“I would like to make a new start with my daughter”
Our daughter Laurène, 40, going through a divorce, needs more regular support to take care of her children aged 9 and 6. She never stopped us from seeing them but often became defensive, accusing me of not following her instructions regarding them to the letter. Since he was a teenager, our relationships have been rather complicated. My husband and I are committed to helping him through this difficult time. What attitude should you adopt? Is it time to open a discussion with her?
The point of view of Marcel Rufo, child psychiatrist
No, now is not the time, Edith. You risk making the situation worse. While waiting for better days, be very flexible with Laurène. To gain her trust, avoid adding difficulties on the mother-daughter relationship front to those she already encounters in her relationship. She absolutely must be able to think that with you her children are in good hands. In such a family situation, grandparents are like a buoy to hold on to in stormy seas. Your kindness and neutrality will allow your grandchildren to experience this moment as painlessly as possible, although it is painful for them in any case.
Once the ordeal is over, Laurène will perhaps thank you for your support. Who knows if she won’t bring up your present and past relationships of her own accord? You can then consider the flattening you want. If the opportunity does not present itself at this time, wait for the next step. In a few years, your daughter will undoubtedly relive her own adolescence through that of her children. She will then probably be in the right frame of mind to return with you to this page of your shared history.
Do part of it
Dear Edith, are the reasons that caused this estrangement important or simply old? In the first case, it seems to me that it will be difficult to reconnect with your daughter without a frank explanation, but will she consent? If it is a question of misunderstandings that have become entrenched, the time seems ripe to prove to her that you are there to support her, without being afraid to show her your love and your availability.
Convey the message
My daughter became estranged from me when she got married. I felt her “grabbed” by her in-laws. I suffered from it and realized that it was up to me to act. I put my pride aside and sent him a letter (the old-fashioned way) in which I confided to him my sadness at this estrangement. She didn’t answer me but our relationship has changed, become softer, and I see my grandson more often. Good luck.