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Dealing with uninvolved grandparents

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.

Moving on

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.

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Biscuits of love

Most of you will know by now that I’m someone who goes oooh I like that idea and goes with it, often leaving those in my wake to figure out my plan of unsure details, but none the less I get things done …usually the way I invision and like it.

And this afternoon was no exception.

I felt like something sweet and so bear and i went to bake a few biscuits.

Using my old time go to biscuit recipe I made a batch of dough.

After cutting 25 or so biscuits I got the awesome idea of baking papa a love note.

Out came my fondent pens and icing colour powder. .. before long I’d scribbled a primitive stick man note of love.

All that was left to do was bake it …

Because nothing says I love you more than hot biscuits with coffee on a rainy day