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Estrangement

Need some advice and guidance

(84 Posts)
lily09 Sun 14-May-23 18:34:05

Dear all
I am hoping someone can advise me.I fear that I am about to lose my relationship with my Grandchild. We are a 2 adult family who are estranged. I know how badly this can affect a child.
I am estranged from my adult Dtr. Has always been a very difficult fit. She is 33 with an 11 yr old. It’s been almost 4 yrs.
She took offence when I didn’t see her in the street and that was that. I have been smeared for years. I never defended myself to others and stopped trying to mend the fracture between us. It’s beyond repair.

child’s Mother let her come to me every weekend and holidays as she’s single and it suited her. The child and I were always like peas and carrots.

Fast forward through the many reports of being treated badly by the child I held my tongue and tried to guide her and look after her whilst she is here. I looked up parental alienation as I knew my anger may seep out. I tried but of course I failed to hide my resentment. I did not purposefully try to turn her against her Mother. I was fighting the urge to call the authorities a lot of the time.
The child told me of drinking, not being able to sleep as there are parties. Her Mother mistreating her, isolation, controlling and punishing behaviour. Identical to the treatment I got. Her Mother was going to leave her to go out for the evening and I asked the child’s permission to intervene. She is 11 and can’t be left. Her Mother is regularly so drunk she passes out. She showed me reams and reams of berating messages. I explained as best I could that her Mother was being like a teen but she loved her but clearly I failed. I was obviously participating in alienation without realising. She said she overheard her Mother saying she preferred it when she wasn’t at home.

I kept contact to a minimum with her Mother to avoid abuse that follows any communication.

So she sent the child for a 3 day sleepover when she went abroad. She messaged lying that she had the fight wrong. The child told me it was a lie as her friends Mum who went with her was in the right flight. She was caught in the lie. I was so mad at my Daughter. I did not hide my anger. I was totally back footed and exhausted .So there were emails blaming me for her having to lie because I am the problem. My whole existence was trashed in reams of emails. I didn’t respond. One thing that stuck out was “I know you will never have her again if I go abroad”

Child came last weekend and was really off. I put it down to the situation and hormones. She said she took a sip of cola and the little cola bottle was full of vodka. She said her Mother was ruined when she returned from her girls holiday and slept all week. She ate well as she always does. I live to cook but nothing was enough. I let it slide and took her home.Then the email came the next evening.

She said the child came home hungry and broke down when she offered her toast.

Apparently the child said there was no food in the house and that all I talk about is food which in itself makes no sense. She told her Mother things I had said in response to her telling me about home saying she was being interrogated by me which is not true. Things were all enmeshed with the reports she made to me of her Mother giving her sandwiches for dinner and lunch.

My Daughter detailed their idyllic home life which I know is not true. I am warned that her child will not develop an eating disorder because I am too focused on food.

I am not allowed to mention food but was told the child wouldn’t be coming this weekend. Apparently the child said I disliked it when she spoke to friends which again is absolutely not true. She spent a day and a night in her room. I said she needs to have a cut off time as she’s barely spoken to me over 2 days.

It’s not about food. I have messed up somewhere. My heart feels guilt and fear. My head says that for 12 yrs I have been there for her in the most trying of times. I have searched my soul trying to do the right thing by her.

One wrong move and I will lose the child but I am not allowed to speak to the child about the things she is saying.

I have thought of stopping the sleepovers but then my Dtr will have no use for me and may yank the child away.

Can anyone please advise?

Hetty58 Tue 16-May-23 22:07:33

One of my granddaughters is 11. She's a very fussy eater, either 'starving' or not hungry (depending on what I have to offer and whether I'll order a takeaway).

Lately, she spends most of her time upstairs (on her mobile, chatting to her best friend) and she can be quite blunt, rude even, as she's hormonal too. Why does 'teenage' have to strike so early?

Just a few years ago she was a lovely kid - a joy to look after, very sociable and caring with her siblings. There are no family problems, she has lovely parents, home and school life - so the change is quite dramatic and (let's hope) just a phase. I remind her about her manners. She's slim, lively and athletic - and has found puberty and periods quite horrendous.

Image if she had an unreliable single parent, fond of her drink and mentally unstable? How awful would she be then, aware of being stuck in a family squabble?

Smileless2012 Wed 17-May-23 08:52:40

Not at all constructive VS to tell an 11 year old that she may be stopped from seeing the GM who she's spent so much time with, because her mother doesn't get on with her.

If she's happy to see her GM and has a good relationship with her, her mother should be mature enough not to allow the differences she has to affect her D's relationship, especially when the mother seems unable to provide her with a stable environment at home.

VioletSky Wed 17-May-23 10:22:18

That sentence is age appropriate and constructive.

Whether it applies to this situation is separate

The sentence itself is fine

It is always good to teach children healthy boundaries

Smileless2012 Wed 17-May-23 10:40:30

I don't agree that the sentence itself is fine. You shouldn't teach children that it's acceptable to use others to 'punish' someone whose been mean to you.

Delila Wed 17-May-23 11:01:01

The sentence, and the sentiment behind it, are destructive and immature.

Never mind that the granddaughter has a relationship with her grandmother, possibly the closest she gets to any sense of stability in her troubling young life, grandma will be out of their lives if she displeases the child’s mother.

Nothing about the mother’s attitude towards her child is age appropriate, there are no “healthy boundaries”. That girl is being used to blackmail the grandmother and doesn’t know which way to turn. She has to match her behaviour to whichever adult she needs to please most, usually her chaotic mother.

This complex family situation needs outside help as soon as possible.

Smileless2012 Wed 17-May-23 11:33:00

I totally agree Delila; good post.

VioletSky Wed 17-May-23 11:59:00

Healthy boundaries are often poorly understood

Smileless2012 Wed 17-May-23 12:34:01

I think anyone who knows anything about healthy boundaries would know that using children in any circumstances is wrong.

The OP's D can set healthy boundaries between herself and her mother, without using her child as 'piggy in the middle'.

VioletSky Wed 17-May-23 12:39:46

We disagree Smileless we are very different people

Smileless2012 Wed 17-May-23 13:23:05

Yes we are VS but even so, I'm surprised you think that what the OP's D said to her own daughter is an example of setting healthy boundaries.

lyleLyle Wed 17-May-23 13:57:20

I have grandsons around this age. They are apparently in a constant state of starvation. Kids exaggerate. They eat my son and DIL out of house and home.

OP if your concerns are genuine call social services. But right now, both of you are putting this poor child smack in the middle of your dysfunction. You interrogated the child and she felt uncomfortable. No matter what, you are not her mother and she is old enough to get defensive about her mother. So perhaps it is best that you let your daughter parent her child the way she sees fit until social services determines that the child is or isn’t in danger.

And ftr, we absolutely told my children when they were around the same age that we wouldn’t be be seeing my MIL because she was consistently unkind to their parents. It was an honest, age appropriate way to explain to them why the relationship could not continue. Age appropriate honesty is the way to go. You cannot have relationships with minors without going through their parents. When people do not understand this, the end result is a lack of contact. Take a step back. Go to SS if you are so concerned. But stop putting this child is obviously uncomfortable situations. You can assign your own narratives to why you think the child told “lies” on you, but the fact of the matter is you put yourself in that situation by fishing for negative info on her mum.

Smileless2012 Wed 17-May-23 14:13:18

Yes, you have to go through parents to have a relationship with GC who are minors lyleLyle, but issues that parents have with their own parents or p's.i.l. shouldn't require those children to lose the relationship they have with their GP's.

I had a very difficult relationship with my m.i.l. for almost 8 years, so much so that I didn't see her or my f.i.l. but that didn't prevent our boys from seeing their much loved GP's.

The adults in a situation like this are the ones who should ensure that children are not used as bargaining tools or a means to get back at whoever they feel has treated them unkindly.

Neither we nor the OP know if this child has told lies. It could be the OP's D whose lying and from what we've been told about her, that to me seems to be the most likely scenario.

Norah Wed 17-May-23 14:39:08

I don't understand 'bargaining tools' or 'weapons' when referencing children. Apart from abuse, children belong with their parents, don't have need for GP (that I can comprehend).

Smileless2012 Wed 17-May-23 14:54:32

Both are commonly used Norah when for example a parent or GP is being pressed into doing or not doing something, and the threat of not being able to see their child/GC is used to increase that pressure.

No one that I can see is suggesting that children do not belong with their parents where there's no abuse but in this case, the child's home environment appears to be less than adequate to say the least.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by don't have need for a GP. We all need loving and dependable relationships in our lives and these are especially important for children. It's not a competition between parents and GP's because the relationship they have with the children is different, but that doesn't make the one with GP's any less important or beneficial.

lyleLyle Wed 17-May-23 14:58:43

Smileless2012

Yes, you have to go through parents to have a relationship with GC who are minors lyleLyle, but issues that parents have with their own parents or p's.i.l. shouldn't require those children to lose the relationship they have with their GP's.

I had a very difficult relationship with my m.i.l. for almost 8 years, so much so that I didn't see her or my f.i.l. but that didn't prevent our boys from seeing their much loved GP's.

The adults in a situation like this are the ones who should ensure that children are not used as bargaining tools or a means to get back at whoever they feel has treated them unkindly.

Neither we nor the OP know if this child has told lies. It could be the OP's D whose lying and from what we've been told about her, that to me seems to be the most likely scenario.

Actually, yes it does. If you cannot behave respectfully toward someone, you don’t get to have a relationship with their children. Grandparents aren’t special exceptions to that rule. Your choices with your own children are not the standard that anyone else has to live by. It’s also easy to take see how that can negatively impact one’s own relationships with grans and in laws down the line. The subconscious idea that if I had to put up with the mistreatment and still gave access to my children, my son or daughter or in laws must suffer my own transgressions so that I may have access to my own grandchildren. I’m sure it applies to many who virtue signal by going on and on about that they tolerated in order for grandparents to have access. This is not an admirable position to take.

The only people who classify children as bargaining tools and weapons are the people whose own behavior precipitaed the parents severing the relationship. And there is no bargaining here. Badmouth parents or make the children feel uncomfortable and you risk the relationship. Period.

There are two sides of the story, and the one the OP told does not paint herself in the best light either. This is a lesson learned here, when hopefully this family can learn to function peacefully. Until then, as I said, the OP needs to step back.

Norah Wed 17-May-23 15:00:04

I don't bend to 'pressure' - don't understand, matters not. Premise is same.

Smileless2012 Wed 17-May-23 15:25:01

Neither do I Norah but we see posts from those who are being pressured because the fear losing contact with their GC if they 'don't give in'.

Of course my standards are not what everyone should aspire too or live by lyleLyle and I didn't say they were. What you appear to regard as virtue signalling is nothing of the kind, merely an example of how a particular situation can be handled differently.

I don't consider it be an admirable position or not TBH. We dealt with our particular situation one way and you another. It worked for us, our children and their GP's, and if your resolution worked for you and your children then that's good too.

Goodness that is a sweeping generalisation isn't it and I think you'll find that those who do refer to children being used as weapons and bargaining tools, are more often than not the ones who've been on the receiving end.

As you say, there are two sides to every story and yet you've jumped to the conclusion that The only people who classify children as bargaining tools and weapons are the people whose own behaviour precipitaed the parents severing the relationship.

You couldn't be more wrong. Yes of course that happens but it certainly wasn't why our relationship was severed.

Allsorts Wed 17-May-23 15:54:03

The same people give advice about estrangement without knowing how it feels to be estranged, at least one person has estranged her family and comes from a different perspective. It is automatically assumed grandparents are always at fault, that we should have no input, rights or views when interacting with adult children or gc, so we are out, some of the behaviour I have heard mentioned deemed acceptable is quite frankly child abuse,, leaving a young child unsupervised because the parent is always right etc I won’t play games, get into a battle, I would if there were neglect, if not I will keep my integrity and one day those grandchildren will see for themselves and make their own mind up.

VioletSky Wed 17-May-23 16:00:38

Norah

I don't understand 'bargaining tools' or 'weapons' when referencing children. Apart from abuse, children belong with their parents, don't have need for GP (that I can comprehend).

I agree Norah

I don't understand describing your own child as a weapon or a tool or a pawn or any other variation of "thing"

The best way to have a good relationship with the grandchildren is to have a good relationship with the parents

VioletSky Wed 17-May-23 16:01:15

Your own grandchild that should say

Delila Wed 17-May-23 16:02:57

lyleLyle, I trust that when you ended your childrens’ relationship with their grandparents they were able to express their own feelings about their loss in an honest and age-appropriate way?

At around that age my own children would have been very outspoken in opposition, but from your point of view I suppose any concessions made in respect of their sensitivities on the matter would have been seen as virtue-signalling on my part.

VioletSky Wed 17-May-23 16:03:16

Idk Allsorts

Perhaps listening to estranged children when trying to reconcile a relationship or understand its loss has more benefit than people are ready to admit

lyleLyle Wed 17-May-23 16:04:36

Smileless,

I have never heard of a parent say “I’m going to use my child as a weapon or bargaining tool”. Never read it here. Only seen and heard on gransnet…by grandparents. So I stand by my comment. I find these classifications distasteful.

You were the one who brought up your dysfunctional relationship with the in laws. Your particular situation is not this one or anyone else’s. Each situation is its own. You brought yours up as a criticism of others who chose differently and I rightfully countered that. It is absolutely virtue signaling and it doesn’t hold weight in this situation. I won’t argue the details of your situation. It’s not what we are discussing here (though I am sure like every disagreement you and your son/Dil will not be concur on the basis of your estrangement—no matter whatever the objective truth is).

The OP and her daughter handled things badly and her daughter is choosing to step away, based on what the OP herself shared, which was the perception that the OP was interfering in an unacceptable way with her child. There is a term for this: Parental alienation. I think we’ve all heard of it. It can happen when intentions are good and bad. What the OP feels is concern is clearly not being received this way, hence my advice. You are free to disagree. It will not change my outlook. OP should call SS if concerned for the safety and well being of the child, but step back for now. She loves her grand daughter, so a battle with her mum is not in the child’s interests.

VioletSky Wed 17-May-23 16:05:31

Delila

*lyleLyle*, I trust that when you ended your childrens’ relationship with their grandparents they were able to express their own feelings about their loss in an honest and age-appropriate way?

At around that age my own children would have been very outspoken in opposition, but from your point of view I suppose any concessions made in respect of their sensitivities on the matter would have been seen as virtue-signalling on my part.

This is so confrontational

lyleLyle Wed 17-May-23 16:10:19

Delila

*lyleLyle*, I trust that when you ended your childrens’ relationship with their grandparents they were able to express their own feelings about their loss in an honest and age-appropriate way?

At around that age my own children would have been very outspoken in opposition, but from your point of view I suppose any concessions made in respect of their sensitivities on the matter would have been seen as virtue-signalling on my part.

Trust it or not. I have 4 well adjusted, happy, loving sons and daughters with happy, functioning young families of their own. We are all close. That says all it needs to.

My children understood respectful behavior and what a lack of it resulted in. They still do. They understand that no relationship is above the basic rules of respect. If you raised yours differently, more power to you. I’m just glad mine grew up gravitating toward healthy relationships.