Not Allowed to See Grandson

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My husband and I took care of our grandson up til he was two. We tried to follow all rules and routines my son and his wife had set for us, yet if the baby fussed at night they were suspicious about what we had done during the day.Though I felt hurt,but for the sake of the child,I didn’t walk out on them.Instead,We would explain and my daughter-in-law seemed accepting our apology politely,and I thought she gradually accepting us as part of the extended family.

After the child started daycare,We continued babysitting him on weekends during the summer while his parents went on long biking day trips. We had fun time almost every week. This summer they seldom called us to come over.When our grandson asked us why we don’t go playing with him? We said he should ask permission from his parents but they said no.

Right before he was starting K, his mother told me they decided to enroll him to Charter school instead. She also mentioned “maybe” we could pick him up@3 for her if she couldn’t make it from work.So we told her we found where the school is and got some free info for our use the next day. This made her flip. She obviously forgot what she had said and wrote us a bad “direct&blunt” letter to tell us we couldn’t go to this or any potential school in the future.If we don’t comply, we don’t get to see our grandson, she doesn’t need to defend her views!

I fully understand that as the child growing older,as their finance improving, they won’t need us as much. But it hurts me so bad to know that they actually mean to destroy our loving relationship with our grandson (she is consumed by jealousy). They only want to use our unconditional service at their convenience. We are in distraught. It kills me thinking about this lonely child has no siblings, he needs us for now just as his parents.(why it is a conflict of interest for her?) I don’t know how to stop his mother from bullying us, treating us as her enemy so taking her child as if he is a hostage! Please help!(sorry, this is the shortest I could!
come up with)

A: What a terribly painful situation. I think you are correct. Your daughter-in-law liked having the free daycare but she didn’t like the fact that you had a loving relationship with her son. How sad that she feels this is a competition. Children get different things from parents and grandparents. They benefit from having both in their lives. A loving relationship with one in no way diminishes the relationship with the other. In fact, the more we fill children up with love, the more loving they become.

I am concerned that you felt you needed to be constantly apologizing and explaining. From your description, it doesn’t sound like you had anything to apologize for. She really should have been grateful for all the help and support you were giving her. But — you can’t be the one pointing that out. She’s only likely to get defensive about it.

Sadly, there is little you can do to change her mind. If your daughter-in-law is so insecure and jealous, it is unlikely that you can have a rational discussion about it with her. All you can do is keep offering to give the young couple time off by taking their son for a weekend here and there or even for a longer vacation. If she feels she is getting something she wants, she will probably respond positively.

I sincerely hope your son will at some point be able to reassure his wife and help her understand that they are getting far more than only babysitting from your involvement. Being part of an extended family, when it is functional, is one of the best safeguards for life’s inevitable disappointments and tragedies. Love is what gets us all through.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Dec 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Not Allowed to See Grandson. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/12/11/not-allowed-to-see-grandson/