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DIL's parental alienation: indestructible gifts or how to handle Christmas??

(51 Posts)
Squibsy Thu 19-Sep-19 17:55:18

Finally, I hope some time over this Christmas period to see my Grandchild (by then nearly 2) for the first time since he was 5 months-old.

This after thousands Pounds legal costs, several court proceedings with Orders for his Dad to have contact, all wilfuly ignored ... it's been a one-sided toxic, highly distressing Hell.

But, at Christmastime - I'm praying little one will be have a day with his Daddy and I'd appreciate some ideas: spending time together makes the all-important memories of course... but there's this awful one-sided and joyless element to deal with of "presents from his other set of Grandparents" but not from his Daddy's because I am very mindful any gift will be likely disposed of as soon as little one gets home - and I want to avoid any distress or issues for him

I've not had a Christmas with a small child since my own decades ago: any advice, tips, thoughts, on how to handle a 'Christmas' scenario without presents but also what on earth does one, should one, do with a little one? I realise I could buy some "toys we play with at Grandma's" ... but what??

I want to present some positive ideas for my son to be able to cope with this aspect as well.

Sadly, I wish I could optimistically say things will settle down but, realistically and pragmatically, this how every Christmas and birthday will need to be managed from now on so we'll need to "create our own version of traditions" from here on.

Your Granly wisdoms would be most appreciated smile
Thank you

grapefruitpip Thu 19-Sep-19 18:00:23

Possibly, not what you want to hear but the little one, is just that a little tiny child.
It is such a fraught time of year and children soak that up like sponges.
I would ignore any nastiness with gifts and so on and try and have a nice time. Small children love cardboard boxes!

grapefruitpip Thu 19-Sep-19 18:00:24

Possibly, not what you want to hear but the little one, is just that a little tiny child.
It is such a fraught time of year and children soak that up like sponges.
I would ignore any nastiness with gifts and so on and try and have a nice time. Small children love cardboard boxes!

Septimia Thu 19-Sep-19 18:03:19

He's a bit young yet but if you are likely to see him occasionally for Christmas/birthday or anything else, I suggest giving him time with you and experiences. Trips to the zoo (he might enjoy that now), the theatre, picnics, sealife centres etc. No-one can take those things away from him and the memories are yours and his for ever. Take photos that you can pass on to him when he's bigger and independent.

Sussexborn Thu 19-Sep-19 18:13:08

Any point in contacting a family member from “the other side?” Anyone who might see it as an olive branch and may know if he has any particular passions?

Otherwise a couple of fisher price sturdy toys that you can keep for future visits? You could bulk things up with some charity shop buys so you can get an idea of what he likes. Also books, puzzles, chunky crayons perhaps. Take lots of photos for yourself and for him to see in the future in case things get tricky again. He might need to know that he is loved by both sides of his family.

Hope all goes well for you.

ninathenana Thu 19-Sep-19 18:15:35

This Christmas he will not understand what it's all about. Think of it as just as a lovely day spent with your son and GS. With a few treats to eat and maybe some mega blocks to play with.
Play with him, read to him (picture books for pressies) go for a family walk. At this age he will presumably still be having an afternoon nap. Time for the adults to relax smile

Sussexborn Thu 19-Sep-19 18:17:52

Keep everything low keep as he might be wary of being with people he doesn’t really know yet. Then again he might be confident and sociable but best to start gently. Hope you have a happy future together.

LondonGranny Thu 19-Sep-19 18:21:55

Open a savings account for your grandchild (in his name) & keep adding to it. In my experience kids have more toys than they can deal with and this will be something really handy for when he's older. Have toys & books at your house. I wasn't estranged from my granny, by any means, but she did this for all her grandchildren for when they came of age. I cannot tell you how useful it was when I turned 21.

EllanVannin Thu 19-Sep-19 18:34:24

Make your home child-friendly with a box of toys which will be remembered by the child for future visits. As someone suggested the charity shops always have good supplies of toys, especially before Christmas when people have clear-outs.

A child will then go straight to a toy box when he visits granny's house, which he'll happily relate to.

gallusquine Thu 19-Sep-19 18:36:50

Start a photo album and memory box that's kept at your house and fill it with photographs of you all doing things together. Keep all receipts/tickets/brochures of the places you visit together and encourage him to add treasures to it as he grows, he will have a living history of his paternal family and his place in it.
Don't expect too much from him or from yourselves on his visit, you are at the very start of building your relationship.

Hetty58 Thu 19-Sep-19 18:44:42

Squibsy, it seems to me that a Christmas gift would be in order and perhaps expected too (as it's traditional). When we give it should be unconditionally. The gift becomes the property of whoever it's given to. It's no longer ours - so not our concern at all whether it's looked after or disposed of.

If you really can't bear to hand over a present, how about a savings account?

crazyH Thu 19-Sep-19 18:49:17

I hope that this Christmas visit will be the start of a great loving relationship with your little GC. Tons of hugs and kisses .....nothing better than that....lots of photos, lots of singing. I have special songs I sing to them. Oldest is 17 years now and youngest is 1 year old.
You must be so excited and so must your son. Why oh why did it have to go to Court? I'm presuming you have one of those nasty many of those about 😡
Good times ahead I hope for all of you xx

Squibsy Thu 19-Sep-19 18:54:14

I started a box of toys (need to update them though, so I'll get onto that smile and books will be fun to look for: if nothing else this Grandma's home is a 'reading books' one!

I thought it might all be a bit fraught and strange for him, so good to hear I wasn't alone in that thought... thanks smile will keep it quiet (people numbers) and simple although the temptation is everyone there who's been denied seeing him since he was tiny sad ... but those times will come, fingers crossed for next summer.

Thank you for the reminder about the savings accounts ... that early impulse got lost under all the stress.

.. and, yes, wish I could make an olive branch phone call but I am petrified of setting off reprisals (after I made one attempt).

Cardboard boxes .... OMG now you remind me, my younger son's 7-year's-old peek-a-boo box he painted is still in the attic... it is a wonderful bright orange and purple spotted Octopus ... I shall fetch it down forthwith!! And I think ... somewhere there is some Brio up there (I hope!)

Thank you all very much

M0nica Thu 19-Sep-19 19:31:57

You could have a few presents that could be used there and then. For a little one like this what is in side is irrelevant, it is te unwrapping.

What about a 'pass the parcel' type present. Lots of layers with simple things like a chocolate button, or a sparkly picture or little things that provide instant gratification - and make the present in the middle a balloon, blown up or ready to be blown up. That way everyone has the joy of his unwrapping presents - and you can take all the pictures, but there is nothing that can be taken home.

Squibsy Thu 19-Sep-19 19:38:23

@CRazyH ... I'm looking forward to precious times - and starting to write down 'family stories' (for when he's older) I remember mostly my grandmothers telling me those smile

Sadly, I wish I could describe how unbelievably atrocious it has been ... suffice to say, the court process can't cope with wilful, pathological self-interested extreme lies... repeatedly... under Oath! Make a false allegation and the other party is presumed guilty until they've spent £1,000s to prove otherwise. WORSE - parents who can't afford legal representation costs simply end up never seeing their children. I had no idea this could happen to decent ordinary sincere Dads ... then I read e.g. Separateddads forum and realised there's fathers out there driven to contemplate suicide ... I am blessed and in awe of the strength, resilience and determination my son has shown to just not walk away.

Squibsy Thu 19-Sep-19 19:39:22

Oh, wow... Monica - that's a genius idea smile

Sussexborn Thu 19-Sep-19 19:52:43

Hopefully life has taken a better turn for you now! I know of two teenagers who have made their own way back to visit their grandparents once they can reason for themselves.

Squibsy Thu 19-Sep-19 20:03:55

@Hetty58 .. I do kind of feel that's right i.e., 'unconditionality' but I remember being 14 months old and the fluffy blanket I was attached to being taken away ... and being 4-5 years old unwrapping a story book gift "Witches and ghosts" (title something like) and it being snatched right out of my hand by my mother as I started to open it (I remember her telling the neighbour who'd bought it for me that it was "unsuitable"... and even at that age, I reasoned, "How is it unsuitable?.. I haven't even opened it to read any of it!"

More though - it's about avoiding any 'weaponising' scenarios

grapefruitpip Thu 19-Sep-19 21:59:49

you remember 14 months?

Daisymae Fri 20-Sep-19 08:35:21

Are you sure that your Dil will actually allow this to happen? In view of the past actions I would keep your expectations low.

grapefruitpip Fri 20-Sep-19 08:39:00

I think Christmas is 3 months away.....I'm thinking please keep expectations manageable or you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Little ones often pick up bugs and so on in winter.

Barmeyoldbat Fri 20-Sep-19 08:53:47

Yes the saving account, maybe for his driving lessons when older. Also the memory box. I did one for my gd and at 24 she still through it and talks about her experience with us. Good luck, just keep it simple.

BradfordLass72 Fri 20-Sep-19 11:56:57

Squibsy Having spent the last 5 years in just such a scenario as you describe, I know the appalling stress it causes - not least when the court system you assumed was perceptive and fair, turns out to be neither. It's heartbreaking.

I will add to the other suggestions that time with Daddy, quiet and low-key is probably best as it sounds as if this court case has resulted in distancing your son and his baby. They will need to get to know one another.

I am sure other family members will be eager to see the little fellow but don't let them overwhelm him - if he goes home scratchy and over-tired it might count against you.

As for gifts, you have the right idea. Have something qood quality he can play with at your house; activity sets are great.
And he can go home with a plastic car which if he gets to keep will give him pleasure but if trashed, won't matter too much.

I love your idea of family stories. He can read them and how much you all loved him, in later years. Other members of the family can contribute but ask them not to include anything derogatory about his Mum.

We are just waiting for the final decision by the Courts; nearly $30,000 so far to stop my grandson (the child of my son's partner but not his child) being taken from his wonderful Mum by a lying, vicious Narcissist, his biological father. angry

sodapop Fri 20-Sep-19 12:32:11

Try to keep things low key squibsy, your grandson needs a calm happy atmosphere. No recriminations, no derogatory comments etc. Sounds like you have excellent ideas for gifts, remember its not a competition with other family members. There is a while to go yet so don't get stressed in the run up to the day. I hope it works out for you and you have a happy day with your little boy.

Squibsy Fri 20-Sep-19 21:54:03

@grapefruitpip - yup, 14 months old (didn't know I was 14 months old of course... just years later when I talked about being alone in the pitch-dark and pulling lumps out of the blanket to suck, my mother said this was at 14 months when my younger sibling was born: I was moved out of the cot into a 'big bed' and this was a fluffy blanket my grandmother had knitted... they "had to take it away from me because I was sucking it"

@daisymae - actually ... do I think this will happen? NO.. after developments (or anti-development sad ) in these just past 24 hours, looks like it'll need another legal battle : thought it was too good to be true ... @grapefruitpip - seems it's not just winter months mysterious bugs happen on days just agreed for contact.

@Bradfordlass - for our side, we are absolutely resolute that there'll be no derogatory anything ... that little one will have enough to cope with as he grows up ... because you mention the dreaded Narc word: that's what we're dealing with here too. Actually, Narc doesn't even cover it: it's an Anti-social Behaviour Disorder + a side helping of Narc (Sociopaths can also have NPD, but Narcs don't also have Sociopathic "traits(?) + one I'd overlooked but just got evidenced (yet again) fitting another distinct behavioural pattern which is Intermittent Explosive Disorder... in may ways, once we stopped trying to rationalise the behaviour as in anyway comparable to normal reactions and responses and accepted it is clinically 'disordered' it became easier to deal with. And, I swear Ladies, that's not putting a version of a slur on it .. I just can't publicly say what's been going on, but it is genuinely jaw-dropping ... and cruel beyond humanly believable.