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Relationship with my children

(13 Posts)
Rojaloba Sat 20-Jun-20 09:33:33

I'm new here and looking for advice or maybe reassurance.

I have three children two older daughters who are both single parents with two children (my grandchildren are 23, 22, 14 and 12) and my son is in his late twenties and is single.

My son left as a teenager and it emerged he had mental health issues that I had tried to address when he lived with me but failed as he would not see a doctor. I am divorced form his father and he supported my son saying there was nothing wrong. My daughters are from my first marriage.

When my son left I had no contact with him for years (his choice). I met a lovely man and we live together. He has three children he doesn't see as his ex-wife doesn't agree with him living with me. Initially my daughters were welcoming but I soon realised that one of them expected him to be 'grandad' to her then young children (not just in name, in terms of school runs etc). He is quite a lot younger then me and didn't want this, and neither did I as I think honesty is the best policy. They already have two grandads.

Due to various reasons, including SIL not liking cats, me working full time and my refusal to cut my hours and look after my grandchildren, they have stopped coming to see me. There is a running joke about me not liking people in my home, but I have never said this, I have always welcomed them, but it was always uncomfortable with them making fun of me and my cooking.

I didn't make this situation, I live in the same house and am the same person. Both my ex-husbands cheated and left me, so I don't think they blame me for that. When my son reappeared (so I would be a guarantor) I started to feel like I didn't want him in my home. I love him and want to see him, but deep down he has hurt me. So have my daughters. So now I see them to eat out and occasionally at their houses. I see them about four times a month and my son less as he lives far away. We all message and speak on the phone several times a week and get on ok that way. I feel like I have set a fair boundary.

My partner and I are very happy, I have a very happy life. I have space to do things I like and be myself. But recently my older daughter told me that my younger daughter resents that I am 'not a proper gran' and she will be different with her grandchildren. I feel devastated and tried to talk to her but she was very dismissive. My partners mum has, without knowing, added to this with her running 'family is everything' narrative when I mention my work.

I have had counselling and my therapist said I have co-dependency issues particularly around my son who has created a 'I'll leave again if you don't do what I want' and suggested I work on being independent from them.

But I feel bad. I feel selfish for having my own life and a great relationship. It's almost as if I can't choose what relationship I want with them or my grandchildren, almost as if it's a 'a mother's love is unconditional' and I should drop what I am doing and do things for them. It's like I don't fit with a 'grandma' or even 'mum' mould they have.

I know deep down this is about things like not having my grandchildren sleep over like other grandparents. I often get long stories about how other children stay with grandparents related to me. I do take my grandchildren out and I want to take them on holiday. My elder grandchildren have told me recently they love and respect me and see me as a role model.

I am also always giving my children money to help out.

It seems like nothing I can ever do is enough. Last month, in the middle of lockdown, I went to my daughters house for my grandsons birthday (social distancing in the garden which I was ridiculed for). In advance she had sent me a link to a present he wanted that cost £75 which I bought. When I got there he snatched it off me, didn't say thank you. I was there for about 45 minutes then my daughter said, 'Do you want a cup of tea or did you say you were going?'

What I feel like doing is having some time to myself and living my life, but I am afraid that will just cause more problems and snipes.

With this COVID situation I am worried about my pension and I can't give them any more money. It's getting to the point where I feel like I am being 'bribed' then discarded over and over again. Over the past five years I have given them 15k between them. My partner doesn't even know about this as we have separate accounts.

It's a big mess but any advice would be much appreciated. Or am I wrong?

Sorry this is so long but thank you for allowing me to get it out.

OceanMama Sat 20-Jun-20 09:46:06

That sounds exhausting. Trying to please everyone and having expectations put on you. What is a 'proper grandma' anyway? There is no such thing. Do you feel like they are emotionally blackmailing you?

I think you are right to have your own life and relationships. You have done your time raising them, now it's time for you to have some time to do what you want. There is nothing wrong with having boundaries on your life, time and money. If they react badly, that's not because you have done anything wrong but that they feel entitled to what is yours.

Oopsadaisy3 Sat 20-Jun-20 10:21:19

I think you’ve done your bit and now your daughters want you to take on some of their responsibilities with their children.
But you work and have a life of your own, you see them 4 times a month which is great. I think you should stop handing out money to them as you say you have your pension and old age to start thinking about.
Let’s see how your youngest daughter gets on when she is expected to do all the running around for her daughter and Grandchildren, plus buy expensive gifts.

TrendyNannie6 Sat 20-Jun-20 10:34:23

I think your children are being disrespectful to be honest, making fun of you and your cooking, daughter saying did you want a cup of tea or did you say you were going! Grandson snatched present off you without saying Thankyou, daughter saying you are not a proper gran, Charming! You work full time, you are in a happy relationship which is great, so many people aren’t happy, you have given them all money, you see them a lot, I think they are asking a awful lot of you. And rude, you do have your own life as well, I wouldn’t be handing out money like that, especially how they are, you have time to yourself you have brought your children up, you are entitled to, I certainly wouldn’t be worrying about causing more problems and snipes, best of luck to you

V3ra Sat 20-Jun-20 11:31:06

"My elder grandchildren have told me recently they love and respect me and see me as a role model."

Hold onto that wonderful compliment!

It sounds to me that your daughters are jealous of you.
You work full-time, you have a (younger!) partner you're happy with.
So you're not their text-book idea of a granny, but why should you be?
You are you, they can be the granny they want to be in the future.

I'm sad for you at the lack of respect and appreciation they show you.
I wouldn't feel like being so generous with money in future.
You definitely need to focus on your financial future and pension while you're still working.

Hold your head high Rojaloba 😊

paddyanne Sat 20-Jun-20 11:36:33

I'm of the opinion partners come and go but children you gave birth to and raised are yours for keeps .I know that doesn't fit in with todays multi partner society but its how I think
.No man would ever come before my children
.I know I am exceptionally lucky I have been married to my OH for 45 years and he thinks exactly the same as me and cant wait to get back to normal with GC and AC popping in at all hours .If your daughters have always felt they had to take a back seat to the men in your life then they will keep a distace.
They may want you to be a granny to their children and feel let down that theres a "younger" man who is more important to you .Its not wrong of them its just how they feel and I think an awful lot of effort would be needed to sort it to everyones satisfaction.

Rojaloba Sat 20-Jun-20 12:25:43

Wow thank you that is so helpful (except for the 'no man would ever come before my children comment' - my children definitely don't take a back seat - that's the whole point of the post).

You are making this so much clearer for me. I am new to gransnet and I have now read some other posts and actually I see them and do much more that some are able or even allowed to.

Even writing the post made me see how ludicrous the situation is! I'm going to make some changes and not feel as guilty.

I think what's happened is I have been too facilitating for too long and now they expect it. Maybe they should ask dad for money now and step mum for childcare (I'm laughing just thinking about that scenario).

Lots to think about. You are right, this is me being me. I was so lost in expectation I didn't see that.

Lolo81 Sat 20-Jun-20 14:31:20

I see a lot in your post about what you have given your AC/GC financially. Whilst most people would love to give gifts and financial support to their family, it’s not the be all end all. Do you have an emotional relationship with your family? If you have substituted giving your time and attention with giving gifts then perhaps that is the root cause? I don’t say this to upset you in any way, but I had a similar situation growing up. My paternal grandparents were more affluent and chose to show this by gift giving, whilst my maternal grandparents gave me time and affection (they were nowhere near as affluent). I, as an adult chose to spend more time with and provide care for my maternal grandparents especially as their health faded and was devastated when they died. I was fond of my paternal grandparents, and did have a sense of familial obligation to them but no deep emotional closeness despite how “good they were to me”.
My point here is that whilst I’m sure this was in no way intentional on your behalf this has become the norm for you and your AC/GC. Maybe try reaching out and acknowledging this? Try to build an actual relationship not built upon gifts but instead mutual interests. Again I’m not trying to upset you this was just my experience and may not be what’s happened here at all, just another perspective.

EllanVannin Sat 20-Jun-20 15:23:38

I'm with paddyanne here.
My children and their happiness came first.
It speaks for itself seeing as I've been widowed since 1994 without another man in my life, which I know would have turned the family on its head if I'd done so. But that's me. I preferred harmony rather than a permanent thorn in my side.

Non, Je ne regretted rien.

Rojaloba Sat 20-Jun-20 17:05:25

grin I am clearly quite the scarlet woman smile

MissAdventure Sat 20-Jun-20 17:15:41

Ideally,a grown up child will be happy if their parent is, so there shouldn't be any "putting anyone before".
Grown up "children" should be independent enough not to want "mothering"constantly.

Starblaze Sat 20-Jun-20 17:30:38

I think that you are allowed your own life. I can understand that your children may be disappointed that you aren't a bigger role in theirs or that your boyfriend isn't wanting a closer relationship. I also think even adult children sometimes get stuck in the child role and have unreasonable expectations of parents.

All those things can be true at the same time and not necessarily anyone's fault. Theres room for everyone's feelings.

I think you need to decide what you are and aren't comfortable giving in terms of time and money, make sure it's fair to everyone and just stick to it going forward. You are entitled to your own boundaries.

You mentioned codependancy, maybe it would be a good idea to read up on it as it might help you understand this dynamic you have going on and how it's affected things with your children.

OceanMama Sun 21-Jun-20 00:20:01

I don't think having a man in your life means putting children second. These children are grown up with their own families and lives. Why shouldn't the grandparent also have their own life? It should be their time after raising their family. My father and mother are both still alive, but if one passed, it would be selfish of me to expect them to stay single if they wanted some companionship.