Dear Abby: How old does a child have to be before she is able to choose a relative to live with? I’m the one my granddaughter wants to stay with. Her home life is in turmoil because of her parents’ nasty divorce.

Ever since her mother (my daughter) found out my granddaughter wants to live with me, she has forbidden her to talk to me, and me to contact her. Her mother is depressed and angry, but won’t seek counseling. She doesn’t talk to me unless it’s to say ugly things.

My granddaughter said her mother never smiles anymore. We are very close and this hurts my heart. She’s a good girl.

We live several hours away, and are more than willing to have her. She already has a room here, and our home is never happier than when she’s visiting.

We haven’t spoken to her in months, and we really miss her. Her younger sibling gets most of the positive attention, while she receives mostly negative attention. I have seen this happen many times. She tries so hard to please her mom. I don’t know what to do to help her.

— Heartbroken in Oklahoma

Dear Heartbroken: It would have been helpful if you had mentioned why your daughter is angry with you and is preventing your grandchild from contacting you and vice versa. If she’s in such bad shape that it is negatively affecting your granddaughter, your questions should be addressed to a lawyer.

If your granddaughter is in her teens, she might be considered mature enough to ask to live with a relative other than her mother. If not, and her mother’s hostility is affecting her schoolwork, a trusted teacher or counselor at school might be able to see she gets the emotional support she needs.