Dear Annie: Grandma worries about how involved she should be
Dear Annie: I am a grandma trying to keep my nose out of my son’s life. “Barry” and my daughter-in-law have been separated for six years but are not divorced. Their children stay with their mother, “Angie,” for school days and with Barry when there is no school. The kids have spent the past four summers with me. Things have been pretty amicable up until this point. I get along with everyone and speak to Angie almost every day. We do not usually talk about problems regarding my son, but things have gotten a little out of control lately.
My son is living with a girlfriend, “Bridget.” Bridget is a drinker, and my son tends to head down that lane if encouraged, but he is not a good drinker. Well, there was an argument, and the police were called, and he was put under a protective order and cannot be near Bridget. They are not respecting that order and are back together.
Angie refuses to allow the children to go to Bridget and Barry’s house. So for the past month, he has been coming to our house with the kids every weekend. This is not a problem for me.
But now Bridget’s family is coming for a visit, and he is planning a vacation with them and the kids. Angie found out, and now it’s an all-out war. I ended up in the hospital, and my doctor believes that though it was most likely because of many factors, the stress over this situation put me over the edge.
Barry and Angie have always gotten along, and it breaks my heart to see this all falling apart. I think Bridget was threatened by their having a good relationship and decided to stir the pot. Drinking is the cause of all this nonsense, though my son has promised me they are not drinking. I want to shake him and make him see that Angie is right, but I just do not want to fight with him.
I told Angie that I don’t want to talk about it — that I am supportive of her but can’t be stressed out. Am I handling this right? Should I keep my mouth shut, or should I speak up more to my son? His court case is in two months, so there is still a chance he will go to jail. -- Nervous Nana
Dear Nervous Nana: The person who should be worried is not you but your son. The fact that he could go to jail and lose custody altogether should be enough to persuade him to reach out for real help with his alcohol problem. If his current girlfriend is bringing him down this bad path, he must ask himself whether she is worth possibly losing his kids over. He must be sober in order to make a rational decision.
You sound like a very good grandmother, and you are correct to maintain a good relationship with the mother of your grandchildren. Remember that all three of you share a common goal -- namely, doing what is best for their kids. Lying is never a good thing, especially when there is a court order involved. Be as honest as you can with your concerns about your son, and continue to keep an open line of communication with your daughter-in-law.
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