When Grandparents Don’t Grandparent Well
“Why did you not include me in the Commander’s Palace luncheon? I do not have time to watch little Peter, but I’ll give you the money to hire a babysitter. Do I really have to go to the dance recital? When are you coming home? It’s been 2 hours already, you should be finished with dinner already. Can you let me know what the ball schedule is so that I can see if I can make the games?”
As a parent, it is really hard to hear the statements or questions above, but I have heard them many times throughout my kids’ lives and they quite frankly hurt to the bone. Do you not want to spend time with your grandchildren? Do you not think that they need to spend time with you? Do you not want to influence their lives so that they will remember you for the rest of their lives?
I was lucky enough to have a close relationship with my grandmother, she taught me how to love and how to forgive, but most importantly how to develop a relationship with God. As I teach my children about our faith, I reflect on the times that she would put me to bed and teach me prayers; a special time which gave me an opportunity to ask her questions about her life and her beliefs. She was never in a rush to get out of my room as she would pretend to sleep with me so that I would fall asleep before she left. Even as a child, I could tell that she enjoyed the time with me just as much as I enjoyed the time with her. My parents are in such a hurry to give my children back to us that they could not possibly spend quality time with them, the quality time that I spent with my grandmother that made such an impact on my life. What will my children say about their grandparents? Will they have any specific memories to reflect on the times that they were together?
Not Enough Time
How can we be a close family when you are not interested in spending time with us? We get a short time frame on a weekend evening to try to do something with them. This window is often the time that we use to get ready for the upcoming week. Often times we do not get together with them because this window of time does not work for our family. Therefore, time together is limited because the only other time that they are available is on holidays, the specific day of the holiday. Anyone that is married knows that time is split up between both spouses’ families so by the time you finish eating and cleaning up, it’s time to move on to the next house. Again, no real quality time together.
Not Enough Support
We do not ask them to pick up our children from carpool nor do we ask them to take our children to their extracurriculars, we do it ALL. If we do ask them it’s because my husband and I absolutely can not make it work and we have tried asking the rest of our friend village for help before contacting them. Little do they know that driving to and from school and extracurriculars are the times where we get the most information from our children – who they ate with at lunch, who they played with on the playground, what is going on in their classes, ultimately insight into their lives. Are my parents even interested in what our kids are thinking? Interested in what they are doing on the day to day? They have no problem showing up for their accolades or the Commander’s Palace celebration but what about the days when our children could use an unconditional hug from someone other than their parents? To hear a story from their grandparents’ childhoods that will help them see that they are not alone? My children are missing out on this and it angers me.
You may be wondering why I do not just ask them for more time. Well, I have many times but when your parent tells you, “I do not have any extra time to give,” you stop asking. I give them ball schedules but they may show up to one game, one game! Immediately after the game they go home, no offer for the children to spend the night when the youngest is desperately asking.
There are necessary events that you have to show up for whether you want to or not. There may be a few people that enjoy dance recitals but people are typically not there because they enjoy watching children dance, they are there to support their friends and their families. Often times, my parents will decide at the last minute that they want to come and then you are left scrambling for extra tickets.
Yes, I know that they have raised their own children but this life is different than when they had children and it is HARD. Would they have not liked a night off to themselves every now and again? Why would you not offer to watch your grandchildren, why do you have to wait to be asked and then ask why you need the night off to justify the ask?
My hope for them is to realize that they need our children in their lives just as much as the children need them in theirs. One day when my parents are not mobile, they will welcome the visits and the company but will the kids make the time for them without having a strong bond or will they only want to visit them on holiday days? There is still time for our youngest but our oldest sees their relationship for what it is, grandparents that are there for holidays.