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Grandparenting

I don't love my grandchild

(79 Posts)
Nannymarg53 Sat 02-Apr-16 10:53:19

I'm sure I'm going to get shot down in flames or ostracised for this but I've never really loved my granddaughter who is now nearly 3! She is my first and only grandchild and my son and DIL and GD live in Cheshire. When GD was born I was very excited and when I saw her I thought how lovely she was but I didn't get that rush of unconditional love that I felt for my 3 sons when they were born. I didn't know what to feel. I tried to discuss this with work colleagues but they just didn't understand. Don't get me wrong - I care for her but it's not the same. However as she's got older she's now turning into a 'right little madam' brought on by too much negotiating and plea bargaining and bribery on DIL's behalf. My son tries to intervene but is shot down in flames by feisty DIL (who is a social worker btw) and his opinion doesn't count and he's "doing it all wrong" according to DIL. As a consequence son now opts out and leaves the (not so good) behaviour management up to DIL. I don't say anything but do try and model good management - I've been a health visitor for 20 years - I've had 3 children, done the Incredible Years course and run the IY course and work very closely with my friend who is a behaviour management consultant so I do have some good suggestions (I hate the word advice!) to offer my son and DIL. But I just don't know how to handle this one. I'm finding because of GD's brattish behaviour (and she has to be seen in action to be believed!) I'm disliking her more and more. I see my son and his family every 2 or 3 weeks or so - the last time was Easter weekend and to be honest I was glad when they went home. I've thought of having a word with my son in a sympathetic and supportive way. What are other's opinions? Perhaps I just need reassurance that other GP's don't feel the love that 'they should' for their grandchildren. My ex and his wife also dislike GD's behaviour and we have discussed it together but I feel they just think it's cute and then I feel they are much better grandparents than me. There is NO animosity by the way between us welsh grandparents - we are good friends and are able to discuss things but they are afraid of saying anything. Sorry -rather a long post!

pensionpat Sat 02-Apr-16 11:38:49

We all love our children/grandchildren in different ways. From what you say it seems that you love your gc but dislike her current behaviour. And that will change /improve as she grows up.

Penstemmon Sat 02-Apr-16 11:44:41

There are no rules about loving your grandchildren and you should not feel bad about it. As for offering suggestions I would hold back unless parents raise the issue. Maybe she could spend a weekend with you on her own and that time may show you a differnet and more loveable child?

I do love all four of mine but my eldest DGD, whom I love to pieces, has some behaviour that is difficult to like and whist her parents do not tolerate it the poor behaviour continues. I often wonder if she may have a specific problem.

janeainsworth Sat 02-Apr-16 11:51:47

I'm disliking her more and more
That is the sentence from your post that is shouting out to me nannymarg.
You don't dislike the child, you dislike the behaviour.
Get that into your head for starters.
Secondly, of course you don't feel the same way about a grandchild as you do about your own children. She is not yours, she is your DS and DiL's. If you expect to have the same relationship you will be setting yourself up for disappointment.
And whatever you do, don't criticise your DGD's behaviour to anyone, least of all to your DS or DiL.

annsixty Sat 02-Apr-16 12:01:57

I have said on more than one occasion to my older GD, I love you but I don't like you just now. It seems to work for us but she was probably 13/14 and feeling her feet. We have a lovely relationship now but to get back to the OP I loved her unconditionally from when she was born which sounds somewhat different.

Luckygirl Sat 02-Apr-16 12:04:42

Zip the lip! - not a word to either parent or you will reap some unfortunate rewards.

My DGD of roughly the same age was an angel until a sibling appeared and now we have the attention-seeking, silly voices, demanding behaviour etc. But we just go with the flow and try and help her through it when we have her on her own, and close our ears when she is with Mum and Dad whose negotiations are the current style.

I do not in the least love some of her behaviour, but I do love her. She is just a new scrap of humanity who is finding her way in the world.

But I too heave a sigh of relief sometimes when she goes home - that does not mean I do not love her.

mollie Sat 02-Apr-16 12:07:42

It's hard to feel much for anyone whose behaviour is awful but it's harder to accept when it's someone you are meant to love wholeheartedly and without condition. I suspect it's something we've all experienced as parents and grandparents, perhaps for just a short while, after a tantrum or whatever. By raising the issue I'm sure you'll discover many of us put our hands up and say 'me too'...

🙋🏼 me too!

tanith Sat 02-Apr-16 12:19:19

I really thought I didn't love my eldest GD she always been manipulative from very young and put my DD and the family through hell when she hit her teens but since she grew up (she's 22 now) she has grown into a lovely girl (will always be a drama queen) but she's turned into a super Mum and daughter now and I realised it was her behaviour that made me doubt I loved her.
I agree with all the good advice above keep 'schtumm' and she will more than likely become more likeable at some stage. Remember you are not alone wink

Gagagran Sat 02-Apr-16 12:24:04

It is always hard when you are battling with the "should" word. We "should" love our grandchildren, we"should" not have favourites etc. I think the best advice has already been given on this post i.e. keep your lip zipped whatever you do. Your DS will be well aware what a brat he has to cope with - and probably your DIL is too.

They have to deal with it between them. GD will change when she goes to school anyway. Meanwhile your job is to offer genuine support and praise positive things when you can. e.g. "DGD always looks so pretty" or "What a good vocabulary she has". The love for her may come or it may not. That doesn't mean you are at fault. We just do like some people - and that includes family members - more than others. Or not like them at all. It's just the way it is. flowers

gettingonabit Sat 02-Apr-16 13:01:06

I sympathise. Sometimes people are hard to love, or like. It's worse when you are "supposed" to love the person, but loving your grandchild is not compulsory. Really.

Of course she's at a difficult age and she may well change as she matures, but she may well not!

I disagree a bit with those who say you should keep schtum about her behaviour, particularly in your own home.

Your house, your rules, imhoflowers.

Please don't beat yourself up about how you feel. You can't control that.

Wendysue Sat 02-Apr-16 13:24:16

Yeah, I don't think there are any "shoulds" about how much we love our GC either. Everybody is different.

I must admit, I did feel that rush of tenderness for each of my grands that I felt for my newborn DDs. But that's probably cuz I was invited to the births and each time, got to hold the new baby, shortly after the parents. No, they're not my kids, but I think it's holding that soft, sweet newborn that causes that flood of feeling. Not every set of parents encourages that on that first day, though, and that's their right. But if you didn't get to hold GD, right away, that may be why you didn't respond the same way you did to your own kids. Just a matter of circumstances, that's all.

As for now, I agree with others that it's GD's behavior you don't like, not GD. Still, I know it can be hard to distinguish between the two. When you find yourself thinking, "I really dislike GD" (or something like that), it may help to remind yourself of what you do like about her - her beautiful eyes, her affectionate hugs and kisses, her quick little mind, her... oh, she must have some redeeming factors!

It' s not unusual for GPs to be glad when their grands go home. But if you feel it that deeply, it may help to cut the visits shorter if you can.

Meanwhile, I agree with others about not saying anything. If DS can't even voice his childrearing opinions to DIL w/o getting shot down (poor guy - I feel for him), how much better/worse, do you think it would be for you? You could even find yourself cut off, if only temporarily. I know it's tempting to speak up, but, well... don't, please don't.

f77ms Sat 02-Apr-16 16:02:26

I would also be one to say keep your opinions to yourself , it could backfire drastically.
I also have similar feelings as you do and feel Very guilty about it . I don`t think it is necessarily the behaviour you don`t love although that won`t help , just because this is a grandchild doesn`t mean you will automatically love her . Sometimes we just don`t bond and this is maybe what has happened in your situation .
To go back to my situation , I can say that I think I was a very good Mum and the early years were the best of my life , my sister on the other hand never enjoyed being a Mum through no fault of her own . The tables have turned now , she is an absolutely brilliant Nana who will happily spend as much time as she has free with her GD . I like to see mine in short bursts ! they exhaust me to be honest . So don`t feel too badly , you are not alone !

Imperfect27 Sun 03-Apr-16 07:46:24

Like other posters here, I think we can love our GC , but may not always like them. I am a very new GP so we are not in the 'terrible tantrums' territory yet. However, my DD's niece has had a very 'liberal' upbringing, parents followed a philosophy of never saying 'No' and reaped the whirlwind as a consequence. Their DD was an absolute brat up until a few months ago, but now just turned 3 and a big sister and her mum and dad have put more rules down for self preservation. At last she is turning into a nice little girl. I suspect your GD will come through these unpleasant times and I hope that you can enjoy her more in the future. Have hope!

Incidentally, I have been somewhat surprised to read posts from GPs who say thay love their GCs more than their own children. I have been surprised by the new love that I felt when holding my GS for the first time and I do think the world of him, but in the grand scheme of things, I think my first line of loyalty will be for his mum, my DD and he will be encouraged by me to see what wonderful people his parents are, even when he thinks they and the world are against him grin.

thatbags Sun 03-Apr-16 08:19:37

I think you are dwelling on and worrying about your feelings too much. The child is three. You are a mature adult with experience, you say, of dealing with difficult people. Use that experience and your maturity to deal with a daughter-in-law whose methods you don't like and a grandchild you don't like. Remain civil but you don't have to put up with bad behaviour in your own house.

There is no rule that says people have to love their grandchildren. If it doesn't come naturally to you, just accept that and behave as you would to any unrelated three year old who visited your house.

MargaretX Sun 03-Apr-16 10:38:35

Remember you are not in a soap opera. What you tell us about is 'real life' Sometimes you fall in love with a GC as soon as you see them but many times not. Sometimes you fall for them when they are 5 or 12 who can say?
Good old Dr Spock maimtained that if you feed and care for a child and take its needs seriously and do your best to protect it, then that is deep down love.
Other wise you would not do it. Its just not the sloppy kind of love that you see on TV and we hear a lot about on GN.
Grandparents are the parents of their own children and be there for them, help them and keep quiet. You will fall for your GC one day when you are least expecting it.

TriciaF Sun 03-Apr-16 11:34:32

The love we have for our own children is partly because they're completely dependent on us - "as the calf needs to drink, the cow needs to give milk."
All the hormones come into play.
With grandchildren, maybe because they aren't dependent on us, it's not abnormal to feel that love is missing.
I feel much closer to one grandson, who I looked after as a young baby, than his sister, who I didn't see until she was a toddler.

Maggiemaybe Sun 03-Apr-16 12:03:47

I am one of those "sloppy" ones who fell in love unconditionally and immediately with each of my DC and DGC in turn. I actually felt as if I already knew them as soon as I looked into their eyes. Perhaps I live in a soap opera and don't know it (The Truman Show, anyone?) grin From what my immediate family and friends say, this was the case for them too. So I must admit to being surprised that so many are saying this wasn't their experience.

But they're still only tiny. As of now I just want to pick them up and cuddle and comfort them if they're upset, even when it's because they're being told off for a reason (of course I don't - I'm well aware that they need rules!). I'm sure if they start to display the brattish behaviour the OP describes, there will be times when I don't like them.

henetha Sun 03-Apr-16 12:52:07

I've got complete sympathy for this post as I also had problems loving one of my grandchildren. She was just so badly behaved when she was younger that I found myself actively disliking her at times. Then, of course, I felt guilty.
However, the situation has changed. I've made a huge effort to spend more time with her and now feel differently. She's still a challenge, but I find myself worrying about her if she is ill or in difficulty, and I think what I feel now is genuine affection for her, if not ovewhelming love.
And, yes, I think some of the comments above are correct, it's the behaviour we dislike, not the person.

Granny23 Sun 03-Apr-16 12:53:56

Try putting yourself in our wee DGD's shoes - not quite 3, the centre of attention, and expected to behave and perform for a Mum, a Dad, assorted GP's, Uncles, etc. All 3 of my DGC were holy terrors at 2 & 3 but now (7, 8, 9) are kind caring and eminently lovable. Only this week, the youngest (our drama queen - so like her mother) sought me out in the kitchen to give me a big hug, telling me that she loved me because I never fussed over her or asked for cuddles.

Just give your wee DGD time and space - if she is annoying you, take time out, make a cup of tea, don't interact until she has calmed down. Hopefully, there will be other DGC, siblings or cousins for the wee girl and she will no longer be the focus of everyone's attention.

Marmight Sun 03-Apr-16 14:10:49

This is all sounding oh so familiar. I have a nearly 4 year old GD who is an absolute terror and very unlikeable most of the time. Like the little girl with the curl, 'when she is good she is very, very good and when she is not, she is horrid'. The youngest of 4, she is spoilt by everyone. Her 8 year old sister was pretty awful too - still is sometimes - and if the 3 year old is reprimanded, she immediately jumps to her defence and interferes making things 2x as bad - 2 screaming girls instead of 1 shock. DD and I did discuss it, at length, and she asked for my opinion/help which I gave. It's very hard to love a GD who thumps, punches and kicks you every time she passes. I only see her once a year for a concentrated period of time. She loves her other GPs who live next door and can do no wrong, in her opinion, but not in DD's(!) or mine..... No doubt in time things will improve and as she grows we will come to love each other as GM and GD. She has 2 older brothers with whom I have a perfectly good relationship as well as with my 4 other GCs in this country who I obviously see more frequently.

I agree with all the advice already given. Keep mum unless asked.

Elegran Sun 03-Apr-16 14:49:30

They do alter as they get older, thank God. An absolute horror can become an interesting person eventually (and a sweet angel can become a nightmare, so it works both ways)

Just try to treat her as though you do like her. Saying that reminds me that my grandmother's reply when told that, "She looks at me as though I am mad." was "Well, just you look back at her as though you are not!"

annodomini Sun 03-Apr-16 15:38:16

My youngest GS was a little tearaway when he was a toddler. Naughty step? He just laughed at it! He was not only naughty but obnoxious and rude, though sometimes affectionate. However, he is now 8 and I can have a good conversation with him. He has taken up Tae Kwon Doh (sp?) and I think this is giving him self discipline as well as a hobby that no-one else in the family has. He is a very keen Cub and enjoys getting lots of badges!
Bear with your GD, Nannymarg. It could be that she senses your dislike and is responding accordingly. There is life beyond toddler-hood and you will, increasingly, be able to do activities with her that you can both enjoy.

MargaretX Sun 03-Apr-16 16:35:17

I agree with annodomini children are super sensitive and pick up all these negative feelings. A difficult child can exhaust a whole family!
Don't beat yourself up about it. its natural to dislike a child that treats you badly.
But children grow up and change and there is always hope.

I was an 'awkward Annie' according to my mother, and my grandmother did not like me. I knew that and accepted it, and in those pre-soap opera days no grandmother felt guilty about it either.

Nannymarg53 Sun 03-Apr-16 18:19:00

I feel so much better having read all the responses to my post, especially henetha and Marmight. Thank you. I do care for her and yes, it's her behaviour that I dislike, not necessarily her. My lack of absolute love for her has surprised me, especially when I hear other grandmother's saying how much they love their GC as much as their own children. You really do begin to think there's something wrong with you or something missing emotionally inside. However, I'm sure in time I may discover those feelings, albeit a conditional love as opposed to the unconditional love I feel for my sons. There are no 'rules' that say you should love your grandchildren and that is reassuring.
So, I've taken the majority opinion to keep shtum and use the behaviour management that I know - i.e. IGNORE the unwanted behaviour and PRAISE the wanted behaviour. I've also asked the other GP's to get on that bandwagon and use ignoring etc. They aren't as practiced but I'll keep nudging them when they stand over her watching her having a major tantrum and remind them to look away and walk off and let parents deal with it. After all, it's affecting all of us not just me. If DS and DIL ask for help then there I'll be but until then I'll try to rise above it. Also DS is big enough now to deal with DIL himself without his mother putting her two pennies' worth in! Thank you everyone again for your support and suggestions. This is Gransnet at its best.

Faye Sun 03-Apr-16 20:01:09

Your GD is not yet three, she is little more than a baby,. My maternal GM didn't like me. It was very obvious to me from a very young age. I wasn't a difficult child at all but she only liked my older siblings and cousins. One day when I was six I was outside jumping off the decking on her beach house. It wasn't very far to jump and I would walk up the steps and jump off again. I was quietly amusing myself while the adults were inside the house. My GM came rushing out and told me I was as bad as the twins. The twins being my two year old brother and sister. I remember thinking at the time how strange for her to think two year olds could be bad, they are only babies. I can remember having to stay the night when I was around four and she dished me up a huge pile of cabbage with my vegetables.. She was telling me I had to eat it until my 8 year old sister pointed out to her that she had given me a huge amount of cabbage, then given my six year old sister less and herself less again. My GM got worse as I got older and I often heard her running me down and blaming me for things my cousin did. I didn't have one kind, caring, loving GP and they were all alive until I grew up.

I think in many cases it's the adults who should look at their own behaviour. Toddlers are not robots and will act up and carry on. I wonder if your DIL feels on edge when you are around because you disapprove of how she is bringing up her DD. Of course children need direction and guidance, I tell my GC off if they misbehave, they don't get away with bad behaviour in my house or if I am babysitting. I can feel annoyed at them, my four year old GD was climbing up on the bath last night and jumping in the water while I bathed her. I felt very cross at her and imagined she was going to break her neck. Obviously I told her off, she has always been a climber and sometimes really naughty. One day her brother then six called out to me. I went to see why he was calling me. GD then 2 had climbed up on the couch and somehow climbed onto her brother's head. There she sat with her feet on his shoulders, happily watching the television. GS was not happy at all and couldn't move. I quickly grabbed GD off GS's head and told her off. You think your GD is naughty, have this one for a day. She is sweet too, the other day she told DD that she loved Grandma just as much as her. That was a huge compliment as she is very attached to her mother. This particular GS was just as horrible until he was around five and is a well behaved boy now at eight. I will add that I have enjoyed all of my GC and often think how lucky I am, I love them as much as my children. I always have had that bond with them all.

I think you are missing out Grannymarg the two, three and four year age is a erm shall we say an interesting time. You might not have all the bringing up children answers you know. I can just imagine my GM dishing out how to bring up children advice to my mother while wrapping up second hand dresses for my sister and me while my older sisters and cousins got new cameras for Christmas. confused