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Hi, all. I have been reading this community for a little bit and think I feel comfortable to post for advice. I have two sons, ODS and YDS. Both married. ODS and ODIL have a baby, my only grandchild. 


I always thought, I was close to my son. I stayed home while he and YDS were small, then went back to teaching. We camped a lot, I went to his soccer games. I went to his performances in college, several hours away. He only came home in the summers, and for Christmas. He graduated from college, then moved back in with us. It was fine, he helped with house projects, etc. He did have a job. He started dating a girl a year behind him, they moved in together when she graduated. Our house is in a suburb, and they moved an hour from here, to the city. A few years later, ODIL was laid off during the recession. They had a house, and we helped them out with money a few times over a couple years. They now both have good jobs, and have paid us back in full. I do think they could have done this sooner, there were a few trips they took for friends weddings before they paid us back. They could be more sensible with money. 


The first year or so that they dated, we would invite them to concerts in the city, movies, get-togethrs. They said yes so rarely, we stopped inviting them. 


Our relationship with YDS and YDIL is different. They were high school sweethearts, and then both lived at home while going to community colleges. YDIL was over at our house almost everyday. We know her well, and get along with her, and she really feels part of the family. Her parents live nearby, and sometimes we see them socially. They finished college a state school a couple hours away, and came home almost every weekend. They got married right after graduation, and moved in with us for a year. They now are in the process of buying a home, and keeping us up on all details. They tell us about their jobs, ask us for advice about many things, and seem to enjoy having us in their lives. They have had two anniversareis, and we have celebrated both with them. 


ODS and ODIL don't seem to want us to be apart of their lives. I told ODS that I felt on the outside edges of his life, and he said his priority is his wife and daughter. I don't mean I should come first, but I am tired of feeling like, I come in last.


This is not how I thought being a grandma would be, this is not how I pictured my family. My parents were involved, we left our sons with them for overnights by 2 mos. old, they took ODS and YDS on trips every summer. But with my granddaughter. I don't have any real involvement. We were not invited to the hospital until the day after she was born. I wish I had seen her, on her birthday. I have never had any time alone with her. I have not gotten to hold her every time I hav eseen her. ODS sends pictures every couple months, though has said he would send them more often. ODS and ODIL both add pics to Facebook every so often. There are many pix with ODIL's family, I feel shut out. Theyre busy, I know, but have time for other people. We haven't seen them since CHristmas. Last month, we were going to see them, but got sick. We canceled, because we didn't want to get her sick, and ODS did thank us for our judgment. He did offer to bring her, and take me out to lunch soon. I hope that is happens.


I loved her more from the second I saw her, than I did my own boys. It is different, but instant, I do love her so much, and it hurts that I am so excluded from her life.I have offered to babysit so they can have alone time. I even would drive to their house and watch her there, so she is comfortable and can follow routines. I would try things their way. I raised two kids, I am a teacher, I am qualified. But they say no. I know they have let ODIL's parents babysit.


As for why there is so much distance. I don't know. I can't understand how I could raise two boys, and be so close to one and his wife, and be so shut out by the other and his wife. I have tried to get to know ODIL, but she is distant. I feel like she pulled my son away. I never contact her direct;y because I don't get a response. 


When YDS and YDIL have babies, I will be involved. But for now, I have just one grandbaby, who I alsmot never see. I had ideas of taking her for ice cream, the zoo, library story times, buying cute girl clothes-since I only had boys. But they don't want us buying things, either. They even put limits on xmas gifts.


What are the chances I will be close to my granddaughter? How can I get my son and daughter-in-law to let us in their life? I have friends who are grandmas, and this is not what their experiences are like-some were in the room when their grandbabies were born, or stayed over to help when they were newborns. I offered to help, but they never accepted. We are only an hour away, we should see them more than every month or two. I don't want to say they owe us because we helped them, and we have a right to be involved in our granddaughter's life, but that is how I feel. It hurts to have my granddaughter living so close by, being such a small part of her life. What can I do? Many thanks.

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I've watched a few of these threads unfold and what I would like to know (what will help me to better formulate a thoughtful response) before everyone gets too focused in on one issue or another is this...  Play devil's advocate for just a minute... If you had to GUESS, just a guess, why do you think they treat you this way?  I think most of us have a good gut guess of why.  For instance...has ODIL made comments or jabs about certain issues?  has DS or ODIL made comments or rolled eyes making you think that they don't agree with something?


I'm not asking you to take their side...I just want to hear, from you, what you think they would say about the situation before we all throw our thoughts as to why they are doing it.


For instance, I had a long thread about a beach vacation that MIL and I don't see eye to eye on.  My GUESS about her actions is that she thinks if she does what she is doing that I will cave and go along with her.  I don't know, and she hasn't told me, it's just my guess.


So, what is your guess???


ETA: because I see a lot of separate issues that will probably get dissected from your post, but am just curious as to the overall dynamic first.  thanks!

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Welcome to MILAnon.  I'm sorry you're grandparenting experience hasn't been what you expected.  I encourage you to browse through the board and you'll find you're not alone. 


As to your questions, what can you do to be a bigger part in your granddaughter's life.....it's often said the relationship with the grandchildren begins with the relationship with the parents.  It is at their pleasure that you have a relationship with your grandchild.  So the question I'd pose to you is how can you improve that relationship?

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honey you don't have a right to anything with their child.


Yes you helped them and that was great. but you seem to be giving them things and helping them with strings attached. The distance between families seems healthy in my opinion. Your DIL didn't pull your son away, She became part of his life as an adult who is autonomous from his parents. 


Did you decide that you were going to be in the Delivery room? how did you discuss this with them? *many parents nowadays wait till after mom and baby are home from the hospital before they have visitors, often up to a month after baby is born*


Why do you feel like you have been slighted because you didn't get to hold her every time you came over? Why not come over to help and visit with the parents?


Loving her more than you loved your own children? that's... that seems a little creepy.



Stop comparing your experience with your friends or even with the other grandparents. it will only bring you heartache.


the only way you will be part of this childs life is to build a better relationship with her parents

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Welcome Kath.  I am also a MIL.  I have a son and a daughter who are both married with one daughter each.


First of all...all relationships are not created equal.  The relationship I have with my DD is not the same as the one I have with my son, and yet they were raised in the same environment.


My best guess is that you and your son/DIL have different expectations for your relationship.  Treasure what you do have, not what you see others getting.


I have a very good relationship with my DIL and I follow her lead in the relationship she wants to have with me.  Of course, I follow my DDs lead also and in many ways, she only reaches out to us when she 'wants' something.


Neither relationship is wrong...they are just different.

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"I loved her more from the second I saw her, than I did my own boys. It is different, but instant"


This stood out to me. I'm sorry but I just don't see how anyone can love another person's child more than they do their own. I have 6 GKs and boy do I love them! Not as much as I love my own children though. Maybe your son and his wife can sense this, and don't feel comfortable. I know I wouldn't if my parents or in-laws felt they loved my kids more than they did me or DH. Its just not natural.


I can already tell that things are going to be different with my last GC. He is 3 months old and already I can see I am not going to have the relationship with him as I do the others.  I don't see him as often as I do the others. Thats ok, I can still love him.

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Welcome Kath13!

You'll probably get lots of different perspectives on this.  I'm a DIL and I'm occasionally longwinded ;)  so bear with me - this is a long post!

Quite a few separate things stood out in your post for me.


You said that you always thought you were close to your son, yet mentioned that after he went to college he only came home for the summers and Christmas (unlike your YDS who came home frequently).  It seems like ODS started dating his (now) wife after college (when he was already pulling away from you,  and yet you feel she pulled your son away.  I wonder if you can try to reframe that to be less about her and see it more as something your son was doing before they even started dating. It's possible that either your problems with your son started long before DIL was in the picture - or that there aren't any real problems, and your son is just someone who isn't interested in the type of relationship you're interested in (and he pulled away as he grew into adulthood and doesn't plan to revert to a dependant relationship where he asks your advice or keeps you in the loop about things that aren't your responsibility the way your YDS seems comfortable with.


The other thing is to really look at your expectations for how involved you want to be in your ODS's life.  I have to admit a few of the examples you gave for your YDS were surprising. We see both sets of parents every week, but we certainly don't celebrate wedding anniversaries with them.  Is it possible that your YDS's extreme inclusion of you is leading you to feel disproportionately excluded by ODS?  I can understand thinking that someone who lives only an hour away could see you more.  But ODS didn't see you often in college either, it seems as if his whole adult life he hasn't been interested in having the type of relationship you'd prefer.


ODS and ODIL don't seem to want us to be apart of their lives. I told ODS that I felt on the outside edges of his life, and he said his priority is his wife and daughter. I don't mean I should come first, but I am tired of feeling like, I come in last.


So far I haven't seen anything that sounds like ODS doesn't want you to be a part of his life.  I think ODS's response to you was really appropriate, but I can understand you feeling like you 'come in last' must be upsetting.  Do you truly feel you come last (behind everyone else in their life?) Or is it that you feel that they must not care about you enough, based on the amount of time/effort they put into the relationship?  Because judging people by your own yardstick can sometimes cause trouble where there isn't any.  In reading through your post I don't see where they are rude to you or actively exclude you with any malice.  They don't send pictures often - but they don't often update Facebook either (so maybe they're not all that into pictures).  They see her parents more, and her parents get to babysit.  Your relationship with your ODS isn't going to be identical to DILs relationship with her parents.  It's not realistic to try to find "fair" by looking at two completely distinct relationships (yes, you're both 'grandmas' but you are your son's mother - and your role as grandma hinges on your relationship with your son.  ODILs mother might have a closer relationship with her daughter than you do with your son.  It would be strange if (to be "fair") ODIL had to spend less time with her mother because your son isn't making enough time for you.  But it's interesting that you feel he isn't making enough time for you because you said:


 Last month, we were going to see them, but got sick. We canceled, because we didn't want to get her sick, and ODS did thank us for our judgment. He did offer to bring her, and take me out to lunch soon. I hope that is happens.


That sounds like things are going well!  You were considerate, he saw it and appreciated it.  He even suggested the next visit and offered to treat you to lunch.  I'm just not seeing exclusion here.  


I loved her more from the second I saw her, than I did my own boys.

I reread this part a few times, and maybe you mean that you loved her instantly, while with your own boys it took some time for that love to grow.  I can see how that would feel really amazing - to instantly have this love for a child, in a way that even for your own children it didn't happen instantly.  Because if you mean that you instantly loved your grandchild more than you've ever loved your own children - that's really hard for me to understand.


It is different, but instant, I do love her so much, and it hurts that I am so excluded from her life.I have offered to babysit so they can have alone time. I even would drive to their house and watch her there, so she is comfortable and can follow routines. I would try things their way. I raised two kids, I am a teacher, I am qualified. But they say no. I know they have let ODIL's parents babysit.


The way people write things sometimes doesn't express what they truly feel, so I wanted to ask for clarification about this part:  Do you think that asking to babysit by offering alone time (that they haven't asked for) and including that you'd go to their house and 'try things their way' makes you seem like a great prospect for babysitting?  Because on the surface, if someone wanted time alone with my child and felt they were making a concession by coming to my house and 'trying things' my way, I think I'd decline too.  I don't want to sound harsh, but with my kids, my/DH's way is the only way.  Raising your own children doesn't make you qualified to watch mine.  And later you mention limits on gifts . . . that's their call - judging them for controlling what is completely in their sphere to control makes it sound as if you don't have a clear idea of where the boundaries are.  


I had ideas of taking her for ice cream, the zoo, library story times, buying cute girl clothes-since I only had boys. But they don't want us buying things, either. They even put limits on xmas gifts.

Oh Kath, from your post it sounds like she's only a baby - you have lots of time to do all of those things (and maybe you will do all those things with her - particularly if you can work on your relationship with your son).


What are the chances I will be close to my granddaughter? How can I get my son and daughter-in-law to let us in their life?

You can't get anyone to "let you in" if your expectations are this mismatched.  It's possible that you're already in as far as they feel is appropriate.  Honestly, your expectations seem really high to me - not everyone feels that a Grandparent should babysit a 2 month old overnight (it makes me feel a bit sick to my stomach to imagine leaving one of my babies overnight at that age).

I have friends who are grandmas, and this is not what their experiences are like-some were in the room when their grandbabies were born, or stayed over to help when they were newborns. I offered to help, but they never accepted.

You're going to hear from a lot of people not to compare your situation with others - I want to tell you that if you can't stop yourself from doing that, at least remind yourself that what you see isn't always the full picture.  My inlaws live an hour away and are over frequently (once a week) and likely could tell friends many of the things your friends are telling you.  That doesn't mean that those visits are enjoyable.  It's tense, and awkward, and there are times when I don't understand why we put ourselves through it.


We are only an hour away, we should see them more than every month or two. I don't want to say they owe us because we helped them, and we have a right to be involved in our granddaughter's life, but that is how I feel.


I wonder if you "don't want to say" those things because you know how inappropriate they are, and you're embarrassed to have those thoughts in the first place.  I can empathize with that.  I think you should look closely at why you feel lending money would give you a right to their child.  Or why people who have paid you back already would still "owe' you.  Are those things realistic?  Could you let them go as being "your hang-up", and not a negative reflection of your ODS/DIL?


It hurts to have my granddaughter living so close by, being such a small part of her life. What can I do? Many thanks.


Oh, please try to reframe this.  Every month or two isn't a small part of her life.  Once a year is a small part.  My children only see my sister every two months (while they see my DHs sister every week).  They have a great relationship with both aunts.  My kids love both their aunts and even though they don't see her as much, they are really excited to see my sister when we go to visit.  If you're a kind and thoughtful grandparent who loves her,  that will be special to her no matter how often you see her.  Try to look for the positive in what you already have and give yourself a bit of time to adjust to the idea that your fairly rigid expectations of what being a grandparent means, might have been setting you up for failure from the beginning.


From the little you've written, I think you have a pretty good thing going already!  So try to appreciate the things you're doing well, the efforts your son and DIL are making, and the ways that you do get to enjoy your grandchild already.  Worrying about what others have or what will happen in the future may be clouding the positive things you have right now.  Good luck : )

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FedUpDIL, I have thought about this a lot. ODIL has only seemed rude one time, at a get-together with us, and YDS and YDIL, at a park while she was very pregnant. I think she might have rather been at home taking a nap. The weather was not the best, and she was heavily pregnant, and I really can't find fault with her acting like she did not want to be there. She has not make jabs or snide comments or rolled eyes. She is polite, but distant. I really think I would rather have a rude DIL, who is up-front with things.


ODIL is very different from us, and ODS has seemed more different since...he went to college, or started dating her. It is hard to say which. YDS has not changed nearly as much as he has grown up, he is still very much the son I know and raised. I have such a hard time figuring out why this might be.


ODS and ODIL have a very large number of friends, and DH and I, and YDS and YDIL, tend to be more homebodies, with fewer friends. She has very different interests, and different values. I think we aren't "her kind of people." But how can she love my son, and yet not his family? I do think she loves him, but he has changed so much since dating her. That, I know for sure.


Years ago, DH made a few comments to ODIL on her appearance, just giving her compliments. She has a nice figure, even since the baby, and tends to wear tight clothes. So she must be used to such comments. Anyway, he didn't mean anything wrong by them, but ODS had a sit-down with him, and told him to stop making those comments. I did not think this was a big deal, but ODS does not like to have any conflict, so it was a big deal to him. Mostly, I assume he does whatever ODIL wants, just to avoid conflict. I think that is part of the problems.


Another idea is a few times when we watched their dog, the dog got into things she shouldn't have. She is a smart dog, and strong, and I think we underestimated her-our old dog was slow by her old age, so we needed to remember having a young dog. But she only got sick from the things she got into one time. I know ODS was bothered by this, and has mentioned it a few times. But we have since watched their dog, with more precautions, and all has been fine. So haven't we proven ourselves trustworthy now?


lilypond, thank you, for the welcome! I decided to post here after seeing others in a similar boat, and thought maybe I could get some good advice. I want to fix this.


Yes, I want to be close to my ODS again, too. He calls every couple of weeks, but never talks about anything in-depth. The baby is fine, his job is going fine, his friends are all fine, their house is fine. Very few details-I hardly ever hang up knowing more about his life, than before we talked. When I call him, it sometimes takes days for him to call back. He did say he plans to take the baby and I out for lunch, so I look forward to that. I hope maybe talk to him about all this there. As for ODIL, I don't know how to improve that. She has made it pretty clear, that she doesn't want help or input from me. I see people mention going to spa days or manicures with their DILs, and just laugh. She wouldn't ever do those things with me. How do you get closer to someone who acts polite enough, but makes so effort to become any closer? She never talks about details, either. 


I want to be a close, happy family, but they show no desire for that.


PhalenMum, I know we don't have rights, in the legal sense. But I meant more, we are good, loving parents, and I can't see why we aren't allowed to be loving grandparents to ODS's child. I will be careful about using the word rights, in the future.


The help we gave them was not meant to have strings attached, I was just annoyed to see them take trips. before they paid us back. It's not that we needed the money, it was just the principal of it. And it seems that our money is good enough for them, but our advice is not, our involvement is not? That leaves a sour taste with me. 


They told us that only they would be there for delivery- we would not even be invited to the hospital waiting room, or told ODIL was in labor. No info until the baby was born. So it was not a surprise, and ODIL is a somewhat private person. But still, to not be allowed to meet her until the day after she was born, well we didn't know that is how it would be. We thought they would call, and then we'd go to visit right away. It was hard.


And I see her so rarely, that I of course want to hold her when I do see her. I think it is normal for a grandma to want to hold her grandbaby! I have offered to help, but they never want help-just for us to be guests. I would fold laundry, or dust, or weed-anything, but they don't want any of that. And we do visit them, or they come to us, every month or two. Just for a couple hours


Abour loving her more, maybe I expressed myself poorly-I did not feel bonded to my sons from the instant they were born, but I instantly felt attached to, and love for, my granddaughter when I saw her. It surprised me, and I said something about it, and now I'm afraid I expressed myself poorly then, too? I don't love her more than they do, or than my own sons, I don't mean it that way. Just that I felt love for her the moment I saw her, and instead that's something that grew with time for my boys. Should I try clarifying this with ODS, and/or ODIL?


It's hard to not compare our experience, with ODIL's family's experience, when theya re in many of the pics that get posted to Facebook. And, it's hard not to compare our relationships with ODS & ODIL to YDS & YDIL. They were raised in the same house, with the same values, and we are now only close to one son. YDIL allowed us to be close with her, but not ODIL. So now we are not close with ODS. I can acknowledge, that ODS started pulling away when he went to a further away college, but even though he came home less often, he was not so distant before. 

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they may have been raised in the same house with the same values by the same people but they are two different young men with two different lives and two different sets of personal values (which are formed by the individual as they grow and experience life)

your younger son feels comfortable being enmeshed with you, as does his wife who has known you since high school.

your older son feels comfortable having established that his new immediate family is his wife and child. A wife who only has known you on a peer basis adult to adult, how did you approach the ODIL relationship? because it seems like you desperately want to step into a mother type role with help and input but she doesn't WANT that sort of relationship with you. Have you tried talking about mutual interests other than the baby? Those women who enjoy spa days with their DILS have a peer to peer friendship (or are both comfortable being overly enmeshed) and share interests.  BTW you can absolutely love a man but not his family. I fell in love with my husband before I even MET his family and for the most part they're crazy but lovely people, except his mom. DH is an amazing man despite all the horrible things that his mom did to him both before and after our wedding.


once every 4-8 weeks is not 'seeing her rarely'. that is about average for extended family visits, even close ones. 


Before ODIL, even though he came home less, did ODS tell you everything? because honestly the 'phone call' you say happens sounds like what some call "stopping the info train". You really don't need to know information about his house, job and friends.



It seems to me that this all boils down to mismatched expectations. You had a different view of what was going to happen BUT you are also the one who is unhappy with the situation. They will not feel the need to change to meet your expectations, it is only you who can change yourself

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First, welcome Kath. From what you are telling us - your sons are two different personality types and you have two very different types of relationships with them....additionally - YDS and YDIL don't have any children yet - which also changes the dynamic.  I'm certainly not trying to make light of your feelings - I can understand that you had certain expectations for becoming a grandmother and that's not happening - and even with the relationship you have with your YDS and YDIL if/when they have children it still may not meet those expectations.


On the instant bonding - I guess I just don't quite understand that - and again- while your feelings are your own - I'm not entirely sure why you would share that particular feeling with them - I don't know how you expected it to be received? I know that a grandparent's love is very special. My mother equates it to loving your baby's baby - but you didn't quite phrase it that way - so I'm trying to really understand since you said you didn't bond instantly with your boys the way you did with your granddaughter. I think telling them your feelings around this may be key to some of the issues - I don't really know for sure since I don't have a clear picture around what happened. It doesn't sound as if you've been allowed very much contact since then. You say that they don't allow you to hold her when you see her. That you don't see her often. That you had some very particular expectations around being a grandmother that aren't being met.  Is it possible that this bothered them more than you realize?  


I'd be curious as to how this was shared with ODS and DIL - if you are comfortable sharing with us. This could very well be the source of your problems. Especially if she is still very young. 


Something like - "Oh she's beautiful, I just love her." is one thing. My mother said something along the lines of "I just never knew, looking at my baby holding her baby, there is just nothing quite like it in the world." 


But that is very different from something like "Oh my. I've never felt love like that for another person so quickly. I didn't know it was possible to feel immediately connected like that."  And could absolutely be causing you problems now no matter what kind of relationship you had before. 


As to whether you should try to talk to them about it - I don't know. It would really depend on what was said and in what context I think. How it was said, to whom, and what if anything was said at the time to try to salvage it. 


Outside of that - it may just be a matter of mismatched expectations and the necessary evil of curtailing the comparisons on all sides. Comparing your two sons, comparing your two DILs and comparing the time your GCs other GPs spend with her. That last one will only cause you heart ache anyway. 

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SuesTX, thank you. I guess we really do have different expectations, for how our relationship will be. I am hurt that we aren't being allowed to be closer. How do I get over that? I want to treasure what we have, but it is hard. I feel like we have so little. I hope to myself that they loosen up, as she gets older. 

Do you really not mind, that your daughter only reaches out when she wants things? I would feel used. Sorry, if that is too blunt.
Jaci, 6 grandkids! How lucky. yes, I tried to clarify what I meant in my other post, When my boys were born, I had a bond with them that grew over time. I did not feel attached from the first moment. Maybe, I was just tired from birth, or hormones. My grandbaby, I loved from when I first saw her. So, that is what I meant by instant and different. 
undecided, as you can see, I am longwinded as well! Thanks for your response.
ODS went to college several hours away, so it seemed reasonable he mostly stayed there. He even spent one summer working in a different large city, and traveled abroad with a group. So, geographic distance is not so unusual for him. But closeness, persoanlly- he used to let us know details about his life, and share his goals and dreams, and ask input and advice. He was far away sometimes, but included us, and would participate in activities when he was around. He and ODIL met after ODS had already graduated, 
Ah! Another idea. He came to us before he proposed and told us he was going to, and showed us the ring. My DH asked him how much it was, and DH said it was too much. They could afford it at the time, as they were both working and this was before the recession, but- it was not a cheap ring. To spend so much seemed frivolous. I do think I can say that is a pinpoint, that he started to pull back after. I can see, how he felt criticized, or put down?
I tried to give some input on the wedding planning, told them a style of cake I had seen that I liked, but they did not invite me to any of the planning process. ODIL did not dance with DH at the wedding, even though he asked. ODIL did not ask YDIL to be a bridesmaid, though YDIL later asked ODIL to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. And the whole family was allowed to be involved in YDS an YDIL's wedding, from the flowers to the food. ODIL was actually very nice about this, she helped a lot with their wedding. I do not think anything bad happened, she seemed to enjoy being involved? Why can't it always be more like that?
I think that is more how I always want it, and how we always feel involved in YDS and YDIL's life. It is what feels more normal to me. My parents were very involved in my life, and with raising my kids, and my sister and I are very involved in each other's life. Our involvement with YDS and YDIL, seems normal to me. Even though he was far away alot in college, ODS still allowed us to be involved, and now, he keeps us at arms' length. YDS and YDIL socialize with us regularly, and so celebrating their anniversary seemed reasonable. 
Coming in last, I know that I truly don't. But, they do seem to make so much more time for their friends, and ODIL's family. We are an afterthought, an occasional obligation. I think ODS is closer with ODIL's family. They do far more things together, he seems more involved. We'd be happy to have ODIL so involved, but she has never allowed us, to get close to her. They spend some of their vacation time with ODIL's parents, but never with us. 
I am excited at the possibility, of going to lunch with ODS and GDD. But, it is not on the calendar yet, and we have not seen them since Christmas. It is a long time between visits, when really, they are so close by. ODS could even just bring her over to our house for an afternoon, and give ODIL a break. But visits are short, and always the same, and always longer between than I want. Shouldn't a grandma and grandpa have a higher priority?
I think all married couples need alone time, and I know sometimes, ODIL's parents watch GDD so they can get it. But we are equally available. Why do we never get a chance to watch our granddaughter? I know she is their baby, so their rules-they just are doing so many things differently than DH and I did. Times have changed, and they seem to have different value. I don't know how to use the cloth diapers they do, but I would do my best to do everyting right. She got a weird tub at her shower, and I would use that. I would ask them to write a list, of specific rules and steps to follow. So that I could make sure GDD had her routines and comfort considered. I know she is young to do many things yet, but it is hard to see how I can do any of those in the future, if I am so unvinvolved now. If this is really how they want our relationship to be, for the rest of our lives, that is going to be so hard. I can recognize, that YDS and YDIL are more comfortable having us involved. I can't understand why ODS and ODIL want us t be so uninvolved. 
You see your inlaws weekly? How generous of you! I am sure they so appreciate that. Our visits feel tense sometimes, but I don't know how to make it better. I have even read up on subjects I know they care about, to have more to talk about at visits. But still-they don't let us past the surface. 
I have so many conflicting thoughts, it's hard to deal with them all. I do not think that lending them money, was buying time with their future children. But it feels hurtful that they will accept our money as having a role in their life, but not us having a role ourselves. It just hurts me to know that my granddaughter is so close by, but I have only seen her a handful of times in her entire life. We have barely been allowed to hold her. I have never even been in a room with her, wihtout her parents right there. I feel as though they don't trust us, and that stings. It is hard for me to reframe our involvement, when I know others are more involved, and when we are so strictly supervised and limited when we do get to see her.
Thank you so much, all-lots to mull over tonight.

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Kath 13 –

Welcome to MILA.  I’m sorry that your relationship with your son’s family is not what you were hoping for but I think you are not realizing that you actually do have a good relationship with his family because you are busy making comparisons and making yourself jealous.  It sounds like you actually have a pretty good relationship with your son and his family and I hope you can really take an honest look at it and realize it before you do something to jeopardize that relationship. 

I am a DIL and the relationship you describe with your son sounds very similar to the relationship DH and I have with his parents.  I am going to try to provide you with some perspective…to let you see into the minds of your DIL and son.  His parents live about an hour away from us and we see them maybe every 6 to 8 weeks.  DH went away to college and law school and lived on his own before we started dating so he had already begun pulling away from his parents before we started dating.  After we started dating and got married we saw them less because life just gets in the way and when you have a baby it is even harder to get out to visit people.  For us to make the trip to see his parents it is not just two hours we have to travel to get there and return home.  We have to get all 3 of us ready to go and that takes a lot longer with a baby or a toddler.  And then we have to make sure we have everything we need for a day trip for our son and then we have to make sure we leave at a time when he won’t be overly tired or too fussy for the drive.  Or we try to time it for when he has a nap so he will (hopefully) sleep the whole way.  It’s quite a production for us to make trips that are more than a 20 or 30 minute drive.  

If you are seeing them every month or two that is quite a bit and I think you should be grateful that they are making the effort to visit you.  It takes a lot out of us to make a visit to DH’s parents.  When we get home from visits with the ILs DH and I are usually tired and we’ve lost a day of our weekend that could have been spent doing errands or relaxing and enjoying time with our son.  So, please try to look at things from your son and DIL’s perspective and try to see that they definitely making an effort to keep you involved with their family. 

I also want to ask about the conditions at your home because that can be a factor in determining the frequency of visits.  Is your home baby proofed?  Do you have a lot of breakable or dangerous items that are within a child’s reach?  We do not visit my ILs as often because their home is not baby proofed.  When we visit them I have to be 100% “on” making sure that DS doesn’t get into things he shouldn’t, doesn’t break expensive things, and doesn’t injure himself.  It is much easier to visit my parents because their entire house is baby proofed and DH and I can relax a bit. 

Please try not to feel that you were slighted in any way because your son and DIL did not call you when DIL went into labor or because they did not invite you to the hospital for the birth.  Birth is a very private event and it is totally understandable if they wanted experience it together and without interference or involvement from anyone else.  DH and I did not want anyone else at the hospital when I went into labor.  We did not call anyone when I went into labor and called only after DS had been born.  We didn’t allow anyone to visit until the next day.  Let me explain our reasons because I’m guessing that your son and DIL probably had similar reasons.  Having people in the delivery room or in the waiting room can be very stressful to a woman in labor and stress can be a major factor in stalling labor which can lead to interventions like c-sections.  I figured labor would be hard enough and I didn’t want anyone else camping out in the waiting room trying to get updates on my progress and stressing me out.  I wanted DH’s attention focused solely on me and not on updating people.  I also didn’t want to be worrying about people in the waiting room wondering what was taking so long.  We also didn’t want people bugging us for updates via phone or text so we turned off our cell phones during my labor. 

The reason we didn’t want anyone to visit until the day after DS was born was because we wanted plenty of time to have the vitally important skin-to-skin bonding time with DS and time for me to get a good start on breastfeeding.  We also wanted to have time for me to rest and recover from labor and birth and to have a chance to have a shower and clean myself up before having visitors.  We also wanted time for me to recover from a c-section if that was necessary and since I ended up having to have a c-section it was a good thing we had that time.  Can you understand why your son and DIL were not comfortable having people in the waiting room while DIL was in labor?  It wasn’t anything against you and it wasn’t done to hurt you.  It was done so that they (as a family) could have the birth they wanted and have the bonding experience they wanted. 

Also, please rest assured that not all grandparents out there are called to help after the baby comes home.  When we came home it was just me and DH and our son for the first week.  We didn’t allow any visitors because we wanted to have that special bonding time for just us.  We wanted time alone with our baby to get to know him and learn to care for him on our own.   Our decision wasn’t made to hurt anyone.  It was made to strengthen our bond with our child.  After the first week we allowed just two short visits (less than an hour).  Honestly, even though I had a c-section we didn’t need anyone coming over to help as we are both very capable adults.  And even after DH went back to work the week after we came home with DS, I was still fine on my own.  Honestly, I preferred it that way.  I didn’t want anyone hovering over me and offering unsolicited advice about what I was doing or judging me.   Can you understand how your son and DIL might have felt the same way? 

Please also try not to feel slighted because you haven’t gotten overnights with the baby yet.  My son is 2 and we have not allowed overnights yet.  I just cannot imagine letting him sleep without me for a night.  Is your DIL breastfeeding?  If she is then that would completely explain why they are not allowing overnights.  It is so important to feed on demand (and that means feeding on demand at night also) to establish a good supply in those first several weeks.  And then from then on if the baby is still waking at night I’m sure DIL (like me) probably wants to be there to feed and sooth her baby back to sleep.  That’s just a normal mothering instinct.  Not wanting your child to spend overnights away from you is not such an uncommon thing.  I know at least 4 of my friends who have had babies around the same time I had mine who have not yet allowed overnights for their babies. 

As far as babysitting, well I’m going to have to agree with undecided that I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting someone babysit my child if they were only going to “try” to follow my rules.  I have to be able to know 100% that someone will completely follow my rules for my child.  I trust no one with my child until they have proven themselves to me.  I only just recently started to allow my DS to take 20 minute walks around the neighborhood with my parents.  That was only after I’d taken DS to their house on several occasions and stayed in the house while DS and they interacted so I could make sure that they would follow my rules (even if they didn’t totally agree with them).  I also think if you made comments to DS and DIL about loving your GD more than your own children then that also probably made them very nervous about leaving their baby alone with you.  Comments like those would certainly creep me out and make me not want to leave my baby with a person. 

It sounds a little bit like you saw your GD as a sort of do-over to make up for having only boys.  I picked that up reading your post.  If your DIL or son have also picked that up it may have made them nervous about letting you babysit your GD.  Just a thought. 

I also want to add something about your son “changing.”  A few years ago my mother made the same accusation about me and DH.  She said that she thought DH had changed me and asked if I was doing certain things or if I’d changed my views on certain things because he told me to or if I did so to make him happy.  That was soooo far from the truth it was laughable.  I went away to college and then lived on my own before dating and marrying DH and I grew up.  While I was away from home I had lots of experiences that changed my worldview, my outlook and changed me.  I think my mom didn’t really notice those changes until I came back to my home state, started law school and started dating the man who would become my DH.  Please don’t blame the fact that your son grew up and changed and is no longer the child he was on your DIL.  It sounds like he was changing and pulling away before he even met your DIL.  Please try to learn about the person he became and accept him for who he is rather than trying to find someone to blame. 

Finally, why do you think DIL is making DS do things?  Is it so surprising that your DS would be bothered by his father’s comments to DIL?  Maybe those comments were not a big deal to you but it is clear they bothered your DIL.  Is it so surprising that a man would want to defend his wife and prevent her from being uncomfortable or offended around his family??  My DH’s cousin has made comments to me that made me feel uncomfortable and DH of his own accord had to talk to his cousin about those comments. I didn’t force DH.  He did it because he was also bothered by the comments the cousin made.  DH’s cousin also thinks I am somehow controlling DH and emailed him over a year ago asking DH why he was letting me control him.  DH was incredibly offended by his the suggestion that I was controlling him and didn’t speak to the cousin (who previously was like a brother to DH) for several months and even now will only see the cousin at family functions.  Please don’t assume your DIL is controlling your son.  That’s insulting to your son.  You don’t know what goes on in their marriage. 

As for advice…I really think you should look objectively at the good relationship you do have with your son and his family.  Please don’t make comparisons because as the saying goes “the grass is always greener on the other side.”  Making comparisons will only make you jealous and unhappy.  Focus on your relationship with your son and do not complain about DIL or complain that you don’t think you get enough time with GD because that could upset your son and make him reconsider the effort he very obviously is making to spend time with you.  Please try to see that you do have a very good relationship with your son and his family.

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Brit hit on it from ODS perspective - and I can address it from YDS's side and defend ODS at the same time. I've spent my entire life being your YDS. My siblings your ODS. I'll say this as gently as I can - because I know that you are hurting Kath. I think you are being unfair to your ODS and his wife. Your youngest son and his wife do things the way that you do. Your oldest son and his wife don't. That doesn't make the way they do things wrong. It makes them different. I realize this hurts - I'm not making light of that.  My DH and I are both people pleasers and we spent the first few years of our marriage running from one family to the other doing exactly what our parents needed/wanted. Now 20 years later we find ourselves doing the same thing our of necessity.(ill health in aging parents). This is the way that you *like* things, this is what works for you and feels comfortable for you. And it seems to work for YDS and his wife. But it doesn't work for oldest DS and DIL. That doesn't mean that something broke in him or that he's doing what she wants to avoid conflict or that there is anything wrong with him or them. It just means they do things differently from you guys. My sibings do.


And I'll even grant you some buffer to process it - at first I really didn't understand either - how my siblings could be so "different" from me. What I really didn't understand is that they had always been different - they just hadn't felt free to express that difference while they had lived under my parents' roof and depended on them financially. It was much easier for them to be their own people when they WERE on their own. So to me - and to our parents - it felt like these huge changes came about right around the time they met their spouses - the reality is the changes came about when they branched out and became their own person and were able to really come into their own as individualized adults. 


Something else I'll mention - even with DH and myself sharing many of the same values and being on the same page so often with our parents- one thing that really did bug both of us was any time either of our parents questioned us financially. You mention that your DH questioned him about the ring - unless you guys contributed financially to the ring - a big smile and congratulations would have been all that was necessary. 


I'll say it again - the comparisons are your biggest issue here. They are two very different people. I have two teenaged DDs being raised in the same house right now. They are as different as night and day. I can't even put the same expectations on them right now much less when they become adults. 

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I think your dh commenting on your dils figure was very innapropriate.If my fil commented on my figure it would make me very unconfortable and Im sure my dh would talk to fil about it.

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Kath, I think Brit has a lot of great points. I could write a whole other post from your ODS's perspective but I think she covered a lot of it.

I just wanted to add what happened with us when the mismatched expectations got out of control. Our son is the first GC on either side, and we all had expectations - all the GPs, uncle, us. Everyone eventually reconciled the realities with their expectations, except MIL. DS is nearly two now, and what has happened is that the more she pushes us to fit her expectations or complains that we're not, the more we pull away. There's a lot of comparing between what she gets vs my mom vs her friends. I sort of got to a point of whatever I do is not enough, so why bother trying, and DH pulls away when he feels pressured. I'd really hate for you to damage the relationship you do have with them because you're spinning your wheels comparing your sons to each other and your friends grandma experiences.

And just as an another example, my GPs had 5 kids, fairly close together, and all of their kids/GCs had varying degrees of closeness and contact with them. Nobody loved anyone any more or less, but different personalities and life circumstances happen.

ETA: It seems like you'd like more of a mother-daughter relationship with ODIL, similar to what you have with YDIL. There's nothing wrong with that, however it seems ODIL is more comfortable with a friendly but not super close relationship - nothing wrong with that either. You can't make her desire that close relationship, but I'm thinking along the lines of what other posters have said about finding a way to relate to her as another adult vs DIL or mother of your GD. My own MIL started referring to me as one of her kids when we got married, and herself as mom. At first I thought it was kind of sweet that she wanted to include me that much, but DS's birth highlighted the fact that she is not my mom and things would just not be the same between her and I as it was between me and my mom. Much as I don't expect DH to feel the same way about my mom that my brother does.

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You sound like a really nice lady with a lot to give. I haven't read any of the other comments yet, but this time, I wanted to respond right away...you sound a lot like my aunt, who also has two boys and is variably distant from her DILs. And this is what I said to her (and she took it well-- probably because tone has a lot to do with delivery, we're related, and neither of those aspects apply here, so please just give me the benefit of the doubt...). Anyway, she said it helped clear things up A LOT. She's a cool aunt, so I was glad. Not sure how she is as an MIL, that's a different kettle of fish, but she said it helped her see another perspective...


When you say, "I have friends who are grandmas, and this is not what their experiences are like-some were in the room when their grandbabies were born, or stayed over to help when they were newborns," I wondered if you're including ALL your friends who are grandmas. Because it's easy to think everyone's got a greener pasture, when actually, there are some who have non-grassy patches, some have weeds, and some are trying to hide whole deserts.


Please consider trying this, the next time you're with your grandmother pals? When the topic turns to adorable grandchildren and their latest outing, check out the reactions of your other grandma friends, over time. The ones who consistently share anecdotes that underscore how close they are to their grandchildren? You're probably right, they're probably very close to their GCs. And that's great. But, while you're at it, please also be sure to also check out the ones who rarely contribute, and can only offer smiles and murmurs of "awww, how sweet" and that's the limit of their contribution to the "close to my grandchildren" topics-- but you know they've got GCs, too. If they're not sharing much, I bet they might be in the same boat you are, but you might not notice it...


I guess my point is, all that to say, there are many awesome women out there who feel (and who are) shut out of their grandkids' lives, please don't fool yourself into believing the hype that you're supposed to have a closer relationship to your GCs. And heaven knows, any of their relationships can turn on a dime, as many DILs and MILs here can attest.


Then again, I imagine it's not about keeping up with the grandmothers. I can picture the kind of closeness you'd like to have with your GCs, and I don't blame you a bit for wanting it -- that would be so incredibly sweet and life-enriching. But I hope, for your own sake, you can think about ratcheting this desire down, figure out a way to change your attitudes and expectations in this regard, so that eventually, your feelings will settle into something that serves you better than the disappointment, confusion and worry that you're probably experiencing currently.


A counselor told me (and my ILs) something really thought-provoking...."A close relationship doesn't necessarily constitute a GOOD relationship." That can mean so many different things, but in my situation, she was saying that to my MIL because MIL was holding us hostage to her needs and expectations (admittedly her needs were a heckuva lot higher than the ones you're conveying here-- She wanted biweekly visits, calls several times a week, family vacations, and ever Christmas Eve, Day, Thanksgiving and Easter). In your case, it might mean that, even though you don't see your GD as much as you wish, you can still have a great relationship with her when you do see her. Also, even if you're not as close to your ODIL and ODS as you'd like, you can still have when they consider a "good" relationship with you.


I think you might want to still feel needed, too-- it sounds like ODS and ODIL are more independent, which doesn't seem to be unusual in many families, where the older sibling is more independent (Footballmom, I think, has observed that her YDS is more close than her ODS). It's only really, really important that you respect that difference from your YDS and YDIL. Please let them be happy being themselves. And on that note, the advice and help you crave to give? Unfortunately, neither of them are your "kids" to parent anymore-- and in that, you can take pride! You've done a great job and your ODS and ODIL are independent, and prefer to stay that way.


That's all I got for now. I'm going back to read the rest of the comments...

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Baby is starting to wake up so I'll write more later but I wanted to make you feel a little ether about te frequency of your visits. We have not seen MIL since last Easfer and DH has not talked to her since May. LO is 2 so MIL has missed out on a lot. When DH decides to start talking to her again we will probably only see her about every 3 months plus holidays. They live 1 1/2 hours away, so not too much further than your situation. So see, you seeing them every month or two isn't so bad:). One of the reasons why it's bad to compare is because when we do, we only compare with those that make us feel justified in our feelings. Like when a child says, "but Johnny and Jill and Jacob all have had cell phones since they were 9!" They fail to mention (or realize) that Matt, Karen, Rachel, Mike and Tom didn't get one until they were 15.

Also, the comment DH made about the cost of ring, your comment about living your GD more (or quicker) than your sons and your DH commenting about your DIL's figure could be major reasons for the distance. Any one of these things could make a couple pull away so to hear all three were said (presumedly not too far off from each other) could be a huge deal. The figure comments alone would make me question whether FIL could be trusted to be alone with my daughter. If he doesn't know where obvious boundries are, and knows not to cross them, with women that's kind of a big deal.

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Welcome Kath! I'm so glad you brought your concerns to us and that you seem to appreciate the advice you've gotten so far! Also, I thank you for being so open and honest with us about how you feel and where you think you may have made mistakes. IMO, that takes a lot of courage.


Like Lilypond, I'm sorry that you're disappointed in your grandparenting experience. But like several PPs, I think your relationship with ODS and family is better than you think! I agree with those who caution you against comparing the time you and DH get to DIL's parents b/c, yes, that will only cause you pain. I know it's "hard not to" - but if you "must" compare, please also look at the many GPs (in this group and elsewhere) who see their GC about as often as you see yours - and  the ones who seen them far less. In fact, if it's any comfort, we've seen GPs who only see their GC 2 or 3 times a year, whether b/c of distance, busy schedules or a strained relationship with the parents.  I understand that you're not seeing GD as often as you'd like/expected or as much as the MGPs (maternal grandparents) and some other GPs you know. But  I hope it helps to realize that your coming out about in the middle of the spectrum, which, IMO, is not such a bad place to be.


Please rest assured, also, that much of what you're dealing with is common, today, and, most likely, not intended to hurt you. A lot of young couples are opting to keep the birth experience private, restrict the amount that others are allowwed to hold their baby, if at all, and limit the amount of info they offer to GPs and other relatives, etc. It's not necessarily  something they're doing to you,  even if it feels  that way. Sure, some  of your friends were at the birth or got to help out the first few days that baby was home. But the operative word  there, IMO, is "some." Please realize that this means others of them didn't  get to do those things and maybe, even had experiences closer to yours.


As far as the differences between ODS and YDS, I agree with those who point out that they're 2 different personalities, even though they grew up in the same enviornment, etc. But, in my observation, young people who go away to college change more or more quickly  than those who go to college at home. So it's very possible, IMO, that ODS would have changed in ways that YDS didn't, even if ODS never met ODIL. I'm not  saying that ODIL can't have had any influence - no doubt, DHs and DWs influence each other, and, sometimes, even, BFs and GFs. I'm just saying that there's a bigger picture here.


And I'm so glad britomart told us that her mom didn't realize the extent of the changes she'd gone through while she was away at college. I had the same experience with my mom. So, once I was living closer to home, getting married, raising kids, etc., it was hard for her to deal with the "new" aspects of my personality and thinking.


I'm also glad that BEG mentioned the fact that a lot of these "changes" are probably in the person, already, b4 they leave for college. When I look back at my own history, "new" ideas or personality traits I developed while at college could have taken root if they weren't there, w/in me, to begin with. I know it may hurt to think that ODS may have always wanted to be a little more indepedent of family than he had seen people be growing up. But I don't think that's necessarily an affront to you and DH or a criticism of how you did things. It's just that his needs might  have been a bit different from yours or YDS' and he didn't begin to realize it till he was away.


As for the difference between your relationship with ODIL and YDIL, I think that really was to be expected. After all, not only are they different personalities but you were part of YDIL's life during some very formative years. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel as if you were hoping to duplicate that relationship with ODIL and I'm afraid that's almost impossible. It may be hard to let go of that wish, but I think you need to try to accept and enjoy each relationship on its own terms. You can't help if, of course, if you prefer the relationship you have with YDIL to that with ODIL. But that doesn't necessarily mean that ODIL is doing anything "wrong."


It was lovely, for example, that YDS and YDIL incuded everyone so much in the wedding planning. I'm sure you know, though, that not every couple does that and it isn't "wrong" if ODIL and ODS didn't. I have a cousin whose DS and DIL sought the help and opinions of both sets of parents, siblings and even GPs as they planned their wedding. But her DD and SIL chose to do most of the planning, themselves.


As far as the MGPs watching GD, trust me, that's not all that unusual either. IDK how ODS and ODIL divide childcare between them, but especially if she has the primary responsibility, it's very normal, IMO, for her to turn to her own parents for babysitting, etc. Same if their parenting philosophy and style happen to be more similar to that of DIL's parents  than to yours (more about that later) I don't mean to put you on the spot but look at your own statement: "My  parents were very involved in my life, and with raising our kids, and my  sister and I are very involved in each other's life." For whatever reason, no mention is made of your DH's parents or other relatives. Granted , there could be any number of reasons for that and I realize you may not have wanted it that way, But could it be that ODS thinks families are "supposed to" be more involved with the wife's "side" than the husband's? That may not be the "message" YDS got but it may be the one that ODS did.   And as BEG suggests, things may change with YDS and YDIL, a little, when they begin to have kids. Who knows?


All that being said, I think you're right about some of the incidents that you feel might have further distanced ODS and ODIL from you and DH. DH's well-intended advice about the ring may have sent up a red flag for ODS, warning him that his dad was going to try to have a say in his and ODIL's decisions. And the dog episode may have given them pause, when it comes to babysitting, even though you're doing better now. It's one thing to make a mistake with a dog, they might  be thinking and do better later; another for that to happen with a baby (I don't think it would but they might). With a baby they might be afraid of even one slipup. I know it's painful think that one error could affect you for so long, but I'm sure you can understand people being a little extra careful with their baby. 


But, more than that,  I think it's about wanting babysitters who do/know how to do things the way they do. I'm so very sorry, but they may prefer, for example, having a sitter who already knows how to use the cloth diapers, etc., no matter how much you intend to "do (your) best." And someone who thinks their baby tub is "cool" rather than someone who's willing to use it, even though she thinks it's "weird" (not that you called it that in front of them). And while I know you had the best of intentions when you asked for "rules," the fact that you asked when they hadn't  invited you to babysit mght  have felt like a boundary-cross  to them. I hope you have backed off the idea of babysitting, for now, and not made any further offers, etc.


Also, though I know I said many couples today limit info to GPs, etc., often that happens when they feel they've said "too much" or when a piece of info traveled farther than the parents wanted it to go. Given how close your family is, could it be that you once told YDS, YDIL or your sister something that ODS and ODIL intended only for your and DH's ears? Maybe not, but if so,  this is probably why they decided to stem the flow of info.


And even though the amount of visits are fairly normal for today's world, IMO, I'm thinking that the tension you describe might  make them hesitate to increase the number or length, even if they were thinking of it. IMO, you need to ease those tensions b4 you can hope for anything else. I know you've tried but, I'm thinking that as long as you're also trying to "get" ODS and ODIL to "let (you and DH) in their life" more than they rare comforatable with, at the moment, the tensions aren't going to subside. As PPs have suggested, you need, IMO, to "focus on what you have" and try to enjoy that, rather than seeking more. The, maybe, things will gradually relax and perhaps you'll get to see ODS and family more often and even, in time, get to babysit. Even if not, at least things won't get any worse.


I'm glad you're mulling over the advice you're getting here. Please keep us posted about what you're thinking and any decisions you make. Hugs!

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You see your inlaws weekly? How generous of you! I am sure they so appreciate that. 


I'm not sure if I was clear enough about our visits, maybe it appeared to be more evidence to you that someone else gets what you'd really like, and if that happened I'm sorry I didn't explain myself well.  I was actually trying to let you know that your friends with frequent visits might have great relationships, or they may not. I don't have a good relationship with my inlaws.  We see each other frequently and the relationship is a mess.  DH and I aren't happy, GPs aren't happy.  I can count on one hand the number of visits this year that were nice - remember that's a handful of visits out of 45 or 50.  From the passive aggressive comments we receive, and the outright complaints, I'm certain that my inlaws feel the way you do - that we're interferring with their expectations of what a Grandparents (capital G) role is.  They don't feel happy with their GP experience, they feel unappreciated because we don't want the piles of stuff and the piles of food they try to give us. They want us to stay longer when we visit them, they want their grandchildren to flock to them, but don't want to give the kids time to come to them before they're in their faces and their space.  But I know that they tell their friends and relatives that they see their grandchildren all the time and make it appear that they're loving every minute of it.  


I was trying (and failing) to let you know that not only is comparing to others not a good indicator of whether your relationship is good, but also that measuring by time spent is not a realistic indicator of whether you have a strong relationship with your child or grandchild. You can have a great relationship without frequent visits, and a poor relationship with frequent visits.  If what you want is a good relationship with your son and his family, you have to start by respecting his views on what relationship he's comfortable with.  


Right now you're not seeing the positives and you're keeping a tight hold on the negatives.  If you want to compare to others, then you have to remind yourself that as Rosered said 'you're in the middle of the spectrum" and honestly, you're lucky that you have regular contact with people that you keep giving unsolicited advice to, and judging as not as acceptable as your YDS and YDIL.  


Your ODS still calls you every few weeks, they send pictures, they post others where you can see them, they have fairly regular visits with you.  All these things are positive, and you feel it's not enough.  I'm not unsympathetic, I had to work to accept that my expectations for my inlaws were unrealistic.  I thought they would want to get to know me as a person, but they wanted me to fill a DIL role that they'd already decided upon, and everything they did just reinforced that idea that their way was the only way the relationship would be seen as a success in their eyes.  (That sounds like what you're doing to your son and DIL).  And in fact I did the same to my inlaws.  


I wanted to 'get to know' MIL, I tried to be thoughtful and kind and inclusive, I wanted a close relationship like you do.  But I've had to acknowledge that my end goal must have been that I wanted her to change who she was as a person.  Because some of my expectations were realistic (respecting our rules) and others weren't realistic.  I wanted them to be calmer, kinder, less self- involved hyper critical people - I wanted them to interact with my children without making negative comments.  I wanted them to fill a role that they just can't fill.  And to blame them for not being what I want in terms of personality is a waste of time.  The same goes for you - you have an ODS and DIL who are letting you into their lives in the way they feel comfortable with. You can't turn them into YDS and YDIL. You can try to accept them and embrace the positives (while still working towards a relationship where you all feel comfortable), or you can blame them for not being the way you want them to be, but either way please please try to let go of the idea that ODS and DIL are doing something wrong to you by not including you in the way you want.  You are trying to change who they are, and that's not under your control.


The last thing I want to say is that if you just can't stop comparing to her parents, then you have to be honest with yourself.  ODIL has had years to be comfortable with them - they're her parents.  Of course she knows whether she can trust them to babysit.  Not all DILs let their moms babysit - it depends on the mom.  


Coming in last, I know that I truly don't. But, they do seem to make so much more time for their friends, and ODIL's family. We are an afterthought, an occasional obligation. I think ODS is closer with ODIL's family. They do far more things together, he seems more involved. 


I can't tell if you're assuming he's closer because of pictures on facebook, or if he's said he feels closer to them.  But I want to suggest that if you think your son truly feels closer to her family, that is something you could work on.  The only thing I can imagine is that maybe DILs family treat him respectfully as an adult and don't try to give him advice or question his decisions the way you and DH still seem to.  He may find it easier to be around them because his wife is more comfortable and he is more comfortable.  That's a guess, and not meant to hurt you feelings, and I could be way off but it's something to consider - maybe if you let go of how they "should" act and just express appreciation for who they are, your relationship with them might become closer to one you could be happy with?

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""(YDS/YDIL)They tell us about their jobs, ask us for advice about many things"" 

""our money is good enough for them, but our advice is not, our involvement is not""


Was/Is there a time whenyou offer unsolicited advice to ODS/ODIL?  Was it for a long period of time? Since you are clearly aware that unsolicted advice is unwanted by them, have you completely stopped doing that?


I think that could explain why ODS doesn't tell you a lot of details beyond "Job is fine, baby is fine."  The less details he gives, the less likely it is to prompt unsolicted advice and attempts at involvement or possible self-invitations. 


Especially since ODS doesn't feel comfortable verbalizing even the most reasonable limits.  It took a lot to for ODS to muster up and tell your DH to stop making it so obvious he was always checking out his wife's hot body. So I can see how saying less up front is going to be a lot easier for ODS than saying "Thanks but I can't recall anyone asking for your opinion on our personal decisions" on the back end.


What you may not realize is that Unsolicted Advice, especially from a parent to an adult child, can come across like condescending insults.  Not to every Adult Child, of course, but definitely to some.  Even when you really don't mean it that way at all.  (I honestly don't think you mean it as an insult, not at all, but....).   It can sound to them like you are telling them: "you don't know any better" or "do it my way, it's better" and "if you don't follow my advice, you must think I'm worthless, so you better follow it to show me you respect me".    Offering unwanted, unsolicted advice can cause as much stress as and aggravation to them as if you outright told them you think they are a couple of immature idiots. Or it can come across like you're being bossy and controlling.   It's extremely unpleasant and people will make all kinds of arrangements to avoid being "insulted" (how it can sound to them) in that way.


Just as something to consider.

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Kath, yea 6 GKs, 5 boys and 1 little girl.


And each set is different. My 3rd son has 2 boys. I am their care-provider when parents are working. I pretty much have to correct the boys even when DIL is here. I love her but she is a lazy parent. She'll sit on her behind and let the boys run wild. My son isn't here as often due to his woprk, but he does correct them when he is here.


My youngest son has 3 children. I keep them a lot when they go out. They live right behind me so its easy for me to get the oldest off the bus. When this son and/or DIL is visiting, they do their own correcting and I know they would get mad if I even tried.


Each of these 5 GKS are allowed to spend the night whenever they ask, or I ask. Its a good feeling to know I am trusted.


The last GC is my 2sd son's. Already I can tell this is going to be so different and I'm going to have to be very careful not to let my feelings get hurt.  This son and DIL is lots older than the other. I am pretty sure he will never spend the day or night with us, although at the age of 3 months, he has already spent the night with both sets of her parents. I know the reasons he won't be allowed to stay. 1. I smoke. I do smoke outside and I am really wanting to quit but its so hard! 2. I have 2 cats and 2 little dogs inside. She also has cats and dogs but they aren't allowed inside. 3. The other GKs are here a lot, and 5 kids gets loud! This DIL wants her baby to be around calmness. Not gonna find that here!!


Before the baby was born, son and DIL ate here every Sunday. After baby came, my son told me they are going to have DH and me come to their house for dinners. They want us to have a relationship with the baby, but don't want to take him out in the cold or take a chance on one of the otker GKS being sick. I know they do take baby out a lot. My DIL posts about every outing on FB.


I could sit here and feel sorry for myself, but I choose to go to their house and enjoy someone else cooking for me for awhile. Normally I see the new baby for 2 hours weekly.  The other 2 sets of GPs sees baby for lots of hours, sometimes daily. Maybe if he was the only GC, I would probably be more hurt than I am, but after reading so many posts on here, I try not to compare. I'm just thankful for what I get.

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Kath, I'm a MIL with a difficult relationship with my DIL. She's my oldest son's wife and they have 2 children, my other sons aren't married. I knocked myself out trying so hard to form a close relationship with dil because that was what I knew and had experienced but it isn't what she wants and it was only when I accepted this fact that I really came to terms with the situation as it is and started looking at the good points about it. I also offered to babysit and was refused, now I look at it as, well I don't have to deal with any responsiblity for the grandkids and I will think hard before offering to one of the other sons when the time comes. I had an experience of feeling great love for my 1st GD when we saw her a few hours after her birth, so I don't think that waiting a little while matters so much but I will say it was a small reflection of how I felt about my son's, different, not greater. Some of all of this could also be the over protective instincts first time parents often feel with the first child. My DIL is much more relaxed and offers the 2nd GD to me to hold everytime they see us and she never did with the 1st. So all you can do is be patience and  let go of expectations. Try to be happy with what you do get, after all fretting about it and complaining to your son may drive him away instead of bringing him closer.

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Below is a something written by another MILA group member grandmother named Ginnie that she wrote for another disappointed grandmother about Grandparenting Expectations.  I consider it a MILA classic.  It has a lot of wisdom, experience and insight that you may find useful for your situation, to help you in adjusting your own grandparenting expectations. 


Some exact words may have been changed but the gist of it is here:


Written by Ginnie:


It would be interesting to know what exactly happened after the
birth and the first year. I'm going to make a guess and say you were excited to
become a grandma and may have let that excitement overwhelm the relationship.
That you didn't just see this as them becoming parents, but you becoming a
grandmother. That you were happy and excited to take your new role seriously and

And when you were doing things that 'grandmothers' do ("I
didn't want to be the mother, I just wanted to be the grandmother, and bond with
the baby and spoil him and play with him, etc...But I never wanted to usurp her
role; I was just doing what grandmothers do!"), you DID step on her toes, and
when you were reminded of your place, when boundaries were errected you were
hurt and puzzled, because you sincerely saw nothing wrong with what you were

Is this right?

If so, you and your DIL had mismatched
expectations. You thought being a grandmother meant doing ABC, and she thought
being a grandmother meant XYZ.
And having known each other for so long and
having liked each other so long and having built up a 'bank account' of habit
and goodwill for 16 years, you both thought your own vision of how you would fit
into their new family would go seemlessly.

And it's not that ABC or XYZ
are either right or wrong ways to grandparent; successful, happy families have
done both methods. It's that your and DIL's expectations didn't match.
And you
shocked each other, and both became hurt and suspicious.

What's almost never noticed or acknowledged is
that the role of a grandparent is defined not fundamentally by the
grandparent--but by the baby's parents. They say (well, it's never talked about,
just assumed and expected and acted upon): you are going to be an XYZ

At this point, the grandparent makes a
counteroffer: heck no, I'm going to be an ABC grandparent or no grandparent at
all. Or they say, what if I'm an XYB grandparent? How about an ABZ grandparent?
Or an AWZ grandparent?

There's a negotiation that occurs. It's almost
never acknowledged or even noticed. It's done intuitively, through invitations,
tone of voice, facial expressions, indirect statements


Everyone thinks
it's just an matter of this or that issue;
ie, overnights/babysitting or not;
visiting in the hospital or not; how often grandparents visit, how many gifts,
what to feed the baby, photographs, who buys the holiday dress, etc... It's
never about that. Those are ways to negotiate the bigger issue: how much
distance, how much closeness, how much authority the grandparent will have over
the baby, how much interaction will take place.

Mothers with their new
mother hormones and mama bear instincts are more aware of this negotiation;
grandmothers are more often caught unaware. They just assume ABC is going to
happen and when XYZ is imposed instead, they feel cheated.

The thing is,
the mothers are never wrong--even when they could be more generous or more
understanding, they still are not wrong. If they take a perfectly fine
grandmother and say, no contact ever because Gma is a gemini or a pisces--well,
it's foolish, shortsighted and pointless, but it's still not wrong. It's her
baby. Her responsibility. And her choice.

It's like decorating her house.
She's not wrong for having a house that is decorated in an ugly way,
disorganized way. It's her right. And even if grandma is a professional
decorator to the stars and has her designs in Architectural Digest, grandma has
no right
to change a thing in DIL's house or even suggest it if DIL doesn't want
her to.

You can say, well, houses are objects but babies are not
objects, they are people with their own rights and feelings and preferences. You
can say, this is about family and love and it's different---but it's not. Under
the law and in this culture, babies are possessions of their parents. And until
children are about 15 or 16 or so, they have no means to act independently of
their parents.

You can't deal with how things SHOULD be, you have to deal
with how they ARE--and the truth is: when it comes down to the nitty gritty,
nuts and bolts reality, children are the possessions of the their parents.
Grandparents don't have to like it or agree with it, but they better understand
it. You don't have to like paying your taxes or agree with the IRS, but you darn
well better hand over the money on April 15.

Sometimes grandparents have
trouble with this concept. They are so sure that XYZ grandparenting is right
they try to force it on the DIL--and the more they try to force it, the more
damage they do to the family
. Usually while saying the DIL is the one damaging
the family because they won't allow the grandparents to be XYZ grandparents
. But
if the parents are never wrong, then it cannot be the DIL's fault. The one who
has to do most of the adjusting of expectations and assumptions about
grandparenting after the birth of a baby is the grandparent--not the

Fortunately, most adult children love their parents, no matter
how flawed, and want their children to know them and interact with them. Usually
everyone reads the subtle messages in the first year negotiation of what
grandparenting in this family is going to be about, everyone
compromises--usually grandparents more than parents; and the family hits a
workable and usually happy equalibrium.

But sometimes for a variety of
reasons, the unacknowledged negotions fail. The exasperated adult children have
a tendency to withdraw and the disappointed grandparents have a tendency to
become pushy: either passive aggressively, overly aggressively, or through
complaining and overt dissatisfaction, and sometimes by withdrawing as well.
Then the various sides solidify and become more and more entrenched and you can
after many years reach a point where the problem cannot be solved.

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Kath, I also wanted to let you  know, with my first GC? Man, was I a boundary-stomping GM!!! It took my son sitting me down and having a stern talk with me. Ha, I learned real quickly he is NOT my little boy anymore. He is a grown man with a family and he IS going to defend his wife (as he should). I could have easily been heading for a CO but thank God, I listened to my son and learned to keep my opionions to myself. Not saying my DIL was perfect because she certainly wasn't, but that didn't matter. GS is HER child and GM had better give up some of her expectations.


Reading on this forum has helped me a lot, especially with this newest DIL and the newest GC. I see both sets of her parents doing a lot of boundary stomping and get by with it. I can guarantee I wouldn't get by with near as much. Some of the things the other sets does and says makes my DIL angry, but she can stomp off and make remarks which they just ignore.


I see a lot that to me is picky and over-dramatized with the new baby, but I chalk it up to him being a brand new baby born to older parents who didnt think they would have children. And being the only GC to 2 sets of parents who never expected to be GPs, yea, it gets interesting! Birth mom crying in the hospital because step-mom was the first to hold baby. I mean, come on, there was 3 sets of GPs there, we all could NOT be the first to hold baby. And baby will never remember who held him first. I was the last to hold him and he didnt change at all in those first few minutes.

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My goodness, I am a newbie on this website also and I am a little bit astonished at how this woman has been hopped on.    Maybe I don't see it but where is the support that she is crying out for? 


Kath13, none of us have a June and Ward Cleaver family, we all struggle with relationships.  I was under the impression that this forum was the place to let our hair down about those relationships.


I also have two sons that are married.  Kath13 could almost be me.  However I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful daughter-in-law who calls me Mom.  I did not ask for this but welcome the closeness that we have.  When our son married, I was given some very good advice by her mother who was quite a bit older than me and had had a rocky relationship with her in-laws.


She suggested that I always praise her daughter as she would always praise my son and never take sides in arguments.   I believe that has been the best advice that we both could have followed.  Truthfully, I find that I have a better relationship with my DIL than I do with my son.    :)  I often have to zip my lip to avoid criticising him. :mellow:   Being critical is not the way to anyone's heart.


Maybe you can try this Kath13 and build up your DIL's self esteem which might smooth the path of friendship for the two of you. And yes, your relationship with the parents will affect your relationship with your grandchildren.  Look for something good about her (everyone has at least one good trait) and send a card that simply states your appreciation of that trait in her.


I make my visits short enough that we all are left wishing for more. I have made the 7 hr drive up and been in the hospital for each of the kids births but would never expect to be in the room.  LOL  I was not in the room when the child was conceived so why would I expect to attend the delivery?


 I also left the parents to bond with the babies and did not expect to stay long term.   I got my grandson fix about once a month and was told that the door was always open.  When the next two children were born, I was there but I babysit the older ones, leaving shortly after the parents and new baby came home. I believe in making our time together short ,sweet and frequent. 


My  last advice is do not mention your relationship with your younger son and his wife or vice versa.  That will foster jealosy between them and completely destroy your attempts to bring your family together.


Good luck to you, Kath13, in bringing a closeness to your family because not only are you missing out, your granddaughter is as well.


P.S. I understand your comment about instant love for your granddaughter.  Gma love is different from parent love because you don't have the fear of OMGoodness, what do I do now!





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