Grandparents role in children's lives

grammyterriJune 16, 2009

I hope there are some parents out there that could help me understand this. My husband and I have taken care of our 7 year old Grandson 3 days a week for the past 7 years. We love him dearly and he loves to spend time with us. Recently our daughter-in-law decided she wanted a divorce from my son. They went to counciling to no avail. She moved out of town into her own apartment and split custody with our son. Now with school out they decided he would change schools next year and go to daycare during the summer. They will only allow him to stay with us 1 day a week during the summer instead of the 3 he always stayed previously and once school starts they will let him stay with us on a week-end here and there. We told our son that we thought this was a lot of changes for a little boy to go through all at once. Pending divorce is hard enough. He cries at my hosue and asks why he can't stay with us like he always has. We just tell him that we love hin but his parents make decisions for him and we will let him stay with us as much as they allow him to. We are broken hearted that this is happening but our son just says that they think he is shy and daycare would help. He did admit that his wife is jealous of the relationship we have with our Grandson and my relationship with my son. She doesn't have a relationship with her own family. She lived with us prior to her marriage to our son and we have always treated her as part of our family. Our son is trying to stay away from us and keep our Grandson from us to make her happy in the hopes she won't divorce him. We don't understand any of this. Can someone out there help me understand where she may be coming from?

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I hope there are some parents out there that could help me understand this.

We don't understand any of this. Can someone out there help me understand where she may be coming from?

Your DIL may be doing this out of spite or some other negative reason. I'm not defending her choices or saying she's right to make the choices she's making.

But assuming she has your grandson's best interest at heart, here are some other perspectives from a parent.

I've known many shy kids and watched them grow up over the years. Some parents believe their shy child needs more time at home to gain a little maturity. But other parents believe their shy child needs to be in situations where they are a little less sheltered and where they're exposed to other kids and have to learn to connect with other kids. I've seen both approaches be very successful. When my kids were younger I knew several shy children whose parents sent them to daycare or preschool, etc., even when those children had grandparents who wanted to keep them.

Another place she may be coming from - I think in many families the mom gets to the point where she feels the need to mark her territory, so to speak, with the grandparents. Just my own opinion, but to me it's always seemed more likely to happen in families where the grandparents spend a lot of time with the grandchildren. My own mother is a wonderful grandma, the best ever, and she adores my kids and they adore her. She lives very close and spends a lot of time with them. My mom is great, but she did at times seem (to me) to think her opinion about what's best for them was equal in weight to mine. I did at one point feel the need to make it clear - my kids, my rules.

Anyway, I can see where that situation could be exacerbated in a divorce situation. I know if I was the grandma I would be concerned about losing time with my grandchild, mom is probably concerned about losing time or control, I could see where a mom might want to put a little distance between her child and his grandparents. I think for some parents who divorce it comes as quite a shock after the divorce that they have so little control over their child's environment when the child is with the ex or the ex's family.

She doesn't have a relationship with her own family.

If she comes from an uninvolved family, she may not value those grandparent ties as much as some people do. If she grew up with uninvolved grandparents, she may not see the value on that close grandparent/grandchild relationship.

I don't know what kind of daycare they have picked out, but the day cares around here have some terrific programs. They take kids to amusement parks, water parks, zoos, horseback riding, pools, etc. I know several parents that transitioned from grandparent care for younger children to day care for older children just because of the opportunities for sports and other activities. Just because your grandson is crying now doesn't mean he won't like it by the end of the summer.

once school starts they will let him stay with us on a week-end here and there.

If your grandson's schedule is anything like our kids' at that age, then I can certainly see why once school starts the parents will only agree to the occasional weekend. At 7 and 8 years old, by the time your grandson gets home from school, has a snack and plays with his friends, does his homework, eats dinner and showers, the day is over. There's not a lot of time during the week. Factor in sports, cub scouts, etc., and there's even less. Particularly in a divorce situation I can see why mom and dad wouldn't want to give up many weekends to grandparents.

The good news is that if they actually do divorce, perhaps your son will welcome your help and your company even if your DIL doesn't. Even if your DIL doesn't agree to weekends, hopefully your son will include you when he has custody.

If your DIL isn't close to her own family, you may get more time with your grandson than you think. If she works full time, she may need your help when he's sick or she may need help dropping him off or picking him up at sports or camps, etc. Hopefully if your DIL gets some space now, she may come to realize what a treasure she has in you, even if she has divorced your son. Right now she's probably stressed and upset and not thinking clearly, even if she wants the divorce.

Having said all that, it does sound like a lot of change for your 7 year old grandson. You're probably right that it would help if he could stick to his old routine of staying with you. I'm so very sorry.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 4:15PM
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No matter why she is doing this you just have to be there for your grandson when you can. Show him love and kindness, tell him what's happening is not his fault and things will settle down eventually. Be kind to your DIL she may find she needs you more than she thinks. If we get mad and show it in situations like this, it just reinforces their anger or whatever is going on in their mind. Kindness confuses them.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 9:06AM
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Your DIL is probably overloaded with situations to handle right now and the last thing she needs is to know that she's letting you down as well.

Be there for her and the little boy.

Let her know you love her.

It will be what it will be.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 10:46AM
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Divorce is ugly for EVERYONE.

Unfortunately, your son and DIL are too wrapped up in their own emotions to see and do what's best for their child .... STABILITY .... something which you and your husband provided.

Search the internet for professional articles on the topic, print them out and give them to your son and DIL to read.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 9:45PM
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