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Since You Asked: Single and Helping With the Daughter’s Kids

Are you a single grandparent whose son-in-law isn’t pulling his weight? Susan helps us navigate this tricky family dynamic.

Dear Susan,

Please lend me your wisdom and perhaps a dose of humor to help me navigate a tricky family situation. I am a full-time employed business owner and a single grandparent. I visit my daughter every few months to spend time with my FIVE amazing grandkids. While I adore my grandchildren, the real challenge is often with my son-in-law, who behaves like he is the star of a “telenovela!” Here is the scoop: he is just not present when he has to watch the kids. He is glued to his phone and laptop. He is often impatient and annoyed by the children and pawns them off on me, his parents, or a neighbor. Meanwhile, my daughter is the “default parent” which isn’t fair to her (I have a hard time with this). When I’m around, he barely acknowledges my presence, and sometimes his behavior is downright disrespectful. It’s like I am invisible, unless he is boasting about some grandiose work accomplishment, or whining about how much work he has. Ay Dios Mio!!!

I want to support my daughter, but he is making me “loca!” Help!!

“Abuela in a Telenovela”

Dear Abuela in a Telenovela,

First off, let me just say that you are a superhero for attempting to wrangle five grandchildren. Seriously, you are amazing. I am a single grandparent as well and I feel like no one talks about “single grandparenting.” However, the reality is that you didn’t raise your son-in-law, and navigating that is quite the challenge. 

Let me suggest the following:

• Tell your daughter how you feel. Tell her you are not here to be an overworked (unpaid) nanny! Between you and me, you love those kids, but you didn’t sign up to be an extra in his soap opera!

• Tell “Señor Dramatico” that you need a break. He can put down his phone and actually parent his own kids, right? I can’t guarantee this conversation won’t go “south of the border,” but sometimes you have to set boundaries.

• Suggest family counseling. Think of it as hiring a director for your family sitcom; everyone gets a role and no one’s the diva.

• Finally, have an escape plan. I used to stay with my kids in their home and now I get a hotel when I visit. I leave before bedtime and have some chocolate waiting for me. Chocolate cures everything, right?

Single grandparenting is HARD! Many women like ourselves have second careers or still have to, or choose to, work. And the stigma of being the mother-in-law doesn’t help. 

So here is to all the grandmas out there navigating family drama with patience, a lot of love (self-love, too) and perhaps a lovely piece of chocolate. This is not easy, but you are fabulous and I see you. xoxo

See medical disclaimer below. ↓


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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

Susan Guidi
Susan Guidi has been the owner of Advanced Ultrasound Services for more than 25 years. She is a pioneer in diagnostic ultrasound technology. Susan trained at John Hopkins Hospital. She taught some of the first courses in ultrasound in Chile and then received her master’s degree in Paris, France. She is a mother of 3 and grandmother of 7. In her spare time Susan is a standup comedian and improv artist. At 65 she became a bodybuilder and motivational speaker. Last year at 66 she produced, wrote and performed her One Woman Show, "What if Wonder Woman was 66."


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