Grandparents Denied Access to their Grandchildren

There Once Was a Mother

There Once Was a Mother

There once was a mother who gave birth to a baby with red hair. She sang to him, cradled and rocked him, and thanked God for the miracle of him.

As he grew, their time together was easy and loving. His eyes lit up when he saw her and her love for him was as big as the sun.

He married a woman who didn’t like her. He petitioned to keep her in his family, but he became weak and couldn’t silence his demons or speak his truth. His mother was turned away from their home.

He was torn. He drank too much. He built a fence around his heart which grew into a wall. He was full of rage. At times, he became aware of a painful hole in his gut, but he defied it and swore that he was happy. He built more walls.

So, his mother had to learn how to forgive. She had to learn to let go, accept reality and go on with her life without him. She endured loneliness, illness, betrayal and heartbreak. She cried endless tears and wanted to die before she slowly, surprisingly, grew stronger in compassion and gratitude: compassion for him and gratitude for the loving graces that she had been given.

Recently, she wished him a Happy Birthday in a text. He wrote back ‘Thank you.’ She sighed and while pressing the off button, her eyes filled with tears.

She missed him so.



7 thoughts on “There Once Was a Mother”

  • I have just started reading this blog and find sadness and comfort at the same time knowing that my husband and I are not they only grandparents going through difficult times. My son (an only child) met his now wife when she was 15 and he was 16. She came from a troubled home and we tried to show her unconditional love as we had always shown our son. They moved in together when she graduated from high school . They are now in their mid 30’s and married when our granddaughter was 9 months old and our grandson was almost 3. They are now 6 and 8.
    We saw the drastic changes take place once they were married. She had always been very controlling and moody but she has now eliminated friends, family, people who were like family from his life and 2 years ago convinced him that we (his parents) were the cause of all their problems. Therefore we have now been cast aside. We did not see the grandchildren for 6 months and I then contacted a grandparent advisory. It seemed as if there might be hope but when we ask to see the grandchildren she dictates time (only when they need a sitter such as at Christmas shopping ). The grandchildren were used to us being around- my husband was the primary care giver from age 1-2. The grandchildren loved sleepovers, our Saturday visits, going for drives etc. When we saw them just before Christmas 2015 again a day when they needed a sitter we had a great time but we are concerned about what the grandchildren are being told. The 6 year old said she wished Gramma & Pappy would not have adult problems so they could be with us. This past week I again texted(as our son will not speak to us) to ask if we could have the grandchildren for a sleep over on a day off school a week away. The message was if we wanted to see the grandchildren it would only be on Saturday while they were shopping. I did not reply. I feel they are using the grandchildren as pawns in this sorry mess. The stress on the grandchildren and us for those few hours every 4-6 months is unbearable. So boundries must be set by us as grandparents. I can only hope we are doing the right thing

    • Hello, Marlene, and thank you for writing. Yes, it’s cold comfort to know we’re not alone – but it does help.
      Your story is sad, but unfortunately, not that unsual anymore. Shocking, really, that so many parents and grandparents have been alienated from their kids and grandkids. It’s unbelievable!
      I understand that the stress is terrible, and I agree that there have to be healthy boundaries. I’m wondering, though, if those few hours every 4-6 months might be worth the effort. They may be using the grandchildren as pawns and are abusing you and your husband’s good intentions, but, remember, that your son is troubled and living in an unhealthy dynamic with his wife. If you could find compassion in your heart for him, it might help you see this a bit more objectively. If I could see my grandchildren, I would do whatever it took, so that we could bond and get to know each other. As it stands, I haven’t seen them for seven years and no end in sight. Their mother has told them that when they’re 18 and old enough to make up their own minds if they want to see me, they can. My point is, it sounds like you have some access to your grandchildren, so why not see them whenever you can, and let your son and daughter-in-law know that you’re happy to babysit on Saturday. Why not? The truth is that you have no control here – they are their kids, not yours, and they can do whatever they want, no matter how unconscionable, when it comes to you, the grandparents. We have no rights, sad but true.
      By the way, what was the nature of the grandparent advisory?

      • Thanks for your response Nancy. The grandparent advisory is a government agency in Manitoba. They provide family mediation, etc. They sent a letter to my son advising that I had called and then the advisory spoke with him. This was only done after 6 months of trying to communicate with our son. He confirmed to the advisory that he had done and said some things wrong but would still not talk to us about it. I do not know all of what they told him but I do know that she did advise my son that we as grandparents could go to court and get visitation. He then allowed us to see the grandkids but that was a one time only and since then we have asked to see them. They have always had unreal controlling stipulations for every visit or outright said no. We can deal with the stress of their questions when they visit but we feel as time goes by the grandchildren are finding it even more difficult to understand because the parents are blaming us. The grandchildren want us to fix that. How do we explain to a 6 and 8 year old? We will not speak ill of their parents or even try to explain the circumstances.

  • Happy Birthday! I hope it’s a good one for you. I think you did the right thing to write to Nick in a loving yet neutral way – it sounds like you’re practicing a little tough love by setting healthy boundaries. I know how difficult that must have been. I hope one day he will come around, also. but until he does, if he does, take good care of yourself and enjoy your special day.

  • Today is my birthday, I don’t expect to hear anything from my son Nick. I work doing income tax with my parents for many years now (30+) and did my children’s returns since they were old enough to first file. Nick sent me a message about a week or so ago with information in regards to doing his 2015 tax return, I near fell off my chair! I couldn’t believe that he has shut me out of his life since last June and wouldn’t let me see my baby grandson yet wanted us to complete his tax return. I wanted to blast him and ask him how he had the nerve considering. I sent him a message back telling him that I love and miss him but that he could file online himself or call a number for a free clinic to get it completed. He was mad that we wouldn’t do it for him (he wanted to cheat the government) and has made sure to block both his and the baby’s mother’s facebook accounts completely from me. When it was Nick’s birthday in July I messaged him and he didn’t respond, I also tagged him on a few status posts I did for his birthday and he untagged them. One day he may come around, I hope that it isn’t too late.

  • Thanks, Bonnie – I read “A Son is a Son Until He gets a Wife’ several years ago. That’s a very sad story especially since the mother died before any resolution or healing could take place.
    I think it’s important to remember that we’re not alone in this unfortunate dynamic of alienation.
    It’s good to hear from you and I hope you’re doing well.

  • Hello Nancy.
    Each time I read your comments it makes me think of my own estrangement from my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. It’s just a few months short of two years of two years since we’ve seen them.
    I just finished reading a book you may be interested in, if you haven’t already read it. It puts some things in prospective. A Son Is A Son Until He Gets A Wife. How Toxic Daughters-In-Law Destroy Families.
    Take care,

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