Gransnet forums

Estrangement

DH an EAC - my children

(34 Posts)
bettydl Fri 06-Dec-19 09:54:14

I'm posting here hoping to get a bit of advice as this forum always seems very kind.

5 years ago my husband became estranged from his parents. I'm not sure how much to explain about the estrangement - but it was on their side and nothing to do with anything my husband had done (as far as a reasonable person would be concerned). He tried to call them to establish contact, but we haven't heard from them since.

I have two daughters - ages 6 and 3. Since we last heard from my husbands parents 5 years ago the girls don't know them at all and have never asked about them. I'm worried if they do ever come back into our lives they will drop the contact again, and this time it will happen to our very loving girls. The estrangement was terribly stressful at the time.

My plan is that if they do make attempts to get back in touch we could have a period of just the adults seeing each other for 6 months before we introduce the children. There is ZERO sign of them wanting to see us again but I do find the estrangement stressful still after all these years and want to be prepared if they do get in contact. Has anyone been in this situation before? What is reasonable and best for our children?

M0nica Fri 06-Dec-19 10:05:56

Do not worry about it until it happens. As you present the problem, a reunion sounds unlikely in the near future. You daughters may be much older.

My way forward with all problems like this - and one I used with my own children, is to tell the children in advance in an age appropriate way exactly what has happened. That their grandparents haven't wanted to visit Daddy and meet them for many years and although they are making contact now, you do not know when they would see them again.

If they ask why, just say that you do not know but that some people hehave in a way other people find difficult to understand.

Make it simple, factual and unemotional, you will probably find the chldren will take it in their stride - proving you say calm and unjudgemental.

mumofmadboys Fri 06-Dec-19 10:39:51

Do you still offer an olive branch by sending Christmas and birthday cards? How sad for them to miss out on seeing their GC. They must have felt very hurt over the fallout unless they are particularly difficult people. Is your DH still keen to sort it out? Is it possible for you to make contact with your DH's permission? Family fallouts are so sad and unfortunately affect several generations. Hoping this Christmas may bring some resolution and healing and hope for the future.

Starblaze Fri 06-Dec-19 11:14:30

Just tell them age appropriate truth, if they have a happy, stable home life they will be resilient and easily tolerate other family coming and going.

Perhaps if a relationship does start, keep it to certain parameters. Once a month visits, one parent always on hand etc.

I don't think you need to worry too much.

Smileless2012 Fri 06-Dec-19 12:45:31

I think it's good that you're giving this some thought but don't dwell on it betty.

As it was your H's parents who instigated the estrangement, it would IMO be up to them to take the first step if a reconciliation was ever something they were looking for.

Monica's advice is excellent as is your plan in the first instance for them, you and your H to meet without involving the children. You'd need to be as certain as you can be that if they did become a part of your children's lives, they wouldn't be walking away again at some time in the future.

We've been estranged from our son and only GC for 7 years now and have never had a relationship with them. I cannot for the life of me understand why any GP would not want to be a part of their GC's lives.

As mumofmadboys has said these situations are very sad and the repercussions can affect generations. It is out of your hands unless and until they contact their son.

bettydl Fri 06-Dec-19 15:27:44

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies.

We don't do 'olive branches' largely because (as I imagine is true in a lot of estrangements) the hoops we had to jump through to keep on their good side just got more and more and more.

They are also estranged from their own parents, who we still see, so there is some contact for our girls on their side. I really wished this had never happened, and worry about having 'set a precedent' that 'walking away is easier' but like I said we couldn't spend our lives with the constant threat of them not turning up or leaving us if things didn't go their way (have literally been left in the countryside by them after an imagined slight).

Apologies for getting a little off track but just wanted to be clear that husband is very decent and loyal and it isn't normal people we are dealing with.

endlessstrife Fri 06-Dec-19 15:40:41

We explained to our children, that granny and grandad, my in laws, weren’t always very pleasant to be with. We took many years before we finally cut off, trying to fix things in between. The children, the oldest two especially, started to see for themselves, and that’s what caused us to finally call it a day. I wouldn’t do anything for now, as from what you say, the children could be grown up anyway, before they come to their senses. So sad, and such a loss for them😟.

Starblaze Fri 06-Dec-19 15:46:39

So hard to understand, took me half a lifetime to finally see I needed to walk away from my mother. I can't imagine ever cutting off one of my children. I wonder what broke your Inlaws to make them this way. At least with my mother I can see where she was broken by her own upbringing and understand the hows and whys. Even if I know and understand that is never a justification to a sue your own child.

Starblaze Fri 06-Dec-19 15:47:19

Abuse not a sue.

pinkquartz Fri 06-Dec-19 16:00:38

I think you are right to be wary and want a Plan thought of now.

There is a situation in my family, more extreme but shows the importance of consistent behaviour by adults

Don't let them get to know your DC's until you have done as you suggest.

Madgran77 Fri 06-Dec-19 17:33:37

I agree with Monica Also I think your idea of initially just adults meeting is a good one. But don't worry too much now; they may not choose to instigate contact anyway. As Smileless wisely says "don't dwell on it"

Chewbacca Fri 06-Dec-19 17:48:51

Rotten situation to be in bettdyl but M0nica has given some excellent advice from when she's been in a similar situation. It doesn't matter now what led to the estrangement, nor prior to that; your main concern now is your children. Is there any reason to make you think that your IL's might suddenly make contact after all this time?

love0c Fri 06-Dec-19 18:02:52

Many different opinions. What does your husband think/feel? Would he like this estrangement to end? I am assuming he is still quite young really as your children are still only small.

bettydl Fri 06-Dec-19 19:23:46

@Chewbacca - we've had one letter since they stopped contact with us (sent around Christmas) which was really quite nasty (not an olive branch, or even neutral) so I always feel apprehensive this time of year.

@love0c - husband is much less open to the estrangement ending than I am. He is very loyal to us and is devastated and angry that they've made no effort to get to know our children. I'd be open to seeing them and decided a long time ago that I wouldn't draw any lines in the sand (ie demanding an apology, explanation, wanting my side to be heard). I'd simply want to see that they would want to try and get along with us and understand the situation was sensitive with the girls.

Chewbacca Fri 06-Dec-19 19:39:59

Ah, it makes sense that you're apprehensive at this time if year then bettydyl; I'd be the same. Your husband sounds a decent and kind man and has more experience of his parents past behaviour. If your IL's make contact with you again, I'd let him deal with them. They most certainly haven't earned a place within the heart of your family. Fingers crossed they'll leave you in peace this Christmas and beyond.

Starblaze Fri 06-Dec-19 19:52:00

bettydl, I think you are projecting your kind and forgiving heart onto people that don't seem to have one.

MovingOn2018 Fri 06-Dec-19 20:01:47

I don't understand why you're dwelling so deeply on this. Surely after 5 years of bo contact this can't be healthy for you, your husband or your children. Though it seems unlikely that they'll contact you all, I'd suggest that you move on with your life and deal with the issue of them re-establishing contact if and when it happens.

You can't allow yourself to be stuck in the past this way to the extent of re-creating possibilities and being so apprehensive about the unknown.

Once your children are of appropriate age, if they do ask you tell them the truth. Don't lie or make up stuff for children never forget - eventhough some adults think they do. (These are the adults that typically accuse their children of re-writing history, when they most likely aren't).

From your story it looks like they haven't been very pleasant to be around anyways. Don't reach out to them at all. Especially after 5 years of no contact. Something I always tell EGP is that everyone reserves a right to be left alone - this includes GP who wish to discontinue contact with their AC (for any reason). I'm sure they know how to contact their son.

Also no one wakes up and goes NC for no reason. If you look back there has to be something that created tension, or conflict that was never quite resolved.

What's best for your children is a health mom and dad. Children need their parents. Grandparents are not a necessity, and many children flourish just fine without them.

Starlady Fri 06-Dec-19 23:56:20

So sorry you're in this situation, betty. IMO, you have gotten a lot of good advice here regarding IF your ILs try to reconnect. Also, I understand your worry about their going NC again and, this time, hurting your DDs. However, I think you've come up w/ the solution to that, by saying you would keep the kids out of it at first. I would add I would keep the contact low for a long time.

I think it's interesting that your ILs have also CO their own parents (both sets? his and hers?). And that you and DH are still friendly w/ those parents/his GPs/your DDs' GGPs. Is it possible they see your continued relationship w/ their parents as a kind of betrayal? I'm sure these relationships were not maintained for that reason, but perhaps that's how your ILs see it? If that's so, and they are still NC w/ their parents, then I doubt they will truly reach out to you any time soon.

Or maybe DH tried to intercede on the part of his GPs? If he had/has a really good relationship w/ them, it's not surprising. But if he did, perhaps that's why his parents are angry at him (and you, by extension)? Again, if so, chances are they won't be extending any olive branches in the near future.

Then again, perhaps they are just odd people who get offended by everyone. In that case, I realize it's harder to know what they might do. It doesn't sound as if they are going to try to reconcile, but I agree it's good to be prepared.

Besides, I think this season tends to make us all think back on family history, etc., good or bad. Now that you have some ideas of how to handle a possible attempt at resuming contact, please try to relax and enjoy this colorful season.

OutsideDave Sat 07-Dec-19 02:03:06

It sounds as though you and your children are much better off without them in your lives. As your husband rightfully has no interest in ending the estrangement, it seems odd you are even worrying about what they might do- your husband hasn’t changed his mind; and just because they finally come calling doesn’t mean you should rush to reunite. I would definitely not involve your children without your husbands complete support and not for several years of solid and steady improvement in any new relationship between the adults. I’d focus on enjoying the family you have and not worry about those that have elected to not be involved.

love0c Sat 07-Dec-19 09:09:31

I can understand you thinking about it again as it was near a Christmas you last heard from them. Your husband loves you and his two girls very much and simply can not understand why his parents do not want to have a relationship with them. I can't understand it. From what you tell us this must be the case as why would they bother to write a letter but make it a nasty one? If you are going to make contact you do it to end the estrangement surely/ or certainly because you want things to be better? If they make contact again I would let your husband decide and you can support him and listen to how he wants to proceed. You can very gently give your opinion if it is very different to your husband. Sometimes one needs to see the bigger picture and that is so hard to do when you are hurting and feeling very emotional. Stop worrying now as it may never even happen. Enjoy your Christmas together!

Madgran77 Sat 07-Dec-19 10:19:01

Good advice love0c

bettydl Sun 15-Dec-19 14:30:38

Thank you @love0c this is lovely advice which I'm following.

bettydl Sun 15-Dec-19 14:39:04

We received a card asking to see us at a train station several hours from our house a few days before Christmas. DH doesn't want to go so I'm gently supporting him in this.

The letter was clear that we would be meeting them in between their interconnecting trains after they have been visiting friends. I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

Starblaze Sun 15-Dec-19 14:43:37

What an odd request. I wonder how they are spinning that in their own minds. I think you are right to support your husband. Even wanting a relationship with these people, allowing them to treat you like an afterthought would not bode well for the future.

Smileless2012 Sun 15-Dec-19 14:48:53

IMO your DH is right not wanting to go betty; stay away and enjoy this time of the year with your DH and your lovely children.

Don't give them or their card a second thought; they don't deserve your time.