Author Topic: My story - the effects of keeping grandparents and children apart.  (Read 5359 times)

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Alicev

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Hi Ladies!

In many of the threads here I came across with the author's desire to spend more time with their grandchildren and be a part of their lives . I want to share my personal story with you from the child's point of view.

My parents were separated when I was just 1 year old and my mum was so bitter over the divorce that she would say such demeaning things about my dad and my grandparents on my dad's side. As a child I had very mixed feelings about it but mostly crushed me inside. I also did not know how to deal with those feelings. Because I knew that  I was part of my dad and his parents. And when my mum kept belitteling my dad in our conversations, I felt belittled inside.
I thought, if she thinks so bad of him and I am part of him, therefore I am bad as well.
I was kept from seeing my dad's side of the family and told that they did not care about me. Years later I was cleaning up our attic and I came across this box full of letters. There were birthday cards, Xmas cards from my grandparents on my dad's side. It broke my heart. All these years I had been made to believe they were not interested in me. And suddenly I find something that clearly proves that they DID CARE!  I felt angry, hurt, betrayed. I felt that I had been robbed of the opportunity to have a relationship with my grandparents. The memories that I could have had with them never happened because of the insecurities and control issues my mum had when she was young. Needless to say I cried and cried for hours, days, months thinking what could have been. So big was the pain inside me. I wanted to know who I was, where I came from, where my roots were. Part of my identity had simply been torn away from me.

As a grown up now, I have forgiven my mum and I have tried to be understanding of her as a highly anxious person who did not know any better. But the deed is done and effects of it last till this day. So I knew I could not turn back the clock, but I swore to myself that whatever happens, I will not this let happen to my kids. My child always has the right to spend time with their grandparents on both sides. Who am I to make such life altering decision on behalf of my kids? Who am I to decide who my children can or cannot love and receive love from? I believe all people, children, have the right to love and be loved - without constraints, strings attached - unconditionally. Love is not about control and competition. It is a gift  that is free to every single person to experience.

My message to DILs is that whatever the issue with MIL - your children have the right to know their grandparents and be part of their life. We have an enormous power over a little child who takes all of words as gospel truth. It is a huge responsibility and we should try our best to not to abuse it. One day, once our children are adults - they want to know, and they will find out things on their own.

Offline luise.volta

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What a deeply touching story. Thank you so much. I kept waiting for the "happily-ever-after" part where you contacted your dad and paternal grandparents and had a wonderful reunion followed by new and steadfast relationships. Did that ever happen? Or even a part of it?

You are right. Becoming a parent is an awesome job. If we had to go to school to get a degree in parenting and then take our board exams and that had to be followed by an internship...who in our company would make it?

So often, parental responsibility is seen as custodial...feeding, bathing, even entertaining. It's so easy to focus on physical firsts whether it's a tooth or a step. While inside, behind those bright and trusting eyes, is a Soul surrounded by feelings and concepts. A thirsty little blotter soaking up what is seen and heard...a little mechanic looking for tools.

How inspiring your reference to forgiveness is. How healing for you to get to that place. And how different trust is. When we are totally unable to discern, we must trust to survive. then, in hindsight we find feet of clay and damage that has to be undone.

What I read between the lines is that you didn't get stuck when you found damage. Many do. They forever sing the "Somebody Done Me Wrong Song." It's so much easier than stepping up to the plate and being responsible for ourselves.

I'll never forget the night at his graduation from his EST seminar, when my youngest son thanked me for everything I had given him and let me off the  hook. He told me he would "take it from there." He had incorporated many of my strengths and suffered from many of my limitations and he simply decided that from that point on he was responsible for his own well-being, growth and yes, successes and failures. Whew!  :D

Remember, Stressed is Desserts spelled backward.

Alicev

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Hey everyone!

I did look up my dad. We met when I was 22. It was a little awkward. He had a new family - a wife and two kids. I could see he was feeling very uneasy and so was I. It was a funny thing - on the one had we both knew that we are closely related but at the same time, we basically knew nothing of each other. We spent a couple of days together and I still occasionally talk to one of my half siblings but since we live so far from each other there is very little contact.

Prissy

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A father has such an affect on the life of a child, especially a daughter, that it can't be understated.

I wish I'd never laid eyes on mine. I would sit for hours in my room trying to find a way to make him say hello to me. He never would.  No matter how I said it, he would not acknowledge me.

That was before my Mother died and I was little so I know it scarred me forever.

Offline luise.volta

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Well, so much for my "fairy tale." Good for you for following through and giving yourself the closure that probably needed to happen. It sounds like a much more realistic outcome, unfortunately.

And Prissy, that sounds like a living Hell. It probably says a lot about how you feel about what's going on now, too. Abandonment is a terrible thing.

My dad was a totally great guy. We were wonderful friends and when he came to the aging part of his life, he moved from Michigan to Washington to live with me. He was funny and talented and intelligent and affectionate. He was ethical and reliable and responsible and he was warm and loving. He taught me to swim and paddle a canoe and cook over an open fire...and to dance and sing and play the clarinet and xylophone. He picked me up from wherever I had meetings, like girl scouts or church choir, even in snow storms, and then he took all my friends home, too. He taught me about nature and how to care for pets. He listened to me and after I left home, he came long distances to my special occasions. He loved my sons and when he needed all of that back, I gave it to him with an open heart.
Remember, Stressed is Desserts spelled backward.

Prissy

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Do you think that's why I'm in the shape I'm in, Luise?  I mean, do you think this is the reason this has hit me this hard?

Offline luise.volta

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It makes sense to me. When we are "rejection and abandonment waiting to happen", we are going to react differently than people who are not so deeply wounded.

I just went through that when my ex-DIL canceled on me for the family picnic we both dreamed up last March. (The Friday Fiasco thread here.) I over-reacted and couldn't see it... until someone here, SouthernBelle?, asked me to take a step back. I looked in that dark hole and saw that it wasn't about the picnic, it was about too many similar disappointments early in life and I worked my way through it and with her.

What you experienced and didn't experience with your dad is monumental. There is no way that I can see that it wouldn't influence you for the rest of your life and color your opinions, needs, reactions and self-worth. Not that what's come down with your son isn't awful but how could it not contain all of that past energy?

I'd be interested to see what the others think.

Remember, Stressed is Desserts spelled backward.

Prissy

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I wish someone would try to see if I am over reacting to each wound.  I know it hurts but maybe I'm hurt worse?  I don't want to be like this! 


Invisible

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Re: My story - the effects of keeping grandparents and children apart.
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2009, 08:59:36 AM »
I can relate. My parents were divorced when I was 6 years old. I never saw my father or his parents again.  My mother had a dysfunctional relationship with her mother so they would seldom visit. My mother went as far to tell me my grandmother did not want to see me. Of course I believed my mother ans that pretty much severed any lasting relationship with my grandparents. It is a shame so many families are broken on a whim.

millie

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Re: My story - the effects of keeping grandparents and children apart.
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2010, 02:14:57 PM »
Hi Everyone...

not sure if this is where I'm supposed to be but its a good start....Prissy I remember you when Luise first started this site...I was so down had to seek therapy..you guys were just not enough at the time...I saved your site on "favorites" and recently discovered you again..still have the same issues but am better able to live with it now...I posted a "poll" re: grandchildren can you guys "vote"?  I will be checking in now ok?  so glad to know you all are still here!

Offline luise.volta

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Re: My story - the effects of keeping grandparents and children apart.
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2010, 07:26:05 PM »
Welcome Back!   ;D ;D ;D I've been (and still am) in therapy too because caregiving my DH (who is now 98) has brought me so many challenges. Thank God for therapists!!

I hate to admit it but I don't know where to go to respond to a poll. (Yes, I know...on my own website!) I can find "Add Poll" but that's to start one. Help me out here, please.  And again, glad to see you!  8)
Remember, Stressed is Desserts spelled backward.

Marilyn

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Re: My story - the effects of keeping grandparents and children apart.
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2010, 07:51:58 PM »
Luise,it's under DIL or SIL parents........post called grandbabies

Offline luise.volta

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Re: My story - the effects of keeping grandparents and children apart.
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2010, 08:19:01 PM »
I found it, thanks! Who designed this darn forum, anyway? LOL!!
Remember, Stressed is Desserts spelled backward.

cocobars

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Re: My story - the effects of keeping grandparents and children apart.
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2010, 02:44:48 AM »
Sorry about sending you to the wrong post.  I hope you got my correction!   ::)

Offline luise.volta

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Re: My story - the effects of keeping grandparents and children apart.
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2010, 07:21:33 AM »
And C/C - You alerted me. That's what matters most. I thank you and I'm sure M/ does, too!  ;D
Remember, Stressed is Desserts spelled backward.