Toxic Grandparents – What to Do and How to Move Forward

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An interview with Amy Goyer

To say my father had a rocky relationship with his parents would be a huge understatement. There were constant arguments, followed by silent treatments, and even emotional abuse. My grandparents had a hard time seeing my father grow-up and have a family of his own. For every decision he made in his life, whether it was buying a house or choosing a family pet, they felt he needed to consult them. As a child, I saw my parents argue constantly with my grandparents and it left my brothers and me confused and uncomfortable – that was until major boundaries were set. We spoke with home and family expert Amy Goyer about what to do when we have toxic relationships with our kids’ grandparents, and the tough questions that follow. — Christina Fiedler, TMC contributing writer

What makes grandparents toxic in parents’ lives?

When there are conflicts between grandparents and parents, there is usually an issue with roles and choices. Parents and grandparents may not agree about all issues related to raising the children (grandchildren), and grandparents may not accept the fact that parents have the ultimate “authority” to make decisions and choices about how they are raising their children. A grandparents’ key role is to support their adult children in raising their grandchildren and to love their grandchildren unconditionally. If they don’t see their role that way, or if the parents see their role differently and there is no agreement, the relationship, (like any relationship wrought with conflict) can become very negative and even, as you say, toxic.

How can parents draw personal boundaries for themselves? For their children?

Parents need to be clear about their priorities and “deal breakers.” What are the issues that they feel the most strongly about? Is it most important that their kids stick to a strict bedtime schedule? Follow a certain diet? Be disciplined a certain way? Not receive certain gifts? There are always going to be things they feel strongly about, but it’s wise to pick your battles. Once you determine that, communicate your boundaries (or your children’s) in a very clear, concise way and be consistent. Be careful about how you communicate this- (see my tips below as they apply here too) – don’t turn it into a tug-o-war with the kids in the middle.

If the boundaries are crossed, what is the best way to confront an issue to make sure it is addressed?

Sandwich the issue:

When discussing controversial subjects, remember the old adage about “sandwiching”? You sandwich two positives around the negative. So if you want to talk to your parents or in-laws about these issues, think about how you can start out with a positive (a compliment, a thank you etc.), bring up the controversial issue, and then end with another positive.

Minimize the Drama:

Try to keep emotion out of it. Stay calm and don’t take it as a personal insult if your parents or in-laws don’t agree with you. Be very matter of fact and share the specific reasons you’ve made these choices – don’t assume they know and they don’t care. No one wants to hear “because I said so!” – you probably didn’t when you were growing up and your parents probably don’t want to either. Treat your parents or in-laws as you would want to be treated – with respect. Remember, someday you may be in their position too!


Use your active listening skills – paraphrase what they’ve said or what you perceive to be their feelings about the issue you’re discussing and ask if what you’re hearing is accurate. Thank them for their concern and say you want them to know that your current choices about how you are raising your children are not in any way a reflection of them or the way they raised you. Emphasize that you hear them, but be clear about your position in a very matter of fact way.

Ask for their help:

Enlist grandparents as allies. Perhaps, for some issues, it’s helpful to be clear that you are simply raising children in a different time and have different information available to you and have made your choices based on your love for your children. Sincerely ask them for their help and make sure they know how much you appreciate their support as you do your best as a parent. Make them team members, not enemies.

Remember a grandparent’s joy:

Remember that grandparents experience great joy in “spoiling” their grandchildren. This does not mean turning their grandchildren into spoiled brats; it simply means they are enriched by generosity to their grandchildren. When possible, if you are not dealing with a health or safety issue, give grandparents a little leeway now and then.

If you are communicating clearly with respect and love, and it’s still not getting through, you might try an objective third party to aid in the conversation – a therapist, family friend, family mediator, clergyperson etc.

When is it time to distance yourself from a toxic family member?

If you have tried all of the above, including an approach with a third party to help the conversation stay focused and keep emotions out of it, and it’s still not working, perhaps taking a break might help. I would caution against completely or permanently distancing yourself, and your kids, from their grandparents. In the long run, children benefit from having adults in their lives that love them, and you could be cutting them off from that. Make sure the conflict is truly about what is in the best interest of the child and not just about your relationship with your parents – if that’s at the core then work on healing your relationship and leave the kids out of it.

If you choose to distance yourself or even cut ties with a grandparent – what is the best way to describe this choice to your children?

As I said above, while there may be situations where children are in danger and shouldn’t have relationships with grandparents, this should really be a true last resort. Children will not easily understand why you’ve separated them from someone they love or who loves them. Even if they don’t always want to spend time with grandparents, you are sending the message that it’s okay to disconnect from family. Be sure that you are okay with that message, as you are setting a precedent for the children. Better to consider a scaled-back relationship if necessary rather than totally cutting the ties.

Whatever you do, don’t lie to children – they are smart, intuitive and will figure it all out sooner or later. If there is abuse involved, get help from a therapist or counselor who is trained to deal with those issues with children. Discuss the best approach to prepare the children and answer their questions (and they WILL have questions, whether they voice them or not). Discuss the best ways to talk with the children about the family conflicts and try to avoid secrets within the family, as that only perpetuates the problems. Depending on their ages and abilities, different amounts of information can be shared with children. Don’t give them too much – or too little – to handle.

Amy Goyer is an expert in aging and families, specializing in family caregiving and multigenerational issues. She is a consultant, speaker, and writer who has worked for more than 30 years with older adults, children with special needs, and their families. As AARP’s Home & Family Expert, Amy provides expertise on a variety of issues, including family caregiving and aging in place, livable communities, grandparenting, parenting, and other family relationships, multigenerational living and family history.

The Mother Company is on a mission to Help Parents Raise Good People. We do this with our children’s Emmy-winning television series, Ruby’s Studio, a series of preschool and early educational picture books, free teacher guides, music and more, all about social and emotional learning, and with TellStella, a digital service that connects parents to parenting experts via text and talk for one-on-one support and guidance around all parenting topics for kids 0-18+


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Posted in: Communication, Emotions, Expert Advice

Comments (101)

  1. Linda

    Is it legal for in laws to throw daughter in law out of their house and keep the grandchild ? And not allow mother to speak to child by phone. Please we need legal advice.

    • jackthcat

      @Linda – i’m not a lawyer but common sense tells me no, unless it is court-ordered and the grandparents are legal guardians. the mother is still the child’s parent, unless she has limited or shared custody with the father of the child. the parent should away have visitation rights, even if it is supervised visitation. just reading your statement, it sure sounds like a messy situation, that didn’t just begin yesterday. get a lawyer.

    • maria platt

      Common sense says no….

    • Reply

      I believe it is more then alright to throw the inlaw out if she has been doing stupid things I know how you feel and I know how mad you can feel but believe me I have 3 grandchildren at the moment going through hell and they so much want to speak to their mother selfishly she is a pain in the arse dumb and does’nt think but don’t let you grand kids not talk to there mother let them but does’nt have to say for hours 10 minutes then hang up more the enough time don’t give her grounds to stand against you she may win and take them away don’t let your situation with her get in the way of loving your grandkids

  2. John

    I never thought my parents would attempt to play the role they are playing right now. The only reason they have a relationship with any of us to keep up social appearances. My mom will be buried with a 50k ring on her finger while we struggle to buy groceries..l never thought it would be like this..never.

    • Cathy

      Did your mother steal your grocery money to buy that 50k ring? Unless that’s the case you really just sound like another kid who feels entitled. I do not know your case but you are coming off as a self involved jerk who doesn’t look at your mother as a person but as your unlimited bank account…Grow up, get a job or have your wife get a job and stop having kids that you can’t afford.

      • Lis

        Kathy, John makes a valid point. My selfish, narcissistic mother only visits my 2 children who live 5 minutes away maybe once a month so she can post how wonderful she is on FB. She has a huge house, travels every month, and never bothers to take her only 2 grandkids anywhere. She has never had to work as my Step-father has bought her everything. Hubby and I work non-stop and still struggle. I seriously think it’s the boomer generation who feel entitled. My grandparents always took care of us and never complained!!!! Oh well I guess ” Glamma” can be old and alone in the nursing home one day when nobody wants to see her and her diamonds can rot in the box with her.

  3. B.M

    I’ve been with my fiancé for 3yrs.
    He has a 4yr old son from his previous relationship, they have joint custody. She has him from Mon evening to Fri evening and my partner has him from Fri evening to Mon evening.

    Due to his work schedule and not being able to drive at the time, the grandparents were looking after their son during his visitation time. However if he had a day off he would spend it with his son.

    In their original court agreement the mother did not want the grandmother to be left alone with Thomas due to verbal and written harassment recieved from the grandmother whilst they were still dating and when they separated.

    His grandparents overrule all his decisions when it comes to they’re grandson and they buy his love by giving him presents all the time and taking him out all the time which we can’t afford to do. It’s gotten so bad that he doesn’t even listen to us any more he days I’m allowed cause grandma said etc
    When I first started dating him the grandparents took us to Yorkshire and while we were there we were sat outside a restaurant and their grandson was running around and heart knocked over 2 waiters I got embarrassed so I went really quiet she asked me what’s wrong and I said nothing was wrong then for the rest of the night she kept hounding me to find out so eventually I explained and she got really angry saying you’re not even a parent how dare iu judge how we raise my grandson and I said u knew it wasn’t my place that’s why I didn’t say anything but you wouldn’t leave me alone then she just kept on shouting at me so I said I can’t handle this so I started to walk out and she said don’t come back so she’d kicked us out in the middle of Yorkshire at 11pm with no way of getting home-about 5 hours later her husband came to fund us and said we could come back but everything was just so awkward afterwards.

    Me and my fiancé fell on hard times when he lost his job so we were forced to move in with the grandparents (his biological mother and his step dad), but they said this was only a temporary situation until we could find somewhere else to live, living their was just so awkward they didn’t make us feel welcome at all so we used to stay out of their way.

    A few months before xmas I fell pregnant and the grandparents raised their concerns about us being in their house with a baby and his 4yr old on weekends, I said I was trying to find somewhere to move to. Then his sister started asking us when we were planning on moving out because the grandparents had mentioned to her that they were worried about us still living in there home.
    On xmas day an hour before the rest of their family were due to arrive the grandmother decided to verbally attack us saying that we hadn’t helped get anything ready-(I was pregnant and still working full time and he was working full time aswell) the grandmother was shouting at us saying that they don’t know why we’re still living in their house and that they want us to move out and I reminded her that I’ve been looking but we couldn’t afford anything at the moment as we had no savings. She was shouting at us in front of both her grandchildren and one of them still remembers this incident and brings it up whenever we see her and she tells us she has nightmares about it.
    They gave him his sisters old car as a present so that he can use it to pick up his son and drop him back to his mother’s every weekend and they kept it under their insurance so it would be cheaper because he was a new driver.
    His sister had allowed her daughter to visit her grandmother and they decided we were going to go out for the day. We were going to take his son in our car and she was going to take her grandaughter in hers but she begged to come with us and we said why don’t you go with her on the way there then come with us on the way back and she said no I want to come with you and we explained the car seat was already in her car so we said if you’re good and go in grandma’s car we’ll buy you a present when we get there. When we got there she accused us of speeding which was obviously not true because we drove past 3 police cars if we were speeding they would have pulled us over. Then she started shouting at us because she had got upset and offended because she said we’d bribed her to go I’m the car with her, we tried to explain it wasn’t ment to be in a horrible way but she stormed off and started harrassing us with text messages he replied but I didn’t because I didn’t think any of this had anything to do with me but when we met back up she started telling at me for ignoring her then she left us with the kids and went home.
    Her husband who calls himself the grandad but he isn’t the biological grandad, comes home from work everday and starts drinking beer as soon as he gets in, the grandmother makes him sleep on the sofa as punishment when he has too much.
    They took his son to Butlins and they didn’t even realise that they’d nearly lost him because the other grandchild who is only 8 went after him and brought him back. They also lost his son in America, In Florida at a theme park, they had the park security and the police helping them to find him.
    My partner lost his job again in February and became extremely depressed to the point he didn’t even see the point of getting out of bed. The grandparents were completely horrible about it saying he was just being lazy.
    Whilst I was pregnant with their grandaughter they showed little interest, they also got very angry with us because I went into labour when they were supposed to be attending a birthday party. We asked them to look after his son as we didn’t want him being stuck in hospital for hours but the birthday party was supposed to be no children allowed and it was late at night. The grandparents took their grandson to the birthday party anyway and didn’t get home till after 1am in the morning, he had also fallen over at the party and hurt his knees because he was running around when he was tired.
    I was kept in hospital after the birth for about a week, they didn’t come to see me or their grandaughter until the next weekend and kept making excuses that they were too busy. When they eventually did come they didn’t stay long and didn’t talk about or look at their grandaughter much instead they sat there watching and playing loud videos of the birthday party they went to.
    The furst day I got back I waited downstairs for both of them to get home from work and asked them if they wanted to hold their new grandaughter but they both said they were too busy so I went upstairs.
    During my pregnancy I’d spoken to my midwives and to citezens advice and they said because they wanted us to move out, we didn’t feel comfortable living there and we couldn’t afford to move out, they said I should ask them to write us a letter telling us a dare we have to move out so that when we became homeless the council would help us but I knew they wouldnt sign it so I didn’t ask.
    His grandmother wasn’t happy that her son had mended the relationship with his father (the biological grandfather) her ex husband so everytime she found out they’d been talking or we’d visited him she would get moody towards us. On Fathers Day we went to go see his father, the biological grandfather, his mum’s ex husband, and she got upset and asked us to come and meet her in town instead so that his sister and her grandaughter could meet my baby, her new grandaughter. We said no because we already had plans then she started harrassing us with horrible messages, I got really upset and being a new mum my maternal protective instincts were kicking in so I was too scared to go back that night but he begged me, once we got back luckily both the grandparents were in bed but when they woke up the next morning the grandmother immediately started sending me horrible messages again and I said I can’t take this anymore I’m leaving, then she said I was being selfish and I said if she really wanted to help us then she could write us a letter telling us we had to move out but she refused to do it because she doesn’t like other people to think she’s a bad person. I had brought the grandson into our bedroom while I fed my baby and u was going to take him down for breakfast after she’d been fed but his grandmother barged into the room and grabbed him yelling at us for not feeding him yet I explained I was feeding the baby first but she we didn’t care, then he went downstairs and asked her calmly to stop arguing with us and they continued shouting downstairs in front of her grandson then he decided to be the bigger man and left the house but she wouldn’t let him take his son with him she clung on to him and he didn’t want to hurt him by trying to pull her off of him. Then I heard the grandmother running up the stairs, I was scared, I was still holding my newborn baby in my arms feeding her so I put my back up against the door so that she couldn’t come in and she kept pushing and shoving on the door till I couldn’t hold it any longer and stumbled forward as soon as she got in the room she grabbed my arms and started pulling me backwards screaming at me to get out of her house. I was struggling to get her off me without hurting my baby, her grandaughter then she let go because she realised her grandson had been watching the whole thing and she said you won’t always have these kids to protect you and she grabbed her grandson and forced him to have a bath telling him his father doesn’t love him, that I don’t love him and asking him if he’d speak to a policeman and tell them that he was scared of his dad but he kept saying no I don’t want to. I messaged my partner to tell him what she’d just done to me and the baby and what she was saying to his son and he called the police.
    When the police arrived one of them stayed downstairs with the grandmother and her grandson and one came upstairs to me and my baby, the officer did not write down a statement even though I’d explained what had happened he only writ down our details. They stayed with me until my mum and her husband arrived to pick me up and get my stuff out, after only 15mins of carrying my stuff down on my own-they weren’t allowed in the house and the offices weren’t allowed to help me, I was still very weak from only being back from hospital for 4 days, but his grandmother decided that the situation was too stressful for her so she said we would have to come back and get the rest of our stuff another day.
    We explained to his ex what had happened and she immediately told the grandmother she had to bring her son back to her which they reluctantly did.
    Then when we tried to arrange to get the rest of our stuff from their house they said they did not want us to come to their house and we didn’t want them to come to my mum’s house either so that they wouldn’t know where we were to harrass us. We contacted the police to try and get our stuff back and they said we have to have five written evidence to prove that they’re being unreasonable about getting our stuff back eventually.
    Two days after we’d had to leave they came in the middle of the night and took my partners car, the police said even though it was a gift it was still in their name so there was nothing we could do but they deliberately did this because they knew it would make it harder to stick to the custody arrangement.
    A month later they dumped all of our stuff on the side of the road at my mums house-anyone could have stolen it?!

    Now they are taking my partner and his ex to court asking for grandparents rights to see their grandson. I’m only on maternity pay and neither of them have a job what do we do they have soliceters helping them?!

    • Betty

      Hey going through something similar email me very important going to make a book about the whole custody court system and parents rights against grandparents rights and how parents should have more rights.

      • Betty

        Definitely if you need someone to talk to email me at I know how it is grandparents can be quite unfair especially to the grandchildren.

    • Drophammer77

      My ex wife’s mother is a narcissist. Controlling and conditioning everyone to be dependent on her. I fell into this trap during my marriage especially while my wife was having an affair. I was at home (Always with kids while she had to find herself) Her words. I will never forget the day I met my mother n law and asked her if my wife had said anything about our marriage because I was being pushed and pulled constantly multiple times a day. She looked at me and said “Oh my daughter is so happy. That your the Man, husband and father aby woman could wish for. As I told her I think she cheating her mouth dropped open in disbelief. My ex Mother N Law called me everyday telling me she didn’t know who her daughter was anymore. That I was a blessing to their family. I sacraficed everything because I believed in my marriage. She was having an affair with another married man with a kid. Our kids were looking at me for stability and love. Mother n law told me to kick her daughter to the curb but I said no. She needs guidance not abandonment. 15year marrage and suddenly without a word I was removed from family, friends, everyone… Alienated from everyone. Like I was the one who did wrong. It took 2weeks from talking to my mother n law every day for 15yrs to refusing my existence. I was kicked to the curb. I went through a vicious divorce and if it wasn’t for prayers and my parents I would have lost eveverything. I never lied to my kids what was going on but I never (Still have not) bad mouthed their mom. Still today they try and alienate. They buy many toys for my kids sending them on fun family trips. Money is the only thing they have to offer. It is hard teaching this to my children that money isn’t everything while they are being showered with toys from Grandma. Yet, in the long run my kid’s at 8yr old boy and 11yr old girl know what is right and wrong. They watched me love and forgive their mom for her behavior and affair/s. trying to save our family from being torn apart. I learned my mother n law enabling her daughter’s affair wasn’t about anything except that she did same to her husband many many years ago. It’s true the Apple doesn’t fall far from tree. But having to experience the emotional cost and price her kids went through how could anyone do same to their kids and grandkids?!?! 6 months now since divorce finalized ex wife living with her Mom and their both bitter and miserable and of course their unhappiness is all my fault. Ex Mother n law… Grandma…. It’s all about outward appearance. Her appearance. It’s NOT about what is best for grandkids. Removing kids from their Dad or Mom who are emotionally and physically capable of raising their own kids is Not what is best.

    • Ashlindsmom02

      No offense, you seem sweet but why are you handling this? Any of it?

      Your man needs to man up, he also needs to father up.

      He’s their parent, they only have 2. This isn’t your fight, it began before you and it will carry on long after.

      • Mom

        I need help. My heart is hurting. I am about to go through an adoption process with my stepson(12yrs old). I have been his mommy since he was 1. He has never called me anything but mommy. His birth parent (maternal) was in and out of his life for the first 5 years with large gaps in between. It was a mess. He was so very confused. We found out she was abusing him in everyway possible. Physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually. She lives in 15 different houses and with 14 different men within a 2 year period and is a heavy heroin user. We tried everything to keep the relationship stable before finding out about the abuse but nothing worked. We fought for many years for custody. She would show up to court only when her mother would find her and bring her in and she was always high, but the court system, rightfully so, makes it almost impossible to sever a woman bioparents custody. Well finally they saw her for what she has done to him and ordered only supervised visitation. She has never contacted us since and has never had him since. This was 6 years ago. We were allowing the maternal grandma visitation with him because we didn’t want to uproot his entire life when she (bioparent)disappeared. Well years later we find out that she (biograndma) too was warping his mind and punishing him for things he would say about his feelings. Forcing him to be in the same room as the woman that abused him for years against his and out wishes. Maternal grandma for years would say to my face “you are his momma and you are the best thing for him” then when she would get him alone would tell him that she raised him and that bio parent was never abusive , that he was imagining it all and if he ever spoke of it he would get soap in his mouth or put in a room by himself or he would get the silent treatment. If he was ever hurt or sad and wanted to come home or call us they would forbid it and tell him they decided when he went home and that we were not the decision makers. She would buy him things we asked her not to ( such as electronics that we chose as parents we didn’t want him growing up with his face in constantly) and tell him not to tell us. She would cry and weep and say “you don’t miss her (bioparent)” ,or “you don’t love me if you say that” she would constantly tell him he had a horrible life because bio parent wasn’t in it , but she could be if I were gone. It was herat breaking to him and to me when I found out that what she was saying to me but doing to him was the opposite. I felt I had no say and I could only pick up the pieces when he got home. Finally, he came to us and said he couldn’t take it anymore (at 11 years old). That he no longer wanted to put up with the abuse to have fun with toys or to have fun at their neighbors (which is where they would send him every time he was with them). So we told him it was his choice. And we would not make him go if he felt hurt by them. I wrote them a ten page letter letting them know what he told us, how he felt, how we felt, and that he needed some time to heal from a decade of abuse. They threatened court and then when we told them again that it was his choice we have heard nothing back from them except for attempts to be passive aggressive on social media about adult egos and children not getting to speak to family because of them. This was my son’s idea and we were not going to stand for them hurting him in anyway, especially after what he had been through with her daughter. It’s been a year since he has been there( to biograndmas home) . He does have some fond memories of their visits but only of their neighbor or gifts he got or places he went. But he still says he wouldn’t go back ever. I do not like them , but I get this gut feeling sometimes that I wish it were different. I just can’t stand the thought of my mother not getting to see my boys , but I know what we all decided was right . I just need reassurance or to hear that someone else is in the exact same position. I am not looking for biofamilies that do not like step parents opinions or involvement. I am looking for respectful answers for a woman that has raised her son since almost birth and needs healing advice on how to deal with an abused child and the family that abused him. I know that once i adopt him, those ties will be severed anyways, i just need to vent and to hear im not alone in cutting ties of toxic family members. So please, For those of you who are unsure of the definition of mother , look it up. The first three definitions have nothing to do with birthing. And in this case my 12 year old knows who his true and only mother is.
        Thank you for all of your time reading this . My heart hurts for what still may be going on in my boys heart. My other child will never have to deal with this and I can’t help but give more attention to my eldest who has been through this trauma.

  4. Tami

    I am 36 years old and About a month ago I discovered that my mom is a manipulator and narcissist. For years I have been trying to figure her out. I finally did.
    I have a 12 year old daughter that she is manipulating and placing guilt trips on. My mother tells her that if she has her birthday party at a place where she doesn’t like that she will not go and says “don’t you want your Nana to be part of your birthday?” She talks bad about me my husband with our daughter. My mom tells my daughter things and to not tell us.
    We are considering moving(currently we live 5 minutes from my mom). My mom does not like this idea. So she discusses all the negative things about moving and being further away from her Nana. My daughter tells me she is not moving and will live with my mom.
    My mom consistently text my daughter to get all the who, what, when and where.
    I am struggling with how to limit her contact with my daughter. My daughter will be very upset with this s as for she will fear the repercussions of my mother. As do I. However, the stress she puts on our family is intense. I have recently limited contact with her, cold turkey. I have not explained my reasoning nor has she asked. But she has increased contact with my daughter since I have gone limited. HELP!

    • Lynny

      How are you going now? Hope youve found peace x

    • Kimber

      Hi Tami as a mother going through something similar I would suggest 2 things. 1st check with yourself that your mum isn’t also emotionally abusing you (it is possible that you don’t even realise its also happening to you) second you have to do what it takes to protect your daughter (restricted phone time and completely block visits) oh there’s a third thing and you may not like the sound of this. A councillor for your daughter to ensure that emotional abuse is the only thing happening.

      Good luck stay strong and trust your instinct

    • Mom

      Please let me know how this has turned out. I would have a talk with your daughter, show her science of narcissists and what they do to children. How old is she? Would she understand if you talked to her about what a true relationship of a grandparent is supposed to be. My 12 year old finally saw through the manipulation and harmful narcissism once we explained what to look for. Then we cut all ties immediately , at least til we all heal from it and set up boundaries. Usually the abuser will show their true colors when they lose all control and take themselves out of the equation because they do not like being the one that is not making the decisions.

  5. Ms. Maris

    My parents never saw me as an adult, even at 35 years old. They argue or belittle my word in front of my impressionable young children. I decided to end any contact when my father decided to scream in my face in front of my children with rage, frightening my young4 year old. No adult child should endure constant criticism or ridicule especially in front of their kids. It minimizes their authority in front of their kids and leaves a lasting impression. I think the healthiest thing adult children should do is move on from this toxic parents and raise their kids differently than they were raised.

    • Nan

      I’m truly sorry for the families in conflict. However it seems like the words “toxic” and “abuse” are thrown about a bit freely. It takes two to tango and there are likewise two sides to every story. I’m a grandparent and absolutely astounded at the way children are used as pawns and taken in and out of people’s lives without so much as a thought about the child’s well being. Families used to stick together and grown-ups set aside differences for “the sake of the children”. My own daughter accused me of being toxic/controlling and regularly threatened to or did stop contact between me/husband and our infant grandson. My daughter and son-in-law were 18 and 21 ish when our grandson was born. Not so different than my husband and I when we were starting out. Our grandson and daughter lived with us until grandson was 8 months old when she married son-in-law and moved out. Our daughter had not shown the signs of cherishing our grandson like a new mother does – no interest in decorating the room (we gave her the funds so help foster interest but it wasn’t there) no interest in cute baby clothes, baby development books, nesting or what not. She chose her sons birthdate so her bestie from highschool could be there on the way to be deployed in the Army. She insisted on eating McDonalds on the way because, how hard can it be to have a baby Mom you did it? She insisted on an inducement. She was texting after a bunch of epidurals and declined to hold the baby in favor of texting. After baby came home, we realized something wasn’t right with daughter but tried to be supportive. We decorated the babies room while she was in the hospital (she had never bothered) and we were told, “It’s not your baby” over and over and over. Really. She insisted on using cloth diapers because I did and proceeded to throw poopy ones on the floor. She put our grandson in sleepers so small he could not straighten his legs. Yes we gently brought up concerns about depression and tried to help. We kept her on our insurance. She was exclusively nursing because, “You did it mom how hard can it be.” even though the baby was not gaining properly. Finally after gentle talks and love didn’t do the trick we had to make rules about feeding the baby, getting up when he cried, diapers in hamper, rotating clothes that were too small, she retreated to her room. My husband had to buy formula after talking to the family dr on a day I was at work and the baby was hungry while daughter dear told my husband he didn’t what he was talking about (baby was born at 75 percentile and down to 20th percentile two months later) he needed a pacifier. The accusations about us being awful toxic people continued. After months of walking on eggshells and always deferring to her lest we be insensitive – we started picking up the baby when he fussed and giving him love and attention. It was fine as long as we told daughter how awesome she was… After daughter married and moved in with son-in-law we noticed grandson wasn’t making as much noise, smelled like mildew, and the small clothes issue came back. We tried gentle coaching, offers of a housekeeper, day care, whatever they needed. They both told us we were intruding and would withhold grandson but amazingly we could “babysit” him when they needed money. The filth! They threw everything on the ground diapers, wet clothes, garbage, mc donalds wrappers, you name it it was in a pile on their floor. Our grandson learned to walk with short steps as he had a mine field of crap to wade through. All the while we were the “toxic” “intruding” “crazy” so on and so forth. One day she let me in the disgusting apartment and while my son in law layed on the sofa swilling a gigantic slurply I was allowed to look at but not touch, move, or clean the grandson. Well fast forward until our grandson came back at 3 speaking 3 words. His first word at 8 months was nana. At 3 he said Nana Pa and Peen (dog) and our daughter did not see a problem with that or the fact our grandson did not know how to play. So after 3 years of speech therapy at $100 an hour, all kinds of interventions, endless endurance of daughter and son-in-laws immaturity, accusations, so on and so forth our grandson is now safe, healthy, and happy. Yes, we finally spoke the truth and called our daughter and son-in-law out on being neglectful, slothful, uncaring adults who had no business with children. That was after a few years of tip toeing around and being told our standards were too high and their lifestyle was not our business. Yada Yada. Our son-in-law acknowledged his participation in the child abuse/neglect and lives with us and grandsons (yes they purposely had a second while neglecting the first but that was none of our business either) while trying to become a better parent. Our daughter who is in her mid twenties is obviously damaged and lost ran off with a criminal is and is pregnant with another mans child. We don’t know why our daughter rejected all of our values and morals. We think she was severely traumatized by the traumatic birth process she endured with the oldest grandson but we don’t really know. It could be the self esteem generation or we werent hard enough on her. Who knows but I do know she was never left hungry, dirty, ignored, or wanting for love. What we do know is we tried to play nice and it nearly cost our grandson his development.



      • Done

        You vastly overestimate your importance in your grandchildren’s lives. It is so telling that estranged parents of adult children completely ignore the parents and start obsessing about the PARENTS CHILDREN. Because you have lost your extreme control ( which has EVERYTHING to do with the estrangement…ya think?) you start playing the victim regarding your children’s children. How painful must the relationship must have been for your kids to have made the decision to cut you off? Think about it. No child cuts off a parent unless they don’t feel safe. It’s not one event. It’s a lifetime of feeling that way. Just because you don’t think they should “feel that way” because “I did the best I could/have always loved them/ I’m not perfect ” etc ad nausea my does not change that fact. If you want a relationship with your grandchildren , try repairing the relationship with your child. Word to the wise… You will get no response unless your child perceives a difference in you.

        • abuse&neglect survivor

          this is spot on!

      • Not the narcissists grandma

        Please understand you just RUINED any chance at a normal life those children had. Every child I have ever known to be raised by a grandparent ends up with self esteem and drug issues. And you already had your chance at raiseling one but decided you needed another shot cause you first attempt was an epic FAIL. I am not in my 20’s or 30s , I have watched egotistical grandparents try to run all over the rights of parents and when it comes down to it, it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. you should be highly disgusted with yourself for taking lives that were not yours to take and making another human admit to something they probably didn’t do to the extent you are saying just to see their own children. You are rotten and this is why the world is in turmoil. You need to pray to God for forgiveness and act like a normal grandparent does. Give those poor children back to their rightful god-given parents and stop being a narcissistic jerk. No one not even you who wants to have a savior complex should be allowed to jump in where you are not wanted. Shameful. God sees your ways and lies and secret reasons for hurting your own daughter. Grandparents are the narcissists that are killing the family hierarchy and the love a person naturally developes for family. I’m sure you whisper lies in their ears about how horrible their mommy was while you stole them. I promise you this. They will resent you for what you have done. I have seen it a million times over. You will regret your actions even if it was cleaner at your house, they will hate you for taking their normality away from them.

  6. Bonnie

    my daughter yells screams shakes her fist at me for leaving a message on her phone and when I got angry and fought back she says I have dementia and won’t let me see my grandchildren she is a person who has to be in constant control and have the last word no matter what. how can I prove that I don’t have dementia and get to see my grandchildren?

    • Becca

      If you need proof that you are mentally well I would recommend seeing a mental health specialist. It would help you legally at least, if you need to resort to the courts for visitation rights.

      Your daughter sound like she might need one though. Even if you had Dementia that’s no reason to yell at you or ban you from seeing your grandchildren. My Grandma has dementia, it’s upsetting but not her fault.

  7. Bonnie

    How can I see my grandchildren. what can I do to prove I do not have dementia when my daughter continues to cause fights even when I try to defend myself?

    • Bonnie

      I want to know how I can prove that I am not a toxic grandmother? and see my grandchildren

  8. Mskhem916

    When my family took a break and stopped interacting with paternal grandmother she petitioned us for visitation and backed off at the last minute. She is being more controlling again so we stopped interacting once again and she has made fake accusations in court got CP’s involved and convinced my daughters father that im the toxic one. I don’t know what to do now h he left me after his mom petitioned us for guardianship and now less then fifteen days before the minute order he has left me over an argument about me wanting to be first in his life. His mom will not allow me to speak to him age keeps saying he doesn’t want to either but I have not heard one word from him . I’f he can’t even speak to me and lives with the women who has verbally abused me should I worry since I don’t allow her contract with my five year old . ? Because she is saying I am not right and the judge will tell me. I just can’t trust this women after all she has said about me to me and how much and is truing to break the relationship up by saying in in polar and crazy… she is seriously making me feel like I am nothing the way she speaks about me and tells me her son feels the same way…..I don’t know what to do to make her stop and be able to speak to my daughters father if I have to go through her is it okay to feel like I can’t trust him either because that is how I feel and if she has a big influence on him then I don’t want my daughter there

  9. Valerie

    Some of these so called parents annoy me I’m A 62 year old gran bringing up my 2 little grandsons mother took off to Australia and father is.t on the scene i would give everything i own for some help there is none for the likes of me let me add i have had lung cancer left with 1 lung did not smoke before you ask you might need these so called toxic grandparents one dayl love my boys and would.t change a thing we don’t have much but what we have is ours

  10. Anonymous

    What to do when you find yourself in apposition where history is repeating itself between in laws and blood family. We are a middle aged family which has been on the receiving end of narcissistic behaviour from both MIL and now own mother, with SIL and sister fuelling the fire in order to gain favour for their own families sake. Relations with in laws broke down many years ago and so we endeavoured to raise our children ourselves. Our eldest has achieved academic success, however we now feel we need support for us and our youngest child from our in-laws due to the recent abusive behaviour from blood family . Although they now have contact they choose to exclude us and contact our children direct and on endeavouring to discuss reasons for the breakdown they deny their actions leading up to this. Hence we are left feeling as if we are living with lies and due to their use of inheritance as a means of controlling the situation we are concerned for our children and their future influence on them. How do we assure our children of our family values of truth and honesty when working against these negative / deceitful personalities in order to retain our children faith and trust in us as parents. We have given so much of ourselves to others that we now find ourselves struggling as a family, trapped between lies. What do we do ?

  11. Charmaine Alita

    I was raised by my paternal grandmother. My grandmother hated my birth mother because long before my parents met, my mother’s uncle dated my grandmother. At some point of their courtship my mother’s uncle told my future grandma that if she left the city she was residing in at the time and join up with him in a nearby community, he would marry her.

    My grandmother put her faith in this man and moved to a strange new city. When she settled there, she didn’t get the marriage like was promised to her.Instead she was given the terrible news that my mother’s uncle was already married and had six children.

    My grandmother was in shock and she said she had too struggle something awful to take care of herself and three young children.
    My father was in his early 20’s. He met a young lady which he fell
    in love with. The young lady was my future mother. I will never understand how my father just happened to run across the niece
    of a man that jilted my grandmother that city had a population of over
    100,000 people!

    I was told in later years by my mother how the fireworks blew when my
    father took my mother home to meet my grandmother. When my father
    spoke the last name of my mother and she found out she was the niece of
    the man that lied and jilted her, my mother said she went berserk, she started screaming for my father to get that damn woman out of her house.

    My mother knew from that point on any relationship between her and my father was going to be a difficult one because of my grandmother. She said it was very hard my grandmother caused so much trouble between them that in few years they separated for good from each other.

    Before breaking up they did manage to have 4 children. I was the first born. My mother said my grandmother just stole men away from her. She got the point that whenever I would spend time with my grandmother
    when she went to try to pick me up and take me home with her my grandmother would collapse down on the floor hold her chest and scream she was having a heart attack.

    My parents were fighting so bad and my mother didn’t have enough self assertion to fight off my impossible grandmother so she just decided to leave me with her. Did my grandmother notice my other brothers and sisters no! she hated them refused to acknowledge them at all.

    When they grew up and was old enough to try to come and visit me. My grandmother talked to them and after a few minutes would asked them to leave her home. They did nothing to her, she hated them because they lived with my mother.

    My grandmother would hear stories as the years passed about how my sisters and brothers were struggling and she didn’t care one bit. If they all
    had died she wouldn’t have cared either way. She hated my mother beyond life and as a child she would tell me my mother was dirty and no good and that her entire family was dirty and no good.

    When she thought I was bad she would compare me with mother and say I was no good just like her. Sometimes if she thought I was pouting with her she would ask if I wanted to go live with my mother and she would make me dial her telephone and she would put her ear next to mine near the phone’s receiver and when she heard my mother answer she would
    make me hang up the phone.

    My toxic grandmother never realized the damage she did to lives of my brothers and sisters by causing my parents to split because of what
    my mom’s uncle did her in the past.

    My grandmother influenced my father to point that he distanced himself
    from my sisters and brothers and when he broke from my mother he never
    tried to contact them again. Never wrote letters to them or called them.
    When my aunt died in 2006 I called my sister and told her that I heard he would be in town for his sister’s funeral and that if she wanted to see him go there.

    She told me later she tapped on the shoulder after the funeral and asked if he knew who she was, He said”no” when she told him she was daughter he was stunned.

    All of this because of a toxic grandmother hate that blew apart a family and damaged it to the point that it will take several generations for the scars to disappear.

  12. Zin

    I am a 20 year old girl,living with my grand parents.My father was passed away since i was 2.And my mom is a nun.A buddhist nun can’t support a normal human even he or she is her blood.So yes i’m living and educating with my aunt’s support.But the problem is i never owned a normal teeager’s life.Grandparents control me all the time even they aren’t giving me any moneys.My aunt lives alone.I want to move in with her.She is an adult atleast she can understand what i wanna do.I can go out only on my uni time and come back home.No chills,no privacy.They said it is for my life.I know oldies but take me to breathe for a second.They call on phone all the time when i’m out and it is embrassing.They act like me a child and i’m tired of it.I will finish my degree in my 21 and planning to live alone.And enjoy my life freely.I hv seen some good grandparents but most of all can’t understand what young people wants.I was depressed,all of my time was spent for them.But now i’m over.They are toxic for me.Sorry for my english.U can give me some suggestions how to move out alone.

  13. Lisa

    I have been experiencing my daughter distancing me from my granddaughters. She would beg to differ. We have returned to a state of arguing over many petty topics and it seems to me that my granddaughters have been put in the middle some what. I know they love me and just want the arguments to stop. I try really hard not to engage in them around the girls. Lots of times I just distance myself by staying away for awhile. Ever since the last disagreement the kids themselves are distant and seem like they are trying to please mom and dad by saying no to my many invites for over night stays and outings. This is really sad and I hope I am wrong about my thoughts.

  14. D.Christine

    I have been divorcing an abusive attorney since 2011. The parents are sick narcassists and race has been an issue. In other words, the grandfather in particular would only talk to one child who looks white and not the other child. They are from Birmingham Alabama and live in Southern California. I knew there was a problem after the kids were born when I saw a Confederal Flag on their wall which they called “art”.

    The ex was estranged because no matter what you did these grandparents would not shut up about how my kids should have been raised. To give you an idea, when my mother was visiting and was suffering from Alzheimer’s, these grandparents wanted us to interrupt our Christmas and travel to their stupid house again (never mind that I had to spend thousands of dollars to travel ever year that they were born). I said no and do you know what they did – they asked my mother to take the kids to them!!! They would “pay for everything”. The grandfather is an arrogant former Colonel in the Air Force who is used to giving orders and expects everyone to do what he said. He was fired from a government job because he screwed up on the job and of course blamed everyone else. The reason why my ex and his parents were estranged is because his dad had the nerve to tell me that “if I was any kind of a wife, I would make his son stop drinking” and I said “Do it yourself, you weren’t very successful in trying to get your wife to stop drinking until the kids were grown – the first wife told me that. Then the grandparents kept trying to use and pay the kids to get them to change the dad’s mind. The joke is on them. My ex hated his parents and only want their money. He is going to drain all of their money and they are so blinded by hate that it will be too late. He has a brother who is in North Carolina and is a racist. The emails he sent to my ex was sent to me to read. He is in North Carolina and my ex always called him a spoil brat and dumb. That brother is so stupid that when my ex tells him that there’s nothing for him because of the “divorce” – that crazy brother will come after me and my kids. My ex is going to dump his parents at a VA hospital and let them die there. It is the abuse of our kids and the embarrassment that they have parents and a dad like that.

    Best thing you can do is to protect your family. Don’t respond to anything. They are going to drive themselves crazy all by themselves.

    I don’t know what any single mother can do when you have people that operate on pure blind hate. They are out to discredit and destroy you and pay everyone to spy on you and harass you. They are willing to spend every dime to prove it. The grandmother even got a FACELIFT give me a brake!!!! The grandfather is an only child. I respected his mother because she called me a nigger to my face and we actually talked about that. She said that she liked me better than her snotty daughter in law. I liked her too for being honest and at least having the courage to talk – considering we brought her first grandchild to Birmingham to see them.

  15. tythai

    Let me start by giving you an overview on my situation. I have a child with a man who currently does not have much to do with his child and I am honestly okay with that. However, his mother has voluntarily picked up the slack and for many years it has been a joy having her around. She has taken my child on like she was her very own, and I appreciated the help I was receiving. We naturally became excellent freinds up until recently. My daughter is now 9. At the age of 1 her grandmother suggested she should be baptized in a catholic church and I thought that may be a great idea at the time due to her father wanting is as well. When my child turned 8 the grandmother decided she should participate in classes to do her first communion which takes two years to complete. However, now my daughter is about to graduate this class and is now totally against the practice. She no longer wants to complete the classes she does not want to give her first communion. She says I love God and I love Jesus and she doesn’t see why she haves to do this. I believe in freedom of religion so I supported her feelings. I then told her grandmother, because they were eager to see this happen and my child no longer wants to participate and she the grandmother says what are you putting in her head. The truth is I nor my immediate family are putting anything into her head. We just support her. Well her grandmother goes on to threaten me as her mother to saying she had some dream that I think is bogus. in that dream something told her I will pay and suffer greatly for what I am doing. She emphasized on how greatly I will pay and suffer. She started the conversation off as something told her to her finally saying she woke up and told Jesus her mother being me is behind this and she will pay greatly she further suggest she will put voodoo or a hex on me. Furthermore, she says dont blame her when it happens whatever that may be. FYI Im currently in the hospital do to pregnancy complications and the grandmother knows this. What should I do about this? Im afraid over the years I have given this grandparent too much authority over my child. I hate to file a police report but the threats appeared real. i cannot emphasize enough the threats she made to me. Took me by surprise.

  16. Kim

    I would be interested to know what your thoughts are on extremely toxic grandparents and young children. In short, my husband and I both have terrible relationships with his parents. They are constantly criticizing and demeaning, think they should be able to control his decisions and are offended by any and all personal boundaries and decisions we make, and will employ absolute silent treatments, tantrums, and arguments to try and get their way. We were living with them when my son was born (bad) but have left since then. His father would actually completely ignore the baby if I was holding him, as he is still angry at me for daring to defend my hubby at one point before the baby was even born!! They will enlist the other family members to target my hubby as the ‘problem’ and then throw a fit when we cease to engage those family members about the matter. Since we moved out, his father won’t even call, so the only time they talk is when hubby calls them and he isn’t too ‘busy’ to talk. They seem to think deserve a place in our baby’s life simply because of their title as ‘grandparents’ and will accuse us of ‘keeping him from them’ as if they are a victim of the evil parents who won’t just drop him off and shut up. After everything that has gone on, they will still complain to my hubby that it isn’t fair that my parents get to spend time with him and they haven’t had ‘their time alone’ with him. While we will not visit them at their house at this point because of these behaviors, as well as them resuming smoking inside their home, we have extended the invitation to meet us for dinner or come to family events (where I feel they will be socially restrained and unlikely to behave the way they do with us behind closed doors), which they refuse to do. I believe they do not care so much about being a part of our lives or our sons as they do having complete control of the family. They seem to prefer being the miserable victim to accepting boundaries and finding ways to get along. I am at the point where I think the baby is better off not knowing them at all than to know them and then be subjected to the psychological abuse they dish out at every opportunity or worse, having to cut them out later. What are your thoughts on children who are too young to know their grandparents? Is it better to keep the distance? We have decided that for now it is probably best to continue to invite them to large gatherings where the behavior is stifled, keep limited contact and not engage them in any of the arguments they continuously try to drudge up, and limit any other contact that has the potential to allow them freedom to verbally attack us. Our son will certainly be kept out of the situation with them until something would improve, but where do you even begin to mend that if they won’t accept that they should have anything less than total submission to their control and opinions? I am not willing to endanger my son’s wellbeing to soothe their egos. I have heard many people say that grandchildren need a relationship with their grandparents, but I feel like he is lucky that he doesn’t know them and I don’t think anything is missing from his life to be protected from that kind of emotional abuse and conflict, but still feel judged for not promoting that relationship.

  17. Chris

    My mom got guardianship of my son and i could really use some help

  18. Becca

    My father is infamous for his silent treatments of x-friends (people that are considered friends but my father has ruined those relationships via silent treatments), coworkers, children, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. These silent treatments go on for an indefinite time or until he decides when to stop them. Of course, he always had a justification for his behavior, where he was a”victim” protecting himself. OR it ended when he would get an apology, when after waiting for years. This literally just happened with a cousin of mine, sadly over something so minor. I, his daughter, have been the subject of these silent treatments multiple times through my life and he justified his actions the last time by actually telling me that since he lost his father say the age 13, he wanted to create a”little bit of the same pain” so that I would use this to motivate me to treat him better. I have NEVER used the silent treatment against him, never raised my voice to him, NEVER called him any names (though he has called me many profane ones even through my adult life). Today, he is striking out at me by “cutting off” not only myself but also his infant grandchildren and my husband who had nothing to do with the miscommunication between him and myself. Since the original event of the miscommunication (and I’m not trivializing this), he has done NOTHING to accept responsibility for his end, nothing to communicate he needs space, NOTHING. He answered the phone once and refused to see his grandchildren, not stating why he refused to see them, and I apologized then. He said goodbye and its been 4 months since and he has done NOTHING to move forward. Well, I’m done! DONE! He has emotionally abuse me enough through my life and I’ll be d*m*d if I alow his toxicity to touch my children! His silent treatment has been over 3 months (may I just point out that my youngest just turned 1 and I am 4 months post cancer treatments) and there is no telling when he will choose to end it. Well, I KNOW he will eventually get lonely enough and will call BUT this is the first time I am not trying over And over to contact him. And my husband and I feel the same that unless he reaches out for professional help, is not welcome to be a participant in our children’s life. HE made that choice to exit their life and he will NOT be allowed to make the choice when he can and IF he’s welcome to enter back into their lives. We simply don’t trust his anger around out children.

    • Loopey


      I’m currently in a very similar situation as yours. It’s insane and heartbreaking, and I’m sorry you’ve got to deal with the craziness too.

      Silent treatment since June, horrible treatment before that while I was going through cancer treatment. I am on “the list” for reaching out and asking for help from another relative who had cancer, and for speaking my mind on a subject that this person asked my opinion on.
      You must tell these people only what they want to hear, and aren’t allowed to think for yourself. They must control situations, families, everything at whatever cost. Rarely if ever will they apologize or take responsibility for their actions.

      I was called many things, most of which aren’t appropriate for this forum.

      My kids, who had nothing to do with the situation are also “cut off”, and this person will use any opportunity to slam my family to anybody who will listen. Luckily the people that really know us don’t even listen to her, and these people have also picked up on the obvious a long time ago, that something is not quite right with this person.

      As time passes, I realize that it’s actually better if we don’t interact with this person. I am more peaceful, not crying all the time from the verbal abuse, etc. Our family life is more peaceful too, since I am not bringing all that BS into my home.

      Like you, I feel that unless INTENSIVE professional help is sought, (it will never happen) my family can no longer interact with this person in any way. It always starts out fine, but soon after the interactions start the toxicity is brought right back in.

      My cancer treatment ended in May, and all this time I have heard nothing from the person, even though I am having and have had complications the entire way through. This person just doesn’t care. Unless it’s about them, they DO NOT CARE.

      Life is too short to be around these types of people. No matter how badly it hurts, despite the longing for a normal relationship, etc. I just can’t do it.

      It’s unfortunate that this person has bullied the entire family into never speaking up against her, but that’s how this type of thing works. Gaslighting, intimidation, fear tactics, etc. I know they all know something isn’t right, but nobody else will speak up, just me.

      Therapy helps, and I am seeing how these type of people work, how they operate. My eyes are wide open, and I will not be intimidated any longer even if it means losing a lot of people. It’s either lose them or lose myself, and that’s not happening.

      My girls and I have a completely different relationship than I ever had with this person, and I should thank this person for that. She has shown me what NOT to do.

      We have analyzed this over and over and over in therapy, and Borderline Personality Disorder keeps coming up. Without seeing this person the therapist cannot diagnose, but it’s classic behavior, and I am CERTAIN that’s what it is.

      In any case, counseling helps TONS, and if you haven’t gone I suggest you do. You will be happy you did.

      • Confused

        You just described my life. I was also told that it was probably Borderline Personality Disorder. I decided to cut the toxicity out of my life, however, I have a young son that doesn’t realize what was going on and has started asking to see his grandparents. I am not sure what to tell him.

    • Open

      Congratulations Patti!!We’re starting with our own lttlie corner – trying above all to make our boys feel safe, secure, and loved. That way we hope they will be primed to make their world better too. It’s a daily process!

  19. Kimberly Fresquez

    Before I married my husband my mother in law was my best friend, the day I found out I was pregnant she tried hooking up my husband with one of my enemies and that lasted through my entire pregnancy. She kept it a secret along with my husband. I had my daughter, and i forgave and decided to move forward with my husband. Well he decided to use drugs (which his mom is his chief enabler) and disappeared for a month. My father in law decided to help me with my bills and my mother in law filed for separation since he did that and put a restraining order on him. My father in law helped me so much. Well now my father in law and mother in law are passive towards me, I feel like my mother in law put so much negative things in my father in laws head that now he feels that way towards me. My husband is now in jail, well his parents decided to get on mine and my husbands plan and terminated my phone and changed the account password. I finally exploded and told my father in law to stay our of mine and my daughters life. They have made it very hard for me and they have never gone out of there way to be in my daughters life. I am so over getting hurt!

  20. Mia

    The problem with my granparent/child situation is that they lived with the kids until the youngest were 3 and 5 and the oldest 9. My husband was in the military and it was easier that way, so I know my choices played a huge role in the dysfunction that we have now. My parents don’t respect boundaries, put me down in front of them, tell me I don’t care about them and I’m cruel in front of them.( because I say no to ice cream at 9 pm to my kid with blood sugar issues) they talk bad about my husband to them and reminds the oldest 2 that he is not their real dad even though he has legally adopeted them and they love him. They buy them whatever they want, and act like servants to cater to my children. My mother is always saying the kids have to come first and not my marriage and that I should give them whatever they want whenever they want. When the kids spend the night they let them sleep in their room so bedtime when they come home feels like we have 3 infants at home. I’m at a loss of what to do, I want to cut them off completely… They won’t go to counseling with us and say doctors are full of it. We are Hispanic so family is huge…sorry for ranting

  21. carol

    My mother just turned 90, my daughter is 25 & is mentally challenged. My sister & my husband have disliked each other for 26 years. My sister & her husband had been saying negative & untrue things about my husband & myself to our daughter until I recently forced a “distance” between them & us…no contact. For a few years my sister has continually said these negative & untrue things to my mother & my father before he passed away. It has been really hard for our daughter and we have serious behavior issues when she visits my Mom now or even talks to her on the phone. I don’t think my daughter can understand that my Mom is being manipulated by my sister…so my daughter acts out – sometimes becoming violent and verbally abusive. I have asked my Mom to simply not say bad things to our daughter about her Mom & Dad.
    Just last week my Mom told my daughter that one day she, my sister & my daughter will be with Papa in heaven & your mommy will go the other direction. I tried to talk to my Mom but she refuses to talk. I feel like we need to stay completely away, but I hate that with my Mom being at her age & I am trying to understand that there is probably some dementia involved, but it is making our lives so difficult! Any suggestions!

  22. For the love of pink

    My mother sometimes disciplines me (42) in front of my children! It was ok for her to discipline us…but in her eyes I shouldn’t do the same. She always has to put her 2 cents in when I haven’t asked for it causing my children to show me less respect. What should I do?

    • Abbie

      Without knowing the entire situation, kindly request that your mother speak to you privately if she has issues to discuss and if she starts to pipe up in front of your kids, gently remind her that you’ll be available later to discuss it.

  23. Melissa

    I am at my wits end with my parents. If my only boundary issues were too many sweets and a staying up late I would be in heaven. My parents are master manipulators and are trying to turn my daughter against us. I have actually heard them tell her “you are going to want to run away from home when you are a teenager and when you do just come here”, “if your mom tells you no (to coming for a visit) just tell her you have homework to do on our computer”, “a lie stuck to is as good as the truth”, and so on. My daughter feels stuck in the middle because I know she loves her grandparents but we have an extremely close relationship and she comes home from her grandparents house crying because “they talk bad about you and daddy”. We have tried to talk to my parents but it always turns into their version of reality is the only way and we are just being “mean”. I have serious concerns for my daughter’s emotional wellbeing. While my husband and I do not want to stop our daughter from having a relationship with her grandparents we have had to limit contact to one visit a week. We also tell her she never has to go with them if she doesn’t want to. I never want her to feel like she is forced to be somewhere she doesn’t want to be. Now with even one visit a week and her getting older (9 yrs old) tensions are getting worse and I think she is feeling obligated to spend time with them since she gets sullen before she goes over and acts out with crying when she gets home. I don’t want to completely cut off contact with them but my first priority in life is my daughter’s emotional well being. I feel like I am at a dead end and no matter what resources I look for or what options I try nothing seems to work. There are other underlying mental issues at work with my father (diagnosed PTSD) however instead of trying to get a handle on it he has embraced it saying “I have PTSD so I am allowed to be an a$$!@le when ever I want”. He has verbally attacked myself (in front of our daughter on numerous occasions) and my husband accusing us of completely fabricated occurrences (actually claimed my husband “drives drunk” with our daughter in the car, mind you my husband is a police officer of 20+ years and won’t drive if he has had even one drink). Meanwhile my little girl told me a story of her “interaction” with a county deputy while she was at my parents house, needless to say I was shocked but tried to remain totally cool while she relayed the story. Essentially my parents were talking bad about my husband and I and our daughter got upset, when my dad wouldn’t let her call home she decided to start walking home, when a deputy just so happened to drive by and see an 8 yr old on the street alone, he asked her where her parents were and she pointed to my parents house and said her grandparents lived here, he ensured she safely made it back to my parents house and handed her off to my father. My parents NEVER told me about this. I apologize for rambling but I am at my wits end!

    • Abbie

      You are describing a very dysfunctional situation. For some reason you continue to allow your daughter to be subjected to your parents very questionable behavior toward you and your daughter. And for some reason, your parents are expressing deep concerns about your parenting and your husband’s (lack of?) responsibility. It’s hard to tell what is really going on here – and what role you might be playing in it – but I would suggest that if your concerns are truly for your daughter’s well being, that you might stop subjecting her to all this back and forth, work out your issues separately with your parents (ideally though counseling or a mediator) or limit contact with them. Clearly what you are currently experiencing benefits no one, tests your sanity, and compromises your daughter’s relationships with everyone.

      • Melissa

        So I wouldn’t be a bad mother for simply cutting off contact completely? I have tried to work out issues with my father (the instigator) but he is a master manipulator and refuses to admit responsibility for anything. He refuse to believe he could do anything wrong be it in the past (my childhood) to present, he truly sees himself as the perfect human being and refuses to compromise on anything.

    • Nicole

      I am a 43 year old and want to offer some insight to those who may be at wits end about their parents’ manipulative and emotional abuse, and how this affects children. Growing up, I always felt in the middle of my mother and grandmother. My grandmother was very cruel to my mom (her daughter) and my brother (her grandson), but treated me like an angel. My mom is a good person, always did what her parents told her to do, called, visited and obeyed their wishes. But my mom was never good in their eyes, especially my grandmother’s eyes. My grandmother punished my mom with silent treatments (no explanation why) and would give me gifts right in front of my brother. My mom never held it against me. She would just tell her mother how hurtful her actions were to my brother. My brother was a quiet, soft-spoken kid, never got into trouble, btw. I grew up feeling extremely guilty and full of shame because my grandmother treated me so well, but neglected her daughter and grandson. To this day, my mom and brother suffer from depression and issues of abandonment, as a result of my grandmother’s cruel ways. I grew up very confused, with a strong desire to help others. Thankfully, my loving mom and brother never held it against me. I would tell my grandmother all I wanted in the world was for her to love her daughter and grandson. She ignored my wish. This went on from my childhood until three years ago, when my grandmother decided one day to give me the silent treatment when I finally stood up to her and told her I wasn’t going to do what she wanted me to do. I realize now that her love was only conditional. She only ‘loves’ those who do exactly what she tells them to do and does not disagree with her. My grandmother recently wrote me a letter stating that I’m dead to her and that I am not allowed at her wake. I know this is crazy dysfunctional stuff. Instead of feeling sad about my grandmother’s silent treatment, I feel relieved, with a lifelong heavy burden finally lifted from my shoulders. My 94 year grandmother was always an emotional abuser. Charming to the outside world, but cruel to those closest to her. She thinks she is hurting me, but instead she gave me the best gift, which is freedom from her controlling ways. I’m sharing my story to let people know that they are not alone. There are some really hurtful parents out there that have no business raising children. I am grateful to have had a wonderful, loving mom, who broke the chain of abuse, despite of being emotionally abused all her life by her mother.

      For those with toxic grandparents, I’m telling you it’s ok to move on and away from them. It takes time to mourn the loss, but afterwards, you will feel freedom, strength and much more happiness in your life.

      For those with parents like my mother’s that are putting your kids in the middle, my advice is to talk to your children about it. Being in the middle of a dispute, can be incredibly damaging to self-esteem, especially in the formative years. Let the kids know that you love them no matter what. Give them permission to love their grandparents, even if you don’t get along with them. However, if the grandparents are trying to control your kids or display any toxic behavior, then make it clear to the grandparents that you are setting boundaries to protect your child. Good luck.

      • Amy

        God bless you.

  24. SheHulk80

    my mother is a very delusional woman. She was institutionalized when we were teens and we had to live with our grandparents for a while. Now I am an adult with a teenager of my own who for the most part we have a good relationship. My mother called the cops on me because I grounded my daughter. I was at work when she called them too, so I wish she would tell me how that was warranted. I haven’t spoken to her in months and the “mood” in our household is A LOT better. Yes, you should always try to work things out but sometimes enough is enough.

    • Fluffy

      Shehulk… #truetrue.

  25. me

    too little too late. My mother competed with me for my son’s attention ever since he was born. She said yes when I tried to discipline and say no. My parents tag teamed me as a single parent. My son was given many gifts by them as I paid for necessities. My son is a teenager now. He was gaming every leisure hour. I took his computer away for not adhering to the rules. My mother asked him to move in with them. I hate her.

    • firefly33

      I’m so happy to know that I’m not the only one going through this.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not kidding, my parents have done the same. It’s so isolating, and no one on the entire Internet (that I can find) has this problem like we do, where the grandparents are actually fostering g dishonesty between the parents and child (grandchild). We’ve been in therapy for a year – bottom line for my situation is that I should have set boundaries before she was 18. Now she’s an adult, and her relationship with these grandparents is what it is. I can’t control the way they all interact – but I can make sure my daughter experiences healthier boundaries and unconditional love when she’s around my house. Easier said than done, but what else is there to do? For my children under 18, therapy has taught that, as the parent, I really am free to allow only what I consider healthy into their lives – it’s my right, and also my responsibility to enforce those boundaries. It also supposed to do all this without animosity, but I haven’t had enough therapy for that, I’m mad fire up in here

      • Not the narcissists grandma

        It is more common then you think. People just don’t talk about it because it is so heartbreaking and hopeless, but it is your right to cut ties and help your child understand if you come to them with the proof research, and open honest love and open mind they need. Give them room to talk as well, let them know that you do what you do not to hurt them but to teach them how to be a functional human being. I have dealt with it all.

  26. simoney

    I’m distancing my family from my parents. My 4yo has been asking for her nana, but nana is an alcoholic who has ruined her privaledges to see us by drinking vodka early in the morning pretending it’s just cranberry juice. Can’t change her and she thinks I’m being cruel but she clearly has no regard for my feelings!

  27. Alyce-Hannah

    What do you do when the relationship between the grandchild and the grandparent is the toxic one? My mother is very harsh with my daughter. I’ve talked to her about this several times. I’ve told her that when my daughter doesn’t do something she’s asked to, you don’t just start yelling at her – you talk to her like you want to be talked to. Especially as my daughter is 13 and pretty mature and reasonable. And when my mother sees my daughter for the first time that day, the first words out of her mouth are criticisms about what my daughter has supposedly done wrong or something else of that sort. What’s the best approach with a person like that? And how do I convince my daughter that her grandma really does love her? I do tell her that when grandma gets that way, for my daughter to say, “Grandma, please don’t yell at me. If you keep yelling at me I’m going to walk away and not talk to you.” I’ve tried explaining to my mother that often it’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters. I understand that when people get older they often become set in their ways, but I do not think that’s an excuse. I would like for my mother to change the way she talks to my daughter. I want them to have a loving relationship like I had with my grandmas. I don’t want my daughter to hate her only grandma – that’s not what the concept of grandmas is about. Help!

  28. lisa

    I have cut my parents out of my life. My father & my step mother were physically and mentally abusive to me while growing up and cut me off because I married a black man which “embarrassed” my step mother. We did not speak for 10+ years, I had twins and things did not change. When my parents were ready to talk – I said ok – but put very strict limitations. When our daughter was diagnosed with eye cancer and had to have her eye removed thing went sour fast. My father said I was a bad mother & threatened to try to take away all my children from me- during chemotherapy because I would not take the kids to his house. So I cut off all contact, I contacted a lawyer and when my kids were old enough I told them the truth.

    • CR

      I have cut my parents off as well. They had little respect for me as a parent &come to find out, they both believe I think too highly of myself. Which isn’t true but even if I was or am a confident parent, shouldn’t that be something theyre proud of? Rather then turning it into a negative? My mother ignores suggestions, preferences, rules, curfew, even requests. My father is an alcoholic that functions & is sober on any given day… We never know when those sober days r in advance so when they’d visit w grandparents, it was a coin toss of his condition. My main concern is that he’d insist on taking my boys for a walk (as he’s done in the past) OVER the FREEWAY OVERPASS!! Or to see the horses… Both of which are dangerous when the supervising adult is intoxicated. Not to mention the danger of simply crossing the streets. 2 hours of their “help” to me became problem after problem. I have tried to mend the problems by requesting they visit my children here at our home where I know they’d stay put & just visit but they have yet to come over. My kids have not seen my mother since first week of September, its first week of December. My dad has visited a total of 3 times, all of which he has stayed a combined time of 3 hours. And he doesn’t really visit, he rather mow my lawn. Which I don’t request BTW. I have explained to our oldest child who is 8 that grandma & grandpa don’t want to follow rules or be home on time so they can visit him at our house but they haven’t called to do so & so we can’t do anything about it. I on the other hand have extended numerous invitations, all of which are ignored until just recently when my dad told me he doesn’t feel he needs to be the one to leave his home. I feel right to keep us all away but feel horrible for them. I feel I have tried & they dont make an effort to respect us as parents.

  29. Nana missing her grandchild

    What would you do if your sister interfered by telling lies to the mother of your grandchild? This sister believes that said child should be her grandchild because she was born on her birthday. Crazy right? Still she truly believes and has been very successful at keeping me from my grandchild. I have not seen her in almost two years and haven’t heard her voice since February of this year. This is killing me! I’ ve done nothing wrong and yet my granddaughter and I are being punished.

  30. Anonymous


    What does a single widowed parent do when grandparents seek out legal assistance to gain access over minor children between the age 2 to 4. Obviously the reason for denying or giving minimal contact is because of the grandparents displaying toxic behavior towards the child. I Have set up a facebook page on the matter if anyone is interested to comment.

    Battered widowed mothers and cunning inlaws