Dear Annie: I need your advice. After our son’s divorce decades ago, he was granted full custody of his infant daughter. They both moved home with my husband and me. They lived with us for 18 years, and we helped raise our granddaughter. Naturally, we are extremely close to her.
Our married daughter and her husband resent the fact that we are so close to our granddaughter. Her husband has continued to say for years -- within earshot of their son -- that we love our granddaughter more than our grandson. His statements are absolutely untrue!
Their jealousy is hurtful, and we have endured their complaints and lies for years. Not surprisingly, our grandson has come to believe them. Our granddaughter lives in another state, and they have no contact with her. Yet this lie is still being told by our son-in-law. Our daughter, our son-in-law and our grandson have, since this past August, cut us off from all communication and are no longer speaking to us.
I was very ill for three weeks, and even though our daughter knew it, I was ignored. Our daughter has said that her son never received the attention that her niece received. At this point, we are just sick of constantly being lied about for the past 18 years. Yes, we are hurt and do not want to renew our relationship because we have had enough.
We are in our late 70s and just plain sick of the lies and hurtful remarks. For whatever life we have left, we want for it to be peaceful. In our hearts, we know that we did the right thing and have no regrets.
Our daughter has told me that I am going to be very lonely when I am old. I have two friends who are coping with similar situations where the jealousy is simply overwhelming with regard to a grandchild being cared for by them. Is this the reward that loving grandparents receive when they do what is absolutely correct with regard to helping make a loving home for a grandchild? -- Confused Grandparents
Dear Grandparents: Of course you did the right thing by helping your son and granddaughter. Is your son jealous that his sister is in a marriage and able to raise her children with both parents involved? No, I don’t hear that. It is understandable that the jealousy of your daughter and son-in-law is truly hurtful to you. At the same time, it must be very painful to them to cut out you and your husband altogether. They are likely unhappy in their own lives and are displacing their unhappiness onto you.
Robert A. Heinlein, in his science fiction novel, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” said it best: “Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy -- in fact, they are almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the other.”
I don’t blame you at all for wanting a peaceful life in your golden years. But cutting your daughter off completely will not ensure that. Just continue to show her and your grandson lots of love and open communication and hope that they will come around. Remind your daughter that just because you spent more time with one grandchild does not mean that you don’t love the grandchildren exactly the same. If you do reconcile, make sure that the QUALITY of time you spend with her child is great.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.