Dear Coleen

I had a baby boy nearly a year ago and my mum has been worse than useless in terms of supporting me. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true – she’s taken virtually no interest in my son and I feel really hurt by it.

My friends from my NCT class all seem to have parents who are very involved with their child and it makes me feel really sad, for myself and my son.

Surely, this should be the time when you bond with your mum because you have motherhood in common.

My husband says it’s just the way my mum is and that I shouldn’t take it personally, but it’s hard not to.

If ever I try to make plans with her, she’s always got something on or she’s off on holiday. She’s never once made time for us. Because of the way
she’s been, I wouldn’t dream of asking her to babysit.

She’s on her own as my dad died 10 years ago, so I realise she’s had to work hard to make another life for herself. I don’t want to fall out with her but, at the same time, I want her to know how I feel. Any tips?

Coleen says

Don’t hate me, but I can kind of relate to how your mum is. I don’t think I’ll be one of those grandmothers who permanently has a gaggle of grand-children around her.

I adore my little nieces and nephews for example, but I’m always quite happy to get back to my dogs at the end of a family gathering! My sisters are completely different and live for seeing their grandkids.

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I probably sound a bit selfish, but I’ve had many years of bringing up kids and perhaps your mum feels she’s done it and she’s a bit worried about getting dragged into doing it again. It sounds like she had quite a few years as a single parent and she’s now making the most of her freedom and living her best life. However, that certainly doesn’t mean she’s not interested and I’m sure she loves and adores you both.

A lot of grandparents these days are ending up the main carers of their grandkids and perhaps she’s a bit
terrified of that and might even be struggling a bit with the idea of being a granny. She might feel too young!

But I think you can be honest with her without being angry. Just say, “Sometimes I feel you’re not really bothered about seeing us and I’d love you to be more involved with your grandson” and then let her explain her point of view. Tell her if she ever wants to babysit, then to let you know.

But I wouldn’t let it become a massive thing. It’s not like your son is suffering and he will get to know your mum as time goes on. You might find your mother becomes much more involved as your son gets older and develops his personality, and she can engage with him in a different way.

Maybe your hubby is right when he says that’s just how she is and sometimes you do have to accept that.

But don’t let your feelings fester – have a chat with her.

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