My stepson and his wife had two children. She saw greener pastures by moving out and shacking up with some guy she met at work. This was last spring. He ended up with the kids, because she liked the party life, and didn’t want to be tied down with two kids. Anyway, he works full time, but said he couldn’t afford a babysitter for the kids, after school was dismissed for the summer. Since I’m retired, and just working part-time, I was volunteered by my wife to watch the kids all summer. They are ten and seven years old. I didn’t mind too much, because I just thought it was just for a while, until he saw how his divorce and bankruptsy played out. I entertained them all summer by going to different parks and playgrounds, flea markets and garage sales. I re-learned how to shoot basketball after 55 years, and how to hang and swing from a rope. Very hard on the old back. Anyway, I rejoiced when school finally started in the fall. Now another year is here, and the subject has came up again, between me and my wife. I’m not heartless, but my point is that I’ll need some help this summer, and not watch them 5 or 6 days a week. I want some time for us to take a few trips, and enjoy some of my retirement. My wife says he still can’t affort a babysitter, even for a couple days a week. I say he can, but won’t as long as he has me around. I don’t want this to cause trouble between me and my wife of 28 years, but I feel we are being used sometimes. My question is – Am I being heartless and unreasonable? Maybe greedy? I am 67, and I think that if we’re going to take some trips and enjoy our retirement, we should start doing it. The future is so uncertain. What does everybody think? My wife works three days a week, cleaning houses. I have two part-time jobs. Help, Help.
I certainly understand your desire to have a retirement. It’s not an unreasonable desire. The question is whether it is practical at this time. Chances are that your stepson and the children will require some of what should have been your retirement time. But most likely they are taking more than that.
Perhaps you could clarify a few things.
How far do you live from your stepson? What sort/size of home does he have? Does he intend to continue his current living situation? Why or why not?
Does your stepson have to pay support for his ex? Or does she pay any child support?
Does the mother of these boys spend ANY time with them? Does she have parents who do/could/want to/ought to see the boys?
You are not being greedy. You stepped up to the plate when you were needed, but you do need to let people know when you are overextended. Maybe you can help your son figure out a more permanent arrangement. The mother of the children needs to step in here, either by providing financial support if she is working or providing care for her children so that your stepson can work to support his family. She needs to be held accountable and not have other people assume her responsibilities so that she can live a party life.
Like men women should be held accountable and pay child support. Is the mother helping at all financially? If she isn’t she should be taken to court and required to do so. If she is then maybe he could use that money to pay for occassional babysitters to give you a break. What about her parents is it possible they could babysit the kids sometimes?
If the situation can’t or won’t change, focus on the good influence you and your wife will be on your grandchildren. Maybe God is calling you…
Now, I have a few questions…
why did your wife volunteer YOU? You say you work part time, as does she. Does she watch them at all so you can have some relaxation time?
Do you and your wife know anyone who could help with the kids? Maybe another relative or a neighbor who you trust? If you are stuck watching them 5 or 6 days a week, some respite is needed.
How about taking them travelling with you? If they are typically good kids, that could be very enjoyable for you all.
** Kids from broken homes need stabilty and love. Sometimes grandparents are just the people to fill that order.**
I do not think you are being greedy or selfish for wanting to enjoy your retirement. If something can be worked out where you don’t have to watch the kids all of the time, great. But if it can’t, just remember that the kids have no blame in this. They need you and your wife if they can’t have their mo and dad.
Are your grandchildren (yes, that’s what I called 'em) Catholic? Are there any programs at your parish?
I am 51. My Mother, however, is 85. She does the day care every other week for my brother. His middle son is 11. His daughter will be 6 in March.
When I am home at night I am the homework monitor. This means after commuting 2 hours each way and working for 9 at my job I am checking 6th grade math and listening to reading lessons until 8pm.
My brother has gone through a lousy divorce. He is working full time and picks the kids up after work and takes them to his house.
I have a full life on my own…a dog to train, meetings to go to and I teach RCIA on Monday nights…I go to bed by 10pm and I am up at 4:30am. My mother, God bless her little Italian soul, gets up with me to say Good morning and give me a blessing before I leave the house! I will tell you that I personally think she has the Energizer Bunny beat…but she does go back to bed until 6 am after I leave!
My spiritual director told me this - you, LSK, and your Mom may be the best example to those children of Catholic Action (anyone old enough to remember that phrase?). Yes, you are tired but those kids need to know that when everything around them was going flooey and the adults were acting like nut cases the two who were consistent were the ones who pray the Rosary every day, have a shrine to the Sacred Heart in their home and believe is saying Grace before meals.
BTW - what’s retirement? :rotfl:
I know exactly where you are coming from. I have my 7 y/o grand daughter living with me. I also volunteered and I don’t regret it. Oh sometimes I look at things and think “there’s something wrong with this picture” , especially when I come home from work (maternity tech…on my feet ALL day) and there’s homework and reading and “Nanny” a thousand times in the space of 2 hours. To be quite honest, sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not. When I am in need of some “private time”, I simply TELL (this is the key word, NOT ask) my daughter to take her for a few days(usually a weekend) and then I come back recharged. It is important to make time for each other( your wife). And I do just that for my BF and me. I am very firm about that and don’t give my daughter too much choice.
To the poster who asked “what’s retirement?”…my answer would be going to bed ALONE with a good book by 10 o’clock
I am raising my 2 granddaughters in my very early 50s. I was doing it all in everything but with “legal rights” since the little one was a month old, even when my daughter moved out with them for 23 months. I then took custody of them, have guardianship, and am seeking to adopt. So, we should open a grandparents raising grandkids club house here of CAF.
I have to tell you, though, without a husband who has a flexible schedule, babysitters and day camp opportunities, I would be tearing my hair out from lack of sleep. Yes- I use their time away to nap. And do laundry.
So no, you are not being selfish. But you need to put a time-limit on your generosity. This way, he knows what you will and will not do, and how much time you are willing to give.
It is January. If your son will not look at the possibilities, perhaps you should. There is day camp by your local park district, your diocese, different Catholic activities in the area, summer school (for enrichment), Girl Scout and Boy Scout day camps as well as sleep-away camp, etc. I would start collecting these brochures NOW, because with 2-income families today, these places fill up fast.
Talk to your wife about how much the two of you can afford, minimum and maximum, to give your grandkids a camp “scholarship” for the summer. Make it just enough to be of assistance. Don’t pay the whole freight.
I would then hold a family meeting with your son (because step or not, he’s yours now), and lay it on the line. Pick a camp or activity or we will, because we simply cannot do this anymore. Work out what is comfortable for your wife and you. And explain that this is a one-time gift to the grandkids to help him. Make sure you give it so that you can take it off your taxes.
You can still be Grandpa and have fun- but a rested, better Grandpa.
Like men women should be held accountable and pay child support. Is the mother helping at all financially? If she isn’t she should be taken to court and required to do so. If she is then maybe he could use that money to pay for occassional babysitters to give you a break. What about her parents is it possible they could babysit the kids sometimes? Just to answer a few questions::: They agreed before the divorce that she would NOT have to pay support at this time, but leaving the door open for the possibility at a later date. I thought this was a mistake. She hasn’t bothered to see the kids since last July, and that was only for an hour. He presently is renting a house about a mile from our house, having lost his home through bankruptsey, because of the divorce, and trying to buy, on credit many, many things that they didn’t need. I just hope I’m not being unreasonable. I will watch the kids this summer, but I just want us to have two or three days off during the week to enjoy ourselves. I don’t want to push my opinion to the point that it affects our own marriage. My wife’s family is very close , sometimes I think, too close. The ex-wifes grandmother does watch the kids occasionaly, but she is 81, and not in good health. The ex-wifes parents are not on good terms with my step-son,because of past arguments and such, so that is not an option. This is really a mess, but I do appreciate all the opinions and suggestions. God bless, and pray for us.
Just another thought, I was really surprised how many grandparents are helping raise their grandkids, due to either financial or other circumstances. I met quite a few at the local park, and they seem to be handling it pretty well. I know regular day care is very expensive, especially with two kids, but I think he could afford a sitter for just two days a week. He is a meat manager at a local grocery store, and makes pretty good wages. The thing is, he hasn’t really tried to find a sitter, and probably won’t as long as we keep watching the kids all the time. Buy the was, the boy is 10 and the girl is seven. She has a bad attitude problem. Her parents have never taught her to have manners, or to behave, especially around other people. She sticks her tongue out and gives total strangers dirty looks. She embarresed me several times last summer with her behavior, but my wife says “she’s only seven, and will get better as she gets older”. She may be right, but I have my doubts. She needs help and discipline.
If you do decide to take on this ministry.
They should have chores in your home and yard. It’s bad to entertain kids too much.
I don’t think you should put up with disrespect. Give 'em some yard work if they pull that stuff. Or, dishes. Or, housework.
For kids this age, it might be better to find a daycamp for several days or for part of the day. The YMCA usually has some good programs. Our city parks program takes the day campers swimming every day. That’s nice. Can you research if for your stepson?
Also, there are a lot of Vacation Bible Schools around. I personally don’t think Protestant VBS are harmful to Catholics. Just do the VBS circuit.
my parents helped rear my nephew. I shudder to think what his life would have been like if it wasn’t for them. My sister is a flake But, they were young grandparents (my mom was ony 43 when he was born). I don’t think they could do it now that they are in their late sixties.
First let me say God Bless you. While I agree with the other posters, I do want to tell you how long it took me to recover financially from my divorce. My ex walked out the door and pretty much spent little or no time with them at all. I did get minimal child support for about 2 yrs then nothing. By minimal, I mean $200 a month for 3 kids. Basically, not enough to buy groceries. About 6 mos after he walked, I got laid off my job because I couldn’t do my rotation of on-call work because of the kids. OK, well after I got a new job, went back to school, and picked my buttocks up by my proverbial bootstraps… It took a good 5-6 years to get to the point I could manage my expenses without feeling like I was in quicksand. I am not talking doing well, just surviving without having to apply for foodstamps and any free service I could just to make it by.
I am not saying you should continue to watch the kids… that’s your decision! I am not even saying it’s right. You have to do what you feel is right. I certainly can understand the need for rest from the day to day care of the kids. What I am saying, is that it does take a long time to recover from a divorce with kids.
Oh Oh my turn my turn!
Go look at the stuff that has been put together on parenting by Dr. Ray Gurendi.
My nephew Stephen has gone through a very difficult time with the divorce and it didn’t help that the only place he was expected to act like a human child (as opposed to a animal child) was my house. After about three months of battles I sat him down and said “I am so very, very sorry your household has collapsed. You have no idea how sad I am about it. If I had my way both your parents would get a good spanking and be grounded for at least a year”. He looked at me and he started to crumble - the defiance just began to melt. As he started to cry, I held him and said, “Honey, sometimes we have to trust God that what is happening in our lives right now is part of His plan even when it seems that He can’t possibly know what He is doing. That means we have to behave in a certain way no matter what. You can do it. You are WORTH doing it. No matter what your parents are doing YOU can behave with grace, dignity and walk with your head held high”.
That was the first of many talks about behavior, having God help us with behavior etc. I am going to tell you that I think that this young man, who is not even baptized yet, may have a vocation to the priesthood. He has responded to the entire idea of spiritual help like a drowning man responds to a life preserver.
hang in there, Gramps…
Is there are summer program put out by your local school district or the parks and recreation department? Costs vary widely but our daughter goes 5 days a week from 9am to 2pm Mon thru Fri from mid June until the first week in August. For us it’s $150 for the entire summer. They do crafts, play games, have field trips. I homeschool so summer is my time to recooperate while my daughter has a blast.
I know many areas have such a program you or you son might want to try looking into it.
First of all, I want to thank all of you for all of comments and advice. God bless you for that. Sometimes, I think I’m wrong and being selfish about this whole matter, but other times I don’t. As I said, I just want maybe two days a week not watching them. I don’t think that is asking too much. Time will tell how this all works out, I guess. The real shame is the fact that their mother doesn’t want anything to do with them. That has to have some effect on them. Anyway, thanks for everything, and I’ll keep you posted as time goes on. God bless all of you. Dave
You turn this over to Our Lord, Dave, and He will make sure you get all the energy you need and rest you need. I know it is difficult. You have such an awesome chance to make a beautiful difference for these children. Your heart is in the right place. I have absolute faith in you…so hang in there…and do drink decaf after 1pm so you can get your sleep…
Thank you one and all. I have been and will continue praying for the solution to all of this. I believe it will all work out. The main thing is that I don’t let this cause problems between me and my wife. Even if I have to give in, and go into the child care business, in the summer.
Wow! What an inspiration! I’m going to remember your good attitude the next time I have to do something I don’t really want to do, sir! God bless.