Dealing with difficult child's children, our grandchildren

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by MidwestMom, May 9, 2014.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Technically, legally I have three grandchidlren.

    However Scott left the family six or seven years ago. I've never seen his children nor did I even know when his wife was expecting.

    36 would gladly let me see his son anytime I wanted, but he moved to Missouri. There is no way I can make regular trips that far. I can't afford the transportation and have to work now on top of that.

    I am very excited about Julie's baby-to-be-soon-born.

    But as I reflected on grandchildren, I thought about the many of us who are threatened by our difficult children about not being able to see our grandchildren and how the laws make it virtually impossible for us to have legal visitation when we are cut off. If they want to, they can cut us off forever, like Scott did (fortunately I never knew them to miss them).

    That made me think about who our grandchildren are and how to look at things when our difficult children blackmail us using those precious children or plain just cut us off. I did some radical acceptance to help me get to the crux of the issue.

    1/. Most of us love are grandchildren a lot and want to protect them.

    2/. But (and this is where I kind of startled myself) we have no more right to see our grandchildren legally than to see any child in the world. There is no difference. There are isolated cases where grandparents can POSSIBLY get some visitation, but only if the grandchild has been in their care a certain amount of time and it varies state to state. Usually, we are not allowed to have access to that child BECAUSE THAT CHILD IS NOT OUR CHILD. Yes, we're the parents of HIS/HER mother/father, but we are not the parents. Therefor the laws allow their parents (our children) to withhold them from us completely under most circumstances. Our grandchildren do not belong to us, even though their parents are our children.

    3/I have to accept that these precious little ones in no way are my own. My difficult children have a legal backing to make sure they don't see me whenever they feel like it. I have to accept that they are legally not within my grasp unless their parents want them to be.

    Believe it or not, dissecting this helps me. It is reality. I am very logical rather than just heart-ruled (although the heart comes into it too, trust me), but being logical, facts really help me put even my loved ones into perspective. I do love all my children and would dearly love any grandchildren I were allowed to interact with.

    Because Scott decided to leave our family, except for his rich father, only his father can be in their lives. My ex freels very badly about this, but has been unable to move Scott's actions and he has no rights to do so and he, understandably, has to be "good" so that HE can see his grandkids. I don't blame him, but he does have to jump through hoops. Why? The children legally belong to Scott and his wife.

    Julie will never withhold her precious baby girl from me. It isn't in her to blackmail or punish. Her heart is too pure. By her grace, I will be able to see my little granddaughter whenever I like. But that is because her SO is a decent young man and my daughter is sweeter than pie and hates hurting anyone.

    If I live long enough to see Jumper marry and have kids, I am sure it will be the same because of who Jumper is. She is eighteen (in a few weeks). I am sixty. It all depends upon how old she is w hen she is married and has her kids. But she would never withhold them from anybody.

    I used to think "Wow, grandchildren will be so much fun!" I thought of them as a part of myself.

    Now I think, "If I'm allowed to see my grandchildren, they will be so much fun."

    I am not depressed or sad today, just pensive. Scott is also withholding his children from his siblings. They don't really give a rats, but I have to wonder why. Still, it is out of anyone's hands except for Scott and his wife.

    Our grandchildren legally, in most cases, are as much ours as the child next door. I wonder if it's more grandmother friendly in other countries because it sure isn't here!

    Any thoughts or discussion are welcome. If there is nothing to say, thanks for reading my musings.
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Unfortunately, you're right.

    I would never withhold my children from their grandparents... Unless there was a very good reason.

    1. Biogma. She is in touch with Belle. Pat threw her off our property and does not wish to see her. Not that she's tried. Her loss. (Biogpa passed in 2007.)
    2. mother in law. She's toxic. Belle and Pat dislike her (as do my niece and nephew). It's not just me, or husband (or father in law or sister in law). And every time I think about being nice to her, she does something new to remind me that I will NOT subject my children to her vitriol.
    3. father in law gets pictures and updates. husband may be happier with him not around constantly, but he's not evil. He's just childish. husband and I have agreed that the kids can see him if they wish.
    3. My Mom. She has bent over backwards to welcome Belle and Pat into the family. They're named in my parents' will, even before Rose. Basically they are her grandchildren too and she could not care less about DNA.
    4. My Dad. See my Mom.

    So, basically, it's not a legal thing. It's a love thing. I would never refuse to allow my children to see their grandparents (except mother in law... who doesn't care anyway, thinks Belle and Pat are tainted because she did not like their mother).
  3. HMBgal

    HMBgal Active Member

    I'm a very involved grandparent of all of my grandkids, three of whom live quite close, two of whom I am a large part of the support network for child care, paying for the extras, etc. But, when my daughter divorced their father four years ago, all was the same except for when he married his new wife two years ago (she has three kids, three different fathers, never married, none of whom are allowed to see their children--anyone else see a red flag here).

    She now has complete control and this is fine with my ex son-in-law, with whom I used to be very close. It's heartbreaking. He just sent my daughter an email stating that he wishes she wasn't the mother of his children. Wow. So, here's this guy that I used to help him pay rent for he and my daughter, he loved that we were so close to the the kids, he used to tell me how grateful he was that I was willing and had the time and knowledge to help with his difficult child son, go to school meetings, etc. He was very happy to have us watch the kids, he called me "mom," was always sweet and respectful, and now he's saying that the kids can't spend the night with us anymore during my daughter's custodial time. We live two miles away from him, and the kids are begging to have a sleepover with us. How do I explain that to my sweet grandkids? Lie? Tell the truth? Ask the them talk to their father and step-mother? I walk on eggshells constantly with these two "adults" because of the power they have over me seeing my grandchildren. And now they are awaiting the birth of their child together, the sixth child now in this blended family. They hate my daughter so much that it scares me.

    Sigh. Why do people have to act like this? I was in a county children's shelter at age 10, fostered into an abusive foster home at 11, on my own at 17, married at 18, divorced with three children by age 29, yet managed to raise my children with my ex quite successfully. Our children were never used as a weapon against grandparents or anyone else that wanted to love them, do for them, etc. I totally don't get it at all.

    So, for all of the grandparents struggling to be the kind of grandparents we know children should have and how wonderful it is the have such love as a child, I feel you.
  4. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Well, most of us here know my story. And I think that MWM's statement below is quite valid.

    We talk a lot on PE about letting our adult children be their own person, and how difficult that can be. I think that the difficulty is a two way street. It's as difficult for us to "let them be" as it is for them to not "suck mom in". What's even worse is that with these ones, while we are busily struggling to get on with our lives, they are actively fighting to keep us a part of their problems. What a great tool for them a baby is in that fight. I think that the majority of them are Narcissistic and they can't tell the difference between their relationships with us and their children's relationships with us. Baby is just another thing like a needing a ride because they got a DUI, or need money because they lost their job again. Why would I be a part of that? I wouldn't give them a ride or money.

    It may sound cold and harsh, or maybe it sounds chicken-livered, but never again for this lady. You watch a daughter who was used as a tool against you and has been cruel to you nearing 30 date five wealthy men she met on at a time because she has decided that what she wants in life is "to be married and have a baby" and you know that it is nothing you want anything to do with. I'm sure it's difficult for most people to understand. That really doesn't matter. I understand it. Many of you understand it. We're a select group but at least we're not alone.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Wrong. I do understand.
    If your adult kid is a jerk, getting involved with your grandchild (her/his child) is going to cause you a world of hurt. Why put yourself through that when you are trying to make a good life for yourself? I spent very little time lamenting over if Scott's kids were in my life. I don't really consider them bonafide grands as I don't know them and I don't even know him anymore. Cold? I don't know. It just "is."

    I would like to see more of 36's son, but he moved two states away and I don't have enough money to keep traveling there. And he refuses to drive to Chicago, which is the midway point, because he is phobic about driving and claims grandson hates driving in the car. So be it. I don't think much about him either. Until Julie got pregnant, I didn't really feel like a grandmother. And I still made my life much, much, much etc. better than it had been when I had not learned how to detach. My life is pretty good, in spite of the problems I had and the problems I could whine over with myself if I chose to. On a scale of 1-10, which 10 being the best life ever and 0 being suicide city, my life is in between 7-8, often at 9. Maybe it would not be so satisfying now if I was actually trying to placate a difficult child in order to see a grandchild who I had built up a strong relationship with. I have no idea. I just know that this is the best my life has ever been. Started in my late 40's, that better life, and has continued as I have learned to take care of ME.

    I do think the laws are garbage and that non-abusive grands should at least be allowed once a month visitation, but again it is what it is. I knew a woman (I know I've spoken of her before...I still know her) who allowed her abusive, drug using daughter, who didn't work and stole from her, and her daughter's felon boyfriend who had spent many moons in jail to live in her house where she paid many of their bills just so that her grands were under her roof. I know how much she loved the grands. She was like the REAL mother. But things got out of control with daughter and felon boyfriend and she had to throw them out for her own safety and of course the girls went with them and were withheld. She called CPS on her daughter and hired a lawyer to try to gain some custody. It was very costly. She did not get any custody. She does see them now sometimes. At this point her three difficult child kids have probably nine kids between them, but she is more peaceful now. She lives in her own apartment (divorced her hub who was not the father of the kdis and it was his house). She still sees the grands when her kids bring them. Often the kids want a break from the kids so she sees them enough. However, she has cut off the money tree and she has no control over when her kids will consent to contact with her.

    I ran into her recently and we had coffee. She said she is happier not feeling controlled by so many kids and has never felt so free. I understand. Maybe others can't. How long can you be a slave to anybody, even for your grandchildren????
  6. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    My grands live across town and we rarely see them. Son #2 and K spend their time with K's family, to the point where the girls really don't know us.

    When Miss KT has children (not anytime soon yet please Lord), they'll be 14 hours away so I really won't know them either.

    Son #1 is a confirmed bachelor so we don't expect kids from him.
  7. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    How can we make something good of all of this? I think we can find other children we can love if we have love to give.

    Maybe some other kind adult will come along and be that loving person for our grandchildren.

    I have thought many times, oh, thank you God that difficult child doesn't have children (at least any that I know about). I can only imagine, and I have read here, from you, the additional layers that puts on all of this pain and agony.

    But like MWM said, these are not our children. Even our own children are just on loan to us.

    We are all connected in this world, I believe, but we are not tied to each other nor should we be.

    I have no intention of raising a baby at this point, and I am profoundly grateful I have not been presented yet with that agonizing decision. I would have to say No. But I know it would be one of the hardest not otherwise specified to date.

    There are so many programs that help people who want to be helped. One day soon I am going to get involved in a personal way---not just giving money, but connecting with the people there---and do something for somebody who wants help.

    When I am ready.

    Blessings to all of you and thanks for this thread.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    COM, sure. We can do that. We can foster. We can mentor at school. Or, and I'm leaning toward this, we can FINALLY just live our own lives and not feel tied to anybody needy. My two years of retirement, before I was hired by Goodwill, were two of my best years ever. I did everything I loved. I planned my week. I made my friends. I felt very needed because the volunteer work I did was so necessary so that even though I did not get paid in money, I felt useful. I also got a lot of perks, like first pick at the clothes, the kitchen items, etc. It was a blast. I had time for Bible Study and, although I follow no one religion, I feel warm and right in a room full of spiritual folks and am glad to learn more about their religious beliefs. I had to give most of that up now for my job. If I hadn't needed a money, small as it is, I would not have gone back to a regular job and may lose the job yet because there is no way in hello any job is going to keep me from going to Chicago for two weeks (and I'm not sure which two weeks) after Julie's precious baby girl is born. If they fire me, they fire me. I'll be broke, but we'll figure it out. We always do. There is a good side to everything and being quite poor has some amazingly great perks, as long as you are not a materialistic person. I have gone from a glass half empty to seeing the good in almost everything. There is something very good in my opinion about downscaling my life and becoming a minimalist, which I have already started. So I am not that concerned about Goodwill, although I do like the job.

    I have also found a passion with dogs. I know not everyone is as into animals as I am, but my doggies are my kids and my friends and my therapists all rolled together and hubby and I do lots of dog things, such as one of our dog parks which is very clean and well cared for and has a park for only small dogs. We meet other dog people there too!

    Kids? I don't know if any except K., my new granddaughter, will be much on the table. As for adopting a grown kid, so to speak, I'm up for that too if it happens, but I don't want to get close to another difficult child. Been there/done that/have the tee shirt/still have the tee-shirt/really would like to tear it to shreds!!!!

    COM, I really thought your post was very thoughtful and helpful.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    The issue of grandparent's rights is NOT as legally undefined or zero as you think. Grandparents' rights are VERY different from state to state. In my state the grands have ZERO rights UNLESS/UNTIL the parents are no longer married to each other. If the parents are married to each other, the grands have no ability to get visitation, etc... through the courts. If the parents were not married or they divorce, grandparents can get visitation through the courts. It is no longer up to the parents at that point and judges are very willing to give visitation rights so that the children have more stability and more adults to make sure they are taken care of and not abused.

    Other states have different laws and it is not at all the same from one state to the next. Of course some states may have no laws about it, but it is something that may change at any time based upon what the grandparents in that state are willing to do to change the laws.

    Too often grandkids are used to control grandparents. difficult children know how powerful a tool they have with that child, and it is up to each family to figure out how to handle that. I think Witz made the only possible sane choice in her situation. I wish it was different, but it IS up to each grandparent to decide how long and to what degree they will be controlled.

    I do encourage each of you with kids and/or with grands to know your rights in your state and in the state your grandkids reside in (I don't know which rules would apply if the kids live in another state.)
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Susie, thank you. A helpful post. That's good to know. I think it may be easier to get court ordered visitation ALONE(without difficult child around) than to have to depend on the "goodness of their hearts" to let us. I know that in Wisconsin, Illinois and Missourit grands have no rights unless the grandparent had the child in the house with them for at least six months...then you have a chance (that's Missouri, by the way, don't know about WI and IL).

    In general it seems that difficult children do use their kids, and they tend to have MANY kids even though they are unable to take care of them, to punish us, even if we haven't done anything wrong. You use them like bargaining chips. "Give me money or you won't see Sally" for example.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I flat let my boys know when the grands were in the womb that I would not be blackmailed. No one has ever tried. I think I am a good grandmother. Actually we are good grandparents and everyone knows it would hurt the children horribly to keep them away from us. It probably does help that we have been in their lives since birth. Monkey stayed overnight at our house when she was 11 days old. She lived more than half of her first year at my house. That child would be devastated if she could no longer see us. Same with Nookie. Of course, Jamie's kids dont see us as often because they live much farther away but we are looking forward to being able to have them for a week or two each summer now that they are a bit older. In fact the plan for this summer is that they will come down for a week and then Monkey will travel back up to their house for a week. Im absolutely thrilled they are getting old enough to do this.

    I am lucky that for the most part I am considered just one more parental unit in these kids lives. My kids feel that they can only benefit from having as many people love them in this world as possible.