Dear Annie: My son is being emotionally tortured by his teenage daughters. He has been divorced from their mother for years, but has always been there for his kids. He’s never missed a support payment and shares responsibility for them.
Now the 17-year-old is terrorizing him. My son recently remarried, and the girl hates his wife, who happens to be a very nice young woman. The teenager also encourages her younger sister to do the same. It got so bad that his new wife had to tell my granddaughter that she was no longer welcome in their home. All this nasty behavior is being encouraged by the ex-wife.
How can I help? I’m a grandparent trapped in the middle. I don’t want to lose my granddaughter by taking my son’s side in front of her, but I can hardly sit back and see him hurt over and over by her awful behavior. I love her and her sister, too. What should I do? – Lost in Frustration
Dear Lost: It is not uncommon for children of divorced parents to wish their parents would get back together. When your son remarried, it interfered with your granddaughter’s fantasy world, and she is punishing him, hoping to break up his marriage and put things back the way they were. Unfortunately, the more likely scenario is that she will create a long-term estrangement from her father.
Urge your son to get counseling for both his children to help them deal with their hostility and remaining problems with the divorce. If they are too difficult to have around the new wife, Dad should visit them outside his home. He should not stop seeing them regardless of their horrific behavior, since that will only exacerbate their anger and sense of abandonment. As the grandmother, please stay close to those girls, and help them mature into understanding and tolerant adults.