I'm really not sure where to post this, so if it needs to be moved, go ahead.
My mother really wants a closer relationship with my children and I am not sure how to help her with that. She does a lot of things to sabotage her relationship with them but simply cannot see that.
She constantly complains that they are disrespectful to her, and they can be sometimes, but more often it is she that is disrespectful to them first, and they're just being frustrated in a kid-type way. Examples:
DD will be in the middle of talking about something and my mother will interrupt her and start talking about something completely different. I try to gently bring the topic back to what DD was saying ("oh, mom, DD wasn't quite finished with her story"), since she was talking first, then go back to what my mother was saying. My mother's hearing is fine, btw, she's just not listening to DD enough to know or care that DD is talking. DD is very perceptive and knows this.
DS will be upset about something and cry. We were traveling and after being up way past his bedtime and being both tired and hungry, his food was too hot. So he cried. My mother considered this bad behavior and thought I was rewarding bad behavior when I let him sit on my lap during the meal.
She often says negative things about them at times when it is unwarranted, ascribing negative intent, when they are just playing. They hear this.
But then, when there are times when the children need redirection, she tries to redirect, or goes straight to a reprimand, and they don't respond. They get grouchy with her or ask for me, and she complains they are disrespectful and compares them unfavorably to my sister's kids.
My kids aren't like this with other people; they happily follow redirection from almost every other adult they know well. DS does need a lot of attention and redirection right now because his dad and I just divorced, it got ugly and DS got caught in the middle (dad is using him as a pawn, and that's a whole different story). My mother knows this but says that no matter what is going on in their lives, they should always have good behavior. What DS is doing isn't really that bad for a 5 yo; he'll touch something after being told not to, for example. To my mother this is extremely disrespectful and needs strong consequences. To me, it is life with a stressed out five year old and I am more likely to take DS by the hand and lead him away than to punish him.
I've tried to help by always being present when the kids are with her, allowing her to spend time with them while I deal with the difficult stuff, but now she's complaining that me doing the difficult stuff is preventing them from learning to respect her. This is exhausting me.
In my opinion....you can't force it and your mother is who she is. This is a part of her personality and she feels like she shouldn't have to change it seems. And most likely at her age she won't change. It's sad since grandparents are an amazing thing to have! But kids shouldn't have to deal with negativity like that. Since I assume you have had the sit down chat with her mean behavior somethings gotta give....with you being the parent it's up to you to do something since your mother refuses to. So my only advice is stop forcing a relationship and keep visits to a short time. It sounds like your kids will appreciate that and appreciate you sticking up for them.
Thanks, Annlea. I have had the talk with her, my 7 yo has even tried to explain in a very respectful way things that she is uncomfortable with. My mother just doesn't get it. I don't think she wants to be mean, she just doesn't get that her warmth does not come through. It was very similar when I was a child, so it is hard for me seeing the same things happen with my own children.
My mother tends to be better with older children, so maybe I just need to hang in there preventing any long term damage being done until my kids are older.
I totally get the older kid thing actually. My mom was an amazing mom when I was a teenager and through my ages now...when I was a child not so much.