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Venting about daughter’s “gate keeping “ of grandchildren

(20 Posts)
NONNYKAYKAY Fri 04-Nov-22 03:56:17

My younger daughter has 5 children. We moved about 100 miles away 15 years ago. Daughter was already married. My husband and I both still work, getting close to retirement. We call and ask to see the kids about once a month, or we drive to their house to see their family. We have supported this daughter through a rocky start to her marriage, through financial difficulties, through their own parenting problems with their children. Stuff couples go through. We do not give unsolicited advice and try very hard to treat them as grownups, which of course they are. We had parents that were very controlling and we try very hard to respect their decisions, even if we don’t agree. The problem is that our daughter says that she wishes we could be closer to the children, that she just expected a closer relationship than what we have with the kids. But when we ask if the kids can come over, she says that we don’t have a close relationship with them. She says the kids are busy or don’t want to visit. However, when we have dropped in to see them , the kids always ask about coming over. We are the ones that always call to ask about visiting, we make the drive to pick up the kids and bring them back 95% of the time. We have never told them no if they needed us to keep the kids, not since the first was born over 20 years ago. I travel a good bit for work but make an effort to visit or ask to have the kids over whenever I am home every month. She also says that we make time for vacations but not to see the kids. She says that she can’t imagine not being interested in everything her future grandchild will do. She has questioned why I work, she doesn’t. My feelings are that these are personal decisions and we each as grownups get to make them. I would never criticize her choices in that regard however she criticizes mine. I honestly think that no matter what we did, she wouldn’t be satisfied. If we lived next door and were at her house every day, she would complain about that. Fact is, I love my children and grandchildren, however, I don’t think I need to devote myself to them at the expense of doing t-other things I enjoy. I don’t think that makes me selfish. Just venting. She is not going to change. Just trying to get along right now but disappointed that this has to be so hard. I should add that we have 3 other kids who have children and we make an effort to see them regularly as well.

Katie59 Fri 04-Nov-22 07:30:04

Mother daughter relationships are often tetchy as is sibling rivalry, you get through it as best you can, run your life the way you want, let them do the same with theirs.

Oopsadaisy1 Fri 04-Nov-22 08:25:34

I think that she is frustrated and is venting to you, just carry on as you are and ignore the negative comments. You know that you are doing all you can to keep a good relationship with your GCs.
However, what is she expecting you and your DH to do once you are both retired? More visits? Moving closer to them? That might be more of a problem

Esspee Fri 04-Nov-22 08:32:34

Perhaps ask her how she thinks her concerns could be solved?

Lathyrus Fri 04-Nov-22 08:33:53

If the oldest is 20 aren’t the grandchildren pretty much living their own lives?

I don’t suppose they’re home much anyway, so they might very well be busy when you want to visit. They’re old enough to come and see you without their mother arranging it, surely?

GagaJo Fri 04-Nov-22 08:49:27

Maybe your DD had visions of you playing a more active role in the DGC's lives? But I agree with Lathyrus, I can't see that a 20 year old will have much interest in spending a lot of time with grandparents. And if they do, surely at 20, they can make that choice themself and not need to go through their mum?

Every family has different expectations. I'm very involved, on a daily basis with my DGS. It's doable because he's my only GC, harder when you have more from more than one child.

Smileless2012 Fri 04-Nov-22 08:57:49

Of course you don't need to devote yourself to them at the expense of doing other things that you enjoy. Your D's expectations appear to be unrealistic and it's strange that on the one had she berates you for not being closer to your GC, while preventing them from seeing you because she doesn't think you're close enough.

As Katie has said, live your life the way you choose while she does the same.

BlueBelle Fri 04-Nov-22 09:08:40

Well if they are all in their teens (you don’t say the other childrens ages) but if the eldest is 20, probably mostly teenagers , do they need a nanny and grandad to have them ? Can’t the 20 year old visit you with a sibling or two in tow ?
My youngest 16 nearly 17 year old flies to me now to save me the travel If the children are this age surely they re old enough to stay over if they want
When I first read your post I thought these were young grandchildren that you were being accused of not being close to Have these accusations been going on for 20 years seems a bit late now to be having a moan about you

Is she going to become a grandmother soon herself then ?
She says that she can’t imagine not being interested in everything her future grandchild will do why is she moaning now after 20 years sorry to sound so puzzled ???

MissAdventure Fri 04-Nov-22 09:23:37

It sounds as if she might be frustrated with something in her own life, and she has turned it onto you.

Wyllow3 Fri 04-Nov-22 09:31:40


I think that she is frustrated and is venting to you, just carry on as you are and ignore the negative comments. You know that you are doing all you can to keep a good relationship with your GCs.
However, what is she expecting you and your DH to do once you are both retired? More visits? Moving closer to them? That might be more of a problem

I agree. something or a lot of things have been bugging her and she's taking it out on you. She is very controlling.

If her children were younger I'd think "oh, when you retire she'd be after daily childcare" or something thats too big an "ask" but thats not the case.

You must live your own life and is clear they know they are welcome to arrange to come and see you both. But for example once you retire you could offer to have them for a week to give her a holiday break or something?

icanhandthemback Fri 04-Nov-22 09:40:38

It sounds like she has resentment about you moving over a hundred miles away when her children were younger. That doesn't mean you did anything wrong but that doesn't mean it doesn't rankle.

Normally, I would suggest that you sat down and listened to her reasons why she feels as she does but you could also be opening up for things that maybe should be left unsaid!

I honestly think that no matter what we did, she wouldn’t be satisfied.
That may be the case but the poster who suggested you asked your DD how you could resolve the problem might be on the right track.

Have you got any regrets about anything to do with being so far away or not having more time for you grandchildren? If so, expressing these may make for a better relationship.

The problem with life is you never know whether you are getting it right at the time and even if you could go back to change things, you might still get it wrong!

Theexwife Fri 04-Nov-22 10:47:58

Did she have a close relationship with her own grandparents and was hoping for the same for her children? Or maybe a distant relationship and did not want that for her children.

Unfortunately as they get older friends and interests take precedence over grandparents when it comes to prioritising their time.

If you had lived nearer you would have been able to pop in for short visits more often which would have built a closer relationship as you would have been more involved with their day to day lives, which is what your daughter would have liked.

Unfortunately you cannot please everybody.

NONNYKAYKAY Fri 04-Nov-22 14:15:11

Thanks for the thoughts everyone. My oldest gc is 20, and the others are 15, 12, 10, and 7. They are involved in many things. I wish we could pop in for their activities however, I don’t want to live in the area they do, and there are other reasons not to move, not the least of which is we work here. I really do think she feels out of control about other things in her life and she is acting out in this way. She has always been the type to not be satisfied no matter what, and she gets very anxious.
I think I will ask her what she thinks being “more involved” would look like given the distance.
She is not an irrational person, and surely sees how illogical it is to say we are not around enough and then get upset when we try to have visits.
I’m going to continue to pray about it. With 4 children, it seems there is always someone who is unhappy with us. Like when they were kids….just was hoping to see more maturity and gratitude for what we are able to do.

Lathyrus Fri 04-Nov-22 14:39:15

Possibly consider, that as you are fitting visits into a busy schedule, you might actually be suggesting them a times that are not convenient to them?

After all they are living lives that mostly don’t include you and then it might feel that you’re saying “we can come next weekend, drop your plans because the right time for us”

Do you expect them to be available to your convenience? Maybe what’s she’s saying is well you chose not to be around most of the time, but you want us to be around when it suits you🤔

GagaJo Fri 04-Nov-22 14:50:03

I think Lathyrus may have a point. Grandparents are supposed to fit in with the hectic lives of parents, in this case juggling 4 children. I'm afraid we are pretty expendable really, in the scheme of things.

Allsorts Sat 05-Nov-22 16:44:32

You can’t make demands, she’s their mother, I think maybe it’s best just to carry on as you are.

JaneJudge Sat 05-Nov-22 16:51:06

I used to be a bit like this with my Mum. I think I felt a bit abandoned by her. I wanted her to book a week off to come and see me and help with the children but she never did really and I felt quite resentful as her own Mum helped her. My children are grown up now and they have a good relationship and so do I. I don't know what else to say, I think I found being a Mum myself isolating and quite difficult for all sorts of reasons and I think I focussed on being resentful of her as a distraction.

I think Esspee's question is most probably a conversation you can have.

JaneJudge Sat 05-Nov-22 16:51:56

Having 5 children spread over a number of years must be exhausting too

VioletSky Sat 05-Nov-22 16:52:43

Why don't the two of you go for a coffee and a chat?

It sounds like she is talking about when the children were younger?

It genuinely doesn't sound like an estrangement situation and I really think honest communication will help.

Sometimes we don't understand others feelings but that doesn't make them any less real to them

NONNYKAYKAY Mon 07-Nov-22 14:43:52

Thank you to everyone! Really excellent insights and advice.