One of the worst things about being estranged/alienated from your grandchildren is the not knowing if they are OK, we just want to know that they are happy.
Every grandparent I have ever spoken to says the same thing.
If you are anything like me, you spend hours thinking about them, you yearn to be able to tell them how much you love them, that they are in your thoughts every single day.
We also wonder if they miss us?
Of course we have no way of knowing, we assume that they do.
The only way to find out is to ask the grandchildren themselves, but that is not so easy.
When we did the One Show with Dame Esther Rantzen we did get a small insight.
We received emails and letters from adult grandchildren and younger grandchildren, telling us their own very personal, moving stories.
Some younger grandchildren had watched the programmes, and had felt that they had to contact us, I assume in the privacy of their own space.
I have a picture in my head of these young people, tapping away at their computers keyboards, asking for help, they just wanted to see their grandparents but weren’t being allowed to.
Adult grandchildren told such sad stories, one of not being allowed to go to his grandparents’ funeral and the devastating affect that has had on him to this very day, never being allowed to say goodbye, still haunts him.
The Scottish parliament recently held a consultation about the relationship between grandchildren and grandparents, and last week held a cross party group meeting on children and young people.
A child-only questionnaire showed 78% of children thought it was important to keep in contact with their grandparents, the third highest answer after parents and siblings.
That is such an important statistic its worth writing it again.
78% of children.
As you know we were reunited, earlier this year after 11 long empty years, with our granddaughter.
I asked her today how being estranged from us had made her feel, she has given her permission for me to share this with you all.
I said to be honest and that if she wasn’t bothered, then it was fine to say so.
Here is her response:
” I was bothered every birthday and Christmas, it bothered me every holiday I should have been with you and I wasn’t. You don’t actually know how you feel coz you are missing people, but then you are told that, those people are not bothered about you, so it is really hard to explain. When I got things from you, I kept them to myself, no one could use them or anything.”
My love and thanks to my beautiful granddaughter.
Yes, I did cry.
Thank you to another alienated grandchild for her very moving story.
“I only had one GP alive when I was born & grew up without meeting her. We lived in Devon & she lived in Carlisle where my mum grew up. I and my siblings felt very jealous that our friends had Nans & Grandads. Every Christmas we would each get a present ‘with love from Granny’ and I thought how like my mother’s writing my Granny’s was. It felt really sad to see the words ‘with love’ and to have my mum tell me that Granny wasn’t very nice. I thought that Granny didn’t mean the love but I felt confused not to know for sure. I would write a thankyou letter and say ‘with love from Miriam’ and every year would feel tearful because I knew that I meant ‘love’ even though she wasn’t very nice and I didn’t see her. The funny thing is that my mum never told me or my siblings that she or our dad loved us.
Of course, when we looked for and found Granny she was very sweet and loving and very sad herself. It was so good that we did because she developed dementia.
I felt and feel to this day that my mother robbed me of my Granny and all the love she felt over the years and over the miles. Remembering that makes me cry just writing it.
RIP my own dear Granny Mrs Mary Gibson & my dear Granddad Mr James Gibson.”
These are the reasons why we have to keep fighting for grandchildren to have a continuing relationship with their grandparents, the relationship is unique and precious.
Sadly, all too often those who alienate end up by losing a child’s love themselves.
There are no winners in this, ever.