My daughter has struggled as a single mother with two children from two different fathers. Neither father is in the picture in any way for support purposes, so I have always provided support to my daughter with back-up child care, funding her business start-up, and spending lots of time with the kids.
My daughter struggles to be consistent in setting boundaries and often assigns consequences in anger, only to later not enforce them.
My grandson is now 17 and fighting with his mother has escalated. He’s been staying with me for two months now, after she changed the locks and dropped off his clothes.
Now she wants him to come home and he doesn’t want to. He’s doing weekly sessions with a counsellor and making improvements.
My daughter won’t talk to me and won’t allow me to see my granddaughter, who’s age ten. My daughter thinks I’ve betrayed her by letting my grandson stay with me.
My grandson has continued to stay in touch with his mother and visit her as he wants to have a good relationship.
He says he feels better not living with her because she has drastic mood swings and gets crazy. She’s very controlling with him one day and ignores him the next.
How should I proceed? I want them to heal.
Stuck in the Middle
Get out of the middle, mentally. You’re lucky to have the resources - your home and the cost of your grandson’s counselling - to have been able to take him in when your daughter dropped off his clothes and changed her house locks.
Some of the saddest stories of a teenager’s downfall and worse, have happened when conflicts with parents escalated and the youth was locked out, to end up living dangerously on the streets.
Your daughter is the one who put him in your care. You did not betray her. But she now feels that she’s lost him to you.
You can’t “heal” them, especially since she won’t talk to you. It’s your grandson who needs to discuss with his counsellor how long he needs to stay with you, now that he’s worked out a “good relationship” with her when he visits to see her.
He could even suggest to his Mom that, since he’s doing well with the counselling, that she attend a joint session with him. In many cases the two former “antagonists” in a relationship then work out a plan to heal.
It’s up to them, not you, though you care so much about them both.
As for your granddaughter, do what you can. Send her a small item you know she likes along with a separate note to her mother about how pleased you are that your grandson is trying to re-build their relationship. But don’t press your desire to see your granddaughter.
This is a process, not a sure thing you can fix for them.
FEEDBACK “2021 And Beyond”
Reader – “I spend many days making cards to send to family and friends. Everyone enjoys receiving them.
“While most think of this lost art, it’s an excellent way to communicate and the recipient will read it over and over.
“The writer relates their daily activities, funny incidents, whatever’s on their mind, etc.
“Also, asking questions gives the receiver something to answer. Then comment on the things mentioned in the letter you receive. It keeps the conversation going.
“Walking to a mailbox is good exercise too.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the wife who wrote, “My husband of nine years and I love each other. But we fight a lot.” (January 15):
Reader – “There’s no question their constant arguing (fighting, really) is undermining their relationship but I believe it’s doing much more harm to their young children. (I know, having grown up in a dysfunctional family of six.)
“Although my wife and I have also been down that road over our long marriage, I feel the one thing that’s helped me better manage those argumentative situations came from a question I once heard:
“TV’s Dr. Phil, on his relationship advice show, asked “Would you rather be right or happy?”
“Perhaps that letter-writer and her husband — each time they’re in verbal combat — could stop and ask themselves that question and see where it takes them. Especially for the sake of the children, if not for their own wellbeing.”
Tip of the day:
Family discord affects parents, children, grandparents. But good-hearted support doesn’t mean you can heal the main antagonists. Counselling helps.