What to do about an ungrateful adult child?

Hi all,
Usually I’m helping people with their problems so this is difficult for me to ask for advice. I pick up my grandchildren from school a few days per week, help them with their homework, fix them dinner and later a snack, might drive them to an activity, have their friends over, etc for the past 4 years. Well my son never even acknowledged my birthday again until I told him it was my birthday… then he said he would catch up with me later… but never did. He completely forgot my birthday a couple years back. He also asked for some money…and forgets to pay back. He never calls me just to chat. I am not asking for a gift but feel so sad he does not appreciate me. I mentioned this to him and he just hung up on me. Any advice would be immensely appreciated.
Thanks and God bless you all!!

try not doing things for him until he treats you the way you deserve. If he’s an adult, you’re not obligated to do anything for him, he needs to do things on his own now.

Does that mean not helping him out with the grandkids?

I think you should still help with the grandkids, not for the son’s sake, but for the sake of the grandkids. If he is that inconsiderate as a son, think what he must be like as a dad.

I never had a grandmother around, and I missed it. It must be lovely to have such a caring and present grandmother.

As for him, he sounds troubled, or something. Spoiled? Mentally ill, like depressed, maybe? Under incredible stress? Regardless, if I were you, I sure wouldn’t do him any favors that benefit mainly him, anymore. If he asks why, you can tell him what you told us.

I am raising two grandkids, and have been taking care of them for about six and half years total.

Their parent, my child, has some real problems you can find in other threads.

You haven’t given us enough info, such as where the mother of these children is.

If you don’t want to lend your son money, don’t. He is not entitled to it. If he forgets your birthday, then says “I’ll catch up to you later” consider that will never happen. You don’t owe your adult child your life. And if the grandkids are fine otherwise in his care, then maybe it’s time for you to cut down on how often you take care of them. if they are not fine in his care, you need to tread carefully and see what kind of help is really needed for the sake of the kids, not his.

I can only suggest that you pray, and evaluate your situation with your grandchildren and your son. If you feel he is taking advantage of you, then you need to figure out what you will do willingly, and where you will draw the line. Once you have drawn the line, stick to it and don’t allow it to be crossed.

Thanks for responding! In answer to your question my son is divorced and has 50% custody. Their mother is living with her boyfriend. And I am finally retired!!!

Thanks for replying! Yes, he’s probably stressed, depressed and troubled. But I don’t think he should take it out on me. I am helping. And I do pray for him daily.

Then maybe it’s time for you to say (after having prayed and discerned first), “Son, it’s time for you to look into day care/ extended care one or two days a week. I’m not getting any younger, honey. I’m available this day at this time (whatever times are available). I expect you’ll have this taken care of within the month.” Have several brochures ready with the application forms from day cares, the school extended care program, the park district, etc. Also supply the number to any public service or state angecy that can asist him in paying for this.

And when the month is up, be unavailable except during the times you agreed to be available. Turn off your cell phone and treat yourself to the day spa.

Dear Shalom,
Pllllllleeeeeeaaaaasssseeee stop being a doormat!!!
Your son (bless his little heart) has forgotten how to be responsible (if ever he knew) and it sounds like perhaps he was spoiled by you. Why do you need to pick up the children and do so much? Where is his wife? and if his wife is no longer with him, you can then see why?
Perhaps he forgot, but I think its more like taking for granted that mum will be there, do for him, be for him, and sort everything out for him, as maybe she has always done.
Stop doing. Stop accepting his rudeness. The children also see his treatment/behaviour and do not learn how to respect either him, their mother (if she is around) or elderly.
Please, please, please, for the children’s care, stop being a used doormat.

I have my 7 y/o grand daughter living with me. While she can indeed be a headache at times, I know this is where God wants me to be. I understand what it is like to, at 53, have no “private” time. I hear my name a thousand times in the space of 2 hours, after work and before bed. When I need alone time, I call her mama and tell her, NOT ask, that she needs to take her daughter for the weekend. It has caused some rather tense moments between my daughter and me. But she has no choice. When she calls me and she starts being “rude” I tell her when she can call and talk respectfully, I’ll be here…until then…CLICK. It’s hard. It truly is. But I have been a doormat for far too long in the past. But if you don’t stop them now…
Good luck with your son.

not much, he will probably not change at his stage in life.
work on your own attitude. I can tell you from experience if you make any decision concerning your adult children and their families expecting praise or gratitude, you are in for a lot of disappointment. either continue doing what you are doing because you enjoy being with your grandchildren, you are a good influence for them (among other things, teaching them how to express gratitude and appreciation) and the schedule as it is works for you.

when that is no longer the case, simply tell your son that the situation is no longer working for any of you, and since you are aware he places no value on your contribution, you are sure he would wish to make other arrangements.

do not tolerate your son, DIL or anyone to be rude in your presence, gently correct them for the sake of the children. They must learn the skill of gentle fraternal (or maternal) correction and how to stand up for themselves as well as how they should behave toward elders.

What you do for your grandchildren, do for your grandchildren…including teaching them to say “please” and “thank you” and to anticipate and remember important birthdays, including those of their parents. They will remember, and appreciate. If they know that grandparents teach what parents forget to pass on, the chances are that this education will go down through more generations than just the one.

As for your son, don’t loan him more money when he hasn’t either repaid or offered to make some amends for what he has already borrowed. Unless your grandchildren will literally be going without food or shelter…no exceptions.

Also, there needs to be a talk about this business of hanging up on somebody when you don’t like how the conversation is going. That is not tolerable. (Incidentally, it is OK if he tried and tried to re-schedule the chat, and you would have none of that, and he finally said, “Mom, I’m really sorry, this is a really bad time and I’ve GOT to go!” and finally ended the call: THAT is not hanging up on you. That is refusing to be held hostage by a phone connection. There is a difference.)

There are otherwise thoughtful some people in this world who don’t remember birthdays without being reminded. Usually they are either space cadets who practically forget their own birthdays, or else over-scheduled and overwhelmed souls who find the first of each month coming as something of a shock.

If your son is in either group, tell him that it hurts you to have your birthday forgotten. Then tell him you want to make a date for the two of you to go out together every other month, alone. Breakfast, dinner, or lunch, whatever. You are not going to live forever, and you’ve both earned some time to relax together. Every time you meet, you schedule the next time out. If he does not have a schedule book, then call him a week in advance to remind him. Always call him with a reminder a day in advance. If he doesn’t like the reminders, then make a deal: I won’t call, but if you forget once in the next year, you’re going to take me on a three-day vacation within the next six months after that. I’m wagering that he’ll let you remind him after that.

Who pays is up to the two of you, but this is how you get quality time with an overscheduled person: you insist on being put on their schedule…and when you get there, you make them glad that you are. Concentrate on making these outings pleasant. You are not going to live forever. Choose to have the kind of times with him that you’d wish you’d made them when you’re on your deathbed. This is time to enjoy each other, not to improve or admonish each other. (Yes, enjoyable time with your mom. Happy adults do this.)

One meal out every two months is not too much to ask, particularly considering the amount of time and worry that you save him. Do not ever let him get away with breaking this date without scheduling a new date ON THE SPOT. Trust me, this is a person who does not know where the time goes. Be gentle, but be firm.

When the month comes that is closest to your birthday and you are choosing a dinner spot, say, “Oh, c’mon it is my birthday. You can do better than that. How about _____?”

Would I like it if he learned to look down the road on his own and bought you a card? Sure I would. Well, your best chance is to be on his schedule. Who knows? Maybe next year, when he picks you up for your birthday dinner, he might even have a card. Either way, maybe you do the work, but you’ll both be very glad that you did.

Thanks all!!!

I cut and paste your messages and sent it to him. We talked and things are a lot better…we’ll see.

My child just turned 18. She has always been a really amazing child and grew into a beautiful young lady inside out. I sacrifice all I have to send her to Catholic schools so that she can have a great education and learn the discipline. Two weeks ago she decided that she would leave home and move in with “friends”. This past week she texted me and said she hated me. I cried everyday almost 23 hours a day. I felt betrayed. She never really appreciated the love I gave her. Until they find out for themselves what the true meaning of sacrifice is they cannot understand. A parent will give unconditionally and expects nothing in return. A child would not appreciate us until they are in the same situation. I say to Shalom. Pray that God guide your son on the path of righteousness. Pray that God give him the tools necessary to understand because only then will he be able to give abundantly. It does not have to be a gift on your birthday but a simple unprovoked call to say, hi mom how was your day today could be priceless.

Thank you Shalom for being a mom. Inside your heart everyday is a happy birthday because the Lord has given you life and breathe to wake you up.

I hope this is true and stays that way. And you keep those boundaries clear and your $ in your purse. Those children are very blessed to have you.

First I would IMMEDIATELY cut him out of the will. What kind of a son hangs up on his own mother ???

And what kind of a human being can not say happy birthday to someone who helps with his kids.

It is very sad that the kids will be the ones to pay the price but that is not your fault. I would still be involved in the grandchildren’s life but on YOUR terms. Not when your son needs free day care.

On the surface it hurts to think about how the grandkids will be the ones neglected and caught in between. But in the long run, it is for their best as well. It will be very good for your grandkids to see an example of Granny setting healthy boundaries

Take this to heart. I often helped neighbours with their kids. Then I got caught in situations where I felt resentful that the parents were using me. But I let myself be used ‘for the sake of the children’. And you know what happened?? The children grew up into teenagers that used me just like their parents did. Kids are smart. They know when daddy is walking all over granny and they will learn ‘Granny is a pushover’ and do the same.

Your boundaries are the best for everyone


We’ve had problems with rudeness and lack of gratitude also. As one poster said, who hangs up on their Mom and repeatedly forgets her birthday? I seriously doubt you’d tolerate this from anyone else. Think if you were paid for these services by a stranger. They’d make sure you were on the top of the list considering you’re caring for their children.

My relationship ended when our son argued with me in front of his three children. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew I was done.

As far as presents go, give to the kids and stop giving to your son. Tell him the gift giving is over because you have everything you need (true, right?) so you’ll only be giving to the grandkids. And if you need validation, validate yourself. Take the $$ you would have spent on him and buy something for yourself. It will be perfect…no exchanges needed because you picked out exactly what you wanted. :thumbsup:

Out of the will? Sure, why not. Skip him and give the $$ to his kids and that can be changed if they turn out to be rude and selfish too.

I have the same problem with my two grown sons (one is 22 and the other is 26). I have been divorced for 11 years. It was a very difficult divorce. I decided from the beginning that I would not talk bad about their dad to them even though I knew he was talking bad about me to them. I always thought that when they got old enough that they would see what the truth was. I was wrong. Although they have been in my life, they do nothing but disrespect me. I have spent many nights crying and asking myself what I did wrong and what I did to deserve this. I know I wasn’t a perfect parent but I always tried my best. I have always loved them and provided for them (most of the time on my own because their dad would not help). I just recently helped send my youngest to college. He did have to get a loan for part of it because I just couldn’t afford the whole thing. He never once said thanks even though he knew I struggled financially to give him all I could. My oldest son borrowed money for a car and made only one payment and then quit paying, coming around or answering his phone. Neither of them ever remember my birthday even though I have never missed doing for them on theirs. Not even so much as a Mother’s Day card on Mother’s day. My youngest recently told me that he was upset with my husband and I because we got a new TV and didn’t give the money to him instead. The hurt I feel is tremendous but when I try to talk to them about it they either get mad or treat me like I am stupid. I guess I am stupid…stupid for putting up with this all these years but I love my kids and it tears me apart to think of losing them.

My brothers HATE to chat on the phone. My dad is ok about it most males, with the exception of my boyfriend are not big talkers on the phone. That dosn’t mean he dosn’t care. Men also, no matter how much you domecitize them, forget birthdays.

I’d talk to him about his not returing the money and feeling used. I don’t think this is an insurmountal family issue. Perhaps reading “love languages” would be good for the both of you.

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