Dear Annie: I am 68 years old and have been married to my husband for 44 years, and we have two children and three grandchildren. Our son has the three grandchil dren, and he is close to the final decree of divorce from his wife of 13 years.
I have always tried to allow our children to live their lives. Our daughter is married and has a very successful career. Our son is successful in the music industry.
I knew there was trouble when I first met the woman who is our soon-to-be exdaughter-in-law. The problem I saw at the time was the mother. I got a bad vibe from some of the comments she made the first time I met her but brushed it off as nervousness around new people. Fast-forward to a year later, when our son and daughter-in-law decided it was time to look for a house. She and her mother looked for houses and settled on one just eight minutes apart.
As time went on, it became evident that the mom was way too involved in the marriage and their home life. If there was any conflict or problem to work out, our daughter-in-law would run over to Mom’s and spend the day. She did not work outside the home. Our son at one point was working two jobs to put a roof over their heads.
Eventually, the situation proved too much for my son. His wife became controlling like her mother and would not allow him much interaction with the kids. He could not take it anymore, and to emphasize the point and try to impress upon her how serious the situation was, he left and got an apartment. They spent a year in counseling, ending with the therapist telling them they needed to separate. The wife said, “I just want him gone.”
So now the divorce is happening. The child visitation schedule was agreed upon in January. The situation has been a nightmare ever since. Our son shows up at the designated time and place to pick up the kids for his parenting time, and she refuses to allow them out of the house. She and her mother are there and make derogatory comments about our son in front of the children.
Our son has been recording the inter actions, and I have listened to them and am heartbroken as to what is being said in front of the children. They are 12, 10 and 8 years old. Our son’s lawyer just wants to keep things peaceful and avoids filing a contempt of court order even though the mom is in complete contempt of court. I have tried to be supportive of my son, but it is difficult to watch this go on and on.
The final straw was yesterday, our son’s birthday, when he was supposed to have the kids from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. However, he was willing to spend less time to be accommodating. He was going to pick them up and take them to a park for a picnic lunch for just a couple of hours. No go.
What should I do? I am very stressed about the welfare of the kids and knowing how the mom and her mother are discouraging the father-child relationship. I think his lawyer is not doing a very good job of advocating for him. -- Stressed-out Grandma
Dear Stressed-out Grandma: I am so sorry you have to witness this. It is so hard to see your son in pain and your grandchildren hurting. The father-child relationship is as important as the mother-child relationship, and it is a shame she is taking out her frustration with your son on your grandchildren. She does sound like a narcissist and very immature, and her mother sounds even worse. Sadly, there isn’t much you can do except support your son and encourage him to maybe get a new lawyer and keep fighting to see his children.
The kids are getting to an age where they will have opinions of their own. If they find out that their mother was keeping them from their father, they will have a lot of resentment toward her. Once they turn 18, my guess is they will turn back to your son. But let’s hope a good attorney can help your son and grandchildren now. The attorney should also be fighting for you and your husband to be able to spend time with your grandchildren. Best of luck.
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