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This Woman Told Her Kids Their Grandmother Was Dead — Then They Ran Into Her

After 20 years of estrangement, this woman ran into her mother in a grocery store while she was shopping with her children. Now, her husband claims it was wrong to tell their kids their grandmother had died.

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Jun. 18 2019, Updated 12:46 p.m. ET

What would you do if you ran into your mother in a grocery store after 20 years of nearly no contact? What would you do if you had your young kids with you? What would you do if you had already told your kids that your mother — their grandmother — had died? These are all the questions that came up in the most recent viral post on Reddit's "Am I the A-hole?" subreddit.

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Purplefish994 started her complicated story with a bit of context. For her husband's birthday, she wanted to cook him some specific dishes, the ingredients of which were not available at her local grocery store. So she took her young kids, a 6-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl, to the store in the nearest city because it would have what she needed.

After shopping, while in the checkout line, "an older and somewhat disheveled woman attempts to squeeze between us and the people in front," she wrote. The older woman shouted, "Oh my god," and that's when our storyteller knew that it was her mother. Her mother with whom she has had no contact for almost 20 years. 

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"I froze," she wrote. "I couldn't even think. I just stood there." The older woman noticed the children, put her hand on the boy's head, and asked, "Are these my grandbabies?" That's when our storyteller flipped out. "Her touching him sent me into a literal panic," she wrote. She yelled at her mother not to touch him, then she scooped up her kids and ran out of the store without her groceries, while her mother yelled, "You b---h, you won't even let me meet my grandchildren!"

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"When I get in the car I'm at the point of tears," Purplefish994 wrote. She never thought she'd see her mother again. They live in different states. She consciously decided not to interact with her "drug addicted, physically, emotionally, and financially abusive mother" anymore, so it was a scary coincidence when she ran into her in the grocery store.

Here's the issue, though. She and her husband had both agreed to tell their kids that her mother was dead. But when that woman in the grocery store claimed to be their grandma, the kids had questions. Her son asked several times who that lady in the store was, so Purplefish994 told him, "That was some confused woman." But her son isn't buying the story.

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Now, her husband wants to tell their kids the truth. He accused her of "potentially damaging" their son and confusing him. Her husband even went so far as to suggest that maybe her mother has changed in all this time. But understandably, Purplefish994 doesn't want to risk getting someone so abusive involved in their lives now. 

Plus, she wrote, "I wouldn't even know how to go about sitting down a six- and a three-year-old and explaining that their grandmother is not in heaven like I said and that she's such a bad person that I don't want them to have a relationship with her." But now, her husband is threatening to tell their kids anyway.

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What do you think? Is this woman the a-hole? The internet was pretty divided on this. The top comment claims that she has done nothing wrong. Clarissacoil wrote, "you have absolutely every right to keep her out of your life. Your husband doesn't have any say in that." And I agree.

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But not everyone does. Thebohomama claims that "her husband does get a say in whether or not they lie to their kids," and that while she doesn't have to let her mother back into her life, she does have to be honest with her kids. Then again, as SelfANew points out, "They're six and three." 

Even if you tell them the truth, some other commenters explained, all they'll latch onto is the fact that they have a grandma, AKA a potential giver of presents, that their mom won't let them see. No matter how much she tries to make it clear that her mother is a bad person, young kids like that might not understand, might bring it up constantly, and thus, might make the situation even more complicated and uncomfortable than it already was.

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However, fortniteplayr2005 points out, "If you are a parent and you lie to your kids, and they find out, they now think lying is acceptable to those they love." This person has a point. If they find out about the lie years down the line, that might do damage to the kids' relationship with their mom. 

dead grandmother
Source: iStock Photo
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And, as HyacinthFT rightly states, "kids that age do need to know about abuse," unfortunately. "They need to know enough to ask for help if they are being abused... It needs to be explained in an age-appropriate way, of course. Also, what's this assumption that they can't understand that bad people exist, but they can understand death?" 

But that's not where the argument ends. People have been going back and forth in the comments constantly since this was posted. There doesn't seem to be a clear consensus. So, what do you think? Do you tell a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old the truth about their abusive grandmother? Or do you lie about it, at least for a little while longer?

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