Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

Mean Grandparents

(117 Posts)
MumofOne Wed 18-Dec-19 21:41:42

Hi,

This is my first ever post & I was really hoping to get some advice, regarding my parents and the way are with my daughter.

I'm 40 and have one child, my daughter who is 10. She is my parents only grandchild and this situation is unlikely to change.

Ever since she was born my parents never showed any interest in her, never came to visit, never babysat, never made an effort on birthdays/xmas etc...I have found this very hard to cope with over the years, but eventually after many years I accepted that they will never change and got on with my life, but as my daughter is getting older (she will be 11 in February) and I am finding it increasingly difficult to 'shield' her from this situation.

I always worry about this in the run up to xmas, but this year I can feel myself getting very down & anxious about it. On Monday my daughter was invited to a friends after school and the next day, she told me that her friend already had lots of presents under their tree and that apparently they were all from the child's grandparents. This made my heart sink, I'm not a materialistic person at all, we have always brought our daughter up to believe that Christmas is about family & we donate to the local foodbank & I consider myself very to be Eco conscious and we have brought my daughter a 2nd hand Fitbit and a 2nd hand Lego set as presents from ourselves this year, partly for costs reasons, but also I'm trying to be more environmentally aware, but despite this, when my daughter told me about her friends grandparents and that she had seen all of these presents, it really hurt & I could see the realisation over my daughters face, that her grandparents are 'different' and not in a particularly nice way. My parents don't make an effort at Christmas and all the time my daughter was young, she didn't fully realise this & we could 'brush it off' and so it didn't really have an impact, but she has grown up so much in the last year and I'm worried that this year I wont be able to hide their insensitivity. It is isn't just about money at all, the one present they do give to my daughter each year is often very thoughtless, for example last year they got my daughter a book but the book was in a series and they got her number 3 of 7, so it made no sense, unless you had read the other 2! The Christmas before, I asked if they could get her the greatest showman dvd as she loves this film and I knew it was only £10 in Tesco's at the time, so I felt safe to suggest this as it was fairly inexpensive, and they did actually buy it for her, but they decided not to give it to her as they wanted to 'hold it over for her birthday'?? K was gobsmacked. Instead they got some plastic gimmicky glasses which have just sat at the bottom of her cupboard ever since.

I wouldn't care if they didn't buy my daughter anything, but if they came around & played board games with her and interacted, this would be creating happy memories which she would remember, but they have never done this and I now dread their cheap and thoughtless present on Boxing Day.

My daughter isn't materialistic either, but obviously like any child she likes to receive presents! and we try to make it special for her, I just wondered if anyone has any advice on how to handle this issue I have never in my 10 years of parenting ever met someone else in the same situation and so have never had anyone to discuss this with. My husbands parents are both no longer with us, they passed many years ago and this seams to magnify the situation as my parents are her only grandparents.

Not that its at all relevant, but I just wanted to add, my parents are not in any sort of financial hardship, if they were I wouldn't want or expect them to get my daughter anything. They live very comfortably in a 4 bedroom house, both their parents are sadly deceased, one recently and they both inherited sizeable amount following this. I don't want this to be about money, but just wanted to illustrate how it is even harder for me to explain their apparent and I hate to use this word, but I cant this of anything else for it 'stingyness'.

If anyone could offer any advice on how to handle this or has had a similar experience I would be very grateful.

Thanks Bel xx

mumofmadboys Wed 18-Dec-19 21:52:01

You sound a lovely Mum and a kind daughter. I don't think you can do anything. Maybe buy your DD an extra small present or two so there are more things to unwrap. I think you just have to be honest with your DD and say ,if she asks, that your parents tend to give small gifts at Christmas. Are they any more generous towards you or your DH? Can you invite them to join in games and if they decline it is their loss and you have done your best. I wish you well. Happy Christmas!

Tedber Wed 18-Dec-19 21:57:03

Hi MumofOne... Phew...all I can say is that if your parents have never shown any interest in your daughter then they are unlikely to show any now. Who can say why? It is something that many people could not imagine.

However, from your daughter's point of view. If she has never known her grandparents in any way, shape or form, SHE will not be affected in any way. Many children don't HAVE grandparents at all. It is really up to the parents to step up and minimise the feelings of 'loss'. Simply don't refer to grandparents!

YOUR Disappointment in your parents, doesn't have to be passed to your children.

Just ensure they have a wonderful Christmas with your children, and accept your parent/s are never going to be the grandparents you wished for. You can build many happy memories for them without grandparents.

FlyingFree Wed 18-Dec-19 21:57:42

Hello! I have a few children but we are the same sort of age and I have a daughter the same sort of age. My mum was actually very abusive to me so we are estranged now. I know your heartbreak! No babysitting, no quality time, no thoughtful gifts! My daughter knows we are estranged because nanny just isn't a nice person. You should defo tell your daughter the truth that they are just selfish/mean/not good with children whatever the answer is! She will figure it out one day anyway and this way you can love each other through it ❤️

BlueBelle Wed 18-Dec-19 22:42:24

I totally agree with Tedber she’s never had any attention love care or presents from her grandparents so she won’t expect any different It’s you that are most disappointed She has a loving Mum and a Dad and that’s more than so many children have
There are a 101 situations in life that you don’t want for your children but really can do little about I didn’t want my children to come from a divorced home my daughter didn’t want their Dad to die but you just deal with it as you can

I don’t agree to tell your daughter they are mean or not nice people if she asks just keep it reasonable say they re not very good at choosing presents, playing, having fun or whatever the question is and try and keep it very low key Many kids don’t have grandparents at all or don’t see them it’s a disappointment but please remember your daughter will pick up on your feelings 100% so if it’s a big thing to you it will be to her if you accept it as one of those things she will too

notanan2 Wed 18-Dec-19 23:29:20

As hard as it is to realise, the grass isnt greener.

Some people who have a tonne of grandparent presents under their trees arent happy about it:

There's the "sting in the tail" gifter:
Age 10-11 year old clothes for the 7yr old that they comment about as "chubby"
The pink ballet stuff for the Tom boy.
The babyish "educational" gifts for the child they call illiterate, who is actually very academically able but shy, so doesnt perform on demand.

Then there's the "get in there with the firsts" gift giver:
Hear the parents are giving a bike from santa, so come round the week before christmas with a new bike
Gift the tween their first bra
Gives whatever the parents plan to give but a slighly better model.

The quantity not quality giver.
Who just gives too much. More than can be stored or enjoyed.

There's the "ask the children what they want even though they wont buy it as they disapprove of the answer" ones

The ones that give things you shouldnt give without asking the parents ones (e.g. pets, phones etc)

The giver of gifts that require extra cost to use:
E.g. here's a musical instrument, now your parenta can get you lessons!
Here's a wetsuit, now your parents can take you kayaking

You dont need to "manage" any of the above at least!

endlessstrife Thu 19-Dec-19 15:42:18

Are you an only child Bel, or do you have siblings? I only ask because then we could perhaps get a better idea of how to help.

Floradora9 Thu 19-Dec-19 15:44:24

I would , as your child gets older , make a joke about it . You all gues what terrible gift she might get and make sure your daughter wins . Better to laugh than cry and tell her all families are different in their own way.

Yehbutnobut Thu 19-Dec-19 15:47:18

You say ‘we’ and ‘our daughter’ so what about your partners parents? Or have I missed something?

endlessstrife Thu 19-Dec-19 15:59:40

Yehbutnobut Bel said the other set of parents have died, so her little girl just has the one set. It’s quite true though, you don’t miss what you’ve never had. Bel and her partner sound lovely, which is all the child needs. My children grew up without much input from GP’s and haven’t missed them. I just got the feeling the grandparents are not bothered about children, that’s why I wondered if Bel had siblings.

Esspee Thu 19-Dec-19 16:01:45

It should be compulsory to read the OP before commenting on here.
The child has one set of grandparents.

M0nica Thu 19-Dec-19 16:06:08

Mumof1, sadly some grandparents are like that, and you are not alone in this. There are 100s, probably 10s of 000s of families where grandparents are completely uninterested in their grandchildren.

There is not a lot you can do about it. Just explain to your daughter dispassionately that some older people are not interested in children, even when they have grandchildren and among them are her grandparents. They are not stingy, mean or any other perjorative name. They are just not interested in her. Were they interested in you when you were a child?

But not every child with loving grandparents has grandparents that shower them with gifts. Many older people are not well off and will get their grandchildren a Christmas present but only something small.

As you are admirably eco-minded, why not talk to your DD and explain how fortunate the child she visited was to have grandparents that give her so many presents, buthaving involved grandparents doesn't mean being showered with presents as many grandparents cant afford to and other grandparents, give their loved GC presents but choose not to shower them.

and bear in mind notanan1s post above.

Yehbutnobut Thu 19-Dec-19 16:08:42

D’you know I’m getting hopeless at retaining info. Thanks fir that endless

Yehbutnobut Thu 19-Dec-19 16:11:04

What a shame you couldn’t have just let your reply stand but felt you had to make a dig.

Sara65 Thu 19-Dec-19 16:53:46

I had two sets of grandparents growing up. Grandparents weren’t as generous then, but from one set we’d always get a fairly good present, from the other set I don’t ever remember getting as much as a bag of sweets.

I don’t think we ever gave it a thought, certainly didn’t feel hard done by. I really wouldn’t worry about it.

inkcog Thu 19-Dec-19 17:00:07

OP , your daughter is at an age where she can understand a few things. It can be a shock weighing up your extended family with other peoples and hers are sadly wanting.

However, she has a lovely supportive Mum.

re the cheap and thoughtless present, maybe they should just not bother!

Daisymae Thu 19-Dec-19 17:10:07

I wonder how you parents treated you when you were growing up. It is difficult to understand if they were engaged, caring parents that they would suddenly change. I guess that they are just continuing their brand of family involvement. Your family, your traditions are what is important. Don't let them cloud your Christmas with your daughter.

Madgran77 Thu 19-Dec-19 17:12:02

You are worrying about this far more than you need to in my view. Your daughter will see many things in life that are different to her circumstances and that is part of life. I would just say to her that we are all different and that her grandparents are just not into giving lots of gifts/playing games or whatever. Other people's grandparents are different!!

Out of interest what are your parents like in terms of gift buying/giving to you/your partner? Is it noticeably different to what happens with your daughter? Or what happened with you as a child?

My MIL was always very "minimal" in her present giving to our two children. We never commented really and as the children got older they just accepted that was how she was. Probably mesmerised by the second hand vivid orange nylon shortie nightie that I was presented with by her one year!!! She then said she thought it would go with my hair!!!! smile

Smileless2012 Thu 19-Dec-19 17:32:32

There's nothing you can do to change the way your parents are with your D MumOfOne and I agree with other posters that this is probably upsetting you more than it is your D.

If she mentions it, or asks directly I would suggest that you say that not all GP's are the same, just like not all people are. Some GP's are not as attentive as others.

I agree with BlueBell that you shouldn't tell her they're not very nice and/or mean. If you keep it light, I'm sure she'll just accept that her GP's just aren't like the GP's some of her friends have.

Septimia Thu 19-Dec-19 17:52:34

By the time I was your daughter's age all my grandparents had died. None of them were particularly keen on small children, nor were they all very generous, but they were all kind thank goodness.

I agree with some of the other posters. Keep it light, laugh it off, accept them for how they are. Some grandparents are clearly over the top and thus go to the other extreme. And go on being lovely with your daughter.

Feelingmyage55 Thu 19-Dec-19 18:15:51

My parents were a bit like this. My daughter noticed for similar reasons. My parents just couldn’t interact with children ( my upbringing is another story). However my very determined daughter decided at around eleven to write to my parents, newsy letters, send postcards and chat on the phone. She MADE my parents have a relationship with her 😁. I don’t why she thought of doing this. However she did do it building a relationship and was an enormous support to me when my mother became ill. She could calm and reason with grandma. She also managed a bit of a relationship with my dad who warmed to her when she got older. He just couldn’t relate to children. Would your daughter speak on the phone occasionally when you call them, send a postcard from holiday, send the school/sport/activity photo, write a thank you letter for a gift even if it doesn’t hit the spot? Some people really need a nudge. Worth a try?

Urmstongran Thu 19-Dec-19 19:06:52

Wow notanan2 so many examples of awful grandparents! Helped me understand why some adult children get pissed off.

How awful - all about them.

sodapop Thu 19-Dec-19 19:20:13

It's difficult when children are aware of the differences between families MumofOne but I'm sure if you explain as MOnica said that some grandparents are just not interested in children. Keep it low key and don't disparage the Grandparents. You will ensure your daughter has a wonderful time at Christmas, don't let the situation upset you as this will affect your daughter.

Grannyben Thu 19-Dec-19 19:21:21

I certainly wouldn't be telling your daughter that her grandparents are selfish and mean. When you do have to answer her questions I would just say that they are very busy and they don't really have time to spend much time with your own family. If she specifically asks about gifts just say some people don't really bother and leave it at that.

midgey Thu 19-Dec-19 20:01:50

Grandparents don’t actually have to be interested! It’s not compulsory, it may be sad for you but you will cope!