"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

Sending them to grandmother's house... and beyond.

Now that my eldest is eight, my mother reminded me that next year he'll be old enough for his "9 year old Yaya trip." The idea being that my mother (yaya) and he would plan and take a trip together - a special place they agree on. It's a brilliant idea, really, that my mother gleaned from another friend of hers who is especially well versed in the art of grandparenting.

Granny_g But wait... nobody asked me if *I* was ready. And wouldn't he get home-sick? Or at least family-sick? He's not been apart from us for more than a single night. Even then, he wasn't very far away (a short drive at the most!) My mother is also not local (although she's an extremely frequent visitor). I'm not sure if she is ready to host a journey solo with my eldest. They spend some time together but there's the awkward situation she would be put in if this trip were to happen. The awkward situation of her being the parental figure, if necessary.

There are two thoughts that keep nagging at me. First, I really don't want to burden her with my child. I know that sounds silly. After all, she's had lots of parental experience (and success - I hope!). I just feel like as a grandparent, she'd want to be more liberal in their relationship than a parent and child would be. So would she just assume the parental figure if things come down to that? Second, they haven't spent all that much time together. In the past, their personalities have gone head to head a few times. I have to admit, my eldest can challenge the limits of even the most patient types!

So I think that maybe we will wait. Until he is 10, perhaps, or 11. That way the experience will be a better one for both of them. The experience that my mother envisions them having. A growing and bonding time together that they will remember for their whole lives. Have any of you sent your children off with grandparents for grand adventures? Have you had any great successes (or great disasters) in trusting both your parents and children to go off on their adventures? Any advice you may have about making trips like this work is welcome!

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My wife and I had the chance to go to Ireland for 10 days when our little girl was 18 months. We hemmed and hawed and decided it was a chance we couldn't pass up. Was there a moment of panic when we left them? Yea, a tinge. But it passed and everyone had a memorable and much needed vacation. Grandma is already scheming to have us leave them again. I can't wait.

My advice is to go for it! They will have a great time and be begging to do it again year after year.

Friends just sent their 6 year old daughter on a 10 day trip to Yosemite with her Grandparents...I wish my parents would take my 6 year old too! This seems like one of the many situations where it depends on the personalities and circumstances involved... I know that my 6 year old would LOVE to go on an adventure with his grandparents and would likely hardly miss us. He's got a very outgoing and adventuresome personality, does well with change, and needs a lot of entertainment. Our sitters and caregivers, (including grandparents and aunts) always tell us that our boys are better behaved when we're gone so I imagine that would likely be the case on a trip too. Sure, there could be some rough patches, but I think those are opportunities for bonding and connecting when handled right, too. For now, I'll hold out hope that they'll get a weekend set aside to take them to their 2nd home, or a few weekend sleepovers with his little brother.

My best memories of my grandmother was traveling together. The first quasi solo trip when was I was 9 and my sister 8. My mother flew with us to the destination but then took a little day trip a couple days into it. The next year, my sister and I did a true solo trip for about a week. We had a blast. And looking back, my grandmother went out of her way to establish herself as the person in charge (more so than when we did family events together) from the get go.

There are also advantages for grandma planning the trip with a kid. My love of exploring and planning a travel agenda, particularly in urban areas, is in large part because grandma pushed and allowed me to shape the trip in ways my parents did not. And never underestimate the power of stranger and new place to bring out the best behavior on your child's part.

We had a few more trips (one a month long) in my early teens and then she passed away from a rare condition when I was only 16 (she was in her 60's). I treasure those memories and am so glad that my mother facilitated those trips.

I say go with your gut, but if it were me I'd be sending my kid away in a heartbeat. What an awesome opportunity for bonding and memories!

I know that my kids' relationship/behavior with any authority figure (teacher, nanny, grandparent) is very different, and generally better, when I am not also around. I think that there is some tension and confusion (very subconsciously) when they aren't sure who's ultimately in charge. My kids (7 and 4) do surprisingly great with my parents when they are off on adventures and I would guess that would be the case for most kids unless their is a real emotional/behavioral issue at hand or the child simply doesn't feel ready/interested him/herself.

I think you should trust your mother and your child and thank your lucky stars she's there. My mother is now passed away and it's folly to assume she'll be there when you're ready. Don't deny them such a special and formative time since life in uncertain and you need to embrace these special moments when they arise since you cannot know what the future will hold.

What a timely post! My four-year-old daughter will be traveling to Florida with her grandparents this Friday. This is her first trip away and she'll be there for a week. She is so excited--she's been talking about it to everyone for weeks! I can imagine there will be times when she feels homesick, since this is a new experience for her. But there's nothing wrong with that. We all have to go through that sometime in our lives, right? My mother-in-law will be in heaven to be able to spend such special time with her beloved granddaughter. I know it will be a wonderfully memorable trip for both of them.

I started going solo to my grandparents' when I was about 12. My grandmother and I took some wonderful trips together. However, no matter how much fun I was having, I was really homesick and dont know that the enjoyment really outweighed the sadness I experienced in retrospect. My grandmother has lovely memories of our journeys and Ive never told her how hard it was for me. My mother knew and tried her best to help. but I really wish she had just not made me go. Or come with us, or something. All this to say, it really is okay to say no if any one of you isnt ready.

My mom is a world traveler. She has been taking her grandkids on Elderhostel trips for years. This year my daughter (8yrs) gets to go on her first Elderhostel trip with my Mom. They will be based at a hotel here in Portland, but she is incredibly excited to travel with Grams and do all the activites that are planned. Elderhostel is a great organization. More grandparents should take advantage of it. It is also very reasonably priced.
http://www.roadscholar.org/programs/grandparenttravel.asp

I think you're waaay overthinking it all. If grandma wants to, and your child wants to, what's the big deal? And, if she needs to put on her parenting hat at some point during the visit, so be it. She wont be around forever, you know.

We lived 3000 miles away from my parents until my daughter was just shy of 5; we'd all spent time together for a week or two at a time, during twice yearly visits during those first five years, but that was it.

When we moved to Portland, my parents were living on the coast, so we still couldn't see them on the fly--it always took a little planning (not like my maternal grandparents, who lived 5 minutes away from us growing up.) Still, almost immediately, long visits and trips with the grandparents commenced.

The only thing I had to let go of was the normal grandparent stuff--more TV, more candy, later bedtimes than I would have allowed. Totally worth it though, for the beautiful relationship my girl was able to have with her grandparents.

I agree with others - you're over-thinking this. Your son likely has a different relationship with your mother than with you, and I imagine she knows what she may be getting into. If you decide to wait, who's to say that your mother will be there, or healthy and willing to take a trip?

I totally understand the reluctance to sit back and let it happen. My son is very close to his grandmother and has spent oodles of time with her. But when she wanted to take him on a backpacking trip (at age 9), I was really uncomfortable. He'd never been backpacking and she's a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants type. I wanted his first trip to be a success and I knew he'd get stressed if something was forgotten. So we pushed it out a year, he took his first trip with my sister and his second trip with his grandmother. It turned out fine, and I don't think the year's delay was a bad thing.

But I just wanted to respond to some of the underlying concerns. I know full well how challenging one of my kids can be to parent. I'm barely scraping by some days. No way do I want someone else to be put in that place because it could be damaging to both of them. What if my mom says something to my daughter that is counter to the direction we're taking with her behavioral issues (with a therapist's guidance)? What if my daughter is upset and doesn't want to spend time with Gramma again? With my son, it would be more a matter of hurt feelings. What if Gramma puts all her time and energy into planning this trip and my son is bored? Sending my kids to their grandparents for more than just an overnight or an afternoon is not simple. At least not for me.

I know my kids have a different relationship with grandparents than they do with me. They don't have the same patterns established. But they are going to spend lots of time together, the grandparents are necessarily going to slip into the parental role and my kids are going to start viewing them as parents.

And I know that we're incredibly luck to have grandparents close by who want to spend time with their grandkids and who are able to. I just want to set them up for success when those experiences roll around. Jumping into a long trip with a child who has some behavioral and emotional challenges? That's more of a gamble than I'm comfortable with, even if the grandparent and the kid are willing to take the risk. I'm the parent. I'm in charge of making those sorts of decisions, not an eight-year-old.

In practical terms for your situation, why don't you suggest a series of small trips, starting with a day's outing just the two of them, then an overnight somewhere close by, building up to the bigger trip which might not happen until he's a little older. It lets them get used to each other one-on-one, easing into the water instead of throwing the baby into the pool to see if he can swim.

This is a timely post for me because this week my 8.5 YO son is at his grandparent's (my in-laws) house about 150 miles away from where we live. He has been doing this for a week every summer since he was 6.5 and really enjoys it because he gets to play with his cousins, he gets some one on one attention from his grandparents, and frankly they let him stay up later (but are actually stricter about food and TV). My son has regularly spent time with his grandparents so there isn't any anxiety on either side w/r/t their interactions and he is generally an independent kid. Plus his grandparents watched him for a couple of week-ends and over nights before we started the week-long thing so we suspected it would work out fine.

On the flip side, my son spent a week at the beach with my parents when he was 5.5 and it wasn't a great experience. Ironically, my son at that point spent far more time with my parents because my mom used to pick him up two afternoons a week and spend time with him. However, the week away proved to be more difficult because my son is an early riser and my parents aren't, my parents didn't pick a kid friendly place to stay, and my son didn't have any kids around his age to play with, so by Wednesday my mom was starting to fray. She actually called us to come and get him Wednesday afternoon, but then he made friends with some kids at the beach and they played together the next few days and my mom could relax a bit so she called off the pick up and they stayed the whole week.

To summarize this really long comment (sorry), I'd say trust your gut w/r/t your parents personality, your son's personality, the planned trip, and how those things will actually mesh, not how anyone wishes they would mesh.

I think 9 is a good age since it's a time when they really need to start moving to that next level of independence and being with a grandparent can be a semi-sheltered way to do that. It's important for kids to spend time outside of their comfort zones and be challenged a bit since it builds confidence and helps them develop into confident human beings. Always being catered to or under a mother's control can hinder growth and sometimes kids just need time away. I find the notion that a child at 9 can't function unless micromanaged troubling. Just my 2p.

What a wonderful opportunity your son has to spend with his grandmother! How very generous of her to offer such a gift of time, bonding and new experiences. Yes, we all "parent" in different ways and often grandparents have their own set of rules & expectations, but I'd see this as giving your child the chance to learn about life. I had a very special relationship with my grandmother and much of that included some wonderful trips--she traveled differently than my own family does now, but I have amazing memories of our time together, the chats we had, fun moments we spent. Also, it's healthy for kids to spend some time away from their parents--they learn and grow in their own ways. It's also good, I feel, for young children to spend time with older people--they have a lot to learn and gain from this. I hope you let them go on a journey together! Nothing is perfect, life can be short, take advantage of this!

For the past two summers we have sent our oldest to her Mimi in San Diego - last year she was 5 1/2 and went for 5 days; this year she went for 10 days (I flew down on day 7 to pick her up and fly back with her). She has formed some wonderful memories in these trips. She is our oldest of three, and this is a really special time for her to bond with her grandmother and get that one on one attention. My MIL takes her to plays, does art, goes to the local attractions - she really plans a fun week. This last trip, the read a beautiful children's book with the theme of travels and they may their own travel journal with pictures of the trip. She has read it non-stop since she returned. Her younger sister (3 1/2) is so jealous and is anxiously awaiting her own mimi trip once she turns 5.

The first time I sent her, it was definitely hard - I think it was harder on me than her though. My husband shared a similar experience with his grandmother, and to this day, these are some of his fondest memories. I, on the other hand, had grandparents on the East coast who I rarely saw, and did not feel close to at all - I wish I could have had the experiences that my daughter is having. In terms of the right age for this, I guess I look at it from the perspective that our parents are not getting any younger and I would hate to have a decline in health, or heaven forbid a passing, to prevent my children from having these experiences - you have to seize the opportunity! I know my daughter has really benefited from her independent time away from me and her sibs, and the amazing one on one time she is sharing with her grandmother.

My nephew, who is 9 years this fall, just went on a 4 day trailer camping trip with his grandpa (my dad). My nephew is a *very* difficult kid, with a lot of particular things he does and doesn't like, and behavioral issues to go with it.

They had built up to it with several overnights in the trailer in the backyard, and several 2 night trailer camping trips in previous years. They took the trip slow, and didn't rush. My dad went at a kid's pace, with lots of flexibility built in for doing what E. wanted to do.

They had an amazing time. My dad can't stop talking about how much fun they had. I can hear the absolute joy in his voice when he describes all the special experiences they had together.

In terms of the parent role, I don't think my dad played the parent at all. In fact, he planned all sorts of special "forbidden" things for them to do -- root beer floats every night, smores, etc. My dad also encouraged him to take his video game player (whatever it is called, I don't know), and let him play on it to his heart's content. In my mind, this is what grandparents are for. As long as some basic ground rules are respected (like food allergies and basic safety), I think grandparents should be able to "spoil" their grandkids on a special trip or overnight. A kid is going to know the difference between this special trip and "real life," and will not expect the house rules you have to suddenly change just because "grandma said I could."

My husband and I leave our kids (one of them has a developmental disability and has a lot of food and behavioral issues) with his parents for 1-2 night trips several nights a year, and it's the best thing we can be doing for them and ourselves. We desperately need the break, and our kids love going to "Camp Grandpa." In fact, we just got back from two nights in Bend a few weeks ago. As we were preparing to leave, the kids kept urging us out the door, so excited were they to start their adventures with the grandparents. As for my husband and I, we came back from that trip feeling like normal human beings again, not like the go-to-work-pick-up-kids robots we had been feeling like.

I think it depends a lot on the child and the grandparent. My daughter is 9, and if my mother-in-law were still alive, I would love to see them spend time together. My mother is available, but has a tendency to say things that I'd rather not expose my daughter to at this age. I think when she's 11 or so, and less likely to be impacted by anything my mother says (about looks, size, race, poor people, rich people, religion, sex, etc.), I'll be more willing to let my daughter spend time with her out of earshot. As it is, we have lots of interesting discussions about how much has changed since her grandma was young, and how we don't hold views similar to hers. Although it is an educational experience of a sort, I don't think even an overnight of it is a good idea right now.

Some of my happiest childhood memories are of spending time away from my parents alone with my grandmother. We didn't go on trips, but I loved spending time doing art projects with her (she was an artist) in her big old house and listening to her tell PG-rated dirty jokes. My grandmother died when I was 13 and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to have that special time with her. We never know how long we will have the people we love in our lives and it's really touching that your mom wants to create a special memory for your son with this trip.

I would talk with your son and see how he feels about the idea of being away from you (and with his grandmother) on a trip like this. If he's enthusiastic about the idea, I'd work with your mom to make sure you plan a trip that he will really enjoy, won't be bored with, and that isn't likely to be too stressful for either of them.

My son is only 2 so won't be going on a trip like this for a while, but I've left him in the care of my parents for 2 nights on a few occasions and he's had a fantastic time. It's been a great bonding experience for them.

What a great thread and so many opinions! My kiddo is still too young too appreciate an extended trip, but enjoys local grandma time. I remember however, being a young one (5 or 6 and up) and my parents leaving my sister and I at our grandparents for a week or more in the summer, while they did their own travels. Those are still some of my fondest memories. We idolized our grandparents and loved their attention. And as far as discipline, I was so so shamed when my grandmother had to scold me, that I cried. More meaningful to upset my grandmother than my own mother. They are now deceased, and I only hope my child's grandmother will give her the same wonderful memories, when we are ready.

Also, I say go for it!

like so many others have said, it depends on lots of things. of course it's a blessing to have grandparents who are available and want to be connected with our kids! and i'll admit that my own kids often thrive with levels of independence that make me wince a little at first.

but i was one of those kids who was sent to spend a week alone with grandparents every summer and hated it. my 1 living set of grandparents insisted that i come and stay each year, but i dreaded and painfully endured those times. my grandparents lived on a lot of land far from any town, and they were very unhappy people. for a week, their reality was my whole world, and it was crushing. i still feel sick when i remember it. the upside may be that i learned to spend time alone outside, and i think of that as a refuge even today. but it in no way made me feel closer to my grandparents.

in the OP's case, it sounds like there's potentially a beautiful relationship that could grow more through time spent just as grandmother and grandson. but i'd urge any parent making such decisions to think about what sort of relationship already exists to build on, start with short solo visits, and check in with everybody involved before moving to longer ones.

In June we ended up sending our 4 year old daughter to Idaho with my sister -in-law. It was supposed to be a week, however logistics made it necessary to be 11 days. She split her time with her Aunt W. and at the grandparent's place.
Yes, we missed her. Yes, it seemed like she was too young for such a long trip away. Luckily we have family that is great with kids.
Turned out, she didn't want to come back. She had such a great time. My family was so glad to get so much time with her. It ended up being absolutely wonderful. We'll do it again next summer. My daughter now talks about our Idaho family regularly and can't wait until our next trip there. It was amazing.

Every child and family is different, for sure, but while you might be avoiding difficulty or challenge by letting go, you also might be avoiding amazing bonding and buckets full of love.

At age 3.5, my parents started pushing for a week visit in the summer. I said if I thought he was ready (I had a few markers for my feeling of ready)... which he met, so he went,and all was well- though he was done with it all by the last day. If he hadn't seemed ready by my markers, I would have changed the plan. But that is for at their house.. no way would I send him traveling.. he sleeps sooo poorly in hotels as it is.

Our almost six-year-old just came back from spending a full week at my parents' house, about 150 miles from here. They all had a ball and she felt very independent and grown-up to be away from us for so long.

Part of what made this trip successful is that the three of them have a solid foundation already. I was also more comfortable because my parents were doing this together, as I know having another adult around as backup made it easier for my mom & dad.

I would have to seriously reconsider if:
- my parents wanted to take her on vacation somewhere other than their place
- they would've been more than a couple hours' drive away
- I didn't trust my parents to uphold certain behavioral standards
- I didn't trust my parents, period. (For instance, I would also trust my mother in law & her partner to care for our daughter. But my father in law & his wife are too lax in the safety/oversight department.)

A few questions to consider:

Do you trust your parent enough to leave your child in their hands? Will they take good care of the child? Do you think the child will enjoy the time alone with Grandma? Is it possible for you to go with them on the trip?

I think it's totally fine to wait until you/your child are ready for and comfortable with such a trip. You are the parent, you make the decision that is best for your family. It's ok to say no, and you should be asked if it's ok.

It seems like most people on this particular post/response are being positive and encouraging. Others are instilling fear and doubt...really??? This is your mother (likely not perfect)...you are a mother, too (likely not perfect)...we all need to relax as parents these days and let things be a bit more...our own parents are not going to (hopefully) do anything harmful or devastating to their own grandchildren--they want to enjoy a positive experience if we "let" them. Relax, people, let life be and let go of control because chances are it isn't doing yourself or you family a lot of good. We don't need to be so controlling.

I have left those decisions up to my kids. My oldest has always been independent and the benefits of the trip always outweighed any homesickness for her. She's been all over with her grandparents. She's been to Disney World, which is something I couldn't ever manage to take the whole family to do, but very much wanted her to experience. My youngest is a Mama's girl, but just had her first week without me, with my mother in Hawaii. She was reluctant, but knew Hawaii couldn't be that bad. I say ask your son what he wants to do and what he's comfortable with and take it from there.

i don't see anyone instilling fear and doubt. i see a few comments about bad experiences or concerns specific to their families. but even in those comments, the message is pretty consistently, "do what feels right for your family." i posted about my bad experience as a kid because that's what actually happened for me. no reason not to share when someone's asking about it.

I have so many wonderful memories of spending summers with my grandparents. I was very lucky and had 4 sets of grandparents for most of my childhood and spent time with all of them away from my parents. All very different experiences, but all amazing memories for me and my brother. My 4 y.o. daughter has only one set of grandparents and I would never even think of not letting her spend time with them - overnights, trips, camping, etc. I agree with some of the above posts - I think there is a lot of overthinking - they are grandparents and getting to do things you don't usually get to do at home or eating something you don't usually get to eat is all about experiencing life. It's not going to damage all the work we have done as parents, they will just have great experiences and make great memories and make happy grandparents too!

I think it depends on the child. Some children can handle it better than others. At also depends how long they are going and how far. Start with a few days at first.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment