I want to see my grandchildren whom I raised for 2½ years

Dear Troubleshooter:

I am a woman in my 60s. My husband and I took care of our two grandchildren for about 2½ years. One is now 3 years old, and the other is 18 months. We did so because their mother — our daughter — was verbally abused by her husband, which led to her being hospitalized for a while, and she repeatedly ran away from home.

After recently attempting suicide, our daughter went ahead with divorce procedures. Then, she started saying that she would return to her husband, taking the children with her. She and I had a big argument over this, and I told her, “Never step into our house again!” She left our home with her children the following day.

I heard through the grapevine that she now lives with her husband and children, and the children regularly go to a childcare facility. When I walked past the facility, I was able to speak with my grandchildren, but my daughter then sent an email to my husband saying we should never get in touch with the children again or she would take legal action.

I shed tears every day because I cannot see my grandchildren. I gave my all to raise them, and now I’m not even allowed to go near them. Isn’t there any way to watch over them?

— J, Saitama Prefecture

Dear Ms. J:

I think your daughter is a typical victim of domestic violence. It is not clear from your letter what made her suffer so much apart from the verbal abuse by her husband. Still, the situation sounds serious considering that she has even attempted suicide.

It is said that people who commit domestic violence characteristically repeat a cycle of the explosion phase and the calm phase. During the explosion phase, abusive husbands use violence, including verbal abuse, on their wives. But they soon enter the calm phase and behave kindly toward their wives, even apologizing to them. Then, the wives are prone to accepting their husband’s behavior and forgive them. Yet, in many cases, the calm period is only temporary.

I think there is nothing you and your husband can do apart from stepping back and watching over your daughter to see how she will recover from such circumstances.

If you argue with her, you will just end up becoming the target of her frustration. Your daughter understands that you have affectionately raised her children and that the children like you. Therefore, she sees you as her rival in child-rearing.

The situation may seem unreasonable to you, but think of it this way: Your daughter is desperately trying to get herself together. I think you have no option but to be patient and forbear the disgruntlement for the time being.

— Yoko Sanuki, lawyer