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Dealing with estrangement - Q&A

(113 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 12-Feb-20 11:51:29

Are you feeling isolated and alone, due to being estranged/alienated from your grandchild? How do you cope with estrangement? Where can you go for support?

Jane Jackson is the founder of the Bristol Grandparents Support Group, which focuses on the rights of grandchildren to see their grandparents. She set up the group after losing contact with her grandchild when her son separated from his wife in 2007. At her first meeting six grandparents arrived at her home. To date she has been contacted by over 7,000 grandparents and there are now 13 groups across the UK.

Jane was reunited with her granddaughter in 2018.

She will be answering your questions on estrangement - leave yours on this thread before Weds 26 Feb. We will post the answers here too.

Smileless2012 Wed 12-Feb-20 15:09:19

I don't feel isolated or alone thanks to my wonderful husband and supportive family and friends.

We have been estranged from our youngest son and only grandchildren for just over 7 years. We have never seen the youngest and the last time we saw the eldest he was just 8 months old.

It was when I accepted that this was something that we were not responsible for and something that we couldn't change, that I and I believe my husband too began to cope with our loss.

I've found support here on GN and on 2 other online sites which were specifically for estranged parents. One of these was particularly good but eventually folded, the other I found could be too inward looking with little being done or encouraged to find ways of moving on.

In the first 2 to 3 years I read quite a lot which for a time proved very helpful a when it happens to you, you think you're the only one, that it must be something you've done wrong because 'adult children don't estrange kind, caring, loving and supportive parents'.

The best support comes from those who share the experience of estrangement and anyone whether they're estranged or not who listens, believes what you say and doesn't judge.

Starlady Wed 12-Feb-20 22:27:06

Fortunately, I'm not estranged from anyone at the moment. But I have a few unfortunate friends IRL who are estranged from their AC, CIL, and GC. For that reason, this sentence caught my attention:

"Jane was reunited with her granddaughter in 2018."

I'm wondering how this came about? And what is Jane's advice, if any, for other GPs who want to reunite w/ their GC?

Yennifer Wed 12-Feb-20 22:52:00

I hope this is OK to ask. I was alienated from grandparents {and other family} by my mother. I still saw them very occasionally because my mother wanted to be a benificary in the will but she took me less than once a year and told me lots of horror stories about them which made me stop going at all. As an adult it makes me sad as I remember warm smiling faces and they have been gone a long time.

My mother was severely emotionally and sometimes physically abusive to me and as an adult I came to see how often she lied and how stories changed. My own children and I are now estranged from her and my children have been part of and happy with that decision.

What I would like to ask is, what do you think of proposed changes to grandparents rights and how can they be implimented while still protecting children like mine from abusive people?

Sparkling Thu 13-Feb-20 05:41:47

Yen nicer, this is about grandparents not seeing their grandchildren!

Yennifer Thu 13-Feb-20 05:43:14

What is Sparkling?

Yennifer Thu 13-Feb-20 05:47:00

I thought it was about grandchildren not seeing their grandparents too x

Sparkling Thu 13-Feb-20 08:21:07

If you are meaning yourself, that was in the past, your children do not see their grandparents, but they are too young to comment on here . It is concerning those grandparents not seeing their grandchildren now and how it affects them.

Sparkling Thu 13-Feb-20 08:30:28

Smileless I am glad that you are in a better place and have support on here. I think it must be awful initially, the shock and disbelief when you love them all, to be cut adrift. It is very cruel if you have done your best and loved them. If it's abuse that another matter. It seems to be on the increase too, it just has to be about control, one day those parents who cut their families off will have young adults questioning why. I know without doubt I would. I very much doubt that the son or daughters controlling behaviour is confined to just one person, the estranged grandparent.

Eglantine21 Thu 13-Feb-20 08:45:01

Smileless is a remarkable person. I’ve been wanting to say that for ages and this is the moment. The way that she has rebuilt her life and the support she has given to others. My respect for her knows no bounds.

Now I’ve got that off my chest, Sparkling I think Yennifer poses a very important question and one that has troubled me greatly.

Abuse is not only physical and sometimes not even intentional as such. But if grandparents and grandchildren are given rights to see each other, how do parents protect their children from the damage they themselves have suffered?

I have a story but like Yennifers it is in the past, so you might say not relevant. But it’s repercusdions are still part of my family’s life and the damage done by one grandparent will never be healed.

3nanny6 Thu 13-Feb-20 13:32:08

I do not feel isolated and some days I do not give myself time to be alone, I have several supportive family members that always urge me to look forward with my life and to make the best of things.

It is still early days for me and the estrangement has been for four months, the difficulty within the relationship with my daughter had been happening for a long time until it seems there was nothing left to do but just stop seeing each other.
My grand-children are 7 (almost 8) 6 ( almost 7) and 2. and because of the breakdown with my daughter I was then denied contact with the grand-children.
Christmas 2019 was the first year of not seeing them since the eldest has been born and I coped better than I had expected maybe because I knew there was nothing else I could do. I had been preparing their presents throughout the year and had everything so the third week of January I sent everything to her by another relative which I know she received. I thought she may send me a small thank-you card or perhaps a call but still nothing.

I had played the role of grand-mother in the children's lives
and helped my daughter a lot and although I know I have to accept the situation not a day passes when they are not in my mind.

I am still at the point when if I am shopping or doing something like that and I meet someone I know locally they will always ask me "where are your grand-children?" are they okay? and I am still at a loss as what to say, I just reply "Yes they are okay" and then hurry off. It bothers me when I dwell on the thought of never seeing those children again but only time is a healer so one day at a time is all I do.

Yennifer Thu 13-Feb-20 14:48:51

Thank you Eglatine21 I'm very against children cut off from good grandparents especially as with no wider support network it makes it easier for children to be abused by some parents in the home. It's a double edged issue x

endlessstrife Thu 13-Feb-20 14:56:40

We were estranged from both our families, after trying for years to put things right. Our children heard and saw things in this time, which brought them to the decision of not wanting to see them once they were adults. If a law had been passed, giving grandparents rights, it most likely would have completely killed any chance of the relationships improving for good. As it turned out, relationships didn’t improve anyway, but years ago, there was always the chance it would eventually, or our children would still choose to see them, which we encouraged them to once old enough. They never wanted to. I read many posts, where I just feel some grandparents have a sense of entitlement. I wonder if it’s because they somehow missed out with their own children, and now have the need to catch up. Whichever it is, to give them rights could destroy a young family, and I hope it never happens.

Hithere Thu 13-Feb-20 14:58:13

What are the ideal steps for reconciliating estranged parties, both on estranged and estrangee sides?

Smileless2012 Thu 13-Feb-20 18:01:14

I agree Yennifer "it's a double edged issue"sad.

Starlady Fri 14-Feb-20 13:54:17

Yennifer, I know this isn't the topic here, but I can't help but wonder... is it possible that the "horror stories" your mum told you had some truth to them? I get that she was an abusive person, but maybe that's b/c her parents were? Could it be she distanced them for that reason even though, unlike yourself, she didn't know she should/how to break the abusive pattern?

whywhywhy Fri 14-Feb-20 14:00:54

I haven’t spoken or seen my daughter in over 5 years. I have tried everything and to this day I don’t know what it is all about. Thankfully after 2 years her ex husband decided that I should be in my two beautiful grand daughters lives. I see them once per month and I am truly grateful to him and his family. I have read so much on this wonderful site and it has helped me. Also I have two wonderful sons. We have to be brave and hold in there and not get too down hearted about it all. X

Yennifer Fri 14-Feb-20 14:10:17

Yes Starlady, it's very possible but I think what makes it really hard for me to know for definite is the motives for doing it. If every horror story were true I feel sorry for her and obviously took her side back then as I stopped seeing them. She didn't break the cycle though and she also tried to distance me from everyone. All family, my friends and my husband. My motive was protection, hers was isolation x

Norah Fri 14-Feb-20 21:36:28

Eglantine21 Smileless has rebuilt her life and the support she has given to others. My respect for her knows no bounds.

I agree with Eglantine21.

Chewbacca Fri 14-Feb-20 21:53:42

I agree with Eglantine too.

lavenderzen Fri 14-Feb-20 23:06:08

I agree too with Eglantine's comments re Smileless x.

muffin Sat 15-Feb-20 00:47:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Smileless2012 Sat 15-Feb-20 09:02:49

Thank you Norah, Chewbacca and lavenderzensmile

Starlady Sat 15-Feb-20 12:00:24

So sad, Yennifer. Hugs!

Hope I'm not too late to add, Smileless, that I have a lot of respect for you (and Mr. S) also, and the way you have moved on and draw on your experience to help others.

3nanny6 Sat 15-Feb-20 14:16:52

Muffin; I am sorry to hear your husband is ill and you must have a lot going on in looking after him.
Your sadness is magnified now you have the estrangement happening with you daughter, as it is still early days it must still be confusing as to why she has taken that action against you.

Like yourself I sometimes feel it would have been a lot easier if I had never had a relationship with the children and had never spent time with them and it is true it does feel similar to a bereavement.
Try to stay strong and take care of yourself and you are lucky to have another daughter that is supportive and is there for you.
Best Wishes to you.