Am I A Bad Grandmother?


#1

This is a long story, but I will shorten it as best I can.

My husband and I live in TX and my son, from a previous marriage, lives in PA. He is 31 years old, married and has 2 young children. We, my husband and I, usually spend 3-6 months each summer in PA visiting other relatives. However, ever since my son has been married and had children he has become a different person. For the first 3 1/2 years of their marriage his wife refused to leave her mother’s house. She was a spoiled child and they gave her everything. They had a baby right away and that first summer that we were there we were only allowed to see him at her mother’s house. My son was not allowed to take him anywhere without her. They had some serious problems, which are too numerous to get into, but everytime he would leave her, she would tell him he was not allowed to see his son. So he always went back. This went on for a couple years…him leaving and going back…and then they had another baby. He told us that she hated us and any gifts we sent (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) she threw them away. I got to the point I didn’t know what to do. Should I send a gift or not? Then my son quit calling me. I’d hear stories about her physically abusing him and I worried about his safety, but I had no way to get in touch with him. I’d call her mother’s and she would tell me he wasn’t home. I don’t think she ever told him I’d called. About a year ago, they finally got an apartment and he called to ask for money for a washer and dryer. I told him I didn’t have it to give him so he called my mother in MI and she sent it to them…which I learned later that his wife used it for something else. Anyway, he hasn’t spoken to me since. He only gave me a P.O. Box for his address so I had been sending the kids cards there. We were in PA last summer and was not allowed to see the kids at all. We did not go to PA this summer but I think the same thing would have happened. Then last week I got email from his wife telling me what a terrible grandmother and mother I was. Needless to say, I lost it and told her what I thought of her. Now she says my son thinks I’m a “nutcase” and doesn’t want anything to do with me and I’ll never see my grandchildren again. I’ve been so upset about this. Is there anything anyone can suggest that I should do?? I know I should give it to God and let Him take care of it, but what hurts is…am I a bad grandmother and mother???


#2

It sounds to me like this woman is afraid she will loose her husband to you. Sounds like she is unable to share his love with anyone. Perhaps your son isn’t speaking to you because he is afraid his wife will take the children away from him. As I’m sure he loves you, his children are his legacy. Sounds like she has him “between a rock and a hard place” I wish I had some advice. I would keep sending cards. I’m sure your son likes to know you care.


#3

I don’t see what the problem was to begin with, if they lived at his MIL’s house and that is where your grandchildren lived, why didnt you just go there?
I would go where ever my grandchildren lived to see them. Was it that you were not welcome there or what? Did you disapprove of his Marriage to her and she knew that and used it against you?
I would definately pray about it, (and I will pray for you and them).
Somehow part of the story is missing.
I would send cards to my son and grandchildren (and it wouldnt hurt to include one for her birthday, even if she throws it away, they will still know you sent it.)
Forgiveness has to start with someone, why not you?


#4

Without hearing the son and DIL’s story it’s hard to give feedback here and I have to admit to being a bit biased as I believe my MIL would post something similar when we consider she has done some shocking things that have led to the situation we experience with my inlaws. However, if there is physical abuse going on of your son, I hope it’s not happening to your grandchild.

It sounds to me like this is a classic case of breakdown of communication. I would suggest that your son/DIL feel that you have wronged them somehow but have not communicated this. This, of course, leaves the situation unresolved and makes the ill-feelings grow. If these things were nipped in the bud when the happened it would all be so much better. However, you’ve got beyond that now and maybe you need to ask them what they feel you have done to them to make them so distant. I think you’ll find there is something that’s festered and grown that you don’t know about.

I may be totally wrong but if I’m right, addressing this sort of issue is the way forward.

As for sending gifts, it depends on the motivation.


#5

Allhers…we did go to see them at MIL’s, but then they moved out and would not give us a phone number or address. Unfortunately, I no longer have an address to send cards to because P.O. Box has been closed.

Mumto5…My husband and I have done everything possible to get along with our DIL. She had been jealous of my close relationship with my son and use to say things to my son in front of other people like, “Ya, I know, Jim, it’s not like your mother use to make.” (referring to cooking). To be honest, she has been trying to drive a wedge between him and I from day one.

Unfortunately, she is very spoiled from her parents and very materialistic. She blows his paychecks and then gets him to ask us or my mother or her parents for money. Before I retired and was working I use to send him 1/2 my monthly pay to help them out. When I stopped doing that he stopped calling unless it was for money.

My husband says he’s made his bed…now let him lie in it. Maybe he’s right.


#6

[quote=questioningone]Allhers…we did go to see them at MIL’s, but then they moved out and would not give us a phone number or address. Unfortunately, I no longer have an address to send cards to because P.O. Box has been closed.

Mumto5…My husband and I have done everything possible to get along with our DIL. She had been jealous of my close relationship with my son and use to say things to my son in front of other people like, “Ya, I know, Jim, it’s not like your mother use to make.” (referring to cooking). To be honest, she has been trying to drive a wedge between him and I from day one.

Unfortunately, she is very spoiled from her parents and very materialistic. She blows his paychecks and then gets him to ask us or my mother or her parents for money. Before I retired and was working I use to send him 1/2 my monthly pay to help them out. When I stopped doing that he stopped calling unless it was for money.

My husband says he’s made his bed…now let him lie in it. Maybe he’s right.
[/quote]

Excuse me while I play devil’s advocate, but perhaps your close relationship was a bit over-bearing once he had a partner? Some people’s definitions of close can seem smothering to someone from a less closeknit family. I know that my MIL would say she’d done everything she could for us but what she did was actually under-mining.

I do agree with your husband though - don’t give him any money. Why on earth would you send your grown son half your paycheck? That’s hardly appropriate and I wonder if maybe you have babied your son a bit. The odd bit of helping is one thing but keeping your son ‘needy’ is creating obligation. I can kind of understand where your son and DIL might be coming from in seeing this as a problem. You might see it as helpful but they may see it as a lack of faith in their ability to do it themselves, something that gives you control in their lives or it may just hurt your son’s e\self-esteem by implying he’s not able to provide for his family by himself adequately. Being beholden to Mom is not a good way forward for a relationship. You may not see or intend it that way, but maybe they do.

The comments your DIL was making were not appropriate but did she do this from the beginning or is it something that came up over a period of time? Us DILs can only take so many remarks that hint at our inadequacy. It took five years of my MIL making comments about how skinny my husband was getting for me to snap and make a smart remark back.

Your comment that your DIL has been trying to drive a wedge between you and your son really says something. Maybe you did need to step back more. It is natural for you to become the second and less important woman in your son’s life once he is married. It could be she really is jealous but for this to happen without reason would be uncommon. Most women would love to have a close relationship with the MILs.

I do cringe at your comments about your DIL being spoiled and materialistic. I guess that’s because according to my own MIL, I’m the nasty wench who makes my poor man work so hard and loose so much weight and doesn’t know when to stop having babies and won’t get a job because I’m sitting at home eating bon bons all day… you get the picture.

It could be everything is as you say it is but it would be unusual for this to happen for no reason. Please don’t take this as accusatory - I don’t know you or your son/DIL at all so it’s not personal. Just trying to offer a view from the ‘other side’.


#7

[quote=questioningone]This is a long story, but I will shorten it as best I can.

My husband and I live in TX and my son, from a previous marriage, lives in PA. He is 31 years old, married and has 2 young children. We, my husband and I, usually spend 3-6 months each summer in PA visiting other relatives. However, ever since my son has been married and had children he has become a different person. For the first 3 1/2 years of their marriage his wife refused to leave her mother’s house. She was a spoiled child and they gave her everything. They had a baby right away and that first summer that we were there we were only allowed to see him at her mother’s house. My son was not allowed to take him anywhere without her. They had some serious problems, which are too numerous to get into, but everytime he would leave her, she would tell him he was not allowed to see his son. So he always went back. This went on for a couple years…him leaving and going back…and then they had another baby. He told us that she hated us and any gifts we sent (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) she threw them away. I got to the point I didn’t know what to do. Should I send a gift or not? Then my son quit calling me. I’d hear stories about her physically abusing him and I worried about his safety, but I had no way to get in touch with him. I’d call her mother’s and she would tell me he wasn’t home. I don’t think she ever told him I’d called. About a year ago, they finally got an apartment and he called to ask for money for a washer and dryer. I told him I didn’t have it to give him so he called my mother in MI and she sent it to them…which I learned later that his wife used it for something else. Anyway, he hasn’t spoken to me since. He only gave me a P.O. Box for his address so I had been sending the kids cards there. We were in PA last summer and was not allowed to see the kids at all. We did not go to PA this summer but I think the same thing would have happened. Then last week I got email from his wife telling me what a terrible grandmother and mother I was. Needless to say, I lost it and told her what I thought of her. Now she says my son thinks I’m a “nutcase” and doesn’t want anything to do with me and I’ll never see my grandchildren again. I’ve been so upset about this. Is there anything anyone can suggest that I should do?? I know I should give it to God and let Him take care of it, but what hurts is…am I a bad grandmother and mother???
[/quote]

What a heartbreaking situation, especially with regards to your grandchildren.

I would like to expand a little on mumto5’s comments.

Some of the things that you’re saying about your DIL are exactly what my mother says about her DILs and SILs. Over the years she has become estranged from all 4 of her children (from not speaking at all with my brother to limited contact with her other 3 kids). She has done hurtful things so much over the years that none of the DILs or SILs like her at all. When confronted with the fact that she may have some hand in her poor relationships, she becomes very defensive, and simply will not try to see the “other side” of the story.

With that said, I’m sure it’s possible that your DIL is mainly to blame for your tragic family situation. However, it does seem like there is “something missing” in the story. It might help to prayfully discern what you may have said or done to contribute to the bad relationship with your DIL. After all, the relationship with your grandchildren is at stake here.

I will say a prayer for you and your family. It must be very stressful for you and your husband.


#8

I understand your position, being in the cross-fire between my daughter’s in-laws one to many times. The difference is I held back, I did not “Lose it” at my son-in-law or his family, even when they called my daughter filithy names about her race(Hispanic) or Religion (Catholic). Please note: My son in law never called her a dirty name, but did not stand up to Mommy. Anyway, when you do that, you’ve gone to far. I’d write then each a letter, say anything nasty I wanted to say, (even a curse word or two) get it out of my system, re-read it once then either burn or shred it. You don’t keep all that anger bottle up, try it it works! By doing this you don’t make your child choose between you and their spouse. BTW-relationship now years later is very good, in fact its his family who is on the “outs” because they would not keep their mouths shut.


#9

OH NO…here comes Leslie with her Jesus Box suggestion again.

The toughest thing about these situations is our helplessness and the feelings we get that there must be something we can do. This is especially difficult when there are children involved. My experience has been that it is times like these when we have got to be willing to turn everything over to Jesus Christ. But how to do that?

I have an exercise that I do that has helped me … here it is:
Get an old shoe box. Cut a hole in the lid. Decorate the box if you want.

Get a piece of paper - or several - and then start writing. Do not worry about spelling, syntax, grammar, anything. Just write. Write down exactly what has happenned over the years and what is going on now and exactly what you feel about it. Something like:

I don’t get it…I was a good mother. We were so close. He marries this nutcase and now it all goes up in smoke. she is crazy. my poor grandkids, why is she doing this to me, why is my son acting like this when she was hitting him and treating him so badly? spoiled little creep I hope she walks in front of a bus…

You get the idea. When you are all done, put the paper(s) in front of you and get on your knees. Say something like:
Jesus, here it is in all its ugliness. This is the situation and how I am feeling about it. I cannot do anything, Lord, I cannot change my feelings or the situation. And it is causing me such pain. I want it to change and it won’t and I cannot do anything about it. So I give it to YOU, Dear Savior, and ask you to take it from me. Only You can handle it. I give it to YOU, Lord. Here it is.

Then put the paper in the box and walk away.

If you have to do it several times a DAY, do it. It is a physical act of surrendering yourself to Jesus.

St. Faustina was told by Jesus that what we forget to do is go to Him with EVERYTHING, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Try it…it really helps me. And good luck, my sister in Christ. You are in my prayers.


#10

Leslie:

I love your Jesus box and I’m sure He loves you for it.


#11

thank you - it is an old remedy for me. It is so easy to say to people, “Turn it over to God” but I am the type of person who needs to take an action so that I really feel like I am doing just that - so spilling my guts onto a piece of paper and then doing the prayer and putting it into the box makes it feel like I am really giving it to Jesus.

And if I have to do it over and over and over again, then fine. I do that, and I do not apologize for being a slow learner:dancing:


#12

A way you can show that you tried to keep in touch is by purchasing savings bonds for each birthday, Christmas and at other times (they can be small) and put them away for them.
For my brothers children we tried at first to put their presents aside to give later (later never came.) But, the bonds even show when they were purchased and you then don’t have to explain the situation. As the children get older and go on to higher education you can give them a nice nest egg. You can keep the money till you feel it will be used for a good cause.


#13

Thank you all for your comments and especially to LSK!! What a wonderful idea! I will do it immediately! I KNOW the answer is giving it to Jesus…the hard part is not to keep taking it back.

Mumto5…there IS a lot missing in this story, but not what you might think. This has been going on for 5+ years and has only taken this course in the last week. I was widowed when my son was a baby so he never knew his father. I raised him by myself until he was 8 when I remarried. Being a single mother for so many years, he was not “smothered” or “babied”…he was a latch-key kid before the term was even thought of. He was dependable, responsible, respectful and loving. He had many friends his whole life and was an “A” student. He was active in sports and had a loving “second” family that took in like he was blood. My husband and I moved to CA (for job reasons) from PA when Jim was 22 years old. He had a good job and was very independent. He did not want to go to CA with us because of his ties in PA. We felt at 22 he would be fine and if he ever changed his mind he could come live with us. He rented a house with a friend so we thought he would be fine. He got over-extended on a credit card and asked me to help him, so that’s when I sent money…I did NOT send money after he was married. That’s why, now, he says I care more about my money than I do him or the kids because I won’t send them money. A year or so later he met DIL. We met her that Nov. when we flew back to PA for Thanksgiving. She was disrespectful to him the very night we took them to dinner! She was arrogant and a “know-it-all” about everything. We didn’t say anything to Jim, but we were concerned as we returned to CA. I won’t go into all the details, but what I’m saying is…there was a “red flag” the minute we met her. Well, they got married the following March…she wouldn’t even look at him when they said vows. I have never been anything but nice to her and her parents. Later, we were told she threw away all our gifts…but kept the money we gave them. Her mother was a domineering woman with mental problems (she had much counseling and on many drugs). My DIL, I found out later, had had several anger management classes from past incidents. We also found out that she married my son because she had been dumped by someone else and she was getting even with him. Since their marriage, she has lied to my son; she has cheated on him and had an abortion from that affair; she has been fired from many jobs because she can’t get along with other people…I could go on, but I won’t. I’m trying to give you an idea that what you said is not true…we have stayed out of it completely. We have always lived thousands of miles away…which has been a good thing in a way. My grandchildren do not know me and probably never will. My son is old enough to make his own decisions, but I just miss the opportunity to be a grandmother. Maybe this will fill in some of the gaps.

Kathleen…I thought about doing the saving bonds thing, but I think you need to have the kids SS#'s. My son would never give them to me.


#14

Your DIL sounds like a very troubled person. I am sorry for her, for your son, for you, for everyone involved. Just don’t stop trying to be a loving presence to them.


#15

Gosh, your DIL does sound like a right character, in a less than flattering way. If she’s been cheating and abusing him, hopefully your son will see the light one day. If this has just happened in the last week, there is hope it can be resolved. I really hope for you that it can. I wish you were my MIL. You sound very caring.


#16

About the savings bonds, I think you can use you son’s. Years ago before babies had to get SSN# right away, my Aunt did this and it was legal when cashed in (for example Child Doe c/o John Doe 111-11-1111) This is how my daughter’s were (born in 1978), My prayers are with you I read the second post and this woman sounds very toxic, hopefully everything will work out for all of you. No Grandma should have to go through this. God Bless You:)


#17

About the social security number, you can use yours with the childs name. Ask the bank how you can do this. Oh and they don’t give them to you the day you buy them any longer. They will send the bond to you by US mail.


#18

Thanks for the tips regarding the savings bonds. I didn’t realize you could do that. Will check into it because I’m sure my grandchildren will have nothing from their parents and this will be a good way to keep money from being squandered by son & DIL.

I appreciate all of you for your support and prayers. This has been a heartbreaking situation for us from day one. My husband handles it differently being a man, but I have been torn up inside for years. I was up all last night just sick from this whole thing and have prayed a lot throughout the night and today. I feel more at peace with the situation than I have in a long time. I’m sure your prayers have helped. I will definitely do the shoe box also!

Thanks again! Love and peace to you all…


#19

My goodness, what a situation you are in. One thing I would suggest is to NOT send money. He’s a big boy and you are just enabling him. Next time he calss, a simple “I can’t” is enough. If he gets mad, then so be it. It is hard as a parent to not want to “fix” things for our kids. But we don’t teach them about life if we constantly “make it better”.

The savings bonds for the kids is a wonderful thing. I would keep doing that.

                        ~ Kathy ~

#20

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