21 answers

Grandparents Too Busy for Their Grandchildren

Hello, I am a mom of 3 little boys, my husband and I both work full time. My parents live 2 hours away and his live 24 hours away. We do not have family in DE. We have 2 boys who are in school but my baby is in daycare. My mother does not work and my father does; however, why do I feel like I have to beg them to take their grandchildren or let them stay with them, even if it's for a day or so. They shop like crazy for them when they see them, always buying toys, clothes etc. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I don't care about that stuff, I want them to help a little. When I was growing up, my parents traveled the world and I stayed with my grandmother, who is no longer living. I am resentful and I cannot help the way I feel. Does anyone have a similar situation and if so, how do you deal with it? How do you smile and act happy? My kids love their grandparents. My oldest is 7, then 6 and 14 mths.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hello moms! Thank you all for the advice. Just to be clear, I have mentioned this to them and they were around a lot for for a two month period and then that was that and this occurred about two years ago. My husband and I have tried to accept how things are, and we try to make time for us when the kids are sleep, but it would be nice for a weekend away or even a night. I won't complain about it anymore because things won't change, it' just a shame because the boys are getting older and they miss their grandparents. ~ Thanks again everyone

Featured Answers

Have you tried talking to them about it. Not in a confrontational way, but say I love you and appreciate the things you do for my children, but I would really love is for you to spend some more time with them, and maybe give my husband and I some time away. Its hard I know. We moved 19 hrs away from my family and are now near my husbands. My mom would give anything to be with her grandkids, and my mil just doesn't seem to care. I hope things work out.

More Answers

If your parents dropped you off a lot to go travel, sounds like they weren't built to "parent" their own children, let alone grandchildren. They feel more comfortable showing their love buying things, and some people just are like that. But they've got a proven record as parents, so what makes you think they'd change as grandparents? They're not going to be the same as your grandmother, as they're obviously different types of people. You can't get more out of them than they're able or willing to do, unfortunately. All you can do is ask and offer. If they don't you'll have to try to accept their faults, but also embrace their good points. It could be a lot worse, as patronizing as that sounds.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

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1 mom found this helpful

I am a grandma to 2 beautiful baby boys, 2 years and 9 months. I live 45 minutes away the other grandparents live 30 minutes away. M. and dad both work full time jobs and so does the grandparents, on my off days I go up to the boys house and stayover night and watch them for the 2 days that I am off. The other grandmother watches them during the week when the M. and dad work the 2nd shift. It just works out and that's what you do for family. I have so much fun when I am there with my boys, they keep me young.I love being a grandma.

1 mom found this helpful

When I read your letter I thought how can she expect her parents to just drop everything and help. So I read the responses first. Made me see the light!
I don't know if either your husband or you could work second shift. My husband went on second shift when I went back to work after our first child. That worked for us - as he was home with the baby - my job was a first shift only job!
I cannot imagine not spending time with my grandchildren! They are the best thing since sliced bread!
I would talk and talk about all the things they do and have them call and draw pictures for them and let them see the wonderful little people that they are. Spending time reading and playing - making cookies! They are missing so much! This not just about you getting a break - it is about building memories for the future. My son became a chef and one of his greatest gifts to his grandmother was going to her house with a bag of groceries and cooking her a special meal. At her funeral so many of her friends asked, "Are you the chef you grandmother always talked about?"
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

You said your grandmother raised you because your parents travled. So they relly don't want to be grandparents, hands on ones, they think buying things make up for it. it is their loss i have a mother-in-law that has never let her grandchildren stay over night and my oldest is 16. but tht is her loss. and that is the way they are so just enjoy your kids while they aer small they grow up too faat.
take care and good luck T.

1 mom found this helpful

I know this is long overdue but I am just glad to know that I'm not alone. I have three kids and live in SE Alaska - my parents live in another town not far but on a separate island. I have many stories like yours - my mom would even promise to watch the kids and let us have a night out on at least three occasions (two happened to be our anniversary) but they never followed through. We are now heading to Seattle for a cousins wedding and stopping in their town first and they aren't sure they will be in town. Both retired, they are going to the wedding too but are thinking of leaving early. Then they want us to get a hotel near where they will be staying in case they want to see the kids but its nowhere that would be where a young family would want to be. I too try to blow it off, have let go of the idea of an occasional babysitting never mind us going somewhere alone - but just an attempt at wanting to see my kids would be nice. I am thankful for my small family and that I appreciate them and it is a lesson for me to think about the kind of grandparent I want to be. The other good news: my kids are now 9, 7 and 3 and already I see them growing fast I know they will leave us with plenty of time all too soon. Not the best solution but at least we appreciate what we've got!

Well, you can't change who people are. Everyone has different priorities in life. It sounds like your parents didn't have you as the priority in the first place, so how could they possibly have your kids as a priority? It also sounds to me as if you've maybe never resolved the issue you have with them about your own childhood. Maybe you need to start there before you become resentful about more & transfer those feelings to another situation.
You're right, you shouldn't have to beg, but you can request and be honest with them about your feelings & with what would help you the most. Talk to them about what bothers you, but don't expect a big tremendous change in their actions. Be specifc & if they are open to it, you could get some positive results.

So many thoughts came into my mind when I read your posting. I think we all have an expectation that grandparents should want to be around their grandchildren all of the time. And that, naturally, grandparents will take the grandchildren for hours or even a couple of days. Then there is reality. Each grandparent is different, has a different idea of what kind of grandparent they want to be, what their role should be, etc.

Expecting your parents to help you is, in my mind, not realistic. You and your husband decided to have children together, and you need to figure out how to make it work. That was the advice my mother gave me before I had children, and she was right. My parents were very loving and very good grandparents, but they just could not handle babysitting. If that meant we had to stay home instead of going on a date, then so be it. This all may sound harsh, but both of my parents were gone when my "baby" was 5 years old. If I had come to rely on them to get me through every day life, my loss would have been doubled.

So, for what it's worth, enjoy your parents as they are for the time you have with them. Let them buy stuff for your kids if that's how they show love. Find back up care and play groups (as one other poster suggested) among your friends, church groups, etc. And don't make yourself crazy trying to change people that you can't change.

Best to you.

I totally understand. I am in a similar situation. My parents live and hour away and my in-laws live about 5 minutes away. Niether see my kids that much. IT IS SO FRUSTRATING. My parents spend a majority of their time with my sister and her kids and expect me to beg them to come see my kids! Even when I do ask them to come or ask them for help they decide spending time elsewhere is more important then my children. I told them that these are the years that matter most because once my kids are teenagers they are not going to want to spend time with them. It does not seem to matter. I have a hard time hiding my emotions around people so when the actually do visit with my children I keep myself busy around the house. I have told them all how I feel and they do not seem to care. It is hard and I am also resentful at times, but I decided to take my grandfathers advice (a great man) and focus on my family that I created with my husband because that is my immediate family now. I hope it works out for you because I know how much it hurts when you ask for help and it never shows up!!

We have a similar situation. My mother and her husband, who live 2 hours away, will not help with our children. It is difficult, but there is nothing we can do about it, except perhaps change our expectations. We've stopped asking for favors (babysitting, helping when one is in the hospital, etc.) since it is so hard to hear, "No," over and over again. Over Christmas, my family went to visit them--for the day only--and it was a pleasant visit. We've learned to accept the fact that, for whatever reason, they are not willing (or able) to spend much time with us and the children.

Hi AR. You have to lighten-up. Your children are yours to raise. You should not expect your parents to "take them" whenever you want them to. My parents live 14 hours away, my in-laws live about 3 hours away. My parents didn't even send us a Christmas card this year and we don't know if they will bother to come to my oldest's graduation from high school this year. My in-laws see our girls about once every couple of months when they come to visit; we don't go to their house often because of the commitments and activities that my girls are involved with. My in-laws are really nice, but they don't really do anything with our girls...except talk "at" them when they see them. So you see, it could be much worse. Let your parents know that you would LOVE to see them more than recieve gifts from them. Tell your kids stories about your parents and keep them real and a part of your daily life...and understand that as they get older their needs and abilitites change...maybe they are afraid or aprehensive about a 2 hour drive in the winter...or have more Doctor appointments then they are telling you about...and just maybe they are enjoying their time together and kid-free! They raised their family and now it's their time to enjoy life and be somewhat responsibility-free...they earned it didn't they? Accept your parents and in-laws as they are you will feel better for it in the long run. Best wishes.

Maybe they don't want to babysit and they don't have to just because they are your child's grandparents. Maybe you could join a playgroup to have a group where each couple has a date night and you all take turns babysitting each others kids. I am in DE also and would love a group like that so there are interested people you just have to find them.

They wont take your kids over night but at least you get a break. I also have 3 children but mine are girls ages 9, 7 and 5.

Have you tried talking to them about it. Not in a confrontational way, but say I love you and appreciate the things you do for my children, but I would really love is for you to spend some more time with them, and maybe give my husband and I some time away. Its hard I know. We moved 19 hrs away from my family and are now near my husbands. My mom would give anything to be with her grandkids, and my mil just doesn't seem to care. I hope things work out.

Have you talked to your parents about this? Tell them that you would like to have them arround you more often and help a bit with the children. You say that they are busy..how? Your mom doesn't work. They can come in weekend.
From what you say, it seems that they were not very involved with their own child, so I wouldn't expect much involvement from them with their grandchildren. Taking care of a child is a lot of work. Buying gifts and staying for a few hours just looking at the kids playing and at their parents taking care of the children when they don't behave is very easy. Have a talk with your parents and see where they stand. They may even be scared at the idea of looking after three kids. It is a big responsability.

After reading your request I felt I could have added my name at the end; it's the same story. Our kids are showered with gifts but not time. They have never been allowed to sleep over. I get so tired of hearing them talk about how wonderful it is to be grandparents. We've talked to them about this but it has fallen on deaf ears. It is hurtful, especially to my husband because they are his parents but there's not much we can do to change the situation. I know this isn't a solution but you are not alone.

I totally agree with the posts that mention talking to your parents. I wouldn't confront them, but ask them. Try not to judge them, it may be that 3 children are too much for them to handle. I'm not sure. I don't have this situation at all and I consider myself very blessed. I think though, that if you approach to topic calmly and in a non-confronting way, they may see things differently. Maybe you could see if they could try taking the children separately - like take the older ones out to a museum or zoo or something. You may not want to split up the kids, but it may just make things more manageable for them. Or a great thing to do is to subtlely or ask for time instead of gifts, like ohhhh, so and so would love to go to Dutch Wonderland, maybe instead of a gift for his/her birthday, you could take them? I wish you luck with this. I know it must be hard to not get a break, even from family.

Hi there. Every situation is different. My in-laws live about 10 minutes away. They rarely see or watch our son.
My MIL is just not, how to say it, a nurturing person. When she IS at my house she makes more of a fuss over our dog! Grrrrrr.....In a pinch, for a very good reason, I'll ask, and my FIL will watch him--usually at our house. (Funeral, hospital visit--never for stuff like a date night, etc. Even then though, it's a pain because they don;t KNOW him that well--where his stuff is, what to make him to eat...
They certainly could not be considered "too busy" by any means--they do very, very little.
My MIL told my SIL when her first baby was born "My mom didn't watch my kids, don't expect me to watch yours." (I know, lovely sentiment, eh?) The grandmother always worked and most likely could NOT watch them much. My MIL has never worked. I've taken my cue for them from that.
On the other hand, my mom lives about an hour away and she has watched my son so I can work PT since he was born--He's now almost 7 and in school, so only on school holidays, etc. now. She would even stay over at our house Sunday night and Monday night so I could work Mon & Tuesdays. But she would GLADLY watch him every day if she lived closer. We're very lucky. She plays baseball and football with him, takes him places, etc. And she's 72! They are SO close because of the time they've spent together and they have a great bond. My in laws are missing out on that and I say -- their loss.
Your parents are missing out on a lot of their grandchildren's lives and hopefully, they'll realize it before it's too late.
I doubt that your parents will change much but if they are able to handle all three at once, how about planning (much in advance) a weekend trip for them to their house once every other month? Maybe advance planning and notice would make it easier for them to plan? And 2 hours away is just unreasonable to have them watch them for a day or an evening, so I'm sure that's not what you meant...
I would talk to them about it and see if they are receptive to the idea of an occasional weekend overnight.
Also, I wanted to just suggest that you could tap into other resources--neighbors, parents of your kids friends, etc. that you could trade babysitting with. I know this is not your immediate concern in this post, but I know I have several moms of my son's friends that I do this with and it is really a great thing.
It does HURT me, too, to see my in-laws so disconnected with all of their grandchildren, but in their case, I believe their world is just so small and their global view so tiny that they don't even see it the way I do. Good luck to you!

I'm so sorry you are going thru this. I know exactly how you feel. My mom is the same way and I'm finally realizing after 4 years (that's how old my oldest son is) that she isn't going to change.
My parents live 1/2hr away and my mom doesn't work. She'll come see the boys maybe twice a month. There have been times when I have asked for help and she'll say ok and then totally back out. Talk about frustrating.
My mil on the other hand is wonderful. She'll help whenever we ask but she works full time so she can't help during the day but if we need a babysitter we know we can count on her.
You probably won't get her to change even if you voice your opinion. I have told my mom how I felt many times and she told me one day that she felt she has done enough as a mother. So I finally got it thru my thick head that she isn't going to change.
So if I'm ever in a pinch I ask my dad or my mil.
Good luck!

Hi AR,

First of all, Have you told them how you feel about it?

If not, here's a formula:

I feel:_______________ (State how you feel)
When I:________________(Identify the problem)
Because:_____________(Say why you feel this way)
And I need:_________(Propose how to resolve it)

Secondly, If this doesn't help in any way:

Ask your mommasource friends if anyone out there would like to be a replacement to be grandparents.

Hope this helps. Good luck. D.

I know alot of people who have parents (the grand parents) that keep the kids all the time, over night, etc. But, my mother who lives 10 minutes away has only kept my children overnight when absolutely needed (a surgery the next day, etc) My children LOVE and adore her - as do we. I understand that she has done her part of raising children and has other things she wants to do with her time. Don't take that the wrong way, but 3 children are alot of work (as you know!) and it really may be too much for them. When we spend time with my mom she comes to our house, or we all go and visit - arrive and leave together. It has not hindered their relationship with her at all.

I am up later than usual, I would love to write a book but wanted to respond because my situation is very similar to yours. My boys are 16 and 12 and things have not changed. You are not ALONE. I'm sure every family is different. Unique in their own ways. My husband and I are in our 40's now and we both scratch our heads and wonder... why (both sets of grandparents) never call our kids just to say "hi" or something. They call US and maybe once in a blue moon they will ask to speak to them, but usually it is only on their birthdays or near Christmas. They ( both sets of grandparents) are very generous with material things, but not with their time. I guess it's more of stepping out of their "comfort zone". (I'm not really sure). When the boys were little my mom would watch mine if I asked her, and she usually would. The same for my mother-in law. My mom worked full-time and so did my mother-in-law. So I hated to ask them too often, only for special occasions. My mother-in-law always had additional duties other than her job for she was a Pastor's wife and had many church functions, also in the mix was my her other grandchild (our niece) who she watched A LOT more than my boys because the mother (my sister-in-law) couldn't rely on her husband who was a traveling salesman. I remember always feeling guilty asking her to keep mine because she always had either just kept my niece or my niece was there or something. My mother -in-law and my sister-in-law were very very close. I already felt like an outsider so even though I felt that way, my mother-in-law always helped me out and made us feel welcome, but never REALLY WENT OUT OF HER WAY "so to speak". The same for my parents, always willing to help when the kids were young, but as the kids grew and we moved a couple hours away back in 2002 the kids were still young 9 and 4, still not much of either party going out of their way to spend time with them. When they visited they were always happy to see them, they asked them about school, etc.. but that 's about it. I have never seen a "special interest" like some grandparents take with their g.kids. It makes me sad for THEM. I have always given them open and free access to our kids. I believe it boils down in to DIS FUNCTION. My Dad might be the only exception, he makes more of an effort as far as being more thoughtful about things. The reason I tell you this is maybe to help not to be critical of our parents,,, even though it hurts me like the devil and I want to say to them... a thing or two(believe me!)I have held my tongue many times. But to give you an example.. My mom was raised in foster homes at a young age and was never close to her mother. My mother-in-law lost her mother at a very young age (14) I think. SO... both of these women in my life are not even close to me!! How can I expect them to be close to my children.. They simply do not know how..(my sister & I talk about this all the time). SO.... If your mother seems somewhat distant in keeping children - Do not take it personally, it is a boding issue perhaps, didn't you say your mother traveled when you were young and you were raised by your grandmother? If a mother wants to be close to her children, she will find a way to be close and not make excuses. I feel your hurt with your mother, I too felt abandoned (emotionally) by my mother as a child, my mother has some serious issues but as time has gone on, she tries to show she cares the best way she knows how. At least she tries. I was not raised by my grandmother
but I was very close to my only grandmother. We had a special bond, and thank God for that. Through HER I felt deeply loved. So for that I want to be THAT kind of Grandmother one day. One that wants to spend time with grandchildren and make them feel special! Best Wishes to you and your kids, I'll keep you in my prayers!

My mom has passed away and she would love my kids and do everything with them. My mother in law lives 15-20 minutes away and only sees my kids 4 times a year. christmas, their birthdays and her birthday. they have never even seen her house. I've been invited to one holiday dinner in my 10 years of marraige. Mine does the same thing comes bearing gifts and I used to get so upset but now i feel it is her loss. i cant make her spend quality time with them and maybe they will grow up someday and she will regret it. You can only be responsible for your actions and cant change people.

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