The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Monday, November 17, 2008

Grandparents

Since there are many different reasons for estrangement, I feel conflicted about the issue of grandparents. Depending upon our situation - whether it's a grandchild missing a grandparent, a parent withholding their children, or a grandparent longing for a grandchild - the broken relationship pose's heartbreak.

In my own situation, my mother never showed any interest in my children; before, or after our estrangement. Although, even if she had, I wouldn't have felt comfortable leaving them alone with her. When my daughters were little, this caused me a great deal of anguish. Since my father died when I was young, I mourned that my children would never know what it is like to have a loving grandparent.

I had such fond memories of my own grandmother that I was sad that my children would miss experiencing this important human relationship. However, my children did spend time with my grandmother. So much so that they thought she was their grandmother. This made it all the more difficult when my grandmother, whom we loved dearly, cut us out of her life for good. I couldn't understand how a loving grandmother could reject her grandchild and great-grandchildren.

In other words, I come from the perspective of longing for the grandparent relationship for myself and for my daughters, while my mother and grandmother did not want a relationship with their grandchildren.

I also understand when, in cases of abuse, a parent does not allow their children to see their grandparents. Many adult children are clear - certainly those who have experienced sexual abuse - that they don't want their own children left unattended with their parents. Yet, they often find themselves legally or emotionally embattled with their parents over visitation with their children.

Other families walk the fine line between wanting their children to receive the good their families have to offer, while guarding against harmful circumstances. Unfortunately, many of these families often find their children "in the middle." receiving confusing messages from both sides as to who was right, who was wrong and who is to blame for the estrangement.

And then there are grandparents who have been cut out of their children's and grandchildren's lives and they don't know why. They mourn for their children, the grandchildren they love, and the grandchildren they will never meet; precious time, never to be replaced. My heart breaks for these individuals as well. Although I haven't had this experience, I feel a shared empathy through the universal loss that comes with estrangement.

I've heard of many different circumstances causing a family cut off: intolerance, sexuality, choice of mate, In-laws, family dysfunction, abuse, etc. Usually, the cause of the rift has been building for years without adequate communication. Then, a single event "appears" to have caused the rift.

No matter which way you cut it - estrangements are painful stuff!

3 comments:

mile191 said...

hmmm. i am thinking about this one. i will come back.

Anonymous said...

Nancy,
This is so timely for me personally. My husband and I have been estranged from our children's grandparents because of inappropriate responses to issues surrounding sexual abuse with in the family...we have been estranged for 13 years and just recently there has been a little contact. Navigating through all this is so difficult...we find ourselves trying to discern what is the right thing to do, also trying to maintain strong boundaries, as well as evaluate where they are. I am so looking forward to receiving your second book and hopefully learning more about your experience as you walked through this with your family. Thanks so much for continuing to share from your heart with those of us who are on similar journey.

Lynn Eargle

healandforgive said...

Dear Lynn,

Thank you for your comment. I always love hearing that the sharing of my experience is helpful to others.

I hope that you find a comfortable "place" with your new situation.

All my best,
Nancy