Estrangement from adult children and grandchildren.

This is a story of a grandparent who became estranged from their own children and consequently their grandchildren, it is written in their own words.


“I separated 17 years ago from my husband and farming partnership. We

had 2 girls aged 15 and 12 years. I moved into town off the farm and

the girls came too.  I was always their mainstay and indeed felt like

a solo parent nearly all of the time I was married.  My husband worked

long hours off the farm our entire marriage and I worked on the farm

and I came to the conclusion he did not want to even have a meal with

us as after my eldest was about 11 years old.  I realised that it

wasn’t going to happen unless there was a guest for dinner, in which

case he would show up at the last minute and take centre stage (as if

it were always like this).

Anyway, I probably stayed in the violent, abusive, isolating marriage

far too long and in the end he was happy for me to go and indeed

helped push me out as he had someone else in the wings.

Never-the-less, the separation was civil as we always tried in front

of the children but once he was on his feet and didn’t need to be

civil, he reverted to his old self and we became estranged. To the

point that even if there was something important to discuss re the

girls, he would not want to give me the time to even talk to him and

would insult me immediately saying more or less don’t take up his

time.  I know him of old, and was of strong character so quickly

realised that I could not include him in any parenting decisions.

Moving on from this, my girls stayed with me for about 2 years but

chose to go home to the farm pretty well every weekend.  I respected

this decision as it was not their fault that their parents split and I

moved them away from their home  (even though they were happy to go

live in town after years on an isolated farm) .  During this time,

they started not wanting me at  their netball games (which I had been

the junior coach , instigator, taxi, sideline mother since they were 8

years old).   Also, my eldest told me she phoned her dad even though

she knew he wasn’t home just to hear his voice on the answer phone!

This rang alarm bells for me and I told her so (as kindly as I could

as she was acting like a jilted lover would do).  Her dad already had

a live-in lover. However,  we didn’t argue about it and my eldest

(then 17) decided to leave school and move out to the farm

permanently.  Again, I did not oppose this, feeling that this was her

right if that is what she wanted to do.

However, (as I thought would happen), she ended up being very lonely

out there and just picking up, doing chores, cooking etc for her dad.

So what she did then was pull my youngest daughter to move back home

too.  Going out of her way to pick my youngest up and take her to

school from my house in town. Phoning her all the time and not wanting

to talk to me or see me and making out that I was not up to scratch as

a mother (although, there was no reason and no altercation between

us).  My youngest was quite happy living with me but at 15 years old

(and close to her sister), she decided to go.

I didn’t hear from them at all unless I phoned and mostly they just

laughed and put the phone down if I dared say anything like motherly

care or concern. This time was like the death of my family to me . I

grieved and was very hurt . However, did not confront them about this

for fear of them showing the disrespect and uncaring behaviour they

were already showing when I expressed any concern over teenage parties

and driving they were doing and where I had no control and could not

talk to their father about either.

I am telling you all this as this is the long lead up to my present

situation. This was the pattern that was emerging from 17 years ago.

They are now aged 34 and 30.  They are both married and have children.

I have been allowed back Into their lives off and on ever since –

generated by where my eldest daughter is in her life I.e. If she is

happy, or if she could use me, then I am reeled back in as long as I

am seen and not heard so to speak) and perform the tasks she wants me

to do I.e. Provide a home for her when her flatting situation

collapsed ; help her out financially; help her fight a court case or

job controversy; help her through  a broken heart; help with her child

care and purchasing their needs when she was financially strapped;

help listen to her marriage problems and help pay for her wedding. Put

up with her stealing a lot of money out of my account and only

admitted it when the police discovered who it was.

During the past years I have been estranged for up to 3 years at a

time by her, she just dictates the terms and I have no alternative but

to go along with it and hope for any crumbs of recognition/involvement

she chooses to give me.  She will be nice when it suits and not when

it doesn’t.  However during this time, of course I developed a great

love for her 2 children aged 9 and 5 now and they love me too.

Although at first, my daughter encouraged this, This has become a bone

of contention between us now for about 4 years.  Once she realised

that having children is now just a bind to her,  her behaviour towards

them has become quite hard and unforgiving / unloving and selfish.  I

hasten to add that she does not abandon her children and has to do a

lot with them as she is now bringing them up on our family farm (my

ex-husband has put a house on for her and her family plus a

hairdressing salon as she is a qualified hairdresser now) so she has a

lot to do with the small community school, driving her kids to meet

the school bus, etc.  although she does have plenty of help when her

husband is home from work and her dad is also home on the farm as they

involve the children and also look after them when she is hairdressing

or needs to go out.  I.e. She usually has a ready babysitter on her

doorstep. Hence my eldest daughter does not need me again now,

particularly as she in as been more and more uncomfortable with my

growing relationship with my grandchildren/ her children. I hasten to

add here that I did not confront her on anything as I know that she

will cut me off as she has previously and I would not see my

grandchildren again.

However, a few days before Xmas when I went out to babysit the girls,

I took a reindeer ornament for the house. My daughter hit the roof

immediately shouting at me she didn’t want it and was completely

obnoxious to me saying she didn’t want anything I took out to them,

they don’t play with any of my gifts and she didn’t need me anyway. I

dared to agree with her when she said she did not care what her

children wanted.  She then subjected me to a barrage of full-blown

bellowing into my face for quite a while, so I slapped it (not hard as

she was right in front of me). She then was completely calm and said

that I was a violent woman and everyone will hear about this.  I was

then not allowed to Xmas even though I had travelled 12000 miles to

see them (as I now live and work in UK and they are in New Zealand).

I moved here 3 years ago as it all became too unbearable back then

when  she tended to befriend my sisters -2 of whom don’t have children

and they jumped at having a family around them.  They have not been

part of my life much whilst I was bringing up my children but have now

come back in to find some sort of family closeness (which has been

sadly lacking as our parents divorced and moved away years ago).  They

were not interested in my problems with my girls and loved having the

parties, dinners and family times with my girls. I must admit I was

finding it hard at the time to be the strong provider/mother that my

girls might have liked as I was full time working in a stressful job

as a solo middle aged woman. Keeping a house together with no support.

Where as my sisters had partners, financial support and were well

settled and being treated respectfully by my girls.

As I stated before, this has been ongoing for some time.

My youngest daughter is nicer and more balanced than her sister but

has told me that her sister will always come first as she has always

been there for her when my ex and I split 17 years ago and she will

not discuss her sister with me at all.  She will also keep me out of

family occasions if her sister is there which is most of the time.

I am now resigned to a skype call sometimes once or twice a month to

my youngest daughter who also has a baby and has just become pregnant

again.  She does not want me to help her as I often offer to come back

home and help out, particularly as she does not have good pregnancies

and her son recently had a bad accident but she does not want my help

and did not want my help when she had him as she and her husband are

good support for each other and want to do it themselves.  I did

respect this and realise they have lots of friend and family support

from my sisters, her sister, her father and step-mother, her mother

and father Inlaw and of course her very hands-on supportive husband,

So when I am there, I find I’m just a visitor whom they have to

accommodate every now and then.

This may sound like I am feeling very sorry for myself and that I put

the blame on everyone else for my predicament.  I have my theories as

to why it has happened and lack of good open communication and loving

understanding ways has a lot to do with it.

I try to phone my estranged daughter every family birthday but she

just puts the phone down. I send presents, cards, emails, regularly

but have not heard back from her and didn’t expect to – seen as how

she has made this stand. But I send them anyway as that is what I want

to do.

I heard recently from my other daughter, that I shouldn’t send so much

stuff as it’s like I want to buy their love!!

I can’t do right for. Doing wrong. In Other words.

Not sure where to go from here. Needless to say, the grief and

overwhelming despair is constantly  with me as I struggle to make

sense of it all and keep working and trying to make a life for myself

in UK. Although I know I will want to go back to see my new grandchild

when born next year. Which fills me with fear.  I, don’t dare to look

forward to it as I was more or less turned away last year and the year

before.  I think It will be a case of not being allowed to see my 2

lovely grand daughters and eldest daughter but being allowed in to see

the new baby of my youngest daughter, hold it, then see and hold it

again before I return to UK, so that my youngest feels she has done

‘her duty’ and  that will probably be it meanwhile they will get

together with the rest of the family to see my new grandchild and I

will go to friends to console and busy myself all the while. Wishing I

could be part of my family. and then return once more to UK.

Thanks for reading.”


About Jane

Jane setup Bristol Grandparent Support Group in 2007 after a string of incidents led to the loss of contact with her Grand Daughter.

View all Jane Posts


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