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to find grandparents visits increasingly difficult

(75 Posts)
kalms1971 Fri 06-Sep-13 15:52:01

Our son is 7. He has enjoyed playing with friends all summer. Now he has a bit more freedom we are finding it hard to manage him when we visit grandparents and when they visit our house. At their house he gets frustrated and to be honest, bored. If they come to our house he just wants to be in the garden or out with his friends (they are allowed to play in front of our house) He doesn't want to play on the floor with toys in the living room anymore. He isn't allowed in their garden and when they visit our house they just sit on the settee for 2 hours. Help! same problem every weekend

Salmotrutta Sat 07-Sep-13 00:05:09

Sitting on the settee sofa for two hours does not imply "ignoring".

And neither does someone nodding off.

I'm in my 50s.

I have grandchildren.

Sometimes I nod off.

The last statement does not indicate that I ignore my grandchildren.

There is accurate interpretation of the written word... and there is extrapolation.

WafflyVersatile Sat 07-Sep-13 00:10:21

If you are going to nod off in the company of visitors you can't really complain if they seem a little bored.

2rebecca Sat 07-Sep-13 00:18:51

I think wanting to visit someone every week and then falling asleep is rude. Why not visit less often if you get bored and sleepy or go home when you start to feel tired and have ran out of conversation?
I think just plonking yourself on a sofa and not moving for 2 years is as good as ignoring a primary school age child. Why not get down and play lego with them or do stuff. Play with them rather than just expecting to be passively entertained.

Salmotrutta Sat 07-Sep-13 00:20:58


I'm interested in the fact that the grandparents (MIL?) have been nodding off for 20 years?
This suggests they are less than youthful surely?

If OP has known them to nod off for 20 years she must have been with their son for that long at least.

So they may actually be quite oldish.

When you get to be 60ish and beyond it can be a bit tiring if you work full time and someone expects you to be all singing and dancing at the weekend.

Salmotrutta Sat 07-Sep-13 00:23:33

Are you a Grandma 2rebecca?

I am.

I get tired sometimes.

"Go figure" as our transatlantic cousins might say.

AgentZigzag Sat 07-Sep-13 00:39:17

I must have been quite lucky because I liked listening to my mum talk to my GM, they must have forgotten I was there when they were talking about suspected murder, adultery and abandoning children in the family shock

It was great at 8/9 YO grin

The OP drip feeding saying her DS has ADHD must mean he's cut some slack? It's horrible at any age to have to routinely sit through listening to that ticking clock, and you can only get the techniques to deal with it by learning to be bored as a child, but not every single week.

olidusUrsus Sat 07-Sep-13 00:47:43

I agree with Salmo et al.

Being with my grandparents was boring as fuck sometimes, especially when they played games with rules I didn't understand, or got cross with the noise I and my sisters made.

But our parents had taught us empathy and that our grandparents had limited time with us, so we sucked it up (and our maternal grandmother always gave us a fiver each which helped wink)

She is my last remaining grandparent and I occasionally send her flowers between visits to remind her I'm thinking of her, which she pretends is silly but she loves.

I agree kalms's DS should be cut some slack for being unfortunate enough to have ADHD, so perhaps he could try to engage them a little more, rather being sat on the settee and listening to the clock tick.

I know it goes both ways but sometimes very old grandparents are a bit rubbish at that mine were because of the gaps in generations, so the least you can do is teach him to be polite. That means maybe starting some conversation, asking how they are and perhaps not playing on the iPad until they've left.

If he's shot down, well he can't be blamed. At least he did his bit. I'd agree with inviting them over at a different time for tea to see if they're a bit more lively about the whole visiting thing.

Perhaps they're nodding off because they're bored.

CharityFunDay Sat 07-Sep-13 05:02:53

Who was it said: "You should be a grandparent first, then a parent"?

This thread is so sad. There's plainly a communication gulf between child and grandparent.

But the onus has to be on the grandparents to build bridges.

Perhaps the OP could suggest some things the grandparents could do that a kid might appreciate?

One thing that springs to mind is: A subscription to his favourite comic, so that he has something to look forward to when he visits and something to occupy him while he's there?

Do they have a local shop they could take him to, to pick up groceries (but secretly to buy him sweets)? This would help distract an energetic child.

Pocket money: He may already be getting pocket money from OP but a top-up from gran and granddad is always welcome, however small.

Food! Kids are always hungry. Organise with the grandparents to eat together at the table, and then make sure he turns up hungry (or at least peckish, if 'hungry' would lead to a meltdown!).

Explain to the grandparents that they get the enjoyable end of parenting, with the bonus that the child goes home after a bit! So they should make the most of it.

I speak as someone who had a hugely enriching grandparental relationship while I was growing up. My paternal grandmother was like a second mother to me. And yes, they spoilt me rotten. But that indulgence set me up for a lifetime bond with them. I have a picture of them on my bedroom mirror (with my granddad proudly wearing the scarf I knitted for him for Christmas when I was ten) and there isn't a day goes by without me looking fondly at it, despite the fact that my granddad died in 2001 and gran died in 2010.

OP, I hope it's not too late to salvage a decent relationship between the generations. Good luck.

Cerisier Sat 07-Sep-13 06:14:59

Years ago my PIL built a golf course round the garden, made a shed for playing in, bought a table tennis table, toys and various DVDs all to help entertain the grandchildren when they visited. Our DC learnt all the card games they know from MIL, and they still can't beat her at table tennis!

I think your PIL need to make a lot more of an effort and you need to make a plan of things DS can do while they are at yours. Jigsaws, cards, films everyone likes might be starting points?

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 07-Sep-13 06:33:01

This brings back horrible memories of my childhood and going to visit various elderly relatives. I had to sit quietly on the sofa - not allowed to read, as that would be rude, just to sit there - seen and not heard, while the adults all talked about people I'd never met - Old Renee and Old Doll. It was utterly, mind blowingly, screamingly boring. I had a lot of old aunts, all of whom had to be visited in rotation, and my Gran, who only ever used to laugh at someone else's misfortune (she told us she was going to die on Christmas Eve and ruin Christmas for everyone, and she did precisely that, although my mother did say to her "What makes you think it would ruin Christmas?" grin). Not allowed to play in gardens - all neatly manicured with lots of ornaments, just to sit, for hours. If I was especially unlucky, the trip would also feature a trip to Brentford Nylons seconds shop, and/or MFI.

friday16 Sat 07-Sep-13 06:44:43

"When you get to be 60ish and beyond it can be a bit tiring if you work full time"

So why also demand two hours per week? Why not have a rest one weekend, if it's so tiring?

FriskyHenderson Sat 07-Sep-13 06:51:22

I have every sympathy with the OP and due to a similar situation, DH visits his mother with a different child in rotation. I really don't think it's fair to take them on a 3 hour journey then sit them in a small front room where they are supposed to not move/talk while MIL goes on about someone none of us have ever met who has died, over the tv on at volume, then go for a meal they won't like where again they are expected to sit still and listen to her telling them again about someone none of us has met who has died, then go back and sit still in the front room until it's time for the 3 hour drive home.

If the DC do move, it provokes comments about how lively they are; if they want to talk about anything it's a comment about how chatty they are. If we go to the park, she stays in the car; if we go into the garden she makes comments about how noisy they are. Basically because they are not like an 87 year old.

CreatureRetorts Sat 07-Sep-13 07:22:10

Grandparents are people who should have some manners. Sleeping with company is rude unless you let them get on with it. Not insisting they stay in one place etc.

My DCs grandparents are nothing like this. They're in their 70s, full of energy, you're allowed in the garden etc etc. the children love going there.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Sat 07-Sep-13 07:32:54

The op has just stated her son has ADHD. It must be extremely difficult for him and tbh if letting him have a run about in the garden would help I honestly don't see why he can't. Surely making him sit there for two hours is torturing the poor kid.

I really don't see why he can't just go out. He's old enough to not need anyone out there with him can't you just watch from the window.

MrsLouisTheroux Sat 07-Sep-13 07:57:54

The OP really should have stated that her son has ADHD at the start. I have no idea in that case. You would be better off talking to the GParents about the situation.

Generally speaking. a 7 year old child should be capable of taking 2 hours out of their day to do things that they wouldn't normally choose to do. If the GPs aren't active and just sit on the sofa then sit with them and talk to them. What's wrong with playing the same board games over and over? It's 2 hours not a whole day.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Sat 07-Sep-13 08:36:31

Even if the visit is so dull even the gran falls asleep?

I don't see how it's rude for the boy to go outside but acceptable for them to fall asleep.

hettienne Sat 07-Sep-13 08:43:55

I would compromise that he stays in for the first half hour of the visit and you all have a drink and some cake or something, and then he can go out and play.

If visits to their house are really dull then bring some DVDs or a tablet for him and keep those visits to monthly at most.

friday16 Sat 07-Sep-13 08:55:31

"Generally speaking. a 7 year old child should be capable of taking 2 hours out of their day to do things that they wouldn't normally choose to do. If the GPs aren't active and just sit on the sofa then sit with them and talk to them. "

Firstly, why should the child give up two hours of their day for people who won't make an effort themselves and often fall asleep?

And secondly, adults rarely "sit on the soda and talk" for two hours. Some do. Most don't. To expect that of a 7 year old is ludicrous. Two hours a week is a hundred hours a year. You could deliver a GCSE in that time. What the hell does a seven year old talk about, to the same people, for a hundred hours a year?

2rebecca Sat 07-Sep-13 10:47:27

2 hours is a large proportion of your day, especially if you exclude time for eating, getting dressed having a bath and getting ready to bed.
I wouldn't want to give 2 hours of my day up to sitting on a sofa every weekend. At least the parents choose this lifestyle. Let the kid say hello and then get on with his life.

fluffyraggies Sat 07-Sep-13 11:12:56

What 2rebecca said ^

I think the every weekend thing is a major part of the problem here. Now the boy is older. I wonder why it has to be 2 hours? Do the OP and the GPs live far apart? If not i'd suggest that if it has to be every weekend, then 45 mins to an hour is long enough.

Love to know why he cant go in the garden. Is it all given over to a veg plot or something?

When i was a little kid i would be expected to sit at both my grandmothers houses on visits for a while, quietly and politely chatting and drinking my tea (cup and saucer). The highlight of that bit was when the buiscuit barrel came out! After an age half hour or so i would be ok'd to go and play in another part of the house/garden with toys i had bought with me or the toys nan always had for me at her house (only child).

My DCs were expected to do the same when they were small. There has to be give and take. 2 hours is too long to sit quiet listening to small talk. But they had to keep their part of the deal and sit nicely for a while first.

To be honest i can still remember being under 10 and creeping about both my nans houses looking at her things like the old fashioned dressing table/massive wardrobe of coats/old fireplaces etd. Not big houses, just so different to my parent's. This would only be once a month or so though.

Just have to say shock, i remember Brentford Nylons MrsSchadenfreude! What a blast from the past grin

MadeOfStarDust Sat 07-Sep-13 11:17:30

2 hours is such a small time to the grandparents though ... and not every grandparent is a sprightly spring chicken - my FIL had emphysemia and my dad had a brain injury - should my kids not have seen them because they couldn't "engage" with them for all of 2 hours...

It seems to be too much to ask these days to just be with people - FAMILY - for 2 hours in a week.... do people not just do nothing but be with folks sometimes any more... maybe I'm not stimulating my kids enough, but sitting chatting, colouring, playing a card game or just being with their family is a normal part of their weekend... and sometimes they do these thing without their grandparents being around too....

fragola Sat 07-Sep-13 11:46:58

I think some people here are being very unfair re MIL falling asleep. Older people often suffer from disturbed sleep at night, making them more likely to fall asleep during the day. Also chronic health conditions and medications can also contribute to this.

I am constantly saddened by the lack of empathy shown towards older people sad.

hettienne Sat 07-Sep-13 12:16:38

Old people fall asleep, but young children go and play. I think there needs to be some consideration for everyone in the family! 2 hours of sitting quietly chatting isn't a good afternoon for a 7 year old.

Gunznroses Sat 07-Sep-13 13:11:20

I think some posters are seriously missing the point here, old people falling asleep during the day is not the issue, its the expectation for a 7 yr old to sit quietly whilst GP nods off that is the problem.

I think fluffys description of her visits i.e sit and have polite chit chat for half hr, followed by biscuits then playtime sounds like the ideal type of visit (if there's no other activity planned).

Jan49 Sat 07-Sep-13 13:33:16

When I was a child we saw my maternal gps twice a week and I loved seeing them and spending time with them. One evening a week, they came to our house, maybe for around 4 hours, which included tea, and every Sunday we went to them for Sunday lunch and stayed until the evening, so I suppose around 7 hours. We rarely went anywhere outdoors with them but talked and played games. They were in their 60s/70s. I used to particularly love Sundays at their house. I think the visits mainly revolved around eating food and playing games.

I think it's rude to let a 7 y.o. play outside whilst they are visiting, unless it's in the garden and the gps are joining in a game with him. I appreciate he has a short attention span but I think he should spend their visit with them. You just need more and different things for him to do. If you have a meal whilst they are there, that will take up quite a lot of the time so there wouldn't be so much sitting on the sofa. Rather than letting him go off outdoors, could you find activities which the gps will enjoy doing with him, or maybe an activity which he does and they enjoy watching, and then if they fall asleep treat that as the time for him to go outdoors. We used to visit a very elderly relative and there was nothing to do but sit, drink tea and talk, so we encouraged our son to draw. It's more sociable and you can do it whilst still being present and not separate. It kept him happy and he'd present the resulting artwork to the relative.

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