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Feeling used, feeling guilty

(88 Posts)
crazyH Thu 19-Jul-18 22:55:50

I have such mixed emotions. I feel I am being used by my daughter. She is divorced, has 2 teenage children, 15 and 16, who I absolutely adore. They are a very big part of my life. However, since the divorce, I find that my daughter is taking advantage of me. She works away a lot and for some reason, she leaves them with me for days on end. For whatever reason, recently, she hasn't asked her husband or his parents to have's always me. I think she had some disagreement with them. I am 74, on my own, not in the best of health, whereas her husband's parents are, touch wood, quite healthy, although slightly older than me. Her own father (my ex) doesn't do a thing for them. I don't think he has had them stay over for even one night.
Anyway, today she texted me to see if I will have them this Sunday night. I know she's going away for a week to France and I'm sure she will ask me to have the kids.
Having anticipated that, I texted a very fair but firm text, suggesting that her ex husband does some parenting as well, and not to expect me to do all of it.
Now, I feel guilty.....I don't want the kids to think I don't want them here ( she may have to tell them about my text). I feel awful and yet, I have to think about myself as well. Just wanted to open up to you all.... don't know what you think about it.

MissAdventure Thu 19-Jul-18 23:02:19

Well, I don't think you've done anything unreasonable, but maybe a text wasn't the best way to get the message across?
Its just that texts can come across differently than we meant them.

FlexibleFriend Thu 19-Jul-18 23:07:55

I also think a face to face conversation would have been better. You're certainly not being unreasonable but if she has he reasons she could tell you what they are. Do 15 and 16 year olds need much looking after? I think they should be looking after you.

MissAdventure Thu 19-Jul-18 23:16:43

I found my daughter needed more supervision at 15 than she had at 12.
She was likely to get up to all sorts of things if nobody was around.

crazyH Thu 19-Jul-18 23:24:06

Texting is the new way of communication in our family.....we see each other and have chats, but somehow these short, quick "conversations" are always by text.

Agree with MissAdventure.....15 year olds need "watching"😫

agnurse Fri 20-Jul-18 00:04:56

I think it's reasonable to say you can't take her children. It's not reasonable to say "Well, their dad needs to step up to the plate". That's not your call. You can't dictate who should be staying with them. For all you know their dad is not in a position to take them. His parents might not be either.

Bottom line: nothing wrong with saying no. VERY wrong to dictate who she should ask.

MissAdventure Fri 20-Jul-18 00:08:36

Well, I suppose it depends on how your daughter will react to the text?
Is she likely to be angered by it, or can you get together or talk on the phone about it more?
In short, will she fly off the handle?

crazyH Fri 20-Jul-18 00:23:06

Yes MissA.....she most likely will....safer to text ha😂

Yes, she does tend to fly off the handle, but in this instance I don't think she will, because she knows I help out a lot and very, very rarely say "no"

And btw Agnurse, I think I have every right to tell her that her ex needs to do more ......he is their Father. And, I do know, he and his parents are in a better position to look after them. As I said, there are two of them, and there's just one of me.

BlueBelle Fri 20-Jul-18 02:25:01

This is a hard one and it unfortunately may look to the children that they are a nuisance to you, It would have been better to explain before the knee jerk text that you want to have the children but no longer feel up to long periods as you are getting older
I ve recently had a 15 year old for ten days and it isn’t easy, as delightful as she is and she couldn’t really ‘ misbehave’ as she was away from all her peers and her known freedom I presume yours live nearby so you ll have all the going out, mates round etc
I think you need a heart to heart (NOT a text) saying I want you to share some of this child sitting with others (perhaps you are the only one she trusts) as I feel I m getting too old to do it all alone If you can’t face her to talk to then write a well thought out letter, but hasty texts can lead to huge misunderstandings and bad feeling
I think 13 to 18 are really, really hard ages to parent or grandparent and come with massive problems as they feel their feet, their freedom, their angst, their peer pressure but set the ‘rules’ BEFORE you get asked

agnurse Fri 20-Jul-18 03:16:08

OP while I understand you want to protect your daughter you CANNOT get involved in her relationship with her ex. That's between the two of them. In most divorces there is fault on both sides. You also can't dictate how much time his parents should be spending with the children. That's up to them.

You CAN state that you aren't able to take the children all of the time. That's reasonable. Then it's on their mother to determine with whom to leave them.

stella1949 Fri 20-Jul-18 07:01:15

I'd agree with agnurse - ex husbands rarely step up , in my experience, and your daughter doesn't need to be told that he should do more. Your "suggestion" would have been like a red rag to a bull. It's not your call to say what he should and shouldn't be doing.

You can certainly lay down a few ground rules about how often you can have the children, but text messages are not the way to approach such a topic. You'd have been better to have the girls this time, and then at a later date (when she isn't asking for anything) you could have coffee with her and explain how you are feeling too old to have them so often.

My only other thought , is that if you do refuse to have them, you may find that you'll see them less and less now. Is it worth the price you'll pay ? I often see posts on here about how grandparents never see their older grandchildren any more - refusing to look after them may lead to them thinking you don't want to see them at all. And whoosh they are gone and your relationship with them changes forever. Also your relationship with your DD. Weigh everything up - it's so easy to lose that relationship and so hard to get it back.

Luckylegs9 Fri 20-Jul-18 07:13:27

CrazyH, I can quite understand how you feel. I am getting to dislike texts as they can be interpreted wrongly, but it seems these days if you want to keep in touch you have to do it. Why don't you ring your daughter and say, sorry if my text came over as if I telling you what to do but when I got yours I was feeling a bit tired and say why.
You don't come over as dictatorial at all and she and your grandchildren know how much you love them, you show them all the time.

M0nica Fri 20-Jul-18 15:48:24

Why feel guilty. You are not in the best of health and find having them too much. Children that age should be safe enough to be expected to manage on their own at home for one night and within a year should be old enough and ugly enough not to need to be looked after at all.

If you think their father isn't doing enough, their mother is not exactly accepting all her responsibilities either. She and her ex brought these children into the world. They are responsible for their care. Grandparents are there to respond in an emergency, not provide her with a convenient dumping ground whenever she has to travel away for work or fancies time out without them..

FlexibleFriend Fri 20-Jul-18 15:48:26

I must have been incredibly lucky because my Sons at 15 were more than capable of looking after themselves and could be trusted completely. I went on holiday for a week when the youngest was 15 and left them to their own devices. If they needed any help their Dad was at the end of the phone and would have stepped in but it wasn't necessary.
Apart from that we don't know what kind of relationship you have with your Daughter so only you know what kind of things you can say to her but no you shouldn't have to pussyfoot around. I can't see ther's any harm in bringing Dad into the conversation which may even allow her to air any grievances she has with his role in their lives. It does sound as though you are bearing more than your fair share so if you feel it's too much then you should say so.

Nonnie Fri 20-Jul-18 16:18:21

I think BlueBelle may well be right, possible she trusts you more than anyone else. You don't say anything about the others you think should help, does your daughter have reason to be less comfortable leaving the children with them. So many women actually deny their ex access to the children so there could be such a problem which maybe you don't know about.

No point in telling you that you were wrong to text, to late to change that and I think luckylegs suggestion sound like a good idea.

luluaugust Fri 20-Jul-18 16:20:14

I expect you get asked the most because she feels the GC are safe with you and AC are notorious for not realising that their parents are ageing. Looks like a face to face chat sometime might be a good idea, bearing in mind that by next year neither child will really need looking after. You will probably then find you see much less of them anyway. If the ex hasn't done much up to now its unlikely he is suddenly going to step in, although he may want more contact when they are adults. If your health can take it I would make the most of this year.

mcem Fri 20-Jul-18 16:29:42

How can she be planning a week-long trip abroad if she hasn't already dealt with arrangements for the DCs?
It's ridiculous that she thinks she can just assume a full week of care.
I love having my GCs (9+8) but have to be realistic as there's only one of me!
For a long time I picked them up from school on Friday
- fed, bathed and entertained them until Sunday morning when their father picked them up.
I found I was exhausted every Sunday and effectively lost a day a week.
I had to say it was too much so now dad picks up after tea on Saturday, allowing me to clear up and collapse in a heap on Saturday evening but getting my Sundays back!
I hope that when they are 16+15 they can be alone overnight as long as mum/dad/gran is just a call away!

Bridgeit Fri 20-Jul-18 16:41:52

Please, please don’t feel guilty. I was going to say I don't know what has changed since we were young parents, but actually I do know, nice as they are a lot of adult children expect to have it all & expect Grandparents to be almost full time unpaid child minders ( not that being paid would make it any better & most of us wouldn’t want to be) & it’s just not on, it’s hard to be firm but you (we) have to be realistic & maybe that is a good way to start a conversation ie Saying something along the lines of :whilst I am happy to help out I think a week is too much responsibility so I’m afraid it’s not possible, Good luck,stay firm & don’t feel guilty

crazyH Fri 20-Jul-18 17:02:22

Thanks all....I really think she takes me for granted....I'm on my own, not much going on in my life ...dont get me wrong I have joined a seniors group, have quite a few friends. But I have never said "no" to her. They are my first two of 6 grandkids and I have been involved in looking after them, since they were born. But I was 16 years younger then.
She hasn't got in touch since my text. She realises I mean business. She doesn't know what's hit her. And I am sticking to my guns. As I suggested, she can ask their Dad to do his parenting bit.

Luckygirl Fri 20-Jul-18 17:26:34

TBH I do think that the text was perhaps not the best way of dealing with this. Maybe you need to sit down with her/them and say how much you love the children and how privileged you feel that she is happy to entrust them to you;but that sometimes you feel quite tired, so can you all talk about the best way of dealing with that; and also make plans for the French trip.

There will be a way through this; but face-to-face is definitely the way forward. A text can be misinterpreted - OK for emotion-free communications, but not for this situation.

sodapop Fri 20-Jul-18 20:45:38

Luckygirl is exactly right, I can't add any more to her advice.

Googoogoo1 Sat 21-Jul-18 08:05:49

Hi CrazyH
I also think you should consider speaking face to face with her. You might need to set that up by speaking to her on the phone. Perhaps she thinks it's company for you and if you aren't in the best of health they are the ones keeping an eye on you. Or perhaps she really does trust your judgement better than the others. You are the one she is closest too. Personally I wouldn't let a stand off continue as it can lead to permanent damage. I hope you find a way forward that suits everyone. All the best G

holdingontometeeth Sat 21-Jul-18 08:19:24

Glad you are sticking to your guns. Face to face would have been better.
Sooner or later you will have to put yourself first. I hope that you have decided the time is now.
It is widespread our children leaving our grandchildren with us and expecting us to be there at very short notice.
I was at Knowsley Safari Park the other day with my 4 year old granddaughter and saw a couple of grandparents with their granddaughter.
" Free child minding service " I quipped.
" Yes, but its certainly not free, is it? Its expensive. " was the reply.

Mormor2018 Sat 21-Jul-18 08:21:25

I’ve said it before here and I’ll say it again, one of my 7 grandchildren has a medical problem. I have ALWAYS been there for her and her mum (she was married to the child’s father till the child was eight) what we found out after..... well. At any rate this grandchild is my soulmate. My husband and I used travel a lot, but have decided, with the new medical complications, we are going to curtail this for awhile as she and her mother need us. (I am 67). I collect her from school every day and take her home. If her brother or partner isn’t there, I stay till one of them is. Her brother is gorgeous and tells me every day that he loves me so much. There is always a kiss and cuddle when I come and when I leave. (Not bad for a nearly 17 year old apprentice)! I’m even going on holidays with my daughter, her daughter and partner, so that my daughter can have some fun with her partner, he is lovely. As I told my girls when they were growing up...a real baby isn’t something you can dump in the toy box when you don’t want to be a mum anymore. Once you are a mother, you are a mother for the rest of your life! Particularly, with daughters. To quote... A son is a son till he takes him a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for all of your (her) life. You are lucky, there are many out there who would give their right arm to be in your position! Sending a text was cold.

Barmeyoldbat Sat 21-Jul-18 08:29:51

I don't think you should feel guilty about anything you have said and done. You do have yourself and your health to care for. The thing that puzzles me is why she is having so much time away, is there a new man on the scene, is the holiday in France time away with him or just fun few days with friends and how long has this been going on, nothing wrong with this but for how long will this go on? I think maybe a heart to heart with your daughter