Hello fellow grannys. This is my first post as I’m looking for some advice from you lovely ladies. My oldest son and his partner gave me my my first grandson 3 Years ago. My granddaughter followed shortly after and I feel completely shut out from their lives. They live 3 hours away so I rarely get to see them. The first year after my grandson was born we only got to see them once a month. We either went to stay with them or they came to ours for the weekend however this has dwindled down to about 4 times a year. I split with my husband about 2 years ago and this was an extremely difficult time for me but I don’t feel like I got any support from my son or his partner. Just spending time with my grandchildren would have brought me so much joy during this very stressful time but I feel like I have to beg to be allowed to stay with them. When I do stay I am only permitted to stay for one night which just isn’t enough time.
I was so very excited when I found out that I was finally going to be a granny but I feel rather deflated about the relationship I now have with my grands. The atmosphere is so tense when I visit and my sons partner practically ignores my presence. I have tried so hard to be helpful and get involved but she just won’t let me be a proper granny. I have never bathed the children or changed a single nappy. She barely lets the children out of her sight. I recall one occasion when I tried to take the baby out into the garden and I was told to bring him back. I just can’t make any sense if it. Where am I going wrong? Does anyone have any advice as I am truly a loss?
I feel shut out(51 Posts)
I have 5 gc and when they were young I never changed their nappies or bathed them. When they were much older they did start to come stay some weekends. I think you are very lucky being able to stay just one night, not all grans get this chance.
I think you need to step back a bit and be content seeing them when its convenient for the parents. Try to make yourself a life away from just the gc with hobbies etc.
Being a "proper granny" isnt about getting your turn at bath time etc, which is a tricky time of day with small kids anyway as you dont want them getting excited before bed
You see them about average amount I would say for a granparent. And as tough as a split from your husband will have been on you, your GC arent there to fill that gap in your life.
I think the "atmosphere" may improve if you start to enjoy what you do have rather than what you think you should have IYKWIM
Well I do sympathise,But your first sentence may be a clue, I do not wish to be rude, but you say - They gave me my first Grandchild , if you compare that to saying
I became a Gran , Or my son & his partner have had their first child, then maybe you can see that you are viewing the situation only from your own point of view,
Maybe it would help you if you could say to them something like - let me know if I can help anytime but I understand you will want time to yourselves initially , but I am here if needed . etc etc , give it a go & best wishes
I have a DD who lives a similar distance away to your family. I only see them about 4x year.
I do not see changing nappies, bathing or taking a little one into the garden as being rights. I would not take a little baby out into the garden without asking if that was OK.
I have 7 GC and I have never bathed a single one of them! - gone into the bathroom when they were being bathed yes, but not doing it myself. If they had asked or needed me to I would have done so.
I think the problem here is mismatched expectations about what being a "proper granny" entails. I really do think that you can only be guided by them - if they feel you are trying to muscle in in ways that hey had not expected, it will make things a bit tense.
Maybe you could step back a bit when you visit; ask if it is OK before you do anything, and when they see that you are wanting to let them do the parenting and taking their feelings into consideration, then maybe things might become a bit more relaxed between you. I know it is hard for you, but they cannot fill the gap that has been left by your marital breakdown.
I wish you lots of luck with this and hope you can find a way of making things work for you all.
I am sorry Confusedgranny but I agree with Barmyoldbat about taking a step back. The grandchildren are not your own children and of course they are a comfort but they are people in their own right and maybe your DS and DDiL can't cope with your sadness.
You aren't going wrong except that you have certain expectations which for whatever reason, these people (your DS and his DP) can't fulfil. You are making yourself miserable.
Perhaps when you feel better and happier, you can begin to have a good relationship again.
I have a DGS 12,000 miles away but we have a very good relationship. We talk on WhatsApp about once a week and hear what's going on in his life and make plans for when we can see them again. Meanwhile we get on with our own lives so that we have interesting stories to share.
I hope things improve for you.
I wonder if you could try, very calmly, to see this from their point of view?
Yes, you'd love to be the adored granny whom everyone welcomes - wouldn't we all but for most of us this is fantasy, not reality.
We all know today's busy Mums have to work hard in and outside the home, and with 2 toddlers I'm sure your dil is frequentyl frazzled and may well find it hard to cope with a granny as well (especially one she hardly knows), however loving you may feel yourself to be.
When you are in their home, of course you feel odd, it's not your routine nor your house and the children aren't used to someone they don't know picking them up and walking away from Mummy - even into the garden.
She is being cautious and protective - would you honestly want it any other way? My own graandson has allergies and gardens are difficult terrain.
When you split with your husband, this little family had a very young baby and even if you had told them you'd value their support (did you?) just how much could they have offered, living 3 hours away?
Even now, travelling all that way with two, possibly fractious children, is far from easy.
And what if they'd actually planned to visit you one weekend and that morning the babies were unwell?
What if one of them just wasn't feeling up to a 3 hour drive with 2 babies?
What if that's the only family weekend for ages they have together and to relax?
What if they consider that precious family time more important than packing a car with all the accoutrements necessary for two pre-schoolers and driving 3 hours?
Don't they have that right?
You are taking this very personally and failing to see that your expectations of this family are unrealistic.
So if you wish to keep affectionate contact with your son and his little family, why not give them plenty of notice and say you would like to visit, say 3 month hence if that's convenient to them
Tell them you'll stay in a motel or B&B so you have your own space.
Ask them what time it would be convenient to pop round and perhaps you could all go out for an hour or two with the children, or have family time in the afternoon?
Leave it to them to decide.
Think about them and what it's like for them trying to cope with life and a granny who expects more - and have just a little more sympathy for their very difficult situation.
my oldest so and his partner gave me my first grandson
No they didn't, they had their first child. A very strange view imo. I live 20 mins away from my daughter and her family so you can imagine how often I see them. The only time I've bathed the children was twice when Mum and Dad went away over night.
Im sorry to say that your going to have to rethink your role as a grandmother.
Thank you very much for your responses. I think that I am most hurt by the fact that they won’t let me help. It feels as though they don’t trust me. My son and his partner both work and I so desperately want to help them. I could help to look after the children to give them a break. I have the time and the inclination. I could make their lives so much easier if only they would let me. I’m just so sad that I can’t have the relationship with my grandchildren that I have wanted for so long.
As for staying in a hotel- it seems absurd to me that I would spend the evening on my own in a hotel when they have a perfectly comfortable spare room at their house. I’m not sure that I will suggest that but I will try to ask for permission before I do anything. Hopefully that will help
Confusedgranny, I'd rather spend an evening in a hotel and a day with my grandchild than not see him at all.
You might see it as absurd, but they've made it obvious that they don't really want an over night guest. You need to be flexible. And show them you are prepared to do whatever they prefer.
If you have to beg to stay with them and its dwindled down from once a month to 4 times a year and you're only allowed to stay for 1 night then PLEASE take the hint that they don't want you as an overnight guest.
100% suggest staying in a hotel. Try following their lead. It seems to be all about what you want, what you expected and what you think is best. Try and see it from their point of view. Rearrange your expectations and lower them abit.
My DM has a fantastic relationship with our DDs, shes never once bathed them.
Your phrase, 'won’t let me be a proper granny' speaks volumes. Your idea of 'grannyhood' is different from theirs, that's all. It's always up to the parents to decide arrangements and boundaries. We grannies have to ask what's allowed!
I don’t understand why some grans have such high expectations and so much ‘need’ I only get to see them once a month do you realise how lucky you are ?
As grans it’s not our life, it’s the young people’s lives to make it whatever way they want and if we are included sometimes that’s lovely if not we just get on with our lives and are there if needed Being a gran is a one way street it’s not equal we shouldn’t be demanding and encroaching well that’s how I see it I m there if needed but I m not expecting too much more to be honest
I have a good relationship with all my grandkids Two I see about every five years, three I see about twice a year and two I see much more regularly as they only live down the road (although now they are teens I see them very little) but I love them all and treat them all the same I really don’t have expectations but I was always ready to jump on a plane if I was needed but we need to fit in with their lives and needs, not them fit in with ours.
Just relax and go with the flow and don’t be needy
You aren't entitled to their home or their children.
Maybe they just don't want help?
Help isn't help if it is forced on someone.
You asked where you are going wrong.
Your expectations are way over the top.
You want to be involved in their lives way more than they want you too- you want to be enmeshed
You feel entitled to:
1. their time - visit frequency and duration
Once a month was a lot especially when parents work.
2. their home - their spare room is it yours to use unless the owners of the home wish so
Hotels give everybody the space they need to have a good relationship
3. Their baby - "gave me a grandchild" says everything. The baby is NOT yours to fulfill your grandma fantasy.
Baby is a person.
4. Their parenting experience- baths, diapers and other general care of the baby belongs to the parents.
They will delegate if they want to, you are not owed just because of you are the grandmother
5. Their support - breaking up is hard. However, treating your gc as Prozac is the wrong thing to do
6. Imposing youself as caregiver- huge no no
7. Wanting to help - help is welcome when it is requested from the people who want to be helped.
Imposing your help shows you want to be needed and it is smothering
I am sure I am missing a bunch of small things.
Sincerely apologize for being so overbearing and smothering. Back off and let them breath.
Let them make the first contact and respect their rules
They still see you. You have time to fix this
Oh, I can remember when we told my in-laws that we had been posted abroad for three years. DS was coming up to one year old, and my DMil said "you've given me a grandson and now you're taking him away from me".
We dearly loved DH's parents, but that made us feel so guilty. DH was in a job where it was accept the posting or lose the job, so we had no option.
And I'm sorry, but I think your expectations are way too high. They need time on their own to bond as a family, We lived three hours away from both sets of parents and were lucky to see them a couple of times a year. With work commitments on all sides it is difficult to travel frequently, and we certainly did not want our family visiting more than a couple of times a year, as we felt we needed time together. My DH had a stressful job and did not want to spend his time travelling up and down the country, (as he had to travel abroad frequently for work), or to be always entertaining in his own home when he (and I) needed time to relax together. And also to learn how to manage our little family ourselves.
When my DS had his children we would wait to be invited, we never asked to visit. Never expected to be looking after baby while we were there, just watched bathtime etc. Then DS and family moved nearer us and we ended up being asked to do half the week childcare, so our turn came to change the nappies!
My DM was always asking if she could come and stay, or have the grandchildren, and it was just so difficult to tell her that we were not happy with that. Just step back a bit and maybe they will come to you. My DS and family now live just round the corner from me. I never drop in uninvited, I never ask to visit. And they are the same. We respect each other's privacy. I have a key, but that is just for emergencies. They are their own family with their own lives to lead and certainly do not want to have grandma breathing down their necks every 5 minutes. I help out only when asked, and am pleased to do so.
I hope things work out well for you. Just be patient.
Confusedgranny - I guess these responses must feel a bit harsh to you, but I do think they are all trying to say the same thing: that there is a huge mismatch of expectations. That mismatch leaves you a bit adrift, because in a sense the young family holds all the cards in their hands - and rightly so. The onus to re-think lies with you; and maybe even to acknowledge that you have got off on the wrong foot, and seek to start again. If they feel they can trust you to consider their feelings first, then there my be a way forward.
Hopefully these posts can be taken in the helpful spirit in which they are meant. And I wish you lots of luck in mending fences.
What is a proper granny?
I shall go and ponder that one.
BradfordLass 72 I liked your response very much and only hope the OP takes your excellent advice.
Totally identify with what you are going through. You need to stop applying pressure to them about being able to stay and do more with grandkids. My Husband and I got pushed out too for the same reason and now they've walked on us. We have lost a son and our only grandchild who is nearly two. We are in bits and have both felt suicidal. I'm trying to get therapy. The grief you feel when they cut ties is intolerable. I'm not even sure how we are going to get through this. I have poor health and I worry I won't see my grandson before I die and my son doesn't seem to care. Just step back and give them some space or risk losing them because sons will choose their partners.
Confusedgranny We all, at any age, have expectations/ideas/dreams of what a particular period in our lives will be like. When those expectations are not met it is hard, painful, challenging to accept. It is hard when we find that what we thought we had isn't quite what we expected it to be, too.
You have obviously brought up a son who has the confidence to make his own life with his wife and his children and who is creating that life in a way that works for them; that is an achievement for you. Perhaps your son seems selfish, lacking in thought for you but then don't you think children always tend to assume that parents can cope ...we coped when they were young (they won't know how hard it was at times!); they assume we will now! And none of us know for sure what our children have to deal with/negotiate in their own lives and relationships. I expect you had to do that too, in relation to your own parents/PIL. I know I did.
Did you decide what you needed from your own parents/PIL for your children? Again, I know we did! Both sets of parents offered different things; giggling and cookery from my mum; "intellectual" type conversations from my dad (when the kids got older!); football/sport madness from my FIL; general chat and little family history conversations from my MIL.[who if I am honest, was very difficult at times!] My parents had them to stay very occasionally, my PIL babysat a couple of times. We lived 2 hours away from my parents, and then 50 minutes away. 3 1/2 hours away from my PIL. We had very busy lives, we did make a point of inviting them and going to see them when we could. We spoke on the phone weekly. Both sets of parents helped to maintain that, a quick ring to see how were etc. if we hadn't rung, but not too often. These days quick communication is easier with texts etc. too
Maybe it would help you to think back to when your son was young and how you as a parent responded with his respective grandparents; your expectations of them. Yes, your expectations might have been for them to be more hands on etc. Maybe you welcomed the help etc. But if your son and DILs expectations are different then that is up to them and you have to fit in with their expectations of grandparenting, otherwise the relationship will be likely to deteriorate further. That would be so sad for you.
Try to think about the positives in what you DO have as a grandmother, not what you don't have. And DO please take the advice about the hotel, if you truly feel they are not keen on you staying; it may seem daft, but if it is best for them then so be it. When you are there, can you take something that will interest your grandchild...something that logically you might do with him? Maybe a little pop up book - 3 year olds love them. Or a Duplo toy to make together? Make yourself interesting to him; DIL/son might like to see him enjoying something with you, rather than you trying to do what is part of their routine like bath time.
I hope that you can move forward positively with this so that your grandson can experience a positive relationship with you and also observe a positive relationship between you and his parents
...and your granddaughter too ofcourse! (sorry, missed your comment that you have two grandchildren!)
Confusedgranny a few comments on your further posting.
My son and his partner both work and I so desperately want to help them. I could help to look after the children to give them a break
So you would rise before 4am to drive to theirs in order to be present when they leave for work?
And leave at 6-7pm when they come home and drive another 3 hours back?
Or do you envisage moving into their spare room as a weekday lodger?
Or were you hoping to look after the children at weekends, the only day they get to spend time with their babies?
I could make their lives so much easier if only they would let me
But that's your idea of 'easier' not theirs.
You are already making their lives difficult by your recalcitrant attitude and deliberately feeling "hurt" and "not trusted" simply because these poor people choose to live their own lives, their own way.
Clearly they have childcare all worked out, as many working parents must.
In my experience, toddlers LOVE going to playschool, socialising with other children and learning all manner of wonderful things when there.
And if they relied on you, what would happen if you became sick, or fell, or just exhausted?
Especially whilst looking after two very active children; that's no easy task - day after day after day.
They would have all the worry of taking time off work, finding other reliable help (and it's not easy to get kids into kinder care these days; most places have long waiting lists), as well as giving them one more thing to worry about. You.
As for staying in a hotel- it seems absurd to me that I would spend the evening on my own in a hotel when they have a perfectly comfortable spare room at their house
I’m not sure that I will suggest that
Oh dear, did you envisage having lots of company each night in that spare room?
Can't you see how selfish you sound? You must have it all your own way and any other suggestion, even sensible ones, is "absurd" to you
And yet slowly but surely, you are losing contact with this little family whom you profess to love by insisting on everything being as you want it.
Isn't there a lesson (or two) to be learned from all the above posts from very experienced grandparents? Did you ask for help only to refuse all advice?
but I will try to ask for permission before I do anything
And if that's as far as you are prepared to go, I sadly expect that in a few months, your next post will tell us you have been cut off from all contact because you have such entrenched attitudes and simply will not accept that you have NO rights at all, other than what are offered to you by your son and his family.
Your grandchildren should not be the sole focus of your life. Maybe you have become too focussed on what you feel you are "not getting" from being a grandparent.
Look to the rest of your life - you are now, presumably, living alone. What are your hobbies, interests.? How often do you get out and about? When did you last learn a new skill?
I also wonder how close you were to your son and DIL before the babies came along? Did you pop in and out to see them frequently? If you don't have a close relationship with the parents, you are unlikely to have one with their children.
I think you’ve already been given much good advice, but I just wanted to say that staying in an hotel/B&B is a really good compromise. We have a daughter similar distance away to yours, and we always stay in hotels when we visit, better for them better for us.
We have one daughter living locally, and I’ve been very hands on with those children, believe me, there’s no great joy in changing nappies.
Take a step back, if you alienate your family, things will only get worse. I’m afraid you have to accept whatever they’re prepared to give you.