Dear Annie: My ex-daughter-in-law believes that her 10-year-old son, my grandson, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She has thought this ever since he had trouble on day one of his school career. To combat this problem, we tried martial arts, but she pulled him out of that because she felt he was using these skills to punch and kick other students at school.
We tried Cub Scouts, but she pulled him out of that because she didn't like the den mother and my grandson and her son didn't get along. We enrolled him in a therapeutic riding class at a stable where I volunteer. It worked well until she didn't get along with the barn manager about scheduling his classes. So she pulled him out of that. He loved riding the horses, so I suggested a private riding class in which he would be more in control of his horse. She said that would have to wait because of the cost, even though I had agreed to pay for it.
My son and I decided to schedule a lesson anyway. He gets the kids every other weekend. I sent her a picture of my grandson on the horse. He had a big smile on his face, and he was sitting so proud and happy because he was finally doing something that gave him confidence and self-esteem. I thought she would be happy, but she went crazy. She said she's tired of me saying one thing and doing another — for example, the time when I tried to put him on medicine to help him focus. The doctor didn't seem to think he had a problem, but I said it might be a good idea to relieve my ex-daughter-in-law's anxiety. The doctor said that my son's approval was needed, and my son refused to put his son on mind-altering drugs. So now she has my grandson in therapy.
He has scored way higher than a child with ADHD in the skills tests, but she still thinks he has a problem. Now she isn't talking to me because of the riding lesson. I sent her two apology notes to make amends, but she hasn't responded. She calls me a snake. I would go to earth's end to help my grandson. What should I do? Should I ask her out to lunch and talk this out? She has a lethal weapon: my grandkids. And it breaks my heart not to be able to see them because of some childish charade. — Crying Grandma
Dear Crying Grandma: You say "we" tried martial arts and Cub Scouts for your grandson. You also say that you tried to put your grandson on medication without his parents' approval. That is more serious than you realize. Fortunately, your son said no and your ex-daughter-in-law has the boy in therapy. Good therapy addresses a whole lot more than what is measured by skills tests.
I know you mean well, but you might consult with a professional to help you in setting guidelines for interference so your well-intentioned gestures, such as paying for the boy's riding lessons, will be welcomed rather than spurned. His mother seems awfully prickly — saying "no" to every activity that the boy likes — so I would ask your son, the boy's father, to help her see what she is doing and to help you get back into your grandchildren's lives with the new guidelines. By all means, take her to lunch, but only once you are ready to promise noninterference.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]