Dear Readers – Following the July 7 column responding to complaints about grandparents who don’t “help out” with grandchildren, here’s another side, about why some are barred from their grandchildren’s lives:
I’m a grandfather who’s offered to help with my grandson (now 14 months) from the beginning.
I’m told that his mother is often tired. His father (my son) works long hours and is often stressed.
Yet they’ve both refused all help and have invited my wife and I over only occasionally to see the baby.
We’re loving people who get along well with children of all ages.
For his first birthday, his grandmother asked to come over but was told that they wanted to celebrate "just the three of us.”
I’ve spoken to my son about the disappointment we feel and the importance of grandparents to the child's development.
His other grandparents live in another country far away.
My son and I always had a good relationship (or so I thought). This is our only grandchild and I’d dearly love to have a relationship, but it doesn’t seem possible.
The child is very young; there are many possibilities for change. The mother’s apparently overwhelmed and may also be suffering some post-partum depression.
Having “visitors” may be more than she feels she can handle.
Ask your son how how he is, and how his wife is managing. Try suggesting meeting casually as a family together, e.g. in a park.
Don’t badger him with requests. Keep up email and phone contact. Hopefully, over time, the couple will stop being distant, or you’ll be more aware of the reasons for it.
I’m a mom to one child and step-mom to another child who’s with us 50% of the time.
My in-laws are divorced, so we have to accommodate three sets of grandparents for every major event.
My mother-in-law lives 90 minutes away, and is a snowbird for five-to-six months when she’s totally absent from our lives.
My father-in-law lives only a couple blocks away, as do my parents.
We have a constant battle with my MIL about “access” to our children. She insists that we travel to her, leave them to be spoiled for a couple of hours, pick them up again.
We believe that’s not a relationship or quality time.
Both my parents and my FIL take an actual interest in what we’re doing and what the kids are interested in.
They attend sporting and school events, birthday parties, join us for dinner and weekend activities, etc.
My MIL will visit others in our city without a phone call to see the kids.
She refuses every invite, saying she only wants to have time with the kids without us.
She also believes she should have priority over my parents as one child isn’t their “real” grandchild.
The grandparents should, rather than complain, show up to the kids’ baseball, hockey, soccer games, etc. Ask for copies of schedules (or they’re posted online), and attend without needing an invitation.
Get tickets for the school plays and events.
The more they show interest in what the kids are doing, the more parents will trust that they’re thinking about the kids and not themselves.
The only cost for most events would be the gas to get there and maybe parking.
Seeing grandchildren enjoying themselves, finding their own passions, and growing into individuals, is far more valuable than a couple hours of alone time to spoil them with ice-cream.
Grandparents can always buy the ice cream after the baseball game!
FEEDBACK Regarding the sister’s letter about banned grandparents (June 6):
Reader – “The email from the children’s mother, saying to not visit because it’s too stressful, is unacceptable.
“These parents miss all family gatherings, which is another alarm bell.
“I suspect this woman has some kind of anxiety disorder and needs to be in control.
“She’s using her partner (their son) as her crutch in life, and he’s her unwitting enabler.
“He needs to take charge to help his wife and his vulnerable children. They desperately need counselling as a first step.”
Reader #2 – “We should be cautious about taking sides on this issue. I like what you said about the son possibly having concerns of which his parents are unaware.
“Often when there’s a history of emotional abuse in the family, the abuser has no capacity to recognize it.
“The same can be true with substance abuse in the family.”
Tip of the day:
There are two sides to grandparent-parent conflicts but the grandchildren’s healthy relationships are the priority.