Carolyn: I need help in handling my son and his wife, so I can keep my dignity, and still see my grandchild.
Son and Wife are in their mid-40s, building a successful law firm, and live about 45 minutes away by car. I see them once or twice a month, mainly because I pick up my granddaughter to spend time with her; otherwise there would be much less contact. Son and Wife encourage my contact with their child; it gives them a break, of course.
My problem is that Son and Wife do not find it necessary to return my emails or phone calls or other common courtesies. For example, I have emailed asking if Granddaughter may go to a certain event. If the answer is no, they simply will not respond. I bought Granddaughter a Halloween costume, with her mothers knowledge and approval. When I came to bring it to her on Halloween, she was already wearing another costume.
How do I handle this situation?
GRANDMA ALMOST READY TO GIVE UP
I get it, I do. It is a healthy reflex, when someone mistreats us, to stop offering ourselves up for mistreatment.
But that reflex ill serves us when access to children or grandchildren is involved. You want to protect yourself and punish this couple by denying them your compliant presence, but we both know theyll barely flinch while youll suffer greatly in denying yourself time with the child.
The solution that wont cost you so dearly, if you can do it without reservation, is to untie your dignity from the process of seeing the girl.
Try this: If you routinely hit traffic as you drove to see your granddaughter, then it would be an obstacle, but youd never take it personally.
The way you describe your son and his wife, theyre at the most demanding point in their careers. Not that thats an excuse, but, for our purposes, its just a values-neutral* fact. And so a byproduct of their hard-charging ways is that common courtesies are lying dazed in a ditch wondering what hit them. I highly doubt its just with you.
And so, for the purpose of nurturing your bond with your grandchild, I dont think your dignity will mind if you treat her parents rudeness merely as the traffic you must endure to see her. Aggravating but impersonal, and ultimately irrelevant to your cause. I could argue the parents rudeness is a reason not to give up, to provide the loving presence of someone who isnt in a rush.
Surely you want a relationship with your son, too, and have bruised feelings there, but I urge you to keep those out of the grandchild equation. For what its worth, theres probably a mode of communication Son and Wife prefer and therefore respond to better. Ask them. Text, perhaps? Or directly with Granddaughters caregiver, for cases and costumes and such?
*Of course rudeness is not values-neutral overall; the ignored communications are a face-slap. The parents values are simply not relevant to the grandparent-grandchild bond that is, unless an emotional adult reflexively makes them so.
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