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This is my first post here, and I joined actually to get some feedback from you all on kind of a delicate situation about my parents. Sorry if this is long but I wanted to give you the full picture so you can really help - because I need it.
My parents are nearly 70 and 66. They have two older grandchildren (both in HS) and now my daughter Emily who turned 2 in July. I knew when I conceived that they likely would not want to keep Emily overnight; they are in good health overall, but my dad had a kidney removed about 2 months before Emily was born and just gets tired more easily than he used to. My husband is a stay at home dad; he emigrated here from England so his mom and sister are both back in the UK.
What I didn't expect was for them to NEVER ask for time with her. The only time they see her is when I take her over there most Saturdays. At that, I am always there unless I have a quick errand to run. My sister and her two teenagers are usually there too and help with Emily. The only times they keep her beside that is if my husband has a doctor appointment or the rare times I asked them to keep her for a few hours so we could go to dinner and a movie, etc.
Any 'overnight' visits have been handled by my good friend Karen. The last one was two weekends ago when we went up to Chicago on a Friday morning. My mom had told me that they'd like to pick Emily up on Saturday and have her for a few hours which was fine by me. They had her from 11 - 4:30. However - when they dropped Emily off with Karen, they proceeded to tell Karen how my husband and I 'had no idea how exhausted it makes them' to keep Emily.
When Karen told me that, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I have gone out of my way NOT to overburden them with babysitting and have only asked when we have no other options (I am working and he has an appointment) or when Karen can't keep her and we'd like to go out for a few hours and have a date. I thought that's what grandparents were for. Not to mention that I didn't even ask them to come get her on the weekend we were gone - they volunteered!
At this point, I am angry and frankly hurt by their selfishness, let alone the way they sort of dogged us out to our babysitter instead of saying such a thing to my face. I can't tell you how hurt and upset I am to be made to feel like my child is something to be endured, not enjoyed. I could see it if we thrust her on them every time they turned around, but that simply is not the case. My husband never gets a break from her, and has been so down about it lately that I made him go to the doctor for depression. Given my work week and commute time, there are about 45/50 hours a week that I simply can't help him either.
In the face of this, I want to stop making the 'every Saturday' visit a routine thing and I also want them to know their 'message' got back to me. I feel if they want to see Emily, they should ask for time and it shouldn't always be when it's easiest for them. But how do I go about this? I don't even know where to begin or what to say. I'm still so stung by it that I've had to avoid talking to them all together because I'm afraid I'll say something I'll regret.
I can sympathize with your situation because although it is not exactly the same, I have felt some of the same feelings towards my parents in this area. My dad could care less whether he sees his grandchildren, I think he could care less about their existence to be honest - he just wants to do his own thing so I never ever ask him to do anything - I wouldn't trust him to babysit anyway, I know how inattentive to his own kids he was when he was supposed to watch us on rare occasions. As for my mom, she will watch the girls occasionally if I ask but I feel bad about it because a lot of times it feels like I'm putting her out - and I don't even ask that often - only if it is something important. Sometimes she asks to spend time with both girls or just my oldest but it is always on her terms, sometimes only ending up being an hour or so before she gives some lame excuse like "I need to go and make grandpa dinner" to get back out the door. It is no uncommon to go weeks without her seeing the girls and for my dad, it could be months.
Anyway, I just talked to one of my girlfriends about this because she has a similar situation with her mom not being very involved or helping out at all. My friend said she has just come to terms with the fact that this is just how her mom is, but that luckily she has someone else that is there for her in this area so she just focuses on that and feels lucky for his help and involvement (her step dad). I know I'm not going to change my parents so I just have to accept it. On the other hand, I may say something to my mom about how it comes across that she really doesn't want to help when I ask for her babysitting time and see what she says - maybe I'm misunderstanding her or maybe there is an issue I don't know about that would help me see things from her point of view. All and all, I realize that I just have to accept it if they don't want to be very involved, that they raised their kids and while it would be nice for them to be there for mine, it just might not be. I can tell you this though, I'm going to be one kick-***** grandparent because I'm going to be everything I hoped for them to be.
Sorry if I'm rambling ... to get to the point of advice for you... I would say that you need to have a conversation with your mom about the situation and what she said and find out where she is coming from and how it makes you feel but you need to wait until you can come into the conversation without anger and in a place where you can hear both sides. If you come into it spewing anger it will just be a fight and result in a lot of hurt feelings on both sides and just make things worse instead of better. It sounds like you have a great friend who is there for you in this area and I would be very thankful for her and if your parents can't be there, just be happy that she is. I know I am oversimplifying, emotions run a lot deeper so it isn't as easy as just accepting the situation as it is, but we can't change others just because we want them to be different so we're stuck - either we can hold a grudge which will eat us up, or we can try to come to a place of understanding and acceptance and move on with what we've got.
Best of luck! It is difficult for sure!
Last edited by FamilyShorty; September 25th, 2012 at 06:18 PM.
Thanks very much for your reply. I'm sorry to hear you struggle with similar issues, and that your father seems so disinterested in his grand children. He will regret that one day I think. Thankfully my parents are not that way.
I have done what you said in that I have purposefully not talked to my mom about this yet while I am still kind of mad. I don't think the hurt will ever go away really but oh well.
What I struggle with the most is trying to reconcile the truth of the situation (that we only ask them to keep her on pretty rare occasions) versus her saying we don't understand how 'tiring' it is. If we didn't understand that, we'd ask them to keep her all the time instead of here and there. But maybe trying to be logical about their illogical thinking is part of my problem. I mainly just want us all to be honest with each other, and it seems like we're starting out in a place of dishonesty given how they evaluate their involvement with her. So coming to that place of understanding is hard for me.
I have tried to do better since I wrote the original post in being thankful for the sitters we do have, and recognizing that my parents are their own people with their own problems. But I still never thought keeping my daughter on occasion would be one of their problems. Feedback like yours is helping me to walk this path, however slowly...!
I just wanted to say that FamilyShorty offered some really great advice. I think it's important you talk to your mom/parents when you're ready, but at the same time, you might have to just accept this is how they feel, even if you don't understand.
Maybe it's a cultural or generation gap issue. My in-laws are similar and it's not because they don't enjoy their grandchildren, it's just that their parents weren't very involved either, so they think that is normal. Dh and I decided to step back and let them initiate visits with the kids, and eventually they got the hint.
While it was crappy of them to talk behind your back, in all fairness, I can see how a day with a toddler can be exhausting for people their age...
Yeah, I can understand that too which is why I didn't ask them to come get her that day, and had a babysitter there who was fine if they didn't come get her. It was their decision to both pick her up and how long to keep her.
I think I am going to do what you suggested and let them start initiating things. Gone are the days of me thinking it was ok to drop her over there for two hours while my husband has a doctor appointment. I'll just go home and keep her and then work late. I'd rather that than be accused of being inconsiderate about how they feel.