I grew up on my grandmothers lap and consider myself most fortunate. There is no love that compares to the unwavering ,unconditional love of a grandparent.
Over the years , it was my grandmother’s wisdom I turned to . Her advice and counsel I saught . I knew no matter what she would fiercely protect me and love me through my bad moods, trials and tears.
Not all granparents are loving
When my eldest child was born , I was estatic to share this bond with her and to watch my own mother become a special star in my daughters life.
It was also round about this time that I discovered not all grandparents are cut from the same cloth.
A few examples
My mother, was an alcoholic who viewed her grandchildren as a nuisance and reminder of her age. Up until her death she was completely disinterested in bonding with my beautiful children.
My father , had left the country. In the beginning he exchanged a gift or two but he last saw any of my children 17 years ago. Not once since has he directly enquired about them.
My ex husband’s father, who was absent through his sons life, was even less interested. After a few months of sending updates with our first child, he firmly asked my why I didn’t have an abortion and save his teenage son the embarrassment of ‘my‘ predicament. It was right there that his involvement stopped completely.
As for his mother, she had little time for the children. She was always too busy and I would run after her trying to involve her in birthdays and the children’s other events. She always had an excuse as to why she couldn’t attend. She lived with us at one stage , and was intolerant and rude to the children around her who just wanted to spend time with her.
Gran to the rescue
Once again I was blessed to have my grandmother fill this imensely important role in both mine and my children’s lives. Unfortunately she passed away when most of my children were still too young to remember how special she was.
Each week she would phone to find out how they were. Each weekend she baked treats and hand made toys for them. At night , when she lived with us, she’d gather my 5 older children onto her bed singing with them and telling them wild tales ;taking them on imaginary adventures.
The times that we lived far apart from each other she would write to the children, post small parcels and phone them.
Always she made an effort to find out about their lives, milestones and interests.
So how do you deal with a disinterested grandparent ?
Grandparents hold such a special role in their grandchildren lives and it’s both frustrating and hurtful to know your child will not have an actively involved grandparent in their lives.
How do you cope with this?
Make an effort
Always make the effort. Contrary to what you may feel or believe, you never want your children to feel you isolated an important person from their lives.
Send the photos, text the milestones, share the certificates. Invite your parents to birthdays and school functions. If the children are older, let them phone and draw pictures.
Make an effort to visit them and encourage visits to your home,especially if they stay far away.
You will all remember our road trip to get Bear dedicated in his grandmothers church in order to include her in his special day.
Remind them that they are special in their grandchildren eyes
Send them quotes that your children have said about them. Make a big deal of grandparents day, their birthdays, etc.
Shortly after my divorce , i took a photo of my youngest two children’s handmade cards for my mother in law and shared them on her Facebook wall. I wanted her to see I divorced her son but she was still special to her grandchildren.
Advise them on how to bond with your child
Some grandparents are just clueless. It’s been a while since they had children and parenting has changed. They may not know your child well enough to bond with them. Suggest a shared hobby.
I remember asking my mother in law to teach my children to build puzzles as she spent hours building puzzles of her own.
Know when to give up
As much as it is important to foster a relationship between your child and their grandparent , it is equally as important to know when to stop trying.
If you have put the effort in and receive no result , you will eventually be setting yourself and your child up for failure.
Protecting their emotions is just as important, if not more so , as encouraging bonds with family.
If the grandparent makes no effort after your attempts , it is most likely the healthier option to stop trying and wait for them to want a relationship with your child.
My father in law, now in his late seventies , wants to connect with his adult grandsons. I have left this choice up to them. They need to decide if they actually want a relationship with someone who wasn’t involved in their lives.
Whilst it may be difficult and hurtful to step aside from disinterested grandparents know that you can break the cycle by one day being the type of grandparent you invisioned in your children’s lives.