Grandparents Concerned for Son with Stockholm Syndrome

Reader’s Question

My grandson has been in an abusive relationship with his mother for 18 years. The 5 other siblings (not my grandchildren due to her remarrying after my son divorced her) have been removed from the house and custody was given to their grandparents. The grandparents and I are good friends and talk often. My fear is that my grandson is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. He lived here in Florida where we were very involved in his life, until his mother and step-father moved the family to Tennessee 2 years ago.

Now stepfather is in prison for allegedly sexually abusing his 2 daugthers. My grandson is protecting his mother and won’t listen to family who are trying to help him. He lived with us off and on growing up and we were always very close. How can I help him now? I am at a loss for what to say. We have a second home in NC about 2 hours from him where we will be spending the summer. Hopefully, he will visit us or we can drive to TN to visit him. I worry about his emotional state and anger issues.

Psychologist’s Reply

Your grandson may be involved in a Stockholm Syndrome experience — defending his mother for a variety of reasons. I’d recommend reading my article on Love and Stockholm Syndrome (SS), available on this website. It offers suggestions for family and friends of the SS victim. In your position, it’s important that you remain allies and supporters, not people who question his support of his mother or her behavior. Maintain regular contacts and behave like grandparents should — constantly sending a loving and accepting message to him. Invite him to NC or offer to drive to see him. Focus on your relationship with him — not his mother.

Above all, he needs you as his grandparents, like he has needed you in the past. If he’s over 18 years of age, he’s made a decision regarding his mother. You can support your grandson without supporting his decisions. Accept his current position and focus on your relationship with him. Hopefully he will respond to that same childhood love and concern and recognize that you are supportive of his life. If he does eventually change his support of his mother, you will be remembered as the grandparents who stood beside him during difficult times.

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