13 Things No Estranged Child Needs To Hear On Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a weird day for me. I’ve been estranged from my mother for over three years now, with no contact, something I don’t regret for 364 days out of the year. But every year on Mother’s Day?

It’s a weird mixture of sadness, anger and guilt. I am sad for the way our relationship disintegrated, angry at her for the reasons that it did, and guilty because I wonder how I would feel if I had no contact with my daughter a few decades from now. What takes the guilt from bad to worse is the number of people who have “helpful advice” on Mother’s Day, in the hopes that they can help me fix something that’s irreparable.

Estrangement isn’t easy for everyone to understand, which is why I believe that people have good intentions when they offer their far-from-groundbreaking nuggets of bumper sticker wisdom. On behalf of people estranged from their moms on Mother’s Day, I’ve compiled this list of things you should never say to an adult estranged child when Sunday rolls around.

1.  Why don’t you just call her? I’m sure she loves/misses you!


Ooh, a psychic! Thanks for weighing in.

2. Couldn’t you just give her this ONE day?


No. Working up the courage to go no contact isn’t easy, and it can take years. Even one conversation can destroy the progress someone makes.

3. What did she do that was so bad?


None of your business. Also, saying this implies that someone needs permission to end a toxic relationship.

4. Well, whatever it is, it can’t be as bad as you remember.


Again, how do you know? If anything, people romanticize the past. Chances are, it’s worse than that person remembers, not better.

5. Maybe you were just a difficult child? Have you ever thought of that?


Yes. Every single day of every single year. Most estranged adult children will blame themselves for everything, especially being a “bad child”.

6. I’m sure she only wanted what was best for you.


Well thanks, that makes everything better. In reality, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

7. The Bible says to honor your mother and father.


Wow! Let me convert really fast so that this makes sense.

8. But she seems like such a nice lady!


Really? Tell me more.

9. Some people don’t even have mothers!/You’ll regret this when she’s gone.


Again, you have absolutely no idea if this is true. I know that I don’t regret cutting contact. In fact, I regret not doing it sooner.

10. Surely you must have SOME good memories, though!


Yes. But a trip to the ice cream parlor or a day at the park doesn’t supersede all of the bad stuff.

11. How would you feel if YOUR kid cut you off?


Horrible. Which is why I work really hard to never give her a reason to.

12. Don’t you miss her even a little?


No. I miss her a lot.

13. No one is perfect, not even mothers!


This is the worst of all. I have never, ever met an estranged adult child who cut off contact with someone that was “less than perfect”. Most of them would have settled for flawed, because it beats the hell out of abusive, addicted, and pathological. Many of us are parents ourselves now and realize that there is absolutely no way to achieve perfection. To imply that we are in a snit because our parents didn’t buy us the right things or say the right words is deeply insulting.  The fact is, many people forgive their parents over and over again, only to watch the cycle repeat. It isn’t until their quality of life is completely nonexistent that they finally excise themselves completely.

(Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

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  • bkem

    I clicked into this from something else – could not read it because of the annoying videos. You might have something worthwhile to say on this topic and others, but you might want to remember that readers are trying to read without distraction.

  • Chelsea

    Yes I’ve gotten some of these comments about my father… And really I just want people to shut the hell up. Your relationship issues are between you and your mother/father/whoever. My annoying cousin (who hasn’t gotten the memo that she’s in her mid thirties and should be a bit more mature) told me that my father was a way better father to her than her’s way so I should just get over it. Well sometimes them not being around is better than them lying and choosing drugs over you. Just saying! Thanks for posting this it really spoke to a lot of issues that come along with estrangement.

  • Lita

    I escaped my abusive, cold, greedy, manipulative, selfish, cruel, shrew of a mother and I’ve never looked back. My life has been so much better since getting her out of my life. She had me because she wanted to keep my father on the hook, both emotionally and financially. I was her meal ticket, and that’s all I was. I got alot of abuse and constant criticism from her, but never once a hug or a kind word. She actually stole several thousand dollars from me on top of everything else.

    I get real tired of questioning my decision to cut contact with her. People are so quick to judge and defend abusers. Why? Maybe they just can’t understand what it’s like to have a parent like that? Or maybe they are abusers themselves?

  • anonymous

    I appreciate this more than I can put into words. It is pinned under my favorites. I have re-read it at least a dozen times since you posted it. Mother’s Day is hard. June is hard for me as well – both my parents have birthdays and its Father’s Day. I am thankful that my contact is in months that are next to each other, instead of spread out over the year. Its hard to go no contact – but I, too, regret not doing it sooner. I did not talk to them all last year except May/June via email and decided to call over the holidays. Sometimes I still think I am recovering from that phone call. It took so much courage. I had changed so much in a year. And everything was still the same with them. I have several friends who have lost one or both of their parents. My good friend, who has lost both parents, has met my parents – my mother in particular – and completely understands. She doesn’t know fully why, but she respects my decision. I am thankful for that. Sending some peace your way.

  • Christina

    I’m pretty sure there’s another BIG one missing. #14: “You only get ONE mother.”

    To me, that’s the worst one. And I always say, “Yeah, and she only got ONE child and look what she did to her,”.

  • Simone

    Thank you Theresa. Such a taboo topic.

    If you would like a sense of community, check out the New York Times article Comments section from the 2010 article “When the ties that bind unravel”. That Comments section is still open! and so far there are 2080 comments (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/03/when-the-ties-that-bind-unravel/comment-page-84/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0).
    Also the article “Divorcing your Parents” (NYT) has so far 1133 comments (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/divorcing-your-parents/?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar).

    I too am estranged from my parents, and have kids, and feel the way you do on Mothers’ Day; I have found the work of Melanie Tonia Evans to be very helpful when dealing with a narcissistic parent.

  • SingingM

    Any child that grows up and decides not to have contact with
    their Mom is an ungrateful brat. The article
    kept saying, “Shut Up”.
    Clearly the writer does not want to hear that they have done wrong. My
    Mother divorced my Dad, married a felon and did some really rotten things.
    However, she was still my Mom. One of the things that I am most proud about is
    that I was nice to both my parents.

    Your parent gives you life. A baby can not walk, talk, feed
    themselves , dress themselves or anything. Their parent takes care of them.
    This article is basically telling people it is okay to be mean to the person
    who brought them into the world. It is not okay.

    The article also managed to throw in an insult regarding
    people who believe in the Bible. There are 10 Commandments. One of the
    commandments is Honor your Mother and Father. The writer does not care about
    that, however I do.

    I am a parent. My husband, my son’s father, died right in
    front of me. My Dad had cancer and died the following year. I did everything that I could to keep my son, safe, well fed, and loved. I tried to help him over that bridge from child to an adult.

    My son is 30 years old. He does not like me. He has cut contract. My
    heart is broken. To read this article hit me in a very personal place.
    The writer clearly has a CHILDLIKE mind. A child can only see their side, they can not underside how someone else would feel, and they don’t care.

    The writer is so unstable that just to talk to her Mom
    would make her little world crumble. I think the writer could benefit from
    some mental help. It is one thing if they are slightly mental and can not talk
    to their own Mom. The writer does not have to encourage other people to be


    • Anonymous

      It is also not okay for parents to be mean to a child they did bring into the world. I empathize with what you are saying and would in no way demean your point of view. I ask that you show the same kindness.
      Until you walk in someone elses shoes, see what they see and live their life, please do not judge them or their decisions. Each one of us has a story – including you. Practice kindness – not judgement please.

    • SingingM

      Any child who grows up and is mean to their parents is an A Hole*** Is that kind enough?

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