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.
Estranged parents often have a huge desire to reconcile with their children and grandchildren. That’s not to say there aren’t feelings of hurt, anger and frustration along the way. This information is aimed to help you to accept your situation, be kind to yourself, and find the skills and empathy required to create the outcome that you want for your relationship with your children. This guide has been put together by the Stand Alone community, and is also informed by a talk from Dr Joshua Coleman to our community in August 2014.
What are the key causes of family estrangement?
There are many reasons that family rifts develop. Some parents reject their child’s choices, whilst adult children can also reject their parent or family.
As a parent, you may be uncomfortable with your child’s sexuality, religion or lack of religion, their choice of partner or their career path. You may feel they won’t take your advice or listen to your concerns about alcohol, drugs or mental health issues. You may feel your child is fundamentally a very different person to you, which can lead to a feeling of alienation. Equally, your child may feel any of the above towards you or the family.
Your child may want to work on your relationship and may wish for you to show more empathy towards the past or the present. A number of estrangements occur when adult children enter therapy or counselling and start to get a different perspective on his or her childhood.
Marriage and divorce may play a strong role in estrangements, both for parents and for children. Dating and re-marriage may cause conflicts if they are incompatible or compete for your child’s emotional or material resources. Divorce may also cause children to see their parents as individuals, and highlight their strength and weaknesses. The entrance of another partner into the family is common instigator for more family conflict.
Your child may perceive the relationship is psychologically or physically abusive, and your continued relationship is a reminder of their suffering. This is a very difficult estrangement to navigate as it requires the parent to do a lot of work to make a heartfelt and ongoing amends.
It’s important to remember and respect the separate realities that underpin life for each family member. Your child may hold a different viewpoint, which you might feel is ‘wrong’ or influenced by another person. However, the most successful and long-lasting reconciliations start with all parties accepting and respecting the separate realities and feelings that spring from family life.
No. Sorry, but I can't relate to any of the above reasons for the estrangement in our particular case. As far as I am aware, none of them apply to our situation. We truly do not understand why we have been alienated from our adult child and grandchildren, apart from the fact that after some research, we have come to the conclusion that our son's partner must have major problems, internal demons, whatever you may like to label them; and consequently is showing signs of covert narcissism, which is projecting on to my son. For whatever reasons, he seems to condone the very strange behaviour (possibly in fear of losing his family, so he willingly goes along with it), which portrays a very unhealthy and toxic family dynamic. It is too deep for us to deal with any more and move forward. The losers are our darling grandsons, who are not given the opportunity to create a true relationship with this half of their family. Very sad, but it's all about control.
I am a new member and i have been reading your comments with much interest i have have lost my son (actual bereavement( now i have a living bereavement due to my daughter not allowing me to see or have contact with my grandsons i would like to read your 7 point help guide please
Hello Nanlyn : Welcome as a new member on Gransnet.
Can you look at the forums for Estrangement and I suggest you post on the one "Support" for all those dealing with the pain of Estrangement/separation. This thread does not get used as much but if you post on the other one I am sure you will get a warm welcome.