The animosity between grandparents can be a tricky issue to face, whether it’s because one set of grandparents is spending more time with the grandbabies or perhaps in a better financial position to spoil them, a festering animosity – or granimosity as it’s been coined – can soon spoil more than just one relationship.
Your first grandbaby is supposed to be something you look forward to – but what happens when jealously creeps in and you find yourself on the outer as the other set of grandparents take centre stage. For one grandma in the US, this is her exact predicament. Desperate for help, she reached out to advice columnist Harriette Cole of Dear Harriette for help dealing with her green-eyed monster.
The woman revealed her daughter has just had her first baby – the woman’s first grandchild – but because her daughter lives interstate she is closer to her in-laws, and the woman is feeling bitter about the time they’re spending together.
“My daughter recently had a baby — my first grandchild,” she wrote.
“The problem is that she lives out of state, and she’s now living in close proximity to her mother-in-law. They spend a lot of time together, and the mother-in-law is getting to know my granddaughter well.”
Though she doesn’t disclose where or how far away she lives from her daughter, the desperate grandma says she’s unable to move closer and has started to feel bitter.
“I cannot move closer to my daughter, nor can I take much time off work to see her,” she wrote. “How can I be just as involved in my granddaughter’s life as my daughter’s mother-in-law? I don’t want to be bitter about their new relationship, but I am”.
Harriette’s empathic advice starts by reassuring her that unfortunately, her experience is completely normal because of the distance between the families. She says, “One of the downsides of living far away from family is exactly what you are experiencing,” before going on to warn her about controlling her jealously.
Harriette says she should be grateful that her daughter has such great support nearby, particularly during the early stages of the baby’s life.
“I want to caution you to work hard not to be jealous of your daughter’s mother-in-law,” she says.
“Consider it a blessing that she is there and can support your daughter and her young baby. As you know, tending to a newborn is time-consuming, and it is invaluable to have support from your family.”
Harriette’s advice focuses on ways the grandma can engage with the family digitally and suggests she invests in some devices to help and plan visits as frequently as she can.
“Instead of being bitter, figure out creative ways to engage. Invest in a device that will allow you and your daughter and family to have video chats on a bigger screen,” Harriette suggests.
“We got the Alexa Echo device in order to see and talk to my mother who is in an assisted living facility. It is easy to use and to see, and it creates an opportunity for us to feel close, even from a distance. Talk to each other daily so your grandbaby gets to know your voice and your face.
“Plan visits when you can, and accept that you are all doing your best. Resist resenting the mother-in-law. Instead, thank her for giving amazing support.”