Alienated Grandparents is a new term to me. In my day, grandparents had no legal right to see you, unless your parents approved. I wish my parents had not.
Although she rarely visited, my mother’s mom was a huge and vocal presence in the lives of her children. You could almost feel her peering over their shoulders at all times, even when she was thousands of miles away, holidaying in Ibiza or Thailand.
My mother flirted with the fine edge of insanity, thanks to her emotionally abusive upbringing. While she coped by becoming ever more paranoiac and solitary, her more gregarious sister had more “flamboyant” ways of compensating.
On the rare occasions Nain (grandma) visited, tension preceded her impending arrival for at least a month. As the great day approached, my mother and aunt became increasingly nervous. Paranoiac. Fault finding. Taking out their tensions on their husbands and children. Our lives became hell.
By the time she came, we were all miserable. You could smell her before you could see her. A dense cloud of Cartier’s Les Heures Voyageuses Oud & Oud parfum preceded her by half an hour.
Followed by the voice. That strident, high-pitched, constant whine of complaints and criticisms. She was the original malcontent. Nothing was good enough. No one could please her. Not her daughters. Not their husbands. And especially not us grandchildren.
She left wounds invisible to the eye, unhealed to this day. My siblings and cousins have admitted to each other that the memory of her constant put-downs haunt us. We have no fond memories of Nain.
My father’s parents were deceased long before my birth. I never missed them. Never felt the lack of paternal grandparents. No hole was left in my life.
When I think about reparenting myself, one of the first decisions I would have made would be to cut my maternal grandmother out of my life. Undoubtedly, she would have sued for visitation. Family court would have suited her litigious personality down to the ground, giveing her a venue to weep and play the woe-is-me card. Perhaps even air her grievances to the press.
Had she won and undoubtedly she would have, I would today suffer more from her influence than I already do today.
Barring instances where parents are alienating grandparents to hide abuse of the grandchildren, I believe it is a parent’s right to decide whether or not their child will benefit from contact with the parent’s parents.
Grandparents are not the same as parents, who you deeply miss whether you knew them or not. Wonderful grandparents are a blessing, but grandparents you never met are not sorely missed, in my experience. They leave no hole in your life.
Abusive, unkind, personality disordered grandparents wound you, extending the emotional abuse to the next generation when it could have and should have stopped with their own children.
If you are alienated from your grandchildren, take a moment for some honest, I said honest, soul-searching before suing for visitation rights. Are you doing it for your grandchildren or for yourself? Is this about loving the child or your own ego? Are you doing it out of anger at your child? Do you respect them? Trust them?
Then respect their decision about you too.