Things They Can’t Say: The Dose of Reality

Ashley and Lisa feel that if it takes a village, shouldn’t that village be honest and hold each other up, rather than knock each other down by pretending we are perfect? At The Dose of Reality, you will get that kind of truth, because we believe strongly in telling it like it is, like it really is.

Things They Can’t Say: Sometimes People We Love Let Us Down

We always dreamed that our children would be fortunate enough to live near their grandparents. Neither of us had that situation growing up and always longed for the type of relationship that comes from being geographically close. There’s nothing better than knowing your grandparents, the people who love and cherish you in a way that no other grown-up can, are right there for you.

As adults we felt so strongly about this, we both even moved our families hundreds of miles in order to be in the same city as at least one set of grandparents.  We felt great about this. We felt like we were giving our children a special gift.

In the beginning with our first children, it seemed like it was going to be exactly as we had imagined. The grandparents were interested, invested, and happily involved in their first born grandchild’s life. Sadly, this was not to last.

We both saw, as our children grew and our second children were born, the interest wane. Now instead of actively pursuing time with their grandkids, we had to call and request their presence. And not just for weekend activities, but even for events that should be foregone conclusions like birthday parties or recitals. It’s amazing to us how similar our situations are given that we are talking about two completely different sets of parents in different families.

They just didn’t seem to care about their grandchildren in the same way they once had.

It was upsetting—yes to us, but more importantly, to our children. They noticed. They asked questions. They wondered what they had done to fall out of their grandparents’ favor. They hurt.

How do you explain to your child that, even though their grandparents live ten minutes from their home, they are never around?

You may wonder if our parents are too feeble to spend time with young kids. You may wonder if we have even told them how our children feel.

Well…both sets of grandparents are perfectly physically capable. In fact, they literally travel around the world every year. Also, we do not shy away from talking about things that are important to our children. We have had many conversations with them pleading for things to change. But nothing does change.

The sad reality is that our children are not their priority.

This fact crushes us, not for ourselves, but for our children. We’d always assumed that grandparents living nearby would *want* to have a close relationship with their grandchildren.

Sometimes people we love let us down.

Be sure to leave Ashley and Lisa some comment love and then go visit The Dose of Reality.


  1. says

    Oh, how this speaks to me. And sometimes you establish your life around them and they up and leave. However, I have some uplfting news. They can change or sometimes have a change of heart and come back to us, just when you are about to up and leave yourself. No, it’s not perfect but ok.

  2. says

    Oh, how I feel for you two and your kids. I’m in the same boat and it does hurt, especially when your child comes up and asks why grandpa and grandma don’t want to spent time with them. I can’t talk about this on my own blog but wish I could. I feel I would be able to get some emotional support and tips to deal with this situation. My own mom lives two hours away from us and dotes on my children and we wish we could see each other more.  
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    • says

      Yes, Susi, exactly! We both have other set of grandparents that try to be more connected although they are hundreds of miles away.   (and we never could have posted this on our own blog either!)

      We’re so sorry you are in this boat, too. It’s nice to know we’re all not alone, though–because it can feel that way sometimes. 

  3. says

    I’m sorry to hear that your children’s grandparents are like that. It’s pretty heartbreaking, especially since they are being hurt by it. 
    My mother can’t get enough of my baby girl, and her other grandson as well. I love it. 
    My daughter’s other grandmother, is okay about her, but won’t really go out of her way to spend time with her. But then again, my daughter’s father doesn’t go out of his way to see her much either. (Neither grandfather is in the picture at all). But luckily she’ll always have my mom, and my current boyfriend’s mother is always pretty excited to see my daughter, so she definitely isn’t missing out on much. 
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  4. cl says

    Oh, wow, how sad. I do think it is that way for some grandparents, though. I think they just want their ME time and don’t want to spend the time.

    I am a grandmother to two little ones, 3 and 5. Those kids are my life. Sure I am pooped out many times when I babysit or see them, but it is all worth it. Heck, they have been sick the last few days with fevers, and guess what, I am there. I take care of them like they are my own, I love them that way, too. My daughter is pregnant with another one and my husband and I are thrilled! We would both love tons of grandkids!

    I am very nurturing, yet there are many people who are not. Sometimes it is just the way it is, sad to say. I wish mine lived next door so I could see them every day.

    How adroable they are!

    • says

      Cl, you have no idea how validating it is to hear this from a grandmom. We can’t thank you enough for commenting.
      Now that you mention it, the grandparents we are speaking about weren’t exactly nurturing as parents. I guess we just thought it would be different as a grandparent. Maybe it’s partly because it was different …at first. Maybe that’s part of why it’s so hurtful. Our younger children, who never really had their involvement, are less hurt by their indifference than our older children who remember when they seemed to care more.  

      • cl says

        You know I never knew that not all moms were nurturing till I heard it on the radio one day. I was like-what the heck? I thought it was a given.
        I just alway wanted to be a mom, so maybe that might be another difference because maybe they are more career driven and I have never been. But I can see how it would be more hurtful for the older kids. The thing is though, I enjoy the older ages even more than when they were younger (like 2) because they are so funny-all they say and do! So they are really missing out because they don’t get to see who these little ones really are.

        I hope they realize before it is too late how important it is. If not, are there any older people who would love to be around-such as an aunt? Great grandparents or anyone?

        May you and yours have a very Merry Christmas

        and I hope it all works out for you for the best!

  5. cl says

    Oh and my Mom who is 80 this year has bad health but drives over an hour each week to see them and cook for them, take them out, etc. She says they keep her alive!

  6. says

    Hi Ashley and Lisa, I can relate. My own parents are NOT the grandparents I thought they would be. I too envisioned them being more attentive, more involved. And my kids DO notice as well. My oldest is 6 now, and it took, like, the first 4 years of his life before I had to come to terms with this reality. It’s sad, but as with anything we make the best of it. It takes a village and while my parents are a part of that village, there are other adults who are loving and supportive and care for my kids. So, we’re moving on. Thanks for you words here. Always good to know we’re not alone :)  

    • says

      Exactly, Sarah. So well said. Thank goodness we have other folks in their lives who love and support them. We’re cobbling our village ourselves! It’s taken us a long time (and we’re still not all the way there, frankly) to come try to terms with this new version of “normal” where all this is concerned, but we’re getting there. 

  7. says

    Ughh…this gets me. It makes me so sad knowing both of you and how shame on the grandparents for missing out on you and your children’s lives. I can’t imagine my parents not being the way they are and it makes me hurt for you guys. I do know what it is like to have grandparents that are not what you had hoped for and it sucks. I hope that both of you can feel the love that those of us that might not share a gene pool with you have for you guys.
    AnnMarie recently posted..Essence of Now: Ballet, Flu, DecorationsMy Profile

    • says

      Oh AnnMarie, you are absolutely the sweetest! You have no idea what your words mean to us. 
      We love all that you write, but especially love reading your posts about your family get-togethers. We’ll always chat about them and the wonderful photos… and it always makes us feel good to see your special family bonds because we adore you.  (then we both agree immediately that we want to be adopted by your family)

  8. says

    I think our expectations get us in trouble sometimes. I’ve been disappointed more than once about what I thought loved ones would do – and they didn’t. The grandparents are maybe feeling their own time getting short and want to continue to keep busy as long as they can. Maybe they weren’t close to THEIR grandparents and don’t understand how special that relationship can be. I’d try not to be negative to your kids about the situation. When your kids are older, young adults, things might have the opportunity to change, and you wouldn’t want your kids to be bitter and not give the grandparents a chance. There’s still hope!
    Mare recently posted..Twelve Days of GoodiesMy Profile

    • says

      You’re right, Mare. It would not do our children one once of good to hear how unhappy we are with their grandparents. We would never, ever do that to them. (but we’re lucky we have each other to lean on and vent our feelings!)
      Unfortunately, especially for our older children, their feelings are becoming negative all on their own because they feel hurt. They see other kids with grandparents present at things and wonder why theirs are absent even though they are in town. It’s just hard.  

  9. says

    After my husband and me, my children’s grandmothers are the most present adults in their lives. Plus aunts and cousins. We are so blessed. We moved to be close to family too, and fortunately, it has made all the difference. May your parents come to realize what they are missing.

    • says

      Oh, that’s so wonderful to hear, Duffy. That’s exactly the way it should be! It’s nice you have aunts and cousins to surround your children with love, too! What a wonderful blessing that is! :)

  10. Kaylee says

    Are your children reasonably well-behaved? Not perfect (who is?), but reasonably, age-appropriately civilized? Try to be a little bit objective. Do you impose a billion rules on the grandparents when they see the kids? Have you used/abused the grandparents by making them into unpaid babysitters? Cancelled grandparent outing at the last minute a million times? Do the grandparents spend lots of time with their other, better behaved grand kids?

    If your kid is a terror, it’s entirely possible THAT is the reason the grandparents do not want to spend much time with them. Do you insist your kids destructive “quirks” are a medical problem (vs kid is a spoiled brat?)and make the grandparents never ever tell the kid no. 

    • says

      Well… Lisa has a 12 year old that likes reading and will sit for hours doing just that. He gets straight A’s and is one of the sweetest preteen boys you’ll ever meet. Both Lisa and Ashley have 9 year old girls who are pretty mature and fun to be with.   They are content to snuggle by your side or play a card game. Ashley has the youngest of the lot at 4 years old, and she is a doll.  So…nope…it’s not the kids (and it’s not as if we have tiny tots that need a lot of watching).  We both have babysitters we pay, so it’s not that. (If the grandparents did babysit they’d actually be seeing the kids, though.) For both grandparents these are their only grandchildren, so it’s not like they are having to split up their time with other children. 
      So no…our kids aren’t brats and they don’t have “destructive quirks”…and “no” is one of our favorite words. 
      Thanks for trying to be helpful though!

  11. says

    My boys are very lucky that their paternal grandparents are around, very much involved and present and want to be. My parents are 2 hours away so they don’t get to see or spend much time with my kids, but it’s not their fault. Not entirely. I think effort could be made from both parties (mine and my parents), but we just haven’t. Time to reevaluate for 2013.

    I hope that your parents come around soon. Grandchildren are blessings. 
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  12. says

    I can relate to this post.  My 12yo feels the lack of the we-think-you-hung-the-moon kind of grandparent relationship that I had growing up.  He knows what he’s missing because he had a close relationship with his great-grandpa (my grandpa) for the first 8 years of his life.

    “Poppy”  was the putter around outside, take nature walks together, do projects together,  talk about deep stuff, accept you as you are kind of grandparent that I wish every child had.  I miss him everyday.  So does my son.  

    I wonder if Baby Boomers are just a different kind of grandparent than the Greatest Generation were/are. They were certainly different as parents.  (Generalizing–but still.)

    Kaylee:  My son is well-behaved.  But he’s also a kid.  He makes messes sometimes.  He likes candy.  He wears his hair longer than a buzz cut.  These things come up again and again with his grandparents as if they were *faults* of his.  Kids are a work in progress–as are we all.  An insistance on adult-level behavior is unrealistic, and it leads to missing out on the real live child in front of you.        

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    • says

      Oh, your “Poppy” sounds just beautiful and wonderful. I wish every child did have a grandparent (or great grandparent) like him.  You can just hear from your words how much you both miss him. 
      It’s got to be harder for your son now, knowing what that kind of relationship feels like. That’s just so sad.
      Maybe the baby boomers are different. That’s a really interesting point.  (Not all of them, of course, but some). 

  13. says

    I’m blessed in that even WITH 600 miles between us, my parents make the effort and , quite literally, go the extra mile, but I do understand that of which you speak. My ex husband’s mother was much the same as yours. She never made our children a priority and it was really hard for my ex, especially with my mom be Super Grandma.
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    • says

      We’re so glad your mom is Super Grandma! That is adorable! It’s funny, for both of us the other set of grandparents that both live hundreds of miles away know more of the day to day of our children’s lives than the ones that are here in town. 

  14. says

    I can really relate to this. My gandparents lived 1 mile from me growing up and they were like a second set of parents. I lvoed spending time with them and we had a wonderful relationship. My mom is the only grandparent who lives close by and she has no interest in spending time with my kids. It really hurts me, but thankfully the kids are too little to notice. I know that I cannot change her, and that is the hardest part.
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  15. says

    That sucks! I grew up very far fro both sets of grandparents and only got to see them twice a year. All of my other cousins (of which there are many!) had completely different relationships with our grandparents b/c they attended bday parties/wrestling matches/dance recital etc. When we first had children we were very far from 1 set of gparents & 8 hours from the other set. At a very young age our children knew who made them a priority. We moved closer to them and now further away and it’s heart breaking for my kids and the grandparents.
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    • says

      Oh that must be so hard to have been so close to them and then had to move away. :( My husband’s parents live in the same town as two of their grandchildren, so I know exactly what you mean about the different relationships…my in-laws, however, really make an effort to still know my children!
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  16. says

    That’s really, really sad. I wish I could explain it.  Even with my own kids, one set of grandparents seemed totally involved, but the other only participated when prompted. I guess that’s better than nothing. In the end, my kids reciprocate a lot–The grandparent who makes them feel special gets the impromptu visits and phone calls and has special relationships with the kids. The other grandparent probably doesn’t notice or mind the distance. Too bad.
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  17. says

    I’m late to the party, but Lisa and Ashley just mentioned this to me and I wanted to check it out. First, it’s beautifully written, which I find inspiring because their hurt and anger really shows through. When I’m pissed, I generally drop a lot of F-bombs rather than take the high road and use complete sentences and SAT vocabulary words. So, kudos to keepin’ it classy, ladies 😉

    My mother is the biggest culprit, which shouldn’t have surprised me seeing as how she was very “hands-off” when my brother and I were growing up, but I silently hoped she would be “born again” as a parent when her grandchildren came around. With our first, she was interested because he was new. When we got pregnant 13 months later, she literally told us it was a mistake. She said, “Why would you do this to your son?” From then on, I understand how she felt about the choices we were making, and she made it abundantly clear how she felt about our getting pregnant with #3. Whether I need her help because I’m sick or just because I want to go somewhere without the kids, there is always push-back. Always a condition or a complaint, and you know what? I’m over it. If you don’t WANT to see the kids, fine. Then don’t see them. As for my in-laws, what in-laws? They wouldn’t even know they had grandkids unless we reminded them. They live three miles away and never call or visit–nothin’. WTF, grandparents?! Okay, thanks for letting me rant 😉
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