BEL MOONEY: My son has banned me from seeing his children because I"ve got divorced


Why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
When the grass is soft as the breast of doves
And shivering-sweet to the touch
O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much

Frances Cornford (1886-1960)

My son has banned me from seeing his children because I've got divorced


00:20 GMT, 30 June 2012



01:47 GMT, 30 June 2012

Tell your readers never to despair of finding love, even in your 60s

Tell your readers never to despair of finding love, even in your 60s


Four years ago, after a huge amount of soul-searching and pain, I told my wife I wanted to separate.

I was very unhappy about the person I’d become in our marriage; we’d stopped arguing by the simple expedient of not talking.

The relationship had become characterised by sullenness, disagreement, bickering and unhappiness.

attempt at counselling several years before hadn’t helped — my wife
resented the inference that she should share some responsibility for the

After 34 years, I felt we both deserved the chance of becoming ‘better’, of finding happiness, in the time left.

At first deeply shocked and hurt, my wife soon said it was the right thing to do, though terribly difficult for her.

Indeed, while I’d said ‘separate’ it was she who immediately suggested divorce.

It was doubly painful for me — having to go through the pain of divorce while bearing responsibility for precipitating the whole thing.

Understandably, our children found this all very difficult to handle.

However, the two youngest have now settled and I have a reasonable relationship with them.

But my eldest son, the father of my two grandchildren, sees everything in black and white and from the day I dropped the bombshell, he has refused even to reply to messages.

Most painfully, he has not allowed me to see my grandchildren, the second of whom was born after the split.

I’m saddened to think that in years to come — when I’ll be a long time dead — he will be older and wiser and will probably regret his unyielding stance.

The good news is that my ex-wife and I both now have the comfort of life and of love without the constant misery we used to endure.

She is a major carer for the grandchildren and was born to be a granny!

She’s built an annexe at my son’s house, which may well contribute to his attitude towards me. (Ideally, he doesn’t want to be living with his mother on the doorstep.)

Three years ago, I found a caring partner who makes me feel loved and lovable. Tell your readers never to despair of finding love, even in your 60s.

But my pain about my grandchildren continues. Should I just try to forget them, and hope that my other two children will produce youngsters to whom I can be a loving grandparent

Or should I write them a long letter, telling them who I am, or was, and giving them my background

My daughter can give it to them when they are old enough for my son not to interfere, probably when the oldest is 18 — in another 13 years.

Would the receipt of such a memoir be the cause of further pain — and am I simply getting what I deserve


When I reached your final question, about deserving this, I cried aloud a resounding: ‘No!’

And that’s despite it being easy for me to put myself in your ex-wife’s position and understand how devastated she felt when you told her you wanted to go separate ways.

I’ve said it before and will certainly repeat it many times: though I believe that marriage is the bedrock of a stable society, I know that some marriages run their course and then it is better for a couple to part.

Today’s second letter deals with this subject from another angle and each week this whole page could deal with marital issues.

People often forget that adult children can be as devastated by their parent’s divorce as young ones — if anything, more so, because they’ve had more time in which to develop future imaginings about two jolly elders dandling beloved grandchildren on their knees, under the same roof.

In your case (as in my own) it was not to be — and it’s understandable that they regret that.

But I find your son’s implacable stance reprehensible and do not believe that he has the right to deprive his children of their grandfather.

As I get older, I become more and more impatient with people who see the world in black and white, because the window I look through is like a colour television.

But your letter throws up some questions. How do you know your son doesn’t want his mother living next door, when you don’t speak to him

Who told you this To me, the granny-annexe sounds ideal, therefore I’m wondering if there’s a problem you haven’t shared with me.

Then you tell me how happy you are with your new love (about which I’m glad), but you don’t say if you have a good relationship with your ex-wife.

You see, since she is so devoted to the two grandchildren, and sees a lot of her son, I’m thinking that (if she harbours no resentment towards you) she could intervene.

Why does she not talk this over with her daughter-in-law, the two women persuading him to relent

That’s what I think should happen. Since it hasn’t, I worry that your current happiness has blinded you to the way your ex-wife feels.

I hope this suspicion is wrong and that you can do everything in your power to get her on side to plead your cause.


Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.

Write to: Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or e-mail [email protected]

A pseudonym will be used if you wish.

Bel reads all letters, but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

Your tone is rather pessimistic and doom-laden (you’re only in your 60s, man!) when you probably have years of life ahead, God willing.

But to start composing a sort of memoir-letter about your life, with lots of anecdotes about what the world was like when you were a boy, who your parents were, how you met their Granny, what she wore, first job, what you earned and where you lived, etc, is certainly a good project — for these grandchildren and any others who might come along in time.

Perhaps, you should start having your old photographs copied, too, so that your document can be illustrated. But, please, do it all in a spirit of optimism, not despair.

Far from forgetting these grandchildren, (as if!) I think you should concentrate on improving your relationship with your other children, and then ask them (in time) to talk to their big brother.

You need to show your ex-wife how much you still value those early years before your marriage went wrong, and how you admire her brilliance as a grandmother.

You took a decision that hurt her, but which released her into a new way of living.

Forgiveness is all. It’s time your son, a father himself, understood that.

Why is my sister throwing it all away


I’m in my mid-20s and though I’ve read your column for years I never expected to need to write.

My older sister (mid-30s) has been married for four years but first met her husband at 21.

Three months ago, she told me she was unhappy and intended to leave. I was stunned.

My sister says she's fallen out of love, they're more like friends than lovers, and she wasn't thinking clearly when she married (picture posed by models)

My sister says she's fallen out of love, they're more like friends than lovers, and she wasn't thinking clearly when she married (picture posed by models)

Over the many years they’ve been together I’ve spent much time with them and they always seemed so happy.

She’s strong-willed, but he’s easy-going and seemed to tolerate where others may have clashed.

She says she’s fallen out of love, they’re more like friends than lovers, and she wasn’t thinking clearly when she married (although she spent years planning the wedding and seemed very happy until last year).

She has a lot of excuses, but to me none make sense.

There’s no third party involved, she simply wants more independence — although she has plenty already, with a good job and no children.

She is seeing a counsellor but I think he/she is simply helping her prepare to leave.

My brother-in-law is devastated and can’t get through to her. She’s shutting him and her family out.

I’m so sad for him and so disappointed in her for abandoning her marriage just because it hasn’t lived up to her expectations.

She’s a great organiser and it seems like she wants something different from her life. But what if the new life doesn’t work out

And how can one person abandon somebody they loved for years and vowed to stay with for better or for worse

He had dreams for his future as well. He wants them to start afresh, but she says no. I don’t know what to do.

Can you make any sense of this for me


Your affection for your brother-in-law
is impressive and makes me believe he really is a good man.

Since your
sister is quite a lot older I assume you’ve always looked up to her, and
can imagine that when her husband first came into your life you — a
schoolgirl then — thought he was terrific.

The happiness you
witnessed throughout the long time they’ve been together makes this
especially hard — for all of you.

I’m just glad they haven’t started a

More from Bel Mooney…

BEL MOONEY: Must I stay in this loveless marriage for the sake of our troubled children

Hope from despair: How the 6million Silver Dreams is set to transform the lives of those elderly people most in need

BEL MOONEY: My childless twin sister hates me because I've been able to have a family

BEL MOONEY: All I want is to say goodbye to my friends and jump in front of a train

The BBC got the pageant so wrong because it holds those who love the royals in contempt


I adore my son but there's nothing as magical (or maddening) as a daughter: This week Winifred Robinson argued boys are more loveable than girls BEL MOONEY begs to differ

BEL MOONEY: I'm 40 and still single. Why don't the men I like ever fancy me

BEL MOONEY: Use a mobile to speak to someone Don’t make me LOL!


You ask me specifically how to make sense of what’s happening, so I can only point out that people can indeed fall out of love, that some humans are hard-wired to be restless, and that most of us will, at some stage, have to come to terms with feeling deep disappointment with people we care for.

There is no ‘sense’ in any of it — if by that we mean logic.

You can look at a pretty, sweet-natured, bright, kind woman and feel utter bewilderment that the husband she loves is bored and wants out — yes, even though their children are crying and begging him to stay.

These are the sorrowful mysteries a column like this deals with all the time.

Sometimes I cry, sometimes sigh in agreement with Shakespeare’s merry sprite Puck: ‘Lord, what fools these mortals be!’

Though there’s no doubt in your mind that she has no one else in her life, I find myself wondering.

She may well have a secret love fuelling this relatively sudden passion to be independent.

On the other hand, she’s clearly a woman who likes to be in control, and, perhaps, the fact that she can’t take charge of the mundane day-to-day realities of daily existence has finally irked her.

No wise person expects to be continuously ‘in love’ with husband or wife, if by that phrase, you imply thrilling romance. It hardly fits with, ‘Have you remembered to put the recycling out, love’

The best marriages evolve into friendships (with benefits) but she wouldn’t be the first person to chafe at that reality and dream of a new, exciting life — with fresh sex, of course.

It’s hard for you, Gina, but I’m afraid you can’t interfere.

I hope that you and your family reassure your brother-in-law that, whatever happens, he will always be a part of your life.

Give him all the support you can, but don’t take sides. Like you, I hope she will change her mind, but if she doesn’t . . . well . . . she’s still your big sister, isn’t she

And I hope you will vow never to let your own life be destroyed by the wilful pursuit of an unattainable dream of freedom.

Remember what you can achieve

Three weeks ago (June 9) the main letter was from a 20-year-old I called Tina, a student with suicidal impulses.

Many of you were worried about her — especially as I told you that I’d replied to her first email (asking for more information) but heard nothing back.

Well, I thought I should reassure kind readers that she sent me an email as soon as she read the page online.

There it was in my inbox early on Saturday morning: ‘I am really grateful, thank you — but I also felt guilty for burdening you with a worry you didn’t need to have . . . I just needed to get out some frustrations.

‘As you suggest, I will go back to counselling and try to get help — I know life is wonderful and precious and a million people have it a thousand times worse than me.

'I need to grow up and stop being pathetic. Thank you so much and I’ll keep in touch and let you know how counselling is going.’

I hope she does.

And (more updating since today’s Armed Forces Day) do you remember I wrote about the group of severely wounded servicemen cycling across America, a gruelling endurance test of 3,000 miles, supported by Help for Heroes

I had a lovely email from the parents of one of those brave men (a double amputee): ‘May we thank you for your heartfelt article about the RAAM 2012 and the mention of all those taking part, especially our son, Simon Harmer

‘As you may imagine, the last two-and-half years have been a real rollercoaster of emotions with Simon’s deployment, IED incident, and recovery . . .

‘Your items about the injured from this war in Afghanistan and that of Iraq are so very good at jogging everyone’s memory. Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts.’

The lads finished a week ago and raised more than 84,000 for the charity.

An inspiring quote from one of them should help us all, perhaps even Tina: ‘The point is what you can do — not what you cannot do.’