Grandparents Reveal What They Really Think About Our Parenting

14/08/2014 17:03 | Updated 20 May 2015

Grandparents Cuddling Granddaughter In Bed

Bringing love, advice and much-needed childcare support, grandparents are more important to the family network than ever before.

Yet despite their efforts, they still regularly fall short of parents' rising expectations and continue to be the hot topic of conversation on parenting forums and at mother and toddler groups, alike.

Whether it's for spoiling the kids too much, being over-enthusiastic with their opinions or failing to come up to scratch on the babysitting front, parents just love to vent when it comes to the grand 'rents.

But given they are such a ray of sunshine in the lives of our children, isn't it about time we called a ceasefire and gave these unsung heroes an opportunity to offer their side of the story?

We decided to do just that. You might be surprised to hear what they had to say.

"You don't have the monopoly on 'tired'!"

"When my granddaughter was born, I moved in with my daughter for two weeks to help out. I'm getting on for 70 now so I don't have the same energy levels I once did, but I did my best to make myself useful.

"My daughter was breastfeeding so there was a limit to how much help I could be with the baby, but I helped with the shopping, cooking and household chores so she could rest in between feeds.

"One day, after finishing a mountain of washing up at the end of a long and tiring day, I said I was tired. My daughter just looked at me and said: "Tired? Ha, what have you got to be tired for?"

"I'm not just the babysitter!"

"I live in another part of the country to my son and his wife, but try to visit them every couple of months for a long weekend so I can spend some quality time with them and my gorgeous grandsons.


But my son and daughter-in-law seem to view my visits as the perfect opportunity to disappear and leave me to it.


"I would always offer to watch the kids so they can enjoy an opportunity to spend some time alone together – I understand it can be tough raising two children. But it would be nice to think they saw me as more than just a babysitter.

"When I was in the same boat as them I bent over backwards to look after my parents and in-laws and treated them as special guests when they came to visit.

"I wouldn't go so far as to say I was being taken advantage of but maybe taken for granted a little."

"We're just the father's parents."

"As the father's parents it feels as though we are somehow further down the grandparent pecking order.

"I can appreciate that's only natural at the beginning. As the mother is the one who carries the child and gives birth – and the one dealing with the emotional and physical stress of breastfeeding and hormonal mood swings, it's only natural she would turn to her own parents for comfort and support first.

"For that reason, we tried to be respectful of this when our grandson, Louis, was first born. But he is almost two now, and things haven't really changed. We still feel like we are always at the back of the queue when it comes to any involvement in his life.

"We have to really push to spend time with him while his other grandparents seem to be invited all the time, if Facebook updates are anything to go by. As a result it seems he has grown much closer to them, and is relatively distant with us."

"I feel out of practice with kids!"

"I love my granddaughters to pieces and cherish every moment with them. But I must admit, being left in sole charge of them does make me feel anxious.

"It sounds silly but I just feel so out of touch these days. It's 40 years since my daughter was born and things have completely changed since then. Back then we got on with our chores while our kids played out in the street with their friends. They made their own entertainment and to a large extent we left them to it.

"These days, parents spend a lot more time actively playing with their kids and engaging with them. I do try but all they seem to want to do is play on the iPad or X-Box. I suggest we go to the park or for a nice walk and they look at me like I'm mad."

"I sometimes think my daughter-in-law thinks I'm just not interested in them but really I just feel a bit out of my depth. But that doesn't mean I don't love them with all my heart."

"Do my years of parenting count for nothing?"


The first time I babysat for my grandson, I was handed a three page document of instructions by my daughter. I've seen less complicated car manuals.


"I can understand she was feeling a little anxious as this was the first time she had left her so I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

"But six months later and I'm still being handed updated, amended and abridged versions of the document each time I babysit.

"I wouldn't mind but my daughter is one of three – all of whom are happy, well-adjusted individuals. Surely that must count for something – even if it was before baby-led weaning and baby yoga existed.

"I know deep down she doesn't mean to insult me. I think she is just very swept up in a certain modern parenting culture and can't see beyond that.

"I wish she would trust me to do a good job without micro-managing me."

"We're just trying to help!"

"I know 'interfering grandparents' is a common bugbear among parents. I've seen the parenting forums, too! And, to be honest, my parents used to drive me mad with their 'well meaning' advice when I was finding my way as a new parent so I understand it to an extent.

"But surely I shouldn't feel afraid to make the occasional suggestion for fear of having my head bitten off – or worse, being frozen out for a couple of weeks because I've dare to ask a question or offer a piece of advice.

"I made a lot of mistakes when I was a parent and learned everything through trial and error. Why not learn from some of my old mistakes so you don't have to make them yourself?

"Maybe when my children are grandparents themselves one day, they'll finally realise we were just trying to help."


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