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Raising a family without family nearby...(49 Posts)
I moved to a place where I knew no one just before I had children, I had to make friends and that doesn't come easily but it is possible.
All appointments were down to me as DH works away so there was a lot of juggling and I'm not saying it's not hard but society is much more physically mobile now so you can't expect to be as close to existing support networks all the time.
I don't expect my DC's to stay close by, it seems that at least two of them will be in another country so I have to be prepared for GC at least one flight away.
Most of the people I met when my DC's were small were in the same boat so I've never been part of this group of parents who have family on the doorstep.
Not really sure what the answer is apart from having no expectations of unpaid help?
Unless you were in care then surely your parents spent many years looking after you.
Some very entitled and unpleasant views (Contrarian mainly) on here.
When we lived in the UK both sets of parents found the boys hard work!! As we are a forces family we moved often and the closest we got was to my parents 45-60 min drive away. My mil closest was 3-4 hours away. We now live in Australia and it's great. My roots are here , I'm in my forever home and have great friends on hand to help with the boys .
Realistically I don't know how disinterested GPs can really think adult children are going to prioritise them above all else in their old age, and by disinterested, I mean completely disinterested. Nobody is owed the help of GPs when they have kids but I would expect at least some level of interest when they are available and present. Yes some of the views may be harsh but you do get back what you put in. My PILs are a good example.. trek round the globe (fine), come to us when they're here and expect to be waited on hand and foot for weekends and won't even spend a proper, committed 10 minutes here and there playing with their GC (not fine, because if you're just here to sit on your tush to be entertained, stay in a hotel!). These things do matter imo.
Building supportive relationships in the community is best if you've no family around. It can take a while though. I found I had to weed out the 'tit for tat minding' type parents, who were basically just using me a as a service to get rid of their kids for a while. Now though, we have maybe 5 to 10 people we can call in an emergency who would down tools to help and vice versa. The more you're involved in, the easier it is to get that kind of relationship up and running.
Well, just because the parents live close by doesn't mean that they are automatically able to help out with your own DC.
My parents live in the same town - 15/20 mins drive. I can count on one hand the number of times I have requested babysitting (he is now 16).
I was also a LP from him being 2 years old.
What I did do was source good childcare. A nursery and a childminder. Also friends would occasionally help out, but mostly I used the paid childcare.
I was not wealthy at all. But realised that it was easier to pay someone than have to ask someone, who was unwilling to give up their free time.
I'm raising my two DSs with no family at all nearby. My family live a 2+ hour drive away, which is manageable and fine if things can be planned, but no babysitting, and no ad hoc childcare if one of us is ill or something. DH's family live overseas.
How I've coped:
- 'booked' my DM in advance for big things like births or very rare weekends away with my DH. Otherwise I've only ever called her in real a crisis;
- sent both boys to nursery and chosen ones that do emergency childcare as an extra;
- used the boys' key-workers at nursery as babysitters;
- cultivated local mum friends who are in a similar situation so we all can call on each other in a crisis;
- made friends with neighbours;
- joined a gym with a creche;
- made myself familiar with the options for childcare in the holidays re: holiday clubs, activity days, etc.
I also don't work, which helps a lot. I'd find it really hard if I did and would probably need to have an au-pair or a nanny.
I've had to work from home as I'd never get all the time off I've needed to take dd to the orthdontists, ds to the dentist (he broke his front two adult teeth and has temporary caps that keep falling out), school meetings, parent's evening, picking them up when they are ill, taking them to activities, etc.
dh's long hours is a strain and I don't know about expectations but as I said, my mother might have brought me up but I don't know about 'care' and she certainly has no interest in my children. dh's parents would help out a lot more but they live 200 miles away.
Friends make all the difference and unfortunately I haven't been able to make many. It just goes that way sometimes. In our last house I was there for 3 years before I finally started making friends and it was easier then because I went to all the toddler groups, now the kids are older it's harder as you hardly see other parents.
I don't know how other working mums manage it but I do know from what dd tells me, that many either don't work or they have family to call on for help.
Besides, it's not just grandparents, it's aunts, uncles and cousins too.
I moved when I was pregnant I have no friends or family locally, it is hard. I won't lie.
But we are a tight little family, we only do things with ds. If he can't go than I don't go. Oh has friends locally but no one to baby sit.
I wanted my child to grow up with cousins, aunties, uncles etc but unfortunately quite the opposite has happened. But it's ok, as a pp said don't compare it does make you very sad.
bitofakipper I don't think that my view (in this instance) is entitled or unpleasant. Uncomfortable perhaps. Western society has developed in such a way that the sense of community and family structures which did exist have in many instances disintergrated. I feel that the issue is one of fairness and equity.
We are legally obliged to look after our kids. We are not legally obliged to look after our grandkids. Surely you could see that it would be somewhat unfair of a parent to move away from their adult children in order to enjoy a comfortable retirement (thereby perhpas depriving those adult children of useful help) only to move back when they became old an infirm and expected help. How is that an equitable settlement. If the adult children move away...... that's a different story.
We have four children. We have no family nearby. Sometimes it's hard. But you know what? We survive. And at least I can't complain that Mil is always popping round/interfering.
I guess I grew up with no living Grandparents and aunts etc who lived abroad or the other end of the country so I have no history of close family providing childcare.
On the other hand I don't expect my children to stay local and look after me and certainly wouldn't move close to them unless they really wanted me to, and I wanted to move. I've told them they can put me in a home so long as they book a standing order of gin to be delivered!
If you never have family, nearby, then you adapt accordingly. Some people I know are over reliant or family. Eg. Grandparents look after their children from early until late ( and then struggle if gp areunable to look after children for any reason).
I work pt with hours that fit. In with school. Hubby and I take turn taking holidays to look after children ( apart from family holidays). A lot of leisure centres, pre schools etc run holiday clubs etc.
My DH and I have never had family live near us. We just got on with it and now one of our sons is grown up we concentrate on helping him and providing a support network. We have an amazing bond, much stronger than I or DH had with our parents. It's a waste a time dwelling on what you don't have or have no control over changing.
My family are 150 miles away and in-laws 200 miles away.
My mum used to come down fairly regularly when the DC were smaller (about every 6 weeks), but it's not the same as having family in local area.
I'm lucky to have developed a strong network of friends, I help them out and I know they will help me out in return. Things like walking the DC to school when you suddenly came down with vomiting bug, picking up from school when you unexpectedly need to work late.
Another one who has never lived near anyone else in either mine or my DHs family.
Having no support network has always just been something we took for granted, so in some ways it never seemed a hardship.
I think because most other young parents that we knew were also incomers to the area, it seemed the norm.
Thinking back on it now (and having read many of the comments above), I do wonder whether my career path would have been different if we had greandparents/siblings on hand to help with child care. As it was I went back part time after DS1, then gave up paid work altogether after DS2.
Having none of my own family to help out or support, I'be been completely blown away by the level of support for her GC my MIL has provided during some difficult health issues. Took me a while (ok, absolute desperation) to learn how to accept her help, but she's been amazing.
Sometimes you just have to get on with it alone, but having had the revelation of what a supportive family can actually be like; well, OP, yes, if you're used to it, it'll be hard without
But being in a place you feel roots is kind of really important. It'll give you a very good feeling and start and (babysitting type) friends will build up over time
It would never have occurred to me to have my parents around - they're several hundred miles away - or my sister! Sure, we had to pay for childcare, and I suppose we don't have free babysitting available or people to fall back on in that way - and that must be lovely, as long as you do actually like them - but I really don't recognise this picture of a grim, isolated and unsupported life.
There's lots of another sort of support around, from the school gate, in any case.
I moved away from family quite deliberately - didn't have a happy upbringing and my mother was uncaring towards me and one sibling, and favoured the other. That said now she is old and infirm I do feel a sense of responsibility, family isn't about quid pro quo for me.
It's hard going without external support, though nowhere near as hard as for single parents. I take my hat off to you Cog - as I so often do! DH and I manage the occasional night out by mutual babysitting for other local parents. We know it will be many years before we get a night away together, but hey ho. The DCs are worth it - for their own sakes not because of what they will give back one day!
Contrarian most women born a generation or two ago did not work when their children were young and did not expect their parents to provide much childcare. People in general settled down together and had children younger. When this happens, the first taste of freedom occurs later in life and many want to take advantage of that.
I'm pretty sure that most older people don't expect their offspring to care for them in their dotage.
There may unusual circumstances in your family set up to make you see it as a sort of business arrangement but I don't think your views are the norm.
I prefer to have my parents and PILs a long way away. That way, when they don't provide any useful childcare (none of ours were much use on that) it doesn't grate so much.
When I was on maternity leave with my first child, not knowing anyone with children in the area, those of us without local family bonded quite strongly, and we helped each other out with childcare and other support a lot. The lack of family encouraged us to make new friends at that point.
Then we moved a long way and having small children made it easy to make local friends again and we set up mutual childcare arrangements. Children can be such a good way of meeting people. So we've always felt quite amply surrounded by people we can ask for mutual babysitting, friends with children, and it is a lot easier for me emotionally dealing with friends than my problematic family.
Bitofakipper I don't disagree. However, in our instance, my wife's parents have indicated that they'd like to settle near us in about 10 years. They're in their mid-sixties now!
It's not necessarily my view, but rather our situation (which is far from unique). It actaully goes against the grain for me personally as there is no way I'd want a stranger looking after my parents if i was able to. I know plenty of people of my parents generation who have their parents looked after by state funded carers - despite being capable of doing it themselves. It's not a business arrangement as such.
Well, yes, there is that.
It has had its logistical problems - the glibly smug injunctions to 'go away for a weekend' or even just 'have a night out' haven't always been easy, but in all honesty I wouldn't want to live near my parents in any case.
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