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I really think I would have made a good grandfather.

(111 Posts)
DannyD Sat 06-Aug-22 18:38:19

I've been married to my high school sweetheart for 47+ years now. My wife and I are both in our mid 60s, and have three children, all of whom are married with our two sons, both in their mid 40s having children of their own.

My wife has suffered with both mental and physical issues for years, having been diagnosed with Lupus, Fibro, RA, Bipolarism, Depression, and most recently, Major Cognitive Disorder (Dementia).

Facebook! Is it a godsend or a God Damn curse? While we are neither one on Facebook anymore, we were one time. Our sons live off, one 120 miles away and the other in Korea, so the only way to keep current with them was texting or Facebook. I don't know when or how it all started, but one remark made then a counter and it just seemed to escalate. No need to get into a she said/she said here.

I've tried to play peacemaker, and have had some success. I've tried my best to explain to my sons and daughter their mother's state of mind and the fact that she has said some things better left unsaid. I guess whatever she said, and for the life of me I can't remember, is simply unforgiveable for one of my sons and my daughter, who is much younger, in her mid 20s.

Our son who lives in Korea with his wife and two daughters understands what is going on and messages us regularly, and his wife sends pictures to keep us up to date as we watch our granddaughters grow up.

Our son, who has three sons, and his wife, for whatever reason, refuses to text, message, call, or visit. Our last visit with them, us going to their house, was Christmas of 2021, and I thought it was a wonderful visit. Of course my wife could not interact as she wanted to due to her conditions, but when we left their house we were both so pleased that the visit had gone well. Since then I've tried calling, texting, and emailing both my son and daughter-in-law to see how everyone was doing, but have only been met with sporadic texts. I did manage to get my son to call me one morning. He had me on speaker and was driving two of his boys to school. After passing pleasantries, I told him I was curious why neither he nor his wife would contact us. I said that I thought our Christmas visit went well, and thought the past was behind us. He told me it was not me, that he didn't like the way "mom was." I said well I guess I'm just collateral damage, huh? His response "It is what it is".

I won't get into issues involving my wife and daughter.

Anyway, Like the title says, I always thought I would have made a good grandfather.

Herefornow Sat 06-Aug-22 19:55:04

I'm sad for you, Danny. I'm sorry you've not had the opportunity to be a grandad. I do think part of the problem lies in your 4th paragraph. Something of such severe offence to your child, but you can't even remember? They will probably be reading that as a massive red flag.

Your wife seems to be suffering, and good on you for standing by her side and seeking to make allowances. I suspect that your children view this as you enabling her, however. Perhaps they view that she could control herself more than she does, perhaps this isn't true.

Again, it speak volumes that you can leave their home after the Christmas visit thinking all is well when in fact all is nowhere near well. Your child or children may find your inability to 'read the room' very frustrating or disheartning. Perhaps they view that just because they are good at executing the duties of a polite host, that doesn't mean you should be oblivious to the impact of your wife's behaviour? I don't know, you could go around in circles couldn't you? If they had a problem then to heck with politeness they should just say so?Perhaps they would rather not go down that round, they may not believe it would change things, and would not want unpleasantness around the children at Christmas. They may have simply grit their teeth, waited until the door was shut behind you, and decided 'never again' .

They are within their rights to do that in afraid.

Spring20 Sat 06-Aug-22 20:37:01

They might be within their rights Herefornow, but it is both cruel and unkind not to give a reason. How can anything ever be sorted out!! They could have given their reason after the Christmas visit. I’m so sorry Danny you are going through this.

FarNorth Sat 06-Aug-22 20:50:06

I think probably the reason your son spoke to you in the car, with his kids there, was so that nothing upsetting would be said.
As already suggested, he and his wife may have found the Xmas visit stressful for reasons which passed you by. They then decided to avoid the whole situation of relating to you & your wife.

Of course you are a grandfather. Do you keep in contact with the grandchildren in Korea and the ones closer to you ?

VioletSky Sat 06-Aug-22 20:51:29

I'm sorry you are struggling.

I think you need to offer to have a sit down talk where you are really going to listen to what the problems are.

Sometimes what finally breaks a relationship can seem relatively minor but there may have been a lot leading up to it.

If you approach them and say that you want to hear their feelings and you will listen without argument or judgement, maybe they can open up to you about the problems and you can then discuss these with your wife and talk through how you can change things for the future.

Obviously due to your wife's illness it may be harder for her to manage any changes well but as long as you are there you can keep a close eye on things.

I really hope you can find a resolution and bring your family back together

There is always professional help available if you need it

Madgran77 Sat 06-Aug-22 20:56:32

Danny That is hard for you. Your son may well feel that their decision is valid and that would have to be accepted. However having no clarity of explanation beyond "the way Mum is" is not fair on you or your wife.

It might be worth sepnding some time thinking carefully about your wife's behaviour/comments etc whilst there at Christmas. Could it be that you are so used to it, you don't necessarily observe the impact on others to the same extent - what might seem pretty "normal/par for the course" for you with her behaviour/comments might no be the same for those who do not spend all day, every day with her? Maybe thinking about that might give you some clues? I hope my suggestion does not come over unkindly, it is meant as a possible way forward for you out of this difficult and hurtful place

Alternatively (or also) could you write a note to your son to say that you would appreciate some specifics about his concerns about "the way Mum is" and please could you arrange a time to talk privately without the children over hearing, as you would not in anyway want to cause upset etc? If he refuses to discuss the details then I am afraid that you will just have to accept it is what it is but I am sorry if you are faced with that, with no real understanding flowers

Herefornow Sat 06-Aug-22 22:32:21


They might be within their rights Herefornow, but it is both cruel and unkind not to give a reason. How can anything ever be sorted out!! They could have given their reason after the Christmas visit. I’m so sorry Danny you are going through this.

They did give a reason, spring, they dislike how OPs wife behaved/behaves. Its admittedly vague in the delivery, but that is the reason they gave. It does not help OP to set him down the path of thinking he has no idea. His post makes it clear there is anyway water under the bridge regarding his wifes behaviours. I'm not saying she can help how she is, just that that's the reason given.

Norah Sat 06-Aug-22 22:37:33

You are a grandfather.

Also you've GC in Korea who're in touch by message and pictures.

Many people are not very forgiving of remark made then a counter and it just seemed to escalate especially anything sexist, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, religious, political even if that is how mum is. Maybe try to remember the remark that escalated and work back from there.

Norah Sat 06-Aug-22 22:52:31

Herefornow - They did give a reason, spring, they dislike how OPs wife behaved/behaves. Its admittedly vague in the delivery, but that is the reason they gave. It does not help OP to set him down the path of thinking he has no idea.

His post makes it clear there is anyway water under the bridge regarding his wifes behaviours.

I'm not saying she can help how she is, just that that's the reason given.

This is the point. Don't rug sweep what DS said, or DW behaviours. DS told you the problem, you are choosing to minimise.

Normandygirl Sat 06-Aug-22 23:03:52

I would echo the points made by Madgran and VioletSky
There are a lot of positives in your post though. The fact that you and your wife were invited for Christmas in the first place suggests a willingness by your son to try and move past the facebook fallout. Also your son did text you although they were " sporadic" and eventually did call you, so there is some hope.
I don't think your son wants to estrange you but is really struggling with knowing how to handle his mothers condition and the impact that is having on his own family.

I wish you all the best moving forward .

Hithere Sat 06-Aug-22 23:53:12

Peace maker = rug sweeper

Dangerous role. Justifying and minimizing the offending behaviour does not help the situation, in fact, makes it worse

geekesse Sun 07-Aug-22 00:15:25

It looks to me as if you may have to choose between supporting your wife (and therefore affirming the son’s reasons for keeping his distance) or setting your wife’s feelings aside to rebuild a one-to-one relationship with your son without her being part of it.

I didn’t have much of a relationship with my Dad till after my Mum died, and I’m sorry about that because he missed having a part in my kids’s lives as they were growing up. She was just plain spiteful, and he honoured his marriage vows to the letter, which was a decent thing to do in one way, but as he stood by her, he was implicated in her nastiness, even though none of it originated from him.

VioletSky Sun 07-Aug-22 00:53:23


If you have the opportunity to still be dad and grandad please take it.

Whether until the situation is resolved or after it isn't.

If you are offered visits etc as long as you don't discuss the incident or your wife, please take it.

There is no reason you should miss out on those relationships, and while it may hurt her, estanged people are very capable of hurting themselves anyway by looking for things online and finding pictures etc

Reach out with the offer to listen when they are ready and then just keep contact going, ask how they are, ask how the kids are, ask to see them.

There is no reason you have to go down with the ship

Hithere Sun 07-Aug-22 01:01:15

What vs said

Hithere Sun 07-Aug-22 01:03:40

"No need to get into a she said/she said here."

The answer could very well be in that little sentence

You don't have to share with us, of course

Smileless2012 Sun 07-Aug-22 09:44:16

Hello Danny and welcome to GN.

This is a very difficult and upsetting situation for you and I'm so sorry that you're experiencing this division in your family.

When I'd finished reading your OP I knew what I wanted to say but see the Madgran's already said it. You live with your wife's physical and mental health issues on a daily basis, so understandably will to a certain extent, be 'used' to her behaviour and not aware of the impact it can have on those who are not with her on a daily basis.

It's not easy having a parent with mental health issues and some can accommodate and deal with this better than others. One of your sons is able to do this while the other and his sister seem unable too.

I do think that it's a shame that neither are prepared to have any or very little contact at all. Text messages and sending photo's of themselves and their family would enable you and your wife to still feel a part of their families, without the possibility of your wife's behaviour ever being an issue.

Your wife is ill. She doesn't do or say whatever it is she's done or said out of spite and deliberate cruelty, she's ill. Unless there's a huge shift here, it's unlikely that the relationship between this son and your daughter is ever likely to change.

You say that when you said to your son about you being "collaterol damage" his response was "It is what it is". TBH there seems to be little or no compassion for you or his mother in that reply so I think you should focus on your son and his family who live in Korea.

TBH I'm surprised to see it suggested that you pursue the relationship with these two children regardless of whether doing so, your wife would be hurt. If this were about a son seeking advice about a similar situation because his wife didn't want contact with his mother, I know the advice would be for him to 'cleave to his wife'.

You are a grandfather and I'm sure a good one. Your GD's in Korea will grow up knowing this and I hope that at some time in the future, your other GC will know this too.

DiamondLily Sun 07-Aug-22 09:53:43

Are your children aware that your wife has Dementia?

I've "lived the dream" twice with this awful disease (parents), and whatever is said from someone suffering that is utterly meaningless.

They have no "stop or pause" buttons, they don't know what they are saying, and swiftly forget what they've said to start with.

Perhaps your children need to educate themselves a little with it. It's the disease talking, not the person.

Ideally, they should be giving you support, not coming over all hostile.?

I get the impression you are in the US, and it might be an idea for you to look up any local support services, it's difficult caring for someone with Dementia.

But, I would stop your wife using social media - those sites can be the graveyard of healthy family relationships.

Best wishes.?

Casdon Sun 07-Aug-22 10:04:24


Peace maker = rug sweeper

Dangerous role. Justifying and minimizing the offending behaviour does not help the situation, in fact, makes it worse

That is way off beam. Being the peacemaker is a crucial role, particularly in a family where somebody’s behaviour is unacceptable to other family members, whether due to illness or not. I don’t agree with Smileless either on this, I think it’s important for DannyD to maintain a relationship with his children and grandchildren regardless of his wife’s behaviour and feelings, it’s not all about her and it does sound as though she has behaved very inappropriately, What is the alternative, that OP looks after his wife and abandons two of his children and grandchildren? I don’t agree with being loyal to your partner to the exclusion of your children, whatever the circumstances.

DannyD is there anybody, either family, friend or an agency who would look after your wife for a few hours each week so that you can visit your nearby son and daughter and see your grandchildren without having to worry about your wife? I think it’s really important for you to get some enjoyment for yourself, at the moment you are unable to ever put yourself first by the sounds of it?

Lathyrus Sun 07-Aug-22 10:17:31

My father-in-law suffered from mental health issues and after one Christmas when the children were very small we had to take the decision that to protect them we could no longer actually be physically present with my parents in law.

When it was just the two of us we had managed to deal with his behaviour but once the children were involved there could be no going back.

Before Facebook etc we did then have weekly phone calls with my mother in law. It was hard on her but it was her choice to stay with her husband and our judgement that contact with him was wrong for our children.

I’m afraid your son is right when he says “It is what it is”. Your wife cannot change, you come as a pair, they do not want her behaviour affecting their children, perhaps in the way that your son and daughter feel it affected their childhood.

I agree with posters who say that because you are used to your wife’s behaviour you may not be aware of the devastating impact it can have on others.

Glorianny Sun 07-Aug-22 10:48:11

DannyD you are a grandfather and whatever the relationship with your own children you will remain one. How you can maintain that relationship with the children of the son you are estranged from is a problem. I think you should message him and ask if he's happy for you (not your wife) to stay in contact with them. Then send them little presents and cards, remember their birthdays and Christmas. Always tell your son that he is free to inspect and approve what you send. Your grandchildren will grow up and before you know it they will be texting and using their own phone, and will perhaps call you. You just need to keep some channel of communication open. Good luck!

Smileless2012 Sun 07-Aug-22 11:03:25

The OP will hardly be abandoning two of his children. His son's and adult with 3 children of his own, and has made a decision to do what he feels is in the best interests of his family.

If Danny decides he wont pursue a relationship with this son and his D because it would hurt his wife to do so, he's making a decision based on what he believes is in the best interest of his marriage. I agree that "it's not all about her", it's not all about these adult children either.

I do agree with you Casdon that being a peace maker isn't the same as being a rug sweeper. It is as you say, a crucial role and can be the difference between keeping a family together, or a family falling apart.

As you've posted about your own situation Lathryus your m.i.l. made her choice and it would have been hard for her. You and your H made yours and that can't have been easy either.

You maintained weekly 'phone calls with your m.i.l. but it seems as if the OP's son may not be willing to do the same with his father.

Casdon Sun 07-Aug-22 11:12:01

I don’t think DannyD has said he’s made the decision not to pursue a relationship with his son because it would hurt his wife to do so Smileless, I think that’s a supposition? He is trying to keep everybody happy, but the real victim is him - I think he should try and find a way forward that enables him to find some peace in the midst of the turmoil of the relationship between his wife and their children, and if that involves him seeing them alone then that’s what he must do.

Lathyrus Sun 07-Aug-22 11:18:47

I hope he might be able to keep contact if he just keeps to what the grandchildren have been doing and stuff like that.

My mil never attempted to plead or change our minds or discuss my fil except in terms of “We” went to the horse show or whatever.

I know some will say it was rug sweeping but we didn’t see it like that. There couldn’t be any more discussion. “It is what it is.” is sometimes what we have to accept. And then make the best of it we can.

Smileless2012 Sun 07-Aug-22 11:30:45

Your right Casdon I picked that up from one the responses on the thread.

I hope so too Lathyrus maybe the sporadic texts he's currently receiving from his son will become more regular.

Granniesunite Sun 07-Aug-22 11:33:18

Your wife is very ill and has been for years but as it’s not “on show” so to speak she’ll not get the same understanding as other more awful physical illness. How would the family treat her if it was cancer or some other illness?Are they embarrassed by her illness.?

Whatever, you have been a constant in her life and in your families lives it’s a pity some of them can’t respond now when you need support in caring for your wife.

Mental health does change a persons personality and she’ll have no control over that she’ll say and do lots of absurd things that she can’t help doing that’s the nature of this illness.

I know my husband has Alzhimers and although I saw friends going through the same illness until you are personally involved you really don’t have the same understanding of it.

You sound a normal loving husband dad and grandad. I wouldn’t change a thing you’ve done. Keep in touch with all your grandchildren small gifts cards etc and let them know you love and care for them.

Take comfort from the son who does understand and his family and perhaps in time your other family will overcome what ever feelings they have for their mother and step up to the mark and support you and her.

I’m really quite upset for you because you’ve a difficult road to travel yet. I wish you and your wife well and hope the professionals involved with your wife’s illness are giving you and her what is needed to alleviate the stress and anxiety that surround this sad time.