Q: Dear Jackie, We live in a one bedroom ground floor flat and are on [...]
Ask Jackie: how do I tell my daughter I am moving away?Created by Jackie Highe in Ask Jackie, Long-distance Grannies
Q: I have the opportunity to move to Yorkshire. I am a couple of years away from retirement. During the last twenty years I have been through some extremely difficult times, loosing my son (he was only a young man when he died), homelessness, unemployment, poor health and years of money problems.
Throughout all this my daughter has supported me. She has now a family, whom I adore.
However since my grand-children were born 3 years ago,our relationship has changed. She has said she feels angry with me for the past, she is often snappy and critical with me. The result of this is both of us feeling very hurt. We went to counselling, she accused me of ruining her childhood and the affect was causing friction in her marriage.
I admit to relying on her too much in the past – there was not anyone else to help and we did “go through” some terrible times. I adore my grand-children, I have looked after them 2 or 3 times a week, now once a week as they are in pre-school.
I have family in Yorkshire and want to make a new start whilst I have my health. This is the first time in my life that I am thinking of me, is that selfish? I shall miss my daughter, however I feel she will be free to just get on with her life instead of worrying about ” Mum”, me that is. My grand-children will miss me and me them, however they can visit for holidays.
I need to tell my daughter quickly as I intend to move before Xmas. Please advise me. I am not sure how to tell her as I don’t want to hurt her.
A: First of all, it’s clear that your daughter loves you very much. She was there for you when it mattered. You say her change of behaviour towards you occurred when her children were born, and that makes sense when you think about it. Becoming a mother herself has probably made her aware of what you hadn’t – because of circumstances – been able to give her. She’s determined that this won’t happen to her family. So she brought out the feelings she’d kept under wraps at the time.
You’ve got round that, been to counselling and worked through it, admitting faults on both sides, and I take my hat off to the pair of you – that’s a very hard thing to do. And while all this was going on, she didn’t cut you out of her family, but allowed you to become closely involved with your grandchildren. She’s a trouper – and so are you.
You seem to have thought through just why you want to move, and I’m not suggesting you don’t – as long as you’re sure that you’re doing it because you really want to and not to make her feel bad. Please don’t sweep off in a martyred way and cut off your nose to spite your face.
If you’re absolutely sure you want to move – for you – then you’re dead right to think carefully about how you tell her what you’re planning. Despite her present irritation, she’ll miss you horribly. You need to sit down with her and explain how you’re feeling about the future and a new start. Make it positive – whatever you do don’t get into ‘you’ll be better of without me’- that is martyrdom, and she’ll spot it straight away.
Instead tell her you love her; that you couldn’t have got through the last twenty years without her; that she’s a daughter in a million and she’s saved you to have this last chance of breaking with the past and standing on your own feet. In other words that it’s down to her that you can even contemplate it. Give her hugs, kisses, cry with her, build her to the skies. You know she deserves it. Be upbeat. Don’t go into the past or the disagreements you’ve had. Tell her how much you’ll look forward to seeing them all in Yorkshire – that you have no intention of walking away from your grandchildren – that you expect to see them up there at every opportunity, and that you’ll be back to visit often. And make sure that you do. Suggest that she and her partner come North in the school holidays and leave the children with you while they go off to spend some time together.
If you tackle this with the same common sense and feeling that you’ve both handled everything else, you’ll end up closer than ever.