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Competing with each other for parent of the year or just guilt?

Zenmode's picture

Or even grandparent of the year. So this last Valentine's Day, really brought it home. I've noticed this, and suspected this for oh about 4 years now but it really solidified since my year of disengagement. DH treats my grown children for the most part as well as his own. Of course we've had a few bumps here and there with my 18 year old still living with us high schooler but that's to be expected. Biggest issues in that department is DH has higher standards in regards to my youngest (18)  than he does for his own youngest (34) but eh whatever, maybe he doesn't want to see my son turn out like 2 out of three of his sons with only one (38) completely launching thus far. Anyways, DH's grandchildren seem to be in two batches. The recently adult group 18 and up and the new hatch of 10 to 2 years and  which is the same age as my oldest to youngest 9-1 years. when I met DH 6 years ago, I had just the two, he had the older ones who were teens and the younger ones who were the ages of my two. I always did holiday things for my kids and then grandkids such as making Easter baskets and giving little holiday treats if I knew I would be seeing them, for instance like valentines chocolates or little Easter treats or Halloween treats. 

My kids and I always celebrated Easter with a brunch and Easter egg hunt when I divorced my narcissistic ex husband nearly 10 years ago. I anticipated continuing this when I remarried and have done so with DHs blessing. What I've began to notice and make a correlation on is this, when we were dating I bought my grandkids some little Easter treats and gifts and asked DH if that's something we could do for his as well, which he enthusiastically agreed to. I gave mine to my gkids on Easter and .....well his were a little harder to sync up with, we gave them to them a week or two later. No biggie. So this pattern continued with me always including his, then gradually dropping the older ones to only do for the younger, that is until I began to notice how complicated it always seemed to be to gift these gifts. The parents or kids were always unavailable. Coordinating a get together to just simply give them a treat became nearly impossible, I mean I get it, parents and now kids are very busy with lessons and practices and working and juggling it all, but what it became was us buying the treats and dropping them off. On the porch. Because 80% of the time they could not accommodate us. So, I of course lost my enthusiasm for it.

I began buying only for my gkids and tucking it away until they or I would go to visit, I've been doing this for at least two years now.  DH never noticed nor has said anything until this valentines, ya know cause he's working from home now ugh and I bought some little valentines heart chocolate boxes and brought them in from shopping, he saw them and asked "oh who are these for?" I said my grandkids, I'm seeing them this Tuesday and thought it would be fun. He asks "oh that's cute, are there enough for mine?" I of course felt bad and said "oh no I didn't even think about that, but I can pick some up next time I go, when were you thinking of delivering to them?" He thought about it a few minutes then said "you know never mind, it's always to complicated getting things to them and I'll spend the entire weekend trying to make it happen" seriously that's the truth, but he's only just noticed "we " haven't been doing this sort of thing for his for at least two years now???? I have now begun to wonder if many of the past events I took the lead on thinking that "they" would enjoy it because mine did have been more a guilt thing on both of our parts. I think he never really did that sort of thing with his, nor the Easter brunch he always hints at doing with his yet never happens because most of them leave town for spring break! I've switched up the script now when he finds out something I'm doing with or for mine and he expresses interest in doing similar for his and say "oh that sounds great, let me know what plan you come up with and I'm more than happy to help" 90% of the time he changes his mind or it just never solidifies, folks it doesn't get uncomplicated when they are all grown. 


Gimlet's picture

I don't mean this to sound sexist, and it's not always true, but I find that often women are the keepers of the traditions in family life.  We are also the ones who make the details and celebrations of holidays, birthdays, dinners, etc work smoothly. 

My DD and I had traditions and norms coming into my relationship with DH.  Not as many as some, due to the nature of my family, but a fair amount.  It felt like he and his kids really didn't have any, you know?  So he sort of adopted mine and DD's for a while.   Some stuck and some didn't, and he came to realize that his kids just didn't value things the same way that DD did/does.

After a while, he dropped many of them and we just do just them with DD, but it took him some time to come to that realization and I always put the work back on him, so that may have helped it along.It's like they look at something and think "Oh, that's nice" and want it for their kids but would never think of it on their own.

Zenmode's picture

HE enjoys my traditions and I do think his kids missed a lot of that sort of stuff  due to the absence of their mother so he thinks they would enjoy my traditions too, they do, if it's convenient and they have nothing else conflicting with a free meal and some fun. Whereas mine it's tradition and family and memories all combined they set aside the time and make the effort to be here. 

JRI's picture

It's good that he is realizing his kids aren't interested enough to receive gifts.  It's weird, isn't it?  I'm going thru something similar with YSS53.  He always kept us at arm's length since he married and had 3 girls.  He lived out of town but I always made sure to do the same as our other gkids: birthday & Christmas gifts, cooky baking sessions, etc.  Flash forward and the girls are 21, 19 and stb13.  When I send checks for bdays and Christmas, they are often uncashed.  It took 3 tries to get the second gdaughter birthday money.  First card and check was sent to an apartment she shared with BF, it was lost or stolen.  Second card with cash was sent to SS's new place but returned here for some reason, he had just moved in so perhaps the mail was confused.  Third card and check finally got to her but only cashed 2 months later.  Of course, no thanks for any of this. I should just stop.

You're handling it right, Zen.  Do for your own and if he wants to do the same, just let him do it.  Lol.

Zenmode's picture

When he was still handing out 50$ bills to grown grandkids parents for THEM a to give them that "if they can't come by and at least pick up the $ themselves you shouldn't be giving it to their parents to give them" so he's stopped doing that and tells the parents "tell so and so I've got a little something for them and to come by" I also encouraged him to stop including the step grandchildren in the handout because we haven't seen nor interacted with them for three years now, he's a good man but I feel he allows guilt and his own niceness to be taken advantage of. I spoke with a friend about my own situation with my sons girlfriends ungrateful daughters, she told me she stopped gifting for her own ungrateful grandchildren and started donating in their names to charity of HER choosing, she said "the reaction is exact the same as when I was spending my time and energy searching for gifts for them. No thanks or acknowledgment." So after 7 years of treating these two little girls as if they were my own grand daughters this year I gave them each 20 dollars and some candy. Then I quietly did a gift exchange with my own grandchildren without them there.  You deserve better! 

SeeYouNever's picture

I think after years of it being obvious that you aren't a priority everyone eventually stops making an effort. It takes everyone a different amount of time to learn and give up.

I have seen this happening in my DHs family, first the grandparents gave up, then I did, then my DH, my SILs still make efforts but less so.