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Grandparenting

Effects of My Separation from Granddaughter, 2 yrs

(12 Posts)
christinehunter1 Fri 27-May-11 00:10:29

I'm in a predicament and could use some advice. I am very close with my son and his daughter (23 mos). My son lives close by and I used to see my granddaughter almost daily until her parents separated. I now see her 1-2 days a week when he has her. Regardless of time spent together/lack thereof, she always clings to me and won't go to anyone else if I'm around. My daughter, whom I'm not quite as close with, has a son (18 mos) but I just recently had a couple of months to get to know him and then they moved 8 hours away. My daughter just asked me if I would come to stay with them for 2 months to take care of my grandson while she works to help them get on their feet. While I want to go to help her and spend more time with my grandson, I feel horrible about leaving my granddaughter, as I know how attached she is to me. I would feel like I've abandoned her (2 months will feel like 2 years). I know that a 2-year-old doesn't have the ability to comprehend time, etc. I realize Skype is available, but I'm really having a hard time with this since I know she's my "biggest fan." Am I worrying too much about how this will affect her? Will 2 months feel like 2 years to her as well? Please tell me "no."

harrigran Fri 27-May-11 00:35:52

I fear your granddaughter may feel as if you have abandoned her. My daughter lives abroad and comes home every couple of weeks but her niece (18 months)is extremely shy and takes time to get to know her again. My elder granddaughter marks passing time in sleeps, as in, how many sleeps until the holiday ?
Two months is a long time to a tot and will you miss her birthday ?

christinehunter1 Fri 27-May-11 00:57:13

She will be 2 on June 27th. I'm supposed to leave the beginning of July.

PoppaRob Fri 27-May-11 03:41:31

Kids are like dogs - whoever gives them food and attention is their best friend! :-)

My parents tell the story of their going away for a month when I was 3 and I stayed with an aunt and uncle. By the time they got back I was calling the aunt and uncle Mummy and Daddy and I didn't want to go home with my Mum and Dad. Two days later I was fine. Kids adapt. My earliest memories are of when I was 3 or 4, but those memories all tie in with events that are in the family photo albums. I'm sure I only remember the photos and hearing the stories over and over and I have no real memories of the events.

Grossi Fri 27-May-11 09:23:11

My granddaughter was two in March. Her mother is a student at a university in another country and they are regularly away from home for two months at a time.

We see each other via skype and my granddaughter doesn't seem to have any problems when she comes home. She just acts like she has never been away.

I hope this is some comfort to you.

babyjack Fri 27-May-11 12:26:51

It sounds like your GD has had a lot of change with her parents separating and seeing you less. I think that adults sometimes comfort themselves with the thought that " children cope" as it makes us feel better. Your GD's behaviour is telling you that she fears you will leave her and at two you have no way of explaining your disappearance. I would follow my instincts, it sounds like you have doubts about leaving her anyway.

elderflower1 Fri 27-May-11 12:39:04

When my son and his partner seperated almost 20 years ago my first gd, 5 at the time, wanted to come and live with me and my son wanted to file for custody if I was willing to look after her. Tempting as it was I said no. I felt it was the responsibility of her mother and father to care for her and make her feel secure even as a seperated couple. Now as an adult she hardly remembers the seperation and is a happy confident adult.

What I am trying to say is that your grandaughters feelings of security depend on her parents. Grandma is just a big fat bonus.

Magsie Sat 28-May-11 09:09:00

I can't help wondering what your daughter will think if you don't go to help her. Won't she feel that she and her son take second place? Your grandaughter has her mum for most of the week and if your son keeps her entertained when she's with him, I'm sure she will be fine. It could be that she's going through a stage where she prefers women to men, so he may need to enlist the help of a female friend or relative. If there was a real problem, you could always come back early anyway. Your grandaughter might be a bit shy with you when you come back but it will soon wear off.

Cressida Sun 29-May-11 11:33:36

Your granddaughter will be fine even if she doesn't see you for a couple of months. Children do cope far better than adults do. Your granddaughter will probably miss you but once you're back she'll settle back to normal. On the other hand your daughter will never forget if you refuse to help when she needs you. I don't think there are many daughters who would happily accept that their mother has put their brother's child first in this situation.

Like many thousands of children my sons grew up with their father away most of the time because he was in the Armed Forces. Your granddaughter will cope as well as they did.

Recently I was lucky to find someone I'd fostered when she was 4 and her memories are different to mine. She thinks she lived with me because her mother was ill but that wasn't the case. Her mother was having difficulty coping so the children came to live with me. Every Sunday they would spend the day with their Mum until one Sunday morning they were all ready to go but she just didn't turn up. No-one knew where she was. Several months later Mum got back in contact and a few months later the girls went to live with her in another part of the country. I remember that morning vividly - my foster daughter doesn't.

Go help your daughter - your granddaughter will be fine.

GrannyTunnocks Sun 29-May-11 12:30:07

2 of my grandchildren live abroad and for all of their lives have seen both sets of grandparents only a few times a year. Every time we saw then they had changed and we had to get to know them again. However from about 2-3 onwards they remembered us and always look forward to seeing us. Now they are 9 and nearly 7 and we feel just as close to them as if we saw them every day. It will be nice for you to go to your daughter and bond with your grandson. Your granddaughter will be fine and just as loving when you come back.

jackyann Sun 29-May-11 13:02:21

At 23 months, she will have some measure of understanding. I would tell her very simply why you have to go - agree a version of the story that your son can tell her as well. Just something like grannies have to help all of their families, even those a long way away. She must have seen pictures of her cousin & aunty and you can show them and explain than it is their turn for your help.
Leave something for her to "look after" for you (so she knows you will return)
Have a regular time for contact so it is part of her routine.
Any chance of a "half-time" meeting - possible half-way, depending on transport / timing etc?
Even very young children benefit from some sort of visual calendar - even easier now we have computers! If son marks "granny phone call days" in red (say) he can then count down - how many phone calls before we see granny.....etc. I often find this useful as a way for parents to talk about the situation confidently even if the child doesn't quite follow (!) - they get the message that "this is OK & granny will be back"
Your family are lucky to have you!

dorsetpennt Fri 03-Jun-11 10:01:39

I live on the coast and my son,wife and two your old little girl live in London. As I only work part-time I can go up for long weekends and for holidays with them. In between that I talk on the phone and skype [what a wonderful invention] . I know how lucky I am. My mother didn't see her own mother for 7 years as my father was in the forces and we travelled the world. However, my grandparents wrote us letters and sent presents - Mum talked about them constantly. So by the time we met them again, I was then 9 years old and my brother 6 years old [he'd never met them being born abroad]. We 'knew' them when we met again, we loved them right away and our relationship never changed - despite even more travelling and separations. So as long as you keep in contatct you will never lose her.