Why can grandparents no longer have grandchildren?

When the grandparents are not interested in the grandchild


"My husband and I have a three-year-old son. He's the first grandchild for both sides of the family. But contrary to what we thought, the enthusiasm for him among the grandmas and grandpas in the in-laws (my husband's parents are divorced) is limited. So Yes, coming to visit and playing a bit is okay, but watch out for a day or even let us spend the night, that's too much for everyone. My husband's parents don't live far from us, and yet we have to beg when we do need a babysitter. Then people always moan about the fact that they don't have time themselves or that they already have plans or just want to relax. That honestly makes me sad, and I think it's a great shame for our son, too. I have it all as a child Experienced differently. My grandparents were always happy when we were there and didn't want to give up anymore. I feel offended because we often really need support. Sure, they are still working and neither of them are sixty years old, but isn't it a matter of course that one sometimes takes the grandchild? And voluntarily? That you enjoy being grandma and grandpa? When our son is visiting, they hardly talk or play with him.

You don't seem to be able to do much with him at all, and the little one totally realizes that. Sometimes I would like to yell at them and say, 'You talk to him like a dog!' My husband's father has never said anything else to him in three years than: 'Where are you? Well, where are you? ' My son, who is already talking about everything, always looks incredulous. Now I wonder how best to address the subject. Do I even have the right to do so? My husband thinks it triggers him too much, he can't talk to them. I would like to introduce you to him if you need help, but I don't understand because you have four children yourself ... "

Answer from Hans-Otto Thomashoff

Of course, you have the right to express your wish for more commitment on the part of your in-laws, but they also have the right that they do not want to take on their grandparent role. Perhaps they have had enough experience of growing up with their own four children for their liking that they now find other things in their lives more worth living in. While parents have a responsibility for the children they bring into the world, this cannot be demanded of grandparents without further ado - they have no influence on whether and with how many grandchildren they are made happy. Even if that is a shame, because they are likely to miss out on beautiful and valuable relationship experiences, that must be respected.

If you are dependent on the help of your grandparents, a request from you should do more than a moral club, even if this may be difficult for you with your now pent-up anger. Of course, there is a risk that they will say no, which, given their unwillingness, is quite likely. The question that remains is how things are going with your relationship with your in-laws as a whole. You don't seem to have gotten really warm during your years of marriage with them. I cannot judge whether something can be changed about this and whether you and them want that at all. Fortunately, there are not only family but also friends in life. (Hans-Otto Thomashoff, May 27, 2020)

Answer from Linda Syllaba

If you feel offended that your in-laws aren't as excited about your parenting as you hoped, it has to do with your expectations. However, your expectations are yours. It is okay to have expectations, but it can be very dangerous to give up responsibility for fulfilling your own expectations, especially without prior agreement. A lot of disappointments lurk there. And it opens the door to endless dramas within the family.

Of course, it would be nice if the grandparents behaved as you would like them to. But they don't, and that has to be accepted. There are interests of their own, an upright working life, four children of their own who have been looked after, and now they want to be left in peace. Comprehensible. You know it differently from your own childhood experience, you say. Right. In the past everything was completely different anyway, there were multigenerational households where the elderly looked at the children, while the young took care of the elderly and the image of women / mothers was also a little different. Children were generally seen and treated differently. The world has changed: framework conditions such as living conditions, working life, multiple burdens, etc. The attitude towards children has unfortunately only changed very slowly and is still, so to speak, in a process of self-discovery, somewhere between the cult of obedience and equality.

I recommend saying goodbye to your expectations, especially when it comes to voluntariness and enthusiasm; it is always something when the grandparents look after the children on request. Stay active in soliciting assistance. And if it becomes too emotionally complicated for you, look for alternative care options. In addition to paid babysitters, loan hommes and the like, you build up a network with other parents, where sometimes they, sometimes they and alternately you look at the children yourself, while the other mothers and dads gain time for themselves. Take good care of yourself, your partnership, and your small family. If the way the grandparents talk to your child does not suit you, then you should definitely mention it and possibly reduce the contact to the bare minimum. It's about boundaries that have to be respected - your own and those of your child. However, it is not your job to teach your in-laws how to become good parents or grandparents. I think that's presumptuous, as well as condemning them for not knowing how else to live relationships. (Linda Syllaba, May 27, 2020)