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Let down by parents - am I overreacting?

(93 Posts)
Dipdaprules Sat 23-Feb-13 22:29:07

Dh and I have two ds's, age 4 and 2. They are lively and can sometimes misbehave, but not more than other children this age I think; they can also be very charming.

Since they were born dh and I have not had a night away from them (together). This summer is our 15th anniversary. We were hoping to go away for a night or two and asked my parents - in their early 60s and in good health - if they would be able to have the boys for the weekend, either at their house (where they have converted a bedroom into a kids room) or ours (where I'd offered to have a nanny come in for a few hours each day).

They have said no. Dad said the boys are too raucous and he's not sure he could cope with them. I am really upset - as he knows, we have nobody else who could take them and so we won't be able to go away. I can't imagine saying no to my own kids in those circumstances when they grow up. Dh is furious and thinks they are being incredibly selfish.

I suppose this is a bit of an aibu

mamababa Sun 24-Feb-13 08:19:41


No I didn't say it would change things. Nothing will as others have said on here. Maybe I should have said 'based on what the OP has said, I think they could have done it'. It won't make them but that's my opinion which she has asked for. Hope that clears things up

TheMightyMarge Sun 24-Feb-13 08:20:34

I think having two boys at this age for an overnight stay sounds like incredibly hard work - you might well have had a different answer if they were a couple of years older. It sounds as if your parents think that your boys run riot and are difficult to manage, and they are entitled to their opinion. Maybe they'll be much more into the idea when the boys are both old enough to listen to and understand them, and a bit more reasonable than typical 2-3 year olds tend to be.I have two dd myself, but I wouldn't dream of asking a friend to look after them overnight, nor would I offer to look after other people's dc overnight.

I wouldn't play silly games of not letting your parents see them, that would be cutting your nose off to spite your face (assuming they will step up to the plate later on). All this rambling to say: I really get where your parents are coming from, and I can see myself in a similar situation in the future (as in 2 and 4 yo, no thanks! 4 and 6 yo, yes please!) smile

AThingInYourLife Sun 24-Feb-13 08:22:58

"I would like someone to shoot me if I decide I can't manage a 2 year old in my 60's"


It kind of sounds like you are saying that we should euthanise people once they get too old to be useful (as babysitters).

Has it occurred to you that being unable to cope with something isn't something you necessarily get to "decide"?

My parents are young and healthy and very willing to help.

But because I love them I try my best not to take advantage of them.

They have never "decided" not to cope with a 2 year old.

But I see how tired they get and don't ask them to take on what I think will exhaust them and what I know is my responsibility.

DeepRoots Sun 24-Feb-13 09:20:27

"My parents are young and healthy and very willing to help"

Count yourself lucky. I and many friends have parents who play various games with the family dynamic and I can easily see where the op is coming from.

I wouldn't ask my own parents to have my two for a variety of different reasons including their opinion of them and the lack of effort made when they do see their dgc. This being the case even though my parents should be more able to take the task on.

I don't think the op is complaining so much as hurt that the one time she does actually want some support there is no one there to give it. Coupled with that the dgp concerned are not being honest enough to say, its too much maybe when they are older etc and are using the children's behavior (which sounds perfectly normal) as an excuse. Hurting their daughter in the process.

Op glad you are still planning to get away albeit with the children.

Not everyone is 'super parent', some people do need a break and it is healthy to want this. Don't forget children used to be brought up by a community of people not by isolated parents in nuclear families. Children are stressful but normal go jump at the chance to have dgc on their own without the parents interference

AThingInYourLife Sun 24-Feb-13 09:44:40

I do count myself lucky.

I don't think most grandparents consider their own children to be interfering with their relationship with their grandchildren.

Saying children are raucous isn't (to my mind at least) a criticism of their behaviour or upbringing.

I would have taken that as a statement of fact rather than something to get the arse about.

IDontDoIroning Sun 24-Feb-13 09:46:26

Your parents did the toddler stage when they and you were 20- 30 years younger.

My dc are teens /preteens so it was only 10 or so years ago I had toddlers. I wouldn't want to go back to having 2 for a whole weekend.

YANBU to ask but they ANBU not to want to do it and YA a bit U to feel upset about it.

RandomMess Sun 24-Feb-13 09:48:51

Where is it written down that gp should have children over night? Yes it's disappointing that they won't but if they don't feel like they can cope then it's for the best.

swallowedAfly Sun 24-Feb-13 10:01:47

people are always so hard on mums who are disappointed by uninvolved parents on here. it's unnecessary! there is nothing wrong with feeling hurt and disappointed that your parents aren't more interested in and hands on with your children.

my parents have my son overnight once a week for which i am very grateful. it's great for my son to have extra adults in his life who love him, are committed to him and want to take part in caring for him. they did the same with my sisters three children so having my one is nothing iyswim in comparison.

why is it so wrong for a woman to be sad that she doesn't have that from her parents? especially a woman who by the sounds of it spent lots of time with her grandparents as a child and enjoyed having that in her life? it's perfectly natural to be disappointed and sad.

my parents for all their faults have taken an active part in teaching their grandchildren to read, to play cards, to hit a ball with a bat etc. it is of great benefit to children and parents to have extended family around them that are active in their lives. i don't really understand people having children who are not family orientated! having children isn't just about 18 years and then they're gone - it's about generations of interaction and support. or at least it should be. if you're not up for that i'd recommend getting dogs - they die after a decade or so.

AThingInYourLife Sun 24-Feb-13 10:26:30

The problem with your argument, swallowed, is that you erroneously assume that a grandparent who doesn't feel able to cope with a toddler and another small child for a weekend is uninvolved or uninterested.

That is not necessarily the case.

For example, my MIL used to do a day's childcare every week for SIL, but did not feel up to having both children at once all day.

Does that make her "useless", as another poster describes ageing parents who get tired? Should we shoot her because she got cancer in her 60s instead of going horseriding?

All your rantings about how people don't understand family are meaningless if the reality is involved and loving grandparents who just have limits on what they can manage.

Part of being a loving extended family is recognising others' limitations.

And caring about the wellbeing of all the generations, including those in late middle age.

If my Dad told me he couldn't manage my children for the weekend my concern would be for him, not my own disappointment at not being able to get away from my children.

swallowedAfly Sun 24-Feb-13 10:30:34

lot of hyperbole there - never called anyone useless and don't advocate shooting anyone hmm

nor did i do any ranting.

what i did was try and stick up for the OP and her natural feelings that you seem keen to kick her in the guts for having.

swallowedAfly Sun 24-Feb-13 10:32:23

whilst putting yourself up as some paragon of saintlihood.

don't worry OP - us mere human beings understand your disappointment. i suspect that you and i will be the kind to be there to support our kids even if we feel a bit tired. i feel tired most days now and i'm still here for my son.

clearly i am not commenting on people who are ill, elderly or genuinely unable just to fend off the tabloidesque response to my message before it comes wink

Dipdaprules Sun 24-Feb-13 10:40:49

Thanks all

It's my dad really, my mum is much more hands-on and I think would have agreed, I suspect he vetoed it, and my mum cant manage them both alone. He was fairly hands-off as a dad too if I recall. He has commented once or twice that he has 'had his turn' ie when me and my brother were children. He's becoming more difficult as he gets older, very intolerent of noise or anything which interrupts his routine. But he is physically fit (walks, skis, plays golf) and only just 60 so it's not physical incapability, it's purely that he doesn't want to.

Guess I just assumed my parents would want to have a close relationship with the kids, but they want to be a bit more distant. My mum at least shows lots of signs of caring eg buying new toys when we come to visit, keeping a photo album of them etc.

Don't want to blow this up into something bigger than it needs to be so I think I just need to find a way to tell my dad that I am disappointed with their decision then move on.

AThingInYourLife Sun 24-Feb-13 10:41:25

I'm not trying to kick her in the guts.

I'm saying there is no need to be hurt or to take the refusal as a rejection if her or her children, which you imply that it is.

Of course she's disappointed, it's disappointing to have plans for temporary escape thwarted.

But it doesn't mean her parents think she's raising her children badly or don't want to be involved with her family.

One thing does not follow from the other.

They are saying it's too much for them.

Why not take them at their word?

Dipdaprules Sun 24-Feb-13 10:42:54

Dh is unfortunately making it harder - he is angrier than I am - so I have ti try to deal with that too, feel stuck in the middle between him and my dad, and really don't want to be taking sides

AThingInYourLife Sun 24-Feb-13 10:44:34

"whilst putting yourself up as some paragon of saintlihood.

i suspect that you and i will be the kind to be there to support our kids even if we feel a bit tired. i feel tired most days now and i'm still here for my son."


swallowedAfly Sun 24-Feb-13 10:46:06

honestly it sounds like your dad was selfish when you were kid and quelle surpise is no less so now you're a grown up. some people are.

you however sound lovely. just tell dh that you are feeling hurt and sad enough without having to deal with his anger too and feeling like you have two difficult men to deal with.

Astelia Sun 24-Feb-13 10:56:04

I do sympathise with the GPs. The thought of changing a nappy on a wriggling two year old would not thrill me. I hated doing all that with my own DCs nearly 20 years ago.

OP I think you'll find your parents much happier to look after the DGCs in 2 or 3 years time when they are less physically demanding and are more interesting to talk to.

AThingInYourLife Sun 24-Feb-13 10:56:28

Why is he so angry?

That's not a reasonable reaction to their refusal.

DontmindifIdo Sun 24-Feb-13 11:09:32

I agree if you are hurt, stop trying to arrange visits and see what happens.

Could you ask round your friends, see if anyone could recommend anyone who could do overnight childcare. You might find if you asked and told them the story, some would offer, I'd certainly offer to have a friend's 2 year old in this situation, even more so if you'd offer a return play date overnight for mine!

Other options include finding a hotel that has a babysitting service at it and booking a suite so they DSs are in a different room to you.

I think it would be worth telling your DH that it's not your fault and he needs to stop being a cock and supporting you finding another solution.

saintlyjimjams Sun 24-Feb-13 11:41:13

Oh we get all that 'we had our turn it's your turn now: grandparents don't do that' from the PIL's (also young). I used to growl under my breath that they had never done what we did as they never had a severely disabled child and it did use to make me very angry (I never expected an overnight, just an occasional hand in the morning when I'd had 2 hours sleep for the 14th night in a row :autism: or a hand with dinner - which was a nightmare in the days when ds1 wouldn't eat anything & I had a baby ds3 to feed as well).

But in the end I let it go. They didn't want to help, fine. Ultimately they have missed out compared to my much more hands on parents. Their choice.

saintlyjimjams Sun 24-Feb-13 11:44:40

But your DH isn't being fair. I realised however cross it made me it was more upsetting for DH. I did moan about them to him (although more to other people) but wouldn't have pushed further. I did insist on a few boundaries when their visits & lack of help made an already difficult situation worse, but we finally have a situation that works well for all of us. They stay elsewhere and visit during the day - that way they don't have to deal with the children for long uninterrupted periods and I don't resent extra work.

shoppingtrolley Sun 24-Feb-13 11:55:08

My parents can be arses like this too, but I suppose it is part of finally confronting head-on how they socialise in general. Do they do things like take meals for friends when they're ill, help out with feeding pets while neighbours take holidays etc. Remember to buy presents for friends having big birthdays?
I expect not. And so they don't know how to give you a 'treat' either.

Dipdaprules Sun 24-Feb-13 14:46:52

shoppingtrolley that's it really, they are self-centred and don't really put themselves out for anyone. It's not the weekend itself that matters, that's a small thing, it's more disappointment at the attitude, that they see any request as a burden or imposition (or at least my dad does) rather than actually wanting to help out. I imagine they will be less reluctant when the boys are older, too, I do know they are hard work.

swallowedafly thanks for the suggestion on what to say to DH, that's a good way to express it. Yes he is being a cock but there is a bit of a history here of my dad being insensitive (DH is from a different culture and my dad winds him up eg go on just try a bit of wine when he is a muslim... that kind of thing) and DH perceiving that I take his side. Having said that it is miserable being caught in the middle and DH needs to get over himself and stop making things worse.

Ragwort Sun 24-Feb-13 14:54:37

'He's in his 60s.' - unless there are underlying health issues 60 is nothing these days, I am only five years away from being 60 and am perfectly capable of taking 30 kids on camping trips three times a year grin; the Scout movement would grind to a halt if we didn't have volunteers in their 60s and older !!

I can appreciate your sadness and disappointment, its not as if you are asking them to look after your children on a regular basis.

My parents are in their 80s and are moving to be nearer us - one of the main reasons is that they want to offer to babysit more often grin.

shopping makes a good point, despite their age, my parents are the sort of people who are always out and about, helping friends & neighbours, getting involved in community work etc etc. But many people live very insular lives and just don't see the 'need' to offer to help anyone else.

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Sun 24-Feb-13 15:50:16

If it can reassure your DH, my 6 and 4 yr olds have just had their first ever sleep over, one night, a their GPs during this half term.

I think GPs are in their right to say no.

Yu know them better, so you will know if there is more to it, but is single event does not seem bad to me.

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