By Karen Best Wright, www.RaisingYourGrandchildren.com
Once upon a time there was a grandmother with two grandchildren who she loved to dote on. However, the grandchildren's mother (her daughter) had severe problems. She had mental health problems, which drove her into alcohol and drug addictions. Regardless, this young mother loved her children very much. But she was a mess, and she knew it. She cried as she recognized her inability to care properly for her children. Whenever she thought her life was improving, her mental illness would worsen and she returned to abusing alcohol and drugs. Her heart would break as she saw the affect she had on her little children. She turned to her mother, the children's grandmother, to raise the children. Her love for her children and appreciation to her mother for taking over her role as her children's mother was often expressed. Her mental illness and drug abuse had miraculously not hindered her love and appreciation for her mother and recognizing the sacrifices the grandmother was making.
The story above is fiction, at least for most grandmothers raising grandchildren. The other day I was speaking with a grandmother who had raised grandchildren for several years before she was court ordered to send them back to the mother who had literally abandoned them on her doorstep. This grandmother said to me, "Why is it that we sacrifice, use up all of our money, and give up everything we have and then WE are the bad ones?" I am sure there must be exceptions, but rarely does a grandmother who is raising grandchildren get thank you's, sincere appreciation, and "I love you so much for what you are doing."
If grandmothers expect that they are going to live the fiction story above, they most likely will be severely disappointed and depressed. We must remember that we are not doing what we are doing for Thank You's and Appreciation.
Not only are grandmothers not likely to get Thank You's and Appreciation from the grandchildren's parents, they are likely to be treated with disdain for "stealing" someone's children, or criticized for not doing a good enough job due to exhaustion.
The criticism and disdain from those who should be most grateful can be extremely hurtful to the grandmother. It might cause her to feel very resentful and angry at the situation. However, an important point I want to make is when we allow ourselves to be resentful and angry, we are only heaping more pain onto ourselves.
Last night I was listening to a Teleseminar by Wayne Allen and Jon Polmar. One of them made an analogy that really got me thinking. They were talking about owning your own feelings and not blaming them on someone else, "So and So MADE me feel this way." When someone else insults us, accuses us, and is rude to us, we do not have to accept it and hurt over the insults anymore than we have to stab ourselves if someone hands us a knife. A knife creates a very strong visualization in my mind. If someone was trying to hurt me and handed me a knife, I would not oblige them by stabbing myself, so why do I oblige people by letting their words hurt?
I am really going to try and remember this analogy, and I hope all of you grandmothers out there who may have experienced hurt from others will remember this analogy of the knife as well. It doesn't exactly feel like something easy to do but certainly worth trying.