Why do I al­ways have to be the sec­ond granny?

nov­el­Ist, grand­mother of four and ex-Blue Peter pre­sen­ter, Janet el­lis, 61, an­swers your ques­tions . . .

Daily Mail - - Inspire - Janet El­lis

QI’M THE mother of two grown sons, both hap­pily mar­ried with two chil­dren. When my daugh­ters-in-law had their ba­bies I knew, and ac­cepted, it would be their moth­ers they’d turn to for help and sup­port in the early days. I was happy to take a back seat. But now, as my grand­chil­dren are grow­ing up, I’m find­ing I am still very much the granny in the back­ground.

In both cases my daugh­ters-in­law are in con­trol of the fam­ily di­aries and while they seem to see their own mums al­most every week­end, I am left feel­ing side­lined.

Friends tell me that this is the lot of the pa­ter­nal granny, who will al­ways play sec­ond fid­dle to her daugh­ter-in-law’s mother. It seems so un­fair and, as much as I love my fam­ily, it’s mak­ing me re­sent­ful.

AYou’ve been an ex­cel­lent mother-in-law. You’re demon­stra­bly gen­er­ous and lov­ing in the way you’ve al­lowed these two fam­i­lies to de­velop in­de­pen­dently, with­out crowd­ing them or be­ing needy. Your de­light in your sons’ suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships does you credit.

As you say, in most cases daugh­ters turn first to their moth­ers when handed their new­borns — but that doesn’t mean you should con­tinue to step aside as your grand­chil­dren grow older.

I ex­pect you were in con­trol of the fam­ily di­ary, too. Most women tend to keep track of ev­ery­one’s do­ings — and not nec­es­sar­ily be­cause we’re bet­ter at it (al­though the jury’s out)!

If you feel left out of ar­range­ments, it’s un­doubt­edly more out of habit than a strat­egy de­signed to ex­clude you. Al­though the other grand­moth­ers seem to have a big­ger pres­ence, it’s highly likely nei­ther of them would mind you is­su­ing a few Sun­day lunch in­vi­ta­tions. From the way you de­scribe the sit­u­a­tion, there’s no ri­valry. Your daugh­ter- in- law’s moth­ers have es­tab­lished close enough re­la­tion­ships with the chil­dren to al­low room for you. They may even be pleased to share the grand­par­ent­ing. I pre­sume you’re in touch with both your sons’ fam­i­lies of­ten enough to know what they’re up to (even if that in­volves hear­ing about what they did with the other grand­moth­ers). The way for­ward is not to make de­mands (which doesn’t sound your style), but sug­ges­tions. As well as en­quir­ing which week­end they’d like to see you, have you con­sid­ered tak­ing your grand­chil­dren out or hav­ing them to stay? As they get older, you could con­sider do­ing things with them in­di­vid­u­ally. You could even of­fer to babysit. You might not have seen as much of your grand­chil­dren as you’d have liked when they were very lit­tle, but that will have no ef­fect on how they see you from now. Your track record in child-rear­ing is ter­rific, and your con­cern not to tread on toes ad­mirable. Don’t set­tle for sec­ond fid­dle when you’re well qual­i­fied to con­duct the band.

If you have a ques­tion for Janet, please email it to janetel­lis@dai­ly­mail.co.uk

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