I’m jealous of the “other” grandparents
BY DR. JOSHUA COLEMAN
Dear Dr. Coleman,
My husband and I are being treated like we’re second-class citizens in regards to our lovely grandchildren. While that would be painful enough, we have to see on Facebook all the photos of our grandchildren going on vacation with her parents, having them watch the kids while my son and his wife are out of town, and playing with them at their house- it’s really too much and I can’t take it. Whenever I complain to my son about it he just gets angry or defensive or is in a hurry to get off of the phone. I also worry that it’s going to affect our relationships with our grandchildren over time if we don’t get to spend the kind of time with them that they deserve. I already am starting to feel like they’re getting more distant and don’t know us. Is there anything I or we can do?
Dear Loving Grandmother,
It’s painful enough to be denied time with your grandchildren, let alone have to witness how much time is being allotted to the other grandparents. Studies show that daughters more commonly migrate their husbands into their families and so it’s not so uncommon for the parents of the son to feel displaced or unimportant.
It won’t help to complain to your son, and, definitely won’t help to complain to your daughter-in-law since, in all likelihood, she may like the current arrangement just fine. That said, you should try the following:
- Ask your son if there’s anything that you’re currently doing that makes them concerned about your being with the grandkids. Be prepared that you may get a list of complaints and restrictions in regards to you as parents or grandparents. Try to take it as helpful information and do not respond defensively. Listen to the kernel of truth in the complaints.
- If you think that there’s something you’ve done that was upsetting to your daughter-in-law, even if she over-reacted, make sure that you’ve done enough to repair it since she’s the gatekeeper to your son.
- Don’t criticize your daughter-in-law and don’t criticize her to your son.
- In general, making comparisons to the other grandparents backfires, so try to avoid it.
- Ask for what you’d like without complaining.
Hope that helps!
PBS Life Part 2: Cut Off from the Grandkids
About the Author:
Dr. Joshua Coleman is a psychologist in private practice in San Francisco and a Senior Fellow with The Council on Contemporary Families. He has been a frequent guest on the Today Show, NPR, The BBC, and numerous other outlets.