Dear Dr. Gramma Karen,
I have two granddaughters, a 9-month-old, and a 4-year-old. Their parents are my 34-year-old daughter, Marcy, and her husband. Both are teachers and make great money. They have purchased a lake house and have another house; they have two new cars.
Marcy loves to entertain and have parties with alcohol. She has 3 or 4 couples they hang out with. She told me yesterday that she will be having a girls’ weekend at the lake. This past weekend she had her husband’s family and 3 couples to her lake house. For some reason she does not like for me to be around her friends. She keeps telling me because of my age, which is 63 years old, I do not fit it with them. It hurts my feelings, and I cry a lot because she cares more about her friends than she cares about me, her mom.
I love her, but sometimes I just want to move away from her because everything is about her. My grandchildren are my life. But she will not bring them to my home because I have had mold and mildew in my home. My home needs a lot of repairs, but I do not have the money right now. I have always had to struggle with my jobs and my home.
Both of my parents are deceased. I was very, very close to my parents with a lot of good memories. I also have a son who is 29 years old; he has a problem with drinking. I am divorced and she still holds this against me and says things that hurt because I left them when they were little.
Please let me see some light at the end of the tunnel.
Dr. Gramma Karen’s Response
I can see some light at the end of the tunnel, but not the tunnel you’re describing. After I explain what I mean, I will describe a “new tunnel” that I hope you will embrace.
First, I understand that you would like to be included in your daughter’s social engagements with her friends. In some mother-daughter relationships, that does happen, but only when both parties want that arrangement. The fact is that most daughters do not opt to party with their mothers. In your situation, your daughter has made it clear that she does not want to include you in her inner social circles.
I know that hurts and you would really like to be included, but Marcy is to be commended for being totally honest with you. Regardless of her reasons for excluding you, it is her call, and it is best if you simply accept her decision. You’ve made your preferences known and there is no need to repeat them. (If I may make a side observation: You mention that Marcy serves alcohol. The fact that you point this out may mean that Marcy feels you are judgmental about her doing so.)
Second, you seem to suggest that because your daughter and her husband make good money and because you have financial challenges, they should be helping you out. As I always remind people seeking my advice, what people do with their money is entirely up to them. You may hope for, and even request, their financial help, but they are under no obligation to provide it.
You mention that your daughter does not want your grandchildren spending time in your home because of mold and mildew issues. Her concern is justified as research bears out the health risks of exposure, especially to children, and to you, too. I suggest you get a free consultation from a mold professional for an assessment of things you can do yourself to remediate mold and mildew, and loans you may qualify for if you need to hire experts. However, even after remediation your daughter may not want your grandchildren to be in your home, but regardless, you should take measures to protect your own health.
Focus on Your Relationship with Your Grandchildren
You state that “my grandchildren are my life.” Therefore, I am going to urge you to make it clear to your daughter and her husband that you plan to focus on your relationships with your grandchildren. Here are the steps I suggest you take:
- Assure Marcy that you understand (say it, even if you don’t mean it 100 percent!) and accept her decision not to include you in her social activities.
- Explain that your main goal is to spend time with the grandchildren in ways that are in her comfort zone, for example, in their homes, not in yours.
- Offer to take care of your grandkids while she and her husband go to out to dinner or visit friends. In this way you can have special time with your grandchildren and allow your daughter and her husband to have some time to themselves.
- Abide by whatever decisions she makes. By doing so, over time you may have more influence on her decisions regarding how and when you spend time with the grandchildren.
And finally, I am going to suggest that you expand your own social network so that you feel less of a need to want to hang out with your daughter and her friends. If you Google “activities and organizations for seniors in (your area),” you will find many options.
In short, I am optimistic that it is possible for you to spend quality time with your grandchildren, improve your relationship with your daughter, build new friendships, and enjoy new activities.
This is what I meant when I said at the outset of my response that I hope you will be able to build a “new tunnel” with some light at the end of it.
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