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Estrangement from the other perspective, what's it like from the 'other' side?

(39 Posts)
ExD1938 Wed 01-Jan-20 12:59:05

We do not see our great-grandchildren even though they live within walking distance from us. Three little mites ages 5, 3, and a baby.
They see the other great grans, but not us. We visit from time to time but our visits always seem to coincide with the
family about to go somewhere else, even if we've phoned first.
The gifts we take for birthdays and Christmas are accepted but never a 'thank you', our granddaughter never brings them to visit us. We are never offered a cup of tea or even a chair although I sit down my DH makes a point of remaining standing. The atmosphere always seems hostile - even DH notices it as the conversation is short and abrupt with no contribution from Granddaughter (the childrens' mother) we make all the running as it were.
I don't know if we've committed some terrible sin or said or done something terribly wrong, but it grieves me that although the older two do know who we are, the babe in arms may never get to know us as we are seriously considering just not bothering with the little family any more. The only thing I can think of is that we are not at all well off and our gifts tend to be way way below the value of the ones of the other three remaining Great grans.
It couldn't be anything so petty could it?

Now - to get to the point (!) is there anyone on here who can give me an idea of what its like to be a grandchild who doesn't know its grandparents? Do you resent them, or dislike them or are you just indifferent? What are your thoughts?

sodapop Wed 01-Jan-20 13:51:21

Not really the same thing ExD1938 but my maternal grandparents would have nothing to do with me because I was illegitimate and adopted. I can't say it impacted greatly on my life as I didn't know anything else and my parents didn't talk about it. Of course things were very different in those days. In later years I did feel quite sad that I had never known them .
Children are quite accepting of the status quo. The problems arise when estranged family members are denigrated in the children's hearing.

3nanny6 Wed 01-Jan-20 14:21:53

ExD1983 sorry I cannot give you the experience of being a grand-daughter that does not know her great-gran. My only experience is that my own daughter for what ever reason she has always denies me the contact I would love with my grand-children. I am allowed to know them and then I get tossed aside again like yesterdays newspapers.
Its's been since beginning of November this time and no contact and seriously this time I am fully considering I actually do not want the contact again because it is too distressing.

You said that you are not well off and maybe your gifts are not enough, I would urge you not to think that way I just prefer to think that the younger generation have not got that same old fashioned way for the older members of the family
and the ways of the world now are so different when even I brought up my own children.
I will probably get lambasted but it sounds like your D.H. also finds it a strain to make the running and if your visits with birthday and Christmas gifts are more or less going unacknowledged then I would say do not do it anymore.
You have their address so why not just send a card with perhaps a gift voucher for the children and see what happens.
I had already been buying my grand-children's Christmas presents and still have all of them at my house I am just biding my time at the moment and giving thought to my next move.
After a quite unpleasant incident with my daughter at her home I am not going there again the day it happened at least the children were not around so who knows what the eldest one is thinking over the Christmas period as they have been used to nannies Christmas presents.
I just hope I am not denigrated to much to the eldest child about my absence. Life is not easy.

Hithere Wed 01-Jan-20 14:46:09

Something must have happened that you are not as welcome as you want to be in your great gc and gc's lives.

ExD1938 Wed 01-Jan-20 14:46:51

That's sad though for you Sodapop, being ignored by your grandparents just because of your birth - though I remember how people thought in those days.
No, it doesn't sound easy 3Nanny6 and I share your pain. Could you choose a day when you know no-one will be at home and leave the gifts on their doorstep? Children are always so showered with gifts at this time of year anyway that getting some later on will be all to the good.
Then take your own advice, which is sound and which I shall probably take, and send vouchers through the post in future.

Smileless2012 Wed 01-Jan-20 14:54:56

Sending cards and vouchers is a good idea ExD, we just send cards to our GC who we aren't allowed to see.

"Something must have happened that you are not as welcome as you want to be in your great gc and gc's lives"; and what could have happened Hithere is something that has nothing whatsoever to do with the OP.

3nanny6 Wed 01-Jan-20 15:02:52

I agree with Smileless 2012 in comment

"Something must have happened that you are not as welcome as you want to be in your great g c and gc's lives" posted by Hithere

If we knew why our family members treat us this way at least we could have some peace of mind.

Yennifer Wed 01-Jan-20 15:05:28

3 young children and the busy life that brings, what can you do to ease that? Why do you need to be "offered" a chair? I go places and stick the kettle on and find my own chair... I think you might be partly responsible for this atmosphere as you are standing on ceremony a little. Maybe a different approach is needed here.

I was alienated from most of my family growing up, it was just normal for me. It would have been nice if those people could have made an effort though, for my sake and not my mothers who was abusive. So it really depends if your pride can be set aside for the sake of the children x

3nanny6 Wed 01-Jan-20 15:21:58

I am trying to keep calm here and this is to Yennifer, and I know you have not directed your message to me so take no offence.

I actually bought the sofa for my daughter as she had an old sofa bed if you sat on it you fell through to the floor.
Oh yes I bought the table and four chairs as children were sitting on floor with food on plates. Beautiful table and chairs but stained and untidy after two weeks but I would sit on it if given the chance.
I kept my mouth shut in my daughters even if her housekeeping habits did not match mine as I wanted a relationship with my grand-children. Anyway keeping my mouth shut was not enough she picked an argument and I would not retaliate she became abusive and told me I was weak and unable to stand up to her and she said clear off so I did.

I am sorry you were alienated from most of your family and to you it was just normal, I expect that will be the case for my grand-children. I think it is a lot more than pride that has to be set aside for the sake of the children.
Also people may say just go and see my daughter but I have never lost my temper or shouted in front of the children as I do not think that is a good atmosphere to be in.

Hithere Wed 01-Jan-20 15:32:34

I am not surprised I disagree with smileless.

Happy New Year everybody!

Yennifer Wed 01-Jan-20 15:52:59

3nanny6, I don't know you or your situation, I was responding to the OP and the Information given. I responded to the asked question with the truth about how I feel. I wasn't estranged from my family by my mother, I was alienated... As in, she said awful things about them to me and also said awful things to them about me. So that's my truth, if they had made an effort to get to know me instead of believing lies that were told about me, perhaps I would have a relationship with them. I was a child and had no understanding my abusive mother might lie about family. She alienated me on purpose so I would not have support and no one would notice I was abused. My comment was not about your situation, it is the truth of mine when I was asked for it. The part about setting aside pride at the end was again for the OP, who is again not you and not in your situation x

Smileless2012 Wed 01-Jan-20 16:37:40

I'm not surprised either Hitheresmile; 'Happy New Year'.

It's such a shame when children lose contact with GP's and sometimes other family members too. It must have been extremely hurtful for you to be goaded by your D into having a reaction, that no doubt would have been used against you anyway 3nanny6.

If only it were just a matter of setting aside prideflowers.

grannyactivist Wed 01-Jan-20 16:52:57

I think the expectations of and for grandparents have changed. I barely met one set of grandparents and the other set saw their relationship with my mum as of primary importance and we were very much a secondary relationship. That’s how I remember it being generally when I was younger.

My parents-in-law have exceptionally good relationships with my children and we have all just spent a very pleasant time together (at my house) over Christmas, but they have no expectations whatsoever about spending time with my children and grandchildren outside of family occasions. Occasionally my sons and daughters will call to visit their grandparents or arrange a lunch outing, but with a busy working life and young families they have very little time to spare.

In your shoes I think I would be more concerned with building up the relationship between you and your granddaughter and then you will naturally get to see your gt. grandchildren more.

Grammaretto Wed 01-Jan-20 17:02:27

I only knew one of my DGP let alone any greats!
People are living longer, separating, regrouping and so on, far more than we ever did.
Today my in-laws came to lunch with our DD, DSiL and their little ones.
It was rather tense, to say the least. More because DD was fussing everytime the DGC, who are toddlers, behaved like toddlers!
Maybe she thought we were disapproving or perhaps she didn't want an accident to happen. It nearly did but we were watching.
It's a strain for the parents when the children are expected to perform or are compared openly, and not favourably to their other DGGC

HolyHannah Wed 01-Jan-20 17:03:15

grannyactivist -- What great advice. I too believe that the better the relationship with the minor children's parents, the better the overall family relationships will be for all involved.

Norah Thu 02-Jan-20 02:59:39

sodapop This is true for my SIL and makes good sense to me, maybe moving on is to the best. I can't say it impacted greatly on my life as I didn't know anything else and my parents didn't talk about it.

Lovelaughlive Thu 02-Jan-20 05:49:06

I feel so sad for many of you who are estranged from your grandchildren. Although my children are much older, they desperately miss their GG who idolised them. She was always very tactile and generous with them too.
Unfortunately the GP’s are cold and distant. They never hug the children, or play with or even treat them to a small sized shared packed of chocolate buttons, a comic, or any small token of thought and care. The children always openly thanked her very enthusiastically.
Unfortunately she’s now gone and the children grieve for her still. One set of GP’s have now gone, but mine are still alive.
Sadly my relationship with my DM is extremely difficult. I hate being left alone in a room with her because although she can no longer be physically abusive, she is really nasty, verbally. Life for her as she has said, would be a lot simpler if I was no longer here. She’s gone to the extent of making sure that I “know how to do it properly”(commit suicide) because she thinks that with a chronic disease, I will in time become a burden on people around me. I've always been the least favourite child as well, she’s told me. Hence I stay away from her, but I do let her see the children.
The children have asked why has their GG gone, but then they had four, now two grandparents who don’t idolise them like GG did. My DP’s have always been very cold and have always let me know that I was a mistake. I was abused physically and mentally. I’ve been told that my family were dysfunctional. I was used as a bartering tool as a child. GG and GGF were allowed to have me stay for a rare week on condition that something was given, paid for, something was done, etc. It was the only ever time that I truly felt safe and could relax. I didn’t feel on edge all the time when I was there, ready to jump out of the way or anticipate something horrible.
Fortunately, there came a time when I could drive and naturally I drove to my GG and GGF. I have some very lovely memories of those times and I feel very blessed. As for my children, I tell them that it’s better to have had, than to never have had at all. It hurts all the more when someone like that dies. She’s definitely left a huge void in our lives.
I’ve wondered sometimes how lovely it would be to ‘adopt’ some ‘grandparents’ who would actually appreciate us and be kind to myself, particularly. When we had Christmas dinner it felt like there were too many empty chairs...and thought about how many people would appreciate a family like ours...

Smileless2012 Thu 02-Jan-20 09:38:29

It's just not right is it Laughlovelive that there are GP's who desperately want to be able to see their GC and there are others who are unappreciative of having their GC in their lives and are cold and distant.

I'm sorry that you've had such a difficult time with your parents. I can see why you miss your GGP's so much, thank goodness they were there for you and you were able to get away and stay somewhere loving and safe, if only rarelyflowers.

bettydl Thu 02-Jan-20 12:30:52

ExD1938 - with children aged 5, 3 and a baby it sounds like your GD has a lot on her plate. I suspect it is more to do with being very busy and having a baby more than what you've bought them.

She may be struggling and it sounds like you have different expectations of hosting. I'd text or call and say you've noticed tension and ask what you can do to make the visits easier. While they have a baby I'd stick to any boundaries they set and not be offended by lack of hosting. Go in, take a seat, and enjoy seeing your GGC.

There isn't strict estrangement on my side of the family, but we have some family who we don't see often and clearly don't like my Mother. As a child in the situation I always felt wounded that the extended family didn't put their feelings about my Mother to one side for the sake of me and my siblings.

3nanny6 Thu 02-Jan-20 13:01:12

Yennifer, once again sorry for any offence. I understand that your post was truthful in regard of your life when you were a child. I feel your pain as you were clearly abused so that has obviously left you with trauma that still exists.

I hope when you were old enough you were able to build a happier life and meet caring people where you could experience love kindness and understanding which is after all what all of us should have in life.
In fact you talk of your mother alienating you from other family so they did not notice the abuse that existed I would point out that maybe they did notice but were unsure what action to take. I see my daughter doing something similar
with my grand-children so perhaps estrangment/alienation is not so different as seeing an innocent child abused (not physically) is just another part of family relationships.
I have had counselling and also done a two year course in counselling and I admit I am still no where near understanding the complexities of family life.

Yennifer Fri 03-Jan-20 11:53:42

My family fully estranged me as an adult when I estranged my mother so I don't think they noticed anything too worrying. Counselling is where I understood why. I had been victim of a classic smear campaign all my life and just didn't know. My mother didn't invite me to family gatherings which I would see unfold on places like Facebook and when I asked her why I wasn't invited she would say she did and I must have forgotten. I had no idea at all that she might be lying to family too and saying I didn't want to come. If I was there by chance, she would whisper things to me constantly about my babies being embarrassing or badly behaved or their appearance or my appearance until i eventually blew up and left. It's hard to explain this properly because it was so sly even I couldn't see it until the counsellor explained just how not normal it was. My problem was that I thought if my own mother thought something of me, then everyone would. I didn't know what she was doing/saying to make that reality to others, I had inernalised it and genuinely believed I was the problem/difficult one. I think that is why people end up in abusive relationships for so long when others think "just leave" because they have been convinced it is their own fault and they are the problem x

Yennifer Fri 03-Jan-20 12:14:36

I have learnt to always make sure I know people for myself, not what others say and I wish my family had done that for me x

3nanny6 Fri 03-Jan-20 15:19:02

Yennifer I think the more I hear of peoples life stories the more I realize that there are genuinely some women that should just not have children as they have no idea how to offer a child the opportunity of a loving childhood.
I count myself as being fortunate that I had a child-hood where I was brought up in a family unit with mum, dad and siblings we also had extended family as mum had 8 altogether in her family so also many cousins to play with.
I later had my children however my other half was not always around so I parented alone with much support from grand-parents. The daughter I talk about had a happy child-hood and done very well in school and college. It became apparent to me that she was experiencing some anxiety issues this was not until she was about 22 and so being an adult I was completely in the dark as to her treatment and she told me she had mental health issues and was having treatment. She became pregnant and had two babies in quick succession and that was the start of her change of attitude to me and the put downs in anything I done for her or any methods I tried to explain to her about the children that would make her life easier she did not want to listen.
I would get called to help with the babies and then be criticised over any help given. Once one of the babies was very floppy when I got to her house one morning and I immediately called an ambulance and the child was hospitalised for three days as she was dehydrated and had an asthma attack. I have been there for everything with my GC even when I kept getting abuse from my daughter and it dragged me down until I needed counselling.
My counsellor raised my self esteem and self confidence again and told me to take a step back from my daughters problems as I was useless to anyone if I was ill myself, it was at that point I began to look after myself again as I had started to internalise all the criticism and believed I was the one with the mental health issues. I did not walk away from my daughter and GC but just protected my own mental health a little more. My daughter had another baby this one from a different father and he soon left and still I tried to assist her and be there although for some time now she has told me stay away and do not contact her and she made it clear I was unwelcome to visit her so I have very little option to keep going to her home as she could hold it against me and say I was harassing her which could start a bigger feud than the one that seems has already started.
You are certainly right about abusive relationships and why people stay in them but sometimes I think that they have the delusion they can change the abuser and that is not usually the case. I am feeling further away from my daughter than I have ever done although I know I do have a life outside of her and the G.C. and most of us do have the survival gene inside of us that can always keep us strong.

Take Care, and Happy New Year. xx

Yennifer Fri 03-Jan-20 15:22:58

3nanny6, I totally understand. I think I thought I could live my mother better. I now realise that people can't change others, only themselves. Hope 2020 is a good one for you x

Yennifer Fri 03-Jan-20 15:23:19

Love not live, silly phone x