Sage Advice: Grandma Cuts Ties Due to "Cougar" Accusations

November 28th, 2018

Can the relationship be repaired?


Dear Amy: I have had a woman in my life who has been like a mother to me since childhood. When I had each of my three children, she came out to help me. She has been like a grandmother to my kids for their entire lives. She is lovely and we all adore her.

This past summer I visited her with two of my children. She had two second cousins visiting, also. I thought the visit went well. She was very kind and gracious while we were there.

However, a week or so after we returned home, she wouldn’t respond to any calls or texts. The only time she did respond was to ask me if I was going to see a therapist.

I was super confused, but found out later, via an email that had passed around to various members of her family, that her family had accused me of coming on to the two male cousins while I was there.

In the email, she stated that although she never witnessed this, she was hurt that I would do this to her family.

Amy, I have no interest in other men besides my husband, and certainly would never behave in this way. These men are also younger than I. I am no cougar.

I think her family members were extremely jealous of our close bond, and this was their motivation.

She has not only cut off all communication with me, but she won’t talk to my children. They don’t understand why their “grandma” wants nothing to do with them. They feel they are being rejected by someone they loved and trusted.

What do I tell them, and how do we move forward?

– Wondering

Dear Wondering: You should tell your children, “Grandma seems to be struggling with something; it has nothing at all to do with you, and I’m hoping to clear things up with her, but I think it’s going to take some time.”

Write to her. Deny all accusations. Do not accuse her family members of jealousy – you don’t want to back her into a corner.

Affirm your affection and warm feelings. Remind her of your long and loving history. Tell her that the kids love and miss her, and tell her that you hope she will see it in her heart to stay in all of your lives.

The rest is up to her. She may be boxed in by these family members. If so, there is not much you can do – other than be patient and hope that she comes around.

Periodic newsy and neutral emails/letters catching her up on your lives (and asking about hers) might help her to move forward.

She may want to let this matter pass without discussing it, and if this is the case, I think you should let her. Let your relationship normalize again, and table a more serious discussion until you’re both on firmer footing.

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

© 2018 by Amy Dickinson

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