Distance is tricky for any family, it can be hard to maintain close relationships and stay in contact regularly. But it’s especially heart-breaking when you can’t be there to see your grandkids grow up.
That’s the case for one upset grandmother, who’s recently written into The Washington Post’s Ask Amy column to ask for advice. The gran explained that she hasn’t seen or spoken to her only granddaughter, who’s now 17 years old, in five years.
“My only granddaughter is 17 years old,” she wrote. “Her mother was my only daughter, but she died 15 years ago. We have lived 1,600 miles apart for years, now.”
The gran went on to say that the last time she saw her granddaughter was when she was 12 years old, however since then “she has pretty much ignored us”.
“When she was going to turn 12, my husband and I flew her out to our house and she travelled with us for about three weeks,” she explained. “We bonded well. I thought everything was going great when we dropped her off back at home with her father and stepmother.
“Since then she has pretty much ignored us; she never answers her phone, and rarely answers texts. I’ve written letters, sent stamped self-addressed envelopes and paper, but only received one letter back.
“We send birthday and Christmas cards (always with a cheque, which is always cashed), but no response, no thank you — nothing.”
The gran said she plans to continue to send gifts until she turns 18 next year, but she isn’t sure if she should cut out the communication entirely after that.
Amy Dickinson empathised with the gran, but said teenagers are usually tricky at the best of times. She recommended keeping in touch with cards and notes, and also connecting on social media. She also thought it’d be a great idea to send her some photos of her mum at the same age when she turns 18.
“I am very sorry that you are not being granted the relationship you want to have — and deserve to have — with your grandchild,” Amy wrote. “However, she has been with you in person one time in her more recent memory. For most kids, that is not enough. Teenagers are driven by extremely complex emotions and interactions; they simply do not have the foresight or hindsight to always do what is good for them.
“You have tried mightily to keep this connection going and growing but her father and stepmother would have to be very active participants in order to promote such a remote relationship.
“Pressure and pleading don’t work. Keep in touch and yes – send her gifts until she turns 18, and then cards and notes after that. If possible, connect with her on social media in order to see what she’s up to, but don’t pressure her on any of those platforms, either.
“When she turns 18, send her some photos of her mom at that age. Share some memories of her mother that would make her smile. She (and you) lost her mom at a very young age, and you are the link to that part of her past.”