Dear Annie: What has happened to the politeness, courtesy and respect that we instilled in our own children but somehow got lost down the tree?
My grandson, who is 8, has talked back to his mother for as long as I can remember. She didn’t discipline him as I would have with a good spanking. My daughter is divorced from the boy’s father. The father remarried and has custody because my daughter couldn’t handle him. The boy now tells her that he doesn’t want her to attend his school functions.
My daughter does not get informed of any of his school functions or conferences or any other things going on in his life. The father badmouths my daughter in front of my grandson.
What exactly should she do with respect to correcting her son? It’s getting so out of hand that I fear for her future relationship with him. Should I step in? These parents are in their 30s and should be able to figure these things out themselves.
— Grandma Who Is Just a Little Worried
Dear Grandma: Your grandson shows disrespect toward his mother because that is what he learns from his father. His father has cut your daughter off from being involved in her son’s school activities. This is known as parental alienation and should not be permitted. You certainly could speak to your grandson when you see him and gently help him see that his mother loves him and should be treated better. Your daughter, however, should speak to her lawyer.
Dear Annie: Thanks for printing the letter from “Joining the Letting Go Club,” who feel rejected by their grown children. One part of the letter got my attention — the part where they say they’ve had “minor disagreements” at times, but nothing so major as to cut off contact.
I have had this same situation with my family, and honestly, sometimes the disagreements aren’t as minor as the folks believe. Sometimes disagreements are downplayed to avoid dealing with the hurt feelings and poor communication between family members. The grown children may feel they can’t talk to their parents because of negative and heated exchanges in the past. Nonetheless, I do agree that the grown children need to tell their parents why they don’t have any contact, even if it upsets the parents. They have a right to know.
Several years after a falling out, I reached out to my family members. Over time, we were able to rebuild our relationship, and last year, we had a wonderful Christmas holiday together. I greatly appreciate the special relationship my children now have with their grandparents. Sometimes you have to be the bigger person and do what is best for the family — even if you don’t always agree.
— No State
Dear No: How heartwarming that you took that first step — not only for your sake, but for that of your children. Here’s more on the subject:
From Florida: My husband and I could have written that letter. We know how totally rejected, unloved and lonely they feel. We commend these parents for loving their children so much that they can forgive them and let go. This is because their children’s happiness is more important to them than their own. How sad that these children will not realize what wonderful, unselfish parents they have until it is too late. After much reflection, we have concluded that we gave our children too much and sacrificed too much, and our children lost respect for us.
Arizona: The same thing happened to us. We have no idea why our three children are so angry. We never would have treated our parents this way, and they were not without their faults. We lost our only son 18 months ago, and his wife tried to keep us from his funeral and took our flowers off of his grave. God will take care of this in the end.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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