Child Caring

Grandparents, come down off your high horses!

My granddaughter, 18 yrs old, just recently had a daugher. She lives with the father and she will not let me see the child because she said I was disrespectful to her boyfriend. She has always been verbablly abusive to me and my husband and her dad, but now she says I have got to apologize to her boyfriend or she will not let me see the baby. I am really hurt and I don't think I did anything wrong and I don't want to apologize but I do want to have a relationship with the child and be able to see that she is taken care of. What do you think?

From: Chris, Conway, NH

Dear Barbara,
I am at a loss. It is my granddaughter's 9th birthday and I don't won't to take part. I bought a birthday card and had to shift through several to find one that wouldn't make me out to be a liar. I blame her behavior on my daughter. She is rude and disrespectful and has been that way for years, but it is getting worse, then she will pour on the tears when she is reprimanded. Her Dad died about four years ago and I wanted to try and fill the void with support but before it's all said and done, I usually just want to strangle her. I have had several conversations about her behavior with my daughter yet nothing seems to help. I wonder if not dealing with either of them would make an impact on the situation? I have seven other grandchildren and she is the only one that I have this problem with.

From: Granny2, Lexington, MA

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Dear Chris and Granny2,

I'm putting your letters together because I want to say the same thing to both of you: You reap what you sow. Chris, your granddaughter is the gatekeeper. If you want a relationship with your great grandchild (and how special is that!!), you will have to get past her mom and it sounds like an apology is your ticket through the gate. Granny2, sure, you can create an Ice Age but, in the end, who suffers most? Do you really want to be that grandmother?

You may both be justified in your feelings. Chris, maybe the boyfriend was rude and had awful manners. Granny2, maybe your granddaughter is a brat. But bottom line? You aren't in control. You can set standards of behavior for your home (hint: use a sense of humor; it really helps); you can make suggestions to your grown children and grandchildren (hint: make "I" statements -- "I wonder if...." -- rather than "you should" statements, as in "You should be ....." You can set limits and consequences on your relationships so that neither your physical nor mental health suffers. But how hard is a "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings?" apology? And how hard is it to tell a 9-year-old that you love her even if you don't always love her behavior?