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Grandparenting

grandkids when their parents have parted

(27 Posts)
Deepblue Fri 02-Nov-18 21:17:27

Tonight I'm feeling really low. We've just come to the end of a week's holiday with our three grandchildren. Their parents - my stepson and his wife parted two years ago and both have new partners. We decided to bring the kids on holiday because they've been passed about a fair bit and not had the best time. The oldest girl is 14, the middle girl is 10 and the little boy is 6. We booked two cottages one for us and one for my oldest stepson, his wife and 2 daughters 14 and 7. All in all we've spent about £2000 In this holiday.

For us, it's been a nightmare week. All three kids are a bit wild. The little boy doesn't seem to be developing properly. His language skills are very poor and his behaviour generally isn't that of a 6 year old, plus his sisters veer between treating him like a baby doll, picking him up and loving him or teasing him and shouting at him. The middle girl, in particular, is either mothering him or shouting at him. None of which helps.

He is a very demanding child who needs constant amusement and attention. He can't read and is really struggling with trying to learn and he is incapable of amusing himself. When he's at home with his mother, he spends most of his time playing video games on TV. He's very good about going to bed - a story, a cuddle and he's out like a light, but he's up before 6am every day, Thankfully I'm an early riser so it doesn't bother me but I'm not sure it's healthy for him.

All three kids have an appalling diet. They flatly refuse to eat any vegetables or 'proper food, living on crisps and chocolate buns. They nearly have a nervous breakdown if we try to get them to eat properly. For example, tonight's 'dinner' consisted of frankfurter sausages and super noodles.

My son, who is highly intelligent- a lawyer married to a crown court judge- has also been with us this week as they own a holiday home nearby and this morning he and I had a bit of a bust up. They have no children and they've taken the kids out a couple of times over the week which I've appreciated for giving us a break but today I got a lecture from him about what wonderful kids they are and how harsh I am, I pointed out to him that the kids do behave better with him because they don't know him so well and they are a bit in awe of him plus it's easy to be happy and playful for a couple of hours but try it when it's full on from half past five in the morning until eight at night and when they are fighting or shouting and the little one is whining 'I wanna' or 'I don't wanna' or 'I'm ungy' (hungry) or I'm bored every few minutes.

Ive really tried so hard with the little boy this week, making models with him, reading with him, doing puzzles and I feel so hurt by my son. Yesterday the middle girl was being really horrible to her brother for no reason and later I commented that she'd been vile to him. This morning my son accused me of calling her vile. I didn't call her vile, I said her behaviour was vile to her brother.

I rarely argue with my son and I feel so miserable and exhausted. It feels as though he was accusing me of being a horrible old woman-- which I said to him this morning to which he replied 'don't make everything about you.'

Apologies for this monologue but, seriously, I could just sit and weep.

PECS Fri 02-Nov-18 22:46:51

You were obviously trying hard to be loving and helpful so that your DGC had some happy family time with you and DH plus extended family.
I have often taken our 4 DGC away for a holiday at half terms and it is hectic & tiring! Obviously if the tense times outweigh the happy times it is not a holiday!
My DGSs (10&6) are early risers. 6:00 is normal. My DGDs(13 &10) can be quarrelsome which is wearing but again that is normal sibling banter!

Maybe you and your DH were a bit tense and anxious to make everything so lovely that when faced with the reality of a week away with a bunch of lively kids hit you it was a disappointment & did not live up to your expectations.

Not quite sure what their other uncle, aunt & cousins who were staying with you thought about everything or did they do their own thing?

It is always easier for a less familiar uncle and auntie,with energy & youth on their side, to manage the trio of nieces & nephew. But maybe your expectations were unrealistic and it made you more irritated with the children who you felt were not appreciating all the effort you were making on their behalf.

If home expectations do not demand good eating habits it is not going to change in a week's holiday with you. Or maybe your style of instilling good behaviour, no matter how well intentioned, was too different for home strategies and just made things worse (not a blame here just a fact!)

People do say thing in anger in ways they did not intend.
Perhaps your son felt that you were not seeing how your DGD's behaviour could be a reflection of a level of unhappiness in their home life the moment and were being to harsh on them?

I am sorry this holiday that you hoped was going to be a happy cross generational event ended unhappily.

silverlining48 Fri 02-Nov-18 22:53:40

Hope you are feeling a little better now blue. Sorry no one has responded to your post as yet, hope someone comes along with some helpful advice. You did your best, children are hard work, and I am sure they did enjoy their break.
Don’t worry get some sleep, tomorrow is another day.

Jalima1108 Fri 02-Nov-18 23:16:22

I think you're very brave, taking all three on holiday for a week and having the other family nearby too. Often our dreams of an idyllic holiday, happy children playing nicely just does not happen. How did the three of them get on with their two cousins who are of a similar age to the oldest and youngest?
These children sound as if they have had rather a disruptive life recently so that may explain their unruliness; one is also a teenager, being indulgent with a little brother one minute then getting rather fed up with him the next is probably normal.

Trying to impose healthy eating habits on them when they are used to eating junk could be difficult if you don't have them to stay regularly. It's all very well for your son and wife to entertain them for a couple of hours then bring them back, but they didn't have them all week so are not really in a position to pass judgement on you.

Perhaps a 'laissez-faire' attitude might have worked, even if you don't agree with it, as they were on holiday. However, nothing is more exhausting than siblings squabbling and trying to be referee.

The very early mornings are normal and he could be waking even earlier because of the hour change.

They have probably gone home and said what a lovely time they had!

Jalima1108 Fri 02-Nov-18 23:17:46

ps if you are intending to do this again and spend that much, then somewhere like Centre Parcs could be a good idea as there is so much to keep them entertained.

Annapops Fri 02-Nov-18 23:21:36

Bless. Sounds like you have tried so hard to please. Not your fault and quite agree your expectations of a happy get together have not been met so you must feel disappointed. Hope everything resolves. Xxx

paddyann Fri 02-Nov-18 23:57:25

my two youngest GD's fight like cat and dog ,they love each other to bits though and always want to share a bed when they stay .Thats just how children are sadly they dont all behave like the Waltons and we wouldn't want them to ,would we? Your wee ones have had a rough time and it takes time for them to get over,mine are the same both lots have parents whoo split,one lot dont see much of their dad as he has a "new family" and they are his priority so its essential we try to understand and cope with the, sometimes ,awful behaviour .They are good kids as I'm sure yours are ,they just need to let off steam .Things will improve with time and love .

Dolcelatte Sat 03-Nov-18 03:28:25

You did a very kind thing in taking the family away for a holiday and, having invested so much personally and financially, you understandably feel disappointed that it wasn't the joyful occasion which you were expecting.

To be honest, it sounds like you were trying too hard, which is why you don't seem to have had much time to yourself and feel exhausted. I agree with a previous poster who suggested going somewhere with more activities next time, if there is a next time, as children of those ages need a lot of stimulation to stop them from becoming bored and tetchy.

It is not your responsibility to sort out their lives, sibling relationships, eating habits, sleeping patterns etc. You are there to be a loving support and to give stability in young lives which have been upset due to recent events, and to provide fun. You have done all that and more, but you need to let go a little. There is a phrase bandied around among parents when the going gets tough 'All fed, none dead'! I bet the children had a wonderful time.

I think you should be very pleased that your son and his wife have such a good relationship with their nieces and nephew, to the event where they can confide in them and go to them with any problems. Here are more close family members who love them and want to spend time with them.

I can understand why you are hurt by your son's remark but, if you think about it when you are less fraught and frazzled, you may come to the conclusion that he may have a point. Just let it go, try to relax and believe that you are a wonderful grandmother and that those children are extremely lucky to have you in their lives.

stella1949 Sat 03-Nov-18 04:31:46

Sounds like you had a bad time, but I think your son was probably right. You were tiring yourself out, trying to "fix" these children and impose your own ideas on them. Trying to make kids eat to your standards, when they normally eat junk food, is pretty pointless. You can't expect them to take kindly to being forced to eat things they are not used to .

If you ever do this again, just take them somewhere simple like Centre Parcs with plenty of things to do . Relax and let the kids enjoy themselves instead of trying to change them.

BlueBelle Sat 03-Nov-18 05:19:24

Deepblue I think you have to put this behind you you tried very hard to give everyone a good time but I think your expectations were way too high and impossible I m presuming the ‘we’ you keep referring to was your husband Did he help, you aren’t mentioning his input ?
First to go through a few points :-
6 am is perfectly normal for a lot of children to wake at It’s teens that sleep for England
It’s perfectly normal for three kids to fight and alternate between being loving and fighting
You can’t change poor diets in a week and it’s totally unrealistic to give them food they aren’t used to and expect them to enjoy it
Sorry to disagree but your son is probably right he took them OUT perhaps you did too but it sounds as if you were entertaining them in the house reading , doing puzzles and making models, a six year old needs to climb run and be totally daft making silly noises and acting the fool
He was one little boy amongst four girls and probably needed a male companion and enjoyed your son’s company
These three kids are having a tough life being passed around and you wanted to give them a good week you tried your hardest but it was so unrealistic Deepblue I do feel for you
Take them one by one in future three is hard work OR take them where there is entertainment, a week at Butlins or similar using the clubs would have been better all round

Deepblue Sat 03-Nov-18 06:34:19

Thanks everyone. Sorry I probably didn't make it totally clear but my post already seemed too long! I haven't tried to get them eating properly at all. I knew that was never going to happen! I stocked up on crisps, chocolate muffins and chocolate bars and we took them to a local pub on three nights which did kids meals and they could indulge on chicken nuggets.

We haven't just stayed in at all. Fortunately the weather has been glorious so we spent a day down on the beach where we were all writing messages in the sand. We spent another day at a dinosaur and wildlife park. My son and his wife took them out one evening to a Halloween event and then out for dinner at the pub.

We took them to another seaside town not far away where there was amusements and yesterday, our last day, we took the two youngest, the little boy and my other stepson's daughter to the beach in the morning and the whole lot of us, except my son and his wife who'd had to go home, (after we'd had our row although them leaving was nothing to do with that, they were already having to go) went rock pooling all afternoon.

We've taken them down nearly every day to feed the farmer's ponies and she took all five of them across the fields in her trailer and gave each one a ride on her quad bike.

Having said all that, the odd couple of hours in the morning is when my grandson and I have been modelling or reading or doing a big jigsaw but the minute I've told him I've got to have a shower or pop into the village for milk (he never wanted to come because it's down a steep hill and, of course, he didn't want to walk back) or any kind of task, he's promptly kicked off, swinging on the furniture or crying or dancing around and sticking his fingers up at me.

Both my husband and I try talking to him but it never works and then my husband raises his voice to him.

The middle sister deliberately tries to get him into trouble by encouraging him to do things - like sliding head first down the stairs in the cottage, where there is a stone floor at the bottom. Both she and the older girl pick him up and hug him and kiss him or they're screeching at him. They also continually say they think he's going to be gay and get him standing in 'camp' poses. I've really had a go at them and tried to get them to see that getting him to do things while they sit laughing at him is just wrong,

My son rang me last night and we just chatex like we always do, neither of us mentioned the argument. I suspect he's feeling as bad as I am because we are quite close and now he's 40 and I'm in my sixties, we jog along very well. His dad died years ago and We've had a good relationship all his life, plus he gets on well with his stepfather my husband. It's just horrible to feel as though there's a bit of tension between us. I don't see a lot of him because they have such a busy life and don't live near us. He also has a habit of saying he doesn't want to talk about something and tells me to 'leave it' if I ever try to explain my point of view.

Sorry! Another long post.

BlueBelle Sat 03-Nov-18 07:12:32

Oh Deepblue your second post sounds so different from your first It sounds as if you gave them a wonderful time did loads of activities and they had a fantastic holiday but you just forgot how difficult three kids of varying ages and sexes can be it all sounds normal behaviour, my two grandkids that live nearby fight constantly my three girl grandkids wind each other up and in the middle ones words ‘press all my buttons’ my other two seem perfect and get on with each other well, Loads of different combinations try not to worry all phases that will pass

Your only problem is your expectations and pressure on yourself was just too high

PECS Sat 03-Nov-18 07:49:45

That post sounds pretty much normal & that the kids had a fab holiday.

The only thing that sounds worrying is your DGDs using the term gay in a way that is prejudiced and teasing. Perhaps that is the model they have from adults at home? Schools would teach a more positive & non judgemental attitude.

BlueBelle Sat 03-Nov-18 07:59:06

It’s just ‘banter’ between kids though you can’t pick up on everything they say to each other as 90% of the time they will not be in your earshot and a holiday isn’t the right place either I am a great believer in letting kids sort their relationships out themselves The little chap sounds as if he’s enjoying all their attention one way or another good and bad If really worried have a private word with the middle girl about gay/ non gay feelings and respect but that might make her do it all the more; unless of course you hear real bullying which that doesn’t sound like as there’s lots of hugs and kisses too
My grandson says some awful things to my granddaughter (teens)but if I ever (yes we all do it sometimes without thinking) intervene she lets me know in no uncertain terms to leave him alone

sodapop Sat 03-Nov-18 08:59:40

You gave them a really good holiday Deepblue I'm sure they enjoyed it and your efforts were appreciated even if it didn't seem like it. It's a shame about the disagreement with your son but it sounds like he is not holding a grudge. Holidays with children are never picture perfect as portrayed in all the ads.

BlueBelle Sat 03-Nov-18 09:07:20

I d give you a thumbs up if we had the button Sodapop so this will have to do 👍🏼

Jalima1108 Sat 03-Nov-18 11:27:01

It sounds like a lovely holiday DeepBlue and they will probably remember it for ever.
The occasional squabbling sounds quite normal (although perhaps a chat about the 'gay' teasing might be in order).

MissAdventure Sat 03-Nov-18 11:29:42

I think its quite normal behaviour from what I observe in my grandsons, and glean from parents with children the same age.
My grandsons say some horribly inappropriate things to each other, and no, its not from what they have observed at home.

Jobey68 Sat 03-Nov-18 20:36:09

Sounds like a standard family holiday to me! It may appear that the kids are out of control but if you were with them all day every day it would just be the norm and you wouldn't be so upset by it, kids are a handful whatever age and the little one is probably just used to being mollycoddled by his older sisters and not needing to overly express himself to get his point across.

Me and my sisters were vile to our younger brother and insanely jealous of his arrival, used to pinch his cheeks to make him cry and pretend to leave him home on his own and go and stand out side the door just to hear him crying! Mum was in the house of course but he didn't know that, kids will be kids regardless of where they are, put it behind you and know you did a great thing to treat your family to a lovely holiday 😊

luluaugust Sat 03-Nov-18 22:42:59

I am sure they all went home and said they had a great time, 14 and 10 are never going to mix easily with a 6 year old.

Deepblue Sun 04-Nov-18 09:10:04

Thanks everyone for the replies and moral support. Now, back home, I am slowly feeling more human! Also, expecting the kids were going to be challenging, we'd left our three retrievers when we went on this holiday. We never holiday in the UK without the dogs so I've missed them terribly and in North Devon, where we've been many times with the dogs, it was a bit depressing thinking if them back home instead of racing around the beach.

The kids all said they'd had a brilliant time so I guess the stress was worth it in the end.

To be fair they are having a hard time. Their father my stepson, is totally loved up with his new partner to a nauseating degree. She has two children, a boy of 10 and a girl of 8 and our grandkids are not keen on her children. Both she and my stepson keep telling them that they're all brothers and sisters now which isn't helpful. Our oldest granddaughter at 14 isn't just going to accept that and after only a year, it's a but much a bit too soon.

Their mum is a nice girl but so laid back she's almost horizontal smile so the kids have no boundaries set for them at home and understandably she is struggling on her own.

On top of all that! My stepson is the most bigoted racist and homophobic so the kids are learning terrible things from him. For example, my grandson shouts 'ninjas' if he sees ladies wearing a burka. I've sat him down and said 'no, these are just ladies wearing long black dresses' - but the fact that he's been taught these things really upsets us.

My stepson certainly didn't learn his disgusting attitudes from us. We both detest racism. The irony, which we laugh about us that his new partner is Czech! But as my son says, his stepbrother is only racist about people with brown or black faces.

He cut me and his dad out of his life when I challenged him about racist postings on Facebook- which his oldest daughter sees and he hasn't spoken to us for months so the poor kids are caught up in one heck of a mess to be honest.

Ah well, we're all safely home. My son rang last night and we've patched up our argument, so I feel better about that and I've just been for a long walk on my own with my dogs so am starting to get things into perspective.

Thanks again for everyone's supportive responses!

MissAdventure Sun 04-Nov-18 09:30:28

So, can we assume you're booking next years slot, Deepblue? smile

Deepblue Sun 04-Nov-18 11:08:32

Literally just booked the cottage for us and the dogs for next April - when the kids are at school! 😂😂

MissAdventure Sun 04-Nov-18 11:10:06

grin

Jalima1108 Sun 04-Nov-18 11:14:57

I hope you do see them frequently though Deepblue, even if you don't take them away again - they sound as if they need some stability and a different perspective in their lives.