Gransnet forums


I feel a complete failure

(56 Posts)
TGB70 Wed 01-Mar-23 11:46:50

I hope this hasn't been posted twice as i pressed a button and the whole thing disappeared.!
We have just had a row with our eldest son. He is divorced and has 2 boys age 15 (DGS1) and 11 (DGS2)who live with him. The younger of the 2 has cerebral palsy and epilepsy although he has not had a seizure for over 4 years and the cerebral palsy does not restrict him very much.
His partner has 3 boys age 16, 14 and 12 (from 3 different previous partners and between them they have a son age 8 with another on the way. They have separate houses but tend to move between the houses spending a few days at one and then going to the other. Neither of them work, he is supposedly her full time carer.
DGS1 and DGS2 have for many years spent 2 nights a week with us, Tuesday and Friday.We take them out, do things with them, pay for a lot of things for them e.g school uniform, school activites and take them away on holiday etc (We have also a couple of times taken all 8 of them away)
He has obviously been quizzing DGS1 about the things that we do and the way that we do them. He has recently been demanding that DGS2 is put to bed by 7.30 as he 'gets over tired when he is with us and could have a seizure' (their 8 year old goes to bed at 8.30) When GCS2 is put to bed my wife has spent time with him reading singing etc and then he goes to sleep. She also does his school reading with him and his spellings which does not get done at home. This morning DS questioned us as to whether we were doing what he said and when we told him that DGS2 had been in bed by 7.30, no stories etc but had not gone to sleep for ages a massive row ensued because we were not doing what he had told us to do. He now says that we cannot have the boys staying over.
They will be devastated as being with us is a respite from the chaos at home.
He won't talk with us, it is always demands. We just don't know what to do and I feel a complete failure. I am 72 amd my wife 76.
We are a taxi for them for hospital appointments (2 x 25 mile return jourenys last week), a pick up service sometimes if they have a lot os shopping and he has had lots of money 'lent' to him which has never been repaid. We have changed our plans, cancelled things and organised our lives around having the boys fitting in very rare outing between Tuesday and Friday, generally without a word of thanks or appreciation for what we do.
Who can we turn to for help and advice and how can we resolve this situation and have out wonderful grandsons again?
Sorry for the long post.

nanna8 Wed 01-Mar-23 11:53:32

I think you are doing way too much for them and not doing their parents any favours. They are not being responsible and they are just over reliant on your good will. Maybe if you are out of their lives for a little while your son might realise just how much you are actually doing ? I’d leave them to it for a while.

GagaJo Wed 01-Mar-23 11:57:34

Although I think nanna8 is right, I feel for you. You'll suffer badly, worrying about your 2 GC missing you. Sounds like you're the only stability they have.

Wyllow3 Wed 01-Mar-23 11:57:40

Hmmmmm. I wonder if grandchildren love coming and there is jealousy. Or..more simply, their lives are so complicated and chaotic that working it all out including your good selves it seemed easier to say no.

I think nanna's advice is good, but it will hurt and I do understand this.

Theexwife Wed 01-Mar-23 12:09:41

The boys are their children so it is their rules. Although I do have sympathy with your situation you come across as critical of the parents and their way of living and I expect they know how you feel.

You say that they quiz the 15-year-old as to what goes on, are they not just checking that you are following their rules?

You are used as a taxi, have given them money and dropped everything to babysit. Doing those things was up to you and should have been done without strings, it does not mean that you get to have the boys when you want to.

The boys are old enough to have contact with you independently if they want to, I am assuming that they have their own phones.

Mazz21 Wed 01-Mar-23 12:27:51

You are absolutely not a failure.
I feel maybe your DS is feeling very stressed with his life atm and is taking it out on you both.
You seem to do so much for your grandchildren and your DS will soon regret his actions but may be too stubborn to admit this right away.
Obviously your concern is for your grandchildren right now and not being able to see them. However, I would suggest leaving it for a bit so your DS can realise quite how much quality time you’ve given your grandchildren and what a positive impact you have on them. Possibly part of the problem is that they get less one on one time at home and they want it, expect it and don’t settle for them as easily as they might once have.
I would also suggest never commenting on how they are parented at home and no references as to how many children are in their blended family. That might be taken as a slight against their parenting skills.
When you do get access again, I’d also say it might be good to tell them directly any information they are asking your grandchildren about. Say that you are putting DGS2 to bed as asked but that it seems he doesn’t fall off to sleep initially- ask what they suggest you do to help this (even though you know that what you have been doing worked so well).
I don’t think it’ll be long before you get asked to help out again but I’m also wondering if you should perhaps not be so available.
I know it’ll be hard for you in the meantime as you both obviously enjoy your time with the grandkids and they love being with you but perhaps while this is all being worked through, do something special for yourselves on the days you would’ve had the grandchildren. Just so the day doesn’t feel so empty.
But remember you are not a failure.

Smileless2012 Wed 01-Mar-23 12:34:30

The first thing I want to say TGB is that you are not a failure and neither is your wife.

For years you have done all that you can to support your son and be there for your GC, with it seems no appreciation. So, your youngest GS was going to bed at 7.30 as stipulated by your son, and your wife was settling him by reading with/too him and singing; sounds lovely.

Your son not being happy with this arrangement insisted that she stop doing this which has resulted in him not going off to sleep for sometime, and when he was told a massive row ensued and he's now said you can't have the boys to stay over.

Has he said that you cannot see them at all, or is he still prepared for you to be an unpaid taxi service and 'the bank of mum and dad'?

He's being totally unreasonable and as is sometimes the case, not considering what's best for his children who as you say, will be devastated at no longer being able to stay over with you and your wife.

This is such a difficult situation as understandably you want to be there for your GC's emotional and financial support. Maybe you could consider not lending any money in the future, but continue to buy the children's school uniforms and paying for
school activities and taking the children on holiday, as not doing so would directly impact on them.

Try and take a step back and not always be able to change your own plans to suit your son. If he's not working and if you're not available, he should be as he's not having to fit child care in around work.

By being less available, together with the fact that your son is bound to miss the boys not staying over with you two nights a week, may make him realise how beneficial it is to him and the children that this arrangement resumes.

I hope it does because there's nothing you can do unless he changes his mind. If you're able to see the children apart from them staying over, I suggest that you don't mention them staying to your son, making the most of the time you do get to spend with them.

Of course parents have rules and routines that they want GP's to follow but for me, these should be discussed and not issued as orders, especially when the GP's have been entrusted with the care of their GC as much and for as long as you have.

Withdrawing the children even in part is unreasonable and cruel. If the youngest has not had an epileptic seizure for more than 4 years, there's nothing to support your son's suggestion that the bedtime routine your wife's established with him is likely to be harmful.

nanasam Wed 01-Mar-23 12:42:13

Just a thought - could you put DGS2 to bed at 7.00 and read to him until 7.30? He's probably wondering why his routine has been changed and you no longer read to him. Then you can tell your son he was left to sleep at 7.30. Good luck, I feel for you, we never seem to do things right, do we? flowers

TGB70 Wed 01-Mar-23 15:44:52

Thank you for your comments and advice so far. We are still rather in shock and do not know quite yet what to do..

Theexwife - DGS1 has his ownn phone but DGS2 doesn't and probalby won't get on. He is frequently dismissed or ignored due to his disabilities. One of his main problems is drooling and he has been banned from his brothers bedroom (by sons partner) because he made a pillow wet with his drooling. He loves baking with grandma but she (son's partner) won't eat anything he has made because of his drooling. He wears a bib and is taking medication to hopefully dry up the drooling but it is rather late to have started that. He is bullied by most of the other boys in the family, even (or especially) the 8 year old. They all talk about him in front of him saying things such as he is not very intelligent, (not true) that 8 year old is much cleverer (not true), that he will never be able to live independently (why not?) and is put down all the time. He has to spend most of his time on his own playing on his ipad while they play computor games.

Allsorts Wed 01-Mar-23 16:47:35

I think you are doing a great job, take a step back although it’s so very hard. I agree with all Smileless has said, good advice. The comments from ex wife I felt were very harsh, nowhere did I see any criticism of your son and family.
You are most definitely not a failure and I think your son most out of order in his demands.

Hithere Wed 01-Mar-23 16:52:27

Why is your son not protecting his kid from bullying?

Where is the mother ?

BlueBelle Wed 01-Mar-23 18:21:19

Oh that poor little boy being put down all the time

I was so lucky my children all left me to make the rules and grand parent as I saw fit when I had them alone, in fact they trusted me

I don’t know what advice to give except go along with their rules but still read to the lad bless him it sounds chaotic with so many boys in this large blended family with no one working …blimey what a mess
You are doing your best and sound lovely grandparents do what you can to fit in with them so you get the two boys back to their routine say yes to everything for now

M0nica Wed 01-Mar-23 18:42:52

Yiu are absolutely not failures, on the contary I think you have been too successful. Have your grandsons, when faced with the chaos at home, at some point in an arument with their parents, turned on them and said they wish they could be with you all the time. It is easily said in the midst of a row.

I agree with others, be generally less helpful. Let your son and partner get himself and partner to and from hospital, get their own shopping home. Be unavailable when sitters are required., but always be there for your grandsons. They are already at an age when your love and care will never be forgotten and the older will soon be independent and will be able to come and see you whether his father wants it or not.

TGB70 Wed 01-Mar-23 19:31:09


Why is your son not protecting his kid from bullying?

Where is the mother ?

Basically he is not protecting his son because he is under the thumb of his partner and is probably afraid that if he leaves or does something she doesn't like she will stop him from seeing his son by her. With another one on the way it makes it even more difficult

Their mother lives nearby and the boys go to her every Thursday after school and have their tea there. She has a young daughter by another man who is not on the scene. The boys also see her at church and other activities.

The relationship between dad, mum and partner is cordial although has been nasty in the past. Son said that the boys will go to their mum more often now (not him I notice). DGS1 is treated well DGS2 is ignored and bullied even by their half sister.

Life is very complicated. Both mum and partner are from very different backgrounds to us and were brought up very differently with attitudes that we find hard to understand.

Smileless2012 Thu 02-Mar-23 13:29:52

That poor boy. I hope that your son relents and the children are allowed to sleepover again TGB. Are you still seeing them at other times?

HousePlantQueen Thu 02-Mar-23 14:20:20

The poor little boy. You are not at fault here, in fact, from what you have said, you are the only calm, considerate adults in these children's chaotic lives. It must be hard to be criticised for doing what parents should be doing.

VioletSky Thu 02-Mar-23 17:06:06

There is information in the OP that dies not need to be there, for instance, how many fathers the children of his new partner has.

When I read things like that it makes me uncomfortable, as if you are painting a picture of someone in a negative light by using things you judge her for.

This is a family unit, that info does not matter.

Otherwise this is simply a question of boundaries. You need to follow their parenting rules, that's their boundaries. You need to stop giving monet you begrudge, that is your boundaries.

Boundaries being set by one side and accepted by the other side are how families develop healthy relationships.

Boundaries would also include, without the need to set them, not being judgemental of someone else and how they have navigated life so far when it makes no difference to yourself

Hope things improve

Delila Thu 02-Mar-23 17:25:14

Definitely not “simply a question of boundaries”.

Smileless2012 Thu 02-Mar-23 17:31:07

Agreed Delia. If it were, there are clearly some boundaries that need to be put in place to protect this boy from being bullied by the other children.

Allowing him to be bullied is not a parenting rule that I would be prepared to follow.

VioletSky Thu 02-Mar-23 17:32:49

I've given my advice

Thank you

Delila Thu 02-Mar-23 17:34:32

I agree Smileless, sometimes boundaries need to be broken. Theorising won’t help.

Jaylou Thu 02-Mar-23 17:42:31

You seem to have gone well above and beyond, and done so much for them.
If I have done my sums right they have 6 children with one on the way. This is a very large family, and the help you have given in the past must have been very welcome even if they didn't show it.
I would just step back and wait for your son to come to you, needing your help, because they will need it. Especially when the new baby arrives. I wouldn't try and have it out with discussions that could get heated and someone saying something they may regret. But when your son comes asking for help, just let it be know that you always have the best intentions and do follow his rules, so would request that no more accusations are thrown at you.
Good Luck

crazyH Thu 02-Mar-23 17:42:47



Smileless2012 Thu 02-Mar-23 17:45:18

just let it be known that you always have the best intentions and do follow his rules great advice Jaylou.

Especially boundaries that clearly aren't in the best interests of a child Delila even if they are set by the parent.

Fleurpepper Thu 02-Mar-23 17:55:37


The boys are their children so it is their rules. Although I do have sympathy with your situation you come across as critical of the parents and their way of living and I expect they know how you feel.

You say that they quiz the 15-year-old as to what goes on, are they not just checking that you are following their rules?

You are used as a taxi, have given them money and dropped everything to babysit. Doing those things was up to you and should have been done without strings, it does not mean that you get to have the boys when you want to.

The boys are old enough to have contact with you independently if they want to, I am assuming that they have their own phones.

Wow just wow.

Sorry but NO, it has to be give and take.

Not a failure at all, I really feel for you. Poor kid.