Grandparents Denied Access to their Grandchildren

My Story

My Story

The day my son got married, I felt like I was having an out of body experience. From all appearances, it was a lovely, lavish wedding, but there was an undercurrent that I couldn’t identify. At the reception, my family and I were directed to a corner table, under an EXIT sign and I soon became aware of a certain aloofness on the part of my son’s new wife and her family. I knew then that my new daughter-in-law would prove to be a challenge.

I worked hard to be a non-interfering, supportive and loving mother-in-law. I deferred to my daughter-in-law on all matters concerning her and her children. I learned, early on, that it would be smart to keep my mouth shut. I got it: They are her children, not mine.

Unfortunately, she led a campaign of criticism against me. She peppered my son with distortions and vitriol. I was often accused of saying things I didn’t say and doing things I didn’t do. My son, understandably, felt trapped in the middle and wanted his wife to be happy, so he went along with her. As time went on, I did all I could to stay alive in the nerve-wracking game I found myself forced to play. But the rules kept changing and in the end, I lost.

Early on, following the birth of their first son, I was abruptly shut out of their lives. Due to a misunderstanding, which, under normal circumstances would have been solved by a simple conversation, I was told that in order to see my grandchildren, I had to sign a contract. This contract defined the terms of visitation. I was allowed every third Christmas with them and if I said anything that they didn’t like, they would disallow visits with the baby and future children they might have. It was shocking, unreasonable and based on misperceptions and lies. But, ultimately and under duress, I signed it because I was told that if I didn’t, I’d never see my grandchildren again. After about ten months, (during which I was only allowed short, supervised visits with the baby in case I was planning on kidnapping him!), we came to an understanding and there was relative calm for awhile.

Then, several years and three more children later, they suddenly cut me out of their lives AGAIN. One day, with no previous communication or warning, I received a phone call from a man who introduced himself as my son’s “family therapist.” This therapist stated that my son and daughter-in-law wanted me out of their lives. He told me that my son didn’t want to talk to me about it, that he didn’t love me and that his marriage was less stressful without my presence and my ‘drama.’ There was no explanation, no incident was cited. I had rendered absolutely no abuse upon their children, had only loved and cherished them, yet I was blocked from them and from any family connection.

My ‘story’ is heartbreaking. However, I’m less interested in listing all the offenses and injustices at the hands of my son and daughter-in-law, than I am in sharing my process of healing and recovery.

I have grieved, cried and howled at the moon at the inequities of the events that have resulted in being alienated from my grandchildren. They are growing up without knowing me, their paternal grandmother, which sears my heart. But, I have come to understand that, try as I may, I can’t fix it.

I can only ‘fix’ myself.



39 thoughts on “My Story”

  • I have read all of your posted articles this morning and ended with this one. The similarities are so alike that it makes me once again try to keep in the forefront that I am not alone. We too had “the exit ” place of honour at their wedding. No participation in any of the events prior …including the rehearsals, dinners, salon treatments and so on. Although we were there. Then we were told we weren’t involved in any speeches and then put on the spot to speak live at the bequest of her family !!!

    We weren’t even told the family were having the family wedding pictures done at a local park as we wandered around asking where we were to go during the two hours between the ceremony and reception. Even my son and his wife told us they didn’t know as well as her parents.

    So we decided to go into the adjoining casino when her grandfather caught my arm and asked why we weren’t coming for the family pictures???? What pictures ???

    He asked my son’s now mother -in -law and she said “Yes, everyone was going for the pictures and we could come if we wanted. ” Her Mom being the same person whom we had asked previously …..who didn’t know?? “””” Come if we wanted “”””””
    Yet there were aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents all there for these pictures.

    This same grandfather told us we had raised a wonderful son. He said it came as no coincidence that our son was like he was, as it takes good parents to achieve this task. We were so thank worthy of this and to this day I think of this father who had so unknowingly made us feel a part of his family even if however limited.
    There was no mother and son dance.

    My tears were flowing this Good Friday morning as I thought of my son and my grandchildren and their absence. As Easter approaches and I watch little children outside our lanai laughing with their grandparents. A pain that we all know swept over my heart both physically and emotionally it tried to destroy me.

    Your writings gave me solice. I have over this year been assaulted with varying illnesses and have gone from a zero pills person to requiring over 11 medications daily to overcome the many stress related ailments that have assaulted both my body and soul. I currently await an orthopaedic surgeon for treatment. My Mom just passed away and my husband phoned to let our son know. He didn’t even contact me or anyone in our family. This lady was so kind to him and his family and I just can’t believe this is my son.

    So now that I have ruminated when I should not have …. I apologize.

    To fulfill the rebirth that Easter should bring I will attend church. Today or tomorrow I will purchase or make two easter bunny baskets with eggs and toys and what I would normally have sent my grandchildren. These baskets I will give to a couple of local kids on Easter Sunday.

    I won’t be the “strong woman” that my daughter-in-law describes herself as and aspires for her daughter, but I will no longer allow others to treat me as they wish. I will decide how I want to be treated and I will continue to give others pleasure even if it may never be reciprocated. It makes me happy as did your tales from the heart.

    Thank you as I attempt to heal and return to a normal life which will never be the same as it was. I have to just accept it and move on.

    • Hello, Carol,

      Thanks for writing. My heart goes out to you and I’m so sorry you are going through the hurt and grief that comes from estrangement. The wedding must have been so difficult and so sad that there was no mother and son dance. As for your ruminations – it is a normal part of processing what has happened and you will do it until you get stronger when you will be more able to make changes for your health and sanity. Until then, let your tears flow and feel your sorrow.

      Your plan to give Easter baskets to some other children is wonderful. Also, it’s wonderful that you are unwilling to accept mistreatment anymore and to learn acceptance. You are definitely on the right track.

      I’m so happy that my writings have helped. I will be blogging again soon -my time has lately been taken up with editing my book on the subject of estrangement.

      Keep me posted and I wish you healing and many blessings.

  • Thank you once again. I’m going to see a therapist next week for CBT in the hope it will stop me ‘obsessing’ – you are right, that’s what I’m doing and I am ‘good and sick of it’!! I am so pleased i found this site… you are an inspiration. Best regards, Jennie

  • Thank you so much for replying. Things seem so bad at the moment and I’m having great difficulty coming to terms with everything. I am so afraid that my daughter has turned by (17 year old) grand daughter against me. We used to have a lovely relationship but nothing now. My head aches all the time and my poor brain is worn out from thinking, thinking… And missing my family so very much.
    I will try and heed your words, for which I thank you again. Jennie

    • You’re welcome, Jennie. Obsessing is definitely a part of the problem and it takes conscious effort to change your thoughts. Right now, though, you probably need to obsess until you get good and sick of it!
      It will get better and you will get better. Hang in there.

  • I have recently found myself estranged from both my daughter and family, and my son and family. My daughter lives in the USA and my son, and I, live in UK. I am absolutely at the end of my tether and can relate so much to what you, and your readers, say about estrangement. It’s akin to a bereavement, but the estrangement seems to have come out of nowhere and things that have been said are so untrue for the most part. I am sitting here searching the internet for some sort of help….. it is more than heartbreaking – in fact I can’t find words to describe it.

    • Hello, Jennie – thanks for writing. I know the pain you’re experiencing and will say this: There is no real relief for heartbreak but time and processing the feelings of grief, hurt , anger, resentment and despair. You must allow yourself to go through that ‘dark night’ of your soul before you can really begin to heal. Through your tears, you will go through a period of purification, then you will find a way to heal through a practice of your choice, such as taking a spiritual perspective, controlling negative thoughts, developing a positve, hopeful outlook and reclaiming your own life.

      Until then,, be brave and know that life is always changing and your situation will change. Sooner or later, your tears will fall less frequently and your mind will be less consumed with your adult children and grandchildren. I’m not saying the the pain will completely go away, but you will learn to live with it while you learn to honor yourself and your life.

      Wishing you many blessings and healing

  • I am weeping uncontrollably today and it’s been 5 years since I was denied access to my grandson and granddaughter. Their situation is such that they are with a non relative foster family. I thought I could fight in court and obtain grandparents rights but much to my shock and incredible heartbreak I was not only denied custody but forbidden to have any contact with them. Today I saw a picture of my now 14 year old granddaughter after an in depth search on FB. She is forbidden to have a FB page so as to keep our family from having contact with she and her brother. It’s a long, painful story. I just can’t get past feeling guilty because perhaps if I had just shut my mouth and allowed the guardian to control things as she saw fit then it wouldn’t have come to this. My heart aches for the pain this has caused my grandchildren as we were very close. My only comfort is in the Lord of my life. I know one day He will make right all the wrong. I know He is working out all matters pertaining to me (and mine) for good. I am sorry for others experiencing this same pain, and yet find a certain sense of comfort in knowing I am not alone. Thank you. May God bring peace and healing to all of you who are suffering in this way.

    • I am so sorry to hear of your sad situation. I’m glad you have faith because it will help you through all this. I hope you can find a way to heal and let go. Your health is very important now, and you need to take care of yourself. You don’t know the future,and while you miss your grandchildren now, there is a good chance they will return to you at some point. You were close to them during the bonding years, and they will never forget you.
      This kind of thing is so difficult to wrap our heads around, almost impossible in my opinion. That is why we need faith and love to get us through. Wishing you many blessings in the New Year.

  • Thank You Patricia. I learned a lot reading your blog and plan to read some again each day. I will try my best to follow your advice. And, I will keep you posted.

    • Time heals all. I have not been able to see my granddaughter for 5 yrs. In the passed 2 months she has gone to a wedding and is know in town visiting for two weeks…

  • Today my husband found this blog and forwarded it to me. Our situation is very new, and it is breaking our hearts. I never thought our son would deny us seeing our only granddaughter. She turns three in August, the day after my birthday.
    They lived with is for 9 months when she was one, and we were so close to her, and she us. They had sold the condo and lived in our home while looking for a house. We have seen our granddaughter two times this year and they only live 30 minutes away. All of a we received an email saying our son doesn’t want his family to be around us because we are superficial, dysfunctional and he doesn’t want to feel stressful. And we received a handwritten letter from him saying he wants to be a better person, and not being around us will make him be one. The last line of the letter stated that maybe one day his daughter will get to know her grandparents again.
    I pray every day about this. I worry she will forget us It makes me incredibly sad. I just hope my sons daughter never does this to him and his wife.
    Thank You for allowing me to write on here.

    • Thank you for your comment. I understand how you must be feeling: it’s quite a terrible shock and unbelievably heartbreaking. Yes, keep praying not only for a relationship with your granddaughter, but also pray for yourself. Pray for health, patience, strength and insight. Practice letting go by allowing things to be as they are for now. Everything changes, and when your granddaughter comes back into your life, you’ll want to be happy, healthy and grounded. Keep me posted and you’re in my prayers.

  • Hi, new to your blog and just want to say that it’s excellent. We have so many similarities. My daughter has now been estranged from me for almost 4years. I have not been able to see my grandson either since he was 2. I’m still very much in the grieving process and I don’t know if I’ll heal from the nightmare.

  • Thank you for your comments. I’m sorry to hear that you are experiencing a similar kind of insanity and pain. It’s almost impossible to understand any of this. We have let our children’s behaviors deprive us of peace of mind and happiness. Enough, now! Let them go, try to be happy and let them buy their own cars.

  • OMG the comments and story of this blogger could be me and my husband. We had a wonderful relationship with our son, but he married a woman who is paranoid and suspicious. Slowly, she kept us away from them in increments until when our grandson was about 3 1/2 we were blocked altogether for nearly two years. Now, we have two grandsons, and while we have had some access for the last 3 years, it is dwindling and very uncomfortable. Our son does not advocate for our presence. We have given them loads of money, cars and more. What a lose-lose situation

  • I came accross this blog by accident while searching on line for help to get access to my own grand children. I have just read your story above. I can identify with it. I have recently been completely cut out of my grand childrens life. I have to admit I aiways thought that there had to be more to it when I heard stories like this. I could never believe that a supportive mother and grand mother could be denied their family for no good good reason. Sadly I have learnt it is possible. My story is so similar to yours. Its my own daughter doing this to me though. She has had issues in her relationship with an unfaithful partner and I have tried my best to be there for her and her children. I hold down a full time stressful job and live 50 miles away from her. Despite that I had the children almost every week end to stay over night and saw them once or twice in the week also making 100 mile round trip every time. I didnt mind my grand children worth it. I was the emotional punch bag for her frustrations and anger. I took it all with out a word. I made allowances for her bad behaviour due to the stress she was under. I pitched up without fail to support her in every thing. Id get up at 5 am to dig my car out of the snow in the winter so i would arrive on time for the children and wouldnt let her down. I put her and the children first before anything. My grand daughter is three and a half years old. I was at her birth. She is the best thing that ever happened to me. Words cant describe the love I have for that little girl. She is very attatched to me. My grand son is only 4 months old i have only just began my infatuation with him and i adore him. I turned up late once during the week after a 15 hour day at work due to staff sickness. I suggested i stay over with her and take the children the next day. She spent over an hour berating me for letting her down as she had planned some time to herself. After an hour of being told i was selfish and should do more to help I was stupid enough to tell her to shut up and stop being so self centred. I was thrown out of her house at midnight to make that drive home again. My grand daughter saw it all. I still have her cries of ” Nana stay here. Nana, Nana” in my head. I have not been alowed to see them since, over a month ago. In order to cover her disgrace ful behaviour my daughter has told lies about me made false accusations against me and made no end of trouble for me. I am still in shock and disbelief. My appeals and requests to have the children have been ignored. Her partner who is dishonest, controling and manipulating is rubbing his hands in glee that she has one less person in her life who can protect her from his bad behaviour. The whole situation has spirraled out of control. she had no need to do any of this. i would not have held her behaviour that night against her. She is unable to face me for the lies now and creates more to keep me out of her life. I am looking at applying to the courts for contact but im almost afraid of what she will say and that she will be believed. In the middle of all this is a very confused sad little girl. I have panic attacks and stand out side at 3 am trying to breath at the thoughts of never seeing her again. I think of her sadnes and its like my heart being torn out of my chest. There is a little boy not even allowed to get to know me who is missing out on his nanas love. i have to admit that recently i look in my heart and i dont see much love for my daughter any more for what she has done to those children. I am there only nana. I wont give up. Im now only interested in my relationship with my grand children on my terms for my pleasure.

  • Yes, I also accepted abuse for the sake of the grandkids, because I couldn’t stand the idea of not being in their lives. Ultimately, though, allowing ourselves to be treated badly in order to achieve an end (having a relationship with the kids) doesn’t work. Too much compromise.
    It must be so difficult for you having a sick grandchild! I feel for you and totally understand your reasons for hanging in there. God bless you!
    One thought I had after I wrote to you: our children have chosen a path that is not loving and goes against the basic principles of life (and of quantum physics which states that everything is connected). We’re all brothers and sisters on this earth. Any actions that come from a fearful, unloving place will only hurt us . My heart breaks for my son because he has chosen a life that is based on fear – fear of losing his wife, family, money, and whatever else that would motivate him to go along with this estrangement. So, all I can do is love him, pray for him and hope that one day he’ll get well.
    Sending angels and prayers for you, your daughter and your grandchildren.

  • As I am reading your story, I felt as though it is me your story is about. I have 3 gorgeous little Grandsons, this is the third time I have experienced this and quite frankly, my health cannot take anymore. I too have been my daughters everything but unless I give my blood and put up with being abused, accused and lied about everything is ok in her mind and her very wealthy husband and his wealthy mother’s mind as well.
    I love the boys and like you My husband and I and their Great Nanna who lives with me brought lots of love, joufulness and lots of happy memories. She and her husband have a troubled marriage and I do not think that they will listen to anyone, they are in a spiral tunnel heading to disaster. I have put up with abuse from them for the sake of the children. What a high price us Grandparents pay. Dammed if we do and Dammed if we don’t. I pray all the time for God’s love to fill their hearts and think of their children.
    Both parents do not believe in God, what sad stories we have to live with.
    Grandparents are so important for the development of children, Grandparents are special people who give love which is unconditional and forever. I loved my Grandparents and they made me who I am. I will not continue to be treated this way and my daughter hates me for it.

    • Hi Wendy – thanks for your comments. I completely understand your feelings and, unfortunately, can relate on every level. I agree that there is a potential health risk from all the stress, grief, anger and feelings of helplessness, (to name a few). I almost died 2 years ago and I know that stress played a big part in my illness. It was during my recovery from emergency surgery that I vowed to transcend all this and find a way to live a fulfilling life. It has been quite a journey. After over four years of not seeing the kids, I am much, much better and have days when I feel more at peace than I ever have. Part of my recovery has been to let go of wanting to know the WHY of this estrangement. It has been very difficult to understand. I do know that my daughter in law has a personality disorder with paranoia (she thinks I want to take her children away and raise them! This is so preposterous, especially since babysitting was never high on my list!). So, I have let go of wanting to know why and just let it be what it is.
      This is not an easy road to travel, and I wish you health and recovery from events that I know just break your heart. One thing I have learned is that you never stop loving them, so I am accepting and loving in my communications with my son and grandkids (infrequent as they are). I also know that loving my son doesn’t mean that I will go along with their program. I love myself enough now not to allow myself to be abused so that I can see my grandkids. That’s a bargain I won’t make, ever again.
      Take good care of yourself and have faith that one day it will all be better.

      • Wendy here, Thank you for your reply of intelligent and useful advice
        Patricia we accept the abuse from the parents for the sake of the innocent children. What the parents achieve out of it is in their heads and I believe that there is too much information on the internet that twists minds into believeing nonsense. My daughter almost killed her middle child then not quite 3. She met some person online who advised her to give her kids Coconut Oil to help them. She took it too. The child is very ill now and has never been the same again. I have hung in there for them as I realize she is sick, very sick. Be strong as I know you are and you have given me hope that I must carry on without the little lights in my life. Love Wendy

  • Hi Susie,
    Thank you for your note, I agree that the best recourse is to become involved in meaningful activities. One of the.things I’ve done is to spend time with children. It doesn’t replace my grandkids, but it’s fulfilling in a different way. Life is full of change and adaptation to new circumstances, good and bad, so everyday I make an effort to grow, find peace and to be happy. I know the shadow of grief is lurking, but I’m learning to compartmentalise and there is so much good in my life. It would be a shame to minimize the blessings I do have by continuing to actively grieve, feel hurt, angry, etc.
    Let them go, let them go. They are on their own journey and it doesn’t include us at this point. Love them, forgive them and love and forgive yourself if necessary. This, too, will pass.

  • I get a sick feeling every time I hear about this pain because I know what you are going through. Neither sons or daughters are the same people we raise them once they turn their backs on parents for good or bad reasons. Only pray one day they will realise how much we love them and love their children despite what happened. I know what you mean when you say arguing over who say what or what is done would do nothing to ease this separation pain. Look after your mental health, join communities and travel. My prayers with you.

    • Wow. After 9 plus years of zero contact with my daughter & grandson, I ran into them yesterday at Walmart. I saw this sullen young boy looking at me, & I recognized him immediately. It was my grandson. My daughter came out of nowhere, hustling him away very quickly. Shocked at first I decided to find them. She was practically running down aisles to hide. When I called out her name they both stopped. God was definetly with me as I was cool calm & collected. Big deal for me as I often wondered how WE would react if this happened. I was able to talk with both of them for about 5 minutes & we even exchanged hugs. I told my daughter I loved her & always would. I told my grandson I would never forget him( he doesn’t know who I am)My daughter was ok but I did not feel any warmth from her & my grandson wouldn’t make eye contact. No exchange of phone numbers took place, or any offers of visits etc. it was wonderful to see both of them but I can tell you my heart breaks. I love them, miss them & so desire a resolve to this tragic situation. I thank you for this site

        • Thankyou for hearing me. As of yesterday I have still been absorbing the encounter. Many emotions but I’m so thankful just to have been able to express my love to both of them. For quite some time I have been praying for Gods mercy,grace, peace & love to fill their lives. Yesterday’s encounter was an awesome manifestation of such. I will continue to give it up to God:) One more thing…I didn’t go thru the whole gammit of head noise that comes when our children deny us a life with them & their children… So thankfu

      • You have obviously done a lot of inner work to have gotten through this unexpected encounter with such grace and love. Bravo to you. I’m praying for you and your family. God Bless.

      • Pam, our Lord did warned us of hard times within families. Although He did not attribute blame; He’s saying that we could be distracted from the work of the Father if we focused too much on our own family relationships (Matthew 10:32-36) especially troubled ones. It is energy sapping; heart wrenching. Stay focus with God taking a lead every day of your life and pray for your daughter and her family: for one day she will understand the position you are now in.

        • Blessings to you. Thank you for your kind words & the truth you shared. And yes, in cases like ours prayer is the pathway to peace. For my family situation & for my own life. And resting in knowing He hears us.

  • I read your blog today. Thankyou for being there. I’m am going into my 9th year of having ANY access to my grandson. My daughter has done everything she can to keep a very dark and dangerous lie alive so as to maintain a large circle of people to assist her. I know the searing pain you have experienced, the inability to understand why, the endless soul searching and trying to make sense of it all. I understand the gaping wounds your heart feels, because all you want to do is share your life, your self and your love! My grandson was 6 mos. old when I ‘lost’ him so he does not know his gramma…yet. I also lost my daughter in all this…the girl who is behind it all is not the girl I know and deeply cherished. Acceptance is hard word, but it is what I must do! Combined with prayer, hope, love, patience, and tears as well as taking good care of myself…I can overcome. One final thing..sometimes *involving* the courts is just *opening a giant can of whoop ass*that can make your life HELL! Trust me..I’ve been there!

    • Pammy,

      Thank you for your communication. It means so much to me to hear from others who are experiencing the pain of estrangement, and to know that I’m not alone.

      It has been 4 years since I’ve seen my four grandchildren. My son and I have a gentle truce at this point: we text occasionally, and I only express love and support. I don’t call him and I understand that he is doing the best he can. He has drunk the Kool Aid by adhering to his wife’s demands and fabrications and there is absolutely nothing I can do. This the ultimate powerlessness. I have no choice but to let go and do the best I can with my own life.

      My grandsons, who are now 8 and 10, have recently started communicating with me via email. They remember me, and want to see me, etc. I don’t have any idea what their parents are telling them about my absence in their lives, and I don’t care anymore. My twin granddaughters are now 7, and they don’t remember me. My son tries to keep me alive to them, but it’s all so insane at this point that I just go along with their program. I have put them in a little cubbyhole in my heart and mind. It hurts too much to give any more space than that.

      I’m so sorry to hear that your daughter has propagated a lie about you and that it has been such a long time. I’m glad to hear that you’re keeping hope alive. Keep praying and imagining a time when you will have a joyful meeting with your grandson, and in the meantime find joy in your own life, independent of your daughter and grandson. It’s the only way that you’ll have any happiness.

      I agree that any legal action would be torture. I’m choosing to just let it be what it is now.

      Best of luck to you. You’re in my prayers.

  • becarefull. In my case both parents attacked with the court system and I lost and was almost destroyed. I now get to see one granddaughter and the mother is still angry which cases problems for the angel and the other granddaughter is placed in care and I can only send gifts through the CAS

    • Thank you for the warning. At this point I have no intention of pursuing legal avenues. I am letting things be as they are and continue to work on my own peace and acceptance. I’m so sorry for your situation. Sometimes it’s better to let it all go, at least for the time being. It hurts either way, I know. But if you don’t take care of yourself, your health and peace of mind, you’ll suffer even more. Good luck and keep me posted. I’m happy to communicate with you.

      • Thanks. Yes letting it go was difficult . it took about a year to be happy and not cry everytime I turned around. things are rking through with my son. He is not with the girl that assisted the mom and and distroyed the oldest granddaughter. She is in a good home now and the youngest i treasure everytime i get the chance. Focus on work and all the good things in the present everyday. Support of family and close friends is the best. All the best to you. Woudl love to keep in touch. Wish you luck and you are in my prayers.

        • I’m so glad to hear that things have improved for you! It sounds like you’ve done a lot of inner work and letting go with love. I also went through times when I cried every time I turned around! Keep up the good work and I look forward to hearing more from you.I hope and pray that your situation will continue to improve. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Thanks for your comment. I haven’t taken any legal action as I feel that it’s a last resort. However, most states don’t protect grandparents and their rights to visitation.

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