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Is it wrong to keep my child from her grandmother?

My mum is planning to get married sometime this year and I'm not sure if I want my daughter to attend the wedding. Basically, I dont really like my mother and try to stay out of her life.

To give you some background: My mum (Sheila) had several boyfriends when I was growing up and i never really had a father figure. She is a strong personality and that always has helped her get what she wanted in life. As a child, i never liked the fact that she never had a stable relationship. Things became very difficult between us and I moved out when I was independent.

Our relationship became so bad, that we stopped being in contact for a long time and I haven't seen her for many years now. Sheila tried to get close to me after my daughter was growing up as she was interested in her grandchild. With time, my stance softened and I wanted my child to have the love of a grandparent. I have tried to be the 'mature one' and let my mother and my daughter interact as I didn't want my child to feel the tension we have gone through. But, I can't see myself bonding with my mother again as she has never been there for me.

Now, Sheila is planning to get married to this long term boyfriend of hers and she wants me and my daughter to be involved. My daughter is quite excited about attending her Nan's wedding, but I don't really feel the same. I really am confused in this complex relationship triangle. Should I let my daughter have her own relation with Sheila? Am I being selfish in imposing my views on my daughter?


Heather | Expert

Heather

It seems your mother has matured quite a bit since you were a child. To go from several boyfriends to finding one that has been with her long term and she is getting married to says a lot.

I know that folks haven't walked in your shoes and none of us can understand what you went through as a child. There are plenty of hurt feelings that seem to still be pretty raw, but time can change so much, as well.  

She is your mother and all mothers, no matter what they are going through, deserve some respect. You don't know what she went through as a child, nor did you walk in her shoes. Her inability to have solid relationships when you were growing up could stem from something in her past or she could have a mental disorder that made it difficult to connect with others.

Instead of feeling angry or detached from her, perhaps you should show her a little compassion. I'm sure she didn't seek out in your early years to hurt you on purpose. Your hurt feelings are a byproduct of how she behaved in your past. I think the best thing that you and her need is to find a therapist who can sit down with both of you together and separate to dig into the deeper issues in your relationship.

As for your daughter and her, as long as your mother is loving to her and doesn't put her in harm's way, then they should have a relationship regardless of how you feel about her. There are things that our parents or in laws do that rub us the wrong way, but to deny your daughter a chance to have a good relationship with her is unfair to your daughter. She will be missing out on something wonderful and that is her grandmother.

As the relationship evolves over the years, your daughter will make up her mind whether or not she wants a relationship with her. You should keep your feelings close to your chest and not let on with the tension. If she wants to know your story, then it would be okay to tell her when she is a late teen or young adult, but you need to emphasis that you want her to have a good relationship with her grandmother. It is important that she develops her own opinions.

Should you two be involved in the wedding? Yes - this is her happy day and you will do everything you can to make it special. You put that smile on your face and have a great time. Let your daughter dance and be merry, and let her admire the bride and imagine that she will be one someday, too. It is one night in a long life that you can give to your mother and that would be the best gift of all. She deserves that much.

I think the time is now to mend the relationship through professional help. You need to do this not only for her and you, but also your daughter. Also, by calling her by her birth name and not mom, mother, mum, and so on, that puts a wall between you two that doesn't need to be there. I have a feeling that what she did is something that stems from her past and it would do you two some good to sit down and for you to listen to her talk about her childhood and what follows after that. Her history is so important and that is what made her who she is today.  You need to have a good relationship with her because before you know it, time will be up and you will regret that the rest of your life.  

You cannot get time back. You deserve to have your concerns heard, but you also deserve to have the weight lifted from your shoulders and to have the air clean between the two of you. It will bring closure and you will be a happier person. Imagine if you had a similar relationship with your daughter like you have with your mother. Wouldn't that tear your heart out? Now imagine how your mother feels that she is unable to get close to you. Take care and I hope you work it out with her. Every girl needs her mum.

Read more answers by Heather