Over the summer, my son and I got into a fight when I said it was a bad idea for their 14-month-old to be drinking pop. We haven’t spoken since, and I haven’t seen my granddaughter, either. I miss her more than anything. What do I do? How do I mend fences and get back in contact with them? I’m willing to admit I was wrong, if that helps.
Susan says: Well-meaning grandparents often step over parental boundaries without realizing it. While it may seem perfectly logical to give advice to our own children, they don’t usually see it that way, especially when it comes to child rearing. Parents have what is known as parental authority, i.e. the right to raise a child as they see fit, and grandparents must learn as quickly as possible to respect that right. When it comes to giving advice, solicited or otherwise, don’t do it.
Open communication could have prevented the problem from escalating, but instead the parents chose to get rid of the person rather than the problem. Sadly this is often the case.
Keep in mind that your granddaughter misses you just as much as you miss her, and that you will do whatever is necessary to mend that fence. Expectations can often get the best of us so If you don’t receive the response that you want don’t give up.
Admitting that you are wrong will definitely help; you made a mistake and are willing to assume responsibility for it. I suggest sending a letter reflecting your feelings of remorse with an offer to make amends and a promise to do better. Remember to be specific about the behaviors that created the alienation, otherwise it becomes an empty apology. Adding a “peace” offering, such as a Starbucks gift card or something you know that they enjoy can’t hurt.
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Susan Hoffman is the creator and director of Advocates for Grandparent-Grandchild Connection, a charitable non-profit 501©(3) organization, the purpose of which is to provide resources to families, specifically grandparents, experiencing visitation issues with grandchildren. She is also the author of Grand Wishes: Advocating To Preserve The Grandparent-Grandchild Bond and A Precious Bond: How To Preserve The Grandparent-Grandchild Relationship, as well as the documentary filmmaker behind A Precious Bond. She sponsored a bill in California on behalf of grandparent rights that became law in 2007, and currently lives in Newport Beach, California.
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