Counsellor Q&A: Our daughters using us

Q: My daughter had a baby at 17 and her partner lost interest in supporting her soon after. She has now gone back to college, so me and her dad help out with the childcare. She’s met a young man at college who she’s now going out with and is asking us to do more babysitting at weekends so she can see him. We want her to be happy but can’t help feeling she is not facing up to her situation.

Reanne, Fife

A: While it’s natural for your daughter to want a social life, she needs some help to balance her commitments. Here are three pointers to help her…

1. Set firmer boundaries. Are you prepared to baby-sit at the weekend at all? Rather than tell your daughter to ‘face up to her commitments’, try saying, ‘I’m willing to baby-sit every second Saturday from 7-10pm, but I’d like to know if you need me by Thursday evening so I can plan my weekend.’

2. Saying ‘no’ more often doesn’t have to be harsh. It sounds like your daughter is taking some really positive steps and managing her situation with some maturity. So as you start to retreat on how much you’re willing to help, keep telling her what a great job she’s doing and how proud you are of her.

3. Being a childcare gran can be hard, but the more support you can get, the easier it will be. Try The Grandparents’ Association or call 0845 434 9585 for details of help groups in your area.

Emma Marlin, Counsellor


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