice but to find a way to go on with your life. I think it’s important to remember that many of our adult children act out of their own brokenness, their own assumptions and make decisions based on their perceptions and woundedness. There’s a lot to talk about, so if you’d like to correspond privately, you can contact me at grandparentwrites@yahoo.com.

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