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Ghosted by 2 of my children - advice

Abu
Community Member

Long story,

We have 4 children, all now in their late 30's and early 40's.

We have been equally fair with all of them, and I'm proud of all they have achieved, 3 of them are happily married, although one, (3)This child was never petty or vindictive, but over the years he has become more and more distant. He would only speak to my via phone when his wife wasn't around (for instance when he was on the way back from work, and on hands free).

We would talk about his work, even allowing him to swear.He no longer sees even his best friend, he was best man at his friends wedding, went through school with him etc.

So, some months ago, we decided to build a Granny Flat,- as an investment, and also to allow my eldest son and his wife and son to move in, pay rent, and save money. We aren't interested in them paying commercial rates, because it's family, and they don't earn anywhere near the money my other children earn.

All of my other children are doing really well financially, buying houses with their partners, my daughter, for reasons of her own is single, doing a really good job, and managing quite well, although she has anger issues, which will come up in this rather confusing post.

3, (son mentioned above), flew off the handle, and said "You will never see your grand daughters ever again" Bear in mind, we have not seen our first grand daughter in 2 years, although they live only a few kilometres from us. We never get photographs, we never get news. We think building the granny flat was just the excuse he needed to cut us off completely.

So "3" had a second daughter in November. We didn't even get an SMS. We found out by accident.

When we sent an SMS wishing his first daughter Happy Birthday in NOvember, and congratulations on the new baby, hoping that one day we would see her.

We didn't get a reply.

We sent a Merry Christmas SMS, We didn't get a reply.

We sent another SMS, telling them we would drop off the presents from all of the family (including his Aunt, who asked if she could visit and see the new baby, but was told in no uncertain terms that she could not), No response.

We dropped off the presents at the doorstep, drove off, and SMS'd that the presents were dropped off. No response, and no response for a Happy New Year SMS.

Any advice on how I should continue to handle the situation is welcome

5 Replies 5

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Abu, welcome

Some of your situation is tricky, the rest is common.

Firstly, I would not judge nor compare your sons (3) friends relationship with your own. He could have totally different reasons to no longer see them. Getting married and having children often brings with it distancing from school friends. So I'd leave that aside and assume it isnt due to a common attitude.

(3) son - well, who knows what his issues are if he doesnt speak. Silence can be a weapon but in this case you wont know if is unless he talks. Daughter in law input? jealousy? Perhaps he appears financially well off with his own home but maybe his debts are high and he sees his brother getting a helping hand. If thats the case then he needs to grow up and that is where the common factor is with many of that generation sadly.

So, I'm a father of two daughters and the eldest is magnificent and the younger uses silence as a weapon for many years flowing in and out of my life without warning. For my own mental health well being I put an end to it and ceased all contact. So again for my own health I made up some boundaries. This might interest you.

  • To see me she'd have to go through the voters role or distant relatives as I've moved house. If she had been mature I would had told her my new address when we moved...the price of her own silence.
  • if she turns up on my doorstep I would suffer guilt is I turned her away. So I'll invite her in and offer a drink. if she has any children or partner with her I would refuse to see them- as I would be hurt greatly getting close to them (I'm a nurturer).
  • I'd talk to her but I would be firm, not very forgiving and not eager to promote a quick return to another relationship. She is toxic and cruel. Leopards and their spots.

People including sons and daughters should not treat others in a manner that is cruel. My mother was cruel to us kids for 55 years. Then, my sister and I ceased contact 11 years ago and out life is now great. Tyrants never win. Your son might not be a tyrant but he isnt mature nor open therefore he will suffer the consequences.

To that end go about your life and give love to the others. You cannot change what you have no power to change. Yes, it will be hard but you've done enough and a simple note "thanks for the gifts, the kids will get them but I'm still not ready to have contact". That would suffice, then you'd give him time. But by trying to contact you are going against his wishes and that wont work. Heels dig in.

TonyWK

tranzcrybe
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

As I understand it, you built the granny flat a few months ago, whereas there have been issues between you and '3' for at least 2 years.
You sound very hurt (and rightfully so) by being denied '3's grandchildren, so it may help to back announce what initiated the fractious relationship you now find yourself in, along with some acknowledgement of your role in such dispute - yes, pancakes have two sides no matter how flat!
The question you seem to be asking is:-

"How do I respond to the stonewalling behaviour and get my grandchildren back?".

SMS (and so many of them) does appear to be a 'loaded' gesture where you may already have known/guessed the outcome - consider the equivalent "Tell so and so that I am not talking to them..." approach which is an outward expression that you indeed wish to do that, but only inflames the situation to create the opposite effect. To that extent, this may have become a battle of wills in which both are digging the hole ever deeper.
Ultimately, one must yield and surrender this combativeness for any progress/healing to begin as I feel it is consuming your thoughts (equally for both parties) despite the bravado of outwardly appearing incensed but inwardly suffering greatly.

[Looking forward to ghoster number 2 - 'anger issues daughter'...]

Abu
Community Member

Hey @Transcrybe,

Thanks for the reply, but no, we only just signed the contract a few months ago. The Granny Flat is not even half completed. We have a large property, and we were wondering what to do with it. We didn't want to subdivide or sell it onto a developer. My wife came up with the idea of a Granny Flat. I was initially against it, but after some long thoughts, I agreed.

Yes, the issues do go back. My son was not petty or vindictive, but began distancing after he married. When my wife invited his wife to a function via SMS, he SMS'd back that the tickets should go to someone else, I rang him and asked what happened. Literally I said "Why didn't SMS and decline?" He then said my wife is not to SMS his wife ever again. Thats when things started to appear to be off kilter. When we met son and granddaughter regularly, she (granddaughter) began to look forward to going with us (we had a special "walk/swing" we practiced), the regular visits ceased immediately she began to look forward to seeing us. When they were invited by other relatives to functions (some that we would not be attending), they always refused, and continue to "be too busy" or "It's inconvenient"

My son would call regularly when he was on his way back from work driving, and cease when he arrived home, and whenever I called him, he would immediately leave the house and go into his garage. Thats why I know it's a maniplulative relationship.

When my daughter broke up with her partner, we immediately moved her back into the house, and told her she didn't need to pay board until she was on her feet. She didn't pay board for 5 years, and moved out when she got a better paying job, I'm immensly proud of her getting it. It's also perfect for he because she doesn't need to interact with customers.

She does have anger issues, and has Intermittent Explosivity Disorder. She refuses to see a therapist. I could not detail her behaviour because of character limits in posts.

She sent the most abusive SMS posts to both myself and wife. She has had a history of this, but always says something like "I was in a bad place when I said that"

When I explained the Granny Flat, I said something like the "Mother Duck has 4 ducklings. 3 of them are swimming perfectly, and she knows they are OK. The mother duck then swims back to the one struggling and helps"

That's always been our philosophy with friends and especially family.

Abu
Community Member

@White Knight, thanks for your response.

I see how active and valued your posts are on this community, and I'm so glad you chose to respond so soon and so well to my posts. It took me a long time to commit to posting here, and I spent a long time reading.

Trust me on this, both son "3" and wife are very, very well off. Of all of my children they would be the wealthiest. He even talked to me about them buying more properties as investment opportunities. They have booked granddaughter into an exclusive school, etc.

On the very rare occasions we visited, granddaughter was shepherded away from us. This didn't/doesn't just happen to us, when they visited other relatives in the past, they made sure she was never out of their sight, and they were reluctant to allow others to hold her. I have only held her once.

I also know grand-daughter is socially underdeveloped.

Cant reveal more and how I know, because this is a public website, and I've already taken a risk.

I like your boundaries. When a relative (who accidentally ran into them in a public space) wanted to tell me about the new grand daughter, I firmly said "I don't want to know about her, stop talking"

I didn't realise until then how much it had upset me, and I went away and cried. I feel that if a mutual friend or anyone brings up the question, it will break me.

I have friends and we talk and share stories about out children and grandchildren. When asked in the past why I don't have photos of my granddaughter or how is my granddaughter, I have to say "We not allowed any", and "we don't know how she is". This has been the case for 3 years. Whenever I spoke to my son, I would ask him how granddaughter and wife is, and he would simply say "They are fine". I once pressed him and asked if granddaughter was walking yet, and he told me she had been walking for weeks.

I appreciate your advice (as well as @tranzcrybe). Yes, it's better to look after your own mental health before anyone else, if you cannot fix the situation, concentrate on what gives you a positive response.

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Thankyou.

No problems, its good to get clarity as we search for the reasons for his/their attitude.

On the topic of "letting go" which I acknowledge is the most difficult thing to do.

I mentioned my mother that my sister and I ceased contact many years ago. I also have a niece, my sisters eldest that my mother lives with. We also have no contact with her for different reasons based on the fact she is in a cult and now a leader in it. She has two young boys. I can live without her but my sister has taken incredible steps to see her grandsons on the basis "my grandsons can never say I didnt try to see them" which imo is not a valid reason to see them as the likelihood of those boys 9 and 6yo to one day search for their nana is unlikely.

I explained at xmas time to my sister that in a way as I see it, she is torturing herself. While it is understandable (the strong feeling of love and entitlement) one should acknowledge to oneself that the parents have the upper hand with their children and grandparents have some but limited legal avenues to lever themselves into young lives that the childrens parents dont permit.

In respect to your son and his wife, there is obviously something that has upset them greatly. As said previously it is their problem that they dont tell you but you are the victim. It is rare that such adverse treatment has commenced without the victim knowing why. Search high and low in your memory for the answer. If you come up with nothing then you cant force anyone to speak nor return to your life which leaves you in that position I mentioned- move on as best you can.

A big part of your feelings could be guilt. Feeling guilty that a child rejecting you "must" have a valid reason or "I must be a bad mother" and so forth. I carry guilt. I've written about it. Also "worry" and its ramifications. So I have here two threads- please read the first post of each, a few minutes only. I hope these will allow you to release yourself from some of your pain.

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/staying-well/guilt-the-tormentor-

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/anxiety/worry-worry-worry

The next thread I'd like you to read fully. At the end its all talk about channeling your thoughts. I'd love to know your thoughts.

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/grief-and-loss/losing-a-child-549E8473E5E7

TonyWK