Should I stop the relationship between my 10yr old and her biological grandparents if her feelings are always being hurt by their actions weather they are aware of it or not?

Sarah - posted on 05/04/2012 ( 3 moms have responded )




My daughter is a mature 10yr old. She doesn't have a relationship with her biological father but does have one, although fragile, with her grandparents.

When my daughter was 3 I moved out of state and remarried. When she was 4 my husband adopted her.

Her grandparents had a relationship with her up until the adoption. They were told they could still have a relationship with her but under my terms. My terms were set in place because of their actions. My child at 4 was on anxiety medication because of the issues and the things they discussed with her. They would occasionally mail letters where they talked about all her stuff at their house that she was missing out on doing. At 5 or 6 my child spoke with them on the phone(I recorded the conversation). My child asked them to come visit with her. They told her that they would see what they could do. They choose not to because they didn't like my terms. My child was very upset and hurt by them not continuing the relationship at this point I stopped giving her letters from them and asked that the grandparents not because it only caused her stress.

When my daughter was 7 we were going back to visit and my daughter asked if she could contact her grandparents. She did and they have had a very fragile relationship since then. My daughter has been telling me for over a year that she feels like they just want to buy her stuff and see her when it is convenient for them. They have bought her whatever she has asked for for Christmas and birthdays. (Wii, Laptop, Kindle, etc..) They also give her gifts every time they see her. She refuses to speak to them about her feelings for fear of hurting their feelings.

My husband and I decided last year that she was old enough to make that choice for herself. As long as the grandparents honor our wishes and do not allow her contact with her biological father. I was not as comfortable with this at first but my husband said we had to allow the trust at some point and they hadn't done anything I had asked them not to since her relationship restarted with them when she was seven. She told me 2 Christmases ago when they asked for her to come visit for a few hours one day while we were in town that she felt like I was trying to convince her to go after she told me no. I stopped at that point and didn't ask her again. She visited them at their work for an hour or so with my husband and I there. My husband and I even tried to stay in the car because their office was all glass windows and we would be able to see her but they would still have privacy. My daughter refused to get out of the car if we didn't go in with her.

They have asked for her to come stay with them in their home for a few days this summer. She does this almost every year with both my dad and my aunt(who is my biological mom, I was adopted by a family member). She also goes away to camp for a week or so most summers.

I asked my daughter and she said no she is not she is not comfortable enough with them to stay with them. They have only seen her once or twice a year since she was seven and only for a few hours most visits. My daughter isn't a big phone talker so she doesn't talk unless they call her and then it is short conversations. I told her she had to respond to her grandparents request that I was tired of being the one who was always telling them no she couldn't go. They feel like I am saying everything and not allowing it because of the past.

My daughter emailed them on Monday to tell them no that she didn't want to hurt their feelings but that she didn't know them well enough to go spend time in their home. She also stated that she is tired of always going to the same place when they come to visit to meet them and would like to spend quality time with them not walking around the mall. Although she enjoys gifts as every child does she feels that they want to just by her love. She wants a relationship not just gifts. She wants to be in her normal environment and have them get to know her and her friends. The grandparents haven't responded at all and today is Friday. My daughter is upset and feels like she hurt their feelings and that is what she didn't want to do. I pushed her to tell them how she really feels and she did but not totally just basic stuff. My child is hurt by not getting a response yet. The only time that they have come to visit her is when they were coming to town for something else. She feels like they were trying to fit her in. The last time they came to town she brought a friend along with her, and my husband and I sat at a different table when we were eating so she could have some time semi-alone with them. We then allowed her to walk around the mall with them while we walked around on our own. She had her phone to stay in contact with us. She was very uncomfortable because she doesn't know them that well. She was fine with seeing them but not alone she wants me or my husband there with her. I know it is an uncomfortable situation with us having to be there with her. I get it, but my child just isn't comfortable alone with them.

What should I do?

My child is now hurt again by their actions.

Do I need to just stop allowing the relationship with them so my child stops getting her feelings hurt trying not to hurt their feelings. My thought is that they are the adults and she is the child. But maybe I am wrong. Maybe I should try to force her to call them or email them more often. But I feel like it is more on them to continue and build the relationship with her than on her.


View replies by

Michelle - posted on 05/09/2012




It sounds like the grandparents are trying to use the gifts as an ice breaker between them. It gives them something to talk about for a couple of minutes until someone offers another topic of conversation. I think the grandparents are stumped on how to react to this. Have you offered some guidance to them on your daughter's interests? I need to do that with my mom that lives a few minutes away. She is very involved in their lives but as you get older and removed from the daily life with kids, you need reminders of what to talk about. It may also help to talk to your daughter about what she imagines a relaltionship with her grandparents would look like. Maybe her expectations are too high, being that you live so far apart. You can help her with being in reality about what she can and cannot expect of them. Have you tried Skype to aid in their communication. It is is fun way to talk and see the person that lives far away. It has really helped my 11 & 13 yr old stay in touch with my dad that lives a state away. They can show their trophies and awards to him and see him as they talk. My daughter can even play piano and he can listen/watch. Or play Farmville on fb. Any game that gets them engaged with each other. Texting is great too. Simple things like saying "Hello Grandma, I just got ice cream what are you doing?", can open the door to conversation. Also, you should watch what you say to your child about them. Never give her the idea that they don't want to see her. It sounds like it may be a miss commuication on both parts. You can't force feelings but you can encourage a real connection between them. You should have a private conversation with the grandparents on what communication works for them. My kids resist every communication and visit. I don't give them an option. Remember how you model this relationship because one day your daughter will be the one encouraging her daughter/son to talk to you. Best wishes to you.

Kelina - posted on 05/06/2012




It should be on them to build this relationship. Adults should be big enough people to see past differences and get to know their children and grandchildren in spite of it all. But the reality of it is, they're often not. Forcing your daughter into a relationship by making her call them or e-mail them more often wouldn't be the answer to me, but it sounds like she's really limiting her relationship with them as well. Would she be comfortable taking a friend with her as she has done before when they're in town so she can get to know them better without you around? Having mom nearby is a safety net but at 10 she probably doesn't realize that that's going to make it more difficult for her to get to know them. and from what ti sounds like, she's expecting slightly unrealistic things. She wants to get to know them in places other than the mall yet doesn't feel comfortable going other places with them? It can also be really hard for an adult who feels that a child they love is rejecting them or doesn't want to be with them. so they try to let her build the relationship at her own pace, not knowing what the right questions are, or even if there are right conversations to have with her. Are her grandparents comfortable with having you and your husband in their home? or being with the two of you when you're out? Have you ever invited them to your home when they're in town? What other options do they have for seeing her when they're in town or when you're close to them?

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