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Grandparents contact with Grandchildren

(12 Posts)
BetterNotBitter Fri 05-Apr-13 12:46:07

Hello grans of gransnet!

I hope you'll forgive me as I'm cheating abit as I'm not a gran! I won't be for a long time, I have a one year old little girlie.

I'm hoping that you can possibly help me to try and salvage some sort if relationship with my daughters paternal grandparents, mainly for my husband & little girl.

We've had a really terrible time with them, I won't bore you all by subjecting you to the gory details. Of course there is always two sides to every argument but in this case I feel I'm fully justified in saying that most of the 'blame' (hate using that term) lies at their door. But I don't want to dwell on that, I'm just trying to give you all the necessary back story. We had a 4 month period of estrangement last year, due to a fall out between my husband & his parents.

In hindsight, we should have probably accepted that we would never have a good relationship with them and just left it there but it made me terribly sad and I really feel that grandparents are o important that I felt we owed it to our baby to try again. So contact was made and things have been strained and awkward ever since. I'd hoped things would improve over time, but they seem to be getting worse.

I have tried and continue to try to put the time before the estrangement behind us and forget all the old arguments (because if they were re-approached I know that sadly it wouldn't resolve anything, instead cause a further, more permanent fall out this time).

My problem is this. Since contact was re-established, they seem to be trying to detach themselves from our little one. I know they must feel great pain that they don't have a relationship with her, but they don't seem bothered about her. We see them once every 5-6 weeks ( the visits are so hard) My main bone of contention is that during these visits they show no interest in anything we say about our little one, they don't ask anything about her. They talk to her, but she's shy & they give up easily. They spend the whole time talking about themselves. In between visits we hear nothing from them other than a text to arrange another visit. They never ask about our baby! If I (which I used to a lot) send a text with a funny story about her or a photo or video, if I get a response it says 'lol' and mostly I don't get a response.

I had thought maybe they weren't asking in case it looked like they were interfering so i sent a lovely message saying that they could ask about her whenever they liked, ring or text, everyday if they wished! I got back 'that's great' but they haven't bothered to actually ask anything yet.

The question I have really is what should I do?? Their behaviour is making me feel anger towards them, which I don't want and making me feel reluctant to
See them more, which I hate because that's awkward for my husband.

I can't seem to just let go of this issue, I think about it frequently everyday, it keeps me awake at night and everything.

Any ideas? Or thoughts? Or anything!

(I should add, I hope you don't think this is intended as a negative mother in law post, I had a wonderful relationship with my last mother in law and think it should be as close as possible to that with your own mum! And I'm a massive grandparent advocate I promise)

gillybob Fri 05-Apr-13 13:01:06

Hello betternotbitter welcome to GN.

From reading your post the first thing that sprung to mind was to wonder whether your in laws actually like children? I don't mean that nasty I just wondered what sort of upbringing your husband had? Were they quite cold towards him? or were they warm and loving?

The reason I ask is I am wondering if it is not just your daughter (their grandchild) but perhaps they are just not "into" children full stop and as long as she is at arms length then they are fine. Perhaps they don't have the "grandparent gene" (if you get what I mean) and are quite happy to see her once in a while.

I don't think you should lie awake worrying about it. After all you have done everything you can to encourage their interest which is a far cry from some poor grandparents (on this very forum) who would give anything to have a caring daughter/DIL like you. flowers

Galen Fri 05-Apr-13 13:09:28

I agree with Gilly perhaps as she gets older and more interactive they will become more interested.

BetterNotBitter Fri 05-Apr-13 13:10:12

Thanks for replying!

That's the hard thing, they love kids! They were lovely parents to my husband & his brothers, overbearing but so caring and nice. They have nieces and nephews between the ages of 8-14 that the enjoy spending time with. They love their friends grandchildren who are babies & toddlers.

They (particularly his mum) were desperate for grandchildren & initially wanted to be very involved....

Thank you for your kind words.

I think you've hit the nail on the head in terms of why it bothers me. If they just weren't "into" children I'd be fine with it. We don't 'need' their support or help, I'm lucky enough to be able to afford to be a stay at home mum so childcare isn't a problem, I have a very supportive family who are involved with our daughter everyday and we don't want anything from them, I just can't get my head round why they're so disinterested in my little one. I find it insulting on her behalf! She's such a lovely little girl!

sunflowersuffolk Fri 05-Apr-13 13:10:41

Hi there Better, well I'm not a gran (yet) either, but no doubt you'll get lots of helpful advice here soon from other GNs. Good on you for trying to improve things, for your daughters sake.

I just wondered, do your husbands parents also have other grandchildren? If so, what are they like with them? Is your husband an only child? If not, have his parents said anything to the other siblings about the situation?

Were they looking forward to being grandparents before the birth do you know? How were they when she was first born?

sunflowersuffolk Fri 05-Apr-13 13:12:17

Sorry crossed posts.

gillybob Fri 05-Apr-13 13:26:27

Oh Better well I guess that changes things. Could it be perhaps they are trying not to be too overbearing and giving you plenty of space? Speaking as a grandma to my sons three children it is often harder for the paternal grandparents to know just what is the "right amount". I am quite lucky as my son and DIL rely on me for part-time childcare so I do get to see a lot of my grandchildren. Have you given them the chance to babysit once in a while? perhaps they feel that you might be judging their capabilities (I am not suggesting for one minute that you are) and can sense the discomfort.

If they are normally warm and loving and there are no underlying issues (you haven't had a disagreement or whatever) then I think perhaps you just need to keep encouraging their involvement and leave it to them to respond. Or perhaps your husband could tell them that you would love to see more of them. Good luck.

sunflowersuffolk Fri 05-Apr-13 13:30:35

I think the trouble is that there has been a falling out in the past, and may be they still can't get past that for some reason.

Could you (or your husband) talk to their other sons in confidence, to try and find out their true feelings?

sunflowersuffolk Fri 05-Apr-13 14:02:22

How about "cooling it" a bit, as regards your daughter, and wait and see if they ask about her. In the meantime, try and establish a better general relationship with them as individuals.

What are their interests? Do the have an allotment for instance. Could you ask their advice on things, such as how to grow veg - or whatever. Make them feel valued for their knowledge. Instead of having a visit every 6 weeks which sounds like a bit of a chore, could you all go out somewhere together, as it gets warmer -with an interest for them, gardens, etc.

This might ease things a bit with them, and then the realtionship generally might improve. Hope so, but if not, at least you will have tried your best.

etal Fri 05-Apr-13 15:27:15

Sometimes grandparents can feel ,that much as they love their own children and grandchildren .their own lives are looked on as rather unimportant and uninteresting to the younger family.As we get older, that can happen more and more. Unless the conversation includes their news and daily happenings along with that of yours and the grandchildren, it is possible to feel quite hurt ,upset and pushed to one side.Maybe that is a reason for not asking about their granddaughter more often.It sounds like you keep them well up to date with your family news but we also have lives of our own and like nothing better than to share them with family ,As do you.So maybe asking more about them and less telling about your news could balance things out.I am sure they love to see you all when you visit but if the whole visit is about you and the GD and doing what you feel is a duty I am not surprised they get distant.confused

Eloethan Sat 06-Apr-13 00:16:24

It's difficult to comment without knowing what the 4-month estrangement was about. It seems that that falling-out has never been resolved and perhaps you all have underlying fears of further confrontations. Maybe they are frightened about getting too close in case the relationship breaks down again and they won't see their granddaughter. Perhaps that is why the atmosphere is so stilted and uncomfortable.

I can understand how hurt you must feel that they appear not to connect in a loving way with your precious little girl. You did mention that you see your own parents every day. Is it possible that your in-laws feel a bit jealous? We are supposed to grow older and wiser but, speaking for myself, childish emotions can spring up from time to time.

It is a difficult situation and you are doing your best to keep channels of communication open. Perhaps sunflower 's suggestion that you take the pressure off by going out somewhere that they would enjoy would work better.

Try not to get too uptight about it (easier said than done, I know). I hope that gradually things will get better and that you and your daughter can eventually enjoy a good relationship with your in laws. Good luck.

BetterNotBitter Sat 06-Apr-13 16:31:43

sunflower they have one other son, who is a lot younger than my husband and really just enjoys going out drinking & playing on his computer! We've discussed things with him in the past but I know he wouldn't want to talk about his parents feelings to us, I think he'd feel like he was betraying them. They don't really have many interests, nothing like a hobby that stands out. We tend to meet for coffee or at soft play, I think you're right that the warmer weather may provide different options for days out.

etal I think you've misunderstood the content of our time with them, all we do is talk about them and their lives!! We show a lot of interest, I always make sure to follow up with a text about anything that seems important as well. Any texts that are exchanged are purely about them and their lives, so I don't think their distance with us can be put down to us not taking an interest in them. They never ask a thing, about my husband or I or our baby so we spend time talking them. If we don't ask them questions they just sit quietly so we ask about everything to do with them!

eloethan they may be jealous as you suggest, but I can't see why when we are it's them they don't show any interest. I think you're probably right about them not wanting to get too close in case it breaks down again and I can understand that, but it just makes me think what's the point of putting us all through it if we're never going to move forward. In the meantime they are missing so much.

Thanks to you all for taking the time to reply, I think it's a case of fingers crossed for improvement, I just don't know how long we can go on like this x x