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Is time alone with DC a vital part of being a Grandparent?

(71 Posts)
Tinkerisdead Tue 02-Jun-09 10:10:27

I wasnt sure where to post this and I wanted to get a general idea on feelings around this.

Bit of background. My DD is 6 months old and has only just stopped BF, for the last 6 months she has fed every 2 hours, had colic for 4 months and still will not settle at night. Subsequently I have never left her yet, Not even for an evening meal with DH etc. I wasnt anxious about leaving her, more that she has been so unpredictable at nights and quite difficult we havent really felt it fair to inflict her on anybody yet!

This weekend was her Christening and I made sure everyone else held her all day etc. But MIL started saying how time alone with her is precious and how she cherished taking her into a room alone etc etc. She has her other grandaughter thurs, friday and saturday overnight every week, she is 2 and has been doing this since she was 5 days old. She then asked to take my DD on holiday for a week now she is no longer BF and my DH refused.

Now my mum, she remarked that she cant understand the craving to be alone with her, she claimed that she loved seeing her child, with their child and enjoyed the time together as a family. Its early days in DDs life but to date we have mostly done visits as a family unit, although Dh will often walk round to MIL alone with DD in her buggy. But she is right, she has never been alone with her.

Im happy for her to have her for a few hours here and there like normal babysitting but she is talking overnight stays, weekend visits and week long holidays. She lives two streets away so can visit anytime she wants to.

What do you do? how much "alone" time do your DC's get with their grandparents, this is PFB and because I guess I took a lead from my own mum, I now wonder whether i'm being mean to MIL but I would still be anxious for the length of stays she is talking about for a 6m baby.

Seeline Tue 02-Jun-09 10:14:36

My Dcs are now nearly 5 and 71/2 and I have never let them stay anywhere without me for a week! They have bothe stayed independently with grandmothers for a long weekend a year ago. Until then they had the odd afternoon with them, evenings baby sitting, and one or two overnight stays. Both grannies live locally. I do not think YABU at all. 6 months is way too young for that sort of unneccessary separation.

Maveta Tue 02-Jun-09 10:23:42

It does sound a bit over the top but, as with everything, it's all about what you and your dh are comfortable with.

My mum had ds for occasional overnight stays from when he was about 8 months old. But we lived very near and would have been able to be there in a flash if necessary (except one occasion). I also freely left him with her for mornings/afternoons if I needed to get something done and she also looked after him 3 days a week (9-2pm) from 5-11months old. So I guess she had loads of alone time with him. And she enjoyed it but I don't think she necessarily craved it, it was all borne out of what we needed, she was just there to help. She never asked us to leave him with her.

Can't comment on MIL because she has never had ds alone and never could because of her disabilities.

Just go with your gut feeling. FWIW my parents have now moved away and my mum talks about having ds to stay with her for a long weekend or a week when he is older and I do find myself thinking (yeah, but a LOT older, right??). Ds is 2 and they now live a 2 hour plane ride away!

Horton Tue 02-Jun-09 10:26:14

DD is 2.9 and she sees her paternal grandparents once a week between about 8.30am and 3.30pm in our house (and parks, swimming etc nearby). She has never yet stayed overnight with them and I'm not planning on that happening for at least another year or so as she's very much a homebird and I think she would find it quite stressful.

My parents live much further away, in the Channel Islands, so DD doesn't see them so often, maybe once a month, but similarly, they sometimes take her out for the day when they are here. We also visit them in their house for a week a couple of times a year but I wouldn't let DD go without me. Well, it's not a case of letting - I don't think she would want to.

I think six months is way too little to spend a whole week away from your mother, personally. Overnight stays might be all right - it really depends on the child. I know some babies who have done this at a young age but they were a lot more confident and outgoing than my daughter who is the living embodiment of the word 'clingy'. TBH, I think since your MIL hasn't yet had her alone, you would need to build up slowly. Maybe she could take her to the park for a couple of hours one day and see how it goes? And how you feel about it, too, of course. You shouldn't bow to pressure from your MIL if it feels all wrong to you.

cazzzz Tue 02-Jun-09 10:30:56

My gut reaction is that your MIL is being ridiculous.

I bet she didn't hand over her kids at 6 months old for them to go off on a week's holiday. I haven't come across anyone else who's done it either. It sounds like your MIL has had some (possibly unrelated) thing bugging her and this has lead her to come out with this silly and stressful comment.

(If it's any help my mum has said quite a lot of stressful / hurtful things recently too - I am suspicious that it could actually be triggered by the menopause and her recent house move.... although it's taken me quite a lot of bruised feelings to come to that conclusion!)

You sound like you've already got a sensible approach to this - an hour or two of babysitting here or there, unlimited "popping round access" and maybe a luxurious weekend away for you and your husband in a year or so's time.

Grandparents can be full of wise tips, but also have very selective memories of what parenting young children involves. Trust yourself to sort the wheat from the chaff, and be confident in your own decisions.

Tinkerisdead Tue 02-Jun-09 10:35:35

hmmm maybe thats it, "the gut feeling". My SIL works 12 hours a day and uses nursery and MIL for continual childcare and MIL has her at weekends too. I on the other hand am a SAHM and havent left DD yet. Im not saying either way is right, we just have two little girls who have different daytime routines.

On the day of the christening, I didnt hold DD all day and barely saw her as she was asleep when i left to sort the venue. Then at the service/party I let everyone else take her. At 8pm, Dh said I think Mummy deserves a cuddle now and MIL wouldnt let her go stating that I was just "pining". I think I'm getting conscious of seeming like a clingy mother but her suggestions of such long stays make me balk.

We have invited her to the park etc with us as she hasnt really seen DD often but she is often with other grandaughter at weekends and only wants my DD if it means alone time and as suggested, that perhaps needs to start gradually. I think i get worried as even when I'm there she wont give her back to me, even if she is distraught and so I'm more anxious that she wouldnt return her at an agreed time etc.

she also gave her wine at the christening which is a whole different ballgame

WorzselMummage Tue 02-Jun-09 10:42:15

My Mil had DD (now 4+5) for a weekend when she was 10 weeks old and has continued to have her a couple of times a month over night since then, she also has her very monday afternoon ( she picks her up from nursery and brings her back for tea ). My parents haver had her for long weekends here and there when we have wanted to go away, from when she was tiny.

Ds is still BF, He's 5 months old and has has only ever left once, we went to see a film, left a bottle of EBM and tbh if did us all the world of good

It's taken SIL a lot longer to leave her DS and i know MIL found that hard, Infact i know it made her a little bit resentfull as she was used to being so hands on with her other GC, there was some sniping. I suggested to SIL that she let MIL have her DS for a while and she did and the whole atmosphere changed, it was asif MIL felt trusted and needed again.

IME GPs need to feel involved, I know both GMs especially love the 'our time' aspect of it, i think it makes tem feel special and i don't mind that atall, it makes life easier for everyone, The kids are happy, DF and i can have a life, the grandparents feel good about the situation - whats not to like x

twinmam Tue 02-Jun-09 10:43:27

shock shock at giving a 6 month old baby wine!!! Your MIL sounds a bit nutty TBH - how dare she not give your child back to you when you ask, PFB or not?! That would have made my blood boil in a very primitive she is MY baby kind of way. And suggesting she take a 6 month old for a week's holiday?! Blimey. To try and see things from her point of view, she is used to having a much more involved relationship with her other grandchild and she is obviously feeling a bit left out and maybe jealous? Therefore she behaves in a clingy way. However, you shouldn't need to worry about seeming clingy because she is your daughter!! That said, there will probably come a time when you will more than welcome the opportunity to hand over DD for a few hours or even overnight and I can understand you need to be diplomatic in this situation. Have you talked to DH about it?

WorzselMummage Tue 02-Jun-09 10:44:16

Forgot to add, I would have no way let DD go away for a week at that age though, 6 months is far to young for a week away. A weekend at home maybe but a week is to long.

Tinkerisdead Tue 02-Jun-09 10:53:09

Some good points Worzsel and twinmam, she is basically a surrogate mother to her other grandaughter and I can see that being used to such a close bond must make her feel more strained with my DD, looking at it objectively. I would love the grandparents to have her more for afternoons etc but i would be more ready for weekend visits etc when she is two, saying can I stay with nanny?

Maybe I need to change my perceptions because I feel like I should be parenting, they should be playing. DD will need a nappy change and MIL whisks her away to change her, saying dont look at mummy, nanny is doing it. I can see that she is desperate to do the parenting things that she has done for the other, but that is not the relationship I envisaged for them. She is desperate to take over even when i'm there which makes me feel discounted. But she eveidently feels discounted by not being allowed DD for weekends. I am deemed clingy and pining and so she will snipe, "DD is a credit to her Daddy!"

Im not upset by it, I can see she wants the same relationship as with the other grandchild, but that just cant happen as their relationship is borne out of the fact my SIL is happy to leave her child for 3 days solid whereas I just couldnt.

cazzzz Tue 02-Jun-09 10:58:21

Doc's wife -

So I can understand this a bit more - do you generally get on well with your MIL and this is the first area of friction ... or has she always tried to wind you up and undermine you?

My own mum does work hard to help me with my kids (after school when I work etc), but she can also say some very inflammatory things like "I'll send you two kids off on a walk with the dog by yourself" etc (they are too young to go anywhere by themselves yet!)

Like I say, it's not always clear why she does this kind of thing, and it does make me trust her with the kids less (like the wine thing)...
but overall I think she probably does a good job.

I can understand your MIL wanting alone time - I think grandparents like their own space with their grandchildren. But don't feel pressured if you're not ready. (it's YOUR baby!) Why not start with you doing a quick run to the corner shop, next time she's visiting you, with her looking after the baby for 10 minutes?

twinmam Tue 02-Jun-09 10:58:58

Could you maybe leave her with her for a couple of hours a week? Like maybe you and DH could go out for dinner/ stay in with a bottle of wine on a Friday night? You could walk round and collect DD when you get in as MIL lives so near? If MIL says why don't you let her stay overnight just say 'I just don't feel ready to be apart from her overnight yet, silly me, I just love her so much! She is a lucky little girl that she is so loved by all of us, isn't she' or words to that effect? If the overnight thing is too difficult to deal with and may cause more digs then maybe an afternoon a week when you could do your shopping or just chill out? You could maybe make pick up time coincide with a baby group you go to so DD has to be ready to go and MIL has to let her or you'll be late for the class (fictional or otherwise). I bet she will become less clingy if she gets a bit more time and it is good to have GPs who adore your DC and want to babysit, believe me grin

cazzzz Tue 02-Jun-09 11:04:58


Doc's wife, I've just read your last post and am starting to understand your MIL a bit more.

Some women of her age can be like this - they actually want to be a mum again. I've had friends who's mothers have set up their own nursery in their own house and arrange baby-staying-over time as often as possible.

Is this an accurate portrayal, or am I wide of the mark here?

(My mum is not like this!! She is quite happy to hand the grandchildren back!!)

Lizzylou Tue 02-Jun-09 11:12:10

I think that the big difference is that the Maternal Grandmother enjoys watching her daughter with the GC and they have a shared experience. MIL's want to feel a bond too but cannot share the experience in the same way.

I realise that this may not be everyone's experience, but I know my Mom has said that she loved bathing/changing my DS's with me as that is what she had done for me and it was nice experiencing this with her daughter.
My MIL on moe than one occasion expressed how pleased she was that she would get "DS1/2 to herself". She is different with my SIL and Dnephew.
I am not offended, she is a fab grandmother but she would no more have asked to take away my 6mth for a week than she would have given him wine, no way!

She is probably feeling a little shut out, but that is not your problem and could be easily remedied by just her having your DD for a few hours now she is OK to be left a while.

WorzselMummage Tue 02-Jun-09 11:15:03

both sets our our parents have a grandchildrens bedroom complete with toys etc.

I've always considered that normal, its certainly what i grew uo with with my own GPs, they were like 2nd parents really, still are infact

twinmam Tue 02-Jun-09 11:20:13

That makes sense cazzzz - I can imagine that once my DCs are all grown up I might crave baby cuddles once again and the idea of having grandchildren to shower affection on is quite a lovely one (as is the handing back bit!) However, can also understand Doc's 'gut feeling' which I think is a reaction to MIL trying to take over and not giving her enough recognition that she (doc) is the baby's mother, no one else! I had feelings similar to this when my DDs were small, partly because they spent time in NICU/SCBU and I wanted to emphasise that they were really mine. My MIL is fab but there was one occasion when we were staying with her and she sent me for a lie down which was lovely as I was so knackered but then she took the girls out in their pram without asking me so that when I woke up they weren't there which made me irrationally angry and also panicked. FIL was a bit hmm at my reaction but DH later explained about my separation anxiety - girls whisked off to NICU as soon as they were born, didn't get to hold them for 24 hours etc - and it did ease the tension. Now they're 16 months old and I can't wait to hand them over - we had a weekend away and they stayed with MIL. I now love that there are ppl who love them nearly as much as I do in a very morbid, if anything happened to me kind of way. More than anything tho I'm just glad to get a break sometimes grin
Make the most of your MIL's help but gradually and if you feel she is making digs try and be upfront about it, ie 'Well of course I'm clingy - she's so gorgeous - wouldn't you be clingy if she was your baby' or a 'well, I'm allowed to be as she is so precious'. I think asserting yourself as your DD's mother will help your peace of mind a great deal.

weasle Tue 02-Jun-09 12:12:48

docswife, i think a week away at this age is a ridiculous request.

i have left my ds1 with MIL for a weekend when he was 20 months and i was about to have ds2, and i had a nice time away but it didn't really feel 'right'. i think your SIL might be doing it because she is working long hours and has to (although a bit shock at overnighters from 5 days).

i did leave ds1 more as i was working 60hours/week. now i am a SAHM and i haven't left 18mo ds2 at all. my mum thinks i am selfish for still breastfeeding him in the evening as i am preventing her from 'sharing' him. she does bath, story, anyhting else, but is impossible to please. well, tough, i think. i am happier with the kind of mother i am now myself.

good luck with the negotiations, i am glad your DH is backing you up.

flamingobingo Tue 02-Jun-09 12:16:06

A week!!??? For a 6m old???!!! Bonkers. Not essential at all for a GP to have time alone with their GDCs - just important for them to have lots and lots of time with them, but parents can be there too.

No way would I let a 6m old baby stay with either of their grandparents, and I trust both sets immensely.

Babies should be with their parents until they're much older IMHO.

wotulookinat Tue 02-Jun-09 12:21:34

I wouldn't be happy with it, especially as they live so close. Overnight stays are not necessary and will only muddle a young child up IMO.

nellie12 Tue 02-Jun-09 12:26:00

I haven't read the whole thread so apologies for any cross post but.. this is your child you do what you want with her. It sounds as though you let gp see dd lots anyway so if she is still feeling discounted I would suggest that it is never going to be enough. If it were me I would be establishing firm boundaries with mil and sticking to them regardless of her opinion.

I also think that handing dc over to other people for long periods at this age is detrimental to child as they are still forming bonds with you and is likely to lead to insecurity in child.

As for mil, tbh I think she has ishoos that she needs to work out herself and not through the medium of reliving her parenting days and undermining you.

jumpingbeans Tue 02-Jun-09 12:27:24

We have had our grandchildren to sleep over off and on almost all their lives, normally to fit around ds&dd outings, BUT i think i waited till they slept through, now they only stay over if they ask their mum's themselves, I love taking them out, but i like dropping them off home too Time alone with grandchildren is different to when their parents are around, but when their bigger, and understand, not bloody 6 months old

Tinkerisdead Tue 02-Jun-09 16:12:25

Wow, Im really glad I posted now because I was worried that I was being PFB by not being ready to leave her.

I get on great with my MIL and its only the birth of DD that has put strain on things more between DH and her actually. My own mum has commented that it strikes that MIL perhaps wasnt "done"having children. She will often beg and i mean BEG us not to go home at say 6.30pm and always says things like "i just want to take her!" when she is holding DD.

I am sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place though, since DD arrived. MIL makes no effort to come and see her, no help after C section birth (my own mum is 1.5 hrs away and did come)Mil only sees DD is we walk round there with the buggy its less than 2 mins. We have invited her to weekend things and she says she is always too busy with other grandaughter. DH lost his rag and reminded MIl that when DD turned 4 months, she hadnt seen her for 5 weeks. DH was devasted as she still didnt bother and so I went round. I got very upset and cried saying, he has little of me as im tied up with DD since birth and he sees little of you. He wants you to share in his daughter.

She still hasnt bothered to come round and so visits are snatched times where we rush round if DH gets home early on a weeknight as weekends are for the other child. But then she is remarking how she wants mine at weekends too. im not sure how to get a happy medium now.

Opinions have helped me realise that I perhaps need to ask her for help, but because she isnt really known to DD ive held back, but then im making it worse i suppose.

Horton Tue 02-Jun-09 16:20:23

Sounds like she only wants to see DD on her own terms. Well, hard cheese, really, because the terms that matter in this case are yours and your DH's. You're her parents and you come first. And you have tried. I hope you're not feeling bad because you have no reason to.

Tinkerisdead Tue 02-Jun-09 16:42:32

I do feel a bit bad as we've always got on and I feel like she resents me for wanting to parent my own child. I want everyone to share in her of course but recognise that she's my child and is precious to me. I'm just made to feel selfish and possessive for wanting her to go to bed in her own bed each night whilst she still has night wakings etc.

wotulookinat Tue 02-Jun-09 16:51:56

Horton is exactly right. It is YOUR child and it should be on YOUR terms.

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