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to wonder if it's unusual that parents who live close by don't want to visit or help with children?

(54 Posts)
williaminajetfighter Sat 24-Oct-15 12:35:13

My parents live an hour away in London and are circa 70 but very active. We have a good relationship, no fallings out at all, but they are just not very interested in my children, aged 2 and 10. In the time that I've lived this close (4 years) they've come to visit twice and only for an afternoon, otherwise I try to travel down to see them with the children, but it's intermittently and visits only last a few hours. In all this time they've never offered to help look after the children at all; I've never asked because I just don't think it's on their radar. I have invited them to come see me and they usually decline.

My mother has spells of ill health so I totally understand that they may not be willing or comfortable traveling to see me.

It makes me feel a bit jealous when I see the help that other people get from their families but I don't think I'm going to change things now, am I? Has anyone else experienced this or are resigned to this sort of infrequent interest? I've not raised the issue with my family as I don't think I can force them to become more interested.

treaclesoda Sat 24-Oct-15 12:40:02

My PIL live about ten minutes walk away, about 2 to 3 mins by car. They never visit us.

Having said that, they aren't disinterested either, they do love their grandchildren. But they want to see them on their terms, in their home. They don't visit us or take them for days out. My parents are similar, although they are in poorer health.

I can't say it bothers me though. It's perfectly normal for our family.

williaminajetfighter Sat 24-Oct-15 12:42:00

thx treacle. Interesting and good to know. Does it bother you or is it just your 'normal'?

Caprinihahahaha Sat 24-Oct-15 12:43:04

Yes. My in laws are 15 minutes away but are not the slightest bit interested in the children. They rarely visited when my older children were small and now DD I'd 13 they have met her literally once.
It's just them. I struggled with it for a long time - it ltook me a decade to understand that they are really just not interested at all in chikdren. Don't want to be around them or engage with them.

My DH now just goes to see them to catch up on what they are doing. They are just self absorbed - interested in their hobbies of travel, food and gardening - and don't care about much else.

It feels hurtful. It worried me that if my children were different somehow would they be interested but it's really not that. Once my eldest son was about 15/16 they started trying to see him. Now he is 22 they are always asking about him and trying to find ways to see him but, of course he's not interested. We stopped even trying when DD was born and she doesn't miss them - she doesn't know them.
It's just how people are sometime.

(Massive irony - they are both teachers)

Caprinihahahaha Sat 24-Oct-15 12:45:36

I should add it felt hurtful when DS 1 was small because we were all still trying back then and poor DS1 blamed himself for their lack of interest. Now it is normal and I really don't care.

I do dread the day one of them dies. The other will be around here in minutes.

treaclesoda Sat 24-Oct-15 12:45:40

It's just normal for us.

They would babysit quite happily if we asked but we don't really like to ask, and they don't offer.

Anyway, I can understand if you would prefer it to be different, I'm not belittling your feelings. But in my experience it isn't terribly unusual, particularly with older grandparents.

CookieMonsterIsOnADiet Sat 24-Oct-15 12:46:22

I never get the lack of free childcare means they don't care, I've never found that to be the case. I'm extremely close to younger cousins, nephews and friends children yet rarely provide childcare.

I think grandparents should be free to live their own lives. They have raised their children and shouldn't have to start again. We know when we become parents what a huge responsibility it is but its a choice we make.

The grandparents i see providing regular care look shattered and taken for granted, it's sad to see. Selfish adults wanting free time or to avoid paying nursery at the expense of others.

ReloKayShon Sat 24-Oct-15 12:46:56

I don't think an hour is very close, that's quite a trek for a 70 year old surely? Do they drive? Do they drive confidently?

And a couple of hours here and there seems ok to me. It's about what my kids and me can tolerate in terms of a visit.

Maybe they are trying not to interfere?

I dunno. Mine and PIL are just around the corner and I find it a bit suffocating seeing them a lot. When they all "visit" on a weekend as harsh as it sounds, I find it really disruptive - we are busy, the house needs sorting/tidying/decorating, the kids need feeding/changing/taking to parties, we've got hair appointments and errands to run, or god forbid we want a day out somewhere fun together, yet they announce they are coming and we need to all stop what we're doing and host them for a couple of hours at their convenience. The children get bored of sitting in the same room listening to chatter too.

I'm hoping when the children are older, the grandparents might offer to take them out for an hour/morning/afternoon/day on the off occasion, but in all honesty, weekends are the only time we can do stuff as a family the four of us too. So it's difficult to fit everything and everyone in. Perhaps your parents are aware of this and are simply giving you some space?

Could you ask if they'd like to see more of the kids? Could they handle taking one out somewhere? 2 and 10 must be tricky ages to find activities that are suitable/pleasing for both.

caravanista13 Sat 24-Oct-15 12:55:53

I think it's really sad. My Mum clearly loved my DCs but made very little effort with them. I now have a DGD and can't imagine not being regularly involved in her life. Her parents live an hours drive away - I look after her one day a week and she regularly stays with me and my DH. I feel blessed to have such a close relationship with her.

pigsDOfly Sat 24-Oct-15 13:05:15

I didn't see much of my DM when my own DCs were growing up. I used to visit her occasionally and I think she probably came to see us once or twice; she also lived about an hour/hour and half away.

I'm not massively interested in children either but do seem to spend quite a lot of time - more than I'd like tbh - with my DD and DGD who live a 10 minute walk away, but it's generally only when she wants me to help her out: if she needs a baby sitter, is not well, has a doctor's visit or is just feeling a bit overwhelmed by motherhood etc.

Don't tend to see much of them when her partner's at home as don't tend to be invited then.

I do feel I'm being imposed on sometimes but I remember how much I would have liked support from my own mother when I had small children so tend to suck it up.

Hopefully, you'll give more support to your DCs, when the time comes OP, than your parents are giving you.

JaceLancs Sat 24-Oct-15 13:05:58

My parents live 15-20 minute drive away
When I told them I was expecting PFB before even saying congratulations I was told 'hope you are not expecting us to look after it!'
DD is now 24 and DS 22, they have never spent a night in their GP home, even though I ended up as a lone parent when they were 3 and 5, I could only ask for childcare in an emergency or for something like a hospital appointment (although I preferred to ask friends and neighbours first as they were more willing)
My parents are now quite elderly and although I visit and help occasionally - I do not prioritise them as much as others who are closer to me
The other net result is that they do not enjoy the same close bond with their grandchildren as I had with my own GP who I spent a lot more time with (spent most childhood weekends and holidays with)

teeththief Sat 24-Oct-15 13:11:53

I live around the corner from my parents and a 10 minute drive from the in laws. They babysit if we ask but that is a rarity. They both used to take all the grandchildren out at least twice a year but don't any more and my parents have been to my house twice off their own backs. I've lived here for 15 years!! It does bother me that they don't show much interest in my children, especially as the in laws see SIL's children at least 3 times a week and they drive past our house to get there, but it doesn't seem to bother my children and they always seem happy to go and visit their grandparents.

I don't think an hour away is particularly close but I do understand how hurtful it can be when they don't seem interested.

SummerNights1986 Sat 24-Oct-15 13:17:11

My MIL lives two roads away from us, about a 5 minute walk.

She doesn't work, and is in her 50's and active. But we rarely see her - once every 3 weeks for an hour maybe. I could count on one hand the number of times she's babysat the dc and she never offers. Or particularly makes much of an effort to see us/them.

She is a serial facebook meme spammer and posts about 5 'Grandkids are my world', 'family are the most important thing' type stickers a day which makes me hmm. She also tags herself in any photos I put on fb of the kids, and then her and all her cronies have a 25 comment long conversation under the pic about how beautiful the dc are, how she must be such a proud grandma etc, with her lapping up the attention.

It used to wind me up but nowadays I just hmm and let it go.

ahbollocks Sat 24-Oct-15 13:26:30

Dh dad works a 70 hour week but comes every week rain or shine, his DM lives in the same town but I think has come twice in the past year, both times because I was doing her a favour.
No idea

WomanScorned Sat 24-Oct-15 13:34:26

My parents both live within a mile of me. PIL are closer still. None of them have ever looked after DS2, who is 5, nor offered to take him anywhere.
My dad took DS1 to his caravan for a week 15 years ago, when my marriage ended and I was in pieces, not eating, sleeping etc.
But none of them miss him, or seem to want him around.
I've asked my mum 3 times, if she could watch DS2 and have had 2 refusals. The time I was helping my brother in a new job, in new premises - filthy, neglected B&B, rank bathrooms etc, I asked her if she could collect him and take him around the town while I used bleach and other chemicals. She was in town anyway, but brought him back 40 minutes later, with a Poundland toy (I gave her £5). She then sat in the bar for 2 hours, while I cleaned the place with DS in a sling (presumably my £4 change went behind the bar!)
They know my ex is very unreliable and that I rarely get a break, as DS2 still sleeps badly.
I find it extremely hurtful, and feel envious when I see his classmates run up to their doting grandparents.
I don't think it's that unusual, tho. He has 2 little friends, whose grandparents are about as indifferent to them as DS's are. sad

1AngelicFruitCake Sat 24-Oct-15 14:08:08

I hate it when people say how 'selfish' parents are for letting grandparents look after their children. Each situation is different. My parents have my toddler 1 day a week then the other 2 days she's at nursery. They insisted that they wanted more and didn't want her to go to nursery when they could have her. We disagreed as didn't want to put on them and think it's worked out well.

To return to the OP, I don't think you're being unreasonable. We dint really have any other family so lucky my parents are involved but I don't understand a complete lack of interest at all. They sound very self involved.

woodhill Sat 24-Oct-15 14:25:40

Real shame, my in laws were wonderful as was my mum who helped with school pick ups. My dc are practically adult and love their gps.

sorry that's your experience.

williaminajetfighter Sat 24-Oct-15 14:28:06

Thx for all your comments and interesting to see the various situations others are/have experienced, some of which are quite sad.

I totally understand that grandparents want (and need) to have their own lives and in no way expect them to babysit or look after my children - I think it's more the fact that wouldn't even consider to offer.

They have always been very focused on themselves as a couple and very 'inward looking' - if that makes sense - so they are equally disinterested in my life but I just hoped that they'd show a bit more interest in my children.

GlitteryRollerGirl Sat 24-Oct-15 14:29:38

My own grandparents on my DM's side were like this. They were completley uninterested in any of their grandkids and never looked after any of us, even in emmergencies. It was an odd dynamic, my Nan didn't seem to like kids very much at all, despite having had her own, and whenever we went to see her she alway treated us a bit of a nuisance. My grandad was a nice man but completely under the thumb and just went a long with what she said.

I remember one time when my DB was really ill with a horrible ear infection and my DM had to take me along with them to the doctors because they refused to have me. There are lots of similar stories. I think "self involved" is the right description. They were always off on trips and short breaks with their many friends, and loved boasting about us to them but actually had very little to do with us.

The best part is, when they got older and their health started to deteriorate they would phone my mum and her siblings and expect them to drop eveyrthing to run around after them, and would get quit affronted if they didn't. They also couldn't understand why the grandkids rarely visited them.

On the other hand, my dads mum (his dad died before I was born) was a lovely, warm and kind woman who I miss terribly. She was completely the opposite and very involved in her grand kids lives.

Savagebeauty Sat 24-Oct-15 14:31:24

If my grown up children lived near me, I wouldn't be seeing them that much. No plans to be a hands on grandma at all.

BertPuttocks Sat 24-Oct-15 14:54:48

My mother lives 2 miles away.

My 5yr-old wouldn't recognise her if she saw her. My 9yr-old vaguely remembers seeing her when she was younger but has forgotten what she looks like. My two teenagers have no interest in her whatsoever.

She spends a lot of time with her other grandchild, including trips and sleepovers, but can't be bothered to even visit my children.

These days we're very much used to it and it's just a way of life for us. My mother has become a bit like one of those distant relatives who you know exists somewhere, but who you don't really think about much anymore.

Iammad Sat 24-Oct-15 15:16:26

As far as my children are concerned to my mother they don't exist, my mum is ill but never asks after them.
The one time I did take my girls to see her there were told to shut up they were 2&3 and not being loud!
My dad drinks to oblivion so I refuse to take my children round.
My mil passed away just before eldest was born, and I know how much it would of ment to her to see her grandchildren.
Fil does pop round, and he will have the children for an hour if needed.
But we don't like to ask him.
I can not change my parents, my children know that they have a mum and dad and two aunties who love them dearly and that's what we focus on.
Sod the ones who can't not be bothered.

Abidewithme3 Sat 24-Oct-15 15:34:07

That's sad op.

Me and dh are 50 and expecting our first grandchild. I am soooo excited to be having him/her 3 days a week after my dils maternity leave. Am a cm too so he/she will fit right in. I am so gratified they trust me.

We still have teen dds at home and later today everyone is coming to ours for sat dinner and chat.

My parents in their 80s and can't wait to see the baby and are interested and engaged in family life.

Don't get me wrong me and dh have our own lives of course but our kids/grand kids/dils come too priority.

Our main issue will be not to offer to have then too much as wouldn't want to be pushy.

Still others are different.

hopelesslydevotedtoGu Sat 24-Oct-15 15:40:16

My DM lives around 1.5 hours away, although I could meet her 1 hour away from her home. We see her once a month only, she enjoys it, but when I invite her more often she says no. At first I thought it might be her age (she is 70) but actually I think she is quite emotionally disconnected and doesn't see the benefit of investing in relationships. My father is abusive and she is still with him and doesn't see anything amiss with their marriage, she seems to have adjusted her expectations of relationships, so I think she doesn't think there can be more to a family relationship than having a pleasant afternoon once a month. I don't visit her at home as I don't want to see my abusive father and visit a house where I was unhappy. I think her understanding of relationships is superficial as she said I shouldn't 'make a fuss' or 'upset him' hmm

Relationships are so important and are worth investing in. I am perplexed by grandparents who don't want to build relationships with their grandchildren and would rather while away their time on hobbies and casual friends. Their choice obviously, but

Abidewithme3 Sat 24-Oct-15 15:52:12


That's a really sad post. My youngest is 16 but all my children could count on me until I die.

I dread the days they won't need/want my help. I can't see that happening somehow.

Surely you can obviously have your own interests and hobbies but support your family too?

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