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Grandparents Kept from Their Grandchildren: A Case Study

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 10 Jul 2013 | comments*Discuss
Grandparent Grandchildren Broken

When people first get the news that they are to become a grandparent, the standard reaction is a combination of disbelief and glee. And as more grandchildren make their entrances into the world, the joy typically multiplies, with many grandparents happily stating that spending time with their grandkids is one of the most pleasurable parts of their lives.

While most parents encourage their children to enjoy close, loving relationships with their grandparents, some make the decision to keep their kids away completely. As difficult as it is, these grandparents must then learn to accept that they aren’t welcome in their grandchildren’s lives.

One Grandmother’s Story

Sydney loves her grandchildren, all eight of them, yet she is experiencing a painful disconnect from all but one. The mother of two daughters and a son, Sydney was close to her grandchildren until about a year ago, when without notice, her oldest daughter, Jillian, made it clear that she was no longer welcome in her life or the lives of her children. Sydney was crushed—and baffled. As far as she knew, she’d done nothing to warrant such a radical decision. Just six months before, this same daughter had named her new baby after her mother. “She wouldn’t say much,” Sydney says, when asked what reasons her daughter gave for her decision. “She says I use my bipolar as an excuse.”

Background Info

Sydney is bipolar and she is the first to admit that her illness has caused her and her children a great deal of pain over the years, especially when the kids were growing up. As a young mother, Sydney wasn’t always able to function as she would have liked, but back in those days, she didn’t have a name for her condition. “I failed them,” she says, “When they were children, I failed them.”

Since her diagnosis, she has been diligent about following her doctor’s orders and taking the necessary medications. The person she is today is a far stretch from the struggling young woman she was as she worked her way through nursing school while raising her three children on her own. Sydney’s bipolar is well-controlled and she enjoys a happy, healthy marriage, is a semi-retired nurse, and in her spare time, she takes professional-quality photographs. Her life is full—except for the painful distance from her daughters and their children. “I miss them. Even with all that as happened and all of the hurtful things that have been said, I miss them.”

One Daughter’s Influence

When Sydney’s oldest daughter banned her from seeing her children, her second daughter soon followed suit. Only her son, John, has resisted his sister’s influence, allowing Sydney and her husband to enjoy normal grandparent connections with his son, who is five years old. “Jill is manipulative. She is charismatic, likable, and funny, but she manipulates people,” says Sydney, trying to explain why Lindsay, her second daughter, has also decided to keep her children out of Sydney’s life. Sydney recalls that when the girls were growing up, Lindsay was often afraid of her older sister, who was sometimes mean to her. It seems that even as adults, Sydney’s oldest daughter is still able to intimidate her younger sister.

Mixed Messages

Sydney’s oldest grandchild, Lauren, is an adult and is also the mother of a young son. When she was planning her son’s first birthday party, Lauren included her grandmother on the guest list. Sydney knew that her daughters would be in attendance and that it might be somewhat awkward, but she looked forward to the get-together. Sadly, Lindsay announced that she and her family would not attend the party if her mother was there, so Sydney made the difficult decision to bow out. “I didn’t want her children to miss the party. I wouldn’t do that to them, so I chose not to go,” Sydney said, her voice thick with sadness.

She has tried to initiate conversations with her daughters and her grown granddaughter, but all of Sydney’s attempts have been ignored. Jill is bitter, that much is clear, but the origin of her anger is unclear. The same could be said about Lindsay. Until a year ago, Sydney was allowed a normal closeness with her grandchildren—Lindsay and her husband even left their four children with Sydney and her husband for a number of weekends—but since then, the only topic that she is willing to discuss with her mother is a loan that Sydney authorized so that her daughter and her husband could finance a new vehicle.

Sydney has attempted to stay in touch with Lauren, but is met with a somewhat cold response. “If I call her, she talks to me, but she never calls.”


When asked if she thinks things will turn around, Sydney hesitates. “My therapist does, but I’m not so sure.” She is allowed send gifts to Jill’s children and her son-in-law sees that his children send thank you notes. Gifts are also sent to Lindsay’s kids, but Sydney has reason to suspect that the kids never get them. Still, she tries. “I just want my family back.”

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My daughters ex accused me of hitting my granddaughter. Police took statements from everyone that was present ( we were all in one room ) and all agreed that this did not happen. Social Services took an order against me and I haven't seen her for three years. The child told social workers that "Daddy made me say it" but they told her she was a liar. It is breaking my heart. Social Services have closed the file and the ombudsman says he cant act because there is a court order in place. Everyone knows he lied. Even the police agreed he had lied but say they can do nothing. I cant afford legal support and now am at my lowest. The children keep asking to see me they are 10 and 8 years old.
blackprince - 10-Jul-13 @ 3:40 PM
My son is in jail and my daughter in law is with another bloke now. She started bringing my grandsons to see me ,i didnt know at the time but she ha said i have to be supervised whilst they are here by her sister. My daughter was a big part of thier lives and the ame thing goes with her being supervised. She has told us she will make it as hard as she can for my son to see his sons when he gets out of jail. She is brain washing the children against him and would not let them open his presents at xmas. Now she is playing silly little games ...i need to know do i leave it or take her to court?
caz - 12-Feb-13 @ 8:41 PM
Do's the grandfather have the right to have access to see the grandchildren even if the grandfather is seperated from the grandmother. And he is living with another partner (female).
chris - 11-Dec-12 @ 1:37 PM
My youngest son and girlfriend who is portuguese had my first grandson in march also my second son and his wife had my second grandson a few weeks later. My two sons had an argument and didnt speak all to do with jealousy then they had a really bad argument which things were said which were really hurtful to my youngest sons girlfriend. They were living with me at the time she announced she was moving out and i wouldnt see my grandson again. She blames me for not sticking up for her and my grandson. I am really upset because i didnt want to take sides now i have not seen my grandson for two months his father is willing to let me see him but his girlfriend wont and says she will stop my son from seeing his son if he mentions anything to do with me and my husband. I am really upset as im 61 and have had cancer twice and im now disabled after a knee replacement. I was really looking forward to my first grandchild although i have another grandson its upsetting because they will not be able to grow up together. My sons also will never speak to each other again.my world seems to have fallen apart.susan
sue - 11-Jul-12 @ 5:05 PM
Social workers have took my 2 little grandsons away, I was allowed an hour a month contact, I got a call yesterday stating my contact was being stopped, the reason being they have found adopted parents for my grandsons. I offered to take both boys have no criminal record, never been a drug user or abused stubstances. I'm only 40 no illness yet the bonus for the social work dept is worth more, our family has been ripped apart and would like to warn others.
smilerzzz - 15-Jul-11 @ 12:30 PM
I have 3 children, two daughters of 33 and 34yrs from my first marriage and a son of 15 in my present marriage. My eldest daughter has hated my son from the day of his birth, pure jealousy. I may just add that he is autistic and suffers with undiagnosed seizures which occur daily. My eldest daughter is a diagnosed epileptic and her seizures, are in a strange way only known to her, is in some mad way her way of attracting attention. When my son started experiencing these really distressful life changing seizures she witnessed one and said "that's a bloody good act". This is apart from a life of rebuff with her toward him. Anyway a few weeks ago we had another set to in public at usual with her calling him a word beginning with C that I absolutely hate. She didn't stop there with her tirade of abuse and it ended up she has stopped me and my mum, hubby and son from having any form of contact with her daughters. She even told my mum to stop sending F ing birthday and Xmas cards her girls don't want them. All because mum had stood up for my son in that last onslaught of her disgusting mouth. I've now come to the hurtful decision not to contact her anymore my heart can only be broken so many times and this isn't the first time. If our children loved us as much as they claim those words wouldn't even enter their heads. Her loss
Jacquie - 14-May-11 @ 3:55 PM
I too have been denied access to two of my five grandchildren by my son and his wife. Reasons: I have hurt them various times by expressing an opinion contrary to theirs, I got upset once or twice and told them why I was upset and most upsetting to them so they say , I was not at the hospital the day my grandson was born (seven years ago). Up until a year ago, my husband and I were very involved in the lives of the kids, babysitting at least once per month and seeing them weekly. I then did not give them money from my mother's estate, but rather informed them I would put it into a trust fund for the kids. I did this because of the attitude of entitlement they were exhibiting, instead of gratitude. My son cut off all ties with us and refuses to let us see the chidlren.
Nana - 13-Mar-11 @ 2:55 AM
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