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How much help should I give my daughter?

(39 Posts)
lucyinthesky Wed 06-Nov-13 19:08:27

I live in Paris with my new partner (after a horrendous marital breakup four years ago) My eldest daughter has a one year old gorgeous baby buy adn I make sure I go back to see them every month. However, he has suffered a lot with ill health (nothing serious thankfully) like ear infections, stomach viruses etc) s much so that every other week he has something wrong.

My daughter now works 3 days a week, luckily from home, so that if her little boy is unwell she can collect him from nursery, which he loves, and is only 10 minutes walk away. Her problem is that if he is at home unwell she can't work and gets behind.

This afternoon she face booked a public message that she is having a problem with him not taking his meds (he currently has anther ear infection and tonsillitis, on top of being given his MMR last Friday) and of course today she hasn't worked at all and is desperate to catch up.

I replied privately that if she needed me to I could get Eurostar tomorrow morning and return back to Paris at the weekend but it was £130 (which I don't have, on top of already booking my fare home the following week already.) Her reply was 'I don't have the money Mum and Ceri (her husband) is off on Friday' Not sure how to take this - if she needs me then am I wrong in thinking it is up to her to offer to pay half my fare? As her husband is home on Friday anyway she can catch up with work then, so I am not going, but how do other long distance grans cope when their family needs them?

Thanks for any advice!

Icyalittle Wed 06-Nov-13 20:19:31

lucy you can't be there all the time, much as your heart would like you to be. You are doing an amazing job already by being there for her as often as you are. She knows that too - if she really, really needed you, she would have contacted you direct, not put a public message on FB. It pulls at your heart strings, of course it does, whenever you can't be there, but she understands the money issues just the same as you, and also the fact that you both have lives to lead. Keep enjoying the precious time you share every month.
(P.s. I go through agonies of guilt whenever I feel I can't be there for one of mine too).

Hannoona Wed 06-Nov-13 20:27:08

I think it was a general throw away public message on facebook, the kind of thing a mum would respond to, but the kind that didn't really say much other than the baby is under the weather and I'm behind in my work.

Of course you want to go and help but it wont be the end of the world if you cant, but the fact you would have gone finances permitting is all that matters - your girl knows you are there for her in heart and soul.

lucyinthesky Wed 06-Nov-13 20:30:41

Thank you lcyalittle and Hannoona. I just felt guilty that I didn't just jump on the train, I guess. And she's learning the hard way that being a Mum is a 24/7 role.

Agus Wed 06-Nov-13 21:02:14

Lucy. I have been in exactly the same position as you, feeling guilty that I wasn't just round the corner, but, your daughter, just like mine and you and I too, will get through, ie, what couldn't be done during the day, we caught up with at night time. It's the way we all learned. My daughter was delighted I came home to see her and new GD every 8/10 weeks so what you are doing is extremely thoughtful. This is your DDs life and her family now. You also have a life. Hope this helps and things all work out well.

lucyinthesky Thu 07-Nov-13 08:59:19

Thank you Agus - that does make me feel better. I know that if I think rationally it is her life an her family (which she chose to have!) so if it's difficult sometimes she has to learn to cope as best she can, as we did before her.

I had no mother or mother in law to help which is why maybe I feel that I should be there more!

Hannoona Thu 07-Nov-13 09:02:22

Yes, I understand that Lucy. Due to my geography I just had to manage quite a lot of the time but I know my mum found that very hard to live with. As it is my daughter in law is Romanian and I'm really conscious about remembering how it felt and making sure she gets as much of me as my girls do. I'd hate them to have to go solo but sometimes there's just no other option available.

glammanana Thu 07-Nov-13 09:19:46

I felt so guilty when we moved abroad some years ago not being near my DD to help & support her when the DGC where small but I made sure we had constant contact and like you I got back to UK on a regular basis I did find however that starting my own travel fund helped in case of any real emergency just putting a set amount of euro's aside "just in case" and you would be surprised how it mounted up luckily I never needed to use it but I had the knowledge it was there if needed.
Your DD is still getting used to having a baby to care for and he is bound to feel under the weather after having his injections (poor little man) she will gain more confidence as he gets older and by the time she has another little one she will wonder why on earth she worried I know mine did.

NfkDumpling Thu 07-Nov-13 09:32:35

My DD living across the other side of the country throws posts like this onto FB. She doesn't actually expect me or her MiL to drop everything and go over, she just needs to know people are there to give sympathy. When she has been desperate for help she rings.

Agus Thu 07-Nov-13 09:38:57

Pleased that's helped you a bit Lucy. Sometimes we just need reminded that our children are not in fact children anymore and sometimes we are not really doing them any favours by trying to solve their problems. They have to grow and learn to solve things for themselves but we will always be there for support just not running their lives for them.

When I had my own 2 DDs, my Mum lived nearby, but, I was the one who chose to have my children so they were my responsibility not my Mums and I personally would have felt a failure if I could not raise my own children. I know everyone's circumstances are different but that was my experience.

Keep thinking rationally grin

gracesmum Thu 07-Nov-13 09:56:37

Don't we all feel the guilt? I have dropped everything in an emergency - DGS ill and Dd in London SIL in Manchester so nursery ring me 75 miles away , or the time DD had pneumonia and 2 little ones under 3 but there have been times when DH's health has made it impossible and I was never so glad as when I heard her say "It's OK Mum, my children , my problem "

Gagagran Thu 07-Nov-13 10:50:05

My DDiL, breastfeeding, got pneumonia and was rushed into hospital when DGD was only a few weeks old. We then lived 200 miles away in the north but my lovely boss told me to get off straight away and ride to the rescue. Baby couldn't have breast milk because of the intravenous antibiotics DDiL was on so I had to get this tiny hungry baby weaned onto a bottle and I can still see those lovely big brown eyes gazing up at me as she guzzled her formula. She has always been very special to me ever since. I whispered to her that she would not remember those special moments but that I would never forget and I haven't.

lucyinthesky Thu 07-Nov-13 13:41:07

It wasn't really an emergency this time of course - just that she finds it difficult to cope (didn't we all!) However when he was in hospital for two days last month she didn't tell me anything until she'd brought him home!

Today's update is that he's just managed a whole bowl of pasta at lunchtime so he's obv OK after all smile

Agus Thu 07-Nov-13 14:29:37


Atqui Thu 07-Nov-13 14:52:00

My daughter and granddaughter- 15 months -live a five hour drive away, and even worse journey by train,so I sympathise.Daughter teaches 3 days a week and her DH is self employed , so illness is a problem. We can't help but feel their pain and anguish if we are the worrying type. I agree that many young mothers post their worries on forums and get support from their online friends, but don't always need us to drop everything and help out. I know that if there was no other solution my daughter certainly tell me! It is hard being so far away, but I tell myself that if I was still,working, I wouldn't be able to go anyway!!

rosesarered Thu 07-Nov-13 21:38:35

well said Agus! I agree totally. We all brought up our own children without help [most of us] if it's a real emergency then yes, ride to the rescue but not otherwise, we are not enabling our daughters by doing too much for them; and people! We have lives ourselves.

nightowl Thu 07-Nov-13 22:23:37

I think we are shaped by our own experiences. I was extremely lucky in that my mum helped me a lot in bringing up my own children, and perhaps because of that I always knew I would help my daughter as much as I could. I would do more if it wasn't for the fact that I am still working, and hope to do more if I ever manage to retire. Of course, if you live at the other end of the country, or even in a different country altogether, it's not possible to drop everything and get there in a moment.

I truly believe 'it takes a village to raise a child'. The pressures of modern life have sadly removed that village in most cases.

coastwallker Fri 08-Nov-13 07:37:15

I had the same problem as Gagagran - daughter 3 hours away was rushed into hospital and I dropped everything to go and look after the 2 year old and 5 week old. Both he and she have had health problems since then and I have spent a lot of time there. But he is now 5 months old and I they are fine and I am having to pull back a little and drop down to my regular once a month trip. It's hard but they do need to be independent.

I think now their support network is online and my daughter certainly has loads of FB friends with babies the same age which means she has instant advice and moral support when she is struggling.

It is really hard to get the balance right and I know if they lived nearer things would be different and we would certainly be looking after the boys a lot more. But it isn't and we have to get on with our own lives and let them cope.

JessM Fri 08-Nov-13 07:49:56

Is it guilt gracesmum or is it that we really want to feel useful and to take care of our kids?

lucyinthesky Fri 08-Nov-13 11:45:56

Coastwalker - I suppose I should feel grateful that she has so many FB 'friends' to support her but I guess I am a little jealous? So yes JessM there is something in what you say about wanting to feel useful too.

There's a great article in today's Independent that covers this situation about 'friends' btw

Nelliemoser Fri 08-Nov-13 20:02:49

OK! My current "crisis" DDs 10 yr old car has just failed its MOT with an £800 repair bill. Even my DH would reckon that enough is probably enough on the spending good money after bad basis.

She should get some PX on it its not high mileage, but it seems to be costing a heck of a lot every year.

They are already a one car family. I know DD is virtually working to keep her experience up and paying the nursery fees. She is a nurse working shifts including nights at a hospital about 4 miles away. Which at least makes public transport very difficult indeed. She really does need a car ASAP.

I could afford to buy her a reasonable car but I wonder if I being too indulgent. DS is much better off and doesn't need this help.

I don't really know how much spare money they have each month.
Should I do this and try and arrange with them an interest free loan or what. I don't know quite how to deal with this. I don't sort of feel I want to bail them out of every disaster without them making some effort. AIBU in that thought. Suggestions please.

GadaboutGran Fri 08-Nov-13 20:35:52

I'd either give them some time to work it out so they have chance to practise their skills or ask "Is there any way you would like us to help?" - then have a discussion or if you really have the money ask if she'd like some of her inheritance now rather than waiting - but take it out of whatever share she will have. Our DD & DS have very different fortunes so we help DD now within reason while she really needs it & I worried about the safety of the grandkids. I've had a think about what we did in our day - we had no financial, practical & little emotional help from either sets of parents & few nurseries so I only did work that was truly flexible in their first 3 years (I was still frowned on even for that); & there were more mums at home to help each other. As soon as I did a pt-time job they all went down with chicken pox so mainly me, but helped by Mr Gad, stayed at home until they recovered. Times have changed.

petra Fri 08-Nov-13 20:46:56

I would offer the interest free loan,Nelliemoser.

Hannoona Fri 08-Nov-13 21:57:44

I would offer the means to a car by going down the inheritance route for the simple reason theres probably no funds available to pay back an interest free loan. If there was I think they would be looking at a new car already, or they'd pay the repair bill and nurse things along a wee while longer.

ps Sat 09-Nov-13 09:07:01

Lucy you obviously do all you can by making the journey every month, the expense must be horrendous. Sadly we would all feel some degree of guilt when circumstances restrict us from doing all we can to help our children or grandchildren but our children do need to understand that being a parent carries with it certain responsibilities and restrictions. Hopefully your daughter will be in a position to call upon other avenues of help and assistance until such time as you can return on one of your scheduled trips.
I'm afraid I don't do facebook or other social media other than this forum so do not know why anyone would advertise their everyday problems to presumably the whole world unless of course it is meant for that purpose similar to an NHS helpline I am guessing, if there is such a thing.
Hopefully your grandson's problems will be addressed by his doctor soon and he will then enjoy a healthier happy existence. Good luck.