- Grammyís Tired Today
- By Barrington H. Brennen, May 29, 2002
Question: Dear Sir: I have a wonderful mother. She
and my father are now retirees, each having
for more than 40 years for the Government. My mother is always kind and
helpful. She has a warm heart and gentle spirit. However, Iíve discovered
that she finds it difficult to say no, especially when it comes to taking care
of her grand children. Some of my siblings are taking advantage of her
generosity by using her as their full-time baby sitter, which I notice makes
her overly tired at times. At the age of 78, those energetic grand children
are running around her in circles, leaving her breathless at times. Iíve
noticed that she is more tired during the week than rested. But mom would not
give up. It this right? Should we over work our grand mothers? Should we use
our grand parents as full-time baby sitters? I want my parents to enjoy their
retirement to the fullest, but I believe that the baby sitting is getting in
Answer: My first response to your question
"Should adult children use their parents as full-time baby sitters"
is NO; but situations are not always black and white, and we must evaluate
each situation on its own merit.
It seems to be so obvious that the mothering instinct never
to fades with age in most women. However, it is imperative for us to
understand that after children become adults, parenting days are over. Too
many grandmothers feel the necessity to always have children around them.
Sometimes there is an emotional and psychological need for
this to happen.
They find a sense of purpose from the caring and nurturing for children. On
the other hand, many grand mothers also have a constant need to control and
have authority over others. This gives them a sense of power.
Some parents actually feel it is their God-given
responsibility to provide baby sitting care for their grand children. Still
other parents believe that no one else has the skill and right to take care of
their grand children, but them. They want to direct the lives of their grand
children as they did their own children.
- CONFUSION IN THE HOUSE
- Parents are the primary providers, nurturers, and educators of their
children. All other individuals, including grand parents, are only to
provide emotional support for this growing family. Supporters only give
assistance when requested. They watch silently from the side lines,
giving encouraging words.
When silent support turns into instruction and advice,
confusion sets in. In other words, if grammyís baby sitting rules are
different from momís and dadís, the little children will become confused,
miserable, and sometime angry. If grand father or grand mother acts as if
their years of experience and knowledge as parents are superior to that of
their own adult children, this will be reflected each time instruction or
discipline is needed. Often the parents would give one instruction and the
grand parent another, causing great confusion in the mind of the little child.
- MISGUIDED FAMILY PLANNING
Unfortunately, many parents actually tell their child before they get
married and have children, that they will always take care of their children
for them when they are too busy and at work. Therefore, the children plan
their budgets, daily chores and activities with their parents in mind. In
most cases this is an unhealthy decision. It shows that mothers and fathers
do not value the importance of their own role as parents. It also is a sign
of irresponsibility. It is a sign of laziness and poor family planning. It
is also a poor example of parental leadership. What lessons are they
teaching their children if Grammy is the one who always makes the most
important decisions in their growing childrenís lives?
DISADVANTAGES WITH GRAND PARENTING
Sadly, when grand parents find it difficult to say "no,"
especially to the request of their own adult children, they are often
placing their own lives at risk. The little time-bombs of energy can
quickly deplete a grand mother of needed strength to make it through the
normal dayís activities. Therefore they can become sick and extremely
exhausted. They are unable to enjoy their quiet times alone or their
retirement years to the fullest because all of their waking hours are
packed with noisy two-legged creatures demanding their attention.
However, their adult children are equally as guilty. They
should not take advantage of the willing spirit of their parents. They should
find other avenues for baby sitting. Time with grand parents should be
special, cherished moments selected to enrich the life of the growing child.
It can be short daily periods or weekly visits. Or perhaps special baby
sitting nights when mom and dad are out to a banquet.
Adult children it is time to stand up and stop taking
advantage of your parents. They are growing tired and weak. Give them the
opportunity to enjoy their retirement days in peace.
Although some may consider my thoughts harsh and cold. It
is only a gently reminder that Godís instruction to married couples "to
leave parents and cleave one to another" extends to times of having
children also. Too many only cleave to each other for a short time. When
children come along, they reconnect to mom and dad again.
- WISE GRAND PARENTS NEEDED
- Certainly there is nothing wrong with grand parents volunteering and
wisely providing some level of baby sitting for their grand children.
However, their children must not plan their household with "maid-grammy"
On the other hand, thank God for loving grand parents who
have been there for their grand children. There are many who are reading this
article who can do better than taking advantage of their moms and dads. If you
cannot afford a baby sitter and mom is the only answer, then be respectful and
considerate about the times your parents need alone. Do not take advantage of
their kind heartedness. Remember, you have the responsibility to parent your
children not your mother and father. Please keep the children today because Grammy
Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, a marriage and family therapist and board
certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visitwww.soencouragement.org
or call 242-327-1980