Gransnet forums


Grandma duties

(30 Posts)
jellybeanjean Wed 10-Apr-13 08:33:36

Hi, I'm very new to Gransnet, I'm a very new Grandma, and I'd like some advice please! I live 80 miles away from my son, daughter in law and their lovely little girl and I see them as much as time (and money) allow. I live on a state pension plus a very small private pension, so money is always tight. My son has indicated recently that he feels I should move to be nearer them; he says it's because the older I get (I'm 64 - yes, absolutely ancient!) the more I'm likely to need their help, but I think it's more because they'd like some help with the baby when DIL returns to work. Nothing would give me more pleasure, but I can't afford the petrol to go up there that frequently and more importantly, I love where I live, I have a gorgeous new man in my life and I don't feel I should be expected to give that up for their benefit. I'm happier now than I've ever been after 38 years of married misery. But am I being unreasonable? My son says he would hope I'd put family loyalty first.

Notso Wed 10-Apr-13 08:40:36

Maybe your son and his family could move to live nearer to you if they're concerned about you needing their support? wink

Gally Wed 10-Apr-13 08:43:16

Hi Jellybean and welcome to GN.
I am sure you will have an avalanche of advice before the morning is out. If I were in your place, I would stay put. You have your friends around you, your new SO and you are happy. I too am 64 and have to decide where to go and what to do. My family are much further away than 80 miles and wouldn't expect me to move nearer just for babysitting purposes even if it was under the cover of 'it's for your benefit'. Your son and DIL have chosen to have a baby, so it's their problem to sort out if she wants to return to work. You can still visit to help out when necessary - always offers on rail and bus fares but don't change your life just for their convenience. I think your son should put family loyalty first and be happy for you in your present circumstances. Could he not help with your travel expenses?

shysal Wed 10-Apr-13 08:47:17

Welcome Jean. I would definitely advise staying where you are, as you are so happy there. When our offspring decide to start a family they should not expect us to take on childcare unless it suits all concerned. You have done your job as a mother in teaching them to be independant, so let them get on with it. We spend most of our lives caring for other family members, whether the older or the younger generation, they should understand that you deserve time to do what pleases you at some point.
I hope you are able to put this across gently but firmly, the last thing you want is a family split (you will read some heartbreaking stories on here).Time spent with grandchildren is wonderful and you have years of fun ahead.sunshine flowers

petra Wed 10-Apr-13 08:52:22

The simple answer is, no. It's funny that this was the first post I read this morning as today I will be having a conversation with my DD.
She wants us all to live together in one house. I spoke with a close friend yesterday and her opinion was that my DD wanted me there for baby sitting and my OH to do all the DIY and fix anything that needed fixing.
Very difficult. Not looking forward to it.

Elegran Wed 10-Apr-13 09:09:31

jean I would go the "not yet" route. Tell them that you love visiting and it is very kind of them to want to see more of you and have you living near them, but you do not yet need so much of their care that you can give up independence and the life you are living now.

You are only 64 - you have another twenty years ahead of you.

They should think whether they really want you to give up your life, your home and your friends, and move among strangers? Because you would need other interests than your family, or you would become very boring - to them as well as yourself.

Family loyalty works both ways, as Gally said. If you asked them to give up the life they live, and dance attendance on you while you were still fit and fulfilled, would they be happy to do it?

tanith Wed 10-Apr-13 09:17:34

I can only agree with what everyone else has said, they should be happy that you feel independent and happy where you are, plenty of time to rethink in the future...

Bags Wed 10-Apr-13 09:18:30

No, you're not being unreasonable jellybean. You have your own life to live and your offspring have theirs.

wireless Wed 10-Apr-13 09:22:19

Jean - If you change your life around others what will happen when the children are older and don't need a babysitter? You will lose some of the best years of your life and may find yourself with regrets.
I live a long way from my grandchildren and have hardly done any babysitting so my daughter has had to find other people to help. Had I been nearer I would have helped but I believe we are entitled to our own lives and don't feel at all old (I'm 61 and have re-married a man aged 56). My daughter chose to have children and also whether she works or not so it is up to her to make her arrangements. They are both teenagers now so I wouldn't be needed anyway.
Hope you make the right choice for you. Enjoy your life.

Mishap Wed 10-Apr-13 09:29:15

I think that your answer should be that you appreciate their concern for your well-being but that you do not feel the time is right just now - that hopefully you have many healthy years ahead of you. Say that you will consider it if your situation changes.

This may result in them "coming out" and saying that they need your sitting help. If they do, perhaps you could come to some agreement about how much care you do and how your travel expenses might be dealt with in your current circumstances. Perhaps spend 2 days a week there and one overnighter, with them helping with the travel cost - that is if you feel you would like to do that. That way you get the best of both worlds - keep your happy life where you are, spend lots of lovely time with GC and help your son and DIL.

merlotgran Wed 10-Apr-13 09:31:25

One sentence in your post answers the question, jean. 'I'm happier now than I've ever been after 38 yrs of married misery.' You have to put a value on your own life and happiness is very precious.

My advice is to stay put!

celebgran Wed 10-Apr-13 09:53:32

Gosh jellybean how wrong of your son to put it like that IMO.

Avoid falling out at all costs! But of course you must not upset your new relationship what a shame your son lives far away and of course you want see your grand daughter much as poss and help.
I hope your son can understand the I importance of your relationship don't give it up!

wisewoman Wed 10-Apr-13 10:01:49

I think you would be very unwise to move when you are at a happy time of your life surrounded by friends and with a lovely partner. You are still young and you need to enjoy life while you are fit. As a friend recently said to me "you are a granny, not a nanny". You can enjoy your grandchildren without putting your own life on hold, Children will quickly grow up and go to school and then what? It is so difficult isn't it, not to cause a rift but as someone else has said you probably spent all your life putting others first. Take care of yourself. flowers

frida Wed 10-Apr-13 10:29:13

I agree with Mishap.

Movedalot Wed 10-Apr-13 10:33:04

I think elegran and mishap are right, they have put their suggestions for your reaction to the request very well. Whatever you think the motive is let them think you have taken it at face value and is a concern for your well being. Thank them for being so thoughtful but tell them you are fine at the moment but will think about it again when you are older and don't feel so fit. Then you can go and stay and babysit when you want to and perhaps give them the opportunity to have an evening out while you stay over.

Enjoy yourself while you can, we none of us know what is round the corner.

HildaW Wed 10-Apr-13 10:50:04

Movedalot.....oh beautifully put! I do wish youngsters would not just assume Grannies are for childcare. Yes, its lovely if it's mutually agreeable but if a couple choose to have a family then they need to have got the childcare discussions out in the open long before its neccessary. Jellybean, at 62 you are a mere babe and have every right to be living your life on your terms - we never know whats around the corner so thank them sweetly for being so concerened - promise to reassess situation within a given time frame and get yourself a piggy bank to pop those spare £1s in to start a Granddaughter Treats fund so that you can be a doting but slightly long distance Grandma for the foreseeable future.

glassortwo Wed 10-Apr-13 10:58:00

jelly From someone who now lives with her DD, SIL and 2 Grandchildren, think long and hard, your life is not your own and will never be again.

Offer what you are happy doing as has been suggested 2 days and an overnighter if your happy with that, but once you are committed you are left with no where to go, and it seems as if you have lots going on in your life without giving it up.

Their child their responsibility.... wish Gn had been around before I jumped in with both feet.

kittylester Wed 10-Apr-13 11:53:03

Ditto to all of the above smile

I started to travel 20 miles each way, on one day a week, to look after our eldest grandson when DD1 went back to teaching and I absolutely love it. I have continued to do the same with number 2. However, I will be so pleased to be free of the tie when DGD1 goes to school in September. I am 6 years older than when I started and get very tired. They do appreciate me (and the other granny who does the same) but I look forward to being able to see the DGC out of the normal routine and do 'special thing' with them rather than being part of the routine.

gillybob Wed 10-Apr-13 12:52:32

I agree with many of the comments and would reiterate what Glassortwo said about thinking long and hard about it before rushing into anything. Also think that a compromise might be in order (at least in the short term) with you perhaps volunteering to do a day or two by staying overnight to help out. I have my three staying with us overnight one or two nights a week every week (depending on parents shift patterns) and have done this now for 7 years. We do live fairly close but I could just as easily stay with them if we lived further apart.

janeainsworth Wed 10-Apr-13 13:17:38

Welcome to GN Jean.
I agree with what everyone has said about living your own life etc.
A further thought occurs to me, and that is that if your son has really said you should put family loyalty before everything, that is emotional blackmail.
Could it be that your son doesn't like your new partner? Is that the conversation everyone is afraid to have?
Sorry if I am off the mark here.

grannyactivist Wed 10-Apr-13 13:25:55

jellybean you are NOT being unreasonable. My son says he would hope I'd put family loyalty first. Sorry, I think that's a disgraceful thing to say under the circumstances you've described.

jellybeanjean Wed 10-Apr-13 14:15:41

My goodness - what amazing people you are! So many replies, so many wlecomes, and so much good advice. I feel I've found a horde of news friends in the space of the morning and I love you all!

janeainsworth, I think my son is suspicious of my new partner. NP is disabled and I think my son thinks I will become his carer, which will not be the case as we won't live together. NP is also quite well off and wll help me financially if/when I move (which may be sooner rather than later, as I've just had an offer on my flat) so I will not move from this area. And yes, I feel it is emotional blackmail.

Notso - made me giggle! I might suggest that....

wisewoman - spot on about putting others first; I think it's what my generation (of women!) were expected to do.

Thank you again everyone who's posted - I really appreciate it and it's made me feel less alone.

Love and hugs to all xxxxxxxxx

janthea Wed 10-Apr-13 14:20:22

You stay put and enjoy your life. You are only young once!!

As the others have said, you can always visit. I have one daughter to lives in Europe and she comes to stay with her children two or three times a year and I go there to visit. My other daughter lives 10 minutes away from me so see them fairly often - at least once or twice a week.

I still work full time, so I have the perfect excuse not to be swamped with babysitting. I'm 67 by the way.

annodomini Wed 10-Apr-13 15:24:46

jean, we are so unanimous that there's nothing left to say - so I will simply agree with the rest that you have your own life to live and, to put it bluntly, your son is exerting a bit of moral blackmail - trying to make you feel guilty which is a mother's default emotion! My elder son and his wife, when they decided to move to a bigger house, asked me if I would like to share a house with a granny flat and though I am older than you are, I decided to stay put, albeit about 200 miles from them, because I have my own home, activities and friends here in Cheshire. I might think again if they decide to move when I'm around 80!

Eloethan Wed 10-Apr-13 17:33:22

I agree as well. I think your son is being unfair.

As this is the first time you've been happy for many years, why should you be expected to give up a lifestyle you are finally enjoying.

As Notso said, if you son is so concerned for your wellbeing, perhaps he would like to move nearer you.

Even grown up children can revert to "child mode" sometimes and treat their parents like appendages to their own lives. Perhaps they don't realise that they are being inconsiderate and insensitive. However, I think the remark about "loyalty" is unacceptable - kindness and loyalty work both ways.