Susan Hoffman Q&A: Daughters & Granddaughters Relationship Advice Mailbag

Grandparents' rights expert Susan Hoffman answers your questions about family relationships. This week: a mom that moves around, a nagging feeling, and a name game.

By Susan Hoffman
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Courtesy of Susan Hoffman
Susan Hoffman

READER QUESTION #1:  My son and his girlfriend just started living together because she had a baby a little more then a month ago. I've only seen my granddaughter twice for five minutes, and every time my son says they will stop by, they never do. He makes up excuses. Call it a woman's feeling, but I think the girlfriend does not want me to see the baby. So what are my rights to see her? Can I go to court for this situation? - Call it a Hunch

Susan: Dear CIAH: I understand your eagerness to get to know the new baby. After all, it's only natural to want to be a part of her life. The best way to ensure that will happen is to become an asset to the parents. I suggest that you adopt some strategies to connect with the mom. As for pursuing "rights"  in court - not a good plan, since you haven't established a bond with the mom. Give it some time and put your energy into building a strong relationship.

READER QUESTION #2: My 28-year-old daughter has two children by different fathers. Neither father is in the picture. I have supported my daughter and her kids their whole lives. My daughter has been unable to work because of numerous medical conditions, but is now working part time. She has very low self-esteem and meets men online. Including the children's fathers, she has now gone from loser to loser. With the current one, she is threatening to move out because yet again. This guy is creepy. She has already done this twice, uprooting the children from the only home they have known. She is making them so insecure and sad and it is breaking my heart. She also is addicted to pain meds, which makes her very explosive. My 8-year-old granddaughter is very bright and we are very close. I am the one who has taken care of these kids daily needs. Is there any recourse for me to stop her from taking these children? - Mother Moves Around

Susan: Dear MMA: I agree your daughter cannot continue to uproot her children. Clearly it is not in their best interest, and does indeed threaten their security. My advice is to either improve the current living arrangement or change it. One way to improve it is to encourage your daughter to participate in family counseling. The best case scenario is that she seek treatment on her own and change her dysfunctional behavior, but it has to be her choice.

The other alternative is to file a petition for temporary guardianship, which requires entering the system and lots of preparation. It is always best to try to work things out on your own if possible. There are resources available to you on and our website.

READER QUESTION #3: My granddaughter sent a thank you card to her grandpa and I for her Christmas presents we gave to she and her husband. She started the card out using our first names rather than “Grandma and Grandpa." Is this appropriate behavior for a 23-year-old married granddaughter? Are we wrong in that it hurt our feelings to be called by our first names instead of grandma and grandpa? Just wondering what your take on this is. - What's My Name?

Susan: Dear WMN: There are no rights or wrongs here. Your feelings are your feelings. If your granddaughter has always called you grandma and grandpa and suddenly starts addressing you by your first names, why not simply ask in a non-shaming, non-blaming way: Why the change? Once she provides the answer, you can accept it, reject it, or tolerate it. Try to look at the big picture, which is the quality of the relationship rather than the name that she has chosen to call you. This may not be a sign of disrespect, but her simply testing the waters of maturity.

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. Susan is not a lawyer. Her advice is for informational purposes only.


My granddaughter just turned 1. My daughter is 19, no job, no car, no phone...and I recently asked her to leave my home due to her destructive behavior towards me, my son and my granddaughter. I asked for her to leave my grandbaby with me, but she took her with her. I have been my grand daughters primary care giver, while my daughter has lived with me since birth. My daughter is very verbally abusive and takes it out on everyone in the home, including the baby. While I am at work, she sleeps while baby is awake. I come home to a messy home and it is clear that my grand daughter is neglected during the day. Although I keep a clean tidy home, my daughters room is like an episode of hoarders. Moldy glasses/dishes, dirty diapers, trash and clothes everywhere (I have pictures). My grandbaby was recently diagnosed with a double ear infection, was treated with antibiotics (which my daughter did not administer)...and is now showing signs that the infections are still present. I advised her to take the baby to the Dr, but my daughter is telling me that she allowed her State funded insurance to lapse. So, she is not planning on taking baby to the Dr because she has no money to pay for the visit or the medication. Fighting for custody has always been in the back of my mind, but my main priority is ensuring that my grandbaby is in a safe stable environment, that she gets the medical attention she deserves and that she be treated with love and compassion.

I live in Indiana and my daughter had the baby out of wedlock, the father has been in prison since she was pregnant.

I've mentioned to my daughter that I feel she needs to get it together and treat her anger management, meanwhile I will pursue seeking custody. Of course this subject does not go over well and she is now not allowing me to see my grandbaby. My heart is broken and I feel I need to start the process....but do not know where to do I prove her unfit? Do I keep a journal? Is it submissable in court?

glamaloves on 2013-12-31 10:27:39

You could make a light and warm response like, "WOW! We're so close that we're on a first name basis!" I did this when my kids tried calling me by my first name. It made them laugh and they quickly went back to calling me mom. on 2013-07-08 21:12:24

I'm a gran and about to start adoption process of my granddaughter. The parents don't call /visit. I've had legal guardianship from the day before she was born. My 5-adult children don't speak to me due to my decision. Best interest of my granddaughter is the focus. I just want other grandparents to help their grandchild, nieces or nephews or any child for that matter with what ever resources they have. Children have the right to have an opportunity to be all they can be while being safe in a loving nurturing home God Bless

Vickilou on 2013-06-25 15:25:55

How do I post a reader question?

laysnana on 2013-06-23 11:47:09

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