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SREED177, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 220
Experience:  I have a Master's In Marriage and Family Therapy, and have been in the field for 4 years.
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My question has more to do with grandparents than parents.

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My question has more to do with grandparents than parents. My wife and I are parents to a beautiful 7 month old daughter, are first and only child. I'm 41, my wife is 36, and this will probably be our only child in terms of planning. My concern stems from my parents. I won't say they are disinterested in their only grandchild, but they seem disinterested in visiting her. They do live several states away, but the flight to reach us is only an hour. My wife's parents are a three hour drive away, and have seen my daughter several times since she was born. My parents, however, have only seen her twice -- when she was born, and two months after that. Since then, obviously, our little girl has become much more interesting than as a true newborn, but my parents haven't made very much effort to see her. They mention coming out to see her, but never make firm plans, or if they pick a date, they give us a few weeks notice, and that date doesn't work for us, so it never happens.

Two things frustrate me in particular: first, they are retired. Their schedule is their own, so they can plan ahead if they want. Second, they make time to visit the major events in the lives of OTHER children in the family who live closer to them, who are great nieces and nephews, but they don't seem to want to do it for their own granddaughter. They have an open invitation to visit at Thanksgiving (we've hosted it for several years wife's family comes, my parents may or may not come depending on the year), but now, my aunt (mom's eldest sister) is terminally ill, and that visit probably won't happen. While I am saddened at potentially losing my aunt, and I understand completely that such a visit at Thanksgiving may not come about (and it has upset my mother as well), I can't help but feeling a little miffed that the opportunities were there for several months to visit, and my parents haven't gone to any great lengths to make it happen. I also think (sibling rivalry alert) that they worry about my 35 year old brother who lives near them, who is unemployed, and (long story) has 3 DWI convictions and no driver's license (although he's been able to get his license back for 2 years now, just hasn't made an effort to do so) and they don't want to stray too far away from him. To make matters worse, my parents are getting up in years -- my father will be 74 this week, my mother is 69 -- so it is not as though many opportunities may be available in the future. I'm not sure if they don't understand that it's not easy to make anXXXXXwith a 7 month old and they expect US to visit, or if they just don't get it.

How do I approach this with them? As I say, I'm disappointed, and slightly angry about it, but I'm not sure how to have this discussion.
Ok well the first thing that you can do is to be open and honest with them about how you are feeling and their lack of concern regarding your daughter. Try to remain respectful even though you are upset with them, so that they do not respond in anger but understand your true feelings and how this has affecting you. It is possible that they are not even aware that they are offending you with their behavior so the best thing to do is to bring it up to their attention, as well as a plan of actions. By a plan of action I mean suggest ways to them that they could be more involved in your daughters life. This may include asking them to visit at least once every other month and even suggesting assisting with the plane ticket cost if you can, just in case this is a reason why they may have not come down sooner. Also, suggest coming to see them once and a while. Although it may not be ideal, they may not want to travel as much due to their age, and if you make it seem like you are meeting them half way, then they be more open to visiting you.

Also, try to get them involved from far away. They may not realize how much they are missing. So try to send them pictures of your daughter regularly, even videos. Also when you call them, try to have your daughter in the background or to get on the phone with them even though she cannot speak, hearing her may invoke something in them that may cause them more interest. By hearing her and seeing your daughter on a regular this may spark some interest in them wanting to see your daughter more. Also by expressing that you are unhappy, it may also make them relevant how they have been toward their grandchild.

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