As times change so do parenting styles. There are many confusing issues with regards to boundaries and how grandchildren are raised. While it is not the place of a grandparent to tell their adult children how to raise their grandchildren it certainly is the law that if the children are in harm’s way to report suspected child abuse and/or neglect of a child any child.
Often there are misunderstandings and harsh words spoken when adult children do not feel heard or understood when communicating their parenting concerns to the grandparents. However even these times can be a learning lessons when grandchildren watch the adults in their live resolve conflicts and disagreements. It is important to remember above who is right or who is wrong that the children are watching and learning and even forming their own opinions about what is happening between the adults.
According to many experts there is a new phenomenon occurring between generations that grandparents are being cut off from their grandchildren. At times when a child’s physical and emotional safety is being threatened by a grandparent who suffers from a mental disease or an addiction that is not being managed or treated then the safety of the child is the most important. However these cutoffs do not come without serious consequences for the relationship between the child and the parent. A child has so little control in their life they may agree it is for the best all the while keeping their resentment and anger just below their emotional surface only to let it rise when they are no longer physically and/or financially dependent upon their parents. Often grandchildren will seek out grandparents on their own much when they have the resources to do so.
Parents who cut their children off from their parents for less reasons than child safety pay a big price in eroding the opportunity to build respect between them and their child that will erode for years to come.
This new generation of parents do not realize that emotional terrorism of the previous generation comes at a price in that children learn what they see modeled not what they are told. A child who’s heart is full of love for their grandparent will let it simmer until they can take control back into their own hands. Grandparents are advised not to waste time fighting for their “rights” to see their grandchildren as further adding fuel to the fire only causes more grief and most often to the child. While is it not the parent’s “right” to dictate the relationships between grandparents and grandchildren, over bearing behavior can be addressed in empowering ways. Respect is a two way street or in these cases it is a triple street.
The first thing to remember is that your adult children are adults and to discontinue the natural efforts to soften the consequences of their behavior. When a parent cuts a grandchild off from grandparents who offer unconditional love and additional emotional support a child feels this loss too. Mend your broken heart by taking stock of what you can control. You can continue to show up to their public school for their plays and awards and other school activities. As long as there is no legal restraining order public schools are public domain. Public school s often have the schedule or calendar of events on line now. You can deliver their Christmas packages to their home. What are they going to do? Call the police and say that you are delivering Christmas packages or Birthday packages to their home. Remain calm at all times. Do not engage in any conflict or allow yourself to be provoked. If you are unable to find your grandchildren.
Continue to buy the cards and gifts that you normally would for your grandchildren, send them or store them at your house so that when they come looking ( and they will ) that they can see from the evidence that you loved them and wanted to be in their lives. That it was not your choice to be cut off from them. Keep a journal address just to them about what you were thinking about them or what you hoped for them and how much you missed them at each milestone, each holiday, birthday, school events that you did not get to attend. Record how much you loved them and thought about them. Include pictures that you had before the cutoff. If you send the presents and cards and suspect that they did not receive them keep pictures and enter them into the journal.
Lastly, after you do what you can do to make sure they know how much you loved them and missed them put it all into the closet and give yourself permission to enjoy your life. Remember to be kind to yourself as ambivalent grief is the harshest of all heartbreaks because the resolution is beyond your control and your heart needs to rest. Get new hobbies, take time for yourself and above all let go of the need to justify or protect your adult child from their own choices. You do not need to validate what they have done to your grandchildren by denying them of your love. When the grandchildren come an ask for the truth give it to them kindly and without hostility. Let them determine what their relationship with their parent will become. It was disrespectful behavior on their part for both you and your grandchildren. Emotional terrorism is painful however taking care of oneself emotionally, physically and spiritually is the best recovery.