Steel Advice: Grandma needs to extend an olive branch to grandson

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DEAR MARY ANN: My grandson and his girlfriend were invited to attend [a holiday dinner] along with the rest of the family. They have a baby boy whom his girlfriend does not want my daughter to see for reasons that are unknown to me. My daughter was in our downstairs game room holding the baby while the [baby's] mother was upstairs. She later went downstairs and seeing my daughter holding the baby, she took him from my daughter and told my grandson that they were leaving immediately. A verbal confrontation developed between my daughter and my grandson's girlfriend. At one point, I told my daughter along with my grandson and his girlfriend that I wanted them to leave. My husband then asked me not to interfere. A short time later, the arguing escalated into pushing and shoving. At first, my grandson watched the two of them argue uncontrollably and did not do a thing. I believe that my grandson's girlfriend initiated the first shove. When my daughter shoved her back, my grandson then gave his mother a very hard shove that knocked her on the floor. She was not hurt, but at that point, I backed my grandson into a wall telling him that I will not tolerate him laying his hands on his mother. I then told my grandson and his girlfriend that they were to leave immediately.

My daughter has apologized to me for the incident, but my grandson never has, nor has he spoken a word to me since. Because he has made the choice not to apologize to me or speak to me, I have decided to disregard giving him any more birthday or Christmas gifts. It seems apparent that he feels he does not owe me an apology for his behavior and that he wants nothing to do with me.


DEAR GRANDMA: As matriarch of this four-generation family, it is your role to act like the responsible adult. As hurt as you are about this melee, blaming your grandson for not apologizing to you is childish. He was defending his child's mother and may feel he did nothing wrong. The best gift you can give him is forgiveness. You perpetuate the rift with this grandson if you don't talk with him about what happened. Invite him to lunch. You can't solve all of the problems of an angry family dynamic but you can attempt to rebuild a relationship with your grandson.

DEAR MARY ANN: My wife and I have three young granddaughters who live roughly 1,700 miles away. The oldest granddaughter is 4. We love seeing the girls but because of the distance this usually only happens twice a year. Do you have any suggestions of any grandparent-type traditions we could start and maintain from a distance that could be fun and perhaps meaningful for the girls without being an imposition on their busy parents?


DEAR FARAWAY GRANDPARENT: As the out-of-town grandparent you have to devote extra effort to build a relationship with your granddaughters. Memories are created small steps at a time.

Children love to hear stories, read books and get mail. Not all children like to talk on the phone, but they all love to receive packages. You can tuck little extras in the package: holiday socks or novelties, craft supplies, crayons, paints and always a book with a note in front so they know it is from you. Every year send an age-appropriate back-to- school box. Clip a picture of an elephant or a beautiful flower and put it in the mail. Let your little girls know you think of them and why. When you travel send post cards; mail a large map and highlight where you live and where they live. Skype and recorded stories are great options. Every connection you make serves to pass on your family values.

The effort you make to communicate with your granddaughters at each level of their development will reap rewards as they mature. Don't let distance be a deterrent.


Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice.


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