Reddit Is Really Bummed By Dad Who Said He Doesn’t Want To Be An “Active” Grandparent
The grandfather in question said he is “retired from parenting.”
When we think of grandparents in general, a whole host of cliches tend to come to mind. Older, kinder, more available and patient versions of parents who want nothing more than to spend every waking minute doting on their grandchildren. So much so that parents have to set boundaries about how involved grandparents can be in their lives. Except that is not always the case. And one 47-year-old grandfather is pushing back. In a viral post on the popular “Am I The A**hole” sub-Reddit, the grandfather said he’s not interested in being an “active” grandpa, and naturally people had thoughts.
The grandfather in question explained in his viral Reddit post that he welcomed his son “Jake” when he was just 21 years old and “never wanted to be a parent, particularly not at 21.” He was in a short-term relationship with his son’s mother, and despite his resistance to parenthood, he says he did his best by his son. “I would have him every other weekend and for a month during the summer, would do my best to deliver on anything he asked of me, treated him kindly and tried to be a good father.”
When Jake, now 26, grew up, he became a father at 21 himself and, unlike his own dad, was excited to welcome a son. His father, however, told him he was not interested in helping him with his child, who is now 5.
“I told him no. I am retired from parenting,” he explained. “I am turning back to my own life. He has his own home, union job, is engaged, and adult enough to decide to have a baby. He's the adult now. He's the parent. I'll be around and if there are any emergencies, obviously I'll do what I can. But I won't be an ‘active’ grandparent.”
Jake was less than enthused by the fact that his father was too busy with travel, scuba diving, his new girlfriend, and weightlifting to babysit his grandson or go to his Little League tournament and told him so.
When Jake told his dad he wanted him to be on the sidelines for his son, the grandfather declined the invitation. “I told him ‘Jake, I spent 20 years parenting. That's enough.’ He then yelled at me that I am always jetting around, playing like a teenager and not putting him first. I told him that no, I wasn't. I did that for 20 years to get him on his feet as an adult. I've done that and can go back to prioritizing my own life.”
The grandfather reached out to Reddit users to see if he was in the wrong, and he got a lot of complicated responses. “You might not be TA, but you’re ruining your relationship with your son by essentially telling ‘I don’t care about being actively involved in your life, I’ve already done the bare minimum expected of me and I won’t do more,’” wrote one.
Many thought he was in the wrong. “My jaw dropped at all your replies,” one person commented. “I’m so sorry how resentful you are of your son and having to be responsible for your actions (getting a woman pregnant). Parenthood doesn’t stop at 18.”
One Redditor did the math on how much time this reluctant grandfather had actually spent with his son growing up. “I know you said you hung up the parent hat... but that is a brutal and heartbreaking thing to put into practice. He has a kid at the same age you did, but for the first 13 years, you only had him for twice a month, plus an additional month, so that’s 78 days PER YEAR YOU HAD HIM. You only took on more ‘parenting work’ after his mother remarried, so you have what, 5 years of constant parenting?”
Another said, “It’s your life so live it how you want. I don’t think Jake’s expectations are that unreasonable, though ... Parenthood isn’t a job that you retire from.”
Some also acknowledged that this grandfather, of course, doesn’t need to be on the clock 24/7 for his grandson, but being totally absent will have its consequences. “Being a parent never stops my dude you’re entitled to free time but you can’t just tell him you’ve checked out of parenting,” one said, while another added, “I think your attitude is understandable, though cold and distant. Not everyone wants to be a parent or grandparent. Both are a lot of work.”
Ultimately, a lot of people felt as though this grandfather could be doing long-term damage to his relationship with his son and grandson by holding back his attention. As so many of the Redditors noted in their comments, parenting doesn’t really have a finish line. Ever.