Are they responsible for our parenting needs?

On a recent visit to an old colleague’s place, something struck me.

We had gone to meet the little bundle of joy they were blessed with a few months back. We were chatting and sharing non-stop as we were meeting up after almost three years and had a lot to catch upon. In between I casually asked the nursing mother whether she was getting enough sleep and if the baby’s sleep pattern has been regularized. To which our friend responds in negative and goes on to say, “Not at all. She keeps screaming all night long and doesn’t let us sleep at all for even a few hours. Mom and Dad (the grandparents) don’t even come and offer to take care of her and let us sleep. They sleep peacefully knowing that we have to attend office the next day.” To this, his wife responds, “Don’t say like that. They do take care of her the whole day long and they too will be tired.” The parents just did not utter a single word and I could see how hurt they were by this casual remark made by their own son. I felt really bad about it.

I agree having your parents to support you during your parenting days is a big relief and a blessing in itself. They not just help you go to work without having to worry about your child being with a maid or at a day care centre, but they also pass on their wisdom to the children as they grow. Their age and experience helps you bring up the kid wisely. But is it right to expect them to take care of the kids as if it’s their duty? Haven’t they fulfilled their responsibility by taking good care of us and by providing us with all that was necessary? If they are helping us out of their own will, does it give us any right to order or complain about them not doing something more for our kids or for us? Do they deserve to be treated like this?

This might be taken wrongly by those who are in the situation for a variety of reasons including the behavior of the parents. But to me, who does not have anybody back home to support and who has left her kids at the mercy of maids or day care centre all her life, this was something extremely undesirable. My parents stay close by and pick and drop my kids from their day boarding school. And this I believe is too much of a favor they are doing to me and my husband. My in-laws are taking care of my brother-in-law’s child and many a times, I do envy the luck of that child and the bad luck of my children.  I feel bad when they complain that they aren’t able to go to parks like other kids do, or when I have to let go of a dance class or a karate class because my kids come back home from their day boarding only in the evening and by then all these classes are over. Then I pacify myself that one cannot have everything in life.

Photo Credit: The Freeman Family (joeltristafreemanfamily.blogspot.com)

Photo Credit: Google Image Search

Since our parents are doing whatever they can to help us, does it give us any right to expect that they do something more? Or command that they do something more?  I don’t believe so. I feel a little bit of courteousness must have been shown. What would be the effect of such behavior on the growing child? Children are way too innocent and have their own mind and way of judging people. Wouldn’t he/she lose respect for the parents considering he/she knows exactly how much effort has been put in by the grandparents? Our parents have done enough and more for us and I do not believe that they are in any way bound by any rule that says they MUST take care of our children. We must respect the very fact that they have chosen to help us in whatever little ways possible out of their love for us. They have worked hard all their lives compared to us who have much better facilities available due to the technological advances. Isn’t it wrong to expect them to slog hard even at this age? Forcing them and complaining about them in presence of outsiders (even if we are friends), I believe is wrong.

I know I am reacting to something that I have seen and heard without even knowing the background story. But this is what came to my mind after that visit. May be I am wrong and there’s something more to it, like the other side of the coin. But then, I had to share my point of view on the incident. Becoming parents also requires you to be slightly more aware of your actions and behavior because the little one is sure to pick up a lot from you. If you truly want your child to respect you in the right sense, make amendments to your behavior starting today. It definitely matters a lot.

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41 thoughts on “Are they responsible for our parenting needs?

  1. This is so well said Rekha…when I had my little one, my mother used to sit up whole night and go back to work next morning and I used to feel so bad. I felt so lucky to have her, how would I even have manged without her? But then, I know Indian couples here in US who are not that lucky to have their parents here with them during those “novice” days and are forced to manage between themselves.They do survive, yes they do! May be I too would have managed if I had to , but I thank the heavens that I never had to.My mother and father had been so so supportive, I think that was the phase in my life when I felt closest to them

    • It’s the same with all of us. During my nursing days, the first-born used to be awake all through the night, because she slept undisturbed all day long and in the morning around 4 ‘o’ clock, I would rush to my parents room, literally throw her into their laps and try to catch up with some sleep. If it would not have been for them, can’t believe how I would have managed alone both the times. Poor husband too escaped many a accidents due to lack of sleep. And yes, it’s only once we become parents that we realize the importance of our parents in all senses.

  2. rekha yes I agree with you that we don’t know the whole story and so don’t know what can we say. but on the other hand we do know that they take care. And no matter how little that maybe they don’t have to do it, they are only trying to help in some way. I quite agree to your viewpoint on this, they are not at all responsible for the parenting needs.

    Richa

    • Yes Richa! We must accept whatever little that they want to do for the kid and for us our of love, but must never take them for granted. But unfortunately, it is the other way round with many families.

  3. I would say you’re right to judge. I mean, after all they commented about their grandparents’ apparent “indifference” (I know that’s not the word, but couldn’t think of another) to the baby’s cries, in front of two strangers (as you said yourself). But come to think of it, it really depends. It’s not unusual for people to expect that the grandparents will help with child care – I mean, that’s what our society has imbibed in us. Though “we” as a generation may decide not to invoke that due to a variety of a reasons, it doesn’t mean others won’t. For us, Rishi was born in London, and we were there till about his first birthday. We had no one to help us. It was just the three of us, but my wife voluntarily decided to take a sabbatical for a year to look after his well being. We then moved to India, and roles have been kind of reversed. She now works full time, where as I am taking a break. I know I’ll have to probably return to work at some point, but right now, at least till he is two, we want to ensure that we are there, and we set the right examples. The grandparents help when they can, but with her parents being based in chennai and mine in Dubai, it’s not the easiest at times. Hence, we rarely invoke the “help us please” clause. At the end of the day, our kids are our responsibilities and we need to take ownership for them completely. Any help we can get is a bonus. Sorry, I kind of wrote my whole life story here 🙂

    • I must appreciate your decision to be with the kid till he is a bit mature and is able to communicate properly. The sabbatical for one year by each of you is worth appreciating. Not many husbands are willing to (able to might also fit in) do that, more because our society doesn’t approve of it. It’s generally the mother’s duty to take care of the child. And yes about parents, one must accept their willingness to help but it shouldn’t be forced upon them as their duty.

  4. The grandparents help their children with the delivery and post-partum but their help should not be taken for granted and expect them to be round the clock. They too have their own life and are old. Respect their age. W e are a nation of lucky people for parents are ready to help out.

    • “We are a nation of lucky people for parents are ready to help out.”
      Well said Kalpana ji! I couldn’t find any other nation, where parents offer so much help to their children. And that’s exactly why is painful to see people taking it for granted.

  5. I agree with your judgement. Yeah true we don’t know their situation but our children are our responsibility and not our parents. Our parents sacrificed their sleep and everything at our time and expecting that even for their grandchildren are simply wrong.

    • I am already tired taking care of my two naughty ones, imagine having to take care of their little ones too. No way! If I can I will, but it’ll have to be purely my choice. Thus the rule applies to my parents and in-laws too. It has to be purely their will.

  6. Expectations….this word is a scary one and can cause many rifts! You have rightly said and I believe so too that we should not take our parents/in-laws help not just in raising our kids but otherwise too, for granted and neither expect (too) much from them! Whatever they do out of their love or possibly considering a duty should be seen as a blessing and we should be grateful.

    • Expectations! Truly, they are the main reasons for most of the problems. Yes, whatever our parents do for us and for our children out of love is surely a blessing. Thanks for dropping by!

  7. Forget the fact about whether you are being judgmental about your friend or his/her reaction to the grandparents of the newborn. Am glad that this incident provoked this post from you.

    I personally have to completely agree with your point of view on whether grandparents have to compulsorily help out in bringing up children or not. I also believe that any help that the parents get from anybody in their families or outside, especially from either set of grandparents is a huge favor and not a matter of a right. They have done their ‘duties’ by bringing you up and have absolutely no necessity to do it all over again for your children. They have spent more than half their life slogging their butt off for you, earning money, sacrificing their health, laughter, good times, and now expecting them to do it all over again for your children is pure selfishness on your part. And to put it a little more harshly, if you were not willing to make the sacrifices, you shouldn’t have given birth to the children, right.

    Lovely post, highlighting an important unrealistic expectation that parents nowadays have, that of expecting the grandparents of the children to compulsorily help out when the children are still young.

    • Well said Jairam! Many a times, I have seen grandparents have to let go of their social commitments because they haven’t got ‘permission’ from their children and have to take care of the kids. That kind of irks me to no end. Even government has given them an age for retirement, then how can we take them for granted that they slog even beyond the retirement age and that too many be without willingness. Yes, if we aren’t able to provide for our kids and we aren’t able to take care of them on our own, we better shouldn’t have taken the decision to have kids.

  8. As you rightly said, you (and readers) do not know the whole background. However,
    1. The husband definitely appears to be taking his parents for granted.
    2. He should not have made that remark in the presence of outsiders.
    3. Since you’ve said ‘remark made by their own son’, I presume the elderly couple were his parents. In that case, the wife deserves praise for standing up for her parents-in-law.

    • Yes, they were his parents and the daughter-in-law did stand up for them. May be because we were there. But the son’s behavior was not acceptable at all. I could clearly see the pain in his parents’ eyes. Post that conversation, they just sat there as mute spectators.

  9. that was so thoughtless on the son’s part to utter that remark.

    I have been blessed to live in a joint family and with my parents being ultra keen to help me and my wife out, however, even before we planned a kid, we both as a couple were quite clear that we have to take care of the kid. Unless we were ready to do that we shouldn’t plan one.

    Its bonus if you get it, but don’t count on it!

  10. I agree with you completely Rekha.. Grandparents should not be forced to look after our kids.. If they do it out of their own will, its good.. I have myself been brought up in a day-care and never had my grandparents around.. And I don’t expect my kids also to be taken care of by them.. They also need some space and freedom for themselves, after all these years.. They cannot be expected to tend to all the kids’ needs.. and we know how demanding kids are… 🙂

    • I have also been raised in day care centers Uma! And with Dad not with us for a long long time, I respect my Mom for having taken care of us almost all alone. For sometime, we did have our Mamaji and Mausi with us. Our parents have slogged all their life and I would in no manner want them to be stuck with us because they should take care of my kids. They have their own life and it is now their time to enjoy life, either by being with the kids as per their wish or by taking a holiday to a place of their choice or simply sitting idle at their own place. Everyone on us needs some space at some point in time and this is their time. and of course, as you mentioned, our kids are so demanding that we ourselves aren’t able to manage them. Then why bother them. 🙂

  11. That was a thoughtless remark.
    We as a nation take our parents and in-laws for granted when it comes to child care! :-/

    I don’t want my parents disciplining their grandkids, I want them to enjoy them, spoil them. that’s what grandparents are for.
    They did their job of raising children and now, its my turn.

    I feel strongly about this and I feel sometimes, people take advantage of their parents/in-laws in this matter.
    Agree with you Rekha! Completely!!

    • “I don’t want my parents disciplining their grandkids, I want them to enjoy them, spoil them. that’s what grandparents are for.
      They did their job of raising children and now, its my turn.”

      Pixie, you echoed my thoughts here. 🙂

  12. True that we don’t know what actually happens in that house. But such insulting behaviour in front of guests is simply not acceptable. Yes, the kids learn from how they see us behave. I have seen some kids being extremely mean to their maids who take care of them. Yes, even among Indian families here. At the bus stop in front of this building you will notice only maids and grandparents with small children. I never had this privilege, so I guess I will never understand the situation.

    • That’s true Di! People behave with their parents and maids as if they are not humans at all. And yes it pinches to see some children behaving rudely with grandparents and/or domestic maids. Since my second one was born, I have always been at the mercy of maids to handle my home and kids. And I do tell my daughters that it is because of that Didi that I’m able to go and earn money with which I buy them stuff. Wish people were a little more considerate towards their parents. And of course treat fellow human beings (even if it’s your maid) a little more compassionately.

  13. Well said pixie, Grandparents are there to enjoy and spoil their grandchildren! Rekha said it once and I totally abide by it in words and action – sometimes at the cost of her anger.

    • Acha, I know how seriously have you taken that sentence. That’s exactly why the girls call you up every time I scold them. Don’t you forget that I am your daughter and you must be by my side and not on the naughty little ones side. We’ll talk about this in person today. 😛

  14. Someone’s thoughtless remark is food for such a thoughtful post. Rekha, this is what I have always liked about your writing. It comes from a context we all share. And thus, makes me relate to it so well.
    Now, I do agree with you that our parents have done their bit. However, maybe they want to do their bit as grandparents too? Some of them willingly do not want to ‘get in our way’ since our generation does things the way it likes, and sit back. Some others are busy trying to manage their health issues. While a third kind will, if I may say, ‘interfere’ with the parents’ ideas, belittle them and finally brush them off with indifference as ‘modern mentality’. There are all kinds. But I agree with you – rearing our child is our responsibility first. I would like my parents to rest their tired feet. But, do they want to do that? I wonder.
    The son should be ashamed of himself.
    The daughter in law, I admire.
    And I feel bad for the parents. Perhaps, there are more expectations that the son has from them than vice versa.
    The idea of Family is undergoing a sea change. I sure hope what tomorrow holds will be to our liking.
    Wonderful post, Rekha.

    • Thank you for appreciating Sakshi. 🙂

      “However, maybe they want to do their bit as grandparents too? Some of them willingly do not want to ‘get in our way’ since our generation does things the way it likes, and sit back. ”
      So well said! Yes, many a types are there. But I feel whatever they are doing must be out of their own will and not because someone’s expecting them to do it or because someone feels that it is their duty to do it. The interference and modern mentality, I can so well understand.
      Yes, the daughter-in-law was polished and did speak up for them. It was the son’s mentality that irked me.

  15. I guess, the husband is expecting too much from the parents. Glad that the wife acknowledged the efforts put by the parents. Managing a child is no child’s play and if they are doing their bit during the day, it is more than enough!

  16. I think it is wonderful that they want something to do with the children at all. My inlaws have never wanted anything to do with my children and it deeply hurts all of us. It is hard not to make comparisons…but be happy your children have grandparents that love them. My parents would have loved my kids if only they had lived to see them. As it is, they really don’t have any at all. The fact that they want to be apart of your lives should be celebrated because believe me, it could be a lot worse. ♥

    • Exactly Kathy! People don’t value what they have. You don’t have them and so you understand their value.

      “The fact that they want to be apart of your lives should be celebrated because believe me, it could be a lot worse. ”
      I hear you there.

  17. SO true Rekha, once you have it, it becomes harder to appreciate it. I think it is more of an Indian sort of upbringing where we expect our parents to pitch in with the grandkids, just as much as they did with their own. We live in the US and don’t have ANY help whatsoever and we manage just fine. The only thing I really feel my daughter misses out on is the love and knowledge she would get from my parents that being said, they have raised their own children, it is their time to play and have fun with mine- not raise them.

  18. I think the parents should quit babysitting during the day. That would put some sense into that selfish son’s head 🙂
    Jokes apart, I blame the parents in the first place. Concern for others needs to be taught at an early age, and I find most youngsters today are about ‘I,, Me, Myself!’ And the main reason is that parents bend over backwards to do things for them, without inculcating responsibility for their actions. If he has been extricated from all difficulty, all his life, why shouldn’t he expect it now?
    My daughter & I took turns with the grandsons. I chose to stay awake and even danced the night away to music with the older one (the magic wore off a bit with the second :-D)! I am an owl after all, and it helped that I was still in my early forties!!

  19. I feel so sad when people take their parents for granted like this, when they should feel blessed to have their presence. Every little they do is a blessing. First thing is, people must understand it is not their “duty” to do things for their grandchildren.

    Wonderful post.

  20. No, no and no. Our parents are NOT responsible for our parenting needs. I am appalled the man talked the way he did about his parents in front of others. I am totally against couples expecting parents to chip in. Like you I believe, if they help, be thankful. Even then, it would be better to let them off saying it is their time to rest and relax. But expecting them to parent your child is just NOT done. I have been very particular about this in my own life too. My children, rather our children, our responsibility. That’s it. I have passed on the message to my own children too.

  21. If your parents are helping you with the baby, they are doing you a huge favour. The guy should have understood that the child is his and his wife’s responsibility.

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