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Doting grannies.

(36 Posts)
Brunhildafair Thu 25-May-17 10:38:32

I am in my late sixties,retired, no money worries and recently widowed. My youngest daughter is having her first baby at the end of the year. I am delighted ,and of my four children she is the one who lives nearest to me.We recently had a conversation and she brought up the subject of child care. She seemed upset when I said that although I would always be there in an emergency,and be happy to babysit...I was not going to be relied upon for child care on specific days every week. I would also be happy to contribure towards nursery fees. I returned from abroad 10 years ago,with a very sick husband. The last few years have been exhausting,with me providing care 24/7. Sadly my husband died last year,and I am just beginning to get my life back. Some friends are in agreement with my decision and others think I am being selfish. Am I being unreasonable?

JohnLapsleyParlabane Thu 25-May-17 10:40:46

Yanbu. Very sensible to set your boundaries early.

Pinkheart5917 Thu 25-May-17 10:41:13

No you are not unreasonable

Your dd choose to have a baby so childcare is her responsibility to sort, not assume you would do it.

You can be a wonderful grandma in many other ways, you do not have to have the child each week.

You raised your children, now is your time to enjoy life

NavyandWhite Thu 25-May-17 10:41:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheWeeBabySeamus1 Thu 25-May-17 10:42:04

Not selfish at all. My mum sees my son loads but I've never expected set childcare off her. She's raised her family and her time is her own now.

Offering to help with childcare costs is extremely generous of you, she should be grateful of the offer.

ShanghaiDiva Thu 25-May-17 10:42:21

Not selfish at all. I think offering to contribute to nursery fees is very generous.
I think your dd is being unreasonable in expecting you to take on a child care role. It's up to dd and her partner to make these arrangements and consider options.

acquiescence Thu 25-May-17 10:46:11

Yanbu. Although her circumstances may influence the experience of the baby. If she has a career which would not allow part time working full time childcare is an awful lot of time away from family. You may feel differently when you meet the little one and feel that you would like that regular contact. However you are certainly not being unreasonable for wishing to enjoy your retirement without restrictions on your time, particularly given you had caring responsibilities until recently and have raised your own 4 children. I hope you enjoy your grandchild.

DorkMaiden Thu 25-May-17 10:48:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RB68 Thu 25-May-17 10:49:41

you sound like the least selfish person possible, you need to make your new way in life and have just started on that journey and however much you love a grandchild you don't want to be the unpaid nanny. WHy on earth should you. I think the emergency care and nights out care are more than enough - and then also offering to help pay for childcare is super generous and they would be daft to look a gift horse in the mouth.

However, looking at it from daughters point of view I can see that you looking after the child is also preferable to her - after all you were the best!!! And I suspect she is nervous of the change but they will adapt - most mothers have doubts about their arrangements at this point. So I wouldn't criticise etc but just be clear that you can't commit to the regular time as it is too tying and that you can help out with costs and also be there as back up etc. This will be invaluable esp when little one is poorly. But do watch out in the early days of nursery they are almost constantly ill with something or other.

puddock Thu 25-May-17 10:50:16

You sound very much like my mum a few years ago (in terms of age and recent widowhood as well as attitude to grandchildren). I think you are absolutely right. Her approach has always been that she loves to see them and spend time with them but it doesn't work for her to be part of regular childcare especially not at set days or times, because she has her own life and doesn't want to be tied down by fixed commitments. She's always been upfront about it and I think that I and my DB/SIL would have been very unreasonable if we'd taken offence. She is a very involved and loving nana to all 4 of her grandchildren (a 5th is on the way).
I'm sorry your daughter seemed upset, I hope it was just surprise and a rejigging of expectations.

Sassypants82 Thu 25-May-17 10:50:53

YANBU. I'm the youngest in my family so my DC are not the first grandchildren. My mother said from the beginning that she would not be in a position to provide childcare & 13 years on, doesn't. She loves to babysit occasionally & of course I could rely on her on an emergency which is a great support, nit my DC attend childcare & it's a the best solution all round. My DS & children adore each other & have a great relationship & we see each other often. Very generous of you to offer to help with fees. You're absolutely not selfish.

Sassypants82 Thu 25-May-17 10:52:18

DM*& children

Justmadeperfectflapjacks Thu 25-May-17 10:56:10

She is very selfish if she expects you to put your one new life second to hers. .
Being a gm is fab (I have a gs) but being a child carer puts the relationship in a different mindset (I have gs 2days a week) . .

AugustCarrot Thu 25-May-17 11:05:55


I asked my mum if she could have my ds for a day a week when I returned to work and she didn't want to commit the time. Yet still comes over for a whole day on my day off which is mostly nice but sometimes frustrating as she seems ok with committing to that!

Anyway, I understand that her time is her own and she has helped loads in other ways. She doesn't pay towards nursery but buys lots of clothes for ds and had babysat in the eve and done emergency cover.

She's just moved nearer and has now offered to have ds one eve a week when he starts school in September, school pick up and tea so he won't need after school club. She offered this as I decided not to ask. I think because she asked she feels it's in her control not mine.

I'd say it's ok for her to ask and equally ok for you to say no. I'm sure you'll spend plenty of quality time with the dc and love it.

RhodaBorrocks Thu 25-May-17 11:08:26

YANBU - it should not be expected that grandparents will provide free childcare. When I had DS, both sets of grandparents were 10 years off retirement so I had to organise childcare and I didn't expect anything from them.

I'm now a single parent and initially XP had EOW and 2 afternoons a week. When he buggered off I was naturally going to increase DS afterschool care but my DM offered to have him on the afternoons XP would have had him after school.

DM has DS today as he is unwell so that I could still go to work, but it was an offer - I didn't expect it from her and I pack DS round there with his favourite foods etc. Anything to make it easier.

My DM is only mud sixties and enjoying her retirement now - several holidays a year and lots of socialising. If she (or DF, but he's actually still working pt) can't have DS for whatever reason (holiday, illness etc) and they offer to help with the cost of extra childcare I practically bite their hand off!

Your DD is being a bit ungrateful really - you don't have to offer anything. Grandparent is a fun role that you've earned through raising your children. You should not be an unpaid skivvy for your kids. You are still helping to raise them without being regular childcare.

Unfortunately I think there is a bit of a culture now - I know of a lot if young people who expect their parents to be unpaid childcare and the parents just do it. It means that to others looking in that that's the way it should be and they don't see it gorgeous what it is - a favour. Of course some people love it - I have a colleague who regularly looks after her DGD overnight for her DD, but she is a young healthy woman in her late 40s, another woman in our office is the same age and pregnant! But it's her choice to have her DGD and I never get any impression she's anything but happy to do it.

That's the difference - your level of involvement is a choice. Just as a woman can choose to be a SAHP or a WOHP you can choose to be as involved and hands on as you like.

Like with me and my DM, circumstances might change over time, but you shouldn't commit yourself to something before the baby has even arrived. And don't set a precedent because if you look after this one how long before she has a second, a third? Would you then be expected to look after all of them?

Stick with your choice. You are a person with a life too and you are at a time where you should be enjoying yourself (not to say you won't enjoy grandkids, but childcare is hard work and you yourself said you've got an active social life now).

Buck3t Thu 25-May-17 11:18:58

When I had my first child, I was absolutely delighted when my mother "offered" to take him 2 days a week, so he was in nursery from 5 months 3 days a week. He has a great relationship with my parents, something I never had with either of my parents' parents.

When I had my second child, I did expect she would do similar, but she went above and beyond. She picked my Ds up after school and looked after my DD two days a week and on those two days, my dad picked my Ds up from school.

Their relationship and the fact they actually want to see their gps was what pleased me more. My mum still does two pick ups but my DS is capable of looking after himself.

In that time she still took time to go on holidays and even took them on holiday once. I'm grateful to my parents for being there, but I never wanted them to feel that they had to do it. They babysit some days for me, but my DSis has also had a DS of her own and they dote on him as much as they did my DS. It is lovely them having that same attachment to each of their gcs.

I would say only do it if you want to. It shouldn't be expected, but if offered it should be very much appreciated.

Buck3t Thu 25-May-17 11:19:55

Oh and I paid my DM whilst the DC were in nursery.

CadnoDrwg Thu 25-May-17 11:21:02

YANBU and in fact you're doing your daughter a favour by being so open and clear about it now.

My sister offered to help with my childcare, I realise with hindsight she didn't really understand that if she agreed to a Monday, then I'd need her every Monday.

Because she wanted to swap and change things around I ended up having to make alternative arrangements. It caused bad feeling because she'd offered (rather than me asking) then let me down too often.

You're offering more than enough:
1. Help with fees
2. Being the emergency back up

There a parents I know who would love to have what you've offered.

LadyRoseate Thu 25-May-17 11:21:16

YANBU! I've had no family help at all (all are too dysfunctional or far away). I'd be thrilled if I had a nice, responsible parent who would offer to babysit and help out in emergencies (and help with nursery fees! - which is definitely beyond most people's expectations).

I know some people do do some days every week with grandchildren, but it's a huge commitment and not something you're required to do.

FWIW I hope to enjoy my freedom when I'm older too.

WomblingThree Thu 25-May-17 11:22:01

When I told my mother I was pregnant, the first thing she said was "well you needn't think I'll be looking after it while you go to work". That hurt a bit, as A) I hadn't actually thought that at all, and B) she lived 300 miles away, so it was hardly likely to happen, was it!

I don't think you are being remotely selfish. Honesty is the best policy, it would have been a lot worse if you had led her to believe you would do child care and then changed your mind. Being there in an emergency is the best thing you can do. That was the thing I found harder than anything about my kids' childhood. Both our sets of parents live far away, and we had no one to just cover small emergencies.

stopmoaningpip Thu 25-May-17 11:22:38

I would be thrilled with what you are offering - contribution to childcare plus occasional/emergency babysitting. My parents and in laws are for various reasons not able to do more than very occasional babysitting, mostly involving us going to them, and booked quite a way in advance (one lives at the other end of the country for example).
We are expecting a second one soon and may well have to take the first to the hospital with us when the baby arrives esp if it's middle of the night as less easy to ask friends/neighbours etc to help then.
I am also considering having to give up work as I'm not sure my wages will cover the childcare costs for two so I think you are being very generous.
But I do have a lot of friends where grandparents do regular childcare while they work and I do feel envious sometimes so can see why your daughter might be disappointed if she has a lot of friends in that situation too. But you have done the right thing by being really clear about your boundaries well in advance - the worst thing you could do would be to offer/make a vague comment that she misinterprets and then decide you can't do it later on when she has less time to organise alternative childcare.
She will adjust and I'm sure you can have a lovely relationship with your grandchild.

CadnoDrwg Thu 25-May-17 11:23:01

"There a parents I know who would love to have what you've offered."

I'm not illiterate! There are parents...

Mulberry72 Thu 25-May-17 11:26:50


My DM was exactly the same and I totally respected that and would only ever ask her for help if I was really desperate. MIL, on the other hand is a creature of habit and she was happy to be tied to a specific day.

As long as you set your stall out and your DD knows where she stands then she should respect that.

diddl Thu 25-May-17 11:29:33

It's entirely up to you.

What if you were ill or wanted a holiday?

One day/morning/afternoon a week doen't seem that much, but what would her plan be for when you couldn't do it?

TheWitTank Thu 25-May-17 11:33:08

YANBU at all -actually very generous to offer help towards nursery fees.
My mum and dad both work full time and will both kindly help with childcare occasionally, but even if they were retired I wouldn't ask for such a commitment from them.
I'm very sorry for the loss of your DH flowers

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