DEAR ABBY: My 9-year-old grandson, "Grant," is in deep trouble. I must find a way to help him. Two years ago he had to take on a menopausal, reclusive stepmom. Of course, these poor children from broken homes don't get to vote their fate; they must accept whatever is thrust upon them.
Stepmom has turned Grant's downstairs playroom into a master bedroom and entertainment center. She watches TV down there with my former son-in-law (Grant's father).
Grant is not allowed to go down there unless he receives special permission. He spends most of his time alone in his upstairs bedroom playing his boom box or watching TV in the living room.
Recently, telephone privileges were cut off between Grant and me. Grant's father candidly told me that my not calling makes his home happier for his "recluse." I am sure he will cut off my visits if I try to help Grant.
Abby, I don't know what to do. Is there any way I can help him? -- HURTING INSIDE
DEAR HURTING: Don't do anything to threaten your visits with your grandson. He needs you. You must become his loving, safe harbor. See him as often as you can. Help him to express his feelings. Let him know he can tell you anything, and you will not be judgmental or get angry.
Do things a 9-year-old boy will enjoy so he can bond closely and experience some happiness with you. Let him know he can count on you when things seem the darkest.
If his father and stepmother do cut off your visits, then call ChildHelp USA (1-800-422-4453) for expert advice on this sad case of emotional child abuse.