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Kids Saddened Over Estrangement From Grandparents?

Joan Jerkovich - October 10, 2014 12:40 pm

When I married my wife she had two kids by two different fathers. She’d been a professional woman who made her own way but never married. She is feisty and will get in your face if you criticize her, and my mother has made it known she doesn’t like her. I’m proud that my wife has held her tongue with my mother. But, my mothers obvious dislike for my wife had me defending my wife to where we now haven’t seen each other for several years.

My wife and I now have two of our own children together. I’ve adopted her oldest two. We’ve made a nice life for ourselves that doesn’t include my parents, and doesn’t include my wife’s parents also. Theirs is a similar story.

I felt all was good until our two oldest kids started talking to us about how they miss their grandparents. They are in middle school and talked about how all their friends spend Christmas and holidays with their grandparents, but they never see theirs. They seemed sad about this and it has my wife and I rethinking our decision to cut ties with their grandparents, especially her parents, as they are the grandparents who helped my wife raise these two children when she was a single parent.

We thought we were protecting our children from the fighting and negativity but are now rethinking that decision.

You are wise to be rethinking your no-contact position. When you say that you and your wife have created a “nice life” for your children, I’m assuming you mean one that includes all the “nice” that money can buy such as nice cell phones and nice clothes. But, creating a nice life for children has to include attending to their emotional needs as well.

Your children are getting to the age where they are beginning to think and speak for themselves. They have clearly told you that they miss having their grandparents in their lives. As they age in to their young teens, then adult years, don’t be surprised if they seek out their own relationships with their grandparents, aside from what you and your wife choose.

The rift you have with both sets of grandparents is a choice that you and your wife have made for yourselves, and your minor children. As your children age, allow them to make their own choices. If they choose to rekindle a relationship with their grandparents, support them in that.

Yes, if you have concerns about fighting and negativity, lay some ground rules. One ground rule to consider could be that your parents are not allowed to criticize you to the kids. The circumstances that led to your falling out are for grown up discussions that the kids should not be involved in.

If the grandparents can’t hold to those rules, you can make adjustments accordingly.
But, it doesn’t necessarily have to include another severing of ties where you forbid your children to see their grandparents.

However, if your parents do bring negativity in to the relationship, it could be an opportunity for you to teach your children how to rise above negativity and dysfunction. All families have dysfunctional individuals who create drama and discord. I doubt one family escapes that fate. To stay connected and in relationship, accepting the good with the bad, holding out the olive branch and showing forgiveness, is what strengthens families in the long run.

Your children have much to lose by not seeing their grandparents. They have much to gain, and possibly, much to learn about life and relationships by getting back in touch with them. To help them take that step, even if it means setting your personal feelings aside, only enhances the “nice life” you are creating for them.

Joan Jerkovich, BCC Board Certified Life Coach

Joan Jerkovich, BCC
Board Certified Life Coach

 
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