My son and his wife recently had a baby, our first grandchild. We are over the moon with happiness. We really like our daughter-in-law and keep quiet when she sometimes comes up with rules or information that’s counterintuitive to how we raised our three children. We know that we are fortunate to have them in the same city, close by, and part of our lives often. I see them, and the baby, at least three times a week, and often babysit.
My husband is still actively working while I am mostly retired. However, for many years now, I have a few standing activities in my schedule that include other people. Both my son and daughter-in-law know of these. Yes, sometimes I miss them for an appointment scheduled out of my control, or when we are out of town, but for the most part, I’m committed.
Recently, on three separate occasions, my daughter-in-law asked me to babysit during one of those set activities. The first was a last-minute ask as she was given an appointment she couldn’t change. So of course, I said yes. The second time, she seemed to genuinely have forgotten, and when I said I couldn’t, she seemed fine. But the third time, she was asking so she could go for lunch with a friend (not a time-sensitive activity), and when I said no, she got really upset and told my son she would never let us babysit our grandbaby again.
I don’t know how I’m supposed to react. It’s outrageous that she would keep us from seeing the baby because I said no to one babysitting ask.
From your point of view, that does seem an extreme response and unfair. But what matters most is making sure that you can all spend valuable family together, so let’s wade through the emotions and find a solution. I suggest you invite your son, daughter-in-law and the baby over for dinner at a time that works best for them. Show them all love and kindness. Then ask your daughter-in-law if she would like to schedule a standing babysitting time with you, which would leave her open to have a standing commitment of her own.
You could also suggest she put a note in her phone with your availability (and her own mother’s schedule). She’s a brand-new mom. Give her grace.
FEEDBACK A solution for the grandparents wishing for an early Christmas with their grandchildren (Sept. 27):
Reader #1 – “This was our solution: Our daughter and family were taking a Christmas vacation with her in-laws' families, so we planned ahead. We had to celebrate on the first Saturday in December, which was the only date we all had available.
“We bought and set up our Christmas tree and decorated the house. That day when our two children and their families arrived (four grandkids, aged three to nine-years-old), we had gifts under the tree, stockings stuffed, and a note on the coffee table from Earl the Elf... the elf in charge of 'early celebrations'. He was pleased that Nana had sent a note to the North Pole in time to get on his list. And stated that Santa would still find the families on Christmas Eve as usual.
“The gifts under the tree were from family members.... for adults and kids. The stocking gifts were from Santa, along with a puzzle or game for all to enjoy together.
“It was so much fun for all of us to see the kids' excitement over Earl's letter.... the printing was fancy and colourful on special paper. You just have to get creative to be sure everyone in the family gets to enjoy the Christmas season whenever that happens!”
Not always on December 25th
Reader #2 – “If it helps, don't call it a second Christmas; call it a tree-trimming party, or a getting-in-the-Christmas-spirit party. The grandparents would have an opportunity to give the children their gifts and enjoy time with their family before they head south for the winter, and the rest of them can still continue their Christmas morning traditions.
“Many families work around distances and work schedules to celebrate and exchange gifts in whatever way works for them.”
Reader #3 – “For the past 45 years my parents have had their Christmas Dinner a few weeks before Christmas. The presents and the stockings for the grandkids and great-grandchildren were from Grandma and Grandpa, not from Santa Claus.”
Reader #4 – “Where are the sons in this situation? They should be impressing upon their wives the importance of their collective children spending time with both sets of their grandparents while they can.”