I Am Fed Up Of Babysitting My Grandchildren—What Should I Do?

Dear Newsweek, my husband and I are both retirees. He will be 66 years old this upcoming September and I've just turned 64 years old this past June 2022, and have been babysitting since I was 42 years old! Don't get me wrong, I love my grandchildren but enough is enough. My husband feels we should help out because we are retired, but I do not agree.

My husband and I have two grown daughters; the eldest had a total of three children aged, 9, 18, and 21. We helped raise the 21-year-old, which put a huge strain on our marriage due to her sometimes horrible behavior. My husband has enabled her bad behavior and thinks she will come around some day. She also became pregnant at 16, and we are helping with that child as well, our great-grandchild. Enough is enough.

grandparent and grandkid
A woman wants to stop looking after her grandchildren and start living her life, while her husband wants to keep babysitting. Stock image of a grandparent and grandchild. Getty Images

We have also raised our grandson, who has lived with us since he was in elementary school. He has now graduated from high school and will be entering college this fall (2022). We have sacrificed our patience, energy, and money as well as offering free babysitting services.

Our younger daughter, who had her first baby at the age of 35 years old, had a beautiful daughter last year, but feels that we should help babysit because we helped out with our other daughters' children. She's right, but I'm not young anymore, neither do I have the energy or patience.

Neither of our daughters are married, nor do their partners bring anything to the table; losers if you ask me. I'm always irritated and angry, which is exacerbated by the fact that my husband feels it's our job as grandparents to help raise these kids.

What should I do?

Signed: Mad black woman, Indiana

Stay Strong On Your Boundaries

Dr. Jeannie Bertoli is an Author, Speaker, and Relationship & Divorce Trainer. She is committed to improving people's lives and their relationships through her products and programs.

Well MBW, you got so much right! You are clear in what you want and don't (boundaries), and pretty clear on how to get there. Clarity is wonderful...even when it's painful. Not knowing and ruminating are the worst!

You're in a stage of your life where you want the freedom your choices have brought you, and not to bear the consequences of someone else's choices, even if they're your children.

More than that, what I hear in your question is a strong desire to ENJOY your life now. I feel your longing to be free of these extra responsibilities your children (really the one) are comfortable hoisting upon you.

Now regarding your marriage: Sit down and CALMLY explain what you would like to offer each of your daughters and WHY—I cannot overstate the importance of explaining why you want what you want. You both matter.

Then be very specific—babysitting how many times a month, for what length of time, for how many children, etc. Be fair to your younger daughter, as she hasn't breached any boundaries. Focus on solutions that work for both you and your husband CALMLY.

Appreciate any compromise on his part and if that's not enough for you, let him have the consequences of his decision. You go forth with yours. Will that be easy? NO! If you want something different and words don't work, actions do.

Specifically when you've completed your babysitting time, go out and STAY out. Be intentionally unavailable, while your husband continues his babysitting.

Yes! I know it's extreme. When we're looking for change, very, very often WE have to be the change. But don't give up on him—it may take several iterations to come together.

Grandchildren are a blessing—until they're not. Find the point of joy!

Regain Your Peace And Enjoy Your Life

Kenneth E Fowler has over 20 years of experience as a clinician, with extensive experience in the areas of family and marriage, relationships, and stress issues.

This is an issue of having healthy boundaries in a family and creating entitled
children. Firstly, it is important as grandparents that you and your husband set up
realistic expectations for your children. Systemically, you share responsibility in
creating these unrealistic expectations by your daughters.

You also have the control to change those expectations and set some limits to your role as a grandmother. Your husband is okay with you taking on this responsibility because most likely, he will not bear the same level of responsibility for the task that you will. Therefore, you must do what is best for you at this point in your life.

Let your daughters know what you are willing to do and allow them to adjust to the new boundaries. Your daughters were very capable of making these life choices, so they are just as capable of dealing with the consequences of those choices. Some people are afraid of setting boundaries with family members because they are afraid of being cut off. They will adjust to the new boundaries as long as you stick to them.

Secondly, you have created a sense of entitlement with your daughters and
grandchildren. You must let them struggle. When they really need your help, then
you can assist in a manner that works for you. You are not the person who decided
to have these children and you should not be the person expected to raise them.
They will be upset when you force them to figure out their life choices, but they will
adjust and will benefit in life from the skills they will develop from learning. Regain
your peace and enjoy the twilight of your life with your husband. Start planning trips
so that they can get used to you all not being available all the time.

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