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Grandparenting from a distance with limited contact

(11 Posts)
SJP Sun 18-Dec-16 08:20:35

I wonder if the wise heads of Gransnet could give me some ideas on how to maintain meaningful contact with my three grandchildren aged 5, 7, and 8. To see the children has been hard fought, without boring you with the details, they were placed under care of social services and with the support of SS I managed to maintain independent contact with them. Once the case was resolved I was granted a contact order to see the children 6 times a year. Operating this contact order with my sons contact was too demanding for the children and I agreed to reduce my contact and now I only see them for 2 hours 3 Sundays a year. I do not get on with the children 's mother who is very controlling, was verbally abusive to me on one visit, and I have tried to get on with her, but she mistrusts any kind gesture from me (like sending flowers) and suggestions to go out to lunch etc. So we are where we are and little contact is better than none and I like to make the most of what I have. She will not permit me to have the children on my own, as previously, and appears chiefly concerned that I am going to say something derogatory about her to her children. I just tag along with time at a local park with the other grandparents who whilst outwardly polite and chatty can be very defensive and the other grandmother in particular appears resentful and touchy. How can I make the most of the contacts, I write letters in between chatty with family news, I keep an eye on subjects that are learning at school as content in the letters. I am uncertain whether they get them. I also send post cards and gifts from holidays. Requests to Skype and telephone between visits have been ignored. To see the children involves a 400 mile round trip so quite tiring for me. Your thoughts appreciated

Marmark1 Sun 18-Dec-16 09:11:32

I honestly don't think anyone could love their GC more than me,I've tread on eggshells with my DIL from day one,although as I've said before,she appreciates the fact that the kids love me and I'm a good babysitter,so things have improved.But I know in my heart,as hard as it would be,if she turned on me again and it got really bad,then I think it would be time to let go,leave her be and suffer the outcome,for my own sanity.
You could still contact GC by letter.But sometimes when you know the situations hopeless you just have to bury it and move on.

silverlining48 Sun 18-Dec-16 11:04:53

Thats a long trip for a short 2 hour visit, so much reduced from previously. I am assuming Social services are now no longer involved? If they are then maybe a phone call to discuss your concerns might help. As you have reduced your contact so much then perhaps longer than 2 hours would seem fair.

From what you say you seem to want to continue under difficult circumstances being that you are not able to spend time on your own with the children without mother and other grandparents being present. If you had them on their own previously what if anything happened to change this?

Does you son have regular contact with his children, is that alone or with mother/grandparents supervising? Can it be you are being punished because of something that has happened between them?

It is good you keep in touch by letter, maybe next time you could ask what they thought about whatever you wrote. Certainly the older two will be able to tell you if they have received letters? Presumably they dont write or send pictures etc. to you, no doubt their mother would object if you gave them a few stamped self addressed envelopes to keep in touch with you between contact?

I am not up to date with the legal situation of grandparent contact but hope this can be resolved in time, but fear it will be a long hard road.

Its especially difficult at this time of the year, all credit to you for keeping contact going. I hope the children will understand if not now, but later, how much you care about them. My good wishes and hopes that things will improve.

SJP Sun 18-Dec-16 13:20:50

My son is not permitted to have children unsupervised and I used to supervise this. At the time it appeared to work well. Change of social services and different judge resulted in the change. Mum is not really committed to maintaining contact and still gives son a difficult time. This is about control principally, low esteem and punishment for statements made to social services at the time they were taken into emergency care which subsequent hearings and resolution bore out. She has massively fallen out with sister who is banned from house for similar reasons. I feel extremely sorry for other grandparents whose life and retirement has been turned upside down by this. Some tough times. I am keeping a lower profile for my own wellbeing in the hope time will heal. The children are great and loving when I am with them which makes it worth while.

Annierose Sun 18-Dec-16 17:55:56

Are the children still be supervised in any way by Social Services? If so, I would certainly keep talking to them, and find out if you are able to see the children in the comfort of a contact centre of some kind.

I would also keep a diary of your contact so that if needed, you can demonstrate your involvement to the family court.

It seems to me that you are doing your absolute best, and maybe have to accept that this is how it is for now. I think the top thing is to let the children know how much you enjoy their company.

icanhandthemback Tue 20-Dec-16 22:15:41

If you were given supervision rights initially, I would have thought you could apply to the court to take the children out on your own for longer than 2 hours. You obviously have very good precedence for this. I know courts proceedings are difficult but we found that the only thing our ex-DIL would listen to was the court and nipping her controlling demands in the bud quickly was the only way we could make progress. I don't understand these parents who think they are doing these children a favour by keeping them away from their kin, it is just downright cruel.

Wendysue Fri 30-Dec-16 06:09:34

My heart aches for you, SJP! If it's any comfort, I've heard of other cases where a parent remained angry at a GP for a long time cuz of what was said to SS. Hopefully, DIL will get past this, eventually, and realize that you were just concerned for the kids. However, sorry to say, it may take a long time. Unfortunately, the other GM may be uncomfortable with you cuz of this touchy situation.

This is most likely why DIL is afraid you'll say something "derogatory" about her to your GC. Maybe it would help if you said something nice about her to them, now and then, in her earshot? But seeing how she "mistrusts any kind gesture" from you (very lovely of you, BTW), I don't know.

Anyhow, I'm sorry your visits were cut down. However, considering the long trip, you're probably better off going 3 X a year, instead of 6 (Yikes!). The short duration of the visit after that long trip doesn't seem fair, but it sounds like you make the best of it. Perhaps planning something else for yourself before or after you see the kids, like eating at a lovely local restaurant or staying overnight at a nice motel would make the trip easier and more pleasant for you?

I'm also sorry DIL won't allow any skyping or telephone calls. She is probably still too angry and distrustful for that. (Again, finding some nice things to say about her might alleviate those fears in time.) Since the GC are only 5, 7 & 8, I would keep the letters short, so they're more likely to read them on the chance that they actually get them. And I would maybe keep copies, so I could show them in later years and let them know I tried to keep in touch. As they get older, they might reach out to you themselves.

Did you realize what the consequences might be for you when you spoke to SS that time? If so, it was very brave of you to speak up, anyway. Kudos for putting the children's interests ahead of your own! I just hope the situation gets better over time.

br0adwater Fri 30-Dec-16 08:40:55

I'd suggest sending a weekly postcard with a joke for the kids to enjoy. Get a children's joke book from the library to make sure it's age appropriate.

Making the most of the 2-hour visits: are you allowed to take their photo? Or a short video? Are you allowed to provide small gifts? I think the main thing is to ensure they remember you among the sea of people at these rare visits - so make sure you look happy and fun, not worried (as you feel). As they grow older they will form their own opinion of you, and in the blink of an eye they'll be teenagers who can contact their smiley gran themselves.

Lovey Wed 04-Jan-17 18:33:18

Three Sunday visits a year is near normal for most GPs. Brilliant idea posting a card weekly.

SJP Sun 08-Jan-17 09:46:22

Hello thanks for the advice. Yes Wendy sue I did understand the consequences of statements to SS and was very careful to make sure they were credible and evidence based and I took legal advice at the time. It was hard but the right thing to do and important to the context of what happened. Mums biggest problem is my statements blew her rose tinted view of her family life, and also highlight ed her contribution to the circumstances which the court and SS agreed with. Deep down she feels guilty and insecure and doesn't trust me (understand ably) hence the tension. I write monthly - fun colourful letters with positive messages and when we meet up ensure that there is fun. As they get older they can make their can their own minds up.

Starlady Sun 08-Jan-17 10:31:04

Right now, it's clear that you and XDIL have very negative attitudes towards each other. How could it be otherwise? In time that will probably heal though. Just keep on doing what you're doing and I'm sure things will get better eventually.