Dear Annie: I'm 50 years old and have two adult children. Their mother and I divorced 15 years ago. Throughout our marriage, my wife had many affairs. She's married twice since we split up.
Five years ago, my son married a woman who has become close to my ex. My daughter-in-law has labeled me a mental case to many family members, friends and acquaintances. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen my son in the past five years, and each time, he was extremely disrespectful and said horrible things to me. They now have a 2-year-old son, whom I have seen only briefly on three occasions even though they live nearby. I believe my ex-wife has had a great influence in turning my son into a cold, ruthless person.
I'm financially well off and recently updated my will to leave my son only $20 because of all the pain and anguish he has caused me. I prefer to distance myself from him, but I would like to have a relationship with my grandson. Is there any way to do this? - Proud Grandpa
Dear Grandpa: Not without also having some type of relationship with your son. After all, he isn't preventing you from seeing the boy. Some states are sympathetic to grandparents' rights, but your son might be able to convince the judge that his distancing is in his son's best interest, and you could be cut out entirely. It's risky, and we don't recommend it for you.
We have no doubt that your ex-wife has influenced her son and his wife. But if you want a relationship with your grandson, you need to tolerate his parents and be civil to them. Perhaps in time they will see how much their child loves you and will warm up. We hope so.
Editor's note: Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to anniesmailbox@ comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.