Reciprocal Relationships

A long time ago, Mr. MPB and I instituted an rule that if family members make an effort to visit and know us, we will make an effort to visit.  It needs to be reciprocal, as I believe all quality relationships need to be.  In fact, the other weekend we loaded up the care and drove hours to visit family because they made an effort to visit us (and let me tell you, the drive was not all that much fun with a crying baby and took a lot longer then the normal 6 hours).

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I’ve mentioned before that we have some family members who have completed changed since Baby MPB joined our family.  Instead of driving past our house, they now stop in.  In fact, they stop in at least every few weeks (as an aside, I had no idea they were in this part of the province that frequently).  Regardless of past avoidance and issues, they are now making an effort and going above and beyond to know Baby MPB.  In fact, just the other day one even stayed over night and when having breakfast handed me their phone and said, can you take a photo of Baby MPB and I having our morning coffee together. 

Yup, their effort and love for our child have not gone unnoticed.

I’m thankful every time they visit to see just how much they love our son.

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But, what’s now donned on me is that others are not making any effort.  I am specifically talking about one set of grandparents. Once Baby MPB arrived, they wanted to facetime daily with us when we were in the USA, and then once a week once we got home.  Now, sadly we cannot get them to chat with us/Baby MPB for the life of us (I know screentime for an infant is bad, but we deemed a weekly call with grandparents to be okay as we want them to know each other and distance means we wont have as frequent of visists).  I send photos via text/email, and never get acknowledgement/responses. In addition, asides from a visit right after Baby MPB came home, they have not and will not visit.  Now, let me just point out that they have the money and the time to come visit once a month if they wanted to.  We’ve recently specifically asked them to come visit this summer.  In fact, we asked them to help with childcare for a few days while our nanny is on vacation and in doing so we specifically asked them to come spend time with their grandson.

The fact that we asked for help is almost unheard of for us. And the fact that they said no just broke my heart.  Not because I want to visit with them (quite frankly they’ve been mean to me for years, I’m personally okay not seeing them).  But my heart hurt for them.

I’m afraid one day they are going to wake up and be too old to travel and visit.

I’m afraid one day they are going to wake up and realize they don’t know their child, which is already the case.

And, even more, after years of begging for grandchildren, I’m afraid one day they are going to realize they missed knowing their grandchildren.  And their grandchildren wont know them.

We’ve talked to other members of that side of our family and they’ve noticed the same thing.  These grandparents have only visited them twice since their child was born almost a year ago.  So, ya, it’s the grandparents and has nothing to do with adoption, which is a relief as I’ve worried about them not accepting him.

But, my heart is still heavy.

This set of grandparents will not make an effort, they seem to expect their children/grandchildren to be solely responsible for visiting.  The fact is we simply cannot afford to fly across the country for frequent visits, it’s just not an option.  And honestly, I just don’t think it should only be us making an effort.

So, while once upon a time I would have tried to change them and I would have forced Mr. MPB to visit them, this time I am not going to.  I’m letting go and simply accepting what is.  We will focus our efforts on investing in the relationships that are reciprocal.  And so, our son will have stronger relationships with those who make an effort to know him.  And hopefully we will help teach our son about the value of quality relationships.

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20 Comments on “Reciprocal Relationships

  1. I think you’re spot-on about reciprocal relationships. We’re also on that page: if people have made an effort to see us since the baby’s been born, we make an effort to see them. If not, well… there are only so many hours in a day, especially when you’re taking care of an infant! It sucks that it’s a whole set of grandparents that you *want* to be involved, though. We only have one crappy and uninvolved grandparent (my dad), and we’re totally happy for him not to have a relationship with our kid, so it doesn’t hurt that much.

    Totally an aside, but… as far as I can tell, the research about “screen time” has way more to do with content than screens. So while it’s obviously bad to plunk your six-month-old in front of Teletubbies for an hour, I don’t think there’s any evidence that it’s bad for them to just look at a screen once in a while, especially if it’s for the sake of interacting with their grandparents. We’ve also made the decision to allow screen time for skyping with grandma and grandpa (who are very involved although a plane flight away, and would probably skype with our baby every day if we’d let them!). I’m pretty sure the benefits of the relationship with his grandparents (he definitely recognizes their voices and will smile at them over skype) far outweigh the downsides of looking at a screen a few times a week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s amazing what the experience of loss has helped me learn. Putting myself and my family first is simply the priority now and I hope I always remember that!
      I’m sorry your dad doesn’t make an effort. But it sounds like you are also at peace with this too.
      And yes, I 100% agree about your screen time assessment. 😊

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  2. I’ve had similar conversations about family members with Mr. O, and we basically realized that this isn’t our responsibility to make sure someone has a relationship with our child. Yes, we can do what we can to facilitate that– like setting up times for calls or setting aside time for playdates– but we’re not taking on the job of creating relationships for other people.

    And you know what? If they don’t have a relationship with my kid, that’s their loss. The same, I would venture to say, is true for your situation. These grandparents are losing out on being grandparents, but it’s not your job to fix.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You said that perfectly “these grandparents are losing out on being grandparents”. Yes, that makes me sad for them. BUT, life has taught me it’s not my job to fix that and so now I won’t even try. As you also say It’s not our job to create relationships for others. We will give them the opportunity but they have to take it. At this point I feel that it’s on them to do it. Thanks for articulating this so well!

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  3. I can completely relate. Both grandfathers are completely uninvolved. One hasn’t even met my son, he’ll be one next month and that grandfather lives in the same city as us. It is very difficult to understand why a grandparent wouldn’t want to be involved. What we do is make ourselves available and still invite them to things and send pictures. It would be easy to just cut them off but we feel the same, missing out send like something they will regret. So we do what we need to do to be alright with the situation. You have to take into consideration the emotional toll you are willing to pay. It hurts to put yourself out there, only to be rejected. So we put our family first, how can we protect ourselves from some of the pain because that is all you can do, manage the pain you are willing to accept. You’ll get nothing from the other side. It sucks a lot and is difficult to deal with but this tactic has helped us a lot. It still adds up and makes me sad but I cope better than I used to.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Both sets of grand parents are continets aparts for us but one set insists I skype everyday , in fact I get their temper every monday because as a rule we dont allow internet on weekends. The other set, I have to ask when they have time to skype. They havent seen their only grand children in over 4 weeks now. So ya, what you say is
    Correct, relations need to be reciprocal. I dont ask for skyping either with them anymore.

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  5. Oh boy…. You are describing my parents to a T. Just recently, I’ve come to accept it and expect nothing of them. They don’t even pick out the kids gifts – they tell us to pick things out and charge it to the family emergency card. My parents haven’t picked out a gift for my kids in 3 years. We only get a visit when they’re paying through to other places or to see my sisters. And finally…. I’m ok with it. It’s their loss. My kids have plenty of people around who love them.

    I’m glad some people are putting forth effort to know baby MPB. That’s great! It’s nice when people are genuinely interested!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wanted to acknowledge your mention of sending pictures and getting no response. Same thing with my dad, every time. BUT he’ll send a picture of his cat and expect us all to respond and show interest. I do not respond to his cat pictures or his arrogant text messages about himself. My dad is the textbook definition of a narcissist and with people like him, there truly is nothing you can do to improve the relationship. What therapists have told me is that he (they) clearly have no need for a relationship with us or our kids, and that it truly doesn’t bother him (them) because of the narcissism. So, therefore, we’ve been advised to stop trying and to stop hoping for something different.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Just temember that how they treat you is how they will eventually treat your kid.
    Also, what does a child learn when their parents seek relatioships with people who treat them poorly or who are indifferent? It teaches the child to chase after people who treat them poorly. Can you imagine treating baby MPB the way these grandparents are treating you? Would you tell baby MPB to chase after their love and attention? No. You would want baby MPB to protect himself from toxic relationships. You would tell baby MPB that he doesn’t need to invest in relationships with people who don’t treat him with respect. XOXO

    Liked by 3 people

    • Whoa…. This speaks to me. Would I expect my kids to chase after my love and affection? Excellent question with an obvious answer. Thank you for this!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I do not know what is wrong with this generation of grandparents. This absence and desire to have their own life independent of kids just astounds me. I have chatted about this with a number of friends experiencing the same thing. Eric and I were just commenting on it too last night and how we will be different. He was asking “How could my mum miss this?” as we gazed at Holly. All O know is that we both agree we will be different. We will be as involved as we can be with the babies of our babies. Hopefully they have them a little younger so we aren’t all old and useless when they arrive!! Hehe So I feel where you are coming from.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So sad. It must be frustrating and upsetting. Sounds like you are doing the right thing by your family and little man 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this post. I 100% understand where you are coming from. My SIL and BIL have made zero effort to have a relationship with our kiddo. In 8 months, they have each seen her twice. They live within an hour of us. They never ask about her or anything. Meanwhile my siblings. one living 3 hours away, have a great relationship with the baby. I have just let it go. Some people put forth an amazing effort and it is beautiful to see. I choose to stick with that. I figure in the long run, when she is older, I can’t force family relationships on her anyways. It is something that has to happen naturally and already has. You are doing the right thing as frustrating as it can be to watch.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I hear you. Right now we are going through a situation with my father (my parents are divorced) and my mother in law. It just astounds me how some people in similar situations can react so differently and have such different expectations. I won’ get into details, but my husband just loves to make excuses for his mother (which frustrates me) whereas I, in my situation with my father, take a “no holds barred” approach and will tell him exactly how I feel and why. At least I get it out in the open, and the other approach is to gloss over everything. It’s frustrating indeed and I just don’t have the time or energy for it! And my child isn’t even born yet; I hope it doesn’t get worse after the birth. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Our family is a tell it like it is family too and my sister, years ago, told my parents, “you get an F in grandparenting.”. They were appalled… APPALLED. How dare she hand out grades in their efforts. I just loved watching it because my sister was right-on. Many years later, their grades have not improved. 😉 My husband won’t deal with things head-on like I do, but his parents are grade A grandparents, so its ok. 😁

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I’m completely the same way. There are family members who give me a hard time (or have in the past) because I do not travel the extra distance when I go up to see my mom, to drive a couple hours further to see them as well. But whenever they drive through my state to go from NY to Florida, they don’t bother to stop and see me. It has to go both ways. If you want me to go out of my way to visit you, then you had better go out of your way to visit me. Same goes for phone calls, emails, texts, etc. I’ve given up on a number of family members who just simply couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort, they only wanted me to do it. I don’t work that way, and I don’t feel anyone should. If it’s going to work, it has to go both ways. I’m sorry that you’re having to deal with this. I will say though at least it’s not just you, as you said, and they are like this with others in the family as well. It’s sad, but they are really missing out on so much, and completely doing it to themselves. Maybe one day they will realize what they are doing, before it’s too late.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. How disappointing. I feel ya and It hurts. My husband’s parents live in the same city as us, 10 minutes away AND are in their early 50s, healthy and retired. The last time they came to see our son prior to his birthday party in June was BEFORE CHRISTMAS. I send photos daily yet they emailed my husband (yes emailed) to wish my son a happy birthday. We invited them over for cake on his actual birthday. They didn’t return the call and they didn’t come. I was livid for days and then decided I had to change my expectations for them. They may technically be “grandparents” but to me and to my son, they were just people we know. Like a neighbor. Or the lady we see at the supermarket. Just someone we know, no one special. I can’t have expectations for them living up to the title grandparent. They’ll never be that and quite frankly, it’s their loss. My son is awesome, they are missing out and my son deserves better than them!

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  13. It’s so true that we need to to take the little extra time that we have and spend it on the people that are also invested in the relationship. As j and I were just chatting, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. It’s hard and it sucks because you know what they’re missing out on but you also can’t focus on those unwilling to compromise and focus on those that want to invest in your family. I’m sorry that you all are going through this though!

    Liked by 1 person

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