Don’t Give Birth If You Don’t Plan To Be A Parent For Life


You probably clicked on this title thinking that you were going to read a rant about deadbeat moms or dads. While I think that legit deadbeat parents are the scum of the earth, I’m talking about a different category of parents—parents that plan to clock out at the age of 18 because their work is done.

This parenting attitude infuriates me if I think about it long enough. This may have been my skewed point of view, but my parents gave me this impression when I turned 18. I heard them joke about how they couldn’t wait until I left the house. I felt like it was my job to be a grown up and get on with it already to make their lives easier. Since then, my mom and I have come a long way to repair our relationship, and I feel welcomed and wanted by her again.

I’ve read on other Mommyish topics that some grandparents aren’t a fan of young children, specifically babies and toddlers. While that’s certainly their prerogative, and perhaps this could be communicated to the parents of young children in a healthy way to avoid a fight, I don’t like it one bit.

The moment I had kids, I knew I was signing up for a lifetime of service. I feel really, really passionate about this because of the childhood issues I described—for whatever reason, I felt unwanted. I have made a promise to myself that my kids and their grandkids will never feel like I did.

I suppose I understand that parents may want some time to themselves after their kids leave the nest, but I don’t think it is acceptable to expect your kid to move out the moment they turn 18. I suppose some grandparents feel like they have already done “baby duty,” but these grandparents need to realize that grandchildren are part of their lifelong commitment to parenting.

For new and prospective parents planning for the next 18 years, please don’t stop there. Parenting is forever. No matter how old your kid gets, they’ll still be your kid, and they’ll still need you to be their parent. Grandkids are part of the parenting package.

(Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

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  • Kendra

    Obviously this is just my perspective and experience in life thus far, but what grandparents don’t ADORE their grandkids?? That is so saddening to me. Hell, my mom and my MIL are practically fighting over who gets to babysits on my no-daycare days! And my grandma also adores my daughter. She can’t babysit her obviously because she is 84 years old, but she loves seeing her and being around her. I can’t even fathom how anyone wouldn’t love seeing their family grow and new generations blossom. I would think personally, as a old lady, it would comfort me to see the new generations coming up to carry on the family name. It’s kind of the whole point behind life, right?

    • Bethany Ramos

      It makes me sad too. My family doesn’t have any of the extremes, and my mom is really into being a gma. My MIL has been less enthusiastic because they are very busy, it seems…

    • shorty_RN

      My father is pretty ambivalent about his grandson. He says he just doesn’t care for babies that much. It makes me sad. I hope he will come around once my son is older and more interactive.

    • Pzonks

      My Mom fully admitted that she wasn’t that interested in her granddaughter as a baby. But once the kid got older and could start doing stuff? Then she was interested. And they have a great relationship and really enjoy each others’ company.

      Not everyone is a baby/toddler person. And that’s ok.

    • watersisland

      Ya, just as soon as he can smile at grandpa, react to his presence, and SAY—Grampa!
      I use to be somewhat the same way with my nieces and nephews. Nice to see immediately after birth, but beyond that…bring them back when they can acknowledge my presence- smile at me, attempt to say my name…and even better when they reach out for me.
      Quite different when my own children were finally born; just holding them close and particularly when they’d seek comfort and security by grasping my finger….was a thrill of a lifetime.

    • Katherine Handcock

      I don’t think it’s fair to compare saying “I don’t like babies/toddlers/young kids” to “I don’t adore my grandkids.” My mom adores both my kids; she just has a really hard time dealing with little kids. She’s still happy to spend time with them, and she loves to talk to them and visit with them, but she is self-aware enough to know that the experience would be really poor for everyone involved if she were regular child care for us (although it’s not an issue since we live some distance away.)

      Think of it this way: flip it around. When you were a teen, I bet you still loved your parents to death, but that didn’t mean the relationship was awesome, you wanted to be with them all day every day, etc.

    • SDM14

      Oh, my grandmother isn’t interested in my sister and me (never has been). She’s just not a nice person, though.

  • Jessifer

    I don’t really understand anyone beyond 18 years old who would WANT to continue living with their parents (unless they are studying in college and want to save money). My parents are great, we have a close relationship, but I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of their house and do my own thing.

    • Mystik Spiral

      Sometimes circumstances dictate you rely on family for help… I lived back at home after college for a couple of years. I was working as a substitute elementary teacher, no paid time off, no benefits, and no guarantee that I’d be working one day to the next. My parents were happy to let me come back home.

      And again at 37 YEARS OLD. I’d been laid off during the shit economy, my condo went into foreclosure, I was unemployed and unable to live on my own. I lived with my mom for a year while I got a job and got back on my feet.

      I am thankful that my mom and my dad (RIP) are my parents and are there for me no matter how old I am.

    • pixie

      Yes, this.

      It’s so easy to tell someone, especially a young person, to just go and get a job, but with the way things are right now it’s very hard to get a job. Where my parents live it’s even difficult to get a typical fast food job or cashier job because all the traditional teenager jobs are being taken up by people who’ve been laid off and need money or were retired but for some reason ran into financial trouble and needed to work again.
      One summer, I started applying for jobs in January within a half hour driving range from my parents’s house. I got no call backs. None. Because there just weren’t any jobs. (I managed to get one mid-June at the horse track filming the races and will still cover races this summer if they need me to while I’m home since I now do office work for my uncle and can’t do a day job, a night job, and work on my thesis; I did 3 jobs last summer, that sucked, can’t do it again)

    • MellyG

      *high five* to moving back home in your 30s. well, not really, but glad that i’m not the only one! I’m currently in that “year” (hoping that’s all it is!)

    • kris

      At 35 and with 2 kids, I am about to start that “year” as soon as the kids get out of school, since we have to move to another state to do it. There are no jobs here, but its a rural area, and moving in with her brings me close to Seattle and Tacoma, and that has to have more jobs.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      I’m just shy of 21, in college full time, and still live at home. My college hours are 9-5 every day and my part time job 6-9 in the evenings, and 2-8 on sundays. Almost my entire pay check goes towards paying for the bus to and from college. Trust me, i’m at home out of need, not want.

    • itpainsme2say

      same here

    • CrazyFor Kate

      It can be a cultural thing too. For many people, living with their parents as adults (up to and even after marriage) is totally normal.

    • pixie

      I go home for the summers to work (I’m a grad student now but I’ve also done this the past 4 years in my undergrad) and for me, being at home is a pretty sweet deal for me. I get use of a car, get food made for me, don’t have to buy groceries or pay for internet or utilities (I’m paying for school, rent, hydro, and internet for my apartment, and anything extra I want to do, so basic necessities at home my parents refuse to let me pay), and my parents have let me do my own thing since I was about 13 or 14. It’s a nice break from living by myself.
      I guess the big thing is my parents have let me do my own thing for such a long time that I enjoy it. My boyfriend, though, can’t wait to leave home (he works full time but is saving for college and his own car, though his parents are making that difficult by charging him something like $500 a month).

    • MellyG

      I was the same, moved out at 18 (well, college). However, after more than a decade on my own, I’ve come back home (but to grandma, not parents). I don’t plan to be here more than a year or so, but it’s been great getting to know grandma as an adult, and spending time with grandpa in what will likely be the last year or so of his life. I also like that i get to help them a bit

  • Momma425

    I signed up for a lifetime of parenting and I love my daughter so much.
    I love her, I adore her, she is wonderful and I feel honored to be her mom.

    Do I feel the need to boot my child out the day she turns 18?
    Absolutely not. But after she graduates high school, I do plan on informing her that if she is not planning on attending college and does plan on continuing to live with me, she need to get a job and pay rent.

    As far as grandkids are concerned- I am really not a kid person. I would be perfectly fine if my daughter grew up and chose never to have children. If she does choose to have
    kids- that doesn’t mean that I don’t love and adore them. It doesn’t mean I won’t be an awesome grandma. But no, I signed up for a lifetime of being a parent to my kid- not a parent to her kids, and their kids too. I certainly won’t be raising her children for her- grandmotherly babysitting, absolutely.

  • Kelly

    I can’t help but wonder what exactly you expect out of grandparents. I think it would be nice to have grandkids someday but I see a lot of people take advantage of their parents when it comes to free babysitting and I’m not a fan of that. I love my kids but I don’t care to be used by anyone, not even them.

    • Mystik Spiral

      That part threw me a little too. I mean, I agree that parents should be there for their kids throughout their lives, but they aren’t any more responsible for their grandkids than any other adult family member. From my experience, most people WANT to be involved in their grandkids’ lives, but it’s not their job to raise them.

    • Bethany Ramos

      NO WAY – I think you can tell when someone is enthusiastic or not. And I am also talking about myself in the future and always wanting to spend time with my kids and their families. I don’t expect grandparents to raise grandkids, but yes, they should see them as part of the package. Basically, there is not a day where you graduate from having family you care for and about. My stance.

    • Andrea

      But you didn’t really define that very well. If I don’t want to babysit my grandchildren for a weekend every month because gawddamn that is exhausting and I am in 60s or 70s and I just can’t do that anymore, is that being a bad grandparent? If I only want to spend some time with them (say a few hours, a day) but need a break after that, does that mean I am a bad grandparent?
      I am still not sure I understand what you mean by “don’t get to graduate”. I will always care for my children and potential grandchildren. But at what point do do draw the line?

    • Bethany Ramos

      I think my passion comes from seeing unenthusiastic grandparents and really wanting to do better. Every situation is unique, but you can tell when someone is not interested, evidenced by many comments here. For the less-than-enthusiastic grandparents I know, I just want them to want to spend time with us and the grandkids. This is NOT a play to get free babysitting.

    • Ashie

      Just because you want time to yourself does not mean you are not interested in your grandchildren’s lives. I understand what you are saying that you want to be involved in your grandkids lives, which obviously the majority of parents want to be, but there is a difference of being involved and being used. I think that’s why people are being more defensive about the article written. Let’s face it, now a days a lot of parents abuse the grandparents and really expect a lot from them (like free babysitting all the time, money etc.)

      When my kids are grown up there is no way I am looking after kids every free moment I have, or every weekend. In no way would that make me a bad grandmother. Even being young we know how exhausting it is being a parent and sometimes expecting that from grandparents is wrong. My kids are lucky and have 2 sets of grandparents still around. The one set always have grandkids over and love it. The other set (my parents) have the grandkids over but not always, they work and let’s face it, when you are older you do get more tired easily. Just because they don’t would not mean they are bad grandparents.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I am definitely drawing a distinction between being interested in grandkids and free babysitting. I’m not looking for free babysitting in any way, shape, or form. For myself, I plan to be very interested in my grandkids, and I simply wish for a little more interest from some people in my life.

      ETA: as far as people using grandparents nowadays, I personally don’t agree with that. In my social circles, I see very few people with involved grandparents, and I definitely don’t see grandparents being used for labor.. That’s where I’m coming from.

    • Aldonza

      I will say though, my Mom’s parent’s were definitely more “involved” and interested in my brother and I when we hit grade school. Before that, it wasn’t that weren’t interested, or didn’t love us, they just were really that into little kids and didn’t have much interest in their interest. As my brother and I were able to do more things actively with them, it was easier for them to be involved. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. My grandparents were already pretty old by the time my brother and came a long, and just didn’t have the energy to try and keep up with a toddler.

  • Jen

    Yes to all of this! ESPECIALLY the grandparent part! All my life, my mom talked about how useless her parents and my dad’s parents were in helping them. She swore she would be a helpful, involved grandmother. Take the kids out for ice cream in their jammies kind of grandmother. Fast forward to the present -we live 30 mins away from them now. We might as well be on the moon. They have to be begged to babysit and usually end up flaking out or making such a big deal about what an inconvenience it is (even though we have been up front about asking them if they are willing to babysit – they say yes). I am 3 weeks from having our 3rd child. My mom had offered to help out with the older kids while i am having C-section. She just emailed me the other night to say that the cold she has had for 2 weeks is debilitating and she is “very concerned about being able to help me out.” Ummm….planning to be sick for the next 3 weeks?! Really? Can’t help out while I am having major surgery? Because of a cold??? Yeah – she is the classic example of a person who did NOT plan to parent long term. Feeling totally ditched as a daughter and enraged for the grandchildren.

    • Jen

      Also – just to give some perspective….grandmother is in her mid-50′s and does not work.

    • Guest

      Ick. Did you bring this up with her? “Remember when I was young and you complained about this and now you are the exact same…”
      I’m sorry, sick or whatever, my mother would drop everything to help out if needed ESPECIALLY with a baby coming.

    • Jen

      I should bring it up, but i always talk myself out of it for a few reasons: 1) my mom is the QUEEN of spin control, denial, defensiveness and a general “I never do anything wrong” mentality so confrontation with her goes nowhere, 2) I am afraid to lose the tiny bit of help we do get from them occasionally, 3) they are really really good with the kids and my kids ADORE them – afraid to do anything to mess this up. I guess I really should just come to terms with the fact that they are not going to be helpful grandparents. Ever. And instead, begin to view them as visitors. I should be grateful that they do at least love my kids. But it is SO HARD to let go of the anger, especially given the messages I got growing up.

    • Pzonks

      I think a lot of parents need to adjust their expectations when it comes to the grandparents. You take what they are willing to give and that’s what you get. You cannot make her be a more involved grandma no matter what you do. I know it must hurt quite a lot that she doesn’t want to be more involved but you cannot change people, you can only accept them for who they are. And be thankful that when they are with your kids they are good with them and the kids love them.

    • Jen

      Yes. This. I NEED TO GET THERE! Intellectually, I get it. But I am really struggling with letting go of the anger and disappointment. I’ll get there, I hope!

    • Guest

      That is true, you should just begin to treat them like visitors if it will help you adjust your expectations to one of anything they do help with is above and beyond instead of crap by your grandparent expectations (and mine!). The only other thing I would say that lots of families I know have “Gma/Nana” that isn’t actually of relation but is either a random relative, friend, friend’s parent, or neighbor etc that just loves their kids to pieces. I would just keep an eye out for a “replacement” Gma :)

  • Rachel Sea

    Lots of commenting parents here bemoan the boredom of the baby years, and their feelings are understood and validated. Why should such feelings not be equally valid when they become grandparents?

    I feel very strongly that most kids should move out when they turn 18. The only way to become an adult is by going out and doing adult things. If you fuck-up badly in doing so, it’s better to be 19 than 25. I don’t think the job of parenting ends when the kids move out, but it should be much more of a consulting gig than a management position.

    • Andrea

      Love that analogy. It applies perfectly I think!

    • MellyG

      “a consulting gig than a management position” LOVE it. I still call my dad for advice, and his response is usually “well, you’re more educated than I am” ha ha ha. He has a point, but he’s still a dad, and i respect his opinion, and my mom’s, but ultimately have to live my own life and not lean on them. I”m going to start referring to them as consultants :-P

    • Jill

      I love this- I still ask for my parent’s advice even though I consider myself well informed because I like input and my parents have 100+ combined years of experience on this Earth!

    • AP

      I turned 18 during the first quarter of 12th grade, I’m glad I didn’t have to move out on my own at 18.

    • m

      In many countries “kids” only move out when they get married, sometimes pretty old :P My husband went to university in Shanghai just so his parents living in Beijing would let him move out before that.

    • Rachel Sea

      But we don’t have a culture of generational interdependence. Here when people stay with their parents for an extended time – emergency situations notwithstanding – it implies a dependence which doesn’t align with the values which are most respected in either a partner or an employee.

    • Angela

      I agree. I wouldn’t necessarily kick my kid out of the house as soon as they graduate HS but I would make it clear that I think it’s a really valuable (and fun) opportunity to figure out who they are, learn to get along with roommates, and gain independence. If they were in college I would hopefully be able to help them out financially to make this realistic as long as they’re getting decent grades. I would help them search for apartments/dorms, go over the lease with them, donate furniture (if needed), and help them get stocked with the basics (dishes, bedding, cleaning supplies, etc). They’d be welcome to bring home their laundry and come raid my pantry. I will always be interested in their lives and be ready to drop everything if they really need me. To me that’s not turning your back on your kids but loving them enough to let go.

    • Jill

      I will push my kids (if they want to go to college) to move into a dorm since I regret not following through on that myself. Either way when they do that and/or move into an apartment I’ll do what several of my friend’s parents did: took them to costco and stocked them up with everything under the sun they may need for a VERY long time to help cushion the change. I intend to do this for my little brother when he finally moves out- just give him any of my old furniture, probably furnish his kitchen/bath, and stock him up on tp, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc. Idk why but this to me is one of the “fun” parts of parenting- helping them be a successful adult.

  • Katherine Handcock

    I really have to disagree here. There’s a difference between acknowledging that parenting is forever and saying that a very specific idea of grandparenting is part of the package — and that it’s the parents of the new generation who get to set what “grandparenting” means. My parents have a terrific relationship with my kids, but that doesn’t mean that they would be the right people to choose for regular childcare, even if they lived close enough to provide it.

    Plus, they’ve had kids, raised them, and retired; they deserve to travel when they want to travel, sleep in if they want to sleep in, have a house without sticky fingerprints on every surface if that’s the way they want to keep it.

    Saying that there is only one way to be loving grandparents is no more valid to me than saying there’s only one way to lovingly raise your children.

    • Andrea

      Yeah I’m with you there.

      Not saying I agree with the philosophy of kicking them out the moment they turn 18 and changing the locks, but there should be a gradual process of kicking the birds out of the nest.

      I plan on supporting (at least partially and as much as I can) financially my children through college and give them emotional support as well and they can always come home. But at the same time, at some point they gotta fly on their own.

      And as far as grandchildren go, that’s not fair either. I plan on spending time with my (so far hypothetical) grandchildren and babysit on occasion, but I can’t make any promises. My husband and I deserve a well rested retirement to ourselves too!

  • Williwaw

    There’s a big difference between kicking your kids out the second they turn 18 (bad parenting) and being a grandparent who doesn’t want to have babies and toddlers around all the time. My mom loves my son and is delighted every time we get to visit her, but even if she didn’t have health issues that preclude caring for an energetic toddler, I don’t think she’d want to be a toddler caregiver again. I don’t think that makes her a bad mother. She did her time in the trenches with four children in six years.

    • meteor_echo

      Exactly. IMO, parenting is done once your kids can support themselves, and spending time with grandchildren is not parenting, it’s enjoying their company while your kids are the actual parents..

    • MellyG

      This so much. Not everyone can handle toddlers. My dad always claimed I was my grandpa’s favorite ONLY because i was, for some odd reason, a calm toddler. I sat with him and talked, didn’t run or yell. (i have no idea why). As he was older and in not great health, it made him nervous to be around some of my cousins who were not as great at sitting still :-P

  • Alicia Kiner

    This is my parents so much. My parents have 13 grandchildren. They know 4 of them. And they make almost 0 effort to spend time with those 4 at all. It’s always on my sister and I to bring our kids to them. We practically have to beg to get them to come to birthday parties for our kids. Sporting events… forget it. Course, I don’t know why I expect them to come to any of my kids’ things because they never came to mine. It still to this day amazes me that they showed up for my high school graduation. Luckily, my kids have grandparents in their lives who truly love them, and want to be in their lives. And I’m learning what it means to have family who actually cares about all of it. One good thing my parents taught me… exactly the kind of parent I don’t ever want to be. It’s sad, and I will love them forever. I’ll keep trying to get them to be the grandparents I want them to be for my kids, and maybe one day I won’t be disappointed. Fingers crossed.

  • jane

    Yes. Here’s what it means to be a parent for life: my husband, at the age of 40, was diagnosed with cancer. This meant radiation, chemotherapy, and two major surgeries. Did i mention he had started a new job only 6 months earlier and basically had no income? Or that we had a 3 year old and 6 year old? My mom jumped into action- taking the kids when she could, making us meals, being with me through the surgery, you name it. She was a rock.

    His mom? She prayed for us. No meals. Not even a gift certificate for take out. Certainly no offers to watch the kids (even though she has a pool in her backyard). The occasional phone call. She never once visited in the hospital, even though he suffered complications and was hospitalized a total of 5 times. (she’s older and doesn’t like to drive in the city, but she also didn’t ask any one of her four other available sons to drive her either). I know she was worried and I know she loves him, but parenting is DOING STUFF when your kids are hurting.

    Bitter? A little. I mostly try to be civil, but it’s awfully hard to muster sympathy when her back is hurting.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I am sooooo sorry to hear this and so glad you have your mom to support you!

  • itpainsme2say

    My grandmother was never meant to be a mom she is cold and kind of self centered. That being said they were farmers and she had five kids who had six kids who are now up to three kids of their own. Could I tell she was bad at the kid thing, yes, but did I know she loved me, double yes. She is not the best woman in the world but as far as most of my cousins and I were concerned she took care of us and supported our parents (one of my aunts was gay and while another aunt built their house her family stayed with grandma). Just because you’re not good with kids doesn’t mean you can’t fake it or at lest do the motions of a good mother/ grandmother. You had kids now deal with it.

  • Heather

    What about parenting until they are 18, clocking out until they have kids, then being a good grandparent? Can I do that? Because I am SERIOUSLY looking forward to being able to step back from such a hands-on parenting role and mine are only two and 3.5 (maybe that’s WHY! HA)

  • Amanda

    I was out of the house right after my high school graduation (I was 18). My older brother was unable to make it on his own, and moved back-in with my parents. Since there wasn’t enough room for everyone, I was essentially forced out the door. I have a very disconnected relationship with my parents and it stems from being booted out when I wasn’t prepared. I was a good kid, got good grades and was about to put myself through college. I had many friends who also left home at 18 but they were lucky that their parents still supported them financially and emotionally. I had none of that and I’m still resentful at age 35.

    My parents visit to see my kids though we live 1200 miles apart. However, previous to my kids being born, they only visited me twice in 10 years. I will never treat my own kids the way I was treated because I remember how much it hurt. I agree, parenting should last a lifetime.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Sorry you had to go through that. :(

  • Heather

    I also want to add that I think a lot of this perception of what a grandparent should do is a fallacy from the get-go. I never had this fictional grandparent that was uber-available and went to every little thing for me and all of that. No media-perfect image of a grandma baking and spoiling and doting. I think there are SOME people out there who grandparent like that, but I don’t think that it is the norm that it’s made out to be. So when that isn’t what we “get” out of our parents when we have kids we feel cheated. But that’s also how we feel when there aren’t literal fireworks during our first kiss, or when we realize that working at an office isn’t all break room gossip and drinks after work.

    • MellyG

      I was lucky enough to get a perfect Grandma. She still is. She practically raised me, and I actually live with her right now. She is, perhaps, the most wonderful woman on the planet.

      However, I recognize she’s not the norm. She was never under any obligation to do the things she’s done. My father’s mom was not nearly as involved – i saw her like once a year. I don’t have a bad relationship with her, and i love her – she’s just not overly grandmotherly and that’s fine!

    • AP

      It’s a foolish fantasy, too. Of my four grandparents, three were dead by my third birthday. My husband’s grandparents lived hundreds- and then thousands- of miles away for most of his childhood.

      We don’t have kids yet, but of our four parents, there are three jobs in three states on the opposite side of the country, and three houses. People need to arrange paid time off, save up for airfare, and arrange pet sitters. Any one of them might *want* to come to Kindergarten Show and Tell or bake tree-shaped Arbor Day cookies during a regular babysitting appointment, but it would be logistically impossible for them to do so.

    • BethAZ1987

      I never had the “doting grandparent” either. I also never had aunts/uncles/cousins in my life, so I never had any of the fictional “tight knit extended family”. Hell, my little nuclear family of 4 barely gets along.

      I think people need to have realistic expectations of what kind of grandparents their parents will be. What were they like as parents? I know what my parents were like when I was a kid, and I don’t expect them to be any better with kids now that they’re older and live many hours away.

    • Jill

      I wouldn’t say it is entirely a fallacy. I think some people don’t get lucky- my husband lost all his grandparents before he was born but they were horrible people anyway. I had an amazing Grandma who would babysit us, take all of us school shopping every year, and still sends me birthday cards. My other Grandma still hosts holidays at her house, gives really thoughtful gifts, takes us bowling, and sends me $12.00 for my birthday as well. My Grandpa passed away early but most of my memories involve some awesome presents including a doll house he hand made for me. My Mom’s dad was MIA but after he passed his wife started to get more involved in our family and would watch me play volleyball even when she was ill. I also had AWESOME aunts and uncles that have been amazing since I was little and even in our relationships as adults. I think some families are just built differently and I think when you experience what I mentioned above it makes you want to continue that legacy. In my family I know everyone is generally REALLY excited to become a grandparent (maybe moreso than parent). I know my husband’s parents are already amazing grandparents and are counting down the days for more grandkids to spoil. They are uber involved even from out of state (skype, visits, mailed gifts, etc). I think people just need to look realistically at their families and what types of people they have for parents and adjust their expectations/hopes accordingly. I wish I could have free daycare from Gma like my friends but I know my mom will continue working and my dad can’t/won’t do it. I know they will still be awesome grandparents though in other ways that suit them better.

    • Heather

      That’s awesome! I wasn’t trying to say these grandparents don’t exist. They do and I think they are great. But to say that this is what all grandparents are like or that even a LOT of grandparents are like this is just wrong. I think MOST grandparents love their kids and their grand kids and do what they feel is appropriate to show their love and affection.

    • Jill

      I would definitely agree :)

    • Sri

      One set of my grandparents were the stereotypical doting grandparents. They took care of me all the time, they took me to the playground, my grandmother would take me to plays and musicals, all that jazz. What I noticed about that relationship as opposed to, say, my in-laws with their own daughters (who claim to not like babies or toddlers) is that my parents let my grandparents make their own rules. They respected that my grandparents would return me alive and unharmed, but possibility full of cookies, and they said that was ok. Obviously, this doesn’t explain every relationship dynamic, but I find following every single rule and regulation exhausting and I usually say fuck it after about 2 hours, so I can’t imagine being a retired adult who raised multiple successful adult children and being told exactly how many cubes of apple in what shape each kid should have at exactly 11:32 and responding positively to that. It’s one thing if the kid has an allergy or illness- that’s useful information- but the toddler isn’t going to combust if he eats his apple at 11:34 or even (gasp) 11:45! When it comes to discipline, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. It’s excruciating to watch a kid act up but not be allowed to do anything because there’s no rule about that at home, even when something is way way way beyond acceptable behavior. Again, it doesn’t explain every bad grandparent relationship (my other set hated me because they liked my dad’s ex wife more than my mom, so I know other things contribute) but I think it might be behind a lot of the “I don’t like babies or toddlers” grandparents.

  • Former Mom

    I have 2 kids, both are in college. I was a little sad but mostly happy when they went away to school. It does not mean I love them any less. But my job was to get them to 18 in one piece without major life problems. I have not stopped being a parent (just ask my kids I still bother them), but I also don’t want them living with me for the rest of their lives. They know after college, they can land here until they get on their feet (which will have a deadline). As for when they have children, I will be there for my children and grandchildren but I won’t be a primary caregiver. Why? Because if my children decide to have children, then they are responsible for the upbringing of their off-spring. The joy of being a grandparent is spoiling children and giving them back.

  • Angela

    For the most part I feel that grandparents should be able to choose their own level of involvement (as long as they’re not playing favorites) but if they’re really needed then they should be willing to help out if they can regardless. A friend of mine never asks her mom to babysit but a couple months back she was hospitalized. She called her mom from the ambulance and begged her to at least agree to take her children until she could find someone else (her husband was out of town). Her mom refused because she didn’t want to cancel her dinner plans with her boyfriend (and not even a super-fancy dinner either, but Sizzler). Yeah, you don’t get to just totally turn your back on your kids just because they’re adults.

  • blh

    Of course you’re a parent forever but that does not mean you’re rwsponoble for your adult children. And I’m not talking about an 18 year old, because no 18 year old is really an adult. I’d never kick just kick my son out when he turned 18 but at some point he will have to take care of himself, bevaise sorry nor my job anymore. And I’d say when your parents aee too old to care for themselves its tjw child’s responsibility to care for them (unless they were abusive or nwglwctdul or sowmthing). My sons only four now, but I’m sure I’d LOVE To babysit grandkids one day but I’d my son came to me with your entitled attitude and said well you HAVE to babysit my kids and if you don’t want to you shouldn’t have been a mom, i’d laugh his ass out the door and you’d never catch me babysitting at all. The great part of being. Parent is that it does change and you’re not ayuck qih that responsibility forever. The parent child relationship evolves. You’re just biased BC I guess you’re parents were shitty, but youre very wrong.
    And I’m sorry the life time of service comment really irritated because I am nobodus servant and I pity you if you let tour children think you’re their servant.

  • Amanda

    So this is my perspective on the grandparents/grandbabies thing. I have a sibling with several young kids under the age of five and they are just terrors. My father, who previously seemed to very much enjoy his role as grandpa to my older sibling’s kids, is absolutely miserable around this particular set of grandchildren. He gets super grumpy and moody as these kids run around the house, screaming, having tantrums, breaking things, hitting each other, hitting the dog, hitting cousins, etc. One of them refuses to let my father hold him. This particular sibling and their spouse don’t do anything about their kids’ behavior besides yelling at them occasionally.

    On the other hand, I have a young toddler and my father is a doting grandpa to my child. He snuggles and reads and does grandpa-type things and I’m sure as my kid gets older he’ll teach my kid how to fish and go camping like he has with the older grandkids. I don’t think it’s a matter of playing favorites, sometimes it’s a matter of tolerance and patience. I don’t know a lot of people who want to spend a ton of time around unbehaved children. My parents are very good about visiting all their children and grandchildren an equal amount, but it’s becoming apparent which of those visits are more pleasant for them.

    • Guest

      I’ve noticed this with my inlaws as well. Grandpa just isn’t big on kid stuff in general but he gets really irritated when the kids are out of line because the parents, quite frankly, suck at parenting. I know when we have kids he still won’t be big on kid stuff but I have a very strong feeling he’ll appreciate our parenting style more and the fact that this would be his first blood grandchild (that he knows of) which seems to be of great importance to him.

  • C.J.

    Being a parent and being a grandparent are two totally different things. I don’t think parents have an obligation to take care of their adult children and grandchildren. My parents are very close to my children. They spend time with them, take them on a vacation every year, come to all their dance shows but it is not their job to parent them. They get to spend as much time with them as they want, have fun, then send them back. Like anything, you get out what you put in. Being a grandparent isn’t a responsibility. It is something that should be enjoyed, not thought of as an obligation.

  • Mak

    Bethany – I’m impressed with every single word. I could not agree more. My husband’s mother is the “quit at 16″ type mom. Yes. 16. He was out of the house at 16, then his brother and we are terrified for his 14 year old sister who seems to be in the same boat. What a horrible mother. Obviously the sister will come and live with us, but the point here is:

    Don’t these parents want their children to lead stable lives? Give your kids a chance at a future. My husband got a couple of credit cards at 18, paid rent and his future was not
    Even considered. I knew this going in as we got together young but fast forward 10 years an not only are we dealing with financial debt but many emotional issues that will always remain.

    Now that we are parents, we have even more resentment (there is a lot to the story)

    Having a child means sharing your entire life with them, and theirs as well.

    • SA

      Becoming a parent has caused me to feel so much resentment towards my husband’s parents. It is hard to believe that a parent could be so selfish.

  • MellyG

    I respectfully disagree. Yes, you’re always a parent, but that doesn’t mean you have to care for your adult children or their kids. It’s nor your job after a certain point.

    I realize that i’m lucky. Due to a lot of personal issues, i’m currently living with my grandparents. However, they didn’t HAVE to take me in, i’m an adult woman. I’m GRATEFUL that they did. I do my best to take care of them; cleaning, shoveling, running errands, fixing things. They don’t HAVE to keep me here.

    My mother was also lucky that her mother was practically a nanny to me, and I often tease my mother that when i have kids it’s her job to come help be my full time nanny. But it isn’t. It’s really not.Her life in no way needs to revolve around her grown child, or her children’s kids.

    As someone who was pretty much raised by grandma, i firmly believe that grandmothers are SUPER important – but they are in now way under any duty or obligation.

  • Eddie

    What’s worse than grandparents who don’t want to be around their grandchildren???

    Grandparents who want to be around their grandchildren who abandoned their own children.

    My dad left my mom and us two kids (3 and 1) and didn’t care at all while we were growing up. We reconnected at 16 on the phone. Then broken promises and not a care in the world. Reconnected again at 23, again no care. The second he found out I was expecting he was in contact like a stalker. Seriously. Now, with a baby who is also 1 year old, “grandpa” Facebook
    Harasses us daily (5 times a day, minimum) and his creepy wife is always texting.

    We get presents. We get well wishes. It’s all fine and dandy but Id like to know why he cares all of a sudden. You don’t get to make up for being a shitty parent with my baby.

    It’s not exactly givin up at 18, he gave up at 1. Now he wants the life. Grandchildren, front porch rocking chair and a peaceful life. Ugh

    • Lackadaisical

      How unacceptable of him. As if he has a right to be a big part of his grandchild’s life when he has let you all down so badly and so often. I can see why it bothers you, what’s to say he won’t get close to your son and then cut you all out of his life again when the novelty wears off.

  • jendra_berri

    My dad booted my brother out of the house when he was 18. Too bad he was still in high school. 18 is a very arbitrary age, constructed by the laws of the land to determine an age of majority.
    Certain cultures have children and expect to be in a role of parent for life, helping their kids along, and then to be cared for in old age in turn. We don’t have that in the West. We’re more individualistic than that. It has advantages, but a lot of disadvantages too.
    I think it’s ideal for young adults to move out and live with roommates after high school, although with steep higher education costs and low-paying jobs… this isn’t as easy to do now as it was for generations past.
    I don’t think the world we’re living in is conducive to making 18-year-olds move out just because they’re 18. There does come a point it needs to happen, but likely as a recent high school graduate, you don’t have the income, job, or other means to make that a reality in today’s rental and job market.

  • chickadee

    Mine are almost-20 and 17, and I can honestly say that parenting in the college years most definitely resembles being a consultant/shoulder to cry on. She is off living her life, texting and calling me when she needs/wants to, and I see what she’s up to on Facebook (she kindly updates it for the Old People) and leave her long voice messages when she is in class.

    Our first conversation this week began with tears over an accounting test and ended with the promise to call back in a better mood. Last night she called “because I wanted to talk to you, and I don’t need anything right now except conversation, and also I miss you.” If I were still having to hover and fix problems for her, I would know I had done something very wrong at some point. That she can make most of her own decisions and carry on without my supervision means I gave her the tools to be an adult. Huge relief — so many of my students still suffer from parental helicopteritis, and those students are a huge pain in the butt.

    • MellyG

      What do you teach? I teach law, and assumed that meant “Adults” – you know, since you have to be at least 21 (in theory) to get into law school. I actually get parents calling to contest grades. REALLY? Seriously? are these parents going to call the judge, or opposing counsel? It’s mind boggling!

  • m

    I’m 24 and married, and still call dad when something in my house needs fixing and mom with some other problems. I would say I’m very close with my parents and they have always helped and supported me. My dad is retired and helps to take care of my sister’s kids a lot too. I think overall I got pretty lucky with my parents. #humblebrag

  • Lackadaisical

    I wouldn’t go so far as to kick my kids out of the house the second they become adults and I would hope that my kids when grown do know that they can rely on me for support, however I think an important part of parenting an adult is to stop parenting them and change that support to something more age appropriate. I think it is vitally important for an adult to feel like an adult and to have the self respect to stand on their own two feet and live their own life. You have to step back a bit and let your former children (who may no longer be your children but are still your sons and daughters) make their own mistakes and figure out for themselves how they want to run their lives. By all means pick up the pieces if it goes terribly wrong and your offspring need help but I would rather parents didn’t just fly in there to make it all better over the little things that go wrong and adults deal with.

    I kind of eased into it gently although from my parents perspective I was out the door after school and summer holidays finished. I went to University at 18 and never came back for more than a visit. Being at university is kind of like a half way house between childhood and being an adult on your own as I do realise that I had a big support network from the university and university community. I also had a little bit of money from my parents to support me through university, but it wasn’t enough to cover all of the rent so the rest came from loans and holiday jobs as my parents earned enough for there to be no grants. I went to university a long way from my parents but they didn’t bring me there like all the other students, they expected me to take everything I would start my adult life with in a huge backpack and go by train. I know I would do that differently from my parents. However, 18 years later when I am married with three children and a mortgage my parents suddenly want to parent me more and have moved near to me, but in a way that makes me feel like they see me as a child. They are constantly telling me how to raise the kids, trying to teach me how to cook (and recipes that I actually cook better than them), explaining how to do basic things about living away from parents that I mastered 18 years ago. They try to pay for me (and find ways to do it that grant them ownership of me) and make me dependant and get me to answer questions about how I budget when I have told them that my husband earns more than they did before they retired. Part of that is guilt because my younger brother has had a lot of support and lives with them again, but I really did enjoy being my own person and didn’t regret leaving to make my own life. I felt like an adult in my very late teens and early twenties and I really would not have had it any other way.

    • Guest

      That is a great point. I feel like because my parents have helped us out they feel like we’re not adults (we’re still pretty young) but not kids. It’s like we’re stuck in the middle. When I bring up kids in front of my mom she is agast which is slightly embarassing and insulting to me like she thinks I’m too young for it. She had my brother at 23 so I don’t know where she gets off. She doesn’t have any problem with my cousins my age popping out babies so to me it is just strange.

  • SA

    My husband and I pretty much have the opposites on parents. Mine definitely continue as parents to this day…and while they could be a bit overbearing after I first moved out, I know that they are always here for me and now my child and even my husband. My husband’s parents booted him and moved right after his high school graduation; the other set of parents weren’t exactly bundles of support during this time either. And it pretty much continues like that to this day. They are more concerned on how life is affecting them more than him and it is sad. It has definitely had a profound affect on him and his life and decisions.

    What you are saying is so true. You do not stop being a parent and if you are going into it looking forward to the day you can kick them out of the house, then please do not have children. This doesn’t mean you have to financially support them forever, but you do have to help transition them to an adult and you do have to provide emotional support for them when they need it. Abandonment at any age hurts.

    And never ever tell your children that you can’t wait for them to be on their own. That is just shitty. Encourage them to be independent, but don’t make someone who you brought into this world completely dependent on you feel like a burden. That just makes you an asshole.

  • Sam Craig

    As a parent we have to teach our kids about childhood plans. I feel childhood plans are important parts of our kids make up. They teach us
    to dream and reach for the stars. They can give us the courage and
    determination to get up and do things we wouldn’t usually do.

  • Guesty Guest

    Oh Bethany, you’re going to be such a great mom (at all ages) and Grandma. I’m sorry your parents booted you out like that. Even if I felt like my kid needed to be out at 18 I would make damn sure they knew well in advance and were prepared for it. I know a lot of people who don’t seem to “get” their kids as adults so it seems odd to me, but I can’t wait to experience my kids at all ages especially as adults. I can’t wait to help them into adulthood and watch them become their own people and have their own family. While I will force them to either do school or get a job and move on out I will make sure they’re taken care of no matter what age. I also cannot wait to be a Grandma which is why I hope that at least one of our kids (maybe all!) have babies. I also fully intend to teach my teens/adult kids how to choose a good life partner so I don’t end up in one of those horrible MIL stories where you never get to be invovled in your kid/grandkid’s life because their spouse is a crazy person. :-P

  • Kimberly

    Not all 18 year olds are mature, in fact some are still finishing up high school. I too was on my own at 18, for a combination of reasons, and I really don’t think most kids are ready at 18. There is a reason we want them to be 21 to drink or use recreational marijuana. Some states want to raise the cigarette age to 21 as well. IF that’s the case we should also raise the age to sign up for the military. The point is, no everyone is talking about financial support. The emotional/mental and sometimes physical assistance parents provide during those first few years on your own can determine future success. A little help is awesome, too much or too little can cause delays in development. Let’s also mention that a kid must have a pretty healthy balance of tools used to survive in life to turn out “healthy” themselves. So there is a lot that goes into it, and ditching your kids just because they turn 18 is kind of shitty. Period. I’m not saying do their laundry, or pay for everything…but a little support at that stage can go a LOOOONG WAY. *too much support also can be just as damaging as too little, so balance people. Balance.* :D

  • Aldonza

    Hugely disagree! Where I’m not a fan of the, “you’re completely on your own at 18 mentality”, someone looking to become a parent should never ever ever expect that there parents are there to be free child care. Dealing with a young child at 25 or 35 is very different than dealing with a young child at 55, 65 or 75. And honestly, yes, as you get older, you have sort of earned the right to say no being on call child care. You’ve worked and raised children and that doesn’t mean that you have no more family obligation, but it is not your duty to continue to “parent” a new generation.

  • Snipe

    It is optimal for parents to support and nurture their children in a healthy way, but
    the reality is that they don’t always do that. Not everyone wanted to
    be a parent in the first place, and not everyone enjoys being around young children. If the grandparent doesn’t want to be involved, it is better to respect their wishes than to belabor the point.

  • Victoria

    I think there is a difference between clocking out at 18 (or any point thereafter) and deciding that you are done with being heavily involved in the care of babies and toddlers (as long as you personally don’t have any babies or toddlers yourself, as that would be clocking out). In addition to me and my sister, my mother essentially raised my cousins. My youngest cousin was born when I was 12. Later, my mother confessed that she did not enjoy raising my youngest cousin, not because of anything personal, but because she was tired of the baby/toddler stage. Since then, older cousins have asked her to take care of her children, and she respectfully refused. If my sister has kids, my mother will obviously want to be part of their life, but she’s not going to raise them.