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Thread: When a 6yo child has never met their grandparent . . .

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    Default When a 6yo child has never met their grandparent . . .

    i come from a violent family, have been "divorced" from my family since my early 20's.

    Now i have had a child, and she is very verbal now, every year as it gets near to xmas, i have this tug of war in my head - should i contact my mother, and tell her about bilby, so that bilby might have a chance of having a grandparent. (both grandpas are deceased, other grandma is interstate in a nursing home - dementia - so is not well enough to even realise she has bilby as her grand-daughter).



    Has anyone else gone thru anything like this?

    i have no=one to talk it thru with, so unsure, so many things stop me from going ahead.

    Bilby is getting older, 6 in November, aware that other kids have grandparents. Is really putting me on the spot about "where are my grandparents"?

    And how to deal with the "gap" of not seeing them. Having to explain to bilby (IF i do this), why she didn't have contact with her grandma for the first six years of her life.

    i am worried that bilby will have so many questions (of me), to which the only truthful answer, is things to do with violence, that i really don't want to discuss with her until she's an adult.

    Bilby is very lonely. I feel so guilty that she is an only child. Her one cousin is interstate. We are not social butterflies (cannot afford to be social in the way that her school friends are, plus we live in a crime ghetto, so cannot invite school mates over for playdates.) Christmas is meant to be this big family time, i am dreading, how i possibly make xmas fun for bilby, just her and me on xmas day. I remember xmas as a time of getting together with many relatives, i cannot replicate that for her. Not even sure if contacting my mother would be any better - so unsure. But time is marching on, as i tussle with this topic every year, around this time - as bilby is getting a year older every year. Will she hate me, when she's an adult, for denying her a grandma, as a kid?

    so conflicted about this

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    My mother "divorced" her grandmother. This woman died when I was 7. I found out about her when doing a family tree for school age 11. So older than Bilby is now, so the explanation would be different. My mother explained that her grandmother was mean (and gave examples) and she chose for her daughters not to be influenced by her toxicity. I now realise, if all my mother said was correct, this woman probably had a cluster B personality disorder, as does my mother (and at least one of her siblings). However, that has never been explicitly stated. And while I was surprised that I had a dead relative I'd never had the chance to meet, I respected my mother's decision not to allow a mean person into my life (although she let mean people in so long as they weren't mean to her - but I didn't analyse it at the time). As an adult, I am thankful: one cluster B relative is one too many!

    You can tell Bilby that her grandparents are dead - not 100% true but also not a lie, two of them are. You can tell Bilby that your mother is mean and you don't play with mean people.

    Can you find some localish people who are also on their own for Christmas and have your own big party? I know some Churches do a big lunch for those who don't have family around so it can be a big celebratory day: even if it isn't with blood relatives, having a young child around will bring a lot of joy to many elderly people on their own who are missing families.

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    Gigi - what do you want to do? Bilby and your mental and physical health are far more important than an idealised dream of a grandparent relationship IMO. How do you feel about reconnecting yourself? I only wonder as I have quite a strained relationship with my girls grandmother (she is my stepmother) and I have been restricting the girls access to her as she is fairly badly behaved. I had hoped this behaviour would only be reserved for me and privately but it has gone outside that realm. It is difficult but I worry that the issues of the past are going to be repeated and that this will set them up for very low self esteem and mental health issues. I have been lucky enought to create a support network recently that has a few significant adult for the girls to see via school and kinder. These families are in a similar situation due to relocation or circumstances so it works out well for all of us. It has taken a lot of trust and me opening up about my life - this has been hard but I have realised that there are some lovely amazing people out there and I am worthy of good relationships. I can see why you may feel like you cannot make a village for yourselves given current circumstances but I wonder if you can have some alternatives, especially now it is getting warmer. Any chance you could organise some catchups at a park/beach etc. Things that are fairly low cost but fun? I know it takes some courage and putting yourself out there but this may help you in creating a support network and fun for yourselves. I know many mums that are on restricted budgets for one reason or another and this is often how we catch up, also as it avoids the constant reinforcing of consumerism for the kids. xxxxx

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    Oh hun, lots of hugs xox

    How do YOU feel about contacting your mother? Put bilby aside for a moment and think about what you want... Because if your not happy with contacting your mother then that is going to show and make things more akward.

    As to what you tell her? Tell her the truth, tell her that their grandpa's are passed, and that the other mother lives interstate... (you don't even have to bring your mother up unless she ask specifically) then if that happens - I would go with the truth, tell her that you and her just don't get along because she was mean to you.

    I think that you are doing the best you can and you already make christmas super fun for bilby and yourself xox

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    I think you have to consider how you feel first about reconnecting with your mother. Think about if you do reconnect, Christmas Day could end up being a very uncomfortable day with you, Bilbly, and the mother you made an adult decision not to see any more. Would that be any more fun for you or Bilby? Or you could create your own traditions. A special day for just you and your girl, find out what she wants to do and do it. As a PP mentioned you could find a church celebration, or a community celebration that you could join in if you wanted. You're right in that Christmas is traditionally about family, but you are Bibly's family and her most important family at that so it's ok if the two of you spend the day together.

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    Your "family" is those people you love.

    DS1 never had a father in his life until he was 10. Just before he turned 11 I met a wonderful man who is his father in every essence of the word except that tiny little biological issue.

    In the wise words of an almost 5 year old he said to me one day that he didn't need a father because he had me.

    Kids accept what they grow up with to be normal. To DS1 "normal" was living with me and his maternal grandparents. He thought his life was better than other kids who didn't get to see their grandparents.

    He also had a friend whose both sets of grandparents were deceased and lived with his parents - this little boy thought his world was perfect. He had another friend who's father was MIA and his mother was a drug addict so she lived with her grandparents - again, her life was perfect, she was a well-balanced, happy, loving little girl.

    Families come in all shapes and sizes. Your family is small. Christmas isn't about big - it's about love.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cass72 View Post
    Christmas isn't about big - it's about love.
    totally agree with you

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    I didn't grow up with either sets of grandparents and I was never angry at my parents because I didn't know any different. I still don't know any different really, I can never truly understand what it would be like to be close to grandparents cause I never had it. What you don't know won't hurt you. I think she'll be fine. It's up to you.

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    Mine have never met my parents and never will. They ask and I give them age appropriate information. I think this is one of those times when it's our job to make the right decision for them, and their safety even if they don't agree with us at the time.

    DD & DS have lots of family that love them, even if they aren't blood related. Lots of aunts and uncles and even pseudo grandparents. I don't feel they miss out because of my choices. I think they have gained because of them.

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    DD has 'met' her paternal grandmother 3 times, and DS never has.
    In light of recent events, they will never have contact with her because she is abusive.

    When they are old enough, I will also tell them that she is 'mean'.

    You have to make the decision for your little one.
    Is it worth exposing her to someone who may 'turn' and become abusive or not a great influence on your child's life?
    Is it better to not expose them to start with, so that this person never has to be 'taken away'?

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    As for bilby being lonely - are you sure? It doesn't sound like the introduction of a grandmother would make much of a difference to her everyday. Also, if you did do it, i think it would be better to do it at a different time of year. Christmas might come with added stress and pressure that a random other time of year would not do.
    Last edited by Lenny; October 8th, 2012 at 10:24 AM.

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    My daughters have never met my biological father and they never will, although unlike your situation they do still have four grandparents.

    I agree with Traveller in that first and foremost, how will you feel. Do you want to try and build an ongoing relationship? If you do, then my suggestion would be that you work on that first withut Bilby's involvement. She may be lonely at not having grandparents, but it would I imagine be far worse for her to have the dream of one oh so close and then disappear if things didn't work out.

    You made the decision not to have contact for a reason. As a general rule, and certainly in my case, having children now makes it all the more important to remember those reasons and maintain the distance. Miss I and Miss E know that I have another dad out there, as well as a brother and that they have another cousin, but for the time being they accept their lack of contact with them due to them being "a long way away". When they are older I will explain it to them, and my reasons for the decisions I have made.

    Is there an old people's home anywhere near you? I know when I took my eldest to visit my grandmother when she was in one all the other oldies loved it too. So many of them are very lonely with no family of their own, so while they wouldn't be Bilby's true grandparents, she could form some nice relationships.

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    If I were you, I would make contact. I suspect because you have been pondering it for such a long time, if you didn't do it you will always be wondering. You don't have to make the first contact with bilby. Meet her yourself, check out the situation. Things may have changed and you may be glad that you did. Things may have not changed and you can then choose to not let bilby meet her after all. Of course you need to make up your own mind, but that is what I would do.

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    I don't know what sort of relationship breakdown occurred and whether or not there was physical or emotional abuse. But please tread carefully. I have been on the other side too and it was harder to understand limited contact than it was to understand none at all. It's our job to protect them after all. I see too many people subject their children to damaging grandparents just because they are family. And history repeats itself down the line. As someone who has no family there are worse things I could think of. I am very blessed. Without blood ties. And I know a lot of people who miss their own relatives who have passed away. Tell me ill regret it one day. No. I won't. I understand missing a loving relative. But unless you've walked a mile in my shoes loving an idea is very different to loving reality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rouge View Post
    I don't know what sort of relationship breakdown occurred and whether or not there was physical or emotional abuse. But please tread carefully. I have been on the other side too and it was harder to understand limited contact than it was to understand none at all. It's our job to protect them after all. I see too many people subject their children to damaging grandparents just because they are family. And history repeats itself down the line. As someone who has no family there are worse things I could think of. I am very blessed. Without blood ties. And I know a lot of people who miss their own relatives who have passed away. Tell me ill regret it one day. No. I won't. I understand missing a loving relative. But unless you've walked a mile in my shoes loving an idea is very different to loving reality.
    Rouge, i decided to "divorce" myself from my family in my early 20's, after physical and emotional abuse from 6-17. It was very hard to do. I had tried so hard to "bury" the hurt and swallow it, but it bubbled up in my life, even years after i had left the family home (at 17). When i was taken to hospital and was in a coma for months, the hospital contacted my "next of kin", who unfortunately, were my parents. So against my will and knowledge, they were introduced back into my life. When i came out of the coma, i was scared of them, but didn't know why. When my memories started returning, it was terrifying to find out why i was so scared of them. But i had no=one else to help me while i was in rehab (bring me what i needed) and i felt so vulnerable, couldn't speak at the time, so by default, they were in my life for a few months. once i was discharged back into the community, (they had spent my bank account, sold some of my belongings, ruined my car), i gradually got better and stronger, they became more abusive - old patterns returning - and so i cut them off again.

    Bilby IS very lonely.
    i have very few contacts, have not built a network for her, to be substitute family.
    We have one relative, who is not very warm person, it's just her way. So we have random contact with her, but it's strained.
    Bilby is very social. I am not. I can't cope with lots of noise, pets, the embarrassment of not being able to afford what everyone else is doing, the embarrassment of not being able to invite people to where we live, the embarrassment of all the begin to get to know you questions.
    i organised a playdate for bilby last week, invited another child. i got the date wrong. We re-organised it for the correct date, i ended up bursting into tears when the child's mum asked me the inevitable "get to know you" questions. i force myself to do the playdate thing, for bilby, but it's not even neutral for me, it's very unpleasant.

    i am very truthful about, both grandpas are deceased, daddy's mother is in old folk's home interstate. I say nothing about my mother. By using logic, one day bilby will put me directly on the spot. "so where is YOUR mother mum?".

    When bilby was a baby, it was clear to me. She is vulnerable, i know what my mother is capable of. No way my mother is seeing her as a pre-verbal child. Now bilby is nearly six, speaks just fine to communicate. I've taught her child protection stuff and emphasise she can talk to me about anything, especially stuff she's unsure about and i will always listen to her.

    So many misgivings, yes, so many fears that my mother will emotionally abuse me in front of bilby, and how torn bilby will feel. Wanting to connect with her grandma, but being upset that bad things are said about me - which will confuse her - she will want to know if it's true. And my self confidence is so splat, i won't be able to answer her like i should.

    And my siblings, who stopped me from attending my own father's send off, they will be another dynamic that i won't know how to deal with. They are so angry at me, the reward for taking so many beatings, meant for my brother, ones my sister would have copped, if my mum hadn't locked her in a room for her own protection. Yes, it was me left alone with my dad. I was the oldest - psychologists tell me it's called "scapegoating". I felt like i was saving my siblings at the time, they were much younger and smaller. I still don't regret that.

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    I have never known or met my father's father. I don't remember when I was first told that he was abusive but I've always known that he was abusive and left when my dad was 10. I don't feel like I've missed out and should he ever reappear (which is highly doubtful) I have no desire to have anything to do with him.

    DF and I have decided that at this time, Shoopy will have nothing to do with DF's mother. She's an alcoholic and sat by as DF was beaten as a kid. We told her when we started TTC, when I fell pregnant and when Shoopy was born, but told her that until she is sober and has been for a set period of time, she will have nothing to do with us or Shoopy. Unfortunately at this stage, her granddaughter isn't enough motivation to give up the bottle. Aside from not wanting Shoopy around an alcoholic, she is apparently quite nasty when she is drunk. We are not prepared to allow Shoopy to grow up in a toxic environment. We plan to tell Shoopy about her Nanna, and explain (to a point)why she doesn't see her. Obviously it will be in very simple terms to begin with (Nanna is sick and it makes her not very nice) and as she gets older we may then share more. There's no shock then, no surprise as to why this person isn't in her life. It just the way it is and that's normal, itms?

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    the point, about IF i make contact, to do it JUST between my mother and me, so if it doesn't work out, bilby isn't in a position of "losing" a grandma - that is what i have suspected to. I think i ignored that idea, cos the reality is, if my mother and i could reconnect, if that's possible, it would take a long time - and so bilby would STILL be without a grandma for THIS xmas. And i suspect my mum would grill me immed, grill me about kids, and guess that i did have a child and bully me into telling her. She would be over the moon to have a grand-daughter (she has two other grandkids - boys and another grandchild on the way). The 2 current grandkids now live interstate, i can imagine my mother being rapt to have bilby in her life. I can imagine my mother pressuring me to introduce her to bilby, have sleepovers, unsupervised visits etc.

    A big need to a counsellor to oversee/advocate/guide me and my mother thru this process - IF it ever comes to that. But i have no idea how to get that kind of help.

    i go to jelly around my mother, cannot defend myself. All the post traumatic stress triggers happen, i feel totally vulnerable. Not the way bilby needs to see me. It would mess her up.

  18. #18

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    So, Gigi, from what you say:

    Your mother was abusive.
    Your mother was unable to care for you when you were in a coma and could not be trusted even with your stuff.
    Your mother would still abuse you if she could.
    Your siblings will not help you.
    Your mother makes you feel uncomfortable and you don't want to see her or have her bully you.
    You don't want her to meet Bilby, you don't even want her to know Bilby exists.

    Why, exactly, are you even considering reconnecting with her? Bilby really isn't missing out.

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