Dear Barb – Grandmother Shouldn’t Be Obligated to Babysit

Dear Barb:

I lost my husband two years ago. It was a very difficult time in my life. I was quite lonely and as a result I began spending a lot of time with my grandchildren, babysitting etc. Recently I have met a widower and we are spending time together. My son is getting upset that I am not always available to babysit as frequently as I used to. He is making me feel guilty because I am spending time with this gentleman.

My grandkids are getting older, developing their own lives with friends as well as becoming involved in many sports activities. I still want to be involved with my grandchildren, but shouldn’t I be entitled to have a life of my own life as well? I was hoping I could have my son read your response to help him understand how I feel.

Irene

Dear Irene, what a great question. I’m sure many grandparents are in similar situations. Your son has probably gotten accustomed to the ease of just phoning up grandma when he needed a babysitter. Now he can’t do that. He will not only have to make other arrangements, but most likely will have to pay someone, which he may or may not have done with you.

You do not need to feel guilty. Everyone is entitled to live his or her life to the fullest. You have fulfilled your obligation to raise your children and now It’s their turn to raise their own children. Not to say you shouldn’t babysit, but it should be at your convenience. A lot of grandparents make the decision early on that they will not babysit grandchildren. They don’t want to take on that role. Obviously you chose to babysit, as it probably helped you in your grief while helping out your son as well.

The bond between grandparents and their grandchildren is a special one and should be honoured. You can maintain that relationship without having to babysit. Perhaps you can include your new friend in some activities with your grandchildren. Depending on whether he has grandchildren or not, this could be an enjoyable, fun activity you can both share.

I think you should discuss your feelings with your son and, if you feel It’s necessary, give him this column to read. It may take a while for him to come around, but ultimately if he wants you to be happy, he will understand.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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