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Wanting alone time with grandchild

post #1 of 70
Thread Starter 

Do your parents or in-laws ask for this?

 

Last night we had my MIL babysit for two hours while my husband took me out to dinner. Apparently my son cried a lot and was generally unhappy. She said that we need to go out more so he gets more practice being with other people. Then she went on to say she wants more one on one time with him when we aren't there so he "gets used to being with her w/o us."

 

She also asks for us to drop him off at her apartment to spend one on one time with her. She is a heavy smoker and I avoid her apartment as much as possible and won't leave my son there (she does not smoke when we are there). I think the effects of second hand cigarette smoke are terrible, especially for young children.

 

I generally insist that she come to our house to see him. And we are always home. We don't use babysitters yet and hardly go out. That makes us pretty normal here at MDC I am guessing, but we do seem weird to some of our friends. We also include her in our outings. She gets to see him at least once a week.

 

Is it normal to want alone time with grandchildren w/o the parents? I admit up front that I am not changing my opinion about her apartment-as far as I am concerned even spending an hour there is too much. But do I need to loosen up in regards to time alone at our house? 

 

My son is 2 1/2.

post #2 of 70

I think it is normal.  Grandchildren are very special.  My mom and I went through this when D was about 4 months old.  It was really hurting her feelings that I didn't bring him to hang out with her, I just had never thought of it that way, and didn't want to "dump him" on her.  Since then he has been visiting every sunday for 6 hours or so, and recently had his first sleep over with her.  He is now 1 year old and has a very special relationship with his gg, they are so in love :)  She is also a smoker (as am I), and the firm agreement is that nobody smokes indoors with the baby, ever.  Sundays are almost my favorite day of the week now, I know D is having a blast with his gg toys and pets and special snuggles and bed and etc, and I have the freedom to hang out and watch football, or play in my garden, or have sex (gasp!) with my hubby.  It's a good thing for both of us.  I would give it a shot, seriously.

post #3 of 70

I think it is normal, at least for our folks. 

 

DS is 16 months.  Thankfully, all our parents and in laws live 2+ hours away so this isn't an issue too often but we do hear "so when you are done with that breastfeeding thing, we can have him?".... urgh, quote from my Mother.  DH was nursed and weaned at about a year, as well as his brother.  We also do not get sitters, my Mom and MIL are the only 2 that have watched him at our home while DH and I have been away not more than 2 hours. 

 

My BIL and wife have a DD who is 5 weeks older than my DS.  They have done everything the exact opposite as we in the birth and raising of our children.  They induced, c-section, vacs, formula... the works.  We had a homebirth, no vax, no circ, AP, BF (still goin strong) so it is a really unbalanced situation and DH's parents babysit DN all the time, my SIL works like 60 hours a week and as of last week, they moved in with them.. now they have live in babysitters it seems. 

 

MIL was here for a night stay last week and DH and I did go out for a bit (2 hours) and they (MIL and DS) stayed at our home.  She wanted to take him out and about as she does with DN (she seems to live in her car seat) and we asked that they just stay here where DS is comfortable.  It went well but my MIL is like a fairy, very sweet and warm. 

 

It is tough explaining our position but thankfully they understand.  Honestly, they have to accept our wishes, he is our baby... we do not want to hurt feelings but stand firm on our decisions. 

post #4 of 70

Honestly... I almost can't wait til my step daughter has a baby so I can tell her to go away and let me play with my grandbaby for a few hours. 

post #5 of 70

I think it's relatively normal, though your situation does raise some red flags for me for some reason.  I have noticed that my in-laws (although they don't say it) really enjoy the times when they are with my kids without me.  I think I inadvertently hover or something.  And the kids (especially the 15mo) always hang on me when I'm around, so they don't get to play with him as much.  They would never guilt me into it though - maybe that's what is making me nervous in your situation?  Obviously I could be reading it wrong, but it sounds like you think she was essentially saying you're being ridiculous for not leaving him alone with her.  Perhaps she also thinks he's too old for you to want to be around him all the time?  Is she overly critical about your parenting choices in general?  If not, then I wouldn't worry about it.  But if so, then I think you're right to hold back and ultimately, you are your son's mother and you get to make the choice about what is best for him.  And if he's truly crying and miserable the whole time, then he is not ready period.

 

All that said, the smoking thing would be a complete non-starter for me.  I would never let him go to her house ever, which it sounds like you're not doing.  But also, I wouldn't want a heavy smoker around my kids at all if I could help it.  Wouldn't her clothes and hair and hands have smoke on them? 

 

Easy for me to say that I'd never let the kids around them, but more difficult obviously because it's your mother-in-law.  Where does your husband/partner stand on this?

post #6 of 70

I would let my MIL babysit in a heartbeat if it wasn't for her health.  Not only does she respect and honor our parenting choices, but she is sweet, kind and everything that you'd imagine a grandma should be.  However, she has arthritis, fibromyalgia, is obese (I only mention this because it compounds her health issues) and in chronic pain.  It saddens me so much (and her too) that she doesn't get one on one time with her grandchildren.

 

My mother on the other hand.  Meh.  Thankfully she lives on the other side of the country.

 

To answer your question, neither my MIL or mother ask for alone time.  However that is due to distance and health.  I think if those two things were not issues they'd both really want some one on one with my kiddos.

 

post #7 of 70

It depends on the GP.  My mother is our main babysitter and DS adores her.  She spends a lot of alone time with him at both our and her house and it is never a problem.  From his perspective it is quite a treat and he gets excited when she's coming over.  On the other hand, my MIL has never babysat him and the only alone time she has had with him are short walks in the neighborhood or to the local park which is in shouting distance.    She is not diligent in keeping an eye on him nor does she respect and honor our parenting choices.  And she is flakey to the point of making me really uncomfortable and not trusting her to keep him safe.  But despite having never baby sat or changed a diaper in 2.5 years she is the one hounding us for an overnight visit.  No freaking way!

 

"Last night we had my MIL babysit for two hours while my husband took me out to dinner. Apparently my son cried a lot and was generally unhappy. She said that we need to go out more so he gets more practice being with other people. Then she went on to say she wants more one on one time with him when we aren't there so he "gets used to being with her w/o us."

 

There is something about this paragraph that really bothers me.  It seems like she wants him for the wrong reasons like "hey it's ok if he is unhappy and cries, it'll be good for him?!?"  There is something not right with that. Why not "I'd like to help out more and give you a break" or "I adore him so much I can't get enough of him".  I think it is completely normal for grandparent's to want to spend alone time grandchildren, but the comfort levels of both parent and child need to be taken into conideration. 

FC

 

post #8 of 70

My parents and my in-laws love alone time with my kids.  My parents get it less often then my in-laws but that is mainly due to distance.  My in-laws actually take one of the kids on Fridays, either DS or DD all day.  So they have a lot of alone time with them, DD normally ends up there 2 times a month and DS ends up with them 1 to 2 times a month.  They all love it.  They also get both children alone sometimes on a Saturday or Sunday for a few hours, which they also enjoy.  We haven't done any overnights recently, the last time DS had an overnight there my MIL had a heart attack that evening after we got home.  They seem to be almost ready to start overnights again though and I think both DS and DD would enjoy it.

 

My parents love to push me and DH out of the house when we are visiting so they can get alone time with DS and DD.  DS actually flew down a day ahead of me and DD this past summer with my Mom and had a blast.  She is planning on taking both DS and DD this summer for a few days before I come down with newbie, probably for 2 to 3 days total each time.  Since they live 600 miles away it is harder for them to get one on one time with the children while they are small since we can't just drop them off for the day or the afternoon.

 

That being said, both my in-laws and my parents respect our parenting practices and none of them smoke, which is a big factor in my willingness to leave my children alone with them.  I also don't leave them alone with them for more then an hour or 3 until they are closer to 18 months old.

post #9 of 70

I do think that one-on-one time with the grandparents is important.  I agree that the smoke residue in her house is an issue, but as long as you trust her to follow your rules (regarding food, TV, etc), then I would allow her babysit at your house - even if just a few hours at first while you run errands.

post #10 of 70

I agree with you that the smoking is a serious issue. My mother used to smoke, and I didn't let my kids stay at her house either, when she was smoking. The smell of smoke really does cling to everything in a smoker's house.

 

However, I will say that it is absolutely normal for a grandparent to want one on one time with their grandchild. And I can tell you, now that my children are older, they have absolutely precious memories of time spent alone with their grandma.

 

My mother is in her late 70's and not well enough to travel much and my teenager misses her dearly and cherishes her memories of afternoons they spent baking cookies or playing Scrabble or just being together. One of her favorite memories is of an afternoon they spent re-organizing the linen closet, of all things. But in the course of folding sheets and towels, my mother talked about her childhood, how they used to hang sheets to dry, what it was like to grow up on a farm, her memories of her own mother (my grandmother) and her siblings (my aunts and uncles) who are all now deceased.

 

A loving grandparent is a gift to treasure. Please don't deprive your mother or your child of the opportunity to enjoy each other.

post #11 of 70

My parents do express that they would like alone time with DS "so you & DH can get a break" -- but I told them straight out that it wasn't something we were interested in doing. I think the inlaws would also like alone time but they live an hour away so I guess they realize it's not very practical for us to drop DS off on our way to dinner or something lol. 

 

We do not use babysitters & DS has never been left alone with any of his grandparents for even 5 minutes.

 

It's not something I'm comfortable with for multiple reasons. I do make an effort to see that he spends lots of time with grandparents while we're around (invite them over, visit them, go to dinner/outings/etc. with them)... I just won't leave DS with them. I might feel differently when he is no longer a toddler (he's 22mos), but maybe not. Some of it is mommy instincts, some is related to their views on various things, and some of it is just practical concerns, neither grandmother is physically able to chase after a toddler & I would never be comfortable with either grandfather spending time alone with him due to experiences DH & I had.

post #12 of 70

Yes, my parents ask for and enjoy alone time with dd, though not yet ds (he is only 9 months old and nursing still).  I left her with my mom and dad for a couple hours when she was a little over 1 year old and now at 3.5 she just started sleepign over.  My parents/sisters are the only babysitters she has ever had. Dp's parents live hours away and dd would not be comfortable being alone with them yet, although they have frequently babysat my niece (dp's brother's child).  I agree that the grandparent relationship is very special and something to nurture if you feel like it is a healthy, loving relatinship between your children and parents.  The only grandparent that was alive and lived close to me developed Alzheimer's when I was fairly young and it makes me sad that I never had a close relatonship with them.  Mine and my sister's children are all close to our parents (their grandparents) and it is really special for everyone. 

post #13 of 70

It actually is not normal. The kinds of grandparents who want this generally want to play the parent during that time. They don't like being in the backseat, grandparent role. OK, about normal, I know some grandparents ask for this. But I do not think it is ok.

 

Your son, when he is ready, will be more than thrilled to leave you. The closer you hold him and the more you love on him, the more confident he will become and want to leave you. Trust me, I have never known a teenager to beg mom and dad to stay close by. 

 

If you teach your child that he cannot trust you to be there for him, he will have a harder time separating. It is normal at this age for him to want you to be there, that is developmentally appropriate. But when a primary caregiver pushes away a child who needs the caregiver, then the child becomes fearful and more clingy. 

 

Ignore what your MIL said. I am sure she will have lots of "great" parenting advice for you. Use your instincts and don't leave your baby until he is the one who decides he is ready.

 

Good luck! Family dynamics can be difficult.

post #14 of 70


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post

It actually is not normal. The kinds of grandparents who want this generally want to play the parent during that time. They don't like being in the backseat, grandparent role. OK, about normal, I know some grandparents ask for this. But I do not think it is ok.

 


I'm flabbergasted.

 

I know that not everyone has ideal parents but let me assure you that my mother is most certainly NORMAL and her love for her grandchildren is NORMAL and their love for her is NORMAL!!

 

I am very surprised that on a site that advocates natural family living, one of the most natural things of all - extended family - is considered bizarre and abnormal and to be avoided at all costs.

 

Extended families have been the basic social unit worldwide, throughout history. Many of the cultures that are so admired on this forum, Native American, Australian Aboriginal, African - are cultures in which extended family and grandparents are closely involved.

 

If your parents are abusive or otherwise pose a danger to your child, by all means limit contact. But to blanket declare that any grandparent who wants a personal relationship with her grandchild or any parent who allows such a relationship is ABNORMAL - my goodness, I think that's just mean. And wrong.

 

You don't know me or my mother, please do not tell me we are not normal, thank you very much.

post #15 of 70


I don't think the poster is saying (and she can of course chime in if I'm wrong) that every grandparent who cheerfully takes the grandchildren for as long as she can get them while the parent goes out on a date is abnormal.  I think she is saying that a grandparent who demands time with the children only and seems to resent the parent hanging around even when the child is clearly not ready to be left alone is probably not behaving in a manner that is best for the child, but rather is more concerned about what they think is right and what they want.  And I agree. 

 

I'm lucky enough to have two loving sets of grandparents for my kids - both of whom I leave the kids with overnight (though I'm much more comfortable leaving them with my parents - I think just because they're my parents).  Both sets of grandparents would just as much like it if we all (my husband and I included) hung around as they would if we left the kids alone.  They don't guilt me into leaving them with the kids alone or insinuate that I don't trust them.  They like to have the kids alone for absolutely pure reasons that benefit me, my husband, and most of all the kids - because they know we are enjoying our "time off" or because, as I mentioned before, the little one especially clings to me when I'm around.  When I'm gone, he's much more engaging with others.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post

It actually is not normal. The kinds of grandparents who want this generally want to play the parent during that time. They don't like being in the backseat, grandparent role. OK, about normal, I know some grandparents ask for this. But I do not think it is ok.

 

Your son, when he is ready, will be more than thrilled to leave you. The closer you hold him and the more you love on him, the more confident he will become and want to leave you. Trust me, I have never known a teenager to beg mom and dad to stay close by. 

 

If you teach your child that he cannot trust you to be there for him, he will have a harder time separating. It is normal at this age for him to want you to be there, that is developmentally appropriate. But when a primary caregiver pushes away a child who needs the caregiver, then the child becomes fearful and more clingy. 

 

Ignore what your MIL said. I am sure she will have lots of "great" parenting advice for you. Use your instincts and don't leave your baby until he is the one who decides he is ready.

 

Good luck! Family dynamics can be difficult.

post #16 of 70
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your input Mamas.

 

 

Quote:
  I think she is saying that a grandparent who demands time with the children only and seems to resent the parent hanging around even when the child is clearly not ready to be left alone is probably not behaving in a manner that is best for the child, but rather is more concerned about what they think is right and what they want.  And I agree. 

 

Yes!! Her view is if we make him hang around her without us it will get better. And I suppose that is true. But, I would rather wait until he says he is ready for that kind of stuff.

 

Quote:
 

I am very surprised that on a site that advocates natural family living, one of the most natural things of all - extended family - is considered bizarre and abnormal and to be avoided at all costs.

 

I am all for extended family. Honest. smile.gif  I feel though there is more of a control aspect that I am a bit uncomfortable with. And maybe the other thing I need to think about is that I am very jealous of the time I do get with my son. I work full time so the weekends really are precious to me. I plan events and outings that are for the whole family, not for just Mama and Daddy. And I feel a bit resentful that I am being pressed to do things I don't want to do all so she can have alone time.

 

 

 

post #17 of 70
I think it's normal and if the grandparent in question is healthy and a good caregiver and you're comfortable with the arrangement, it can a wonderful thing for everyone involved!

I didn't use to think that, though. I grew up in a very dysfunctional, abusive family and knew even before my first baby was born that I would never let either of my parents be alone with my children, not even in another room. Now we're estranged and have no contact at all (my choice), so it's a non-issue. But DH's parents, who are amazing and very respectful of our parenting choices even though they're very different from their own parenting style, wanted and expected alone time with DS when they were here for a month to support us around the birth of DD. And I struggled with that, because I couldn't relate to the idea that an adult would want to be alone with a child that wasn't theirs for totally healthy, happy, innocent reasons.

My own parents' abusiveness was coloring my ability to objectively look at the situation. I kept thinking, "Why do they want to be alone with him so much? What do they want to do that they don't want me to see? What are they going to do to him when I'm not around?" The truth was they just wanted to take him out for tacos, and then to the park to play with his favorite bouncy ball, and then for a walk along the beach to find shells and rocks and interesting things. There was nothing sinister about it; they just wanted time with their grandchild, to get to know his little blossoming personality, and to savor the feeling of being his grandparents without DH and me around to distract him. They wanted to get to know him on his own terms, and once I realized that, it became easier to accept the idea that they wanted to take him places without us.

We started small, with the grandparents taking him out to a diner down the street for breakfast. Then gradually we increased the distances and lengths of the visits until they were taking him for an entire half day to town 30 miles away. They were careful to only give him foods/drinks we let him have, and they were lovely about calling to let us know where they were and when they expected to be home. My ILs know a bit about my own upbringing and are very sensitive to the fact that I have serious trust issues when it comes to family.

I'm so, so glad I was able to let them have that time with DS. A grandparent/grandchild relationship is unique, and if the grandparents understand boundaries and are good, loving, respectful people, fostering that relationship is almost certainly in the child's best interest.
post #18 of 70
Ugh, my last post lost the quote part somehow during posting.
Quote:
Last night we had my MIL babysit for two hours while my husband took me out to dinner. Apparently my son cried a lot and was generally unhappy. She said that we need to go out more so he gets more practice being with other people. Then she went on to say she wants more one on one time with him when we aren't there so he "gets used to being with her w/o us."

I don't like this at all. Your DS is not a toy or a doll to be manipulated for her amusement. It'd be one thing if he seemed to genuinely enjoy his time with her, but I don't think there's any valid reason to push him to spend time with her just because he should "get used to it". That sort of thinking, that children should just accept what adults want to do to them because they're small and powerless, infuriates me. irked.gif

So maybe an honest talk with your MIL is in order. I would never leave my child with someone who wouldn't call me if I was out and my child(ren) became inconsolable. In the visits with the ILs I described above, they understood explicitly that if DS became terribly upset and wouldn't stop crying, they were to bring him home immediately. He's only two and still very, very attached to his mama, and they respected that.
post #19 of 70

I think one-on-one time with loving extended family is a wonderful thing and I encourage it with my kids' grandparents and am thrilled that they love spending time alone with my kids. But it would ruffle my feathers for anyone to suggest that my babies needed practice being away from me. The one-on-one time should be something fun to look forward to by both the grandparent and grandchild, not some study in forced independence. So a grandma saying, "Oh, we had so much fun! I just can't wait for our next granny-and-Johnny day!" would be taken very differently than, "He cried the whole time. He needs more practice being without you." 

 

My mom loves one-on-one time, but she'd never force it. My DD used to take a while to warm up to her, and my mom would just say hello to her and then sort of ignore her for a while until DD felt comfortable. If she tried to hold her too soon and DD cried she'd say, "Whoops, she's not quite ready. Go see mama for a while!" It just wouldn't be in her nature to force it -- she wants DD to feel comfortable and secure just as much as I do. And it paid off -- pretty soon, DD learned that my mom was someone who respected her feelings and could be trusted, and now she goes flying into her arms right away! thumb.gif

post #20 of 70

I think it is wonderful if a grandparent wants alone time with their grandchildren. I would not allow my child in the smokey apartment. If you DC cried alot, prehaps starting off with activities with you close by and then gradually you start separating yourself until your DC is comfortable with just grandma.

 

My mom spends alone time with my children, but she is always in a very big rush to leave. (She will stop by so I can run errands but she always says....as long as you're back in 45 minutes or 1 hour....it is winter here....and it makes it harder to get to many errands in that time).

 

My MIL will very occassionally take out one of my kids but not both.

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