5 Tips For Surviving When Your Children Don’t Need You Anymore
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My children don’t need me or want to spend time with me anymore.
It started when they wanted to hold the spoon containing green healthy goop that was being choo-choo’ed into their mouths and continued later when they told me every detail of their day including when so and so walked past at lunch time and didn’t even smile at them. “How dare you so and so!”
Now they are no longer children, they go out with their friends alone and then answer queries on how was their night with one word, like “fine” or “okay” or “geez mum what is this, the Spanish Inquisition?”
As younger children there was always an internal rough house skirmish when you wanted to be able to say “I’m here for you, I’m on your side” without them taking that to mean “it is my life’s work to wash cook and clean for you. Please don’t think you are intruding when you expect me to be available at any time of day for someone to pick you up and OH MY GOD what would I do without the job of dunging out the bathroom of all your gunk and muck.
Now that they are older, of course, you have all the time in the world to give to them but they don’t want it.
I am sad to say that my girls are at a point when they prefer to hang out with their friends than be with their parents.
I remember being there. God my parents were so boring when I was sixteen. They didn’t know anything, least of all how to live life. Conversely, my friends were so fun, we would hang out, watch T.V. and talk about the latest developments on Coronation Street and contemplate our navels. My parents didn’t know what they were missing.
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You Have Done Your Job Now Let Them Go And Practice Being Adults
There comes a time when you can’t teach them. They need to be able to cut the apron strings and do it for themselves, put all the good stuff you’ve taught them into action.
They Will Come Back.
Things will sometimes go wrong and when they do they will want their Mum or Dad to help smooth things over just as they always have. You will need to be there for them.
A word of advice. Don’t nose-dive in like some she-devil looking to tear up anything or anyone who dared to hurt your child. No. That may have impressed in the past but now your new role is Spectator with a great pair of ears. There is nothing more mortifying to a 16-year-old than a mother on the warpath on their behalf.
Your Life Is Now Your Own
Stop whimpering in the corner about your loss and get out there. Your time is now your own and you can do anything you want. Put the energy you put into your kids into yourself. Focus on your own health. Improve your diet if you need to or add in some form of movement you’ve always wanted to try. They turned out awesome and so could you.
The World Is Small
By that I mean there is facebook, skype, countless free text, and media sharing apps. Your kids and what they are doing is just a click away. Keep involved in other ways. Start a family group on one of the many free text apps and share your life moments.
Look to the future
You can now be a friend rather than a drill sergeant. Do fun things with your kids that weren’t possible when they were younger. Go out with them, shopping, lunch a drink at the pub. Enjoy their adult company. You have taught them well so you will have lots in common.
Are your children cutting the apron strings? How are you coping?
I wrote this post 3 years ago. My children are still teenagers, are even more independent now and I am super proud of them, of their awareness of how things work in this world and their intuition.
They still rely on me, and not just for the their washing but to chat about their lives and what they are going through.
If there is one thing I urge you to do as a mum is to keep the lines of communication open between you and your children. Assure them that nothing is off the table. And practice your poker face because they smell judgement at 10 paces away.
I think differently about them moving away from me now. I think of this time as my time to get back to me. I want this for you too.
Since the days of writing about our family my blog has evolved into writing for women in perimenopause, menopause and midlife. I educate on hormone balance, weight loss, and wellbeing.
If you’ve come to this post feeling lost and upset because your children no longer see you as the centre of their world maybe think of it as a time that you can work on you.
Take a day for yourself to recentre and think about what you want for your self now and o practice some self-care. This post can help you with that and there is a free printable you can download.
How To Have The Best Mental Self-Care Day
Failing that this next post gives you many ideas for things you can do to add a little more joy into your day. It is important to have things to look forward to and this list can help with that.
I raised my 2 on my own and now they both live in different cities with their partners, friends, have careers they love and basically have their own full lives. My daughter ignores my calls/texts unless it’s an emergency and then I’m lucky if she calls me once a week, on speaker phone with her boyfriend and roommate listening…..sigh…..My son contacts me maybe once or twice a year and it is I who always makes the effort to drive the 2 hours/each direction to see him, to text him, to give him guidance, support and love when he is having a mental breakdown yet, rarely, if ever reciprocated. It all seems so one way and although we get alone wonderfully I’m both tired of caring and trying so much and miss them terribly. I don’t want to ignore them but what to do? My heart is broken, I’m so sad and yes, going to give them all the space they need and forge ahead with my life and do my best to not feel hurt/ignored/bitter. Being a mother is something else. I actually don’t think they realize how they are acting and then again, maybe they do. I’ve thought about telling them how I feel but I don’t think I will. :(
I’m sorry for what you ere going through. Being a mum is a tough, sometimes thankless, task. The fact that you have done it on your own and they both seem to be doing well at life is a credit to you. You’re doing the best thing by getting on with your own life. Unfortunately as is often the case it will be up to you to initiate the contact. What would they do if you weren’t always available? If your son when he needs you finds you not availble what would happen? Maybe, you could suggest he come to you for a change and see what happens.
Thanks so much for writing this. Some days it hits me that I’m not the center of their world any more. There were days when that was a burden. This is a bittersweet time.
It is indeed Tracy. Thanks for your comment.
I am a mum, of 4. And although there daddy has always been around but we are not together. I guess I was considered bad cop. But I did everything and I mean everything for them but now they have turned their back on me and daddy is there hero. I feel lost and hurt. But I know I have to let them spread there wings but when you have spent 25 years raising them…it’s really painful. Am I doing something wrong?
Tiff, I’m sure there’s no right or wrong. I think as they start to have families of their own they will need their mum again. It just takes time. Thank you for commenting. Jane x
Thank you im feeling really sad and very depressed at the moment about how my kids dont really see me as a mother now im so proud of how they are all grown up and have children of there own all living 5 mins down the road good jobs houses and happy im only needed to look after my 6 wonderful grandchildren who are my world I just don't know what eles I am in this life for the only thing I know how to do is look after them all but sometimes I look at other mums nannas and think why do I not have friends or lives like theres to do things separately
Hi Lesley, thank you for your comment. I think it is easy to look at others and think their life is better. In reality, you have achieved something amazing, you have 6 wonderful grandchildren who love you and children who depend on you. Is there perhaps some club you could join for adult connection? Maybe yoga or a book club or perhaps a walking group.
My children aren’t talking to me. They don’t call back. What can i do?
I haven’t been able to see my grandchildren since Feb. 2018.We have
grandparents rights in CA. to see them legally. Do you think we should
get an attorney? His parents live next door and see them all the time.
It is heartbreaking for us.
I am sorry for the difficult and hurtful situation you are in. I am unfortunately unable to give you advice as I am not an attorney. In my experience through talking with other parties is always the first thing you should try. Try talking around the table with your children maybe even with your son-in-law’s parents to see if the can shine a light on the best path forward. Good luck!
I raised my son, now 24 completely on my own. He’s now a veterinary surgeon and moved out of home to be closer to his workplace and it seems he has no attachment to me. He had problems when he was younger that he kept secret. He was bullied at school when he was younger for being fat, and he couldnt fit in with the other boys in high school because he was gay. He has told me that as a result of being treated badly by others all the way through school, that he has learned not to get attached to anyone, although he has lots of friends who adore him – especially women. He always construes me in a negative view which I think is associated with his depression. He has recently taken up smoking quite heavily. He really wants to live an independent life without me in it. When I amicably told him that I’d let him do that and not contact him anymore, he genuinely and sincerely thanked me. Having him in my life isnt fun either – he loathes me and is horrible to me, so I felt I need to make my own life, I have started a social work degree. I feel so heartbroken but its proved impossible to have a nice relationship with him.
It sounds as though he is really dealing with some unresolved issues Helen. There is not much you can do but let him have his space and be there if he does need you. I am sure he doesn’t loathe you but perhaps he carries anger and projects that onto you. I hope that he manages to deal with his issues and maybe in the future, he will realise that he does need his Mum after all.
I have three sons my oldest lives in Texas with his family my second doesn’t speak to me u live with my youngest just recently he said I should think of visiting my aunt’s in Mexico for awhile but I know he really wants to be on his own I am not able to work I have no one else to turn to I need to be in CA for medical reasons but I guess I have to give my son his space it’s awful
I imagine that is very difficult for you to think your youngest might move away. I guess they need their freedom and if you keep in touch and show you care hopefully they will make the effort too.
I lost custody of my kids for moving across the county with out permission from the court. My daughter moved in other her dad when she was 12. She is 22 now. And wants nothing to do with me. My 16 yr old son quit coming to see me a year ago. Won’t give me a good enough reason why. Now my 11 year old don’t wanna come over. I have nothing wrong. I feel so broken
I am so sorry Mary. It is so difficult when your kids start to live their own lives. Often when they have kids of their own they will migrate back. Hang on in there.
I lost my oldest 23 yr old son four year ago right after my brother six weeks earlier. My children don’t call or only visit very briefly to get something. I raised them all on my own without any support of any kind. I did my best and gave them good lifes. I can’t imagine ever getting over this pain of rejection I love my children more than anything. How can life be so cruel.
Firstly I am deeply sorry for the loss of your son so early in life. It must be painful that your children don’t make much time in their day for you. Well done though for bringing them up on your own, it is difficult enough with two parents to have done it alone is amazing. Hang on in there Lyn, your children will eventually understand the importance of a Mum in their lives. I think most kids go through a time when there is no room in their lives for anyone other than themselves and their friends. I am sure that will change.
I feel like I am dying inside without my kids
Aww, Jen, It is definitely an adjustment when we suddenly realise we are not their go-to person anymore and it does hurt. The relationship changes and is still good, just in different ways.
But why do we have to tip toe around how they want to do things, no matter how much it might be hurtful or inconvenient. Do you tell them how you feel or just let on all is well
They don’t need me, but I need them
I know what you mean Betty. They become fully independent and suddenly the tables are turned. We enjoy them and their company. It is such a different relationship to when we were doing everything for them.