Starting to Feel Resentful

taoofterriJuly 9, 2007

I don't quite know how to start this. We have 6 grandkids. We have 2 sons. Each of them have 3 children. One son lives on the east coast, one in the west. We are in the middle in Arkansas. The only contact we have with our grandkids is what we initiate. Every year, we choose between families for holidays and vacations. We spend all of our disposable income and free time traveling to both sides of the country each year. Our sons and their wives make no effort at all to make the trip, even once a year. My husband and I are both so frustrated because we don't ever spend any vacations by or for ourselves. We are always planning the trip to see the grandkids or planning where we can take them.

Even with the once or twice a year visits, I feel disconnected from my grandkids and resentful of my sons and daughters-in-law for not making any effort.

I want so much to just be able to take a vacation with my husband and not feel guilty that we didn't include our grandkids. We are considering NOT making a choice this holiday season and taking a two week vacation to Florida... just the two of us.

I need two things:

1. Please tell me I am not being selfish.

2. How do other grandparents feel connected when their grandkids live so far away?

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First, you are not being selfish!! The fact that you're struggling about this means you're not selfish!

I am not a grandparent; I am the daughter-in-law but IÂm going through something very similar. My in-laws live about 8 hours from us. We just got back Sunday from driving to visit them for a week, with our two boys, ages 3 and 1. We also made this trip in April and another trip, meeting them half way, in June. In my situation, we are the only ones who initiate visits, and spend all of our vacation time and any extra money to see them. (They were here for a weekend in March for my oldestÂs birthday. They arenÂt making the trip this summer for my youngestÂs first birthday even though we asked them to and told them it was important to us). I know how difficult and frustrating it can be to have such a one-sided relationship!

In my situation, my in-laws have more money than we do and they have more vacation time than we do (he has his own business, she teaches so she's off all summer) so, even though itÂs not the case, I feel that they should make more of an effort than we do and they should be the ones who travel more (and we invite them repeatedly and have extended an open invitation!) Plus, itÂs easier for the two of them to travel than it is for us. Trust me, it's not easy to travel with kids! Maybe this is what your children feel? Have you talked to them about this? Do you have adequate accommodations for their family to come and stay with you? Do you try to control everything when youÂre together or do you let your kids be the parents? Is there anything youÂre doing that may make them not want to be there? Ask them!

As to things to do to feel connected with long distance grandkids, I donÂt know how old they are but IÂve done lots of research into this and have come up with lots of ideas (again, I do this because I am the one who initiates contact and pushes for my kids to be close with my in-laws). E-mail, phone calls, videos are all good ways to stay connected. You can mail cards, letters, pictures with small toys and/or candies (check with kids first to see whatÂs allowed). Tape record yourself reading a story and mail the book and tape to them so that you can read to them. Remember things they tell you so you can bring it up again so they feel like you really listen to them. Ask them to draw pictures to send to you (send stamped envelops for them).

Anyway, I really hope it gets better and your kids will compromise so that you donÂt have to give so much! Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 2:08PM
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Every year, our vacation has centered around mine or my husband's kids. Weddings, births, baptisms, etc. We have informed them that we are going to begin taking vacations for ourselves at least once in a while. I don't think it is selfish to do this.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 3:01PM
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We are grandparents of two beautiful boys, and are moving 2 1/2 hours away soon. While I will miss them, it will be nice not to be the 'insta babysitter' and let my daughter and her husband manage their lives while my husband and I enjoy some well earned rest and relaxation time.

Perhaps plan a vacation on the west coast near the children but only spend a few days with the grandkids and then move on to the rest of the vacation with the two of you.

Taking a vacation with just the two of you is very nice too and perhaps the adult children in your life will realize that they too have to reach out if they want the family to stay close.

Good luck and hope that vacation is a whole lot of fun!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 7:06PM
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Thank you all for your input and support.

Starbucjo, I am so sorry that your in-laws don't make more of an effort. Yes, I know how you feel. Recording myself reading a book is such a good idea! I never thought of it.

Skatemore, thank you for the great idea. Spending part of our trip to the west by ourselves sounds very do-able. I would love to spend some time at North Lake Tahoe (where we used to live), just visiting old haunts.

Thanks again to all of you!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 11:25AM
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I don't think you are selfish at all. I have a simple guide line that I live by when it comes to visitors and visiting. I will visit a neighbor or friend a few times and if the visits aren't returned, I quit going to see them. It seems to me that if they don't come see me they don't enjoy my company and I should stay home. I also do this with family unless someone doesn't have transportation and they act glad to see us. I have a Sis here in town, I used to stop in once a week to say hi. She came to see me once or twice a year, I quit going. If your kids don't come see you why do you worry about it? I know, because of the grandkids. Forget about it, get on with your life, spend the time you have left with your spouse. Most likely you and your grandkids will not bond, even if you go several times a year. They usually follow the lead of their parents. When I had small grandkids in Arkansas, I would send them surprise boxes, Halloween treats, valentine treats, etc. One of them referred to us as "Grandma and Grandpa Wichita". In spite of that they think of us only as a bank. When they found out they couldn't make endless with drawals, they quit call. LOL

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 9:33PM
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I understand your situation. I live in the same state as my dad, but my two older siblings with kids do not. Every year my dad switches off between which ones he goes to visit at Christmas. They NEVER make any effort to bring the kids here to see my dad. My one sibling has brought his child her one time, and that was only because he and I made plans to take our kids on vacation near here. My other sibling has never brought his kids out here and the oldest is in jr. high! My dad always says that he feels guilty for not being close to those grandkids, especially because he is so close with my kid and stepkids and sees them often. (he actually just had a grandpa day out with them this weekend) And once a week we get together at my house or his. I tell him that he does the best that he can and not to feel bad!

But, I think that with distance sometimes that just happens. Like the other posters here said you should not be the only one making the trips. Tell your kids that you would love them to visit you! Suggest "meet in the middle" vacations! And take the next vacation for you and your husband only-you deserve it!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 10:53PM
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