Grandparents Not Allowed

8 Apr

Dear LetterBalm: Even after my son and his wife divorced years ago, my husband and I remained close with their only child, our granddaughter. We’ve been an important part of her life since her birth. Late last year, my son died of a heart attack and things have changed. In a stunning development, my ex-daughter-in-law sent a letter from an attorney stating that we could not have any contact with our granddaughter, who’s now 10 years old, and that she didn’t want to see us. I can only imagine how this is hurting her because she idolized her dad and is being deprived of grandparents who love her very much. What can we do? How can we reach her mother to reconsider?

–Missing Our Girl

Too bad that this little girl is suffering two momentous losses so young in life – first, her dad, then her grandparents who can help her cope with her sadness. Perhaps her mother has residual anger or sadness over the divorce or her ex-husband’s death. Maybe she’s depressed or grieving or isolating herself and not thinking clearly. If you’re on good terms with your ex-daughter-in-law’s family, is there a trusted relative who might reach out to her and mediate? Ms. L.B. notes that, as grandparents you don’t have an automatic right to see your granddaughter. But you do have one advantage: Over the years, your son’s ex-wife has done nothing to impede your good relationship with her daughter, and the child is being raised by a good mother. Use this goodwill as leverage – remind her of it – in a sincere letter along these lines:

Dear Kimberly,

We are saddened to receive the attorney’s letter informing us that we are not to have further contact with Katie.

One of the best things about Katie’s life is that she has been allowed to move freely among those who love her and whom she loves. She’s a happy child, due in large part to you. It’s a difficult world for parents, but you’ve raised your daughter well – we’ve always acknowledged that you’re an exceptional mother.

At such a young age, when Katie is suffering the loss of her dad, the sudden shock of not seeing loved ones may be detrimental to her. We miss her very much and worry that she misses us and needs us. We’ve been in her life for so long; our suddenly not being there may be painful for a young girl who needs familiar adults and routine now more than ever.

For Katie’s sake, can you see your way clear to a discussion with us in the next week or so? We all love her and want what’s best for her. We understand if you want to have an attorney present. Please consider our request.

Fondly/Sincerely,

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