Watching your adult child fall in love with someone you don’t get on with can be hard for any parent, but while it’s often no more than a clash of personalities, one mum has now revealed her deep-rooted rift with her daughter-in-law has destroyed her relationship with her own child.
As more and more families are suffering from estrangement heartbreak across Australia, this mother has bravely spoken to Starts at 60 about how she lost contact with her adult child – blaming the devastating sequence of events on his “controlling” partner.
The 70-year-old woman, who did not wish to be named, has compared her own experience to elder abuse, admitting: “I am estranged from our two grandchildren who live nearby. We have been in the situation for almost seven years. It is absolutely heartbreaking. The grief never leaves you… It is like a death without a funeral.”
While she was once very close to her adult son, she admitted she has barely seen him for years, along with her two grandchildren who he welcomed amid the rift.
She explained her son met and married a woman, (who both parents felt concerned about), very quickly. Sure enough, they soon came to believe that their daughter-in-law was controlling their son to such an extent that he began to distance himself from both of his parents, his sister, and his wider family and friends.
Asked what she believes first caused tension between them, she said: “It’s probably that we voiced our opinions about her. I think she was bound to find fault with us, or with any family come to that.”
The woman admitted there was eventually a big argument that cut ties between them. However, she believes it was bound to happen anyway.
“It’s basically a controlling partner, who decides to cut you off. I personally believe it wouldn’t have mattered what family she married in to, the same thing would have happened. We believe she is controlling [him],” she explained.
While her son welcomed a daughter with his wife before they lost all contact with him, they have since had another child who this grandmother has never met.
Incredibly, she said she often still sees her son and daughter-in-law as they live in a similar area to her, but every time she’s attempted to approach them she’s been rejected.
“The first time I was in the café with a big group of people,” she recalled. “I looked up and saw our daughter-in-law. I jumped up immediately and I went to her and put my arms around her, which shows I’m willing to forgive. She was as stiff as a statue.
“Then I noticed she was looking at a little girl on the other side of the room who was getting water out of a fountain. I asked her if that was our granddaughter and she said yes it was, and ‘do not approach her’.
“As they left, I said goodbye to her [my granddaughter] and used her name, but she probably didn’t pick up on that.”
It wasn’t the only occasion the heartbroken grandmother was cut off in public, and recalled another occasion when she spotted her daughter-in-law and granddaughter once again in a cafe together.
“She [my daughter-in-law] was in the process of getting up and leaving. I called out and said goodbye to her [my granddaughter], again using her name, and I didn’t hear but the person beside me heard her say, ‘Don’t speak to random children’,” she said.
At a loss as to how to fix things, the woman has since written to various government agencies, but said she’s had no help offered. The couple have also contacted Relationships Australia for advice on trying to get visitation rights, but decided to wait it out after being told they may need to go to court – sparking a fight they don’t want to have with their son.
She’s not alone, and several Starts at 60 readers are sadly going through similar heartbreak, with one previously commenting: “I am estranged from my youngest son, am not permitted to see his children, he says he doesn’t know me! He draws me in now and again to hurt me again, very cruel.”
Another admitted she has barely spoken to her son since Christmas in 2010, despite constant attempts to mend the unexplained rift between them.