How Can I See My New Grandson?

Posted on: 23 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Allie criticised her son for misusing a gift bought for her grandson, and now she fear she will never see him again?

My son suffers from ADHD and is possibly bi-polar.   Nevertheless, he is married and their son was born six weeks ago.  I was so excited about the coming baby, and my husband and I bought a beautiful crib as our gift to welcome our grandchild.

We were invited to baby-sit for the first time when the baby was twenty-two days old.  When we arrived I was horrified to find my son was using the crib with all its beautiful trimmings as a repository for his bits and pieces.

Knowing I had to be careful about what I said, I told him that I wished he hadn’t put all his rubbish in the crib. He told me it wasn’t doing any harm in there.   I told him that his stuff was dirty and that the crib had cost us a lot of money.  As had all the trimmings, the bedding and blankets.  He was furious, grabbed the baby from my arms and told us he wasn’t going to ask us to baby-sit any more.  He said he’d rather pay a stranger.   We haven't seen the baby since April 16th and I am heart broken and feel very angry at my son for doing this.

I called my son and left a message saying I was sorry I had made him so angry.   My husband arranged a season pass to go fishing at a local lake and I rang and left a message asking if he’d like his father to get one for him too. But instead of being pleased, he got his wife to ring and ask what we wanted.  How can I mend the relationship in a way that will allow me to see the baby again? 

Although I can understand your hurt at the way you feel you and your generous gift have been treated, I think that there’s a major problem here.  You may not like what I am going to say.  But I don’t think the problem is entirely your son’s or his wife’s. I think it is yours.

You start your letter by making excuses for your son’s ‘bad’ behaviour, telling me he has ADHD and bi-polar problems.   The rest of the letter is about your perception of the misuse of a gift, and your feelings of despair at not seeing the baby. 

You tell me nothing of your feelings for your daughter-in-law and son, as new parents. I agree it must be very hurtful to see an expensive gift treated with such disrespect.  But you gave it.  The bottom line is, now it has been given, you can’t tell your son how to use it.   You seem to feel you are ‘entitled’ to tell your son what to do, inside his own home, even though he is now an adult with a wife and child of his own.  It’s as though paying for the present entitled you to a degree of  ‘ownership’ and it doesn’t.  

Now your major concern seems to be:  “When will we get to see the baby again?” not “When will we see my son and his wife”.   Offering to ‘buy’ your son with a pass to go fishing, and thus ‘buy’ access to your grandson with another gift which might later be thrown back in his face is really not the answer.  

As a grandmother, I can understand your pain at not seeing your grandson for more than a month.   However, he is so young that he won’t know about it, and you hopefully have many years in which to bond with him. 

I can tell you from experience, that there will be times in the future when you will totally disagree with the way he is being brought up.  You will long to tell your son and daughter-in-law they are doing things ‘wrong’ because they are not your way.  There will be many times when you will be tempted to tell your grandson how to do or not do something in front of his parents.  

As grandmother of four (and believe me I don’t always agree with my daughters’ upbringing methods), I have learned to put a tight zip on my mouth.  ‘Child of my flesh, but not my child’ is my mantra.  You are in a new role.  You have to learn how to do it.

I think you should start by inviting your son and daughter-in-law out for a meal without junior.  If you are not sure a phone message will get through, drop them a line saying:  “We’d love to celebrate the arrival of little Johnny with you both in style.  So how about coming out for dinner to – their favourite restaurant – on – give them a choice of dates.  Let bygones be bygones and let’s start afresh to be real family.  Promise we won’t interfere.”

I’m sure they are tired.  Tending a new baby is hard work as you know.  Give them a real treat and the opportunity to use that babysitter they have found by now.   You could mention in the note how much you miss them.  After all, as yet, you hardly know the baby.  

If they accept, avoid confrontation at all costs. Keep the conversation light.  And of course ask about the baby, how he is, what he’s doing.   But don’t make baby talk the focus of your conversation.  Be interested in them and what they are doing.  Work on building a relationship with your daughter-in-law.  Perhaps you could offer to help her – do the ironing, shop for her.  Show her you care about her.

If there are further issues of access to your grandson, and in desperation, you could always contact The Grandparents Association.  They are experts on dealing with situation of access.  You will find their contact details at

I wish you luck.  Please let me know how you get on.

Allie Writes:

Andy Advises:

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