Granny’s forgivable resentment having unacceptable result
DEAR ANNIE: I am the mother of a 4-year-old girl. My mother, “Edna,” watches her for a few hours every Friday while I’m at work.
Last Friday, after I brought my daughter home, she told me, “Grandma was crying today and told me that ‘ Grandma Kitty’ is not my grandma.” Annie, Grandma Kitty is my Dad’s fiancee. Kitty was the reason for my parents’ divorce 12 years ago. Dad and Kitty have been together ever since. I have managed to forgive both of them for their affair, and we visit them weekly.
We have found it easiest to differentiate between grandmothers by saying, “Grandma Edna,” “Grandma Kitty” and, for my husband’s mom, “Grandma Dina.” I try not to mention either my father or Kitty when my mom is around, knowing she is still quite bitter. But I am aware that she tries to pry information out of my daughter.
I know my mother’s feelings are still hurt, but my daughter doesn’t understand why she shouldn’t call my father’s fiancee “Grandma Kitty.” This woman has been in her life since the day she was born. How can I get my mom to accept this?
— Too Many Grandmas
Dear Too: Acceptance may be asking too much. But you can certainly set boundaries and make them stick. Tell your mother that the subject of Grandma Kitty is off limits when she is with your daughter. Make it clear that if she continues to use your child as a weapon against Kitty, she will not be permitted to babysit. And mean it, even if you have to hire someone to replace her.
Mom has to learn to respect the relationships you have created for your daughter and not undermine your authority as a parent. Kitty is going to be a part of your daughter’s life for the foreseeable future. Twelve years is a long time for Mom to hold onto this grudge and be so bitter. Suggest to her that she get some counseling so she can move forward with her life.