Guilt Ridden Grandma over Not Wanting to Watch Grandson While Parents Work.

Updated on October 06, 2015
L.J. asks from Temecula, CA
25 answers

Hello, I am a 57 year old grandma of 4. I currently watch and have been watching my 17 month old grandson twice a week since he was 3 months old. I share the responsibility with the other grandma who also watches him twice a week. Between her and her husband.

I've always said that I didn't want to watch a grandchild fulltime while the parents work. Which I'm not doing, but it feels like it. I drive to and from my son's house which is approximately 19 miles one way in morning traffic. I get up at 6 a.m. and have him anywhere from 3 to 6 in the evening. On many occasions by the time I get home it has been a 12 hour day with driving. Sometimes I bring him back to my home mid day as to break up my day. I haven't worked for over 12 years so that I could stay home with my disabled husband. Mainly to be here for him emotionally. Until recently we have been able to afford my not working. But now it has become necessary for me to pick up a part time job, which I have taken only on the weekends so that I can be available for my grandson. I haven't started working yet, but can only imagine how tired I'm going to be.

I also started attending a bible study class once a week. I gave this up for a year so that I was available. In order for me to go I have to either meet my DL at 7:30 a.m., or my son drops my grandson off at 6:30 a.m. Which means dragging the baby out of bed and putting him in the car. Which makes me feel horrible. Just the other day my DL text me asking me to think about having my grandson spend the night the night before class as to make it easier. On who? And every week? This has really upset me. I have a hard enough time sleeping without him here. Let alone worrying about him all night wondering if he's going to wake up! That's just me. Plus that would make for a really long two days. I am begining to really resent HAVING to watch him. I too like so many grandparents want to enjoy him. It also takes away from me wanting to spend time with my other 3 granddaughters.

I raised my children pretty much on my own. I never thought about asking anyone for help. I didn't have parents around to help me. So I guess I feel blessed to be able to help them out. I would have loved it!

As we all have said, we love our grandchildren. But this is whiping me out!

I have read other grandparents complaints on this issue. But would love to read more. Help! Am I being a bit too whiny? I feel like such a complainer. Am I justified? I've always wanted to sit down with the other grandma who works, to see how she feels. But that's a touchy one. It's her daughter.

Thanks for listening..or reading. :)

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you everyone! Your answers were all helpful. My kids do make a good living. Both have fulltime employment. They could possibly afford childcare, but it would be tight for them. It was more for me, that I didn't want my grandson in fulltime child care. And no they don't pay me. But they do pay for my gas each month. They also gave us a wonderful thank you gift. Not the price of child care, but something we needed none the less. I just really didn't plan on all this driving. Another reason the back and forth started was due to the fact that my son had to be at work at 5 a.m. in the summer months. It would mean getting up
at 4:30 in the morning. My son work's out near where we live. His wife however work's near their home. It's not a huge inconvenience for her to meet us. Her mom lives near my husband and I as well.

Basically, we (the other set of grandparents) have all allowed this. My husband on the other hand doesn't agree with all the driving and inconvenience. I was hoping that down the road that my grandson would be dropped off at our houses most of the time. It just hasn't worked out that way. The different work schedule that my son has had has been coming into play as well. Not always consistent. He usually gets off work before his wife. But there are times that he has to do overtime. I must admit...I do like to be able to get out of the house here and there. But I'd rather it be always my choice. Not due to the fact that I would have to get up at 4:30 a.m. to a cranky baby at my door. When I drive there, at least he can wake up when he does naturally. It is getting old.

There has been talk about day care part time. Which I think would be a good idea at this point. I was fighting it at first. That guilt thing. I was able to stay home with my children for the first 8 years. I hated to see my 17 month old grandson go into day care. I'm rethinking it now.

And yes, it is a HUGE emotional strain to be here for my husband. It's like a rollercoaster. And now he has been having more doctor appointments that I'd like to be there for him. My husband's emotional care is a whole other issue! Thank you for understanding that one. I need a site for that alone.

I just needed a place to vent, and know that I'm not alone in my thoughts.
I love all the advice. I also realized when trying to put in writing all my feelings, some issues have come across badly just by some of your answers.
None the less you've all given me much to think about. Thanks again! This is a wonderful place to share!

Featured Answers


answers from Washington DC on

I would NEVER expect my parents to watch my kids full-time for free. I get that you did it for a while to keep the baby out of full-time care, but 17 months is a great time to get that social interaction. I think you should stop, but give them enough notice.

You have been extremely generous and I feel like most people who have parents who do what you do don't understand how above and beyond it is. I only ask my parents for child care in cases of emergency...and they know that.

Don't feel bad not wanting to do it anymore, just give them enough time to find another set-up.

5 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from St. Louis on

It seems to me that it would make sense for them to pay you what your part time job would yield rather than lose you completely and pay daycare.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Flight attendants tell us to put the oxygen masks on ourselves first. Your first priority must be yourself, and secondly your disable husband. Now you have to go back to work at 57? And you are driving about 40 miles a day minimum, in traffic, and you have to childproof your home?

Give them a deadline (perhaps 30 days) to make other arrangements. Tell them you are unable to continue, you are exhausted, and you have to go to work yourself. You're a grandma, not a parent. Providing day care and transportation and overnight care is not a grandparent's job. Just be honest, don't apologize, and don't let the guilt get to you. "No one can make you feel guilty without your permission."

You are completely justified. Don't back down. Be matter-of-fact about it.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I think you're ready to be a grandma - visits for fun - on your schedule - and not regular day care - even if it is only for a few days a week.
When you were raising your kids you figured out what you had to do.
Now it's your sons and DIL's turn to figure it out - let them.
There is nothing WRONG with day care!
Kids thrive there and have other kids to play with.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I'm always so stunned when grandparents take over the parenting of their grandchildren. I see the grandparent relationship to be something magical, where the grandparents don't have to discipline, they can just spoil. When you put grandparents in the childcare role, the magic can't be as special. Instead, you make grandparents enforces of rules and habit systems. what fun is that?

I understand not wanting kids in long day-care hours. I also understand that some families need duel incomes, but parents should be able to figure this out without depending on their own parents. To me, this is what it means to be an adult. You don't rely on your parents for down-payments for houses, to babysit your kids, etc. But I'm old fashion, and I get the feeling that millennium kids expect everything to be handled to them on a plate. I know so many people many years younger than me living in giant homes, driving expensive cars, etc. all funded by their parents. it's crazy to me.

You've earned your retirement. You've earned getting to have fun play-dates with your gran kids. Please don't feel bad about that. it's truly time for you to live your life. You did your raising, and it makes me sad when grown adults don't understand that grandparents aren't personal piggy banks and childcare workers.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'm glad you are getting the feedback you need. This must be a very difficult decision, but really, you know you have to put your husband and yourself first. The only thing I would add to the conversation is that I think you should decide what you need to do, irrespective of the other grandmother. Please do not involve her in the discussion. What you need, is what YOU (not yelling, just emphasis) need. You do not need justification or anyone else agreeing. All my best.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It is exhausting to watch a child, especially a baby/toddler. It is even more exhausting for someone who has a disabled spouse to care for. Add to that your age (young for a grandma, certainly, but not the same age as a typical new mom) and you will be completely worn down. It isn't fair to you or your spouse if you get so tired you cannot function, or worse, cannot perform your duties at your new job. You also will start feeling resentful toward the baby and his parents.

You need to sit down and have an honest conversation, in person, with your son and his wife. Tell them how much you love your grandson and how much you want to spend time with him, but that you just cannot keep watching him twice a week every week anymore. Offer to continue doing it for a few more weeks (four at the most) while they search for a different option, whether it is day care or a nanny.

I really do not recommend talking to the other grandma about it. Your feelings are justified, and you don't want to end up second guessing yourself or feeling guilty if she tells you that she doesn't have any problems with it. Everyone is different and you can only do what is best for you.

I am very lucky to live very close to both my parents (1/2 mile) and my inlaws (15 minutes). My parents love to have my kids over for a few hours, but have never enjoyed having them all day or overnight. My in-laws, on the other hand, are happy to take them for a whole weekend - sometimes with their other two grandchildren as well. What we ask of them is totally different, and it is what works best for their different personalities.

Please don't feel obligated to watch your grandson on a regular basis like this anymore. it is just too much for you and that isn't fair. Your son needs to respect that and still allow you to be an active part in your grandson's life - to whatever extent you wish.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Wow, you are one sweet mom and grandma! Everyone is lucky to have you, but it's not okay for you to be wearing down like this. I don't totally get the vibe that they are outright using you and feel entitled to this arrangement, but I do think this is super easy for them and they are not considering what it's doing to you.

I have a couple of different thoughts on this. First, I have a teenager now, so not there yet. But I was talking to a friend and saying that in less than 10 years I could easily be a grandma. She said how since I don't work, and since I have one child, I could totally watch the baby should my daughter decide to return to work. Now, I'm over the moon about my kid, she is my everything, and I assume her kids will be too. But my instant reaction was that I really don't want to do that! I want to be grandma, and not take on grandkids as a job (and apparently a crappy paying one at that!). So it's totally reasonable that you went from loving the time with him to feeling resentful.

My mom babysat for my brother and SIL. Same deal, mom had to commute to them and it was tough on her. She missed things of my daughter's because she was babysitting. I think they did pay her some, so that was something, but she began to not enjoy her time. One thing I learned was that my mom figured out that she was rarely asked to just come over and visit, and invited out to dinner or any of special things with their family. It was only babysitting. So she told me that she was afraid if she turned down the babysitting, she worried she would hardly see her granddaughter. I'm wondering if you worry about this on some level?

You are really sweet. But I think you could come up with a much better deal. It sounds like your son and DIL are nice people. What if you said that "this arrangement is becoming harder on me and not working anymore, I'd like to sit down and talk about how we can work this out- I still want to help when I can, but we need to make some big changes." When you guys talk, have your limits- no I can't drive there (or maybe just once in a while), no he can't spend the night, etc. Make sure you have your boundaries so they know them up front. Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Read your post and the replies.

I know some grandmas who love caring for their grandkids (my MIL) and some who did it to help out primarily (my mom) and some who have no interest. I think you do what you enjoy doing and no more.

My thought is 2 days a week sounds manageable IF you didn't have to do the driving. You are not a bad person at all if you say the driving is what is getting to you. I agree - that is just a total pain, when you are doing them a favor. It makes something that could be enjoyable into a chore.

So ... if you were willing to do the 2 days a week if they could come up with a different arrangement - then try that. Otherwise, I'd say you're done. You sound done. When we wonder if we are whinging and complaining too much - no. It just means you're not listening to what's best for you. You're in a bad position. It's up to you to change it.

You don't have to justify or defend why you feel this way. You're under no obligation to your son, DIL or grandson.

I also think they should pay you so you didn't have to work on the weekends. For now, you might just let that go, but I think that would be helpful. Don't worry if they aren't paying the other grandma. Your plate is full with your husband's needs. I have a disability so I get that. My husband is stressed out a lot of the time because he also has to look after me - it's a big deal. Other people might not get how strenuous that is. It can take a toll on you emotionally as well as physically - caring for others.

I would just be honest with them and say that you feel burned out. You'd love to help them out, but you feel this is affecting your well being. Tell them that it really is the driving that's become the issue for you. You are doing them the favor - it's ok to set limits.

Good luck :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Wow! You have already done so much for your son's family and have saved them a small fortune by babysitting 2 days a week. You should feel absolutely no guilt.

Whatever works for you is what you have earned the right to do. 1 day week, sick days, or never again. It is all up to you. Plus you already have your hands full so I can't imagine anyone judging your decision.

My mom took care of my oldest daughter a lot when she was 1-4 yo. The difference is we payed for daycare. If my mom was up to taking her, she did...if not, she went to daycare. It was always my mom's choice.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You should let them no you CANNOT provide daycare for your grandchild. It is a HUGE imposition. I cannot believe they do not drop him off at your house but expect you to commute to them. If they paid you what your PT new job is paying, would you consider continuing his care? I am assuming you have been doing this for free (hopefully I am wrong). You should be spending time with your husband. They decided to have a child, they need to figure out and pay for his care. I am sure you love your grandchildren. And you should visit with them, spoil them and maybe have them over for the rare fun overnight - IF you want to.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Don't feel guilty about not wanting to watch your grandchild. It was nice to help your son out a bit but you have your own life. Right now it is busy with caring for your disabled husband. His needs come before your grandchild's. Take care of your own personal needs of being a person who enjoys life and can do things that you want to do like going to your bible study.

You raised your children and put in the time and sacrifices. Now it is time for our son to do the same thing. It is nice to watch here and there but not overnight during the week. It is time for your DIL to be the mother and do what is necessary to care for her own child and provide the childcare for him. If the other grandma wants to do it that is fine. Don't ever feel bad about a decision you make. It is nice to say no and move on with your life on your terms. They will get over it. Life is too short to go through all this turmoil over child rearing.

the other S.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

aw, i think it's lovely that you've been there for your kids, your grandson, and husband. twice a week sounds very doable on the surface, and clearly it was okay for a while.

but now it's not. for whatever reasons, and going back to work is a biggie, it's no longer something that works for you.

i'm so glad to hear that your son is grateful for your help, and does pay for your gas. but it doesn't sound to me as if it's a strictly money issue, more that it's exhausting you. i get it. while this wouldn't be a burdensome schedule for a young, energetic woman, we DO wear out more as we age, and simply can't handle all the demands that we routinely aced in our youth.

even if you gracefully withdraw, your grandson won't be in full-time daycare (unless the other grandparents are also stepping back?) being in daycare a couple of times a week won't hurt him.

i think you need to have a loving, forthright conversation with your son and DIL. all this guilt and worry is having a toxic effect, not just on your enjoyment of the baby, but your reaction to the suggestion of a sleepover indicates burnout. i'm sure your son didn't suggest it to weigh you down further, but simply to attempt to make things easier on you by sparing you the morning drive. he's trying to be helpful. it doesn't work for you. that's okay. you can say so, with honesty, and with honest appreciation for them trying hard to make it more doable for you.

i get that it's hard to have that conversation. but do it. do it lovingly, and without sounding accusatory or judge-y at them, and without apologies and guilt and self-blaming either. it's something you'd like to do for them, it's something you HAVE done for them (you've given them over a year! i wish my babies could have had twice-weekly grandparental care for a year!), but something you can't do any more.

no need for guilt, or remonstrances, or blame. it's just how life works. situations change, and we all adapt. your kids, and grandson, will too.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You've done your time. This is a GREAT time for him to go to daycare - a good daycare, close to their home, will provide him with a fun, stimulating environment where he gets to spend a fun day with other kids his age. If you still want to help out, maybe you can offer to pick him up in the afternoon and stay with him until a parent gets home.

My mom watched my oldest son 4 days a week from birth to 18 months because I was a single mom and couldn't afford any childcare. Once I got a better paying job, I moved him into childcare 2-3 days a week. She still watched him a couple of days, but I *always* brought him to her house and picked him up there. It added a substantial amount of time to my commute but as the parent, that was my responsibility, not hers. My mom also watched my younger boys 2-3 days a week when they were younger and again, we always brought them to her house and picked them up. If you son's schedule doesn't allow this, he needs a new job, or his wife needs to drive. The driving should not be on you.

It's time to let them know that this arrangement is straining you and your needs have changed. They both work FT and can afford some childcare, so they need to step up and pay for at least a few days a week of care. If the thought of him being somewhere 10+ hours a day kills you, then offer to take him either early in the morning or in the afternoon. My sister sometimes works 10 hour days so on those days, my parents would take my niece from 6-9 AM and bring her to daycare after, or would pick her up at 3 and stay until 6. That way they still got to help out, but it wasn't such a long day.

You've been more than generous. Speak up and let them know that your needs have changed. It'll be OK, really!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You are responsible for managing your life in the way that is best for you and your husband. Loving your grandchild does not mean you're responsible for taking care of him.

I suggest that sacrificing your well being to care for your grandchild is not healthy. I suggest you are co-dependent. I suggest you read about co-dependancy so that you're able to make decisions based on your own needs.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Sit down and think about what would work best for you. Would one full day a week work well? Would two half days work well? Or do you just want to babysit a couple times a month? Once you decide what you want to do then you should talk to your son and DIL and let them know that what you are currently doing just does not work for you and you are unhappy about it. Tell them you love them, you love your sweet little grandson and you love helping as well as getting quality time but that it is just too much for you right now. Tell them how many hours you can do. Ask how you all can make this work. Start the conversation going and see what they have to say. That is what I would do.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I have a couple of questions, at first. Is the reason you're watching your grandson so that both of his parents can work full time? How are their finances? Can they afford child care either by a nanny or at a day care center, or are they struggling financially? Are they responsible with their money, or are they jetting off to Vegas or paying for premium cable tv channels while always being late on the rent? Do they rely on you because they think that's what grandparents do, or because they are broke for a good reason (medical bills or some other expensive emergency that's beyond their control)?

I wonder, also, why your DIL would text you about such a substantial and significant arrangement as having her toddler spend a night with you on a steady basis? That's a huge favor to ask and a big decision. That's not the kind of thing you text about.

Either they could start paying you for this regular child care you provide, and for gas, or else they could find an alternative. With a disabled husband, you have plenty to deal with already.

Do you feel that you could talk honestly with them and tell them that your husband needs you, and your finances are tight due to his disability, and that you need to discuss the babysitting arrangements? Are you prepared to speak honestly with them and not wishy-washy?

It sounds like you need that Bible study, for the fellowship, for the support, and for your own personal time to relax. You're pulled between caring for your husband and caring for your grandson and having to drive a long way to do it, and now finances are tight. I don't think you sound whiny at all. Caring for a disabled person (even if you don't need to do physical things like bathing or assisting with personal tasks or mobility, but simply provide emotional and loving support) is a very demanding task. I know. I do it for my medically disabled daughter. It's exhausting. There are insurance claims and appointments and medications, and there's the fact that you are often that person's mental and emotional strength and encouragement.

It's ok to know your limits.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Wow, you should feel no guilt. You have done so much for this family.

I'm sorry if they don't understand that you have a life, a marriage that you have put on hold for them with no pay.

I feel like you are used. I know you love your grandchild but you have a life. Your son has a family he is responsible for and that does not fall on any obligation by you.

I would gladly watch a grandchild, however , I would do so knowing that it was not expected of me or my daughter felt entitled. You care out of love.

You are being used. Please step back, don't feel guilty and take care of your obligations. Shame on your son if they don't get it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Do what is right for you, but i only hope i can spend time with my grandkids like this some day. I'm sorry your husband has problems, It sounds like you could use some respite care for him.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think it's time to sit down and have a pow wow. See if you can come up with something that works best for you.

I can't really talk because I watch my granddaughters five days a week. I get up at 5:30. Leave here at 6:10. Stop and get my coffee and arrive at 6:35 or so. My son and DIL leave at 6:50. Thankfully they moved closer now. I used to do the traffic thing and drive 25 miles each way. I would bring them back to my house so 100 miles a day. Now they are 8 miles from me. No traffic. Just easier for me to go to them. Then I drop oldest (3yo) at preschool and take youngest (21 mos) to music class or library or we come home and she plays with Papa. Pick 3yo up at noon and we are off with friends to park, library gym. They get picked up at 5. I go to bed early.

My pay: the hugs, kisses, the smiles and laughter. They bring us great joy. It goes by fast. Before we know it they will be in school. It helps that my friends also babysit their grandchildren. We have our same group again, only 40 years later. It works for me and my husband but not everyone can or wants to do this and that's OK. We are 65 and 72 yikes lol. Oh well. Off to bed. Hope you can work something out. If not do t feel guilty.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Typically I am very much on the side of the grandparent put in this position. I see grandparents as full time daycare providers and wonder what is wrong with their children. How can they expect full time care and some of the grandparents are quite old. In your case though, you're 57, not 77. 57 is young. And keeping busy will help you stay young. And two days a week leaves you five to yourself. I see grandparents doing 5 days a week. I didn't follow the 5am thing but if they expect you there at 5am, then that is ridiculous. I don't see why you can't get there when the wife leaves vs your son. But aside from that, it's your choice whether to babysit or not but one child for two days at your age doesn't seem onerous. Now that you have to pick up a part time job, I can see it getting to be too much. So I'd let finances dictate. Seems easy. They pay you what you'd make working part time or they pay for daycare. It's very easy now for you to explain why you need things to change.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You shouldn't feel guilty. You are such a major help to the parents and you get to see the grandkids often. I have never understood how grown children expect their parents to play a primary role in childcare for what seems to become an endless job. You deserve your leisure time and downtime that is kid-free. I think you should tell them that you are stretched thin and that you are not willing to do any more. I suggest you have a conversation with your son, not the other grandma. I have a co-worker who sits for her grandkids. Her kids don't even try to arrange for a sitter or make other arrangements and they just keep having kids and she becomes the sitter for them all. She finally told them that they should identify primary sitters and she would be the back up. This has worked so far.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Asheville on

You really should have said something when it first became a problem. Now you are resentful, and that's no good for anyone. I am not a grandma, but my mother and my husband's mother watched both my kids when they were babies (we paid them). I would be upset if I knew my mom or MIL felt this way and didn't say a word about it to me- not because they didn't want to keep my child anymore, but that it's escalated to a point where resentment crept in. I'm sure your son and daughter-in-law will understand and can make other arrangements. However, you have to be upfront with them and tell them what you have told us- you are wiped out, and can't handle it anymore. You sound like a loving and caring grandma, but don't let something like this fester for too much longer. It's not fair to you, your grandson, or his parents.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

No, you're fine. I don't know of any other grandparent that goes to the child. The child usually travels to the babysitter. I guess this is perfect for your grandson though, he gets to stay at home all day and see both grandmas.

I suggest you tell the parents that you need to switch with other grandma due to xxxxxxx, blah blah blah. Whatever reason you give. If they aren't willing to do that then let them know you will be leaving them as a nanny on XX-XX-2015. This will give them plenty of time to find someone or get other grandma to come on the days you're not available.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I would let them know that it has become a burden. Let them know that you love them and your grandson, but you need to pick up a part time job, and unless they want to pay you, you need to look elsewhere. Try not to be angry, or act like you're angry, just let them know the score. Give them a time frame to find a new babysitter or daycare and stick with it.

1 mom found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions