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Long distance grandparent & relationship with adult son

(14 Posts)
Tynsall Tue 18-Jul-23 23:55:41

Hi I am struggling with my adult son who has two children they live in Canada, I live in the Uk. He used to ring me once a week but unfortunately didn’t see the importance of me seeing my grandchildren & talking to them regularly .
Unfortunately he stopped ringing 18months ago. I have asked him on a number of occasions if we could arrange a good time to speak to my grandchildren, he just says he is too busy. The only time he spoke to me was when he told me what to buy my grandson for his birthday. It was quite an expensive gift but I agree as it’s for my grandson.
My daughter in laws parents are with them a lot going on holidays with them celebrating birthdays & Christmas’s.
My ex husband & wife also have a lot more to do with them.
My son tells me I haven’t done anything to hurt them just too busy to talk.
My grandchildren won’t understand why they don’t see me. I just feel they are going to think I don’t care.
It hurts so much I am not sure what to do.
My relationship with my sons always used to be good especially as I was a single mum it was hard. They saw their father treat me disrespectfully& now my son does this & his children witness this.
My other son is thoughtful & caring he also lives in another continent but rings me regularly.
I love them both very much but feel it’s not reciprocated by one son.
My relationship with my dil is not warm she rather just ignore me. I haven’t had any arguments with her she is just very cold.
Any advice would be good , one friend has suggested I try & forget my son. I am not sure I can do this!
Is anyone else treated like this by their adult children?

Septimia Wed 19-Jul-23 00:17:16

How old are your grandchildren? Could you write to them regularly and send them little things - postcards of the area where you live, perhaps? I wrote chapters of a story for my granddaughter and illustrated them - never did finish as she grew too big too soon! Keep the communications to the sort of thing that won't be controversial like things that you've done, tales of your pet if you have one etc.

Sorry I can't give any advice about your son!

Hithere Wed 19-Jul-23 01:02:38

How about communicating to your son via whatsapp or messages?

When was the last time you visited each other?

How old are his kids?

Calendars get really busy with activities, events, etc

I bet the time difference doesn't help either

Grammaretto Wed 19-Jul-23 01:52:43

I am sorry to hear that you have to put up with this situation. I wonder how old the DGC are too?

Would you be able to visit the family in Canada?
If they could see how much it matters to you, then maybe your DS and DDiL might show some compassion.
I like the idea of writing to the DGC, asking about their lives, school etc and hobbies.
It will be hard to start if you have no contact but if you have some, it could be possible.
I can't understand why your son would be so thoughtless to you. It's easy enough to send photos and text messages. Good luck.

NotSpaghetti Wed 19-Jul-23 05:01:46

I think WhatsApp is SO much easier than phone calls. You can pick them up when you are free. I wouldn't want to "schedule" conversations - particularly with children.

When we lived in America my mother sent little things to my children. Drawings of her little dog, small things she had spotted on outings (the little "treats" that children love from gift shops, a few sheets of stickers etc.
My daughter was young and loved this post and would draw and choose things to send back. Now my grandchildren send me video messages via WhatsApp describing what they are doing/reading/ making etc.

I don't know how long this situation has been going on but when you say he:

^didn’t see the importance of me seeing my grandchildren & talking to them regularly .
Unfortunately he stopped ringing 18months ago.^

I think the grandchildren must be older now and less easy to get to the phone?

You probably need to arrange a visit to "re-set" the relationship in person. Then you will I hope, learn something about how they live, start a relationship with your daughter-in-law (which I personally think is super-important) and start to be able to communicate directly with the younger members of your family.

I think your son is finding the relationship hard work. You cannot change other people but maybe you can make it easier for him?

I don't know what your relationship is with your ex now but if they have a better relationship with your son and his family than you do, what are they doing differently?

Does your other son have a family?
Just wondering.

MercuryQueen Wed 19-Jul-23 06:08:12

The root of the issue is your relationship with your son. I’m under the impression (please correct me if I’m wrong) that your DIL really doesn’t know you. Did she and he meet in Canada? The reason I ask is that it may not be that she’s cold, but that you really don’t know each other at all… and the problem with that is, it’s your son’s responsibility to broker that relationship, especially given the distance.

I think if there’s improvement to be had, it needs to begin with you and your son. Try writing an email or text, saying that you’ve felt distance growing between you two, and would like to make an effort to strengthen the relationship. Ask for a time to talk. Focus on him, not the gc. I’m not saying to ignore they exist, but sometimes, grandparents can focus on the gc and the relationship with the adults gets neglected.

Juliet27 Wed 19-Jul-23 06:31:10

Maybe it’s the grandchildren who don’t want to talk on the phone. It’s not always easy for youngsters to chat easily that way and then as they get older and have more interests they need less contact with grandparents even if in the same country. Perhaps it’s easier for your son not to phone rather than have to make excuses when you ask to speak to the grandchildren. Just a thought.

Hetty58 Wed 19-Jul-23 06:45:53

It's best to be honest in relationships as they can't be forced (or shouldn't be). Maybe the phone calls stopped as they just took up too much time, added to stress - or were/became an ordeal??

Perhaps you had far more to say and your son was mainly listening? I remember being quizzed by my mother (during the dreaded two hour calls) about the children's lives - with never a thought given to me. We never had a close, loving relationship, so I felt ignored, invisible, uncomfortable - and bored stiff.

It was just a failed attempt at 'let's keep in touch'. Surely, you don't want your son to ever resent the 'duty calls' like that, do you? You wouldn't want grandchildren summoned for an unwanted chat either.

Your ex-husband and wife (and DIL's parents) will have different circumstances and personalities, perhaps find travel easier, have more money to spend on holidays etc. - leaving you the odd one out?

So - don't stress about it, never expect life to be fair, just get on with your own life and accept being in the background. Do keep in touch, but accept that you don't have a close relationship now, due to distance and circumstances.

Juliet27 Wed 19-Jul-23 07:15:42

Wise words Hetty.

Lathyrus Wed 19-Jul-23 09:50:24

“Is anyone else treated like this?”

I suppose it depends your expectations of your children compared to their expectations and how you deal with the difference.

For instance, if a parent expects a weekly phone call and the son expects once a month to be enough then even a compromise of every two weeks is going to leave both parties resentful! If either of them starts expressing thst (nagging😱?) then resentment increases to a point where the person who’s on the receiving end just withdraws altogether.

Be honest with yourself. When he did ring did you cheerfully chatter for a short time or did you hang on for as long as you could? Did you make any kind of remark about wanting to hear from them more? Did you make any kind of comparison with the other family in his life - even a humph or a silence when he said they’d been out to something together or he’d spoken to his dad?

Is it ossicle that you’ve actually been coming over quite negatively? Not easy to hear I know, but often people don’t realise.

pascal30 Wed 19-Jul-23 10:59:12

When you say that your son is treating you disrespectfully, just like his father did.. it sounds as though this might be at the root of the problem.. how do you respond to this? If you get defensive and upset he might not wish to speak to you. It sounds like a communication issue to me. I would send your GC letters and little gifts to maintain the contact.. and perhaps try to save so that you can visit them.. I think real contact might be easier to try to resolve this problem. Do they ever visit the UK?

welbeck Wed 19-Jul-23 11:30:36

you need to check that it's ok with their parents if you are going to start writing to their children.

Hithere Wed 19-Jul-23 11:58:50


What do you consider disrespectful?
What did he do that you consider disrespectful?

Something may have happened for the calls to end - what was it?

Nothing happens in a vacuum

A mistake grandparents make is concentrating on the gc while not putting an effort on the relationship with the parents- your wanting to have weekly calls to talk to the kids.
How about talking to your son also?

Why is your relationship with your dil cold? Was it ever any different?

NotSpaghetti Wed 19-Jul-23 17:29:46

Focus on him, not the gc. I’m not saying to ignore they exist, but sometimes, grandparents can focus on the gc and the relationship with the adults gets neglected.

I agree - I've just tried to make a similar point on another thread!