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My story - the effects of keeping grandparents and children apart.

Started by Alicev, July 12, 2009, 10:42:51 am

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WOW!  All I could think of when I was reading your story was..... this is the short version and I would like to see the long version in every single divorce proceeding across the country.  Its almost a form of child abuse really. 
How terrible for you to go through something like that.
I feel for you Sweetie.


Quote from: luise.volta on July 20, 2009, 08:21:55 am
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.

I know I am replying to a terribly old post, but at the same time, a profound one.  I just had to comment that your words shook me to the core.  It made me realize how very, very important a father's love and acceptance really are.  I think you probably had very loving, involved parents, grandparents, and extended family that played a part in the wonderful person you are, but I bet your father played a key role.  I had five siblings and I think we all are nonconfrontational and have an inferiority complex.......each one of us.  I can say with pretty much confidence that it is a direct result of my dad's attitude toward us.  My dad had a short fuse and was a negative man.  He criticized us whenever we worked on anything creative - yelling at us about "what kind of mess are you making now!!!!!".  No wonder we don't have an ounce of creativity.  He never ever showed us a speck of affection which may be the cause of us wanting everyone to like/love us.  He never complimented us........ever.  He never ever ever showed us encouragement for what we were doing - showed no interest in supporting our causes or activities.  No wonder we were never the stars in sports or anything else.  He called us "clowns" and "dummies" (clowns was meant in a demeaning way).  No wonder we felt stupid and inferior.  He never joked with us - no wonder we are so serious all the time.  On a positive note, he did teach us responsiblity and good work ethics.  He did make sure our physical needs were met - but even though he had the financial means, he never afforded us any extras.  No vacations for us (until I was 17 and my mom used her babysitting money to take us on an inexpensive weekend trip), no new clothes (unless they were Christmas or birthday gifts which were somewhat meager).  One year after my dear mom begged him, my Dad bought us each new clothes for Easter, but it took the wind out of my mom's sails to have to fight so hard for it that she never asked him again - that was the only holiday in all our lives we ever received a new outfit from them.  The only time we went out to eat was for our high school graduations...........oh yeah, and when my grandpa died.  Wow! Your post hit me like a ton of bricks b/c I can vividly see how much our Dad effected all of us kids.  I just love all my siblings (one died at 21) and I see them all regularly even though our parents are gone.  My mom was a good woman who suffered a great deal emotionally from my Dad's lack of affection and moral support.  Thanks to her we all knew what true love means and between my Mom and Dad we had a balance of loving, caring, nurturing and responsibility.  However, we are scarred from the inferiority complex.  I realize that my Dad loved us, but didn't know how to tell us.  His way of showing us that he loved us was by providing our needs.  I wish all our dads could have given us the type of support and love your Dad gave you.  I have no doubt that he played a huge role in the confident, wise, loving, giving, caring, intelligent, challenging woman you are today.  God bless you, good friend.  You have given each of us so much to think about and have helped us to grow.  Hugs and love, Hope


Hope - I am so touched when someone "gets" one of my posts and finds it useful. Thank you so much for letting me know! In a way then, my Dad contributed to you through me! :)
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Yes, your Dad contributed to us all through you in a way b/c through his example, we can reach for his glowing attributes.  He has inspired me to strive for those qualities.  Thanks for sharing, fairy godmother.
Btw, I haven't been pinged lately.  Do you have any in your back pocket to spare?
Hugs, Hope 


Oh, goody! Where is that thing? I love to use my magic wand! Ah, there it is...Pingity, Ping, Ping, Ping!  ;D ;D ;D
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Ahhhhhh.  Thanks for the great pings, Luise.  You sure have a knack for that!   ;D
You're the best!  Hugs, Hope


Hello, Alice,

I am new to this list, thus I haven't written sooner to tell you how eloquent your post is regarding your discoveries about your father and grandparents.  You have told the story from the point of view of the deprived child, and nothing could be more powerful than to read your feelings about this deprivation in your life.  I want to thank you for taking the time to share that with us in such detail.

It's rare when a writer gives an entirely new perspective.  I simply did not think about the fact that my DIL has, as you said, very little right to deprive her child of all family relationships, or that, when she is grown, she will possibly react as you did.  But then, you are such an intelligent and sensitive human being.  I'm afraid by the time my granddaughter is ten, she will be just like her mother and her other grandmother---totally centered on excluding the "outsiders" in the tight little group they've created without her father's family.

I just want to thank you for sharing this story.  I am sorry for your pain, but sensitive people do feel pain and outrage at injustice.  I hope by now you have achieved some kind of peace, for you deserve it so much.



Anna, me too, and we don't even have any yet :) My hope for them, whenever they arrive, is that they get to experience good things from all the GPs in their lives and are allowed to be who they want to be. DS claims he'll make sure we have access...we'll see.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Hi all,

I found this today by Carolyn Hax, advice columnist.  Sometime ago I saved a column by her in which she cited the evil effects of keeping grandparents apart from their grandchildren. It was great.  Here is another version---and an objective opinion.

Should we be fighting harder to spend time with our grandchildren?


Grandma cut off by her controlling daughter-in-law
By Carolyn Hax | Columnist
Published: 10/8/2008 12:05 AM
Q. My son is married and has two kids, 8 and 3. They live several states away. My daughter-in-law dictates the rules by which my husband and I are allowed to spend time with the kids. Her mother watches them while she works, and her parents have unlimited access to them.

When my granddaughter was 7 months old, I was visiting for a week and wanted to care for her. I received a two-page e-mail from my DIL outlining all the reasons that wouldn't happen e.g., "If I call the house and hear her crying, I'll have to leave work and come home"; and, "My mother knows every single thing there is to know about her and you don't."

I have only recently been permitted to watch the kids by myself, and only once permitted to drive them anywhere. On my last visit, I wanted to take them to breakfast. My DIL agreed, to my face. However, she badgered my son over the phone, raising such a stink about it that he called and asked me to cancel. I did. She came home early that day, and I just left. I couldn't even look at her.

I am sick to death of this control freak dictating my time with my grandchildren. My son is in the middle and always fights these situations when they occur. It means a lot to him for us to have a close relationship with his children. I'm at a loss.


A. Controlling people are dangerous, especially to children, because they block the flow of natural information to their victims, which then gives victims a distorted emotional view. To oversimplify it: Mommy limits her kids' exposure to love from other sources, so they become dependent on Mommy, so they grow up uniquely ill-equipped to view Mommy objectively, so they enter the world (as friends, colleagues, spouses, parents) not only stunted, but unable to recognize how stunted they are and why.

Thanks, Ma.

Your leaving in a huff, while understandable, hurt your grandkids more than it did their mother. They need love from other sources. And since your DIL has barred the doors, you need to gain access through her.

Understanding her motives might help. What pushes someone's protectiveness sooo far outside the norm? It's right there in your narrative. Fear.

The solution is right there, too. You mention "only recently" watching the kids solo, meaning she has budged a micron in your favor.

You note the micron, but I suggest you note the favor. You made progress. Maybe she budged only to retain control of your son, but budge she did. So, keep playing by those crazy-making rules, and keep chipping away at her resistance. Visit more, not less. Summon otherworldly patience.

This is not to suggest, however, that you fashion yourself into a threadbare, grandmotherly doormat. You can take control of ... well, your lack of control, by addressing it openly. Ahem:

"Of course you're protective, and feel more comfortable with your own mother, since she raised you and sees the children daily. However, I raised the man you chose to marry. I will work with you for as long as it takes to earn your trust."

It may not look like a gauntlet, but that's the beauty of throwing it down.

• E-mail Carolyn at, or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

© 2008 The Washington Post


Thanks, Kathleen! This is a great perspective. I'm glad you shared it. Perhaps it'll get through to those who need it.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


What clarity has been presented here! A lot to think about. Thank you!

I recently got a questions on my counseling Website from a woman who was suffering because her near-adult son was rejecting her. She made it very clear that being a mother (to her) was about being in "getting" love. She said she was thinking of having another child so she could be loved again.

I know there are ga-zillions of definitions of love...but to lay that kind of trip on a child by calling emotional inadequacy and dependency love is not only sad but, as was mentioned above, how might that child view adulthood? And how poorly prepared might he/she be for it?

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


These stories are very touching and hit close to home for me. My son and DIL are going through a divorce and my heart breaks for my grandson. He was only 6 months old when they separated and had spent his first 2 months in the hospital, so he really had very little time with his Dad in his life on a 24/7 basis. It worries me how their relationship will evolve over the years. I cry when I realize that my son is missing out on the experience on being a full time Dad. Just the simple joy of placing his son in his crib at night or seeing his face when he wakes to a new day. So many small, yet important moments he will never share.
Sometimes the feelings overcome me so I have to push them back. What is done is done. I remind myself that children live through divorce all the time. It will just be his reality. I know my son is totally dedicated to his little guy and will try his hardest to be in his life as much as humanly possible. It breaks my heart - but what can you do?


Yes, it's very painful for everyone...even those who can't begin to understand. I remember when it happened to my OS and DIL but/and it all turned out well. The kids grew up just fine "between homes" and now one of them has grown children while the other is just starting a family. Hope that gives you a little encouragement. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama