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Midlife Crisis in Women

By Joanne Kirkland, writing under a pseudonym.

Every mother envisions a bond with her child that stands the test of time—a relationship nurtured by love, understanding, and shared memories. Yet, life can sometimes take unexpected turns, leading us down paths we never imagined treading. One such path is the silent and shadowed alley of estrangement, a journey that can be as mysterious as it is painful.

Here, I share my story with you. Come with me as I delve into the complexities of maternal estrangement, exploring the myriad emotions it evokes and the quest for solace amidst the storm. While this story comes from one mom, it represents the feelings of thousands of moms. Sometimes just understanding that you are not alone and many others share the same turbulent journey, is helpful when trying to understand this emotionally devastating situation. Through my shared experience, I hope to bring this problem out of the shadows and into the clear light of open discussion and dialogue.

Finding Solace in Shared Sorrow

I tried for a while to cope with my daughter's unimaginable estrangement from my life. I truly believed I was the only mother going through this much pain because it's such a hidden kind of grief.

But, today, estrangement between parents and their adult children is becoming more common, and there are so many of us bound together by a loss that no one else can fully understand.

I discovered an online community where I found others who shared the same profound, cold, and lonely sorrow I had every day. I found a community and introduced myself, sharing stories and reading about other people's experiences. I discovered people who were experiencing the same stages of grief, anger, and deep sorrow as me from Tokyo to Toronto, and I found comfort in their heartbreaking stories.

Stories about how their children hurt them, intentionally or unintentionally, by posting photos of the estranged child, their children, the non-estranged parent, alive or dead, or other non-estranged family members, in-laws, or family friends. Stories of how their child's therapist caused a lot of damage. They supported the adult child's decision to end the relationship with the parent/s without being sensitive to how that decision may affect the client, their children, and the parent/s being cut off.

Complex Causes, United Pain

The reasons for our estrangements go beyond the depressingly common situation where, like me, my child doesn't want me in her life for whatever reason. Third-party involvement, such as post-divorce alienation or a manipulative toxic family member, sometimes causes divided loyalties. And sometimes, the adult child is going through their own difficulties or disappointments and chooses to blame the parent/s for their problems.

Whatever our individual stories, we are all connected by our pain. Parenting, like any other endeavor in life, is filled with successes and failures every day. I don't believe any parent of an adult child would claim to be a perfect parent — I do believe that most parents really love their children.

Memories, Guilt, and The Journey Forward

Though my other children and I get along most of the time, which is a big comfort, I never stop thinking about my estranged daughter and the grandkids I've never met. A young mother and a little child with fair hair who reminded me of my daughter were sitting in the hair salon next to me. The little girl started getting restless, so her mother pulled a Barbie doll out of her handbag so she could play. I was taken back to the time when I used to carry dolls and other toys in my handbag, and the grief hit me again. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I sat there in the hair salon.

I often reflect on my daughter's first day at preschool, when I waited outside the entire morning in case she needed me, birthday celebrations, parent's nights, dressing up dolls, forgotten lunches delivered to school, driving lessons, and adolescent misbehavior. All those

Years of unwavering love and support seem to be forgotten, and here I am in this third year of our estrangement, the anguish, shame, guilt, embarrassment, and pain still growing.

I can understand estrangement when parents behave in ways that are clearly abusive or rejecting and when parents are unable to repair or empathize with the damage they caused or continue to inflict. However, research has shown that you can be a loving and conscientious parent, and your kid may still want nothing to do with you when they're older.

Of course, my immediate family suffers because of our estrangement. I do my best to avoid talking too much about the rift with my children, but ultimately, their relationship with their sister has also suffered, adding another level of sorrow to my own. No one in my family understands why my daughter is acting in this way, but the truth is that my daughter and my grandchildren lost more than just a mother/ grandmother; they also lost their extended family.

I am grateful for the support, compassion, and love I receive from family and friends. Their hugs, encouraging words, embraces, and extra-small deeds of kindness bring me great comfort.

When I meet new people, they always ask how many children and grandchildren I have, and occasionally I must give quick, humiliating responses. Sometimes, I experience defensiveness and shame, as if I had committed some dreadful cruelty that could never be forgiven and that a "good" mother would never have done.

Being alienated from a child may easily erode your self-worth and sense of self. Because you become a mother the moment your child is born or adopted, and for many of us, that role becomes our own identity.

I am and always will be my daughter's mother, even if we never see each other again. My job as a parent was to love her, give her wings, prepare her for the flight ahead, and let her go somehow. But not in this way.

Navigating the Waters of Estrangement

Occasionally, people criticize me and other estranged parents who are attempting to move forward with their lives. They tell me that they would never "give up" on their child. I understand why they feel this way. However, sometimes, not caving into an adult child's unreasonable demands and unrealistic expectations is the only sane course of action to take.

I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that my daughter will no longer be a part of my life and it is something I have to accept. While I do not wish to lose someone that is so near and dear to me, I will work towards moving forward and providing those in my life with the love and blessings they still deserve.

I will find healthy ways to cope with—and express—anger, fear or frustrations. I pray I will remain positive and peaceful. During waves of grief and profound sadness, when things all look bleak, I ask friends, family, and my community to wrap their arms around me and support my broken heart.

I love my daughter. I send my best wishes to her. I sincerely hope she is healthy and content. And that's what I want other parents to understand: If you can live in a world with unanswered "whys" and "what ifs" and move on to what's next, you can live a fuller life.

Resources from

Estrangement makes it difficult to talk about with family, friends, neighbors and community members. You can share your experiences with those who know how you feel and get positive support through online communities. offers links to sites with information on psychological and spiritual conditions that can result in estrangement, links to support and discussion groups and lists of books and movies about estrangement.

It is principally for parents who are experiencing estrangements from their adult children.Also there is a book with the same name that is connected to the group.

For all who have suffered the loss of a child to the pain of estrangement. Closed group on Facebook. (Anyone can ask to join or be added or invited by a member.)

This group is aimed at Parents & Grandparents who have been Estranged, Deserted or Abandoned by their Adult Children.Very active private Facebook group of about 3,400 members. Ask to join or be invited by a member.

A group for parents of estranged adult children who are tired of waiting for them to grow up/get real. Comprised of strong, wise survivors, this group is made up of parent who either have walked away or are considering walking away from the disrespectful actions of their abusive adult children. Straight talk, tough stances and the free exchange of ideas/opinions can be found here. Everyone is Welcome!"

Its purpose is to provide support and information for estranged parents. There is a discussion group.

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