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I resigned as step-Grandmother and caused estrangement
November 1, 2011
2:13 pm
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Butterfly68
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I'm in somewhat of a similar situation – only – I'm on your husband's end and my husband took the stance of "I'm done with you" with my daughter when she first left for college. That was 4 years ago. It's not an easy position to be in and it's definitely extremely painful. Regardless of what your decision is and why (and my husbands), it still creates a feeling of having to choose and being caught in the middle of definitely that no win situation.

I have to admit that I have been battling on the side of why couldn't my husband just keep the peace knowing how much it would hurt me for him to do this? And things like – if he loved me he'd never do something like this which hurt me and continue to hurt me so badly.

Being a step-parent is definitely not always a picnic. I've had both very good and very painful experiences. Both my husband and I have been hurt by our respective step-children, but even though I have had my share of being badly hurt – I still wouldn't do something that could potentially hurt him so badly and his relationship with his children.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not trying to condemn you or judge you for the decision you made in any way. If anything – you are providing me some insight into how my husband may feel – although the situations are different – the feelings are quite similar. And I'm simply sharing what my own feelings are and the pain that I feel.

I recognize some of the teenage disrepsect and lies that created these feelings in my husband – but there's a lot that I dont understand since she was just that – a teenager. Sometimes I think they are born to test us in ways we could never imagine. Granted – that's not always the case. His feeling is she has gone the opposite direction of what he thought she should be. That it didn't matter what he tried to teach her that she threw it back in his face. I feel that he's taking things too personally knowing that unfortunately, I did some of the very things she has done when I was her age – heck – some worse! We're not talking about drugs or alcohol or theft – we're talking boys and lies and a disappointing view of morals. I didn't condone the things my daughter did but I also wasn't going to hang her out to dry after I myself had been granted a fair amount of grace after my own immature (yet thought to be overly mature) actions at that age. She's made some meager attempts at reconciliation with my husband only to be shot down very painfully. There were times when he was open to see what she would do and unfortunately her lack of action spoke much louder than her words.

So anyway – here I am 4 years later – another holiday season upon me and dreading it. Still haven't quite figured out how to handle it all.

At least it seems like you and your husband have been able to deal with this in a respectful manner toward each other. Hard to say if there's been any bashing along the way or not - my husband seems to relish in it which only hurts me more.
Maybe you can share how your husband has dealt with this on his end? And maybe you can help me understand my husbands feelings more. What about holidays - does your husband have to go to them vs. having family in the house the two of you live in? Do you spend holidays and other occassions in separate places yet somehow come together in the end? Is your step-son the only child you share or are there others? There are three total for us - all 22 and older now - his two boys and my daughter. Is there another way I need to look at this?

Thank you for sharing and listening.

March 30, 2011
7:27 am
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disappointed mom
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Hi again, well good for you tomatillos. Let hubby have his relationship with son and you can stay off the hook and have some peace. Your husband sounds like a good man, and you sound like a good woman. Enjoy each other, it sounds like you can really count on him. And hearing you felt relief, well, the gut always tells us our true feelings, right? Stay well.

March 30, 2011
5:35 am
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Connie
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So sorry for your situation. It's a no-win situation & doubtful anything you say or do can change it for the better. When the grandchildren are grown, perhaps they'll want to connect. God bless.

March 29, 2011
7:24 pm
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FriedGreenTomatillos
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Thank you for replying and for your kind words of support. Step-son has, after 4 days of silence following my resignation, phoned husband and asked if they could have dinner together tomorrow night. I am encouraging husband to not make this about me, but to use the opportunity to discuss how he will stay a part of his son's life amd continue to see the grands. Husband is supportive of me and wants to cut them off. I would prefer he continue to see them, amd I would like to see the grands, but not with DIL and step-son. I really do want a break from the smothering feeling of obligation, and I know husband will be devastated if he loses the relationship with son. I don't want to pit anyone against anyone else, amd I know DIL cannot change, so my happiest place is away, with a happy hubby. Previously, he would make me go by saying that if I didn't go, he wouldn't, so I would give in. He says that he sees I am serious now, and I am. Words cannot express my relief at feeling unchained. I feel like I am free at last!!

March 29, 2011
7:20 am
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disappointed mom
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Hi fried green,
I think you did the right thing by taking yourself off the hook. sometimes I think these kids just take pleasure in having someone to control and make feel badly. By taking yourself out of the situation, you brought things out into the fore.. In essence, you called them on their abusive treatment of you. Now, who will they pick on? I don't know what to tell you about your husband. He's in a tough spot. Are they excluding him currently because of you? Or is he still allowed in the "golden circle" and staying away over loyalty to you. Incidentally, if he is being loyal to you, cudo's to him. There are many of us out here with the exact same types of situations. We're just treated so disrespectfully and as cast offs.
I believe when we pull away, as you have, we have taken their power away from them to control the entire situation. It seems like adult bullying to me, and it is what it seems like. Maybe your husband should talk directly to his son about the situation. Sounds like son is being controlled by dil. This happens frequently. At any rate, best of luck to you, for what it's worth, I believe you did the right thing for you. Now your husband will have to navigate his part in it. You can't do it all for everyone. Good luck, and hugs to you.

March 29, 2011
6:04 am
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FriedGreenTomatillos
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In 2009, while my husband's son was deployed to Afganistan, we tried to help DIL with the small, undisciplined grandchildren. Our intentions were well-meaning, but she blew up, yelling at me, telling my husband that he was never there for his boys (not true). They fought, he stormed out. I immediately apologized to her, told her that she was right, we had no right to correct her children. She told me never to correct her children again.

For the last 18 months, we've been treated with passive-aggressive behavior--not being invited to Christmas--not being able to see the grandchildren either side of Christmas, but expected to have their presents there awaiting them. Being treated coldly at family events. No phone calls. Basically, the old cold-shoulder. At this past Christmas, husband's son, now home, yelled at me for the first time in the 25 years I have known him. Basically, the relationship we've built since he was a small child, age 6, is destroyed.

This past weekend, we were expected to attend the grandkid's t-ball tournament. We arrived, husband's son did not speak to me or look at me, nor did his Mom speak, or DIL or her Mom. I spoke to each of them, who acknowledged me by looking, but did not welcome me. So, after 5 minutes of this treatment, I excused myself to the car.

Later that afternoon, I wrote to DIL that although I appreciated being called Grandmother, I could no longer serve in that role, as there are two real Grandmothers and my being called Grandmother takes away from their important role. I also said that I would be taking a sabbatical from family activities for a while, and that I still love them all, but feel that my presence at events, since the fallout 18 months before with the children, has been unwelcomed and I feel it is time for me to step aside.

I have heard nothing from them since. My poor husband is devastated, but agrees with me on the facts, that his son and DIL have been unwelcoming to me to the point of rudeness, and he understands why I have finally bowed out. He says he has heard me over the last years saying this, but he didn't want to see it because he didn't want it to be true.

While he is devastated at the prospect of never seeing his son or grandchildren again, I am saddened but confident that my decision to back out was correct. I will miss seeing them all, but I will not miss the slights, the failure to be invited to family events I once would have been. I had to get relief from the constant pain inflicted in subtle ways by DIL. I frankly thought they would agree with me that this was best, and would appreciate my backing out gracefully so they could continue life with their respective Mom's as Grandmothers without feeling the necessity of reluctantly including me as somehow obligatory.

I was wrong. As rude as they were to me, they are apparently furious that I am no longer making myself available for abuse. I have been a source for money for them all (plane tickets for them and for DIL's siblings to fly here to visit, new car, dinner out every week, lessons for the grandkids) as husband, while employed, does not make much money at what he does. The syndic in me says they are mad about withdrawal of cash-flow, but really I don't believe that is it. I think they know what they've done, and don't want to face the fact that in trying to punish me for correcting the grandchild (which consisted of turning off the tv when he would not listen) for the last 18 months, they pushed the envelope just too far, and me into a place where I feel only relief to be away from them, a place where I feel no obligation to them and a place where I can start a new life without them entrailed in my passage.

The question is now, how do I get husband to this place? I have offered for him to visit with them, and have assured him that this in no way should limit his time with them. I will just not be the any longer.

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