Painful Bonds


One of my sisters, the second youngest of the six of us ‘girls’, has been living a mother’s nightmare for several years now. She and her elder daughter, on the cusp of her early twenties, are estranged. There is more than enough blame to go around on both sides. Mistakes were made. Tempers have flared. Things have gotten ugly. Matters are further hampered by her daughter’s father, my sister’s ex, who apparently delights in playing ‘good cop’ and who consistently fuels the fire in order to twist the knife in my sister’s back. This is not a good situation.

Nanette continues time and time again to reach out, only to be brutally rebuffed by Samantha who resorts to vile name-calling, kicking, shoving and other theatrics. My view, and that of many of us in the family, is that this is a ‘little girl’ who is callous, self-absorbed and mean-spirited in the extreme. She seems to revel in hurting – and disowning – her mother. It’s hard to watch the toll it’s taken on my sister who, as noted, has certainly contributed to the initial ill will between the two and who has acted in ways she wishes she could retract. I can relate as there are many things I wish I could do over in my relationship with my own son. It is, however, as they say, what it is.

The two went to counseling while Samantha was in high school (and had opted, in her early teens, to live with her father) but, obviously, to no avail.

Sam’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago. Nanette asked each of us girls, Samantha’s aunts, to call or text to wish her a happy birthday. She asked a local radio station to do so as well and dedicated a song to her. Today, my sister reported that the birthday card she sent to her daughter was returned, with postage due. It breaks my heart.

This post is out of the ordinary for me and I apologize in advance for the blatant plea for any kind of helpful recommendations that you, my readers, might be able to provide that I could pass along to help my sister deal with this.

For my part, I believe Nanette can feel good that she’s not given up and for trying to mend the rift but she can only do so much. If Sam doesn’t want to reciprocate, there is nothing my sister can do. I think it might be best for Nanette to accept – for now – that this is just the way it is and to hope that in time, her daughter will find her way back to her mother.


Leave a Comment

  1. Oh dear Julie .. I read this and realised I was holding my breath. I let it out with a rush. What a sad situation to be in. I do feel so very sorry for your sister. It sounds much as though she needs to take a back step and leave Sam to work out life .. Time can also be so healing

    • My view as well. Nanette keeps trying – and I can’t fault her for doing so – but Sam positively delights in squashing her mother. I’d love nothing better than to wring her neck!

      Thanks for weighing in. Hugs!!

  2. There is no advice to give except to leave the door open and one day they may walk through it. Forcing the issue never helps and constantly reaching out only gives the other person the power to rebuff. The trauma associated with the initial fallout can’t be underestimated. I am still atoning for leaving my children’s father 26 years ago. Just leave the door open.

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