Once in a while, I take time to answer questions posed to me on Quora.

This one hit home, only because I see it happening over and over again in society with today’s generation:

My daughter assumed we would watch her 9 and 7-year-old children 5 days a week. When told it was too much for us, she was angry. We are not allowed to see the children now. What can we do?

Here was may answer…

There’s not a lot you CAN do—but I can provide a perspective and some suggestions you might consider trying…

I have 13 children myself (all boys but nine), and we have 22 grandchildren—and I STRONGLY relate to this “challenge”. Not going to say it’s a ‘problem’, because from my perspective—as bad as this might seem, your child wanted you involved in their life (even if it’s in some skewed way).

Whether its through love, confidence, OR selfishness, it can be to your advantage (more in a second).

Our home is never quiet, and we always have visitors, because one of the biggest aspects of parenting, is parenting the adults once they leave home. We will always be parenting.

All my children come and visit, many of my daughters will call and ask to come ‘stay’—because they don’t feel well, are overwhelmed, or just miss us. Depending on the daughter, that can also mean from one to six children in tow.

Now add my son and his family next door—neighbors on purpose, because our daughter-in-law (whom we adore) has a few rare conditions discovered after her first child was born. It’s common to have my son show up, in my bedroom, at 1am, baby in arms, asking me and mom to watch the baby—and to watch the children still sleeping in their own beds, as he rushes his beloved to the ER.

2–3 times in a week during some months.

Lastly, consider that my wife and I (both over 50) still have five children at home, the oldest being 15 and my youngest only two. We are still in the midst of parenting the whole gambit.

I’m sharing all this to demonstrate the amount of potential chaos we have going on at any given time, our limited capacity (as human beings), and the demand on us at any given time.

Now, my wife and I have a simple saying:

“Not my monkeys, not my circus.”

Another saying that leas from my lips continually is, “Put the monkey where the monkey belongs.”

My children ask my wife and I to watch their kids all the time, and yes—we have some that ‘assumed’ we would…just “because.”

Why would I want their job when I have plenty to do with my own life?

As with any ‘child’, I want to understand their thinking, how they came to a certain conclusion, and do so in a non-encroaching/accusing way (if I can). At the same time, it is CRITICAL to make sure the accountability and responsibility are firmly placed where they belongs.

On them.


The challenge here isn’t that you’ve had the privilege of seeing your grandchildren taken from you. No. The actual challenge is the thought process and decisions-making of your daughter.

Unless you address that, situations like this are most certainly going to happen again.

At the same time, try and take a measure of comfort and strength in knowing this is a learning process for all of you. Unless she tends to hold long-lasting grudges, the situation will most likely change, if you help it.

Right now, a connection needs to be restored and a process of communication started. It won’t be easy, but it’s not complicated.


REALITY needs to be established.

For total transparency here, I don’t know anything about YOU. How old you are, what your capacities are…nothing. So I have to make some simple assumptions here.

  • You love your daughter.
  • You love your grandchildren.
  • You would like to BE of help, but there’s simply a limit to what that CAN be.
  • You are hurt that you have been punished for a lack of capacity you simply don’t have.
  • Your grand kids have also been punished, because their grandparents lack a capacity to meet their mothers expectation.

That’s reality, from what little I can ween from your question.

Hopefully you still communicate with your daughter in some fashion. Regardless, a conversation needs to be started.

If asking to talk to her won’t work, I’d suggest a specific kind apology as an ice-breaker, to get that conversation started. Something like, “[name of daughter], I’m wondering if we could talk…I’d like to apologize for angering you over watching [name of grand kids]. We love you, and we’d like to ask you something important, because we’re confused.”

This type of apology is used, because it’s more likely to be true than not. You don’t want your daughter to be angry, or to be the cause of anger, right? Now, your daughter chose to BE angry—but this isn’t the point. The apology is a tool.

NOTE: If possible, have this conversation face to face. Your daughter should see your expressions, feel your love, concern and confusion.

When you have the conversation, I’d ground the conversation by ask my own daughter, “Do you believe that your mother and I love you?” [yes]

[If no, you have a conversation to find out why and take care of a deeper struggle]

“Do you believe we want to support you in any way we can?” [yes]

[If no, you have a conversation to find out why and take care of a deeper struggle]

Your mother and I are trying understand, because we want to be of help (where we can), why did you assume we would watch [name of grand kids] five days a week?”

[This is where you can talk about your capacities, share your own feeling with your daughter, and seek a mutual understanding.]

…which leads up to:

“We just don’t understand why, when we expressed that watching the children that often was greater than our capacity to do so, you decided to punish both your mother and I, AND the kids for it?”

[Then wait.]

This is to open a conversation for you both. To look at things AS THEY ARE, and gain a better understanding of one another.


A great deal depends on the capacity of both of you, and on how you raised her. Parenting, even when done well—can come back and bite you in the butt, because of the filters our kids process with.

I’ve had this kind of conversation with some of my children, and I always lead it to the TRUTH that those are THEIR children and it’s THEIR responsibility, not mine, to care for them.

Yes, mom and dad are here to helpbut we’re NOT here to do it FOR them.

Hope this helps.


Are you having struggles like this with your adult children? Let me know in the comments below.