Grandmother's Guilt over Babysitting
ANSWER: It is not matter of being selfish, but of creating a successful fit for yourself in your family. You must consider your needs and desires, your adult children's needs and desires for your involvement, and what you want out of your role as a grandparent.
Consider the following questions in determining the right amount of babysitting for you:
There are many possible roles a grandparent can play, and although you may not involve yourself in the early caretaking tasks, that does not mean that you will not be an essential resource to your grandchildren as they grow. Or that you will not develop a bond with a grandchild who is older. Much will depend upon your availability and willingness to reach out when you do have the energy, time, and desire to do so.
Being a happy grandparent means that there must be a successful fit between your needs and the needs of your adult children in caring for the next generation. Grandparents come in all shapes and sizes, and we are all different. Some grandmas love to nurture grandbabies from the time they are born, while others are not the least bit interested in the early stages of child development and prefer to know them as older children. Some grandmothers babysit a lot, others a bit, and some not at all!
The word of warning is that to some extent you will reap what you sow. Do not overtax yourself out of guilt. But do not expect grandchildren to reach out to you in the autumn years of your life, if you have not kept yourself in touch with their lives. Find a balance that works for you and maintains a family bond that will endure through the years.
Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.
Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.
Copyright 1996-2003. Gayle Peterson All rights reserved.