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How do you feel about being a step-grandparent?

(33 Posts)
bytheway Fri 23-Jun-17 15:12:57

My DH has 6 grandchildren by four children, I have one daughter who has no children. All of our children are in their 30's

1 of my stepchildren lives locally, she has recently returned to the area as a single parent (her partner died last year) with 2 small children (age 4 and 1) When she started her job here my DH (who is retired) made it clear that whilst he would help out if the children were sick, or in emergencies, he wasn't up to looking after them full time whilst she works. He eventually relented to an extent.

He now looks after them for 1 full day a week as well as odd days at the weekend. I know he finds this exhausting, though he's loathe to admit it.

I made it clear early on that, as i work full time, i would not be prepared to help out, I am exhausted at the end of the day and the last thing i want is to be looking after small children. I don't mind the odd hour here and there, but if i were to choose a career, child care would be at the bottom of my list.

I was a single parent myself for many years, with no family help whatsoever, and I just got on with it.

My OH is now hinting that i should help out more, prehaps i could take a day off here and there when he has the two of them.

I really don't want to do this but i am torn between feeling guilty that i don't want to help out more and knowing i will feel resentful and exhausted if i do.

I am sure i will get some flack from some of you but is it just me? How do feel about your step-grandchildren? Do you want to look after them? Does it come naturally to you?

paddyann Fri 23-Jun-17 15:18:42

my daughter has married twice and has two kids from her first marriage and one with her second husband who is an only child.His parents if asked how many GC they have say 3 ,no steps about it ,they love all three and treat them all the same.I really admire them for it .

paddyann Fri 23-Jun-17 15:21:26

wish there was an edit button on here ,posted too soon.IF you dont like children its probably best you dont look after them ,but in the circumstances of your SD being widowed perhaps you could help with childcare costs .Our children are ours for life and if we can help we should in my opinion

ladytina42 Fri 23-Jun-17 15:27:51

We do help out (considerably) with childcare costs Paddyann, particularly due to SD being widowed. We have helped out in lots of way, helped her move when she was ready, dealt with all the paperwork and authorities after her partners death, sat up till all hours listening to her when she needed an ear. And so on....

mumofmadboys Fri 23-Jun-17 15:33:55

You may never have birth GC and may only have step GC.In your shoes I would do all I could to foster good relationships but only you know what you can cope with and we are all different. Goid luck.

mimiro Fri 23-Jun-17 15:39:10

really a matter of circumstance.if you are not up to it than dont.

as for the step thing,we never seperated steps,bios,foster,halfs etc.
had 2foster/adopted,i bio and one step.
when people ask i have 4 children.
and 3 gc with a new one on the way.

i couldnt chase the 3 and 4 year olds around for an entire day either.i adore them but dc dont expect me to be a sitter.

Ceesnan Fri 23-Jun-17 15:56:44

I'm giing to be honest and say that I don't look on my five step grand children as anything to do with me. Their parents and I don't get on and have as little to do with each other as possible. If DH wants to see his children he goes to their houses - they do not come here. It works for us.

Lewlew Fri 23-Jun-17 16:06:57

I am a step granny, but love my ONE (so far) DGD as my own. STILL, if I was working full time, I would not be able to look after her at all as we do now for the one day or one/half day (alternating weeks) as I do now with DH's help. We help out for emergencies, if she's excluded from nursery due to illness, etc.

He knows I could not do this and DGD's parents know, and I know he could not on his own for more than a couple of hours. She's 2 now, and getting heavy. I cannot lift her in and out of the travel-cot now as my back is wonky from past surgeries. DH is great with her, but not so good with the practical things, like how to properly clean a wee girl's bottom (he had only boys).

So there you are. You know your limits and must stick to them. Otherwise your health could nose-dive in the crucial years when you are trying to hopefully work towards your own retirement. Grown children sometimes do not see their parents as getting older... it's a funny point of view, sort of a compliment, but not a practical one.

Also, her parents know that if they have another child, we will be older and not as energetic and may not be able to do even what we do now with #1 !

If it feels like your both are doing too much, then you ARE! [FLOWERS]

Ilovecheese Fri 23-Jun-17 16:49:00

We have eight grandchildren between us. Four of them live in this country.
Of the four that live in this country, three live within an hours travelling distance.
The three that live closest are my daughters' children.
We looked after the oldest two for one day a week. They are now both at school. My husband treats them as if they are his own grandchildren. They love him and he loves them.
When my other daughter had her little girl, I did not feel as if I could manage to do it again, it was nine years later and we were nine years older. That does not mean that I love her any less than the others, we see her with my daughter, but we don't do regular childcare. And yes, I feel a bit guilty about it.
I suppose what I am saying is that you would probably feel the same if they were your own biological grandchildren, nothing to do with them being 'steps'.
We know what we can manage, maybe we just have to live with a bit of guilt!

NonnaW Fri 23-Jun-17 17:29:08

I adore my step grandson! We look after him one day a week, and though it's a long day and we are shattered at the end of it, we love it. However, if I was still at work I couldn't do it. Difficult decision for you. How do you feel about them?

tanith Fri 23-Jun-17 17:45:56

We have 8 soon to be 9 grandchildren and 2 soon to be be 3 Great grands my husband is step grandad to them all . Thay all love him to bits and hes been happy to sit/mind them for the last 25 years we've just all been away on holiday with all the grown up grants and we all had a lovely time.
You must do what's right for though.

NanaandGrampy Fri 23-Jun-17 18:19:00

I don't think it's got anything to do with whether you like or don't like children, I would feel the same as you if I was working full time.

In fact I did ! My weekends were precious and regularly losing one day a week for childcare wasn't my idea of fun. Like you I didn't mind an hour here and there but an exhausted Nana wasn't any fun at all.

Now we're retired we don't have them any less but we feel quite differently about it because we're not exhausted before we start ( we are afterwards but we can cope with that).

In your shoes I might feel aggrieved to waste precious holiday days in being a childminder. You need to have a frank discussion with your DH now before it affects your relationship.

bytheway Fri 23-Jun-17 19:07:23

Thanks for your replies, it is good to hear others views and to know that i am not the only one. Infact, if i'm honest, i feel pretty much like Ceesnan above, about some (not all) of my step-children.

Reminds of when (many years ago) my sister was making her will and had to name a guardian for her children who were toddlers at the time in the event of her and her husbands death. We both joked that it definately wouldn't be me!

I think i will bite the bullet and have an honest chat with him this weekend, then leave the ball in his court.

I have always called the children my step-children or refer to them as my husbands kids and the same with grandchildren. Although, I certainly have friends who refer to both their own and steps as their own, that has never felt normal to me.

GrandmaMoira Fri 23-Jun-17 20:44:21

I used to look after my step DGC at weekends when working full time. I have always looked after various children in the family and still look after my DGDs. I like looking after children but some people don't. We're all different. However, if I should have more DGC, I might have to stop doing it as I'm getting older.

Flowerofthewest Sat 24-Jun-17 09:32:42

We have 12 DGC from my children. My DH is Grandpa to them all. He certainly doesn't feel or is made to feel any different being a Step grandparent . He's just an adored Grandpa

Hm999 Sat 24-Jun-17 10:03:44

Looking after small children for odd days is exhausting. It is marginally easier in their home, but then there's travelling.
I was a single parent with no help, and am determined to be the grandparent I wish my kids had had.
Other gran's husband treats my grandchild the same as the rest of us; and they both treat all their grandchildren the same regardless.

adaunas Sat 24-Jun-17 10:07:26

If your DH offered to look after them, that's his affair. I had the same issue with grandchildren. DH, retired especially to look after our grandchildren. I didn't and certainly wouldn't have taken time off work to do it.
I was and still am happy to have them for sleepovers at the weekend and now for odd days during the school holidays, especially now I am not working full time but we lived between 150 and 300 miles from my family or in-laws so we just had to get on with it.

IngeJones Sat 24-Jun-17 10:20:10

I am a step grandparent from my grandson having an older half-sister from his mum's previous relationship. The little girl was 8 when I first met her, so I don't think she really thinks of me as grandma (she is close to her other grandma who she sees more often) but I treat her the same as her brother and we get on fine. I am happy to have her smile

goldengirl Sat 24-Jun-17 10:34:30

I have 7 GC - and another on the way! - one of whom is a step GD. I've known her since she was 5 when she was a bit unsure of herself and my son. She has a lot of contact with her dad and we all get on well. She calls my son by his first name and now accepts his authority - it took a little while; a bit of understandable rebellion - and she's certainly one of my GC. I admit it took a little while to learn about each other but she's turned out to be a very nice teen and it's great to have her around. She's lovely with her younger step sisters and brother but the 'step' never comes into it now. We're very lucky.

Lilyflower Sat 24-Jun-17 10:49:31

Your OH can volunteer for himself but not for you. Do not give up your job to do what he offered to do as you will resent this so much that it might well split the two of you up.

If he is finding it too much the person he need to talk to is his child who should make other arrangements.

You've said that childcare would be at the bottom of your job wish list. It would be madness to be emotionally blackmailed into doing it for someone else's children.

paddyann Sat 24-Jun-17 11:57:38

surely her husbands grandchildren should be counted as her family too,isn't that what "blended" families are ?One day a week and the odd day at weekends is hardly taking advantage especially given the circumstances ,the poor girl has been widowed with two young,very young children .I cant imagine why anyone would baulk at OFFERING as much help as possible.As for all you who were single parents and "just got on with it" woulldn't you want things to be better for the next generation than you had it? We struggled financially for the first few years of our marriage(we started a business when we were just 21) and theres no way I would sit back and watch my kids struggle like that when I could ease it for them .Still I suppoese we are all different and its a very self centred world nowadays !

JanaNana Sat 24-Jun-17 12:19:02

We have a step grandson from my daughter's second marriage. He is a teenager now but we absolutely love him just like the rest of the grandchildren.He is included and treated just the same as them all. If you treat them them all equally (if he needs telling off then he gets told ) just as well as the others do if necessary then it works well. We don"t even think of him as a step grandchild , he"s just one of us.

quizqueen Sat 24-Jun-17 12:36:53

Don't do anything you don't want to do because you will regret it. Whether you get on with the step family or not, your husband decided to take on this commitment knowing your feelings and that you still work and it's up to him to sort out any problems. Maybe he should cut down to one day only if he finds it too much. Does he take them to any group activities to help lessen the load during the day?

I have two daughters but only one with children so far and she hinted that she'd like me to have them a lot. I said I would only consider two days a week max as I would have to offer the same to the other daughter, should the need arise, and I'd want at least 3 days to myself in retirement!

AmMaz Sat 24-Jun-17 13:12:28


How sad for your SD that she lost her husband so early on and with two little ones to raise. Even sadder if you cannot find a way to help her. If you offer childcare when you don't want to your resentment will show. Maybe something else to help?

Legs55 Sat 24-Jun-17 17:00:51

I am sorry for your daughter being widowed young with 2 young children but I also sympathise with your position. Your DH offered to do the childcare, you still work full time. Your DH is IMHO is being unfair expecting you to start using holiday entitlement to help him out, surely it's better to be able to plan week/fortnight holiday perhaps having DGC for a few days then.

I would certainly not have given up my job. I would of course have helped out with childcare expenses. I also agree your weekends are precious even if they are spent shopping/washing/cleaning etc. Have a chat with your DH, don't think it has anything to do with the fact you wouldn't have chosen childcare as a career I think it's more to do with your DH expecting to help him out when he offered & is now finding it difficult.