Q: This will be a painful New Year for us. For reasons we don’t understand, our daughter and son-in-law no longer want any contact with us. We’ve respected their wishes and hope to make amends with them someday, but for now, how should we interact with our grandchildren?
A: You’re in a hard place, and our hearts go out to you. Without knowing all the details, we can at least affirm that your decision to respect your children’s wishes is appropriate and provides the best chance for reconciliation.
In the meantime, do what you can to maintain your perspective. Set boundaries of your own so that you won’t be hurt by your daughter’s and son-in-law’s attitudes and actions. Don’t allow your personal worth to be defined in terms of your acceptance or rejection by your children. Guard your heart and avoid falling into a trap of bitterness. Seek counsel and the support of trusted friends in dealing with your pain.
As for your grandchildren, look for opportunities to express your love in small, unobtrusive ways. You can maintain your influence in their lives by sending them cards two or three times a year – on birthdays, at festive seasons, and on other special occasions. Don’t send money or gifts, since that may be perceived as an attempt to manipulate. Instead, just say something like, “We’re thinking of you. Love, Grandma and Grandpa.” If nothing else, this will lay the groundwork for reconnecting with them once they’re grown and able to make up their own minds about having a relationship with you.
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