Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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What is the best way for me to respond as grandmother
Wednesday March 12, 2008

Dear Alice, Barbara, and team,

What is your advice to me and other grandmothers/fathers when I observe the complex effects of my limitations as a mother on my son and that of his exwife's parents on his and her awareness of their pain and fear producing reactions: behaviors, attitudes, voice tones with their children, (my grandchildren)? I know that the central part I can do, is to keep on doing my inner work, to make it a priority as much as possible. I was reading a quote that really effected me, of Thomas Gordon's in his Family Effectiveness Training course that my husband and I are doing: "Whenever we communicate in a dialogue with our family or another close to us, we either build or injure our relationship with them". I need to do both: to communicate with sensitivity, awareness, and honesty with my son and daughter iin law, at the same time I need to make sure I have done my emotional work so that I do not burden him or her with my fears and feelings from my neglectful and painful childhood trying to work itself out through them.
My daughter-in-law was was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder 2 1/2 years ago and did therapy for 1 1/2 years and is still on medication for panic and anxiety. Of course I have witnessed many effects of stress over the years on my grandchildren, as I helped care for them 1-2 x's a week, and during crisies or illnesses. I always tried to understand and meet their needs with joy and understanding and lots of verbal communication to reassure, share observations, exclaim pleasure, etc. especially since they were twin boys and one of them usually had to wait a little, although we often figured out ways to hold and feed them together, or have them together in an activity when they both needed attending to.
Connecting with them, and my son and daughter in law, in as authentic and real ways as possible is very important to me and I believe necessary for our relationships to be strong and true. And my therapist has told me, as I believe I have read here as well that supporting and affirming and being honest with my son and daughter in law is the best thing I can do for my grandchildren. There is always more to learn. You have links with this website for fostering strong relationships with children, I can pass these on. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for being such a wonderful resource, and for all your life efforts and care. MARB

AM: Thank you for your letter, we publish it because it can help other grandparents who often ask for advice. As you know you will find the advice in a concrete situation ONLY in your OWN story.

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