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Adult son is angry with me because I bought Grandson a car
January 26, 2018
12:48 pm

I'm sorry you are hurting.  In a somewhat similar situation, this worked for me:  

Dear Adult Child, 

I am so sorry that I caused you pain and difficulty [in the X situation]. I apologize for interfering, overstepping my role as a grandparent. I failed to honor you as a parent [by buying Z a car], and by not even having the courtesy to consult you about it. I should have respected your place as a parent.  I am sorry if my actions made you feel I don't think you are a good [father] who knows best how to deal with Z.  I want to reassure you of my confidence that you are a caring, competent parent, and have been a good father to Z since the moment he was born, just as you have been a good son to me [and my husband].   

My actions probably made you feel undermined as a parent, and your anger about that is justified.  [Address any other feelings, issues your son has brought up.]

I have probably done things in the past regarding Z that hurt or anger you as well, and compound your anger about this.  I apologize for those things, too. [Address other feelings your son has brought up to you about this issue, trying to use his words, his descriptions of his thoughts and feelings.]

[Address any other issues that have come up recently. Address your son's feelings.]

I hope that you will forgive me. I hope that if there is something I can do to make amends, that you will let me know. 

I miss you very much and hope that we can reconnect. 

Love always, 



I'm sorry about the painful situation that you are in.  I've been there, too, and know how awful it feels.  I'm sharing what worked for me in a somewhat similar situation.  I'm not you, but if I were, I'd try to mend this soon.  A year is a long time and the "new normal" becomes not seeing Mom/Grandma.  If your son was 20, maybe some time apart would be helpful, but your son must be middle-aged, so this isn't a "detaching" issue.  

This is pretty close to the letter I wrote to an Estranged Adult Child who felt I had overstepped my bounds on what seemed to me - but not to them - a minor thing involving grandchildren. The letter worked for me.  Dr. Coleman's approach worked for me.  I'd sent other letters, trying to "reason" through everything, and letters full of my emotions, my pain.  They got me nowhere.  With this one, we got back together.  We've just spent a fun, loving holiday season together.  

Originally I had things at the beginning of my letter on the order of - "even though I was only trying to help grandchild" or "without meaning to hurt you." 

I waited a couple of days after writing the letter to send it. I think that's always prudent with important letters. Before I sent it I took those qualifiers out, because I didn't feel good about trying to let myself off the hook in any way. 

The act of writing the letter changed something in me.  I felt like a wiser person.  I felt humble, in a good way. I felt a sense of closure - that even if my child never responded, I had done something good for both of us. 

Please understand I am not blaming or judging you.  I think you acted out of compassion for your grandson.  You did something generous.  Perhaps your son is wrong in blaming you for your grandson's continued problems.  Perhaps not.  I don't know the whole story.  I hope no one actually wants anyone else to "come crawling" for help. 

Being a grandparent is a joy, but, boy, it can also be so hard to do the "right thing."  

It was hard for me to write that letter.  I felt angry with my adult child about the situation.  I felt they were overreacting.  I had to let go of a lot of pride to write that.  But I finally accepted that my adult child's feelings were real, and probably much deeper than I realized, and the important thing to address if I wanted to mend our relationship was those feelings.  It isn't about who is "right" or "wrong" but respecting feelings and opening up communication. 

A week or so after sending that letter, I got a reply (At long last! I cried.) kind of awkwardly accepting my apology.  Not a fountain of love, but ended with the line "Hope you [and significant other] are well."  And enclosed was a photo of the grandchildren, with label on the back. 

I took it slow and sent back a card thanking my child for accepting my apology.  "I appreciate your graciousness in accepting...thankful for your forgiveness...Thanks for your good wishes. Hope you are well, too.  Thanks for the photo. Adorable!"  No pushing to get together.  

Few days later child emailed me some more photos of grandkids.  

I emailed back about how cute they were. 

Then a week later I got a phone call from my child and we talked for an hour and a half.  I tried very hard to stay in my humble place and to listen, listen, listen to their feelings and not put out mine much more than I've really missed you, it's good to hear your voice. 

I don't need to lay out everything, but my child didn't have a lot of confidence about being a parent, my interference caused more self-doubt and embarrassment, then anger. Because of different circumstances, felt could not "measure up" to me as a parent and I reinforced that by dealing with a grandchild thing that had been ignored. Had recently been a daycare incident in which child felt derided as a parent. We talked about challenges of parenting, general lack of support for parents from culture, that I thought they were doing a great job. Why child insecure?  Had I done things to foster that feeling?  A lot of criticism from father that I hadn't know about.  After pouring out own feelings, over time child open to hearing mine.  We have been strengthening our communication since.    

I hope that things work out for you, your son and your grandson.  



January 16, 2018
8:57 am

I hear your pain and I hope you can rectify this with your son by recognizing all the emotions and behaviors at play here. I have been where your son is, meaning my in-laws appeased and enabled my son to go off the rails, drinking and drugging, and flunking college. They purchased a car, paid his apartment rent, tuition, and gave him a huge allowance also. They helped him get out of a DWI. They did not talk to my husband, his father, their grown son, about their choices and then refused to stop enabling until they had money stolen by the son. My husband's psychologist said that his parents essentially negated his parenting and took away his parenting power. Perhaps this is what your son is feeling and perhaps my explanation could help you see the other side and why he is so angry at you. Some might say send an email or write a letter apologizing or taking full responsibility for your actions. I would say promise son you won't enable grandson again, its not good for him in the long run, and you will always talk to your son first because he's the parent. I sincerely hope this works out better for your family than it has for our family, you obviously love son and grandson a lot. 

January 15, 2018
10:55 am
Carol Mummert

My 19 year old Grandson came to me broke, depressed, no car and no way to look for a full time job.  So I added him to my insurance and bought him a car.  That was November 2017, it's now January 2018 and my Grandson does nothing to help himself, my son said I interfered and if I hadn't helped him he would have hit rock bottom and came crawling back to my son to help him.  

My son does not want to talk with me.  I'm devastated.  Please help.

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