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AIBU...to wish my kids had a grandmother who gives a shit?

(26 Posts)
Charlieismydarlin Mon 20-Feb-17 13:54:09

This could be long but will try to summarise briefly. I'm one of four and each of us has an "interesting" relationship with our mother who has tried her best, but been an odd mix of cold, pushy and needy. (She got divorced from my father a while ago, and he also wouldn't win any grandparent awards but lives further away). She is very controlling and, for example, was furious that I chose to move even a little distance away as it would make her harder to visit. She is the kind of mother who has always put her and her needs first, which is why I shouldn't be surprised by my current complaint...

I've just spent yet another weekend meet with my mum and siblings/grandchildren and come away feeling utterly hurt and bewildered and exhausted. My mum often says she wants to see the grandchildren more and does so with guilt laden comments/tears (we recently moved 20 minutes away, rather than round the corner). So to meet up this weekend, I cancelled my plans with DH and drove all the kids into town to meet her and my siblings.

This latest meet involved my mum simply ignoring the kids and drinking coffee whilst she sat in a café and they played outside. My youngest is a toddler and was in her buggy so I left her with my mum and siblings for all of 5 minutes before they said they couldn't cope, without even an effort to push her in in the buggy or speak or engage with her at all. So I spent 2.5 hours alone in the play area with all the kids (which I enjoyed as the kids are all lovely but a lot of work for me on my own) but no suggestion of coming to see us, check I didn't need a coffee or pee stop etc. I couldn't understand the point of us all meeting.

The last time we met was similar and in a place for lunch whereupon I was criticised even for bringing the youngest as she would spoil things and again the children were expected to sit silently with ipads etc. I don't like this and prefer to speak to the kids on my precious days off with them and found myself becoming more and more irritated.

My mum offers to babysit but says she can't really manage as she doesn't do nappies. She will look after my older child for a short time as long as I return "as quickly as I can" and put the TV on. She seems unable to engage directly with them and finds them terribly hard work. (They aren't - they are normal young children). There would be no way in a million years I could rely on her or indeed ask her for things like childcare when nursery wasn't open or we as parents were ill etc. I hear stories of such grandparents and feel amazed!

To be clear, I never ask for any help or indeed expect any help from my mum and I appreciate she has "done" her time. But when she moans she wants to see the kids and asks me to give up our family time (with DH), I would expect her to show some interest at that point.

We recently lost both my husband's parents who were engaged and interested and loved their grandchildren, so it feels even harder now they have lost them and the grandparents they have left are so disinterested.

Has anyone else got such grandparents? I feel so hurt by it all.

CMOTDibbler Mon 20-Feb-17 14:00:51

Yup. My ILs. Though to add to the pain they were super attentive to the older 5 GC and then can't be arsed with ds. My parents are too ill (dementia for mum, ill health and early dementia for dad) to be grandparents, and none of ds's aunts/uncles could give a toss either.

Dashper Mon 20-Feb-17 14:04:26

Yup. My dad is like that. We live a 7 hour train ride away from him. He asks when we'll visit, gives 3 yo DS a cuddle, takes photos, says how lovely he is, then barely interacts with him.
He's asked when we're visiting next. I'm about to finally go back to work after having DS. Having discovered Dad has time for my older DSis and her DS to visit at Easter but not us, I frankly can't be arsed to make the effort.

Iris65 Mon 20-Feb-17 14:12:34

My mother was exactly like that with my now grown up DS. She complains that he has nothing to do with them now, but other spending lots of money on him she really didn't make any effort.
My Dad is a bully who pretends that its 'just good fun' and treated DS as me and my sister were. Constant teasing until he was in tears, 'playfights' that ended up hurting him, games that my Dad had to win otherwise he threw a tantrum. Fortunately they lived some distance away and DS was never alone with them long enough to endure the rows he had woth my mother. Dad was also scared enough of me and my DH to not hit DS either whoch he did with me and my sister and her children.

charlestonchaplin Mon 20-Feb-17 14:20:43

You've had all your life to learn to accept the mother that you have. You've given a pretty damning assessment of her character in the first paragraph yet you expect her to have some sort of overnight personality transplant on the appearance of grandchildren. Some disappointment is normal but this sense of being cheated when grandparents don't live up to a parent's preconceived idea is unhealthy and unhelpful. Those with interested, involved grandparents may well not have other advantages you have, have had or will have.

A general point which I wanted to put on the other thread is that the the relationship you have with your parents before you have children will usually reflect the relationship they have with you and your children when they arrive. If you're too busy living your exciting life to spend time and effort nurturing that relationship, don't be surprised if they are set in their 'hands off' ways when the children finally turn up.

Putthatonyourneedles Mon 20-Feb-17 14:27:22

I had an amazing relationship with my grandparents and I hoped that my kids would have similar but nope. Zilch,zip nadda. Neither set of grandparents can be bothered to return phonecalls or send cards etc. I have a difficult relationship with my mother but this has only worsened to the point where we are non contact.

I feel awful that my children who are blinking amazing haven't got the chance to have a similar relaionship that I had with my grandparents.

Scaredycat3000 Mon 20-Feb-17 14:27:56

I clearly remember, in fact one of my first memories of my PGM was her asking me a question then turning her back no me befor I could answer. So watching MIL doing almost exactly the same to my DC is heartbreaking. And YY to making out she wants to spend time with them, but she also brings the other golden GC so I get to look after them all when she ignores them. She knows the youngest attacks my DC/OH and is never dealt with properly. FIL is nearing the end stages of a degenerative condition, which my DF was more recently diagnosed as the same, but a highly rapid form of dementia has taken my DF in less than a year. Yes it hurts. Two GP can't, one believes she's the best GM but is really the dangerously the worst, that leaves my DM who is lovely too them. They all live very far away. You have, very sadly, one less step than me, it's your M, you get to decide how you want to deal with this and do it. Lots of support on MN and other forums like www.reddit.com/r/JUSTNOMIL/ Best of luck, don't let the hurt eat you up, find a way to make it work for you.

Scaredycat3000 Mon 20-Feb-17 14:33:07

A general point which I wanted to put on the other thread is that the the relationship you have with your parents before you have children will usually reflect the relationship they have with you and your children when they arrive. If you're too busy living your exciting life to spend time and effort nurturing that relationship, don't be surprised if they are set in their 'hands off' ways when the children finally turn up.
Yup, the IL's made little effort befor dc, wining and moaning that they never saw us, when we did visit they'd go out and have nothing to do with us, if the visited our city often didn't even tell us they were there until they left. So no surprise they kept acting the same after the DC arrived.

FlyingElbows Mon 20-Feb-17 14:33:25

Yes op you should just be bloody grateful for whatever disinterest your mother can muster. Ffs charleston! I get your point but your "like a housebrick to the face" delivery is a bit ott.

Op charleston is mostly right, they don't usually turn into magic grannies. My parents are even worse than yours and that's because they weren't interested in us either. My mil died and my mother agreed to babysit for as long as it took to put the coffin in the ground. I won't tell you what happened the second time I asked her to babysit but I now haven't seen her for the best part of ten years.

Just accept it for what it is. Your kids won't miss the granny they never had. It shit and it's not fair and I totally understand how crap it is flowers

Cheerybigbottom Mon 20-Feb-17 14:34:15

Look at your mum with an outsiders eyes. She doesn't really like children does she. I felt a lot calmer once I accepted my mum doesn't actually like kids despite having 6- which she left for a new man. She was not interested in only grandson until he was 4/5 and even then it's just for a FB picture of them and then hes dropped.

I might find it easy to accept though as my own grandparents were the same. Visited once a year and eventually we were forgotten about. Their loss.

Our kids are awesome and only need positive people around them smile

Charlieismydarlin Mon 20-Feb-17 14:34:58

Charles you make good points but one of the reasons I'm so upset now is that I felt we got on basically OK before the children came. That was mainly because of the efforts I made to do things she liked to do. I now have less time and energy as I work/have three young kids myself. She has never had a great relationship with my elder sister who is more selfish than me and has never bothered. I have always made huge efforts with my parents so I do feel cheated. That's exactly it. Despite my parents being the way they are, they have been blessed with decent and caring children who really try.

(I do still make the effort to see her without the kids and indeed this is how I have said we will all have to meet from now on).

Still fucking hurts though.

Sorry to everyone else who has similar. It shouldn't feel so bad.

Will also check out the reddit.com - that's new to me.

Applebite Mon 20-Feb-17 14:35:29

YANBU to be upset and hurt for your DC, particularly as you have lost your in-laws. My DM would have been an amazing grandmother; it breaks my heart daily that she has missed out on my DC (as well as so much else). Meanwhile DP's father, alive and well, hasn't bothered to see him in about 20 years and has made zero effort beyond a facebook post for our DC.

flowers OP, it's hard to realise that you can't make someone else give a shit, however much they should.

Aeroflotgirl Mon 20-Feb-17 14:35:57

I would stop with these meet ups, they are not in you or your children's best interests, and it is clear your mum does not care. Her behaviour sounds controlling and a bit toxic.

Hisstory Mon 20-Feb-17 14:38:37

I think you need to manage it more carefully. If she lives so close just pop in occasionally for a quick coffee with the kids then leave.

I hope you didn't stay the 2 1/2 hours in the park for her sake. I'd have left when I got fed up.

WhereYouLeftIt Mon 20-Feb-17 14:40:58

"But when she moans she wants to see the kids and asks me to give up our family time (with DH), I would expect her to show some interest at that point."
Well, you know she's not going to - so why do you meet up with her? Serious question. Does she guilt you into it? Do your siblings? Does she 'punish' you in some way for non-compliance to her demands? Are you trying against all the odds to foster relationships between your children and her? Who are you doing it for - her, yourself or your children?

I think you need to answer those questions to yourself. As an outsider, it's easy for me to say 'sack her off - when she says she wants to see the DC, tall her she's said that before and it was clear when she did see them she had no interest in them'. But I'm not you, and I haven't been trained by her (and your siblings?) to be her servant.

charlestonchaplin Mon 20-Feb-17 14:41:34

I'm not very diplomatic, that's true. And I certainly don't expect the OP to be grateful for any interest the GM. On the contrary, I think pushing a relationship with such a woman, if the OP's assessment is close to reality, is only likely to cause enduring pain for the OP and her children.

I do expect her, having had plenty of time, to accept the situation and move on mentally and emotionally from it. Don't expect much, don't ask much and therefore don't open yourself up to being hurt time and time again. In short, stop picking the scab.

Charlieismydarlin Mon 20-Feb-17 14:49:21

Where and Charles thanks as it's insightful.

I feel an odd mix of responsibility, duty, sadness and optimism and that is why I keep on trying. I'm relatively empathetic and see my mum sometimes as emotionally closed but not a bad person. She also lays on the guilt "we used to be so close" and "I felt [sibling 2] was so much closer to me before you moved" and the usual stuff about not being around forever. Sometimes she will make the effort with one of the older ones to read them a story and it seems to go OK so I think there is light and hope!

The parent/child ties go so deep that it is incredibly hard simply to walk away.

I should add my other sibling has had to have years of counselling to recover from the parenting style. She really struggles and tends to submit more easily to the demands and puts pressure on me.

MimiTheWonderGoat Mon 20-Feb-17 14:50:47

My own mother is the same (perhaps worse) but luckily we live pretty far away so don't have to see her often. Partner's mother is the opposite, which also has its problems. She's over invested in everything the kids do, and when the youngest was a baby she would phone at least 4 times a day to grill me on what was happening. It got too much and felt very intrusive, especially when she would criticise me for breastfeeding and demand to know when we were starting formula! She showers them with gifts for every occasion and non-occasion to the point that we've told her anything else she sends will be going to charity shops as we just don't have room for any more books and toys.Obviously she is well meaning. My own mother, on the other hand, won't even spare 1 minute to speak to the kids on the phone. She always (all of a sudden) has food cooking or has to go out...or has a headache. At Christmas she said she couldn't find any gifts for the girls but was going to send some tights. She didn't even bother in the end!

charlestonchaplin, I agree if they were crap parents we should not expect much from them as grandparents. My dad has surprised me though and been great (at least in terms of showing interest in the little ones ) . He was a very hands off dad and took the view that kids were to be seen but not heard!

FabricFabric Mon 20-Feb-17 14:52:29

I get it. MIL doesn't give a shit. She's never so much as taken them to the park. She never speaks to them when they visit and has never had them without us. She would never babysit, I asked once and she tore a strip off me. They have never had a sleepover or even an afternoon with her. She won't even help in an emergency. I was hospitalised following an accident 2 months ago. She wouldn't help. If it came down to it, if anything put both me and dh out of action none of the in laws would step in. A nice foster carer would be the best I could hope for. If dh had been in the car with me that day they would have been in foster care. My own parents are both dead, so I really feel they are missing out.

She doles out pocket money, presents at birthday and Christmas and thinks that's enough. They don't want her money they just a grandma who cares. They are 14 and 15 now and there is no relationship there. They don't want to visit. Yet when BIL had his children a few years before us she took them on holiday, had them for weekends, overnights. It's hard not to be hurt by that

MewlingQuim Mon 20-Feb-17 14:52:59

Unfortunately charleston sums up my situation nicely sad

DM just isn't really interested in DD, despite being her only grandchild. I phone her and she will go on and on about her dogs and not once ask about anything else. I shouldn't be surprised as she wasn't really interested in me or DB either, but somehow it still came as a shock.

On the plus side, I now know that the neglect of my childhood wasn't personal to me as she is obviously disinterested in all children, despite being an ex nursery teacher and frequently telling everyone she loves children confused

Hisstory Mon 20-Feb-17 15:06:02

There is no point trying to change her or reason with her - just let it all go, accept that she is rubbish and change your behaviour so that it works for you. First thing to do is stop feeling guilty.

Analysing why she is likes she is won't change anything. It sounds like she has always been annoying and selfish and she isn't going to change now.

SanitysSake Mon 20-Feb-17 15:20:15

I will have the same (due in a month and a bit and absolutely no one knows I'm pregnant) and I feel the same.

The only thing that 'comforts' me, is that given the way she treated me and even though she's now tried to metamorphose into a 'caring elderly woman' with my siblings children- she's still the who beat me senseless as a child and deep down (I found this out recently) who is still, given half the chance, the same traumatising narcissist she ever was.

The only sad thing for her is that she's older and more frail. Not capable of grabbing me by the hair, pulling me down and kicking seven shades out of me. Something she really wished she could do if you don't succumb to her new 'kind old lady act'. Which is never truthful and always laden with condition and very nasty put downs and accusations. You can see the frustration in her eyes and also the glee, when she's 'played a good game' with those around her. She has taken pleasure in others' pain - I have seen it. I have often wondered if on some level she is a bit sociopathic.

So, on this point, will I want my child to be near that? Influenced by that? Manipulated by that? Demeaned by that? Picked up and put down like that? HELL TO THE FUCK NO.

I mourn that my child will not have any relationships from my side of the family, but that's the dream family I never had. Not the reality that is presented me.

As much as I will be extremely tired, extremely lonely, extremely sad as to why I didn't get the nice family - I will have my child and it will have me. I will shower my child with love and patience. I will look after it and play with it, pay attention to it and care for it on my own. Fuck familial social convention.

Hold on to the people who truly love and care for you and forget the rest. They'll only eat you up and bring you down x

Charlieismydarlin Mon 20-Feb-17 17:34:41

sanity flowers

SanitysSake Mon 20-Feb-17 18:25:23

Thank you, Charlieismydarlin x

Scaredycat3000 Mon 20-Feb-17 19:35:16

^ I felt we got on basically OK before the children came.^
I've realised recently MIL has always behaved this way and it didn't really matter, we were all grown adults, life wasn't so serious with no other demands. 15/20 years ago she looked me in the eye and said 'I always have an ice-cream at the end of my meal (in a restaurant)', which I thought was odd, especially given we weren't even in the restaurant yet. No bother. 10 years later we finish our mains for DS1's 1st birthday restaurant meal, it's late, DS is tired, my dp's have a long drive home. MIL wants an ice-cream, it took lots of chivvying along and promises of lying buying ice-cream on the way to their hotel to get her to leave. Fast forwards to last summer, in fact the last day before FIL bought a wheelchair. To try to cut a long story short MIL ran off and abandoned FIL in her quest to buy the GC ice-cream cones despite this not being the plan at all. She lost FIL by walking off, he couldn't move, for long enough for an ambulance to be called for him and still couldn't see him despite him being 100 yards directly in front of her and lit up with blue flashing lights.
MIL wants ice creams as much 20 years ago as she does today, she hasn't changed. But we can no longer put her desire for ice cream above our current needs. I now realise that first comment wasn't just a chat, she was testing the water, it was an instruction, I always have ice-cream regardless. Bizarre.
And sanity flowers OH talks of FIL beating round the room and MIL using weapons. He will only hint at what else happened.

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