Entertainment And News

Grandma Refuses To Watch Her Grandson Every Day—'I Want To See Him When It's Convenient For Me'

Photo: Lithiumphoto / Shutterstock
grandmother teaching grandson chess

A 54-year-old woman wrote to Dear Abby to ask for advice on navigating a conflict she’s having with her 27-year-old daughter. The woman explained that her daughter expects her to watch her grandson every day “because I don’t have a life and she wants to live hers.”

The ambivalent grandma said that while she cares deeply for her grandson, she has health issues that prevent her from taking on a full-time caregiver role. “I love my grandson, but I’m 54 and have medical issues,” she wrote. “I had a heart attack last year on top of having diabetes and back pain. I’m not employed, but I tire easily.”

RELATED: Mom Working Hard To Pay $5K A Month For Childcare Explains Why She Doesn't Stay Home With Her Kids

The grandma refuses to watch her grandson every day and only wants to see him when it’s 'convenient.'

She set a firm boundary based on her own physical and emotional needs and further explained that she told her daughter that “if she asks ahead of time, I will watch him — but not all the time. I believe it’s up to her and the father, who is unreliable about watching him.” 

After telling her daughter she was unable to watch her grandson every day, the grandma stated, “Now when I ask to pick him up at school, unless I’m keeping him for a while, she refuses.”

“I’m the only grandmother in his life, but she wants to keep me from him unless it’s on her terms,” she said before asking the advice columnist for her opinion. She signed her letter “Conflicted Gran in New York.”

Dear Abby answered by stating, “My opinion is your daughter is attempting to blackmail you, and you should stand your ground.” Her take on the situation is that the daughter “is frustrated that her child’s father is unreliable, and she is looking for someone to share her responsibility.” She advised the grandma that “for the sake of your own health, please don’t let it be you.”

RELATED: Mom With No Childcare Brings Her Toddler To A Job Interview With His Own Resume

While framing the daughter’s stance as “blackmail” seems like a somewhat rigid conclusion in a nuanced situation, it does appear that the grandma is being held at a distance by her daughter for not agreeing to her exact terms for childcare. The grandma isn’t doing anything wrong by putting her own needs first, especially as she’s not in the best health. In fact, it’s often said in the caregiving profession that people can’t pour from an empty cup — you have to take care of your essential needs first before you can care for others.

The grandma and her daughter are in a challenging situation, as they both set boundaries around caregiving that are at odds with one another.

The daughter’s wish for her mom to take on a larger caregiving role is valid, when one considers the astronomically high price of childcare in the United States. The US Department of Labor, via First Five Years Fund reports that “childcare prices vary substantially across the country, but prices are untenable for families even in lower-priced areas.”

In their report, the Department of Labor notes that even though childcare is expensive, “childcare providers operate on thin margins and childcare workers receive very low wages – a median of $13.22 an hour. This is lower than almost any other occupation, and wages fall below the living wage in most states, failing to meet childcare workers’ basic needs.” Low pay in the childcare sector translates to a lack of employees, which in turn creates childcare deserts, areas in which there is no accessible childcare. 

RELATED: Family 'Ostracized' & Fined $600 For Taking Kids Out Of School To Save $10,000 On A Vacation

The report makes the claim that “quality, affordable, accessible childcare supports higher employment and full-time work hours, reduces poverty, and reduces socioeconomic disparities in employment and early care and education.” 

The average annual cost of childcare in New York, where the grandma, her daughter, and her grandson live, comes out to $15,394. New York falls at number six on a list of the top ten most expensive states for childcare. Washington, DC is the first state on the list, with childcare costs coming in at $24,243 a year. The least expensive state for childcare is Virginia, whose childcare costs total an average of $14,063 a year. 

The conflicted grandma has every right to take care of herself, and it does seem unfair that her daughter is withholding access to her grandson for considering her own health needs. At the same time, her daughter is also allowed to set boundaries that work for her, although her decision denies her child time with his grandparent, which is an important relationship to cultivate. Their situation highlights the larger issue at hand, the many challenges of child-rearing in a country that doesn’t provide adequate care for families.

RELATED: Mom Says She's Against Free Daycare Because 'Every Family Needs To Take Care Of Their Own Children'

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. As a former postpartum doula, she covers parenting issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.