Missing the grandparents - guilt/frustration(21 Posts)
We are in Europe, so not far from parents back in the UK, and we only moved at the start of this year so haven't been away for long. Not sure how long we'll be here (local contract) but we love it so far and at this point we'd happily stay for a good while (5 years +).
Our parents back home really miss us and our D.C. (ie their DGC - 3y and 5y). We miss them too but are pretty busy getting to grips with things here (and working) and whilst we FaceTime occasionally the kids are rubbish at it and it's hard work and time-consuming and difficult to fit in, so feels like a bit of a chore rather than a pleasure. We have to make a point of finding the time to do it, arrange it with the GPS, then the kids sod about and DH and I end up being frustrated by the whole thing. On top of this the grandparents all seem to totally leave it us to get in touch and make the arrangements to get in touch, but then send texts complaining that they've not "seen" us recently.
I also worry about their health and something happening to them whilst we're away. I feel guilty for being abroad whilst they are in good health and worry that I'll regret spending this time away from them. I hate the thought of them getting elderly (they are currently late 60s) alone (my sibling also lives abroad, not here). Yet don't want to feel obligated to return to the UK if we end up wanting to stay here long term. And I feel sad that they miss us, especially the children, terribly. And then I feel frustrated by the pressure to keep in touch when it's never a decent conversation anyway! And then I feel guilty again!! Argh!
I don't think there is a magic answer, I'm sure it's just one if the compromises you have to make if you living abroad.
But if anyone does have s magic answer I'd love to hear it
We emigrated to Australia almost 2 years ago. I left my Mum behind...my Dad's no longer with us. She has her sisters and brothers plus her mates and my three siblings and their kids but I STILL feel the guilt sometimes.
I have had to shelve it though...I don't have time. You've got to live your life.
What about getting your DC to draw a picture on a postcard once a week...write a little sentence on it for them and get in the habit of posting them off.
Difficult to fit in? I feel sorry for the grandparents. Presumably if you were in the same country you'd find time to visit them? Plan with the dcs esp the older one what to talk about, school trip/new toy or something. A couple of minutes is better then nothing.
Happy you know this topic is about living overseas right? It's full of expats supporting one another.
OP...the more they moan the less you want to talk to them...I know...I've been there. Being made to feel bad for living your life is shitty parenting.
We do grandparenting by Skype / Facetime (us in one country, son and family in another, daughter and family in a third. It is hard when the children are young, but we always stuck to one agreed time on Sunday afternoon to talk to them, unless we or they arranged something else.
We read stories, talked about what we had been doing and watched them playing. We always watch present opening at Christmas and birthdays.
Now they are older they call us for a chat, help with homework, help with cooking (two are teenagers) and anything else they need from us.
We see one family about once a year and the other family four or five times a year. We make sure we have lots of fun and treats and try to make each visit special.
I think the main thing is to have routines for contact and not leave it to chance.
It is a different sort of grandparenting but they know how much we care about them and we have good relationships with them despite the distances.
Hope this helps.
Oh ok sorry didn't realise I'd ventured into a clique
Emily has good suggestions there - a regular time to call, no excuses, so you keep up the "face" time when they're young and it will hopefully lay the groundwork for when they're older and want to call voluntarily.
I just came on to say don't worry about kids faffing about during a call. Ime the grandparents just want to see them, talking would be good of course but our DC's grandparents like just to see what they're doing, comment on how they're growing, what they're up to at that moment. We keep the FaceTime running whether or not the kids are into it. It keeps the connection with the grandparents going.
Do t try and make the perfect call, just do it when you feel like it every few days. It is not a big deal if you are not all sitting there picture perfect.
We just do random calls to show what we're having for dinner, a new drawing etc.....
We have an 8 hour time difference though so if they don't try and work around our timing too then tough!
STOP the guilt trip. You'll end up taking no pleasure at all in those moments!
Our kids never lived close to GPS and one set clearly could not care less but when we fly home the children are surprisingly close to family.
Face timing is very hard. We live in Europe as well so we are an hour ahead. With small kids that one hour makes a huge difference. Family want to FaceTime once they are in from work and had dinner, at which point it's 8pm here and toddler is asleep. That leaves weekends when everyone is also busy.
I used to call every Thursday evening, phone or Skype
Fixed time (ish)
Never felt guilty, my lovely parents never made me feel bad
MeAltimes can be a good time - everyone is there, or at least DCs are. Have things to show- new toy, new clothes, painting, dinner???, photos etc.
I hear you, OP - it's the thing I find hardest about being overseas (and I'm much further away than Europe, so double worry about getting "the call" and having to get home ASAP)
We found that until they are about 8, FaceTime / Skype doesn't really work - they fidget around, don't concentrate, just want to make faces and don't really understand the concept of not mumbling and making sure everything they are showing them is in the camera. We had to do a lot of supporting the DC to make the calls work.
The format we have found works best is the sandwich: DH or I make the call and get the connection up and running etc etc, have a quick catch up. Then call over one child to chat to the GPs - either stay with them on the call, or at least stay in the same room. Then when that runs out of steam, call over the second child - possibly send first child away if they are distracting each other. Then when that runs out of steam, send second child away too. Finish off chatting amongst adults, then call both children over to all wave goodbye.
I know that sounds horribly choreographed, but it's what works for us...
I left the UK when my children were 2-6. They're now 12-16. They adore their grandparents and all have great relationships.
Grandparents visit twice a year for at least two weeks at a time.
Some years I send my children back to the UK to stay with grandparents. Some years we all visit. Some years we all meet up somewhere together.
My children now find it much easier to cope with Facetime than when they were little.
My children also have maintained brilliant relationships with their cousins - we make sure they all see each other every couple of years, and they all Facetime whenever they feel like it.
It's not impossible. Don't feel too guilty. Just work on making it a positive thing. My parents love visiting us here.
Oh and my other set of parents never visited us when we lived in the UK, and surprise surprise they've never visited us in the US either. Their loss.
I agree don't force it, it's such hard work. My dh used to do that with his parents when we lived in England (they live in our now home country) and it was always a pita and I resented that we had to work our weekends around it. The dc generally weren't interested and there was guilt all round.
I try to just ring my parents/sister and family when I can now I'm the one away from home. We often don't bother with Skype as I can't be bothered to sit and watch my parents talking I'd rather chat while I'm hanging out the washing, cooking dinner, tidying up etc. The dc also muck about a lot more on Skype/ft than when they are on the phone.
Youngest dc has been having decent conversation on the phone since age 3. And my parents accept they have to catch the others (especially my 12yo) when they are not busy and are in the mood which can be rare. But it allows for more quality and meaningful conversation which develops the actual relationship far better..
I think the overall picture is more important. Quality time together where you can. We see my parents for a couple of weeks at least each year. We probably only see my sister every other year but the cousins seem to have a strong bond because they enjoy the time spent together and we talk about them a lot, have photos around etc. They also email each other now when they have time.
My eldest will also now Imessage her grandparents now and then. Grandparents send postcards to dc individually regularly and my dc (age 8) also decided to send one back completely unpromopted the last time he was away.
Because I live away from home I have a lot of close friends who I'm not necessarily in close touch with. However it's those little moments that count and having a valuable catch up on the phone once or twice a year, an odd message or card when I think of them. Those things are enough to remind us of the closeness without having to force remembering every birthday, fitting in a call each week, etc. If there is a genuine desire for closeness and a willingness to accept the dc and where they're at it means you can still have a valuable relationship imo.
I am also in Australia and FaceTime every day with my parents. More than a structured conversation I have my phone/ipad in from of me while I cook dinner and the children are usually around and doing homework, reading a book or playing. Sometimes I just flip the camera and while they talk to me, they watch the kids. Any conversation the kids will have seldom lasts more than a couple of minutes, but in this way, my parents are with us for 15, 30 or even more minutes every day.
If we manage to keep contact with family in Europe despite the time difference, anyone can do it.
Your parents could make more effort. I have 2 DGC elsewhere and I often FT them without pre arranging. Sometimes they don't pick up or say "not a good moment" other times the parents are delighted for me to
keep them busy whilst they do something. We prefer for it not to be a big deal but part of life. When I was young everyone seemed to call their parents on a Sunday evening. That was a chore!
my dad is too old to do facetime but others I know get the grandparent to read a story. Great way to keep in touch and keep up the reading in english (assuming kids are in local school)
Agree with others . Just put on FaceTime anytime you're home. You don't need to sit in front of the screen and have' GP time ' I prop the iPad on in the kitchen while I'm unloading the dishwasher , cooking. Then spin it round and daughter can talk to them. Sometimes I use it as a babysitter. Grandparents showing her their cat etc, I slope off to fold laundry. 12 hour time difference makes it hard to fit in. If I want a real conversation I'll do a voice call with my mum.
It's understandable that they are upset, and fair enough to talk about their feelings of sadness, missing you etc a bit, but sadly for them they need to find ways to deal with it and try to make the most of any opportunities to visit, be visited, phone. It might make sense, when they express sadness about not seeing you, to try to talk about it properly, allow them to express their feelings, unless they are talking about it repeatedly and at great length.
Facetime etc is very different and not as good as being together physically, but it's what's possible.
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