My grand-niece, “A,” age six, is sweet, bright, full of charm. She has two brothers - a toddler and a baby.
Her mother, K, feels she can’t cope with all three while confined to the house, and has sent A off to K’s dysfunctional parents, 30 miles away from her home.
K’s husband, M, my nephew, does everything in the house plus has a responsible job and is working from home.
He’s bullied by K who constantly complains about her lot, saying how wonderful her boys are and posts on Facebook about them daily. She’s lazy.
The family home is large with a big back yard.
My sister, M’s mother, says he can’t do anything about the situation even though he’s not happy about A being sent away. K is distancing from my sister.
How is A going to feel being isolated from her family? Will it affect her down the road? Will she feel rejected?
I know we live in difficult times. My heart goes out to A.
During World War Two, millions of British children were evacuated to safety in the countryside from their families in London and other cities which were being bombed.
Now, during today’s war against COVID-19, the vast majority of children are at home with parents as families fight the virus and avoid their children’s exposure to anyone not taking all precautions.
Your question contains several worrisome descriptions of people involved with this child. If accurate, they’re very upsetting.
The grandparents she’s been sent to are “dysfunctional,” the mother is a “bully” and “lazy.”
There’s no explanation why she “can’t cope” with this daughter at home when she does no chores or work there.
The girl’s father does “everything” in the house but has allowed his daughter to be sent away.
There are only two positive possibilities: 1) If her grandparents are kind and loving (even if dysfunctional), things may be better for the child than you imagine.
2) Some children are very resilient. If her mother is incapable of handling a bright, charming youngster (but can apparently control a baby and toddler), the daughter may benefit from the full attention of these grandparents.
There are also other relatives who can help. The other grandmother (the father’s mom), and you, can send an online-ordered parcel of suitable books, crafts, devices all geared to the girl’s age/interests, to keep her occupied.
The child’s father MUST keep in touch with his daughter by phoning her. If she has some familiarity with online contact, that’s another important link.
But here’s my strongest feeling about this situation: If there’s true reasons for him to believe that these grandparents are not “functionally” capable of caring for his child in a healthy and positive way, he should go there and bring her home. (It’s time he stood up to his wife’s bullying).
Otherwise, if treated as a burden whether at home or at her grandparents, this child will more than likely grow up with deep feelings of rejection.
Meanwhile, the pandemic is, unfortunately, the most important issue we all face.
Sadly, for now - perhaps until the curve of COVID-19 infections flattens enough - this child is a victim of it, through family disruption and separation when she’s too young to fully understand why.
Readers: I welcome your thoughts and suggestions about this child’s situation. If you had your own experiences with abrupt separation from family when young, share them and the impact it had on you. I’ll publish a selection anonymously.
Reader’s Commentary “Sometimes when I’ve read your column, I noticed something about the issue of porn.
“Whenever a woman writes about their man’s porn use, the same narrative is drawn. He’s addicted to porn or she’s uncomfortable with his porn use, so he should stop.
“Porn has been around for decades and although it may not be part of everyone’s life, many people accept it.
“It may be the man’s daily, weekly, or monthly routine but doesn't affect his relationships, job or well-being.
“It may be his personal time, the same if a woman withholds sex because she’s tired or that’s just her choice.”
Ellie - Ancient Greeks and Romans produced erotic art. What’s different through history is a society’s general acceptance or disdain.
In modern relationships, what turns each partner off or on is part of what they need to negotiate. Some women enjoy porn, others don’t. Partners resent if the other watches porn and ignores them.
Tip of the day:
Children need close family support during this pandemic.