Not-So-Charming Granddad

8 Apr

Letterbalm Elegant Old ManDear LetterBalm: My mother’s father isn’t a good person. While my grandmother was alive, he was a womanizer, cheated on her and mistreated his children. He wasn’t very nice to women – he’d charm them and leave them, after manipulating them into thinking he loved them. My mother and I decided to have nothing to do with him after my grandmother died. I was only 19 when my mom died, and he showed up at her funeral all elegant and pious and charismatic, invoking God and prayer. I was totally turned off by this pretense. Now I’m married to a wonderful man, and we have a son. My grandfather wrote to ask me why we have so little to do with him and has sent me an article about grandparents’ rights. He wants to be in my child’s life. I don’t want him in our lives, certainly not in my son’s. How can I keep cool and respond?

–Protective Mom

It’s a shame that your grandfather has shown himself to be a less-than-desirable person. The relationship between a child and his granddad can be one of the most important in life, and your son and his grandfather are missing out. But as his mom, you have every right to protect your son from insidious influences. It may, indeed, be that your grandfather is trying to manipulate you by guilt-tripping you into initiating contact with him. Ms. L.B. says you owe him nothing. Handwrite your grandfather a note. Be respectful and neutral and keep it brief. Don’t explain and don’t engage:

Dear Granddad,

I’ve received your letter and the article. Thank you for sending it along.

If, in the future, I decide to be in contact, I’ll be in touch. Otherwise, I trust you are doing well.

As ever,

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