Many people find great joy in being a grandparent: you get to see your family grow, experience the joy of a child without quite so much responsibility, and just get to know a new person who has a special place in your heart. But not all grandparents feel the same.
This week, a grandpa to one took to Reddit’s famous Am I The A**hole forum to ask if he’s within his rights to opt out of being an “active” grandparent. Basically, the guy never wanted to be a dad in the first place and is now enjoying doing what he wants to do — and he doesn’t have any interest in being a huge part of his grandson’s life.
As he explains, he’s 47 years old and has a 26-year-old son named Jake and a 5-year-old grandson named Mike. It wasn’t his idea to become a dad and he never had much of a relationship with Jake’s mom.
“To be blunt, I never wanted to be a parent, particularly not at 21,” he explained. “However, Jake’s mother did and it wasn’t my decision. Although we have always kept the peace, things have always been icy between us due to that. However, I always tried to do right by Jake.”
He saw his kid every other weekend and a month in the summer — and then when the mom remarried, Jake moved in with his dad.
“I won’t lie, I wasn’t cut out to be a parent,” he continued. “I love Jake, but I just hated parenting. I did it anyway since he was my son. We have a very good relationship, and I’ve never shirked any responsibility to him.”
Jake also became a dad at 21 — but he’s in a more stable place than his dad was. He has a fiancée, a happy relationship, a good job, and financial security. And he wants his dad to be part of his son’s life.
“I told him no,” the poster wrote. “I am retired from parenting. 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.”
He goes on to explain that he has a life of his own now that he plans on prioritizing.
“I have been doing a lot of travel, I have a GF, hobbies and to be blunt, I’m doing all the things I didn’t get to do in my 20s,” he said. “Do I see Jake and his family? Yes. However, I rarely agree to babysit. Jake resents that I don’t go to Mike’s games (they tend to conflict with my weightlifting club) and that I’m pretty hands off with Mike. Things came to a head last week when Mike had a baseball tournament and I refused to go because I had plans to take a scuba class with my GF (which admittedly could be rescheduled). I didn’t tell Jake this, but I spent so many Saturdays bored out of my skull watching little league when Jake was little. I always cheered loudly, was crazy supportive and never let on that it was like watching paint dry. But this is no longer my responsibility.”
Now it’s brewed into a serious fight, with his sone telling him to step up.
“So 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.”
What did Redditors around the world think of the grandfather who doesn’t want to be? The final verdict is that he is, indeed, an a**hole.
The main point seems to be that millions of grandparents live full and wonderful lives while still making time for their grandchildren.
“So having one grown up child and one grandchild is hindering you in living your fabulous life? You can not be an AH and live your own life,” one person pointed out. “It really doesn’t take that much effort. You don’t like your kid or grandchild — and they are definitely better off without you.”
“It takes almost nothing to go to a freaking little league game once in a while,” one wrote. “God forbid his family members want him in their life.”
“It’s your life so live it how you want,” another said. “I don’t think Jake’s expectations are that unreasonable, though. You are a pretty terrible father now. Parenthood isn’t a job that you retire from.”
Others also pointed out that just because your kid turns 18 doesn’t mean you stop caring for them and having responsibilities in your relationship.
“My jaw dropped at all your replies,” another wrote. “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.”
The main takeaway? Just like not all parents are good parents, you can also get a dud grandparent who doesn’t quite see how special or important family can be. It’s definitely this guy’s loss — and his son and grandson are likely better off without him in their lives.