Issue with inconsistent grandparent visits/childcare - FamilyEducation
Issue with inconsistent grandparent visits/childcare
07/04/2012 at 00:57 AM

Hey everyone, just joined up, and I'm looking for some advice.

My wife and I are both full-time/Monday to Friday people. My wife's mother has graciously offered to help us out on most days of the week with childcare for our 3 year old.

My own parents have offered to help out one day, as well.

In the case of my mother-in-law, she has taken a 'sick day' once in the last 2 years of helping us out, and has generally been easy to work with (save for the usual MIL issues - she's not Mary Poppins, but she's damned close).

In the case of my parents, they've just recently (last 3-4 months) taken on the once-a-week help, as well, but I think their view of it differs wildly from ours.

While my MIL is retired, and helping us a great deal, my own parents are 'semi-retired' - my mother is down to 'just' one job, with Tues/Weds off, and my father works 2 days a week, as well.

Where my MIL sees what she does as childcare for us, and takes it very seriously, my own parents seem to see it more as a 'visit', and have been kind of inconsistent with it (calling up 4 days prior, telling us they 'can't do it', etc...), while knowing that we both work, and my MIL is busy the one day she doesn't do childcare during the week.

While I greatly appreciate the help my own parents provide, it's frustrating that they don't seem to understand that, to my wife and I, this is our solution for childcare, though I've told them as much. My mother's response was 'well you just need a backup plan!'.

It doesn't appear to me as though they have the same mindset regarding this as my wife and I, and I find it frustrating and difficult to deal with - on one hand, any help is appreciated. On the other hand, unreliable scheduling makes for a difficult navigation, especially with a 3 year old, and it causes stress whenever this happens (usually once a month). Add to this the fact that my parents seem to still view me (33 years old) as a 'their child' as opposed to 'an adult', and speak to me as such in this matter, and I'm having a hard time here.

It's obviously a stress to myself and my wife, and I need to try and get some perspective here. While I don't want to sever ties with my parents (we've got twins on the way right now, and they've offered to help when they arrive), I really need them to take a more serious view of what childcare means to myself and my wife.

Can anyone recommend any pointers here? My relationship with my parents has always been one of 'we're right because we're the parents', and at this point, I'm getting really frustrated, and I don't know if they can appreciate that.

Thanks in advance,

Explore this idea. Hire someone to provide childcare, or arrange four ten-hour workdays instead of five eight-hour workdays, and honor your parents' idea that time spent with them is a visit. OR, take a day off once a month. When my daughter had twins I had planned on being a support to them, but the twins came nearly 2 months early while I was away for a month on business, and when I got back I had a chronic cough and couldn't help at all because it would endanger the girls. They ended up hiring their neighbor for 40 full hours a week for a year. They couldn't afford it, but they had to.

I understand what you're saying - have a 'backup plan'. However, should my parents have no accountability to the fact that they've offered childcare, and are now just backing out of it? While I respect the fact that they have their own lives, their disregard for what they've actually said they were going to do hurts me, because they have disregarded not only myself, but my wife and child with their decision. I'm used to it - they're my parents, and I'm used to this kind of treatment, but my wife and children don't deserve that. The simple fact that they refuse to acknowledge what they are doing as destructive and unreliable is insulting, because it just says to me that they have decided that the way they've treated me throughout my life (last-minute backing out, et al), is also OK for my family, and I'd prefer that not be the way it is. Any suggestions for how to broach this topic with them, without shattered their ego/perspective view on the situation?

They have always been who they are. They will be that way unless they decide they want to change. You can't teach them, you can't change them. You can either let their selfishness and disrespect impact you and your family, or you can protect yourself and your family. I'd vote for the second one. Because you, and your wife and children, none of you deserve the first.

Could you sign your child up for preschool once/week? If your parents wonder why they are not being used anymore, you could simply say, "We love your visits and the fact that you are willing to help, but this was the best plan we could find in order to offer some consistency. Let's set up a visit for Saturday the . . . " Preschool would give your child access to many learning experiences. I'd continue to keep him at home with loving family members (the other grandmother) as much as possible, but once/week preschool would probably be enriching. Unfortunately, I've had to learn the hard way that there is no changing people that don't want to be changed. If you can't count on your parents reliability, you have to make other plans. When they learn of your decision it MIGHT make a strong point - especially if you can make it without a lot of emotion (the hard part). Whatever you decide - good luck.