grandmother puts forth little effort to be a part of my life or my children's lives

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-02-2013
grandmother puts forth little effort to be a part of my life or my children's lives
Fri, 08-02-2013 - 4:09pm

I don't really know how to keep this short, but I will try my best to compact it and still include all of the information.

The back story is... my parents divorced two years ago after being married for 42 years! I understood the decision... my mom's.  My dad was an alcoholic, she had cancer, he was emotionally abusive, she was going through a tough recovery after being in remission. During my mom's illness, from diagnosis until now, she has had a friend.  I don't know how to explain this relationship without it sounding weird, but I will do my best. This girl was in her teens when she and my mom met. My mom taught the high school sunday school class at her church.  My mom felt bad for this girl ( we will call her J) because she didn't have a very good relationship with her own parents who were divorced. So, my mom did a lot with her... took her out to eat, had her over to the house, took her places, etc. J was living with her own grandmother at the time. BTW J was about 16 when she and my mom met and is about 22 or so now. When my mom got sick I was living out of state.  I went home with my daughter to be there for her that summer. During that summer J helped watch my daughter when I went to visit my mom in the hopsital. We got along really well and I loved her! After my mom recovered my Dad was still acting like a maniac and drinking more than ever. When my mom and J came to visit for Christmas, my mom decided that she had enough and told my dad who was still out of state that she was filing for divorce.  My mom and J found a place to live together because J didn't want to live by herself and my mom didn't feel comfortable living by herself.  She also didn't want to move out of state to live with me and my family even though I had offered.

Fast forward.... My dad sobers up, goes through therapy and after a year of VERY difficult conversations with him we now have a healthy father daughter relationship. My mom on the otherhand has limited interaction with me. She went from calling and talking to me every day to calling once a week, to hiding things that she was doing with J from me. She was supposed to move out to the same state as me and my family to be closer to my two children, but has decided now that she is going to stay where she is and live with J. She didn't feel comfortable living in the same state as her brother....because she feels like he talks to my dad too much and it would be uncomfortable for her. She hasn't communicated with my dad for 3 years... since she told him she wanted a divorce.

My mom and I have "talked" about how I feel that she has replaced me with J and doesn't want me as a daughter anymore. Her response (condensed because they were text messages and it would take forever to write word for word) was that she chooses to have J as a daughter just like she chose to have me as a daughter ( I am adopted). She said that she can be a mother to both of us.  I told her that I wanted to have just her come out for Christmas because I feel like it's always her and J and I never get any time with just her.  I never got to talk to just her on the phone or spend time with just her. She responded with it was either her and J for Christmas or neither of them... so she didn't come.  Instead she and J went to the beach. She didn't call or text on Christmas to talk to me or the kids... my birthday is the day after Christmas... she didn't call or text.  I had to text her after new years to ask if she was even still alive. I told her I would like to talk to her on the phone and her response was... not comfortable talking on the phone.. too emotional. I have tried to talk to J and told her that I feel like she took my mom away from me.  She has her own mother, father, sisters, grandmother, etc . and now she has my mom as well.  She didin't understand how I was feeling at all and said she feels like my mom is her mom too. She is always caling my mom Mamma on her facebook page.

BTW- my mother has no idea what is going on in my kids lives.  She has no idea that my son is talking, that he just had surgery, that my daughter is excited to start kindergarten, that either one of them has been sick, or had something exciting happen to them. She has no idea what is going on in my life.  I can't call her and ask for her advice when I'm upset or happy about something. She only talks to the kids when she's on skype, never me.

I don't know what else to say.. It's exhausting and emotional writing all of this. basically now our only communication is when she or J texts me on a friday and asks if they can skype with the kids on the weekend. That used to be every weekend, now it's only once a month if that. I feel like she doesn't understand how this is making me feel, but then again maybe she just doesn't care.  I continued to let them skype with the kids because I didn't wan to be accused of not letting my mom have a relationship with her grandkids.  Is this a relationship though.  My daughter who is 5 won't even stay by the computer to talk to them.  My son who is 14 months old has no idea who either one of them is. I just got a text from J (who I have tried to explain all of this to and got no help) asking if they could skype with the kids this weekend.  I haven't heard from either of them for 3 weeks.... the last time they skyped with the kids.

I have been looking everywhere for a forum for adult children who are going through this same thing, but it's all for parens who are estranged from their children and don't want to be. I'm in the exact opposite situation.

I'm just so emotionally exhausted from this. Every time I get a text asking if they can skype I want to text them back and say no. Is that wrong?  Should I just continue to let them talk to my kids on skype and that's it?  Or do I cut all ties?  I just don't know what to do.  I would appreciate some feedback.  My husband is beyond useless when I try to talk to him about this.

Thanks is advance... S

Avatar for Cmmelissa
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2008

I'm so sorry that your mom is putting you through this.  I was going to suggest you post this as well over on Venting About Family & Friends, and saw that you've already done that.  I'm sure that they'll have some great advice for you.  

I honestly don't understand you mother.  She might have chosen to have you in her life, as well as J, but she's also made the choice to play favorites.  Moms don't do that, they treat all their children equally.  While you can't control her relationship with J, you can control how you react to it.  You can either accept it or not, but think you should continue to let them talk to the kids over Skype.  I find it extremely sad that she isn't more interested in her grandkids, she can't get these times back.   I think the ball is in your mom's court, until she's willing to put in the effort in your relationship there isn't much you can do. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-12-2013

I truly feel for you and can imagine what it must feel like to have a mom behave like this. Okay she has taken this other girl under her wing but how can she be like this with her other daughter, I wonder. Grandchildren are a joy for grandparents and they say that one should become a grandparent first and then a parent, that's how much they love their grandchildren. After several tries from you she continues to be like this. People, including me, will give advice based on how they feel it should be. Take some alone time and think about the situation. I don't think you are wrong in saying no to her when she wants to skype with your kids. It's your decision. Similarly think about it and tell yourself honestly what you want. Don't see her changing her ways, in the near future at least. And it is continuing to make you feel bad. Maybe take some time away from this, try not to think about her. Get yourself involved in some kind of activity with your kids, something that will take your mind away from all this. If you ask me, I think it's better your kids also stay away because we don't know what she may have to tell them, about you especially. You have a lovely family. Concentrate on that and focus on the beautiful things that you HAVE in your life. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-30-2007

Dear S,

I came on here to vent because I hardly ever get to see my granddaughter, 5 months.  I do not understand how anyone can stay away from their own grandchildren.  I have a sister and her husband that do it.  They don't have a bad relationship with their children and grandchildren, but they choose to be halfway across the country for more than half the year because they are wealthy and it is too cold where we live.  I cannot understand how anyone could deliberately be away from their children or grandchildren.  I feel so bad for you.  Did I miss it, how far away is it for her to visit?  But, it doesn't really sound like distance is the problem it is the "j" person who you feel has taken your place.  Do your children have grandparents on the other side of the family?  Are they closer?  If not maybe there are some aunts and uncles who would love to smother your children with love.  I know it isn't the same as your mom, but I don't know if you can change what she is doing.   Does she really know how you feel?  Can you go to see a counselor as to how you should deal with this?  I have a counselor who helped me write a letter to my sister who I was very upset with.  If you have someone with expertise in this area it can help you say the right thing to get your point across.  It also helps to do your own journaling.  Write a different letter to your mother with all your emotions wide open, tell her how upset and angry you are.  BUT, you do not send it to her or let anyone else see it.  You get your emotions out, tear up the letter, and surprisingly you feel better.  I would still continue with the skype if your mother wants it, but if your daughter doesn't want to or feels uncomfortable about it, I wouldn't make her.  If your daughter wants to do it, tell her to tell grandma everything she and her brother have been doing so maybe grandma might figure out what she is missing.  Well, I don't know if this helps you at all, but because I am on the opposite end of this, I feel very bad for you.  Like I said, try to make the most of the relationships that you do have, because this one might not change.  ((((HUGS)))))