Join The Membership

Q&A with Geoff: Should We Seek Reconciliation Amid Family Crisis?

q&a with geoff Sep 06, 2023


My stepson was convicted of molesting his 12-year-old stepdaughter. He offered a plea where he maintained his innocence while admitting that the state had enough evidence to convict him. He took the plea deal since he was facing more than a dozen counts of various felonies and could have gotten three life sentences. Instead, he got less than 10 years. 

He is now in prison. My husband and I believe he probably did at least some of what he was charged with, but there is still a tiny bit of doubt, especially for my husband. Our problem since he has been in prison is that our daughter-in-law will not let us see our grandchildren. She was angry with us during the trial for paying for a lawyer to defend him instead of giving her the money and for not sitting with her in the courtroom. 

Now she is demanding we sit down with her and talk to her before we can see the children. We suspect she will try to convince us of his guilt. We have told her we have no desire to rehash or retry the anguish of last summer or to hear explicit details of what he did. She has always been difficult and controlling. 

We wonder if it’s even worth the trouble trying to see the children, who are young and don’t miss us. The last time my husband talked to one of them, she said, “Why don’t you want to talk to us?” Apparently, her mother had told her that.

What should we do? Should we give in to her demands to meet? How do we deal with her going forward?


It’s evident that the situation you find yourselves in is an incredibly painful and complex one. It’s a mix of legal challenges, family loyalties and heartbreaking decisions. Navigating familial relationships in the aftermath of such a tragic event requires great sensitivity, understanding, and wisdom. I’ll do my best to respond to your concerns.

The welfare of your grandchildren should be paramount. This terrible situation has splintered your family, but please keep in perspective that your granddaughter and her siblings need you to prioritize their well-being. Their mother has also been traumatized by not only the abuse of her daughter but also the betrayal of her marriage. The layers of trauma and loss in their lives are difficult to fully comprehend. I realize some of this may feel unfair to you, but even if part of the accusations are true, that’s enough trauma for a lifetime.

So if re-establishing a relationship with them is possibly an option (and in their best interest), it may be worth the effort and possible discomfort of a difficult conversation with their mother who has been charged with their safekeeping.

Your daughter-in-law’s anger and pain are real, and while her actions may appear controlling, it’s essential to consider them from a perspective of love and empathy. Approach conversations with compassion and a desire to understand her perspective. It’s easy to misjudge those who have experienced intimate betrayal. They often appear controlling, withdrawn and suspicious as a way to manage the overwhelming mistrust brought on by serious betrayal. 

Your stepson is in prison and nothing any of you say at this point will change that reality. I don’t believe it will do any harm for you to meet with her to better understand her experience. Instead of demanding your right to see the grandchildren, perhaps you could use this meeting to learn what’s needed to rebuild the broken hearts of her and her children.

If necessary, it might be beneficial to seek a neutral third party, like a counselor or a church leader, to facilitate your meeting with her. That could create a safe environment where both parties can express their feelings and work toward understanding and reconciliation.

Your stepson doesn’t need to be defended by you. The victims of his actions, however extensive, need to know they have your complete understanding and compassion.

FREE: 3 Steps to End Your Marriage Argument

Download my free PDF guide and start making real progress to healing

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.