36 answers

Rich Grandparents, Poor Dad

My husband was a very young dad, married really young and divorced soon after. He never had a chance to go to college and actually was a stay-at-home dad for a while living with his folks.

He never had much money, but his folks are pretty well-to-do. Therefore they are able to afford to do things with their granddaughter that my husband was never able to afford.

They took her to Disney World for the first time. My husband was partially crushed because almost every dad wants to take his kid to Disney World! But he wanted her to be able to go so he let his parents take her. He still kicks himself now that he was not the one to take her to Disney her first time and see her face and experience with her all the joys that are Disney.

They take her everywhere on expensive vacations. My husband has only experienced ONE nice vacation with her, and that was because his parents paid for him to come. They also take her to local things, her first stage show, etc.

My husband is happy that she gets to experience these things but also upset because he is never there with her. All the wonderful firsts that a parent would enjoy were not his.

Now that we are married and he has a wonderful job he is getting on his feet and wants to take his daughter to experience things. Still, we are far from rich, as his parents are. We are planning for the future on going to Japan. This probably won't happen for maybe 3 years, but we want to go! Now his parents want to take her to Japan next year. There is no way we could afford to go by next year! My husband is torn between letting his daughter enjoy the experience (because what if we can never afford to go?) or making her wait until we can afford to go? My husband has been talking about going to Japan since I've known him. Because he's been wanting to go, his daughter has been talking about it and his parents heard and want to take her. The point is WE wanted to go to Japan!

In 3 years she will be 12. I think that's a great age to go overseas. At age 9, I don't even see how she would get the most out of the trip.

I'm leaning toward encouraging him to tell his parents no, she will not go to Japan with them that is OUR trip. They can take her somewhere else. Does that sound selfish?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the different points of view! We actually asked my stepdaughter which she'd prefer in a "if this happens" kind of scenerio and she said she wanted to wait when we could all go as a family, and maybe grandma and grandpa could come then too. So sweet! She said the last vacation she went on without us was fun, but she wished we could all be there.

Grandma thinks of her as HER child sometimes, which poses a big problem. Grandpa (who is really step-Grandpa) has two kids and one is only two years older than her so it was easy to lump her in as a "child" not 'grandchild" when she was growing up. I think now that we live in our own house and have our own life things are a little bit different. I'm glad she has a special relationship with grandma, that is priceless. But she has a mother, a father and a stepmom so grandma should be grandma--she has enough parental figures!

Thanks again mamas!

Featured Answers

It is not selfish to tell them no. He needs his thing, and this should be his. He can just tell them no, simply no. That is his vacation for her, not their's.

3 moms found this helpful

How about talking to his parents and explaining his dream of going to Japan and then inviting them to join you guys on the trip 3 years down the road? That would teach his daughter what considerate people you are, the value of doing things as a family, and also, how to work hard to reach a goal.

And maybe, just maybe, the grandparents will get a hint ;-)

Best of luck! I LOVED Japan!!

2 moms found this helpful

I'd make them wait. Also, please remind him that she will love him and remember the simple things they do together - not the big fancy trips. She loves her Dad because he's her had - he listens to her - plays with her and just loves her. Remind him that is what matters : )

1 mom found this helpful

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I would not allow my child to travel to another country without me at that age. Your husband should talk to his parents and explain that this is an experience HE wants to give his daughter when she is 12-13. Tell them that if they would like to help make that happen, great.

5 moms found this helpful

It is not selfish to tell them no. He needs his thing, and this should be his. He can just tell them no, simply no. That is his vacation for her, not their's.

3 moms found this helpful

I guess I am in the definite minority ( as usual).

I think being a parent is about doing what is best for your child, and giving them whatever you can. You make sacrifices...his has been not going on a few trips (big deal...many people can't do those things EVER, and we all manage to survive). Honestly, there are millions of children who would never even have these opportunities, so I think that taking advantage of them is important.

I completely understand that he feels like he missed out...but honestly it is about his child, not about him. I think he should be happy that she gets to experience these wonderful things at all...with or without him. She is safe, with people who love her and want what it best for her...so let her go. If she remembers stuff, great...if not, oh well.

You have no idea what could happen in three years...lose job and no trip, go on an even more amazing trip, not travel again due to other reasons...who knows.

Send her with your blessing, and thank your lucky stars that she is getting to experience all these wonderful events...with or without you. It's a country for pete sakes...and they are her grandparents. It isn't a competition, and he needs to stop percieving it that way, and realize how lucky his daughter is to have someone in her life to do these things with her.

Also, I don't think his parents owe him to take him with...their money, their choice.

2 moms found this helpful

How about talking to his parents and explaining his dream of going to Japan and then inviting them to join you guys on the trip 3 years down the road? That would teach his daughter what considerate people you are, the value of doing things as a family, and also, how to work hard to reach a goal.

And maybe, just maybe, the grandparents will get a hint ;-)

Best of luck! I LOVED Japan!!

2 moms found this helpful

It's hard to tell if they are just very generous with their grandchild and truly like to indulge her and spend time with her in the lifestyle they are accustomed to, or if they are kind of passive aggressive in being able to show up your DH that they are ones who get and do everything for his daughter/their granddaughter. Are they genuinely nice people? Do you see them as sincerely caring or kind of irritated that your DH is not more well off at this point in his life, and like to make their point by doing so much for their granddaughter? I think I would say what Krista said "thank you so much for your generous offer, but we are saving for that exact trip in 2014" It will be good for your daughter to learn patience and see you saving up for a larger goal. If his parents press, I would just suggest they take her on a smaller (not international) vacation, that Japan is your special family goal, and you feel it is better for her to experience international travel when she is a little older. I also think that DisneyWorld would be totally worthwhile, it is magical and special no matter how many times you visit, for all ages. Just because she has been once before doesn't mean DH and you can't share in that fun and wonder with her.

2 moms found this helpful

Yes, that's selfish, because this is HER experience. The more times she gets to go to Japan, the better. It doesn't matter if it's the FIRST time she's seen it or not. She can go to Japan twice. The second time will probably be even better.

You and he should be happy that she has rich grandparents who are able to give her these experiences. She will become a more worldly and well-rounded person because of it.

And since he is now getting on his feet, by the time your husband is a grandpa, he will be able to take his grandchildren to all kinds of wonderful places.

EDIT: Skimming other responses -- I'm kind of shocked that most of you think she should miss out on this experience. As one other mom pointed out, this isn't a competition, and this is about doing what is best for the CHILD. Japan is a country that can be visited MANY TIMES. Firsts are often overrated. How was your first sexual experience, for example?

2 moms found this helpful

Let me go at this in another way.
My parent's and my oldest son are very close. I lived with them until I married my current husband. THey helped raise my son until he was 4. THey took him on trips, took him during our cross country moves, twice, took him for months in the summer, until at 18 he left for bootcamp.
When he comes home on leave from the Navy he goes to see Grandpa in Chicago first, then us, we live in VA.
THey have spent countless hours with my son letting him enjoy a life my husband and I really weren't able to give him. How many kids nowadays get to say they spent half their childhoods with loving, wonderful, involved Grandparents? I truly think it is a blessing and wish they spent more time with their other 7 grandkids.
YOur stepdaughter has a bond with them that will help her throughout her life. She's 9 now but soon she willll be 13.
Let her have this time with Grandma and Grandpa. How much longer are they going to be here? Let them help you raise her into a well rounded individual who has been to foreign countries, theme parks, operas, et al. She is so lucky.
YOur hubby needs to stop feeling sorry for himself and start being happy that he has such wonderful parents.

2 moms found this helpful

If a trip to Japan is something that you want to enjoy as a family, then he simply says "Thank you for the generous offer, but we are saving for that exact trip in 2014".

He is caving to both his daughter and his parents. He's dad. If he's says "no", then it's "no". They can take her on another trip, but this one is not an option.

Be prepared for him to say "yes" though b/c he always has allowed them to do as they please with their granddaughter. I'm actually a little surprised that dad hasn't been invited on some of these trips (especially Disney). Have an honest conversation with your husband about the situation and let him know what you think. If he caves, don't let him whine about it later.

Life is about choices...if he lets her go, then he doesn't get to comment on it later!

2 moms found this helpful

Not selfish at all. I think they are still punishing him for the choices he made earlier in life. They all might benefit from family counseling to be honest. I really don't think things will get better if dh gets a higher paying job or suddenly becomes a bazillionaire because he invented the next medical miracle, either.

This is deeper than money. This is about control and what they are doing is wrong and IMO rather disrespectful and evil, because they are usurping his parental authority, robbing him of special time and moments that should be ideally spent between a parent and child, and sometime down the road *their selfish behavior* could cause tension if not downright problems between he and his daughter when she gets older. Keep in mind, he is not denying them special moments or access to her, but sadly, they are denying him his. This isn't right.

He needs to nip this now. But he needs tools for what they will for sure dish up when money won't trump all anymore.

If he's not up for counseling, I highly recommend you both read together the following books:




2 moms found this helpful

Talk with his parents... they probably do not know... how your Husband has been for YEARS dreaming... of going and taking his child.

Then, you also explain to your child, about how her Grandparents are very generous, but you are also her parents. And you, with her, have plans too. As a FAMILY. She is old enough to understand that...

Maybe, you all can work something out... once his parents know his thoughts on it. If he never expressed himself to them... they probably think they are doing their Grandchild and your Husband... a great charitable thing. Since they have money and he does not. I am sure... they can INCLUDE you/Your Husband/your daughter... in this trip to Japan???? Can they? Try asking them.

All parents have dreams... and dreams of spending it with their child... as a Family. So... maybe the Grandparents do not think of that... they just seem to want to provide their Grand-Daughter with things that otherwise she/her Dad could not afford. They, unless they are mean people... seem to just want to help... and give their Grand-daughter what they can.

You all need to sit down... and talk about it. Nicely. Diplomatically. Not accusingly.

Ultimately... if that were me, I would NOT want to send my child, overseas... on a trip... without me... to a foreign country. AND it is your HUSBAND... who had the FINAL say and giving permission to this or not.

His parents, CANNOT book a trip, for his daughter... without HIS permission. AND, when traveling with a Minor child... there has to be paperwork, such as a "Consent to Travel with a Minor Child" form, which has to be notarized with the PARENTS signature.... in order to travel with that child. Otherwise, kidnapping can be suspected... and other things. For example.

You all also.. have to sit down with your daughter... and explain... the pecking order of things. That she know, it is her DAD.... who loves her deeply and wants to provide trips/things for her too... and experiences, WITH him.... as a parent.

all the best,

1 mom found this helpful

I'd make them wait. Also, please remind him that she will love him and remember the simple things they do together - not the big fancy trips. She loves her Dad because he's her had - he listens to her - plays with her and just loves her. Remind him that is what matters : )

1 mom found this helpful

I think your husband needs to talk to his parents about how all of this has made him feel--most likely grateful and useless at the same time.

1 mom found this helpful

He is the parent. He gets to decide what is best for HIS daughter. That is wonderful that g&g are so generous and willing to provide such wonderful experiences for their granddaughter. But so long as dad is primary caregiver he gets to decide what is best for his child. That is my vote.

1 mom found this helpful

He should not let them take her. I think he needs to say "thanks but no" and that he has missed out on too many "firsts" with her and that Japan is something special to him and you. At this point, I would also tell them that if they would like to do expensive/ fun/ memorable things with the daughter that they need to include you guys, that means paying your way if you can't afford to go. She is getting too old for your hubby to miss out on things and given his situation, they either need to account for that or do other things for the daughter...like save for college.

Good luck. Glad you guys are doing so well now.

1 mom found this helpful

Seems to me they just want to do things for her that they know he cannot afford. Although they may be stepping over the line a bit... check with them and make sure they knew about your plan, maybe your daughter has been talking about Japan non-stop and they figure they will take her, not knowing you have a plan in the works already.

If they knew about the trip you are planning, and still offered to take her, then all bets are off... advise them that this was not cool, and that you would prefer if they check with you first before telling the daughter about any plans, that way she will not be put in the middle of the situation.

Sorry you are going through this, my aunt is having this problem with her in-laws... she wants to buy nice things for the kids and take them places, but the other grandparents cant afford it, so the husband is telling my cousin no, but in reality, my aunt is just trying to be nice, and has spent her life making the money so she could splurge on her grandkids.. nothing nasty about it, she just grew up poor and since she now has made a good living for herself, she wants to endulge on her grandkids!

1 mom found this helpful

Nope doesn't sound selfish at all. I think your hubby has been wonderful to let his daughter have experiences that he can't afford to give her but as a grandparent I'd have to say that I'd think twice about taking my grandchildren out of the country. Too much can happen to them or to me. Tell them thanks but no thanks and keep making your plans.

1 mom found this helpful

Not everyone has as wonderful grandparents as Margie M. I am actually jealous of Margie as my own parents who could fully afford to do things with my children, never as so much as spent any time with my children unless I instigated it and they lived half hour away. I see Margie Ms point with all due respect but it sounds like NS has different kinds of parents, more like mine who are not quite so loving, but are competitive knowing they can win through money. If I were you or your husband I would say the NO Japan, because truly if they want just a trip with the child they can take her somewhere else. Or they can take you along, too!

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with almost everyone's comments about it not being selfish on your parts and also, I think she'll get way more out of it when she's 12. I went to Europe etc younger than that and didn't remember much. Even one trip at age 13 or so was spotty not too long after. I won't take my kids overseas until they're 12 or so.

My parents are also well off and my husband comes from a middle class family and the kids all pay for themselves now. My parents want to go lots of places and take me and my daughter with them (paying for everything) but do not want my husband and his son to come along. They purposly plan trips when they know we don't have his son and he is working. (It's my mom not my dad doing this) I finally flat out told my mom to get off his case, he is doing the best he can do. He is my husband and father of my child...you want to take us on a trip we all go or we all stay home. She ended up taking all 3 of us to Vail with them paying for everything. We would have taken my step-son but his mother didn't allow. So end of story, maybe he just needs to have a heart to heart with his mom.

Going on a trip to Japan with your daughter in 3 years is not selfish. Neither is asking your parents to wait for 3 years. That is a reasonable request.

I don't think there's anything wrong with you 'encouraging' you husband to follow what he thinks is best for his daughter. You are his wife and I am assuming he has asked your advice on this, especially since you're aware of how the whole scenario makes him feel & that is has happened repeatedly over the years.

I felt the same way a couple of years ago when my parents took my kids to Disney World. Although the first time they went we all went together as a family, my husband & I just couldn't swing the 2nd trip financially. I felt as your husband does that I didn't want them to miss out on a great vacation just because I couldn't also afford to go. Believe it or not, my kids would have preferred us to be there than to going by themselves as much as my husband & I felt that way. I know because they called us at least once a day & when they got home they both separately told me that they had a lot of fun, but don't want to go again until we can all go.

My overall advice on this one is to follow your gut. If you are comfortable talking to your husband about it then yes, give him your honest advice and no, it's not selfish to want to have some special first-time-experiences with your kids even if it means you have to wait a little longer to do them. With that being said, whatever your husband decides to do I would back him up.

It's not selfish at all! It sounds like your husband's been really patient with the situation and been trying to look out for your daughter's interests. His parents should understand and back off if your husband tells them nicely why he'd like for Japan to be a first family experience.

I would let her go. I have lots of "plans" for vacations that may never actually happen as life gets in the way. I would hate for her to miss out on such a great experience.

However, I would set boundaries for things like this. I would make sure the grandparents always ask the father about these things prior to the child. It's not fair to put a parent in the position of saying no and disappointing a child on something they realize they could have had.

I don't think it's selfish at all. Hubby needs to talk to his parents, if he already hasn't, and work WITH them to give his daughter awesome experiences without taking that ability away from him. He needs to let them know that he has certain experiences that HE wants to have with her as her dad - he doesn't want to miss out on certain things, he has dreams, etc. They need to know understand this and cooperate with him. He's the dad.

I honestly don't understand why they haven't included their own son in these excursions. I mean, I get that he's an adult and responsible for his financial situation, but is there something going on there? They sound like they're trying to compete for her affections and "beat" him out of special events. If that's the case, then they really need a talking to. If they're just very generous, and not aware of how sad it is to leave dad out of things, then they need to understand.

No, certainly not selfish and makes a lot of sense... and if his parents have any decency (and it sounds like they do), they will understand and even be happy for you and their grand daughter to be able to share that experience together.

Tell his parents they are welcome to join you in Japan when you are able to go - until then - it's an all or nothing option. We cannot all go as our budget is not set for this and we cannot afford to go for 3 years. You are more than welcome to pay for our way, we would VERY much appreciate that - however, the bottom line - this is something WE wanted to do as a family.

Until he stands up for himself, they will continue to "best" him.

Money shouldn't matter. He needs to step up and tell his parents NO. He can tell them this in a polite way - but he just can't cow-towing to them and saying yes....it's almost like they are punishing him for something. This is something HE needs to work out with them. If he feels guilty for not using protection before marriage and getting pregnant young, etc. that's life - stuff happens. I'm sure he doesn't regret his daughter (I'm not saying that in the least) but as long as he continues to let a past mistake and HIS failures write the rest of his life - then that's his bad.

If he let his parents down and this is their way of STILL punishing him - he needs to make amends with them and wipe the slate clean. But really?! SAY NO!!!! Have him talk with his parents and get the guilt emotions, etc. or whatever from his past - or letting is parents guilt him - then HE needs to talk with them!!!

I think hubs needs to tell parents thanks but no thanks I want to take her to Japan. They can takeher somewhere else. Your hubs sounds like a great guy, and his parents sound generous, but they need to know their place as well.

The fact that his parents knew he wanted to take his child to Japan speaks loudly. It also does sound like they act like she is their child. IMO, it sounds like they are punishing him and I personally find it not only rude, but unkind. If I were in his shoes, I'd put my foot down and just say no thank you.

I would have him simply tell his parents that he wants to take her to Japan. I'd thank them for everything, but say it's also hard to not get to do those firsts, and this is a first I really want to do.

Besides the emotional dilemma of wanting her to have a fabulous trip to Japan vs waiting 3 years, which has been covered by other answers, there is also the practical aspect. If his parents absolutely insist on taking her against your husband's wishes, she'd need a passport. For her to get a passport, a parent (actually BOTH parents) has to physically apply for one in person, grandparents cannot. And without that passport, she is not getting into Japan. So it's fully HIS decision to make, not grandma and grandpa's. BTW, I grew up in Japan. There's way more to do and see there than can be done in one trip. Maybe she can go with her grandparents next year, then again in 3 years with dad and you. Think of how much fun she'll have showing her Dad around... it would still be really special because it would be your first FAMILY trip. Going to places with her grandparents is something she's probably used to. Going somewhere with DAD, now THAT would be special!

No that doesn't sound selfish. I would tell him to have a long sit down with his parents. Letting them know how happy he is that he has them and that they have taken their grand-daughter to so many places that he cannot afford too. Then, tell them how special it would be to him and maybe if they wanted to come along too Japan, but not for 3 years. That he wants to be able to provide for his child on a nice vacation and he knows that is how long it would take for him to be able to pay for it. I don't think it would be that bad to have them come along, however, if you don't want them to come along, then don't put that part in it. From what you've written then sound like they have a close family and they would understand.
Have a great trip when you go!

I would NEVER let my daughter go on vacation without me! Not that I don't trust my or my husband's parents, I just don't think it is their place to taking her such places as Disney World. If they really want her to go, then they can take the whole family. He is the father and he needs to put his foot down!

Tell them no! Thanks for the generous offer, she has been so lucky to have had other experiences with them, but this is a family goal and a dream of your husband. If they don't understand that, there is something else going on. Keep saving and planning, this is also a good lesson for his daughter. She will see how to set and reach a goal.

You are not selfish and neither is her Dad. That is a trip that you guys' wanted to go on together, as a family.

He/you absolutely have the right to tell his/your parents, Thanks but No thanks, we are going to take (insert child's name here) to Japan in 3 years...we are already saving and planning, you are welcome to join us in 3 years when we can afford it but until then you are more than welcome to take her on another vacation...just not Japan, that is ours, we called it sorry!

No, I don't find that selfish at all. Tell his parents no, its something you guys want to do. And find a way to make it happen, even if it won't be for another 3 years.

His parents are maybe very kind or very mean. Do they know how he is feeling? Do they know how much he wants to be the one taking his daughter places? If they do and they are choosing to take her first that is very mean. On the other side, his daughter is very loved which is wonderful for her.

I I were him, I wouldn't let the daughter or his parents know of any future desires or plans he has for traveling or the like with his daughter. This way their ideas are their own and he won't have to be troubled by another milestone being enjoyed by his parents to his exclusion.

As for Japan, decline permission for her to go. Perhaps they can just go someplace cook like California or Chicago, or NYC. Just some food for thought for you to consider.

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