Grandparents Denied Access to their Grandchildren

What About the Children?

What About the Children?

“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle star-dust over the lives of little children.”

~ Alex Haley

When I think of the horrendous reality of being banished from my son’s family, my thoughts often turn to how unnatural it is not to know my grandchildren. I can still recall their little faces, their sweet personalities and beautiful spirits, and I grieve for the time I once spent with them and for the time forever lost. I have missed so much. I will never know the joy of being a part of their growing up or enjoy the privilege of showering them with the special love that only a grandmother can give. I will never hug their small bodies again or read them bedtime stories. I have been cheated out of something indescribably precious.

But what about the children? What do they think about not ever seeing their grandmother? How much do they remember about me, if anything? They know that I am alive and well, so what are they being told about my absence? How will it affect them when they are old enough to reflect on the fact that they never knew me?

Is it a form of child abuse to prohibit visits with a loving grandmother?

Grandparents are very important to children. I am their paternal grandmother and they are being deprived of an important, archetypal relationship. Because their mother doesn’t want me to be a part of their lives, they are missing out. We are all missing out.

Isn’t it time that grandparents had some rights of visitation? My circumstances are appalling and this estrangement is senseless. I have committed no crime, and there are only complaints and petty lies from my daughter-in-law. I have endured years of abuse from her and my son, for no good reason. How is this even close to being acceptable?

There are increasing numbers of cases like mine where parents or grandparents are alienated, often with no explanation. I hear about them every day and I find this alarming. Equally disturbing is the fact that the children are often used as leverage to exert power over their shocked and heartbroken grandparents.

We live in a country where political correctness is a common goal and we endeavor to refrain from passing judgment on others. But I can’t help judging the actions of my son and daughter-in-law because I know one thing for sure: what they have done is just wrong.



18 thoughts on “What About the Children?”

  • Melody, I would appreciate your input also since in this case, you are the parent and not the grand parent. I agree with you about keeping the children first and foremost and would never make a scene in front of them or cause any chaos. I put them first and that’s why I’m not banging on their door and begging to be let in. That would certainly cause further damage to everyone.

  • I can’t believe I finally (after 2 1/2 years) researched and found this page. It has taken me this long to reach the acceptance part of grieving, though I do still, and always will be sad. My son and I were very close, although he has never been an “easy” child/man. He joined the army at 18. Married at 19 and his wife became pregnant right away. When he got deployed to Iraq, he shipped his pregnant wife to live with me and my 14 yr old daughter. Although a stranger, I welcomed her with open arms and even bought a house that would be big enough for all of us. I was there through the whole pregnancy, labor and delivery. It should be noted that she is an only child and that her mother lived and still lives in key west. After my son, safely, thank God, returned home, they bought a place close to me and I watched my grandson from 7 am to 7 pm most weekdays. For three years, for free. I did it willingly and lovingly and gladly and my grandson and I formed an impenetrable bond! At around the three year mark, my son advised me that they were moving to another state as he had decided to enlist in the coast guard . He also then informed me that they were pregnant again. This time with twin girls! Pretty early on in the pregnancy we found out one of the girls had a very serious condition and may not survive after birth. That was all it took. I sold my house and followed my son to his new state. Arriving one month before the girls were born.. Suffice it to say that one of my granddaughters had to have a heart transplant at 8 days old. She was four months in the hospital (she and her sister will be 9 next week). Throughout all of this difficult time, I was there. Day and night when needed. I took care of the newborn and my then 4 yr old grandson. My daughter in law’s mom would come on breaks from her teaching job. She currently still lives in key west. A few years afterwards, my son started working at a job that was two hours away…so again, I moved to be near them. Again, I continued to help in any and every way I could. I even gave them weekly date nights and stayed with all three kids. At that point I lived 10 minutes away and would stop by (calling first, of course) any time. But suddenly, every time I would call my daughter in law for permission to visit, she started making up excuses why I couldn’t stop by. After a while of this going on, I had a heart to heart conversation with my son. I asked, begged and pleaded for him to intervene on my behalf, as his mother, to be able to see the children. At this point my grandson was 10, granddaughters 6 and we were VERY close. This conversation, I guess, because I really don’t know what else it could be, must have insulted his manhood. Or maybe he was put in a position where he had to choose, in order to save his marriage. Anyways 2 1/2 and many apologies, tears, unanswered birthday and Christmas cards and wishes later. He is still not speaking to me. He has sort of isolated from the whole family. He only sees his sister and two cousins, once a year, during Christmas time. The pain that I feel is equivalent to not only losing my son, but also his whole family. The grieving has been very hard. Mostly, I just wonder about the children. What have they been told? How could my absence be explained? That’s my biggest heartache. Because, after all, the adults know what they’re doing, but the children are helpless. That’s what kills me. For now, I have come to the acceptance and just letting go and letting God. I’m creating photo books for each of the children, from birth until we were separated. I stand firm in the belief that one day these children/adults will seek me out, if only to hear my side. My daughter and granddaughter are a constant joy in my life and also, the rest of my family. That is the only reason I believe I am still here to write this today. It is good to share with other grandparents that are going through this because I feel only a grandparent would understand. Thank you for this website. Please share any thoughts any one may have about my particular situation. Anything would be greatly appreciated as I continue to heal and learn to live without these very important people in my life.

    • Thank-you for writing. I’m sorry to hear that you have been separated from your grandchildren and I hope the estrangement will heal. In the meantime, you are smart to concentrate on your daughter and granddaughter and to be grateful for them. Many other estranged parents and grandparents don’t have the comfort of another child with whom to have a happy relationship. And, remember to take care of yourself first.

  • I am horrified with the premise that grandparents should have rights of access to get to know grandchildren when their own children have cut off contact. If you lack a civil relationship with your adult child, forcing access to your child’s children will only create great stress for the grandchildren whom you claim to love. You will be putting those kids smack in the middle of a conflict that exists between their parents (to whom they presumably love and are very attached) and yourself, who, at this point, is a grandparent in name only. It may be your willingness to traumatize those prized grandchildren that has left your son or daughter unwilling to let you into their lives.

    If you are responsible for your child’s suffering—either directly or through inaction—they may view estrangement from you as a necessary step to protect their own children. I am appalled by the dismissive attitudes demonstrated by parents estranged from their adult children when it comes to acknowledging and seeking forgiveness for past wrongs. So many try to sweep those wrongs away with breezy statements like, “No parent is perfect,” or, “We all make mistakes,” or my personal favorite, “What’s done is done. Can’t we move forward?” If you can’t earn the trust of your own children, why would they entrust their own precious children to you?

    If you are critical of your adult child, if you belittle them, if you seek to create disharmony in your child’s marriage, if you demonstrate a willingness to undermine your child’s parental authority, if you do little else but dwell on your own needs, then it’s no wonder your child has cut you out of their lives. You had your chance to raise your child; it’s now time to let them make their own mistakes, to bite your tongue when you disagree, to treat their spouse with respect, to show complete deference to how they are raising their own children. Does that mean you can never point out anything they do that’s wrong? Yes, BECAUSE in your case, you have a relationship that is too fragile to trust that your criticism is truly constructive. Let someone else be the one to point out a problem, or let your adult child come to see the problem for his or herself.

    Most of us would do just about anything for our loved ones. If your child is unwilling to even grant you access to their children, then the well of love has been poisoned with hurt and mistrust. You will not create or rebuild the bonds of love and trust by trying to muscle your way in to a situation where boundaries have been erected. If your grandchildren choose to reach out to you when they are adults, let them control how much and how soon, and speak nothing about their parents unless they are words of praise. If you’re likely to die before they grow up, then pray for you and your family to know your Savior, that you can all be reunited later for eternity.

    My own story of estrangement is rooted in behavior that began in childhood and continued throughout my adulthood. I have always left my mother an open door back into my life: to repair and rebuild our relationship before allowing her into my children’s lives. She has rejected those terms, insisting that she has done nothing wrong, that the past remain in the past, and that there is no need for her to alter her behavior toward me. It’s been more than 10 years, and while I can grieve her absence in my life, I rejoice that my relationship with my own children is filled with affectionate love and closeness, and that their childhood looks nothing like the cold and harsh years that traumatized mine.

    • Thank-you for your perspective. Since you suggest that estranged parents pray to be reunited with their adult children and grandchildren in eternity if all else fails, I’ll leave you with this:

      Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
      Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

      • Jesus suffered and died on the cross to pay for the sins of the world, providing His perfect and holy grace to all who submit to Him in genuine repentance. God does not offer nor ask us to provide cheap grace to those who remain unrepentant.

        Estrangement is not rooted in bitterness, but in resignation to a current reality that seeks to avoid anger and fighting. Compassion comes in many forms; sometimes it is the decision to protect young children from toxic grandparents that is the most compassionate path. Even so, estrangement does not preclude praying for a softening of hearts, and a willingness to accept the chastisement of the Holy Spirit.

    • Sounds to me like you are on a power trip young lady. Every parent does make mistakes but when they get grandchildren they know what their mistakes were and try to change that with their grandchildren…There is a bond and love that only a grandmother has with a grandchild. If you had any empathy or sympathy yourself you would have sit down with your own parents and worked out your problems…Just remember what goes around comes around and you are teaching your child it is okay not to have a relationship with your family. It may just backfire on you one day. I would like to hear the other side of the story from your parents because I bet there is one. Life is too short not to forgive your parents and allow your children access to their grandparents. There are so many young parents that would love to have their parents that care enough to want a relationship with their children..When a parent withholds their children it is all about power and has nothing to do with being toxic unless your parents molested, raped, or abused you as a child….If you parent took care of you and looked out for your best interest, then you had parents that loved you. Sounds like to me that you loving having control over your parents and this is what is toxic in itself. You are depriving your child, so much love and memories and to me this is toxic and child abuse . If you were confident with the parenting skills you possess then you would not be worried about your mom influencing your child because you would be the biggest influence if your doing what your suppose to be and you are confident as a parent…Short of your parents being abusive to your children, you have no good excuse except you want the control and power. Your the one that needs your heart and soul softened and quit killing your parents and withholding your children….your the one that has anger, bitterness, and one day your children will want to know their biological grandparents and by then you won’t have the control over them any longer and it just may come back to bite you in the butt….praying you will wake up and smell the roses…

  • This is my story, too. It is wrenching. My son and I had a wonderful, loving, respectful relationship his first 21 years, then he met his now-wife, and things went quickly downhill, almost overnight. I am not allowed to know my two granddaughters. I am not given their address. When I’ve sent gifts to my son’s work address, there is no communication at all. My son will. It communicate with me at all. And I never did any mean thing or said one harsh word to his wife or her mother. They picked out ine request I had to try to protect myself from more emotional pain from an emotionally abusive relationship I endured from my son’s father and twisted that into something I was O Tannenbaumdoing wrong to them, assigned to me motives I’ve never had, insulted my motherhood and tried to damage my son’s and my relationship.
    Instead of my son defending me, because of course he knew my real motives and knew my character, he sided with them. They then engaged in character assasugnation and made me out to be a villain. They believed whatever lies my son’s father told about me to cover up his own actions. Incredibly, my son took in their viewpoints despite having known and observed me for his whole life.

  • I’m so sorry for your very full plate of challenges! I don’t understand our adult childrens’ behaviors, but I do know that if we keep focusing on them we will not recover. After awhile, it’s absolutely necessary to change the focus from them to ourselves: our valuable lives, our worth and our happiness. It’s a daily practice, but well worth it. I encourage you to do the grieving you need to do, then, little by little, change your thoughts to positive, life affirming ones. Practice, practice. It’s like learning the piano, you can only play a concerto after much time, commitment and practice.

  • This is my story. Add to the fact that my husband of 25 years has cancer and the heart ache increases. Her dad and I are being denied for no reason at all. It is her exertion of power. I have been allowed into my little 4 month old grandsons life just long enough to madley fall in love with him and then she yanked away. She is going back to her abuser who tried to kill her and will expose the baby to his violence. I am helpless to do anything and am hurt beyond words.

  • Alex, Sally–all of you,
    Exactly what we R going through. Your posts are spot on.
    Our greatest concern is our 31/2 y/old GD w/whom we R deeply connected & close & who appears confused by our absence yet warms/thaws when we R able to see her. Our 7 month old has not been allowed much time w/us & it is painful but our concern is what affect this will have on older child.
    Never did we expect this nor have we ever been in so much emotional pain.

  • The alienation began on the eve of December 26th, 2014. The pain is intense. And I fear that this will never change. My little grandson is only 3 years old. I have been around to visit whenever i have had the chance from the day he was born. The maternal grandparents, one of whom did not see my grandson for over a year following his birth, are embraced as if they are the only grandparents. My heart is breaking. It aches so profoundly. I’m glad I found your page. As maybe I can find insight and strength. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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