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What is reasonable help from Grandparents?

(52 Posts)
Wawaweewa Tue 20-Sep-11 08:54:06


I am wondering what, if any help is given to others from Grandparents when you return to work? Background to this is huge blow up with my parents yesterday after discussing my need to return to work to help my family financially. My parents said that they consider this time to be 'their time', and refused to offer or commit to any childcare arrangement (picking my LO's up once a week from school/nursery), and said that it is unreasonable or me to expect them to. They can go 3 or 4 weeks without seeing my children unless I take them to their house, which I do once a week for a cup of tea and then go home. This, however is apparently wrong too as when I go to their house it intrudes on their time and they don't have any time for themselves. They live 20 mins away, and are both under 65. I love them both, but I do not understand their attitude towards this at all. To be honest it breaks my heart. I'm a nurse, due to return to work in next few months and have one lo starting school, and other due to start nursery part time. I have never asked for any help before, and have managed by being a stay at home mum. My parents in law have agreed to help with picking up, with the proviso that it is shared with my parents. What do others think?

moondog Tue 20-Sep-11 08:55:49

You can't expect it or make plans assuming they will fit in with yours tbh.
If they do, great, if not...

They sound pretty miserable though.

I'd grit my teeth and make my own arrangements.

mamsnet Tue 20-Sep-11 08:58:32

Well, you're going to have half of MN jumping down your throat in a minute telling you that "It's not their problem" and "you have no right to expect any help".
It does, however, sound like your parents are being EXTREMELY disinterested in their gcs. How much "time" do they need?
SAdly, it doesn't sound like it's worth the battle.. could you look at getting a local student or similar for a few hours, to share the burden with your ILs?

And your parents need never expect their grandchildren to look out for them when they need a bit more help later in life.

FWIW I'm on the cusp of going back to work myself in the next few weeks and I COMPLETELY understand where you're coming from.

HandsOffOurLand Tue 20-Sep-11 09:01:17

Hard one. In an ideal world, grandparents would be willing and able to take on childcare duties. I'd have loved it if mine were local and willing; however, they are neither. I have a fantastic relationship with them; they are both 60 so are by no means past it - but they think that they have spent 30 years bringing up their own children so now deserve some time to do other things - or to do nothing. Although that doesn't suit me personally, I think they are quite right. By the same token, I think your parents are being quite reasonable in not wanting to commit to a definite childcare arrangement.

Not so sure about the cup of tea thing, though.

I think it's just a hard pill to swallow when you discover that you are the adult and that you and your new family have to make your arrangements for yourselves. If you need to work, you need to work. If your parents choose to help out occasionally, that is a bonus - but you can't expect it.

Debs75 Tue 20-Sep-11 09:03:29

You shouldn't expect any help from your parents really.

Some will bend over backwards to help their gc's and some will do all they can to not help. It seems yours are of the latter.
It's unfortunate they don't seem happy to even see them on a regular basis so you shouldn't really be surprised that they won't help with a pick up from school once a week.

FWIW I would help me dc's care for their dc's when the time comes but I feel I will have that choice taken away from me with longer working hours and a higher retirement age. How will our dc's feel when it is not an option whatsoever for gp's to help with childcare as we are struggling in our own jobs

Alibabaandthe80nappies Tue 20-Sep-11 09:06:14

It is entirely up to them, they don't want to be tied.

Before I had kids my mum said that she would help me out in an emergency but wouldn't commit to regular childcare. I completely understood that and I wouldn't dream of holding it against her.
She has a close and loving relationship with my DCs, and we see her and my dad regularly.

I don't understand why your ILs have said your parents must help too? Surely you just get a childminder or organise after school club or whatever for the days they don't pick up?

LaTristesseDurera Tue 20-Sep-11 09:07:07

My mum helps out with picking up the dcs a couple of times a week but I don't expect her to...she does it because she wants to and likes to spend time with them. My dad on the other hand can go a year without seeing them.

Even if you could get your parents to agree to it, they would resent you for it and it would cause problems. I would try and sort something else out instead. I wouldn't want my children looked after by someone who doesn't want to do it.

SlinkyB Tue 20-Sep-11 09:09:15

Wow, your parents do sound harsh and completely un-supportive sad

I'm due to return to work f/t in Jan; ds will go to nursery for two days, my sister for one, and MIL for two full days. She described looking after her gc's as a privilege (she has five, and is very hands-on, but the family is close both in terms of distance/emotional support/friendship).

I do realise I'm very lucky though! I'm afraid it doesn't sound like your parents will change their minds.

An0therName Tue 20-Sep-11 09:14:41

that does sound un supportive - however I do think that un paid childcare should be done willingly -do you want them to do it out of obligation? that can't be good for your kids
I would arrange after school club/ childminder for the other days - that your PIL can't do
many many people don't have GP anywhere near them so that is what they have to

OddBoots Tue 20-Sep-11 09:15:57

Even if all of your answers said they should do the pick ups and help you out will that actually help your situation? You can't make them help and even if you could would you want children to spend time with people who don't want to be with them.

It's sad that your parents don't want to help and I do sympathise but there is not much you can do about it, you will have to find another solution.

ChristinedePizan Tue 20-Sep-11 09:17:58

Yes I think you need to find some other childcare on the days that your PILs won't do it. Presumably they won't pull out if your parents aren't pulling their weight on the grounds that it's not a competition?

I'd probably stop taking my kids round to tea once a week too - if they're not interested, why bang your head against a brick wall? How sad for you and your children though sad

Wawaweewa Tue 20-Sep-11 09:20:20

Yes agreed. I shouldn't expect it, just thought they may want to be involved as they always said that they would help out. C'est la vie. Stings a bit I suppose. Trying to find a childminder as we speak. They had my sisters two once a week for a day albeit a year apart so I guess they've done enough.

ShatnersBassoon Tue 20-Sep-11 09:20:52

I admire their honesty. It's their prerogative to do what they choose with their time, and childminding obviously isn't part of their plans. Unless this was something you'd discussed before you had children and had then established that they would care for any children so you could go back to work, you shouldn't be too surprised by their lack of willing.

How many people plan on doing anything other than enjoying themselves when they're retired? And before anyone says 'but looking after grandchildren is a pleasure', it is only a pleasure for grandparents because they don't regularly have to do any of the crap jobs like potty training, disciplining children or school run in the rain.

CMOTdibbler Tue 20-Sep-11 09:21:59

It is unreasonable to expect them to commit to looking after your children regularly. You and your dh need to sort it out between you tbh

ShatnersBassoon Tue 20-Sep-11 09:22:01

Ah, so they did say they'd help out? Well no wonder you're disappointed.

Ciske Tue 20-Sep-11 09:27:41

I agree with the rest, there is no 'reasonable' amount of time they must give in order to be good (grand)parents. I would also advice not to compare what you get from one set of grandparents vs. what the others give you and make it cause for resentment. It's nice if they help, but not a bad reflection on them if they can't/won't.

I live in a different country from my parents so they can't help out. However, with my brother (who lives close to them) they have been very specific about not wanting to commit to regular childcare. They're available in emergencies but want to keep their time their own.

DP's parents on the other hand live close to us, and babysit twice a week for a full day. We check regularly if they are still ok with that arrangement and have made it very clear we don't expect them to continue this with subsequent children or if it any point they prefer to have this time back. I also don't think they are 'better' GPs than mine - their circumstances and preferences are just different.

mamsnet Tue 20-Sep-11 09:29:24

Yes, but if OP pops in for a ^cup of tea once a week^and it's too much, they're hardly the Grandparents of the Year, are they??

GnomeDePlume Tue 20-Sep-11 09:31:04

When they said they would help out did they describe the type of help they would give or was it left open? For them 'helping out' might have meant 'in an emergency'. For you I guess it meant something much more regular and reliable.

There is sometimes a problem when two sides have different expectations of the same words.

mousymouse Tue 20-Sep-11 09:33:40

if they don't want to you have to respect that.
they will still love their dgc and love to spent time with them.
just do what many many other parents do: find a good childcare provider and get on with it.

EightiesChick Tue 20-Sep-11 09:34:00

I don't mean this to be harsh, but many people just don't have this option and have to get on with it as best they can. Both my parents and my in-laws live too far away so I am in this position - it is down to me, DH and our paid-for childcare. The good news, though, is that at least paying for childcare you know where you stand and won't be let down, have to work around GPs' own plans, illnesses etc.

I can see that you are disappointed, understandably so, especially given that they originally said they would help, but there's not much point flogging a dead horse, and you can't make them do it. From the sound of it, sad though it is, you would be better off taking a step back from them altogether as they don't seem to value spending any time with their grandchildren. Stop the visits for a bit and see what happens then. I know it probably feels like you are depriving the kids of their GPs, but if the GPs aren't bothered about them then it's no great loss and less hassle for you.

HomemadeCakes Tue 20-Sep-11 09:34:49

I'm one of 5 and my DParents' view is that they've done their child-rearing so certainly don't want to be doing it again. My other siblings have put on them quite regularly and up to now they've always been available for emergencies, but they have just bought a business and so now are not around to help out at all.

We both work FT and have to pay for FT childcare. I do envy those people though that are lucky enough to have family to help out.

I think it is wrong to 'expect' any help at all from Grandparents and that you should be eternally grateful if you do get some! My GPs were dotted around the Country and we only saw them once or twice a year and my Parents coped with 5 of us, so I'm certainly going to attempt to cope with just one!

hairylights Tue 20-Sep-11 09:36:21

You are being incredibly unreasonable. They are your children and your responsibility not theirs.

GooseyLoosey Tue 20-Sep-11 09:37:23

I use (or have used) students from the local college doing child care qualifications. They are interested, relatively cheap and it looks good on their CV.

I agree that you cannot make them help you out. Talk to your PIL and explain the situation with your parents and then make your own arrangements to fill the gaps.

Hope it all works out for you.

Wawaweewa Tue 20-Sep-11 09:44:06

Hairylights - I don't think I'm being incredibly unreasonable. The offer was made, clearly as others have said 'help' was not clearly defined and so my understanding of that offer and theirs differed, and I accept that. I wholly accept responsibility for my children, and will sort something else out. I hope that this thread doesn't descend into the usual bear-baiting. There's really no need.

mamsnet Tue 20-Sep-11 09:46:01

I think a lot of people are being very hard on the OP. She is obviously sad at her parents' lack of interest in her children.

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