Ask Amy: Long-Distance Grandma Fights to Connect
When a connection only runs one way...
Dear Amy: My only granddaughter is 17 years old.
Her mother was my only daughter, but she died 15 years ago.
We have lived 1,600 miles apart for years, now.
When she was going to turn 12, my husband and I flew her out to our house and she traveled with us for about three weeks.
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 check, which is always cashed), but no response, no thank you — nothing.
I think I’ll continue to send gifts but stop when she turns 18 next year.
I may continue sending cards, but I’m not really sure if I should cut out the communication.
What do you think?
— Long-Distance Grandma
Dear Distant: I am very sorry that you are not being granted the relationship you want to have — and deserve to have — with your grandchild.
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.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
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