What to Do About Under-enthusiastic Grandparents


I’m so disappointed! My baby is five months old, and I thought my mom would be so excited about having a grandchild. But she hardly ever comes to our house, and she’s never offered to babysit. Doesn’t she care?

Learn about it
Chances are, your mother is excited about having a grandchild, and there are other reasons that she’s not as involved as you’d like. Perhaps you and she define a grandparent’s role in a baby’s life differently. The following ideas may be helpful as you sort through this situation.

Have a discussion
As with so many family situations, this is all about expectations–and when expectations clash with reality, misunderstandings occur. So try to find out what she’s thinking and consider sharing your own feelings. Perhaps she’s been so busy that she hasn’t considered changing her lifestyle to include visits with your new baby. Or maybe she has so many other commitments–work, other grandchildren, an ailing spouse–that she is limited on time and isn’t aware that you’re feeling left out. In any case, you can’t attempt a resolution without first determining the problem.

Make an invitation
Perhaps your mother is exercising restraint in a misguided effort not to intrude. Let your mother know that you’d love to see more of her. Invite her to spend more time with the baby. If you’re comfortable, tell her you’d appreciate her tried and true advice and insight. Welcome her into your new life as warmly as you can, and you just might find that an invitation from you is all she needed.

Make it easy for her
Your mom may be worried that you’ll view her as an on-call babysitter if she gets too involved with the baby’s life. Let her know that, as much as you enjoy her help, you’d like to leave the babysitting arrangements up to her. If she has the time and desire to help, you’d welcome it, but if she prefers to stick to visits, then that would be wonderful, too.

Examine your own actions when Grandma visits
Pay attention to your responses when your mom visits. Are you so protective of your baby that you hover too much? Do you ever criticize her actions with the baby? Perhaps she misinterprets these actions as meaning that you don’t want her over so much. Try to relax a bit and let her handle the baby in her own way. They’ll both be fine.

If you can’t talk about it, or nothing works
Sometimes, family dynamics prevent the kind of open communication that might defuse this situation. Or maybe you’ve tried to talk it out but your mother’s distance is beyond your influence. In this case, make sure to provide the kind of grandmother-like interaction for your child by inviting an older womanfriend, aunt or other relative to visit from time to time. Your child will benefit greatly from the wisdom, warmth and balance offered by the generation before yours. And the relationship might bring her the satisfaction and joy of a child’s love–and may satisfy the universal urge she feels to be needed by another person at this time in her life. In other words, if your child’s genetic grandparent is distant or reluctant, “choose” a grandparent for him!

Allow time for changes
Remember that bringing a new member into the family requires adjustments by everyone. This little person is brand new; those around him need time to redefine their comfortable places in your life and your family constellation.


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