Gransnet forums


Uninvolved granny

(42 Posts)
Charlotte74 Thu 12-Sep-19 14:28:38

Hi there, I’m not a grandparent (yet!) - just a parent so far. But I’m really intrigued & interested to know grandparent - particularly grandma/granny/nana - views on this issue?

I have a husband & 2 young kids. I no longer live near my parents but am only about 1.5 hours away so not a massive distance. My issue is, my mum has been singularly unhelpful as a grandparent. She doesn’t show much interest in her grandkids - a bit more in my brother’s kids as they live much nearer - but she is a ‘hands off’ granny to be sure.

When I was young, my mum worked full time as a teacher and my dad’s mum (her MIL) was really supportive in that she would have me or my brother if we were sick so my mum didn’t have to take time off work. My granny was no spring chicken then either but it wasn’t a lot that was asked of her (handful of times a year) and I know she really appreciated that help and always says how much her MIL (my granny, no longer with us) was. But she’s never offered to help with my kids in that way - and I’ve found that hurtful. Not that I have ever or would ever expect a granny to drop everything or give up her own retirement activities. But just occasionally, now & again, an offer to help would’ve been so nice... so much so that when I hear from other parent friends & acquaintances about how supportive their own mothers have been - especially when the kids are babies and it’s all new - it makes me feel really envious and sad.

Your thoughts from a grandma point of view? smile

Septimia Thu 12-Sep-19 14:35:55

As a gran, I'd love to be near enough to my GD to spend time with her regularly!

Maybe your mum's had enough of children! Until my GD came along and we clicked, I didn't have much patience with children (having also been a teacher). Now I'm a bit more sympathetic.

I would say, don't wait for her to offer. She might just not want to interfere. Try inviting her to help you with something that you know she's good at or, if your children are at school or nursery, ask if she'd like to go to a school event with you. Don't push it, just ensure that she's knows she's welcome but that if she turns you down you'll accept that. Maybe that will break the ice.

paddyann Thu 12-Sep-19 14:40:23

New baby here last weekend and after reading all the mumsnet stories about in laws trying to take over I'm going very carefully.My DIL has a mother and 3 sisters so I'll take a back seat until asked.I have had all my other GC from an early age so its quite strange to not be doing things for this wee one.Now I'm hoping DIL wont think I'm not interested..its a bloomin minefield .

paddyann Thu 12-Sep-19 14:40:23

New baby here last weekend and after reading all the mumsnet stories about in laws trying to take over I'm going very carefully.My DIL has a mother and 3 sisters so I'll take a back seat until asked.I have had all my other GC from an early age so its quite strange to not be doing things for this wee one.Now I'm hoping DIL wont think I'm not interested..its a bloomin minefield .

paddyann Thu 12-Sep-19 14:40:24

New baby here last weekend and after reading all the mumsnet stories about in laws trying to take over I'm going very carefully.My DIL has a mother and 3 sisters so I'll take a back seat until asked.I have had all my other GC from an early age so its quite strange to not be doing things for this wee one.Now I'm hoping DIL wont think I'm not interested..its a bloomin minefield .

tanith Thu 12-Sep-19 14:45:12

I think I’ve been helpful and hands on with all 9 GC but my MIL was similar she never babysat or offered to have the children she was very cold towards them whereas my mum was very eager to help. The consequent was I’m afraid that she died a very lonely old lady as only one of my daughters ever bothered with her when she was old.

HildaW Thu 12-Sep-19 14:45:26

WEll, there is no job description! Its much more about the personalities involved and the relationship that is built.
Distance can play apart but to be honest most Grandparents feel the same about their Grandchildren wherever they are in the world.

Sounds like you need to have some conversations - and not the ones you are having in your head. You never know she might feel you do not actually need her support in a practical way. What ages are your children, are they old enough to build a relationship with Grandma - not in the being looked after way, just spending time together.
My daughter lives and hour and a half away and we do not have that day to day contact that some have. Now they are at school its the odd week-end lunch or if lucky a couple of days over night during the summer holidays. However, I can chat to them on the phone Grandma to child....nothing to do with helping and to be honest my day to day help is not really needed.
My other thought is that I've known some full-time teachers over the years and to put it bluntly, apart from their own children (if they had then) they kept everyone else's at arms length.

Perhaps you need to plan an informal day out - meet half way between and give her a few dates to choose. Keep it informal and see how she interacts with her grandchildren - I suspect she'd love to have a relationship with them...just not be seen purely as someone to give help. Gransnet is full of Grandparents who either feel they are being taken advantage of....or the being totally left out....and all shades in between. Unless you actually talk to her you will not know how she feels. Keep it chatty and not in anyway a criticism - just you finding out how much she'd like to be a part of their lives.

MissAdventure Thu 12-Sep-19 14:46:01

I'm not that interested in children, and never have been.

I'm afraid that didn't change much when I became a grandparent, well, not to the extent of wanting lots of hands on time.

Charlotte74 Thu 12-Sep-19 14:55:34

Hi Septimia
Thank you - very sensible advice! I think there is definitely some truth in the ‘fed up with kids’ thing, and the ‘not wanting to interfere’ bit too. I guess my expectations on her, since I had children, have been not quite matching what she can give.

Two things. My own MIL (while I don’t agree with her on everything!) is a very different animal. She is a hands-on sort of granny, my kids adore her, and she manages to strike a good balance between not interfering & being practically supportive. I suspect this has kind of thrown into sharp relief the differences between her more maternal nature and my own mum, who was quite a detached mother to be honest. I just feel bad for my mum that she’s missing out on the lovely relationship my kids have with their other grandma.

Second is that my parental experience has been particularly challenging as I’ve suffered from depression for many years and had postnatal depression after birth of both my sons. They’re 8 & 5 now and I still struggle with my mental health - parenting with a MH illness, as with any long term condition, is no walk in the park, as I’m sure many of you know! It would just be nice for my mum to recognise that and, even if it’s not quite her ‘comfort zone’, to realise how much (esp. in the early days) I could’ve done with help, even just now & again. As it is, my husband has borne the brunt of that - as he should, they’re his kids & I’m his wife - but it’s taken so much out of us and our marriage. I guess I feel a little resentful, but maybe that’s unfair on my mum.

Charlotte74 Thu 12-Sep-19 15:01:51

Hi Tanith, thank you for that. Sad when someone dies a lonely person as they weren’t able to ‘give’ more, isn’t it?

It’s hard with my mum, because she’s not a nasty or manipulative person, she’s just not somehow able to open up and give and get involved emotionally. But I guess it’s accepting that about people!

Charlotte74 Thu 12-Sep-19 15:06:51

You’re so right, it is a minefield. I have also heard friends describe how they don’t want the amount of input their mum brings, as it’s too much! I guess the grass is always greener...

Charlotte74 Thu 12-Sep-19 15:19:31

Fascinating points Hilda, thanks.

The idea of there being no blueprint is so true. I think from a daughter perspective, when first baby arrives, you’re trying to work out how to be a parent and I think subconsciously you assume that because grandparents have already been parents, they are fine & dandy & confident & know everything! Also new parenthood can be a very vulnerable time (esp. as I had postnatal depression) and you turn to your own mother figure instinctively then, because things are so challenging.

My sons are 8 & 5 now. I still struggle with my MH though it’s ‘easier’ to deal with, in the sense that I get proper sleep, I can go to work, have ‘me’ time, things that are often vital for self-care when you have MH disorder (or even if you don’t!) I suspect my mum would like more from me as a person, like she used to get before I had a family & lived closer, but with young children, distance, and my MH I have little to give. Such a shame though - because if some pressure were taken off me, I could give more, it’s reciprocal isn’t it?
Good idea though about having fun with the grandkids rather than care from granny. Might be a more successful approach.

Bridgeit Thu 12-Sep-19 15:30:54

Hi Charlotte74, the main thing for you to take from this situation is that you are different you enjoy your children & you can look forward to a life time of being involved with them.
You’re own Mother may have to live with regrets as she gets older & realises how much she has missed out on.

sodapop Thu 12-Sep-19 15:41:47

I agree with MissAdventure we are not all cut out to be doting grandparents and that's neither right or wrong just how people are. Most people on this website are very hands on or keen to be so, it's not a very balanced view on Gransnet.
Sadly also a lot of people are estranged from their families and would love the opportunity to be involved if they could
Have you talked openly with your mother about how you feel, maybe you both need to compromise a little.

Grannyknot Thu 12-Sep-19 15:44:47

Hi Charlotte, I think that we have to accept that people are different (and flawed).

I have a lovely friend who is a hands-off granny and who simply says "I've had my turn". I think that you have to accept your mother for what she is and not have too many expectations of how she should be as a grandmother. Also, I wouldn't project that she may have regrets about having 'lost out' - perhaps she will, but equally she may be perfectly happy with the way things are.

Resentment never helped anyone, but I do understand why you feel resentful, especially as a new mum, expecting your mother to be someone you could turn to for help and advice. But she isn't and there is no point in being resentful about that.

But I don't think there is anything to be gained from comparing your MIL and your mother.

Celebrate the fact that you do have one hands-on, involved granny - that's brilliant!

humptydumpty Thu 12-Sep-19 16:06:35

Hi Charlotte, I absolutely sympathise with you. When my DD was a baby my husband was abroad, so I was a single parent in effect. Despite having been a primary school teacher, my mother offered me no help whatsoever with DD; in fact when I was going out for the afternoon with a friend, she asked what was happening to DD, and I said I thought she would be OK to look after her for a few hours - I thought she was going to have a heart attack! It was particularly hurtful because my parents spent a lot of time looking after both my brother's children.

One good thing is that I made up my mind that when DD has a baby I shall remember how much I would have appreciated that help - and offer it to her, even though I'm not a 'baby person' myself.

FlyingSolo Thu 12-Sep-19 16:41:54

As some of you are probably aware I still haven't met my grandson. My son reckons it is important to him that I meet him and that it is just a question of when and organising it. Frankly I don't believe him. And without going into detail his relationship with his partner (baby's mum) is very concerning and unpredictable. The result is that despite having been a very maternal person all my life I now feel that when he finally decides to do something about it he is going to wonder why I am so distant towards this child. Admittedly part of it is that I had a real difficult time bringing my son up by myself and there is now an overlap between my son reaching full maturity and this baby being born so I do feel I'm still all worn out with kids. But the main reason is that I feel forming a relationship or attachment with his child will cause me a lot of pain. I actually don't know how I am going to deal with the situation as there is a big conflict in me between the sort of woman/girl I am and always was and the importance of not allowing myself to be broken and considering my own welfare. Basically what I am saying is there can be many different reasons for a grandparent being uninvolved.

HildaW Thu 12-Sep-19 17:29:35

Charlotte74, Thanks for your replies, so nice to be responded too individually, you have good manners.

Its interesting that you mention depression -there are many of us around who have coped/lived with its variations. Mine tips me into anxiety where I over think everything. I read too much into situations and assume the worse. Thus if a DD is a bit short with me I assume we have fallen out, I shall never see her again and have lost all contact with GC!!!!! Yes, in the cold light of day I know its stupid - she's just a bit tired is just not feeling chatty. Its called 'catastrophizing' and is a recognised problem with people in the depressive/anxiety range. I have to remind myself that unless someone actually looks me in the face (or shouts down the phone) and tells me something unpleasant its all in my silly mind.
Try not to read too much into your Mum's behaviour, we can't all me huggy hands-on Grandparents (I want to be but do not have the opportunities - that's life) let her be a more grown-up Grandma, she will probably have more patience with them when they are older and until then just keep the lines of communication open and say from time to time.....'they'd love to go for a walk or have a day out with you' or whatever you think she'd enjoy. Its all to easy to take offense and feel defensive when you are a bit low. All the best.

Bridgeit Thu 12-Sep-19 18:01:21

HildaW, what a lovely thoughtful helpful reply for OP, I can also relate to what you have said.

Luckygirl Thu 12-Sep-19 18:01:24

We have lots of contact with local GC; and less with those further away - unsurprisingly!

An hour and a half feels like one hell of a trip there and back - a lot to ask.

Maybe you are hoping for too much from someone who lives that distance away.

Nannarose Thu 12-Sep-19 18:01:38

I'd like to add another perspective, although I don't know how much it applies to posters above. For 3-4 generations now, most adults only spend a small amount of time with very young children. Many grandparents feel quite frightened at being asked to look after babies & toddlers. They find they can't really remember what they did, they know that advice has changed and they find it confusing (and primary age children are a long way from babies!). Most GPs make jokes of it "what way up do they go these days?" and check websites like this one and NHS info so that they can be helpful.
But some aren't really like that - they'd rather just not take on the responsibility and anxiety.
I have, with great sadness, had to say that I can only care for newest GC for very short periods of time, as my arthritis makes me awkward and tires me greatly. I could well imagine that if I had a less understanding family, and a less 'open' personality that I could have just adopted a 'hands-off' approach.
I, like Hilda (lovely response!) wonder if this may change with time and patience, as she sees how you handle them and as they grow. I do hope so.

Bridgeit Thu 12-Sep-19 18:04:04

Spot only Nannarose .

Bridgeit Thu 12-Sep-19 18:04:53

Ohhps should read ,Spot on !

Smileless2012 Thu 12-Sep-19 18:12:01

My mum was never a 'hands on GM' she seemed to prefer our boys when they were babies.

We have 2 GC but due to our estrangement from their father (our son) and his wife we aren't allowed any contact with them, have never seen the youngest and haven't seen the eldest since he was 8 months old.

We're all different of course but I never understood why my mum showed such little interest in her GC, and not being allowed to be a GM, I understand her attitude even less.

Nannarose Thu 12-Sep-19 18:44:33

Thanks Bridgeit (love thename!)