Grandmother seeks help…

by Rod Smith

“My daughter is a single mother and she uses me to baby sit whenever she needs it and then pulls away when her son (5) gets too close to us. This is very hurtful. It feels like we are being used. I don’t complain or say anything because I don’t want her to stop us seeing our grandchild. I would prefer something more routine and I’d prefer her to stand back a little and allow the boy to really love us. Loving us does not mean he will love her any less. Please help.”

Midwest, USA

Midwest, USA

Let your daughter know how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Tell her what you would prefer – a routine. If you have plans and cannot babysit, let her know. This may initially cause her to pull back but probably not for long. It is really important to be honest with the people whom you love. Try spending time with your daughter and her son together. Tell her how much you love her and what a great job she is doing as a single mom. This may have less to do with your relationship with your grandson, and more to do with your relationship with your daughter. Focus on that.

ACT, Australia

ACT, Australia

Being a single mom is difficult. It must encourage you greatly to be able to help your daughter by caring for your grandson. It is very important that you sit down with your daughter and talk to her about the difficulties you see in current arrangement. Ask her to set some boundaries, and you do the same. Let her know how much you love looking after her son, and, as you set the boundaries, communicate your acknowledgment that she is the Mother with all the responsibilities being a mother brings. While caring for the boy you can also re-enforce that your daughter is his mother and let him know that you love being his grandmother or “Nana.” Talk about the importance of ‘what mommy says.’ By the way, your boundaries don’t have to be ‘law’ – they can be flexible so the unexpected may be accommodated. The important thing is to keep the communication open between your daughter and you.



Say it. Say exactly this (the contents of your letter) to your daughter. If you’d like, use your letter written to me as your script. You are being completely reasonable and your observations are accurate. Loving you and your husband, his grandparents, certainly does not mean he will love his mother any less. All parents, not only single moms, need help with the tough challenge of rearing children – and your sound reasoning suggests you are more than an asset to both your daughter and her son.

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