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Supporting elderly parents who were insistent on 'enjoying retirement'

(1000 Posts)
Keeg Tue 02-Apr-19 07:31:44

NC in case I get slaughtered...

When my kids were young we could have really done with GP help, but there were very much (as is most of mumsnet!) of the school off thinking ‘we’re done raising kids’. I coped, I raised children and I knew it was my responsibility... but I’ll admit I had some
Unvoiced resentment. DH and I had similar jobs to them, but a higher level, but we never had been able to access the housing etc they had due to the much higher childcare and housing costs. They’ve lived nearby in great affluence whilst their grandchildren were wearing second hand, a bit overcrowded etc. Obviously not their problem, but on the flip side they had great capacity to help and didn’t chose to exercise it. They probably spent 6k-12k on holidays a year, whereas 1k for us would have meant for example being able to run a car.

They didn’t offer childcare bar very very occasional inconvenient seeings, for example 1-2pm on Saturday, wanting them dropped off and at a time of day with heavy traffic (turning an 8min drive into a 40min) and meaning there was no time to do anything else. I remember an occasion my son had a last minute amazing opportunity and they couldn’t help by watching his sister (I later found out it was because she wanted to go and see a film at the cinema, 15 min walk away and on for months multiple times a day). They retired pre 60 with big lump sums and pensions, very active and able. No issue with health.

I left them to it, never commented, it’s their life. But I’ll admit I was underneath jealous of every friend who seemed to have GP helping. BUT they are now older, they are needing support and I’m not feeling at all warm in rearranging my life to give it. For example dad can’t drive right now, temporary due to an OP, and he wants hospital lifts. I feel like saying ‘get a cab’ because of all the times I wished for help. It’s hugely local, and I being petty? Or have others felt like this. In the long run, although I get on with them, I don’t feel like every offering to let them move in. They didn’t help their parents (who did offer childcare). I guess I feel a bit heartless but a bit ‘you made your bed, now lie in it’. Being nice I think, we’ll they obviously raised me as a child, but then on the other hand I think their expectations were that links stopped at 18. I don’t dislike them, but I don’t feel hugely bonded to them either and more like people not related that get on

Iamtheworst Tue 02-Apr-19 07:57:02

My dm is quite clear that all the help she gives me is ‘money in the bank’ for when she’s old - she’s nothing if not practical although if she’d had a second child that would have been more efficient.
I don’t think your obliged to help or offer any explanation.

formerbabe Tue 02-Apr-19 08:00:38

I agree with you op.

My own parents are dead so I don't have to deal with this...but for a kind of comparison, my view is, I've missed out on having my parents around, the grimmest silver lining I've got is that I won't have elderly parents to look after. I do have several older relatives/plus mil who whilst are lovely to me and we get on, they haven't done huge amounts to help me or my dc, so quite frankly, I won't be doing any of the heavy lifting so to speak when the time comes.

VixenAbroad Tue 02-Apr-19 08:02:16

As someone who has similar parents, though my case is not as extreme, I think thats fair. I do help mine out and provide emotional support but financially they are way, way wealthier than I will ever be and can afford lots of paid help and care.

Their attitude has always been that their jobs and life are more important than mine and I needed to work round them. However as an adult I don't feel obliged to buy into that any more. I'd never be uncaring but equally won't reinforce their selfishness.

frazzledasarock Tue 02-Apr-19 08:03:01

If it doesn’t inconvenience you then I’d do it.

If it does inconvenience you then I’d say no.

You reap what you sow.

But then my parents were/are hideous people and I’ve no intention of taking responsibility for them in their old age.
They did teach me an amazing lesson on how not to parent.

KitKat1985 Tue 02-Apr-19 08:03:21

No slaughtering here OP. I have some family members who are very much like this. I won't be making massive efforts to help them in the future either.

No reason that I can see that your Dad can't get a cab to the hospital when he has an appointment.

Inliverpool1 Tue 02-Apr-19 08:04:35

Absolutely no way will I be lifting a finger to any of the GPs, we were helped a little financially by ex’s parents do if they ever needed money and I had it I would give them back what they gave us. But that’s it.

Singlenotsingle Tue 02-Apr-19 08:04:45

You're not heartless. You've been taught by example how to behave. You could help them occasionally but only if it's convenient. I certainly wouldn't go as far as letting them move in!
And who's going to benefit from all this money when they pop off? Don't be surprised if it all goes to the local cats home!

NabooThatsWho Tue 02-Apr-19 08:05:57

* they are still your parents even if they didn’t help you as much as you would have liked.*

Shame they didn’t use that same logic for themselves. They were grandparents but chose not to take on any responsibility to help, so why should OP just because they are her parents?

OohYeBelter47 Tue 02-Apr-19 08:06:57

That's sad when GP's are like that, what a missed opportunity. As others have said do the odd thing when not busy but keep it distant and amicable. You don't want to be cut out of their will... (terrible thing to say I know - but it could be life changing for you and maybe that's their justification to themselves, who knows).

Catcuriosity Tue 02-Apr-19 08:07:47

No flaming from me

We have a similar situation with PIL, except they spent all their time doing childcare for golden SIL and none for anyone else because SIL must always come first
But when they need something, SIL is the first to get in touch to discuss a rota to help them because apparently we need to share the load.

We had an absolute classic a few weeks ago. Golden SIL wanted to plan a ‘girls night out’ for MIL with me, her and nice SIL but on a night when nice SIL’s DH was working.
Golden SIL told, didn’t ask TOLD her that she couldn’t ask FIL to babysit as he had to be on standby for her DH in case he couldn’t cope alone with their DCs.

Funnily enough, the night of lavishing praise on MIL for everything she does for our families didn’t go ahead

storynanny Tue 02-Apr-19 08:08:16

That is so difficult for you, I know I’ve been there! My elderly parents died 2 years ago and as they lived 200 miles away I did a lot of travelling to and from in the last year or so.
They had the same attitotude to grand parenting as yours and I felt sad rather than annoyed. Looking back it was mother calling the shots and my dad just did as he was told. They were many times in the 80’s with young children when I had absolutely no money and was making pyjamas for my boys out of old bed sheets! And they buried their heads in the sand and chose to ignore it. Their choice though.
However, I could never act like that with my grandchildren, it has certainly made me more aware of what sort of help to offer and I do as much as I can to make my adult children’s lives easier.
Another however though! I certainly don’t expect the help I freely give now to be positively rewarded in my old(er!) age, I don’t think it works like that. I think it is just down to individual personalities, so just do whatever feels right for you.
That was a bit rambling! What I’m trying to say I suppose is that we are all so different, some want to help, some don’t.

ProfYaffle Tue 02-Apr-19 08:10:00

I'm in a similar situation with the in laws. I leave dh to do what he feels he needs to, I don't put myself out at all. Decide for yourself what your boundaries are in what you're prepared to do and stick to it. Polite but distant is the way to go.

Whereareyouspot Tue 02-Apr-19 08:10:15

YANBU at all
I completely understand how you feel and think you should stick to your guns here.

They can pay for care and taxis etc

You mr kids will be older and finally start to be a bit easier and why on earth should you spend their teenage years when you could be starting to get some free time again, ferrying your parents around

They also sound selfish and thoughtless

cassgate Tue 02-Apr-19 08:10:20

I can see your point of view but I am very much like your parents. My children are still teenagers but they have both been told by me that if and when they decide to have children that they will be their children not mine and as such their responsibility. I will of course offer the occasional babysitting service but will not be offering to take on childcare so they can work. I did not expect my children’s grandparents to do this either and I looked at the options and decided to give up work instead of paying to put them in a nursery. On the flip side I do not expect my children to look after me in old age either. Giving lifts to hospital appointments are a bit different though. Yes of course they could get a taxi but if you are available then why not. Think of all the times they gave you lifts here there and everywhere as a youngster and probably put their own lives on hold to do this. I know my own children’s social lives are far busier than mine at the moment and much of our time is spent waiting for the phone to ring with one of them asking to be picked up from somewhere. We do this freely and I would hope that the occasional lift will be forthcoming from them in the future should I need it. I would not expect it though.

MilkTrayLimeBarrel Tue 02-Apr-19 08:12:05

YABU - you chose to have children - why should your parents have to give up their lifestyle choices to look after your kids? Get a babysitter if you need to go out at short notice.

Sallycinammonbangsthedruminthe Tue 02-Apr-19 08:12:32

OP I pressume they have no guilt on how they chose to live their lives and thats have the right to the same slating from me either!

CigarsofthePharoahs Tue 02-Apr-19 08:13:35

If it is at a convenient time for you and you're not too tired then maybe consider helping.
Otherwise no. I'd be tempted to give similar replies as they have but I'm a bit petty like that!

SnuggyBuggy Tue 02-Apr-19 08:13:43

I wouldn't feel bad, if they have money for holidays they have money for taxis and carers. My DGF was 200 miles away and when he needed regular hospital appointments he just had to get on with it because there simply wasn't a relative to drive him or do his shopping.

AndOfCourseHenryTheHorse Tue 02-Apr-19 08:13:57

Yanbu. You will get some people saying you should rise above and be the bigger person etc. I obviously wouldn’t leave them in agony or refuse to advocate for them if I thought something terrible was happening to them. But, assuming they are safe and not being harmed, I would leave them to it. I do find the “I’ve earned my retirement. I’m going to enjoy it and leave my kids to it” crowd seriously entitled.

My grandparents and dh’s grandparents were not like that at all. They loved having their gcs to stay and were very involved.

But my surviving parent and dh’s parents have made it clear that we are way down their list of priorities. I don’t think it would come as a huge surprise to them, if we didn’t rearrange our lives to offer them daily care if they need it when they get older. Maybe some of the money they currently spend on £££££ holidays to SA, Caribbean etc could be saved up to pay towards their care later 🤷‍♀️.

I actually don’t even think they’d want us to provide their care when they’re older. I certainly can’t imagine them asking.

PurplePiePete Tue 02-Apr-19 08:14:40

I hear you. My mother has never once offered to look after her grandchildren let alone actually done it. She does polite interest for about half an hour then gets irritated by them. Conversely, she wants me to drive a two hour round trip to visit, take her to hospital etc etc. I was sent to boarding school weeks after my 9th birthday and she’s never really bothered to get to know me, but expects (after many years) a warm relationship which is hard to conjure out of thin air.
Do what you can do that you don’t end up feeling guilty on top of resentful but don’t be afraid to say no, not convenient you need to take a taxi this time. Letting them know why might not hurt - say that you feel that they didn’t help when you desperately needed it and they were able to.

Sitdownstandup Tue 02-Apr-19 08:15:06

I think there's a distinction between not wanting to do regular childcare as a grandparent, which is understandable, and refusing to step in so your grandchild can enjoy a significant, one-off opportunity because you want to go to the cinema, which is less so.

But anyway OP I think it's fine not to offer assistance for routine appointments.

AlphaNumericalSequence Tue 02-Apr-19 08:15:47

I think you would love to be able to accept that your resentment was unjust, because then you would be free of it. Take the plunge! Give up this poisonous emotion. Resentment is way more burdensome to cope with than childcare.

Your resentment seems completely unreasonable to me. Why would your decision to have children involve them in a commitment to provide childcare?

If you choose to see the support they need in old age in terms of a quid pro quo it would be more normal to think of it as payback for the care they gave you when you were a child, rather than as a return on their chipping in with caring for your own children.

But I don't think that the support they need now is the real issue: it just seems to be another hook on which to hang your resentment about your childcare obligations. I can't even begin to understand the massive sense of entitlement that is involved in thinking that your and your partner's decision to have children can turn other people into part-time care workers.

Disfordarkchocolate Tue 02-Apr-19 08:15:54

No criticism off me. Help in emergencies but no to regular help. This is the relationship they have built with you. Don't leave yourself with regrets but be clear that you need to keep working as you don't have the financial security they had at your age due to the high cost of renting and childcare. It won't be easy but that's the practical issue that won't change as its quite likely they will need their own funds to cover care homes etc.

hellotoyellow Tue 02-Apr-19 08:17:04

This is totally fine OP.

I would also explain why.

Nanny0gg Tue 02-Apr-19 08:17:53

The baby boomer generation will go down in history as the most entitled generation ever.


OP, I do sympathise. Speaking as a Baby Boomer who bends over backwards to help with my DC and DGC in whatever way I can, I think your parents were unkind. They could have had a balance between living their own lives and giving you a hand.
I don't think you should help (much) either.

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