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estranged grandchild's upcoming birthday - what do you do?

(123 Posts)
nina1959 Thu 02-Mar-17 14:05:26

Hello all

I'm in the estranged camp, I have been for some time and having read posts and run groups for estranged parents, I have no answers. I've just learned to accept it although I know it's incredibly hard and just reading a few posts here, I understand the pain many of you are going through.
So all this being said, I have a small grandaughter who has a birthday coming up this month. The saddest thing is that her mother, my daughter, has decided not to allow her to know us. In some ways I think she's punishing us for her own unhappiness but I just don't know anymore. I think it's wrong not to allow a child to know it's own gene pool but I can do little about it.

There's no point sending anything, I don't have an address. Email cards aren't opened and I imagine any other form of offering a gift via a third party isn't given anyway. Then I also think to keep on trying does three things, none which are good, a) keeps you dangling on the false end of hope, b) makes it look as though you're insisting on staying connected, c) keeps you in a control battle.

Then there's the child herself who knows nothing about us but may grow up wishing she had so I feel I've got to keep an ember of hope glowing for her sake.
I just don't know how.

Any thoughts> I've started a family footprint of photos, notes and other things so maybe one day, she can trace back her roots. But otherwise, I'm at a loss.

rosesarered Thu 02-Mar-17 14:11:50

Hello Nina this seems to be an increasingly common ( and heartbreakingly sad) state of affairs. I think that what you are already doing is a really good idea.Perhaps a letter along with the photos saying how you would have loved to have been in her life.She may never see all this, but maybe, just maybe, she will at some point in the future.
As you say, there is no point sending cards and presents which will be returned anyway.

Luckygirl Thu 02-Mar-17 14:13:04

I cannot see how you can send a present or greetings - maybe just make a nice card to put with the other items you are accumulating for when she gains the right to her own decision-making. It must be very tough for you.

nina1959 Thu 02-Mar-17 14:27:08

Thanks for your replies. It is indeed a sad state of affairs and it is on the increase. I know from when I ran support groups, our numbers rocketed. Even Esther Rantzen has been on TV recently raising concerns about it.

I have given up trying, it just ends up in a circular conversation and in the end affects your health so I've had to let it go. Luckily I am busy with work and life generally is good. I've learned to enjoy the peace of not being in a constant battle and waking up to punishing emails pointing out how I've failed as a parent. I don't know what this 30 something generation expected but I think it was was beyond what most parents could deliver.

I still think about this small girl though every day. Imagine getting to 16 and finding out you've got loving grandparents that you were never allowed to know but they remembered you every birthday and Christmas? I can only believe a big balloon is going to go up on that day.
Again, nothing I can do. I've tried all ways but to no avail.

I think the best option is to just carry on,buy a card and a gift and keep it in a keepsake box. It's such a shame. I know it's hurt me very deeply but I tend to now just think about how it's all going to pan out for my grandaughter and what she'll think when she's older.
I truly feel so sorry for the many grandparents going through the same. All I can say is that you must think of yourselves, and try and bring other things into your lives that will lighten your load. For me it's my work and I have good friends. But for those grandparents on their own it really is the most hurtful way to live.

Starlady Thu 02-Mar-17 15:03:20

Such a painful, frustrating situation, Nina! I wonder if eac ever stop to think how difficult these special moments can be for egps. Probably not.

I love the "family foorprint" idea and the keepsake box! I'm not sure if there is a point in adding gifts to the box though since if she ever sees them, she will have outgrown them, etc. Perhaps better to give these gifts to some charity or other and take a picture for her to see what it was?

A few of my friends, unfortunately, are estranged from their ac and gc. One of them puts money away for her egc every Christmas and every birthday. She plans to give it to him when he's older if he ever looks her up or leave it to him in her will (along with her assets, etc. since they won't be going to her ed). So there's another idea for you to consider.

ninathenana Thu 02-Mar-17 15:38:22

I was going to suggest putting money away each birthday,Christmas It's what we do. I believe I read that you can only open an account for a child with a parents signature.
Whilst not completely estranged from our GC we see little of them as they live with their father and his parents. I don't have an adddress to send cards (just their dad's e-mail) and I know their family don't "do" cards so they probably wouldn't see them anyway.

MissAdventure Thu 02-Mar-17 16:20:49

You could "adopt" an animal with your granddaughter in mind. Charities send regular updates, and you could keep those. My friend pays a small amount to sponsor a guide dog for each of her sons.

Christinefrance Thu 02-Mar-17 17:40:13

A keepsake box is a good idea,when your granddaughter does get in touch you can show her all the cards and little gifts you got for her over the years. Saving money for her future also is a good idea and helps both of you, she will know you always thought of her.
So sorry you cannot contact her.

Ankers Thu 02-Mar-17 18:51:35

I suppose the only other thing I can think of , is to keep in contact with other family members[which you may or may not be doing] so that your daughter, and eventually your granddaughter, will know or find out, that you still very much care and always have done, regardless of what your daughter tells or ends up telling your DGD over the years. flowers

Hilltopgran Fri 03-Mar-17 00:56:38

I have accounts for all four of our GC, started because the first three live abroad and their are diffuculties getting gifts to them. I did not need parental agreement or signatures to open the accounts. The children like and understand that instead of a sending a birthday card I have donated to a charity that offers options in the 3rd world that are similar to the cost of a card and postage. They will be given their investment accounts to manage themselves as they wish when they reach 18.

Perhaps gifts in kind to help other children and a record of who has benefited would help you show you were still thinking about your GD and can be given to her at some point in the future, I also think putting away the money you would have spent on a gift to leave her or give to her in the future is a positive way to feel you are doing something, and if she makes contact in the future shows you cared.

Marenn Fri 03-Mar-17 01:32:51

I like Hilltopgran's idea of money in their accounts that they could have later by bequest or because they 'find' their GP's would be lovely.

BlueBelle Fri 03-Mar-17 05:54:09

Hilltopgram when I opened an account for my first grandchild (I couldn't keep it up when I got to 7 but they all get lots from me along the way) but I had to have their birth certificate to show

suedavies Fri 03-Mar-17 09:24:59

No matter how bleak the situation is Nina don't ever let go, where there is a will there's a way, remember all that was left in Pandora's box was hope. One day all your hope's and prayers may be answered.
Big hugs and lots of positive thoughts being sent to you :-)

radicalnan Fri 03-Mar-17 09:34:22

I think savings is the way to go, you can have account in your own name if necessary but marked for her as 'a/c she will have money if she needs it (I think your daughter may contact you if there were ever pressing need or if she changes her mind a bit) but you can also just leave it for her in your will.

I think a box with a jounal of how you miss her written up from time to time would give her the flavour of you later on, especially if you have passed on before she gets it. Make it positive and peronal and it could be the best gift she ever receives.

I have no contact ith my grand children from my eldest DD none of us have any idea why she cut family is very sad.

Fran0251 Fri 03-Mar-17 09:34:49

Why not just open an ISA in your name, when your granddaughter is of age she may well seek you out, or you can seek her out and offer what's in the ISA, or leave it to her. She would no doubt be absolutely delighted. At least it's a path to the future.

ninathenana Fri 03-Mar-17 09:35:37

Bluebelle that must be what I was thinking of.

Crazygrandma2 Fri 03-Mar-17 10:04:48

I feel so very sorry for you nina1959 but think all you can do is what you are doing and one day your grand-daughter will come to know how much she was loved and that it was her mother that kept you apart. I hope your daughter is preparing herself for that eventually as in effect she is teaching her own daughter how to treat herself years down the line, if you understand what I mean. As they say, what goes around comes around. I also love the idea of starting an ISA. Imagine your GD delight when she discovers she not only has a grandma but one that cared enough to keep making this box for her and also saving for her future needs. Heartfelt hugs coming your way x

Lyndie Fri 03-Mar-17 10:19:18

Nina. I am so sorry to hear about the estrangement of your grandchild. I agree this happens so much. Some of our children don't have respect for us and how hard we tried to do the best things for them. We are not allowed to have an opinion against theirs. Our experience of life counts for nothing. I have just estranged myself from my son. I can't take the lack of respect, lack of love or concern or help all of which we have given to him in spades. It's been one way. I don't think he has ever asked how I am or what I have been doing. I don't invite him or my grandsons here any longer, the whole time they are here is just hurtful. Shutting me down and the boys creating havoc . I obviously feel guilty but relieved. I feel a wicked person. I can't talk to him he makes me feel stupid. I think what you are doing is laying very. You are a better person than me.

Lyndie Fri 03-Mar-17 10:20:43

Sorry. That lovely. Not laying very.

SillyNanny321 Fri 03-Mar-17 10:33:00

In our family we have the opposite problem. My lovely DiL's mother has cut herself off from our GC. Why who knows! If I do not see them regularly I get withdrawal symtoms Lol!! She seems unaware of the hurt this causes my poor DiL!
People are strange!

nina1959 Fri 03-Mar-17 10:34:36

Thanks for all the kind posts and comments which I deeply appreciate. I know so many people in the same situation so quite often I don't feel my own pain, I just feel so sorry for them!

You've all posted good ideas, thankyou. I do have a savings fund for her so that's covered. I guess I was thinking of trying to do a bit more, something with a deeper value and meaning. I rarely think about my daughter these days. I stay quietly appalled at how she's not just cut me off but she's also depriving her child of having any kind of connection back to her own gene pool. I think many of of us feel the same way, that there's trouble being stored up further down the track and that mega sized skeletons are going to burst forth along with a heap of chickens coming home to roost. I know what I would have had to say if I'd been stopped from knowing my grandmother.
I've decided to leave her to it though, I have tried all ways to get her to try and meet me halfway but she behaves as though I don't exist. I've even suggested that if she doesn't want to talk to me, couldn't we just keep a connection open, maybe once a month so that the grandchild has a thread of contact with us just in case anything ever happens. Same answer, no. I think the attitude is very selfish and shortsighted but that's how it is.

I was thinking how I might feel if I got to 16 years of age and suddenly out of the blue, grandma contacted me. I'd be shocked but I'd want to know who this family line was. Once we met and she gave me all the years of cards, gifts and other things, I would be furious that possibly, this special person that was part of my heritage and grass roots, had been kept from me.

So this set me off thinking, and I am a writer so writing is easy for me, I began compiling what I've now called a 'family footprint'. This is a record of past family members on my side, so that's my relatives and others too, all people that are part of my grandaughters genetic make up.
I like this idea because it's truth opening up and it will give her an access route to know a part of herself that so far.she's been denied.

I've gone past the bitterness, anger, pain and the humiliation too, I know it takes a long time and so many people out there are suffering at the hands of their brutal estranged adult children, my heart is with yours. But now my focus is on how I can fill in the gaps for a child growing up only knowing half a story.

So money yes, cards and little keepsakes in a memory box yes, savings accounts yes, all good ideas, thankyou. On top of all these things, I think this is what I'm going to do, create this historical family footprint so she can at least find her way back to her roots, which I am sure she will do one day.

For all you out there suffering the same, unkind fate, I am thinking about you and sending you my thoughts. xxx

Su66 Fri 03-Mar-17 10:50:33

My first post here
One that has really touched my heart
Firstly Lyndie please don't put yourself down, we can only take so much of our children's behaviour.
Back to Nina, I really feel for you, I know that everyone has different opinions but mine is that I think it is a really good idea to have the footprints memory thing but I would also put a birthday card Christmas card Easter etc in the box a small gift in relation to the age of your granddaughter. Big hugs to you and to be honest there are some things we just cannot alter. I am glad that you do have a busy life and have almost accepted the situation. Wishing you all the best.

My similar situation......... my daughter is with a partner who has two children by another person, my daughter now has two children with him. His mother wants nothing to do with my daughters 2 (they are her grandchildren too) and has cut them off completely. He on the other hand has done nothing to bridge the gap and takes his older children to see her every other weekend leaving my daughter with her 1 and 2 year old. Sorry to rattle on here, could go on further but the point is how could this woman be so hurtful ok they are young now but what in a couple of know that your dad takes his other two children to see their nan (theirs too) I could really cry about it. I sent little momentos to her on the birth of our granddaughters but no thanks in return.....just contact would be good not thanks.
Just an idea now about a charm bracelet, a charm for each birthday etc.

Best wishes to all.

Su66 Fri 03-Mar-17 10:53:01

Sorry Nina was also going to say that (my opinion) a small gift/momento might mean more to your granddaughter than money.

nina1959 Fri 03-Mar-17 11:04:16


I really feel your pain, I honestly know how you're feeling. I have no answers at the seemingly callous manner at which our families treat us. I think things will change but only in law. In France, grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren but so far not in the UK. But, and it's a but that seems to be gaining ground, the government are realising that grandparents are an untapped resource. This might be good news for some, a nightmare for others. I know plenty of retired women who weren't expecting to become unpaid childminders but nothing is perfect.
I've decided that I'm Ok with things as long as everyone is safe and well. In all honesty, it's no fun having any contact with my daughter. She's very angry, full of blame and I think I'm the only available dumping ground for her rants, if I allow it. This constant bashing really does take it's toll on us if we don't step back. To wake up receiving an email full of how we don't measure up or how we are percieved to be wrong on so many levels, honestly? I forgot what peace meant at one point. Whenever it came back I didn't recognise it. Now my life is peaceful and so really, all I want to do is just leave a trail of love for my grandaughter so she can come and find us if she wants to. Heartbreaking I know, I'll have to go and get the tissues out now. But until someone's heart finds a compassion switch, there's not much else I can do. xxx

annemac101 Fri 03-Mar-17 11:04:53

My heart breaks for you Nina. Your daughter is being controlling in the worst possible way and of course has the best weapons to hold against you,the fact that she's allowing you no contact with your granddaughter. I think you are doing the right thing for your health and sanity and who knows, maybe when your daughter is not hearing from you she might realize that you have now made her powerless because you're not fighting her anymore. I think all the records you are keeping are a great idea, I have something else I can suggest. Keep a personal journal for your granddaughter. I do this for mine although I see them,I write down all the things we do together and things they said to me. Find the prettiest of journals (TK Max have great ones) and write down little things you did during the day,did you read a good book, go on holiday etc.. What made you think of her that day, how do you imagine her to be. You picked out a card and gift for her birthday, what made you choose them? Let her get to know you through the journal. There needs to be no recriminations about her mum,say how much you love her mum and would love to be in her life but nothing upsetting. You can even just write in once a week or monthly. You are a writer so you will love doing this because as well as you writing about her ancestors she needs to know about you her grandma, let her get to know your daily life through your journal. When she is older she will love reading about you who loved her from the beginning and from afar.
I hope your daughter will change her mind eventually and I send you hugs.