Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Ask Ellie: Control and fear two reasons for over-protective parenting

Ellie Tesher is on vacation. The column below is an archived favourite, personally selected by Ellie: Best of Series Part 1: June 1, 2016 Dear Ellie: Our son and his wife won’t let my husband and I be alone with our granddaughters.
Advice columnist Ellie
Ellie

Advice columnist EllieEllie Tesher is on vacation. The column below is an archived favourite, personally selected by Ellie:

Best of Series Part 1: June 1, 2016

Dear Ellie: Our son and his wife won’t let my husband and I be alone with our granddaughters.

We can’t take the two girls (ages four and six) to the park without one of their parents along.

We raised our son with love and care. He didn’t wander away or break any limbs on our watch, and grew up to be physically healthy and successful.

I can’t understand what’s behind this extreme over-protection.

Sad Grandmother

Control and fear are two reasons some parents distance from their children’s grandparents.

It often has to do with the spouse-in-law’s influence. Example: Your daughter-in-law may fear intrusion from anyone outside her immediate family and her ability to control them.

Or, your own son may have some issue from the past regarding his upbringing which you may not even know about.

So, he accepts this isolation in the name of “protecting” the youngsters.

Keep visiting the children and phone them. Even when their parent’s around, read them stories, ask about their friends.

Pick up on these topics when you see them again, and build your connection.

Over time, the fear and control may ease.

Reader’s commentary regarding an earlier column from May 2, 2016.

“Why is it that when a woman is emotionally, verbally and physically abusive, she has a problem and should get all the help from society she can?

“But if a man’s emotionally, verbally and physically abusive, he’s a monster and vilified.

“More than 200 studies have proven that domestic violence is not gender specific. Domestic violenceby women has been proven to be virtually equal to that by men.

“Domestic violence by women is either censored or ignored in our gynocentric, misandrist society.

“I care about this because I worked with four men who left their wives because their wives were violent.

“One came home from work one night and his wife was hiding behind the door, hit him in the back of the head and knocked him out.

“It wasn’t uncommon for him to come to work with bruises that he said were due to his clumsiness, before he finally admitted what was happening.

“He had nowhere to turn for help as there were no services available for men. He was also facing the stigma of the abused man.

“All domestic violence is wrong, regardless of gender.

“Next time someone writes about a male abuser, maybe that man has serious issues, too, and deserves the same understanding you gave the woman.”

Ellie: Of course, your co-worker’s wife was as much a monster as any man who physically attacks and abuses his spouse.

When anger management or police involvement is urged for a male abuser, it’s hopefully also a step towards “help” through medical treatment or therapy. To end the cycle.

The daughter who wrote me described her mother with symptoms classic to bipolar condition.

She’d never seen a doctor about her wild mood swings and outbursts.

Getting her medical help could hopefully benefit her husband and the daughter who’d been hurt physically as a child, and was recently pushed.

Arguable, the father should have called police or children’s services years ago. But he didn’t.

I agree that there’s been a perceived stigma for abused men. But I don’t agree that abuse by women — when brought to the attention of police or agencies — is being censored.

Nor that our society is exclusively focused on women and pitted against men. Words like gynocentric and misandrist trigger diatribes, not better understanding and handling of abuse.

Your main point matters most: ALL domestic abuse IS monstrous.

Feedback regarding the aunt who was uncomfortable when her niece breastfed a three-year-old in public (May 2):

Reader: “I liked your answer. My one regret in my child-rearing is that I did not breast feed my children for at least two years.

“In those unenlightened times, doctors and other advisers were still pushing formula as the way to feed babies,

“As a breast-feeding mother then, I was a total anomaly.”

Ellie: Response to that initial column, reveals two huge gaps in attitude towards breastfeeding mothers.

One group believes there’s an age limit on when it’s acceptable for the child to still be breastfeeding (they’re mainly uncomfortable if the child is over age two).

The other has strong opinions about what’s acceptable in public and what’s not.

While a very showy display of both naked breasts makes even some former breast-feeders uncomfortable, it appears that “discretion” is in the eyes of the beholder.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Domestic violence from a female or male is equally heinous.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.