16 answers

Daughter Never Wants to Leave Grandparents

I am a 31 year old single mother to a 3 1/2 year old little girl. She loves to spend time with my parents. My father picks her up from daycare everyday and she spends time with them for 2 to 3 hours before I get done work. She also spends the night at their house (it seems like more than she stays home more recently) and we visit just about every weekend. About a month and a half ago, I hurt my back and was on bed rest for about a week to two weeks. During this time, we pretty much lived with my parents and my mom was her primary caregiver. Lately, when I get done work and go to pick her up, she fights and screams and cries that she is not leaving. I don't know what to do. My parents are wonderful and would do anything for her. I know they love her and hate to see her cry but when I take her to leave and she is screaming and crying, they tell me I am wrong and mean. There are time when I give in and let her stay, or even end up spending the night there with her. WHAT DO I DO??? I want my child to be close to her grandparents, but I want her home with me. Please help...

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More Answers

Unfortunately, every time you stay or let her stay, she is learning "if I rebell enough I get my way". Your parents are hurting the situation, too, by calling you mean and wrong. She apparently gets what she wants at their house while she has rules at home. Yep, she likes their house better :) When your daughter is not around, let them know that they need to support you. From now on, do NOT give in. When you say it's time to go, it's time to go. You are the big person. When it's time to go don't say anything, go and put your things in the car so that your hands are empty. Empty hands are best when carrying a squirming child :) Go inside and let her know it's time to give hugs and say bye. As soon as she starts to act up, gently and firmly give her one warning to behave and give hugs. If she obeys react in a happy way and head out to the car. If not, pick her up immediately like you would normally carry her, have your parents kiss her, and leave. If your PARENTS start to act up as well, then tell them "Love you, see you tomorrow (or whenever)" in as cheerful voice you can manage, walk out the door and buckle her in the car. It may take many times to get everyone used to the new way of doing things, but is necessary. Putting her in time out at Gma & Gpa's just gets her extra time at their house and by the time you get home it's been too long between action and discipline for her age and will just seem mean to her. Just placing her in the car instead of a timeout is best.

Right now it's just at Grandma & Grandpa's house. The longer she uses tantrums as her way of getting what she wants the harder to break her of it later. She will start this at other places, too: McDonald's, friends' homes, at the store when she wants a candy or toy. None of us like being the "bad guy", but sometimes it is necessary. Just be constant and she will learn. Making her go home with you will NOT cut her relationship with her grandparents.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

If your parents "would do anything for her," they'd dramatically reduce her dismay if they can help her be emotionally ready for the switch. Ask them to help with the transition by letting her know you'll be picking her up in half an hour, and helping her to finish whatever activity she's involved in. Have an activity prepared for her to come home to, and ask your parents to talk it up as though it's every bit as appealing as being at their house. I can see where they'd think it's wrong and mean for you to take your crying daughter home. And it's equally wrong and mean for them not to help her look forward to your return.

It sounds like they have become as attached to your daughter as she is to them. I hope you'll acknowledge how important the bond is all around.

You may find some real help in the steps offered by a process called Non-Violent Communication. It teaches you how to recognize and affirm the feelings and needs of other people, while being clear and non-confrontational about your own feelings and needs. My husband and I have both learned the process, and find it helpful with "difficult" family situations and highly-emotional people. I hope you'll google the term to see the basic process explained, and sources of books and classes. (We haven't taken any classes – just using the book has worked well for us.)

2 moms found this helpful

I have experienced a similar situation...in our case it was probably because Grandma bought the kids stuff every time they visited (frequent), gave them all kinds of sweets and junk food, and also rarely said no to anything...and then she got a dog...it was all play and no rules.
Anyway, try not to let it get to you. She is not rejecting you. A lot of kids have trouble with transitions, especially if they are in the middle of something fun.
She will grow out of this, but for now, do not give in. Make it clear how long she is staying and what time the visit will end so she can be prepared. When you come to pick her up, say, "Goodbye Grandma and Grandpa, thank you, we will see you again soon!", in a cheerful tone. By doing this, you are modeling the behavior you want her to have.
Have a serious talk with your parents, and let them know that encouraging tantrums is not helpful at all, and that you expect them to support you in helping your daughter to learn how to express her feelings appropriately and transition from a visit back to her home.
Also, I would stop the overnight visits for a while, if you can. If you can't stop it, just reduce them drastically. The overnight visits may be confusing her as to where she lives---you said yourself it "seems like" she is there more than home, recently---and if it seems that way to you, imagine how it seems to a preschooler with little sense of time!

2 moms found this helpful

I think it is very wrong of your parents for them to tell you that you are wrong and mean. She is your daughter and belongs with you. Kids always cry for something and just because parents don't give them what they want, doesn't make the parent mean. You should not give in and let her stay or stay there with her. If you give in, then your daughter "wins" and she will keep up this behavior. I disagree with those that said you should move in with your parents. That won't solve the problem. I think you should see if you could find someone else to watch her for those couple of hours just for like a week to get her off this habit. Even if you don't, if you don't want to hurt your parents feelings or don't have anybody else, please DO NOT give in to her. She will stop soon as long as you don't give in to her crying. Maybe you could designate one day a week where she could stay over, and tell her ahead of time that on a certain day she can stay, but every other day she has to come home with you.

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds to me like she needs some time with you and some time away from your parents. She's starting to see you as the babysitter and them as the parents. Also make sure that when she is with them, she isn't being completely spoiled. I can certainly understand the attachment, but it may be a good idea to have her spend less time with them so she can reattach to you

1 mom found this helpful

I too have a similiar "problem." In my case, I am divorced and my son will be 4 in August. My mom used to have him overnight every Thursday as well as other nights' pick ups from school. Since March, when his dad wanted 1/2 custody of him, my mom lost Thursday nights (wed/thurs he is with his dad) along with every other weekend. My parents then only get to see him every other weekend and then Mon, Tues when he is with me. Of course these weekends they offer and offer to have him stay over and I too get to sleep at my parents if I want to be with him. Believe me, I try to not give in -- Sundays are a mess with me pulling him out of there -- but I do it because he's got to be here in our house with me. Just as I insisted that his father set up a home for our son as well.
My parents understand my side, but really miss my son. He is their only grandchild and they have even renovated their house allowing us our own seperate rooms and a play room for my son.
I am hoping that this will get easier with time -- If I stick to my guns....
But my parents also have been trying to get me to move in with them (with the renovation, we'd have our own "wing" of the house).. that's pressure, hah?

1 mom found this helpful

How is she treated at your parents house? My guess is like a little spoiled princess who gets what she wants when she wants it. This is how most grandparents treat their grandchildren. Of course your daughter doesn't want to leave.

The absolute worst thing you can do is to give into her tantrums. You teaching her that her behavior is acceptable. You need to be firm and when you say its time to leave, mean it. If necessary, pick her up and drag her to the car.

As for your parents, you need to sit down and have a talk with them. Tell them that you really appreciate their help and that you want them to spend time with your daughter, but you also have things you need to do at home.

1 mom found this helpful

I had the same problem with both my girls who are 16 and 9, my son who is 2 loves going to see them but doesn't make a big stink about leaving. I would not EVER give in and stay there with her ir allow her to stay. You need to explain that when it is time to go home, it is time to go home. You also need to tell your parents to explain this to her as well. My mother respected my decisions and thats part of the problem if your parents don't. Your child is close to your parents and thats why she wants to stay, but she also has a home with her mother. My kids are STILL extremely close to my mom and my 9 yr old still tells me she isn't going home and begs to stay there and some nights we give in but some we don't. There is nothing you can do about it really, and at 31/2 you will have to deal with the temper tantrums, but just don't give in to them. You honestly need to tell your parents to have a talk with her about HAVING to go HOME and you need to tell them to stop telling you your wrong and mean. EXPLAIN HOW THAT MAKES YOU FEEL and that when they do that in front of her they are just feeding into her. etc..etc... Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

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