Gransnet forums


to want to make a change? (visiting / illness)

(28 Posts)
loggedout Tue 22-Apr-14 08:57:20

Grandmother of our toddler lives alone, 2hrs from us. Our DS is entirely central to her life. She comes to stay for 4 nights, twice a month to see him. But she keeps coming to stay when she's ill, with colds, nasty chest infections, stomach bugs. She is ill very often (immune problems). And cannot understand hygiene i.e. keeps feeding DS bits from her plate, however many times we explain or even get angry. It's just happened again. She came, very unwell. DS and I are now ill too. We have suggested only coming when well; she says she'll hardly ever see her main joy. I don't want to damage their relationship but I'm fed up. Could you give advice from the grandparent side of things?

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 22-Apr-14 09:26:29

What a difficult one! sad

She must be very determined to see him if she is willing to travel two hours fortnightly to see him, especially when she is ill. Perhaps you could suggest that she is not doing her health any good to travel such a long way when she is low anyway.

Have you explained your concerns to her in a very clear but kind way? If you can get her to see the risk to DGS' health she is creating, she would surely understand? Also, if you are catching her illnesses that easily, are you sure your immune systems are up to scratch?

Elegran Tue 22-Apr-14 09:35:54

Could you suggest that when she is not well you all go to see her? If you made it just a day trip that would cut down on the length of time she was contributing her cold germs. Get DS a "special spoon" of his own to use, so that she is not feeding him tasty morsels with the cutlery that has just been in her own mouth.

You need to be tactful and devious, I think.

rosequartz Tue 22-Apr-14 10:23:08

It's usually the other way round, DGPs catching bugs from their beloved DGCs! If he goes to a toddler group or play group he will pick up a lot of bugs there, or he may be immune by the time he starts!

I have a compromised immune system and try to keep up my immunity with vitamins (good ones recommended by DD1).
However, a bit cross because someone just visited us with a sickness/other end bug over the Easter holiday and DD caught it.
I don't kiss children on the mouth, only on the cheek or top of the head, but I notice a lot of people do.
Handwashing is very important as well.
Colds are one thing but can't stand sick and the other end thingy.

Granniepam Tue 22-Apr-14 11:54:20

Loggedout is there any way that you can diplomatically alter the visiting schedules? Could you meet up outdoors, for example at a park, near her for an afternoon picnic from time to time to avoid the 4 day stays? It is really important that you don't let visits with which you are uncomfortable become part of an expected routine.

janeainsworth Tue 22-Apr-14 12:06:37

loggedout having your MiL to stay for 4 nights at a time, twice a month, makes you a saint IMHO. (much as I love my MiL of course). I wouldn't want anyone staying twice a month for 4 nights at a time!
Has your MiL considered moving nearer to you so she doesn't actually have to stay?
Or would that be out of the frying pan and into the fire?

Mishap Tue 22-Apr-14 12:09:15

I think maybe a word with the health visitor might be in order, then you can say to you MIL that HV recommends that she does not visit when unwell - then it is on someone else's responsibility.

It does seem odd that she is well enough to travel for 2 hours in spite of being ill, which makes me feel she is probably not that ill in fact.

It is not healthy for your son to be her "main joy." We bring up our children and of necessity centre our lives round them, but we have to learn to look outwards and develop other aspects of our lives when they grow up. It must be very burdensome for your OH to feel responsible for her happiness.

Another angle on this is that we all protect our firstborns from every bug with great diligence, and then when subsequent children come along we resign ourselves to living in a "bug soup" and take it with equanimity. Life becomes one long snot trail and saga of sleepless nights and buckets of sick - that's just how it goes I am afraid.

Soutra Tue 22-Apr-14 13:50:56

Toddlers can be exposed to many more germs at playgroup/nursery than they are likely to catch from granny! Having seen SILs nephew hand feeding the lurchadoodle (dry) dog food and lived to tell the tale or s DGS (also 2) sneeze all over me I think most kids are tougher than perhaps you give them credit for. Of course if granny does have dengue fever ypu may need to rethink but I think she sounds like a lonely lady who lves her DGC and might benefit from a bit of TLC herself.

loggedout Tue 22-Apr-14 13:57:19

Thank you for thoughts & ideas. My new motto is 'tactful and devious': perfect! Will start with some of the practical suggestions about spoons, vitamins, etc. I do suspect my immune system (& patience with illness) not what it ought to be after 18months of poor sleep & still breastfeeding lots. Then, once we get a healthy patch, perhaps we can think a bit about overall visiting burden.

Elegran Tue 22-Apr-14 14:23:28

Meanwhile, tell yourself that generations of grandchildren have been fed titbits from granny's plate, and survived!

rosequartz Tue 22-Apr-14 16:40:53

If he is still being breastfed he should have a good immune system going already.

Agree with Mishap's sensible post.

When they start crawling/walking they can pick things up and eat them before you know it (dog food in DD1's case, a large bluebottle in friend's DD2's case etc).

Perhaps your MIL catches as much from DS as he catches from her? Just a thought.

harrigran Tue 22-Apr-14 18:17:16

I am afraid I do not skirt around the subject and my family seem to accept it. Some people just need to be told outright especially if their hygiene is lacking. DIL always rings to let me know if GC have sickness bug and I do not visit if I have a virus.

goldengirl Tue 22-Apr-14 21:07:46

I'm afraid green snot is par for the course in our house - not us I hasten to add! My immune system isn't good but its getting plenty of practice and is coming along quite nicely because once one child has dried up, the next one takes over! I certainly wouldn't visit with a cold that's not fair to the family and I certainly wouldn't feed children titbits from my plate either. There are some good suggestions on how to deal with it and I like the forthright approach myself. Good luck

Ana Tue 22-Apr-14 21:22:13

I agree with janeainsworth's view - four days, twice a month, is a lot to expect you to have your MIL to stay when you've got your immediate family to look after. How long does she expect to carry on with this arrangement? confused

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 22-Apr-14 22:23:37

Do they still have health visitors? Don't remember my daughter ever seeing one.

Nothing wrlng with a grandchild being a grandmother's "main joy in life". Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Especially if the gran is in poor health. What other joy in life is she likely to have?

rosequartz Tue 22-Apr-14 22:39:12

The visits do seem to be rather inflexible and set in stone. You may want to do other things sometimes.

She obviously adores DGS and that is lovely. But you do need to set ground rules, nicely but firmly without getting cross or upset.

Mishap Wed 23-Apr-14 10:08:18

jingle - it is the son who is the main joy in her life. She needs to let go a bit.

Ana Wed 23-Apr-14 10:37:13

Mishap the OP was talking about her son (MIL's GS) who is central to the gran's life.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 23-Apr-14 12:25:55

Definitely the grandson. And anyway, it would be perfectly understandable if it was her son who was central to her life. She is old and ailing.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 23-Apr-14 12:28:17

My son (and daughters) are pretty central to my life. The local book group, or the WI, or any other things we should be filling our time with,don't come anywhere near.

Mishap Wed 23-Apr-14 13:17:02

My children are of course a great joy to me - I am endlessly proud of them and love their company. But I make sure there are other joys in my life - I do not want them to feel responsible for my happiness - I want them to lead their own lives. And I do not have any expectations of them in relation to me, and my OH feels the same.

We see a great deal of them and communicate all the time; but often when they suggest I come over I am busy with some musical activity or with the school governors etc. I hope that this helps them not to feel in any way responsible for filling our time.

Mishap Wed 23-Apr-14 13:18:52

I certainly would not expect to be accommodated for 4 nights a fortnight! They have their own lives to lead.

HildaW Wed 23-Apr-14 14:59:26

Mishap, what you say is so sensible and reflects the way I feel. Although as a 'glass half empty kind of person' I rationalised it the other way....I do not want my children to feel responsible for my dreary days (I've had some unpleasant stress and anxiety issues that are ebbing away gently).
A visit by or two either of my daughters is always a highlight but its always gently negotiated so as to be welcome (not just tolerated).
Our children did not ask to be born and although we all adore our grandchildren they are not 'ours' they are our children's children....we just happen to be blood relatives. I get quite hot under the collar when I read or hear prospective Grandparents talk along the lines of 'My so and so is giving me a grandchild' are not being given anything....! If you are lucky you will be included in a wonderful adventure but its up to the prospective Grandparents to navigate tactfully their position in the relationship.

gillybob Wed 23-Apr-14 15:13:09

I agree with you HildaW and Mishap . I can honestly say that I never want my children to feel towards me the way I do towards my own parents.

I don't want them to feel guilty when they go somewhere nice or do something interesting. I don't want them to feel guilty about every day away or (heaven forbid) holiday they take without me. I don't want them to feel totally obliged to visit me twice a week (or more) and feel bad about changing the plans. They are not responsible for my happiness and/or my entertainment. If I have nothing interesting to do in my life and no social life then that will only be my own doing.

Having said all of that, I (happily and willingly) give a lot of my time to look after my three grandchildren to enable their parents to work and have some leisure time (without the children) that I admit I would feel slightly hurt if, when they are older my grandchildren did not spend a tiny little bit of their time visiting me. smile

Penstemmon Wed 23-Apr-14 15:48:10

I would be less concerned about the germs and much more about regular longer visits! That is a huge commitment. What about gently 'not being able ' to have granny and putting something else in its place so the 'habit' is broken? e.g we are busy /away but we will come and take you out for lunch on our way to /from .... etc. I am not saying do not see her regularly but it needs to be for everyone's pleasure not just hers.