A letter in yesterday's Dear Abby presented one of the most difficult challenges a grandparent can face. "Florida Grandma" wrote about "Nicole," her 18-year-old granddaughter who has been in serious trouble, including an arrest for credit card fraud. Nicole's father Dave, a single parent, has cut ties with Nicole and wants his mother to do the same. In fact, he has told "Florida Grandma" that if she maintains contact with her granddaughter, she will lose contact with him, her son. The grandmother writes: "I understand how hurt my son is and don't want to hurt him further, but I don't think he should tell me what I can do." Abby agrees with the grandmother that her son does not have the right to tell her what to do. Abby wisely points out, however, that the price of going her own way may be estrangement from her son. In addition, Abby says, a continued relationship with the "deeply troubled" granddaughter may bring its own heartache. Neither Abby nor the letter writer mentions substance abuse, but if that is part of Nicole's problem, more heartache is almost certainly in the picture.
I agree with Abby, but I see another dimension to the situation. Dave also has a 10-year-old son. If Dave cuts "Florida Grandma" out of his life, she will almost certainly lose contact with her grandson. So the son has put the grandmother in the position of, in essence, choosing between her grandchildren. That makes his ultimatum even more wrong, but, in my view, it makes the grandmother's choice easier. How can she give up a son and a grandson for a granddaughter who has already betrayed the family with her behavior? I think that "Florida Grandma" should just hang on and hope for a change in the situation. What do you think? Leave a comment below.
More Grandparenting Issues in Dear Abby: