Q: I have four children, three grandchildren. Two of my grandchildren live in Germany as [...]
Ask Jackie: we do not want to lose contact with our little grandsonCreated by Jackie Highe in Ask Jackie, No contact
Q: My son and his partner have a lovely boy but their relationship appears to be falling apart – if things sadly do end, adiposity what access can we legally expect to get as grandparents. We do not want to lose contact with our little grandson and I am trying hard to keep them together, allergist but if the relationship has reached its end stage, I need advice as very worried for all of us.
A: It’s hard to watch your child’s relationship disintegrate, and especially heartbreaking when there are children involved. When a couple break up there can be a lot of hurt feelings, anger, resentment and bitterness flying around, and a strong temptation to relieve those feelings and punish the other partner with any weapon to hand. Grandparents are often seen as a nice handy target to lash out at. They ban you from seeing your grandchild…
It’s a devastating thing to happen – not just for the grandparents, but for the grandchildren too, who lose the stability and continuity that loving grandparents can provide when the rest of their world is collapsing round them.
To answer your question, legally grandparents have no right of access to their grandchildren, so clearly you don’t want to get into this situation, and you’re right to be concerned. Understandably you want to do everything in your power to prevent this from happening.
But you need to be very careful. A phrase you use in you letter concerns me – you’re ‘trying hard to keep them together’. I urge you, most strongly, to back off. Of course you want your child’s partnership to survive but – carve these words on your forehead – do not interfere.
You can’t keep them together, only they can do that. However much you feel it’s your business, it isn’t.
Yes I know, it’s your child and you love him. You love your grandchild and, I’m assuming, his mother, too. You want, like all parents, to wave your wand and make it right – but you can’t. These are their issues, their choices – it’s their crisis and only they can resolve it.
If you stick yourself in the middle of it, by giving advice unasked, even though you’re trying to keep the peace, you risk creating just the situation you want to avoid – one or both of them will resent you.
You can’t take sides – and if you stick your oar in, however gently, that’s what they might think you’re doing.
Say to both of them, preferably when you’re all together, that you love them both, and your grandson, and that you’ll support whatever decision they eventually make and always be there for them.
This will make it clear that you aren’t judging either of them.
And be strong. Don’t criticise one to the other, or carry messages, or tales.
Just be there, loving and silent in the background. If they both feel they can trust your integrity, you can be of enormous help later, when the dust settles.