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Do your DCs enjoy seeing their grandparents?

(22 Posts)
iwouldgoouttonight Wed 01-Dec-10 10:19:07

DS is 4.3 years and he really doesn't seem to like spending time with my mum or DP's mum. I've posted before about him being badly behaved when my mum picks him up from school and we're working on ways of making that easier for both of them.

For example, DS said that he doesn't like it when grandma takes his bag off him and that's why he hit her, so me and my mum have decided that she will just say hello to him and let him walk, and if his bag is too heavy he can ask her to carry it but she won't offer. He seems to respond badly to being crowded and fussed over, and so far my mum backing off a bit and letting him be a bit more independent seems to be working. He also understands that hitting is wrong.

But DP's mum phoned last night and told DP she was really upset about how DS treats her. She doesn't see him as often as my mum does because they live a four hour drive away, but she remembered the last time we all met up DS didn't want to speak to her. We've often said to her that it sometimes takes DS a bit of time to settle in to seeing them again and its best if they don't crowd him straight away and give him time to come to them. But she thinks this is wrong and he should be really excited to see them and waiting with his nose pressed against the window for them to arrive and then run up and give her a hug.

She said he's her first grandchild and she won't be having any other grandchildren so she wants him to love being with her (she seems to have forgotten about our poor DD!)

She also said it is our fault for not being strict enough with him - when he ignores her we should tell him off more. And she said we play with him too much, and that we've created our own little family unit with me, DP, DS and DD and that means DS doesn't want anyone else. I think this is wrong because he sees my parents a lot, and has lots of friends who we see outside of school.

Do you think we're doing something wrong? I think maybe he's like that with both grandmas because they have certain expectations of how a grandchild should be with them and he can't live up to them. Both grandads are more laid back and he gets on better with them.

Are other DCs like this with grandmas?

Dancergirl Wed 01-Dec-10 10:24:51

I think your penultimate sentence about the grandads says it all really.

It must be disappointing for DP's parents not to have the reaction they want but he's a 4 year old child. Children of that age have no concept of his grandparents living a long way away and they can't see him often. Unrealistic expectations on him I think.

As long as you make it clear to your ds that hitting or rudeness is NOT allowed and to encourage good manners, which it sounds like you are doing, then you can't really force a reaction in your ds.

iwouldgoouttonight Wed 01-Dec-10 10:38:21

Thanks. MIL says we should try to get him all excited before they arrive so he is excited to see them. We do talk about them coming and talk about what we can all do together, but I think trying to excite him may just end up with him being overwhelmed.

I wonder if there is a difference between when he is outright rude to them (e.g. he shouted at my mum saying he doesn't want her to talk to him) and just not speaking to them. Sometimes when he doesn't speak to them I think he is just being quiet or shy but they think its rude. Obviously if they ask him a question and he blanks them we need to let him know that is rude. But if he's engrossed in something and they're trying to get him to be all excited to see them and he doesn't want to be, I don't think that is rude.

FairyArmadillo Wed 01-Dec-10 10:47:17

You can't force a child to feel something just to make MIL feel better. Maybe she's trying too hard and he senses that.

I have a similar situation but it's my parents that live far away, and DS is very close to my mother. We visit each other often, and they're very laid back with him. The bond came naturally. Ex-DP's mum lives locally, sees him every week but fusses too much around him. She keeps leaping in whenever his dad or I are doing something, say giving in a sandwich or reading him a book, in an effort to be more involved and he often ends up irritated and often starts to cry (he's 2) because her frantic input makes the visit seem more chaotic and overwhelms him.

The thing about your family's "own little world" sounds like jealousy.

iwouldgoouttonight Wed 01-Dec-10 11:37:03

I think you're right about young children not liking too much fussing. MIL especially seems to want him to do whatever she wants - she's already booked him tickets to the pantomime, which is lovely of her, but I think she should have asked DS if he wanted to go first. Because now if he doesn't enjoy it she'll think there is something wrong with his behaviour again.

SkyBluePearl Wed 01-Dec-10 12:05:21

I think the problem seems to be on both sides.

The grandparents should allow him a bit of space at first and then be less over bearing when they do start. I don't understand why they can't be more sensitive to his initial need for space? I wonder if they are putting too much pressure on him what with him being the only grandson - with only one other grand child.

Your son is still very young, a bit shy and overwhelmed - he expressed his feelings through shouting/hitting. Maybe he needs some help to find the right words instead?Can you practice saying 'please can we be quiet for a bit' or ' I'm feeling a bit shy, I need to just play on my own'

My parnets are fine with babies but useless with my kids. They don't really know how to talk to toddlers/older children.

susie100 Wed 01-Dec-10 12:14:01

I might be the lone voice but I would be horrified if my child spoke to my mother like that. Hitting, shouting, not greeting them properly etc

I would explain to him that his grandparents deserve respect and how excited they are to see him and he will hurt their feelings by behaving this way.

I would be worried that if I did not nip this kind of behaviour in the bud, he would not turn into the sort of nice, well bahved and polite young man I would want my son to be. He sounds a little rude to be honest.

Sorry but I think your MIL has a point.

Dancergirl Wed 01-Dec-10 12:21:41

Susie - I see your point and maybe the OP's ds does come across as a little rude but he is a 4 year old child and you can't expect perfect manners all the time from a child that age. There is a difference between being actually rude (hitting, shouting, not answering when spoken to etc) which the OP is dealing with, and just wanting to be a bit quiet which I think is ok.

susie100 Wed 01-Dec-10 12:29:57

No of course you can't but my personal view is unless you pick up on rude behaviour every time and never let it slip you are just storing up problems for yourself in later years.

I do appreciate that I am quite strict and this approach will not suit everyone.

I think being quiet and not greeting people enthusiastically is rude, well if not rude, just not imparting the best manners.

DP's cousins always did this (would not look up for the TV or the computer when guests arrived), it was the height of rudeness in my view and they have turned, predictably, into rather surly teenagers.

masochismTangoer Wed 01-Dec-10 12:45:10

I think OP mother has a point about the hitting which OP and her son and mother are working on.

I think OP MIL has unrealistic expectations.
The not excited thing is just odd - asking you to manufacture excitement is very odd.

iwouldgoouttonight
MIL especially seems to want him to do whatever she wants

My MIL was very anxious with her role and frankly not great with young babies and DC as they have grown older and are more able to do and enjoy activities she she wants - days out ect - she is in her element and they respond to that. Prior to that she was very difficult and everything was about what she wanted not what DC could cope with and enjoy. We had to put our foot down and were very unpopular for a few years - what we said went not what she wanted and expected.
Same with my father who grabbed at DC all time and got them upset - we had to put a stop repeat what the problem was and put up with the moaning.

iwouldgoouttonight
We've often said to her that it sometimes takes DS a bit of time to settle in to seeing them again and its best if they don't crowd him straight away and give him time to come to them. But she thinks this is wrong and he should be really excited to see them and waiting with his nose pressed against the window for them to arrive and then run up and give her a hug.

She said he's her first grandchild and she won't be having any other grandchildren so she wants him to love being with her (she seems to have forgotten about our poor DD!)

We had this - it is a personality thing taking time to settle and has to be excepted and you have to tell GP this. It may not be what they want to here - FIL took offense first few visits with our PFB but came round and reaped the benefits pretty quickly.

Not acknowledging your DD as a DGC - put a stop to that immediately. Take offense - put her straight but get it stopped as soon as possible. I had to with my MIL and I am so glad we did it immediately. She now makes an effort with all DC not just first born - means we have avoided overt favoritism causing problems between DC and she has taken the time to get to know and find things she likes about other two DC.

masochismTangoer Wed 01-Dec-10 12:47:47

I think being quiet and not greeting people enthusiastically is rude

Being quite is fine - it a personality trait but they do have to acknowledge with polite hello peoples presence and if appropriate stop what they are doing - even if it is briefly.

masochismTangoer Wed 01-Dec-10 12:48:15

quiet not quite.

pipkin35 Wed 01-Dec-10 13:17:39

Grandparents! We have a similar thing. Although DS gets overexcited when they first arrive, this soon turns into a massive anti climax it seems!
OH parents live in London but we're now down South. They visit us 3-4 times a year. We don't go to them anymore cos the logistics of their tiny place and 2 toddlers is too tricky.
OH's mum just fusses and bosses DS (nearly 3) around constantly. She doesn't 'play' with him or anything, just tries to grab his hand/give him cuddles all the time - with him getting quite upset and squirming away etc...
Or trying to force feed him, but still speaks to him like he's about 1, along with saying comments that freak me out - like being all offended and sarky, and not totally light hearted either. Like, he'll refuse to hold her hand cos he doesn't need to (not by a raod for example) - and she gets all like "Well, I don't like you either today then!" but of course, he doesn't 'get' this joke,.....Grandad on the other hand who just sings or makes farting noises (exclusively only seems to do these 2 things!)- DS adores!
DD - 19 months - is getting to the 'squirmy' point with grandparetns but so far enojys being force fed by OH's ma.
It's a bit better with my mum, but again we only see her 5-6 times a year (she lives 3 hrs away) - but I've been able to 'help' her with how to be with him IYKWIM and now she does great. (That sounds a bit dictatorish but I never grew up with her and she never had any ideas about kids at all, the one time she babysat when DS was about 9 months, he fell out of cot and banged his head - but she was so worried about me being angry - SHE DIDN'T EVEN TELL ME - til over a year later).

TitianTinselTemptress Wed 01-Dec-10 13:30:20

"we've created our own little family unit with me, DP, DS and DD " - err, yes!!! What is she suggesting, that you are not as nice to him so that he appreciates other people more? What a strange thing to say.

I think adults can sometimes forget that DCs are people with their own foibles and boundaries.

No advice over and above what's been suggested - the hitting needs to be knocked on the head, and both Grannies need to give your DS space to come to them. Don't even know what to say about your overlooked DD!

TitianTinselTemptress Wed 01-Dec-10 13:31:43

PS my wee step cousin over in Australia once complained to his mum "Grandma keeps looking at me!" - sometimes you just can't win!

Tortington Wed 01-Dec-10 13:34:15

my kids dont like their grandparents, becue the grandparents didn't put the time in with them, so 17 years later you can't expect them to love people who never really gave a shit.

regarding your dps mum - tell her mind her beezwax how you parent is your business

fufulina Wed 01-Dec-10 14:27:26

From the other side of the fence, my nieces are like this with my mum and dad. So so rude. They don't even say hello in response to hello. And it is NEVER picked up on by DB/SIL. It has got to the point when my mum and dad don't enjoy seeing them anymore, because they are so rude. Nieces now 10 and 8. And as a previous poster said, when is the right time to instill manners (which is what we're talking about) if not now?

fruitful Wed 01-Dec-10 14:42:41

"we've created our own little family unit with me, DP, DS and DD"

Well done. That's what you're supposed to do. Don't let her tell you that is wrong.

Does she really imagine that telling your ds off will make him coming running up to hug her? The best you'll manage by "telling him off more" is to get him to say a quiet and miserable "Hello". And yes, you need to get him to stop what he is doing and say hello - but better to concentrate on ways to get him to enjoy the time with Grandma than to focus on "Grandma is that cross person that I have to be polite to".

Your MIL seems to think that you and your ds need to change, but she doesn't.

My parents expect to sit and watch my children. They don't always manage to talk to all three of them, certainly never play with them or have anything you could call a conversation. They still expect the children to be delighted to see them though. I'm not quite sure why they think they would be!

I wish grandparents would realise that their grandchildren are people that you build a relationship with, not some kind of must-have OAP accessory.

BabyDubsEverywhere Wed 01-Dec-10 15:04:17

Perhaps hes just not into them?

I was like this as a child, Grandparents served no purpose. They didnt know me well at all, didnt play with me, a lot seemed to be expected of me (through manors and behaviour) for bugger all return. I stopped seeing them all about age 9-10. My last living Nan died a few years ago, i went to the funeral for my mom really but i didnt feel anything confused I didnt dislike any of them or aything, they had done nothing wrong. But i dont think i did either. I didnt know them, they didnt know me, we had nothing but blood in common, i needed more quite frankly. I dont get the whole blood thicker than water thing either.

Is it really so bad if he just isnt into them?

I was always polite however, and respectful.

Dons hard hat.

iwouldgoouttonight Wed 01-Dec-10 20:34:27

Thanks for all your advice. I appreciate those who have said they think DS is being rude - if he is I want to sort that out sooner rather than later. I think there is fault on both sides - the grandmas (particularly MIL) have unrealistic expectations of how he should act, but we need to try to improve his willingness to be polite, even if he's not feeling like it.

We do always tell him he must say hello when someone says hello to him and he is getting better. He is shy and sometimes (as a way of covering his nervousness I think) will act all silly and do funny voices rather than just saying hello. Othe children his age at school seem to be similar - we picked up DS's friend today and I said hello tohim and he said 'have you got any biscuits for me?'! I didn't think it rude, I just thought of it as being a four-year-old.

Its strange that its only grandmas that DS has a problem with being friendly towards - he's fine with other adults, if any of my friends come round he is initially a bit quiet but then happily shows them all his toys and plays with them.

ShanahansRevenge Wed 01-Dec-10 20:40:27

My MIL would do this...she would crowd and fuss and kiss and cuddle SO much that if got on MY nerves never mind my dds!

T me itseems that you are discussing it all too much with the grandparents.....so it's a huge issue. My MIL constntly tried to getme to discuss DD...which irritated in the end and I slowed down on it...would change subject....it helped a lot. kids are very sensitive and possibly your DS feels the strain.

ShanahansRevenge Wed 01-Dec-10 20:43:08

As a side note my DD does a silly voice/giggle when adults she is not sure of talk to her. There's a Mum at school who is always trying to rilroad DD into a playdate...DD likes the child very much but she is very shy and wont go to many other peoples houses as yet...and so she doesthe daft giggle instead of sayng anything...which to my mind is reasonable...kids dont have the ability to talk sometimesif a situation is overwhelming...and as your son is only 4...then even picking up a friend is a lot of excitement to cope with.

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