Q: Hi Jackie, if my daughter and husband died together in an road accident, as [...]
Ask Jackie: What do I tell her?Created by Jackie Highe in Ask Jackie
Q: Please give me some advice on answering my grand-daughter’s difficult questions. My grand-daughter is 9 and lives in Cornwall with her father, who has sole custody. He works anti-social hours so she lives with my husband and myself from Sunday to Monday – I take to school and back every day, a total of 50 miles a day. I do this willingly and with love.
The problem is that her mother, who lives 500 miles away, never contacts her and seems to be more interested in men, a party lifestyle and getting herself into trouble. The police have been involved very recently. She is now asking me, in tears, why her mother never bothers with her and I just don’t know what to say to her.
Her other granny (who I get on quite well with) and her mother’s sister think that she should know the truth about her mother in that she only thinks about herself and is incapable of forming a relationship with her daughter.
Myself, my husband and my son think that this would destroy her (although she IS better off without her). What should I say to her – it breaks my heart watching what it is doing to her, I just said that Mummy isn’t very well and that she still loves her very much. She has said that she doesn’t like staying with her because she doesn’t like her friends but she does like spending time with her other granny, which is good.
Please help – thanks.
A: It’s a hard choice you all face here and there are a lot of different emotions swirling around. I can quite see why her other grandma and her aunt feel the way they do, but I agree that for a child to hear, from people she loves and trusts, that her mother doesn’t care about her, would be absolutely devastating.
She suspects it already, that’s clear, and that’s why she’s asking questions –she’s looking for reassurance.
My feeling would be to keep on saying what you’re saying now, but also to keep reminding her how much her father, you and your husband, her other grandma and aunt love her, too. Say you’ll always be there for her – give her that kind of reassurance.
Whatever you decide, the vital thing is that you all get together and agree on the line you’re going to take, and stick to it. If you all tell her different things she’ll be confused, and even more anxious than she is already. She has time to learn hard truths later, when she’s emotionally mature enough to deal with them.