We divorced years ago and both of us moved on to new partners. Our only daughter is grown, married and has two children. I am devoted to all of them. My problem is that my former wife shows no interest in our daughter or her grandchildren. She talks to our daughter a few times a year when she also sees her grandchildren. My daughter feels there is no real connection with her and with the children and their grandmother.
Family estrangement is stressful pressure on a family, particularly with the emotion of divorce is attached to it.
You don’t know why your former wife has distanced herself.
Look at the history she had with your daughter. Were they ever very close? Did something happen to change the dynamic of the relationship?
Focus on what you do know first. Your daughter is concerned enough as she has talked to you about it. How did you respond? Did you offer any suggestions? Does your daughter want to reconnect?
You have been divorced for many years and it is probably best to limit your involvement to advice for your daughter. Encourage her to talk directly to her mother.
It is really between your daughter and her mother. Best to not pass judgement on the situation. Listen when your daughter talks but that can be very tricky territory. You don’t want to be caught in a ‘he said, she said’ situation all these years past your divorce.
There is also a stage we reach in family estrangement where leaving it alone for a time is perhaps the best approach.
You don’t know what might be going on in your former wife’s life. If there is an issue, she may not be ready to discuss it with her daughter. But be assured there are probably things you do not know about for why this has happened.
Estrangement is very stressful for a family.
All that you can do, that you have control over, is your own interaction with your daughter and grandchildren. Make sure you and your daughter have a strong relationship. Be available when she wants to talk. Listen. Pay attention to your grandchildren. Be a significant part of their lives.
Don’t criticize your ex- wife or discuss her absence in front of your grandchildren.
Children see and hear much more than we realize. They are children processing adult conversation and opinions and it is not optimal to colour their opinion of their grandmother.
It has been my experience that one good parent offsets the effects of an absentee parent or grandparent. As their grandfather, you have a significant part to play in your grandchildren’s lives.
Enjoy your time with them, take an interest in what they are doing and make each visit special. Create lasting memories. That is really all you can do.
You know your ex-wife is missing out on a very important part of life where we reap the benefits of our hard work as parents. For whatever reasons, it is her choice to be mostly absent at this time in family life.
As difficult as it may be to accept, there’s also the possibility she is really not interested.
Some absentee parents feel they have done their job and now it is time to do all the things they felt they missed in those parenting years.
You are there for your daughter and grandchildren. Focus less on your former wife’s absence and more on your presence in their lives and enjoy every minute you share together.
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.