My Son Won’t Let Me Help Him

Question: Dear Luise: My son is married to a businesswoman, who was away for a year and a half. During this time my husband and I took the year old baby and raised her. We were all against the mother leaving her child, but nothing we did or say could change her mind. Our precious granddaughter is now back with her parents, and had a very rough time adapting to them. Every time they come, she clings to either me or her grandfather for dear life and cries bitterly. Needless to say, it breaks our hearts; we love her as if she were our own daughter. My son’s reaction to these scenarios is jealousy and bitterness. He hates his wife for leaving him, and has now filed for divorce, with the hope of getting sole custody. He thinks we are too clingy (which isn’t true, she clings to us), with our granddaughter, and doesn’t want to come by to visit any more. He has turned into a bitter angry man, (30 years old), that is unhappy with his life, lives over his means, and seems to particularly hate those that love him. Is your answer, “let go”? I try, I really do…but it is so hard. He is being so unjust to us, after everything we have done for him. This is the last thing we deserve, and it hurts to the core. First he turns away from us, and now refuses us to partake in our granddaughter’s life. His soon to be X, keeps contact with us. But I’m on pins and needles about that, because he most def. would be furious to know we have had contact with her while he is fighting for a divorce. So we have broken that off too. Ugh. This is very long, sorry. It felt good to vent. If you have any advice for me, I would welcome it with an open heart and I hope with an open mind as well. Thanks you very much. M.

Answer: Dear M.: This is a really tough one. The child is the one who needs to be considered over everyone else. Perhaps it is wise not to see her for now if leaving you brings her such distress. The whole situation is in transition due to the pending divorce and the ruling regarding custody.

There is no way you can tell your son that he is acting like a child. He made a choice that wasn’t wise and these are the results. He needs to take it like a man and put his daughter first instead of wallowing in self-pity and resentment. However, he is still young and life’s lessons in maturity can be harsh. He’s probably into blaming others. That’s the easier way. Taking responsibility comes eventually but not without a price for most of us. I know it must be very hard for you to stand by and watch the whole process.

I wouldn’t permanently close the door on your soon-to-be “ex” daughter-in-law. They may get joint custody and she could be more willing to let you see your granddaughter than you son is. I agree that, for now, it may be wise to keep your distance. Explain why by letting her know that you appreciate her friendship and you are just backing off during the divorce process because your son is so fragile.

The hard thing for you to face is that they made this mess and it is theirs to sort out. You were involved and you have been deeply hurt. The fact is everyone has been hurt. They need to see, when they can face it, that their daughter is the real victim. She should be the one being given the greatest consideration.

It sounds like your son is just trying to survive and can’t bear the stress of pulling his daughter away from you when she sees you as her safety net and source of consistent love and stability. She can’t figure that out, of course, but she can feel it. Stay as loving and accepting as you can to all concerned. Blessings, Luise

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