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to offer one grandma money for looking after DS, and not the other?

(76 Posts)
coveredinsnot Sat 08-Aug-09 08:22:06

OK, so I know I might get hauled over the coals for this... but I'm honestly in a muddle!

My MIL is really not very well off. She works in a charity shop one day a week, and looks after her very elderly and ailing parents the rest of the time. For one day a week she comes to look after DS. She loves it. It helps us out tremendously. We pay for her to get here plus a few extra quid, about a fiver I think, so she can go for coffee or lunch somewhere with him. I know it's not much but we can't afford much.

My mother, on the other hand, is in a completely different situation. She doesn't work, and hasn't had to work for about 15 years. She is officially a lady of leisure. She drives a Porsche, lives in a house worth over £1million, and is about to move into a house worth over £1.5million. She is always moaning about not having any money which really gets my goat. DH and I do struggle financially, as I'm working part time, and he is a freelancer, so our income is very unpredictable (while the outgoings are horribly predictable!!).

Despite MIL looking after DS one day a week since January, my mother has so far refused to look after him regularly. she said this is because she 'wouldn't want to commit to anything regular in case I want to go on holiday or something'... basically, she just doesn't want to do it. Fine. I've come to terms with that (which might sound dramatic, but my mother has a long history of making me feel like she can't be arsed with me, so these things can grate!). From September I'm going to be working alternate Thursdays, and my mother shock has agreed (with pressure from my sisters, I think) to do a trial with looking after DS every other Thursday. This is a huge improvement from her initial reactions to discussing her involvement in childcare, which used to be a very snappy 'you must be joking!'... So, it's a positive step, and will be of enormous help to us. In some respects I think 'too little too late' but then the positive side says 'better late than never' (I don't always think in clichés, by the way).

Now, me being all into equality and fairness, I feel I should offer her the same amount of money as we're giving to MIL. Problem is, my mother really doesn't need it. But I know if I offer it, she will take it. I'm stuck between wanting to be fair, and feeling like 'actually it's about bloody time you did something to help, and I don't want to pay you for it!' which I know is really tight-arsed of me, and really it has nothing to do with the money, but more to do with the balance of power in our relationship.

Given all of that, AIBU to withhold the pittance we would be giving her?

I await attack....!

HecatesTwopenceworth Sat 08-Aug-09 08:25:52

I think you should find alternative childcare. It is not fair for your mother to be, well, bullied into looking after your child when it is clear even from the little you have posted here, that she really doesn't want to!

She's under no obligation to help at all and this feeling of entitlement is likely to breed resentment. It would be nice if she wanted to help, but she doesn't have to.

pooka Sat 08-Aug-09 08:26:02

YANBU. Different cicumstances, different people and different relationship to you (i.e. she's your mother)

pooka Sat 08-Aug-09 08:27:08

Yes agree with hecate that will be a recipe for disaster if your mother is not looking after your child because she genuinely wants to.

Thunderduck Sat 08-Aug-09 08:28:06

I'm with Hecate on this.

GrapefruitMoon Sat 08-Aug-09 08:30:39

I think you should offer the same to your mother. And tbh I think it is not really reasonable to expect her to look after your child at all. It's great if she wants to help out but you shouldn't expect her too just because she's his grandmother.

HuffySpice Sat 08-Aug-09 08:32:57

"It's about bloody time you did something to help"

shock

Really?

YABU to think that your mother is obliged to help you look after your children.

windywendy Sat 08-Aug-09 08:35:43

I agree with Hectate too. They're your children, no one else's, so any help you do get is a bonus. It shouldn't be expected.

screamingabdab Sat 08-Aug-09 08:36:20

Right, initial reactions :

Nice as it is to receive, I think childcare from relatives has to be offered willingly to work. It doesn't sound like this is the case from your mother. It sounds like you resent her (rightly or wrongly). It strikes me these circumstances don't bode well for a harmonious arrangement. For your son's sake.

It strikes me that the only reason you are thinking about paying her at all is so you can feel better about strong-arming her into it.

I do get your frustration about her not helping out/being the sort of mother/granny you would like her to be.

skidoodle Sat 08-Aug-09 08:36:49

I think you are letting yourself in for a world of pain if you go ahead with this arrangement.

Hecate is right - she doesn't have any obligation to do childcare as a granny if she'd rather not, and it sounds like you two have a strained relationship, which will not be helped by your having to rely on her (particularly when it sounds like she resents helping).

Surely there is a less fraught way of organising childcare and a less pressured way to involve her with your children?

coveredinsnot Sat 08-Aug-09 08:37:10

Really AIBU to expect some help with childcare from my mother who doesn't work and lives nearby? I have a friend whose parents have moved a few hundred miles to be closer to their grandchildren so they can look after them, and all of my friends with local parents have help from them. I guess that's where I've got the idea from that it's normal for a grandma to want to spend a couple of days a month looking after her grandson. Is that so weird? Oh well. I guess you're right. Perhaps it is weird to expect anything of her. Just such a difference between the two grandmothers though: one chomping at the bit to help out, but far less able to financially and in terms of time, whilst the other can financially and has heaps of free time, but just doesn't want to.

Bah!

Parents.

screamingabdab Sat 08-Aug-09 08:37:15

X-posted with, well, everyone !

Thunderduck Sat 08-Aug-09 08:39:00

YABU to expect it yes. Of course it's lovely if she helps out and there's nothing wrong with asking but no she isn't obligated to look after your children.

screamingabdab Sat 08-Aug-09 08:41:33

It feels like you are confusing grannies wanting to BE with grandchildren, with helping you out of your childcare problems. Does she want to be with your DC. If not, I can see that would be upsetting.

I'm sorry, it sounds like she didn't give you the kind of care you wanted as a child, but this arrangement won't make up for it, for the reasons skiddodle says - you may come to resent her for having to rely on her. You may also resent her, if she doesn't care for your child in exactly the way you wish.

Sorry if this sounds harsh.

I think the money is irrelevent I think the point is you are forcing your mother to do childcare for your children. She has been a mother and now she is a grandmother and that is a different job description. My mother offered to look after DS 1 day a week until I pointed out that meant she couldn't go on holiday, she swiftly changed her mind!

What it boils down to is do you want someone looking after your child who doesn't want to?

HecatesTwopenceworth Sat 08-Aug-09 08:44:50

"Really AIBU to expect some help with childcare from my mother who doesn't work and lives nearby?"

yes.

Because of this

"my mother has so far refused to look after him regularly. she said this is because she 'wouldn't want to commit to anything regular in case I want to go on holiday or something'."

"basically, she just doesn't want to do it."

"my mother has a long history of making me feel like she can't be arsed with me"

"my mother shock has agreed (with pressure from my sisters," (key word there is WITH PRESSURE!!)

"her initial reactions to discussing her involvement in childcare, which used to be a very snappy 'you must be joking!'... "

covered - she doesn't WANT to help. That's unfortunate but it is her right. Make alternative arrangements.

cupofteaplease Sat 08-Aug-09 08:46:26

'Really AIBU to expect some help with childcare from my mother who doesn't work and lives nearby?' I'm afraid in this point, yes, YABU. Your mother has done her child rearing days, with you! She has no obligation to commit to look after your son, whether he is her grandson or not.

We pay an absolute fortune in childcare costseach month, nobody helps us out, even though both of our mothers could be considered able to do so. I would rather pay and have reliable childcare from carers who enjoy looking after my children, rather than a relative who is doing it because they feel they have to.

But on your original point, no YANBU to pay for your mother's bus fare if you feel she can get to you in her Porsche! However, I would leave a fully stocked fridge for her lunches and give her a few quid for activities, whether she was a millionaire or not.

TotalChaos Sat 08-Aug-09 08:48:30

agree with the other posters - the money issue isn't really relevant - the big problem is that your mum has been pressurised into it - and given she's so unwilling, the trial arrangement may well not be successful anyway.

cluckyagain Sat 08-Aug-09 08:50:39

I too have friends who have GP's who want, really, really want to look after their GC - would be highly offended if not expected to be the main carers. This is not the norm though - it is one 'aspect' of being a GP. My mum and dad made it abundantly clear to my sister and I when we had children that they a. have already brought up their children, b. enjoy their life now after working very hard to earn enough for retirement and c. have no intention of offering or being strong armed into looking after our children as part of childcare. They do look after them for us for special occasions - weddings, very occasional weekends away and when we go to visit they are generous with their time (and money) as long as we don't take the p and 'expect' it. You sound as if you are bringing a little of your past history with her into this issue and although she may owe YOU quite a lot from the past you can't bring that to this sitation as 'therefore you owe me childcare'. It doesn't work like that.

skidoodle Sat 08-Aug-09 08:50:39

Fro what you've said it seems that her problem is being regular childcare, which is really asking a lot of anyone to do for free.

It is a big commitment to always be available so someone else can go to work. If you are ever sick or want holidays you are putting them in an awkward position. It's a huge commitment, and not one you can expect of anyone, unless you are paying them.

There are many other ways she could help out that would not put such a burden on her - an evening a fortnight, covering for mil if she wants a break, taking the children on a jaunt on a weekend so you can do some jobs (or sleep all day )

crokky Sat 08-Aug-09 08:53:09

I think it's fine to pay MIL and not to pay your mum if she does end up helping.

The person I know who complains the most about not having any money is the richest person I know. Just try not to talk about money when your mum is around.

Personally, I do belive it is the DUTY (!) of a grandparent to help if help is needed and they are ABLE to help. Help could be practical, financial, whatever. I am not suggesting grandparents should help if they are unable (eg too old, got own job, not got any money etc). But, I really can't see a situation where I see my DCs in need of help and I "can't be bothered". The thing your mum has is money and clearly she does not actually wnat to look after your child herself if I was her (although I can't imagine myself being her!), I would give you some money to buy a day's childcare instead of her having to do it herself.

I think it is really sad when people think that once your child is 18, you wash your hands of any responsibility. It is contributing to society breaking down - the fact that lots of people live in nuclear families and extended family cannot be relied on for help. If a family (say man, woman and 2 DC) are struggling, who will help them if the grandparents won't??

coveredinsnot Sat 08-Aug-09 08:54:20

OK, thanks for all your honest replies, which said pretty much what I expected them to say. You all speak the truth, which I think I knew anyway!!

I've sent an email to the nursery to see if they have space for him on a Thursday as well. This would actually work out better for me as I'm studying as well as working and it will give me 2 study days per month that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

It will feel a bit strange to tell my mother 'thanks but no thanks' after she has reached a point where she feels she might be able to help out. But I imagine she will be relieved, and I think those of you that have said that it would create further tensions in our relationship are right. I don't want to be dependent on her at all, I just want her to want to be involved, but she obviously doesn't want to be.

I think I just imagine that when I'm a grandmother I'd love to spend time with my grandchildren and be involved in their daily lives (as my grandparents were with me), BUT she is a different woman, and I should be more respectful of that and let her get on with doing whatever she wants to do, as she has a right to.

Thanks for talking sense in to me. I'm sure my mother will be grateful to you all!!!

Thunderduck Sat 08-Aug-09 08:56:11

I don't see why it's their duty. They are responsible for their own children until they are adults.
I'm not saying they have to wash their hands of them at that point,but childcare is the responsibility of the parents not the grandparents. It isn't their duty. Your kids,your responsibility.

coveredinsnot Sat 08-Aug-09 08:57:44

crokky I think I hold the same (idealised?) views of the responsibilities of families to look after one another, but I think unfortunately this just isn't true of a lot of people. Which is a big, fat shame. But something we have to live with!

HecatesTwopenceworth Sat 08-Aug-09 08:57:45

grin I'm pleased you have taken the opinions so well. fwiw, I think you are doing the right thing.

I'm really sorry that you don't have the relationship with your mother that you would like. That's truly sad. For both of you.

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