Grandmas, what are your biggest problems and challenges?
Send me your questions and I’ll answer them here on “Ask GaGa.”
Your identity will be kept confidential.
See below for previously submitted problems and challenges.
Grandma Has High Expectations for New Grandson
Dear GaGa: I am a first-time grandma and had such high expectations for bonding with my new grandson. My son and daughter-in-law live only a few miles away and yet, they might as well live on the other side of the country for as little as I see him.
Before the baby was born, I told my son and daughter-in-law I’d like to babysit every Thursday at my house and take him for swim lessons when he gets older. They never responded to my offer.
I should have had a clue when the baby was born. My husband and I waited at the hospital eager to meet our new grandson but we were told to come back the next day so the new parents could bond alone with their baby.
In the six months since he was born, I’ve only seen him once a week at a restaurant and my son and daughter-in-law have not accepted my invitations to come to my home for a visit.
I’m heartbroken and confused by the parents’ distancing behavior. Recently, I found out that the nanny is taking my grandson to a baby gym class. I asked if I could go along with the nanny to the class. My daughter-in-law said no.
This behavior is so hurtful I don’t know what to do.
— Feeling Like a Long-Distance Grandma
Dear Long-Distance Grandma: I can understand your disappointment, living so close and yet feeling so shut out.
Right now you are going to have to use every ounce of patience you can muster and not push the couple for requests. It takes tremendous inner strength to step back and let the parents adjust to their new roles. I think older first-time parents are often more set in their ways, more overly protective, and have more resources available to them, for example, financial, online information and a network of friends.
I suggest that when you do get together, look for any openings to talk about what it’s like for them as new parents. Instead of advising your son to hold the baby more and giving unsolicited advice (the big NO-NO), ask him how he feels about being a dad. What’s the best part? What’s the hardest part? What do you wish you had more of? Then, just listen.
Empathize and compliment whenever you see the new parents doing something well and be specific. Make them feel good about their parenting and show them you have confidence in them. And try to count your blessings that you do get to see your grandson every week. Sometimes it can take a year for them to feel comfortable sharing the baby.
Lonely Woman Wants to Be a Grandma
Dear GaGa: I am a 61-year-old woman who has never been married nor had any children. But in the last few years, I have very much wanted to have a family and feel I have missed out on a lot by not having a family of my own. I just wasn’t ready for that when I was able to have children.
Now my immediate family consists of my 95-year-old father and myself. I don’t want to face the future alone. I also have had a lot of maternal feelings stirring and would very much like to be a grandmother or auntie. I live in a small town and opportunities to meet families for me aren’t that great.
Can you suggest a website where I can find a surrogate grandchild?
— Lonely Grandma-at-heart
Dear Lonely: Every week I get emails from women who would love to be surrogate grandmas as well as moms who would love to find surrogate grandparents for their children. These women write to me because I’ve written several posts about surrogate grandparenting over the years.
Because of those posts there seems to be an assumption that I will help them find surrogate grandchildren or grandparents. Unfortunately, the GaGa Sisterhood does not pair up families with surrogate grandparents.
Whenever I receive these emails, I forward them to Donna Supitilov Skora, founder of Surrogate Grandparents – USA. Donna founded this Facebook group several years ago and has slowly been building and updating a list of potential grandparents and families who would like to find each other.
On her Facebook page she explains that Surrogate Grandparents – USA is a forum where like-minded people have the opportunity to find and meet each other. This list is provided as a courtesy to the members, who have requested to be added, in order to make it easier for the members to find one another.
I wish you luck in your search for a surrogate grandchild. I understand how important it is to love a grandchild and for that child to receive the love that only a grandma can give.