Question: Dear Luise: I met my husband 13 years ago. We were both divorced. I had one daughter and he had three children – one who was not his biologically, because his wife had an affair (one of many) and had a child to this other man. His ex-wife has a mental illness, so his oldest daughter constantly defends and protects this women who has done nothing but create a totally dysfunctional environment for all of them, has created problems for our relationship and my husband honestly enabled this. They were married for 20+ years. Since we’ve been married 10+ years- we have had problems with all of his children, but the biggest one is with his oldest daughter who we have helped out in MANY ways, financially, emotionally, etc. Most recently for the past 4 years I have been watching her daughter who was born premature- 1lb. 15 oz.- 4 days a week for 11 hours a day. There have been mandates for only organic food, organic clothes, no hot dogs, certain types of laundry detergent be used- the list goes on. They have paid for no food, diapers, formula or childcare. We love our granddaughter and would do anything for her, but my step-daughter and her meek say nothing husband have done nothing but take, take take. They are right there if we are buying dinner, taking them on a trip, providing 3 meals and a bath for their child, but have no relationship with us unless we are doing something for them. We have not been invited to their house for the past three years (one we gave them the down payment for). Last night we learned that for our granddaughter birthday party this Saturday, my daughter and my step-son were not invited to the party and the ONLY reason we were invited is because she invited a couple of our neighbors and their kids. When we questioned this- she jumped into my husband’s face and began screaming at him. I yelled back and a lot of ugly things were said. Today- no phone call- just no granddaughter dropped off. I will not be held hostage by their horrible and selfish behavior and the reality that they will withhold our granddaughter – but I want to have our granddaughter in our life. On top of this I have great resentment towards my husband for his part in creating this person who thinks she does no wrong, but treats everyone so horribly. Anything you can suggest or any insights are greatly appreciated. J.
Answer: Dear J.: Please bring this over to the Web-forum I have created for women with issues around adult children and extended families. There are women there who will understand and contribute to you. We are at: www.WiseWomenUnite.com
There is no way I know of that you are going to be able to stay comfortable in your little granddaughter’s life. Her parents were already exploiting you and what just happened is probably an extension of that. They aren’t going to change unless they choose to and that’s unlikely. They seem to see you primarily as someone to be used. Being angry at your husband for not teaching respect and responsibility is understandable but not productive.
Unless I’m missing something here, you only have two choices…knuckle under and sell out to be able to be in your granddaughter’s life…or move on without her. Neither choice is appealing and both involve forgiving your husband for his family dynamics in the past that are seriously affecting you in the present. Blessings, Luise