Gransnet forums

Estrangement

Difficult relationship and estrangement

(52 Posts)
Glitterama Sun 02-Aug-20 23:30:24

Hi all! I’ve just joined (suggested by my mum) to try to get some peace of mind by telling people who might understand the terrible predicament I am in and asking for advice. I have an adorable granddaughter aged 2. I adore her. She is the daughter of one of my two sons who have become very involved in their own lives and rarely contact me. That’s really another matter though. My problem is that my granddaughter’s mum has taken great offence at little nuggets of advice I gave her in the past. Once I was aware of her ‘feeling livid’, I have been super careful to ask her permission for absolutely everything I do or buy and I never offer advice on anything. Her own mum gets to keep my granddaughter overnight, sometimes for several days while they are away on a break yet I’ve been told not to even ask as it ‘puts (her mother) on the spot.’ I am beyond heartbroken but have to play the game and accept any little bit of time they allow me just so I can see her. Every visit is arranged so my daughter in law can be there so it feels like a supervised visit. I have done nothing but be enormously kind and generous but it isn’t getting any better. I have just had six weeks holiday. I was offered a visit from her at the start and now a visit before I return to work, again with my daughter in law in attendance . My side of the family are furious but keeping it quiet so I get to see this wonderful child. I don’t know how long I can keep up the pretence though as it is very stressful. I’d be grateful for any advice. Thanks x

Amelia247 Sun 02-Aug-20 23:54:43

Hello! I’m new here as well. While my situation that brought me here is a lot different, just wanted to wish you well!

My only advice would be to enjoy the time with your granddaughter that you get and try not to compare yourself to the other grandparents. Im sure you’ve learned many times over that nothing in life is fair or equal but you can build on the quality time with granddaughter even if the quantity is less than what you want. I have some other thoughts but I’ll let others weigh in with their suggestions.

agnurse Mon 03-Aug-20 00:41:31

Grandparenting is not a competition or a zero sum game. You're getting visits with your GD. That's a nice privilege. All I can suggest is that you enjoy the time you're given and not worry about what the other grandparents get.

Starblaze Mon 03-Aug-20 01:24:52

Try not to overthink this, you are going to perpetuate an atmosphere if you go from one extreme to another, from giving unwanted advice to being over the top careful.

Just be normal and respect her boundaries.

You get to see your granddaughter, that's not estrangement. Would you prefer to be estranged than accept the way things are now?

Just enjoy the time you have with your grandchild. Don't overdo any present giving etc, stick to small thoughtful things. Time is more important. Don't compare your time with others.

Build the trust back over time and I am sure things will improve. Maintaining a good relationship with your son and DIL are key to that.

MamaBear20 Mon 03-Aug-20 02:21:55

Glitterama it sounds like you may not be getting as many visits as you’d like, but you’re not estranged. I agree with other posters that you need to stop comparing yourself to the other grandmother, which will only make you miserable. The reason you don’t see your grandchild more often is your DIL doesn’t trust you with her child. Stop asking to babysit. Stop asking for overnights. Work on improving your relationship with your son and DIL. If they enjoy your company, they’ll want to spend more time with you and they may start trusting you more with their child. Remember, the most precious person in the world to your DIL is her child, who she will not leave in anyone’s care if she doesn’t like them and trust them, no matter how they are related to her husband. Remember that until she married your son, you were pretty much a stranger to her. Relationships take time to build, and it sounds like this one was damaged by the “advice” you offered, which DIL took as either criticism or possibly dangerously outdated. Stop complaining to your whole side of the family. I’m sure your complaints have gotten back to DIL. And yes, you are complaining about her, or your side of the family wouldn’t be furious about the situation. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you really need to try to see this from DILs perspective if you want to understand how to fix this before you make it worse.

Amelia247 Mon 03-Aug-20 03:29:09

I would add that attributing every perceived slight to you DIL is a very slippery slope. Your animosity is palpable and you’ve already admitted to talking to other family members about it. Thus, creating a narrative where she is ultimately the bad guy, the evil DIL who just hates you for “no reason”.

To be clear, no other family members should be involved in your relationship with your DIL, let alone “furious” on your behalf. That is a major red flag.

When she realizes you’ve been badmouthing her, the distrust will grow and the visits will likely cease altogether. Please save yourself from becoming estranged and leaving well enough alone. 2 visits in 6 weeks is plenty.

HolyHannah Mon 03-Aug-20 04:43:40

Glitterama -- "She is the daughter of one of my two sons who have become very involved in their own lives and rarely contact me." -- That's normal. Children grow up and should be most 'involved' in their own life... As every adult should so long as it is in a healthy way.

With 'adult responsibilities' comes prioritization of "responsibilities" at times.

My perspective is, I put my husband first and He puts Me first. Together, as a partnership, prioritize Our children next... Any parent of an AC should understand and respect that.

"My problem is that my granddaughter’s mum has taken great offence at little nuggets of advice I gave her in the past." So you know there is an 'issue' with how you have approached/handled 'things' in the past with her. First off, I would suggest that you reevaluate how you view your DiL. Is all she is to You your "grand-daughter's mum"? She's an adult woman/mother in her own right and your son's wife. I assume You want Her to respect You as her husband's 'mum'? That's a two-way street... Her role in your son's life is equally/more important NOW. You did your 'job' and got him to adulthood... She is His life-partner.

"Her own mum gets to keep my granddaughter overnight, sometimes for several days while they are away on a break yet I’ve been told not to even ask as it ‘puts (her mother) on the spot.’ I am beyond heartbroken but have to play the game and accept any little bit of time they allow me just so I can see her. Every visit is arranged so my daughter in law can be there so it feels like a supervised visit." There's so much in this... First off, as others' have stated, it's not a competition...

Parents tend to leave their children with people they know, trust and feel they can rely on. IF you are getting to see the child (with 'supervision') it means you are probably on thin ice relationship-wise with one or both parents...

As Amelia247 said "To be clear, no other family members should be involved in your relationship with your DIL, let alone “furious” on your behalf. That is a major red flag."

I would like to add to this... You are upset and that makes 'everyone else' "furious" with DiL. She is now being ganged up on by everyone and this will only drive your son and DiL further away.

Septimia Mon 03-Aug-20 09:38:18

Build on your relationship with your granddaughter - and her mother - gradually through enjoying your time together.

As your granddaughter grows and enjoys being with you she may well ask her mum herself if she can stay with you. Hopefully the situation will improve.

Although I looked after my GD in her own home occasionally (distance made it more difficult), she didn't come to stay with me until she was 7. There's plenty of time, so try to relax and enjoy what you have rather than hankering after what you would wish for.

PetitFromage Mon 03-Aug-20 09:58:50

I agree with the previous posters - enjoy the time that you have and don't let it be spoilt by feeling aggrieved. Your DGD will know that you love her, so concentrate on being a fun granny and building a bond with her. Before you know it, she will be old enough to decide for herself who she wants to see.

Just try to be relaxed and natural around your DS and DIL, so that there is a good atmosphere and they will want to spend more time with you.

Alexa Mon 03-Aug-20 10:25:09

I sympathise with your feelings Glitterama.

I agree with Starblaze not to think about it too much.
Your proper task is not to change your daughter in law but to be a good grandmother.
From what you say about you are a good grandmother.

From what you write I'd say your daughter in law is pretty controlling. However in the ordinary course of your granddaughter's life your daughter in law cannot keep her little girl to herself forever. Not only that, but it would be good for the little girl to learn from you, if only for a little variety in the child's socialisation.

As for your daughter in law's parents receiving more visits from the child than you do, I hope it is some consolation that it is normal for the daughter to prefer her own parents,

geekesse Mon 03-Aug-20 11:29:54

What were the “little nuggets of advice” you gave that caused so much upset? When did you give them? What was it about what you said that caused your DiL to be livid?

Kate1949 Mon 03-Aug-20 11:34:53

My policy is don't give 'little nuggets of advice' unless asked for them.

Glitterama Mon 03-Aug-20 11:45:25

Thank you. I do just that as I have accepted it’s my only option.

Glitterama Mon 03-Aug-20 11:55:07

Hi Alexa! Thank you so much for your comment. It is very much appreciated. Some of the other comments made me feel vilified: my side of the family very much keep their feelings to themselves and make my DIL feel very welcome. Thing is, and she says this herself, we were great friends until my gd was born. She readily admits to wanting to control everything and ‘is fed up having to organise everyone’s life’ 😳 I will absolutely enjoy every minute I get with all of them. Thank you again! Your comments has helped a lot x

Glitterama Mon 03-Aug-20 11:58:30

Hi Amelia! Thank you fir your kind comment. I hope your situation doesn’t bring you unhappiness. Feel free to message if you just need someone to talk to about it x

Starblaze Mon 03-Aug-20 12:08:29

Glitterama no matter how hard you try, negative feelings will be picked up on, that's how a lot of these sorts of things escalate without anyone taking responsibility. People sense there is something off and avoid scenarios where things feel "off".

Try not to discount advice because you don't like the tone of it, it's still worth considering, especially if you want to avoid estrangement which can be permanent and heartbreaking for all.

Hithere Mon 03-Aug-20 12:37:50

Why don't you want your dil present during the visits to her family?

What nuggets of advice did you offer?

GagaJo Mon 03-Aug-20 12:39:31

I've become dangerously close to being estranged from my daughter and losing my relationship with my grandson. Our situations are very different but I've had to make huge compromises.

I think as some of the others have said, that you need to just accept how things are and to stop moaning about it to anyone who knows your daughter in law. Obviously you need someone to sound off to, but you need someone completely separate and unknown to family.

I've been at the brink of estrangement and will do anything to avoid getting cut off from my grandson. It involves having to accept that what we think and want is totally unimportant and that we have no say at all. It is worth it to have a relationship with grandchildren.

rosecarmel Mon 03-Aug-20 13:44:56

Glitterama

Hi all! I’ve just joined (suggested by my mum) to try to get some peace of mind by telling people who might understand the terrible predicament I am in and asking for advice. I have an adorable granddaughter aged 2. I adore her. She is the daughter of one of my two sons who have become very involved in their own lives and rarely contact me. That’s really another matter though. My problem is that my granddaughter’s mum has taken great offence at little nuggets of advice I gave her in the past. Once I was aware of her ‘feeling livid’, I have been super careful to ask her permission for absolutely everything I do or buy and I never offer advice on anything. Her own mum gets to keep my granddaughter overnight, sometimes for several days while they are away on a break yet I’ve been told not to even ask as it ‘puts (her mother) on the spot.’ I am beyond heartbroken but have to play the game and accept any little bit of time they allow me just so I can see her. Every visit is arranged so my daughter in law can be there so it feels like a supervised visit. I have done nothing but be enormously kind and generous but it isn’t getting any better. I have just had six weeks holiday. I was offered a visit from her at the start and now a visit before I return to work, again with my daughter in law in attendance . My side of the family are furious but keeping it quiet so I get to see this wonderful child. I don’t know how long I can keep up the pretence though as it is very stressful. I’d be grateful for any advice. Thanks x

Glitterama, the offering of unsolicited guidance is a crapshoot, dependent upon the personality of the individual it's being offered to as well as the personality of the individual offering the guidance- Sometimes people are hesitant to ask for help, or afraid to- Sometimes people are adamant about figuring something out themselves without assistance-

As others have indicated, grandparenting isn't competetive- Accept what you get, the desire for more will just stir up trouble- Keep in mind that the grass isn't always greener, and that there might be unhealthy, enabling behavior occurring with the other grandparent relationship-

Knowing what side of the bread is buttered is important- In healthy relationships, the buttering of the bread is reciprocal - In unhealthy realtionships, one party does the bulk of the buttering and the other doesn't, which creates enabling-

Enjoy your visits with your grandchild- Maybe butter a slice of bread together, or spread jam on it- But do it together- 😊

MamaBear20 Mon 03-Aug-20 16:30:32

Glitterama There is a support thread if you are just looking for kind comments. If your looking to make a change in the situation, you should really think about what most of the posters have said.

Amelia247 Mon 03-Aug-20 16:31:06

Hi @Glitterama, thank you!

I hope you don’t feel vilified from my previous comment. I certainly didn’t mean it to come off that way. My husband recently made the decision to cut off his parents and I’ve been dealing with the large share of the blame and some feelings of guilt although I do support him very much in every way.

I was suggested to come here from a friend on Mumsnet, just to gain a wider perspective on estrangement. I’ve been lurking thus far and just had to jump in to possibly save you and any other still-connected families from the build up of feelings and resentments that lead to estrangement.

You mentioned your DIL being fed up of having to arrange everything. That’s a familiar feeling. I may or may not be controlling depending on who you ask smile but I certainly know what it’s like to unwillingly be the point of contact for both sides of the family, telling my husband to pick up the slack with his parents, then stepping in when he inadvertently agrees to an outing or visit at an impossible time, and then being blamed for the cancellation, and then, and then, and then... it was a never ending cycle.

It sounds like you are in a position to course correct before things go completely off track. I hope some others can provide constructive feedback on how to work through these feelings of unfairness and being left out.

welbeck Mon 03-Aug-20 18:47:46

what MamaBear20 said.

Franbern Mon 10-Aug-20 16:00:50

Okay, there is some good advice here. But, personally, I find it strange that you talk about building a relationship with your g.daughter, but not about re-building relationships with your sons.
I am probably different from many others on this site, that my children are the MOST important people in my life, yes I do love my g.children, but no-where near as much as I do my own children.
I would do anything, any time, to avoid any sort of enstrangement form them.
I expect them to have a similar feeling towards their children, and have NEVER offered any sort of advice about them exceept when it has been specifically asked for.

Bibbity Wed 19-Aug-20 10:35:35

I think you are placing blame at the wrong person.

Your GC has a strong bond with her maternal grandmother because Of the relationship and effort put in my a mother and daughter.

Where is the effort from your son?
She is sick of organising everything?
Sounds like he has dumped all the mental load on her.
When does he call to arrange something with you?
The reason she is there all the time may be because she is the one sorting everything out.
She is the one planning and arranging and then dealing with the toddler.

HolyHannah Thu 20-Aug-20 05:50:46

Bibbity -- As an EAC I cannot emphasize enough how off-putting (I'll skip a long list of other descriptions) it is to hear EP's or parents that are 'skating on the pond' with estrangement, whose sole interest seems to be the grand-children.

As Franbern said, "I find it strange that you talk about building a relationship with your g.daughter, but not about re-building relationships with your sons." -- 100% that. Why do so many GP's believe they can skip a healthy/adult relationship with their GC's parents and expect to have any 'relationship' with those peoples children?

Franbern also said, "I am probably different from many others on this site, that my children are the MOST important people in my life, yes I do love my g.children, but no-where near as much as I do my own children." -- Wow. Not only is that "different from many others on this site", that attitude (while VERY emotionally healthy) is almost Unicorn status.

How can anyone proclaim the same love/closeness with a grand-child versus a child they bore and raised for a lifetime? Especially when in a lot of cases, the GP's 'mourning' have often never even met the GC...