Dear Coleen, Our eldest daughter has shut us out of her life for nearly 14 years. She had our granddaughter a year before that and, one day when I called her, she was so nasty out of the blue I wondered if she might have post-natal depression.
I asked her over to have a chat, but she never came out with any explanation. Then our younger daughter said she wanted to get married abroad, so again I tried to mend things with her sister before the wedding.
We met up in a pub garden and talked for over an hour. She was with her husband and was just so horrible, telling me that now she’s a mother she understood what a mother should be, and that she wasn’t going to have another child but was going to spoil her daughter rotten.
Furthermore, she said she wouldn’t let us see our granddaughter alone until she was 18. She more or less told us that we were dead to her, and she would be civil for the sake of her sister’s wedding.
This was heartbreaking and, over the years, I’ve sent cards and presents to our granddaughter, sent letters to my daughter asking to meet up or just start again, but it’s all been ignored. We brought up our girls with love, we didn’t have much money, but they never went without.
We are decent, hard-working people and are proud of our girls.
Now we’re retired and getting older, I can’t bear to think we’ll never have a relationship with our eldest.
My husband just gets on with life and says she knows where we live and knows that we love her. Can you suggest a way forward?
This is a really sad situation and, what makes it harder, is that she hasn’t really offered any proper explanation or been willing to talk things through with you and your husband.
Reading between the lines, she could be holding on to some kind of resentment from her childhood, but it’s very hard to resolve this if she won’t talk about it.
I think what your husband says is right – if you’ve told her that you love her and your door is always open, then she knows there’s always a route back with no strings attached.
Keep sending the birthday gifts and cards to your granddaughter, because one day she will be 18 and will be able to make up her own mind about things and hopefully she’ll want to reconnect with you.
It might also be worth asking other relatives – perhaps someone who’s close to you and to your eldest daughter – to mediate and try to find a way forward.