Dear Annie: I know this is short notice, seeing as my question is about Christmas, but I’m hoping that you can publish an answer. I’m quite sure there are others in my shoes.
I have a 9-year-old grandson, “Bradley.” He has been in and out of our lives, mainly because of the fact that his mother, “Jill,” and my son, “Andrew,” are not married and my son is not to have custody of Bradley at all. Jill and Bradley have mainly lived with Jill’s parents.
We have never been as grandparents and grandson should be, but my husband, my daughters and I have tried. I knew this, but his mother finally admitted that one of the reasons she never left him at my house while she ran errands or let him spend the night was that her dad didn’t want him around us. She said her dad (Bradley’s grandpa) was always worried that we’d let Andrew come over and kidnap him – which we would never do.
Anyway, for about a year now, when Bradley does come over, he never talks unless we talk first, and even then he only has one- or two-word answers. Jill has always let him sit in on adult conversations, something I totally disagree with. If she starts talking about how this or that is going wrong in her life, he jumps in and makes sure to give his input, but it’s adult stuff he doesn’t need to know about. We realize he forms his opinions based on what his mother says.
Jill generally only brings him around during holidays, when gifts are in order. We can tell he really doesn’t want to be here but his mother is forcing him to come to get a present. My dilemma: Do I continue buying gifts for him in the amount that I do for my other grandchildren, the ones I see often? Am I supposed to overlook what Jill is doing and pretend that he is doing nothing wrong? I don’t want to be the grandma who is trying to gift a grandson into coming more, because that has no effect on him anyway. – Christmas in Kentucky
Dear Christmas in Kentucky: This little boy is only 9, and based on your letter, he’s probably getting a lot of mixed signals from the adults in his life about how to behave and whom he can trust. It’s no wonder he’s a little reserved.
You’re under no obligation to buy him gifts of a certain value, but I would continue to show him the same love and attention you show your other grandchildren. If his home life is chaotic, your reliable support could mean more than you know.
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