Is there a single, universally accepted age to “retire” from parenting? And more importantly, is retirement from parenting even possible? An internet user asked, “Am I a jerk for not being an active grandparent?”. What are your views?


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The Original Poster (OP) (M47) has a son Jake (M26) who has his own son Mike (M5). Jake’s mother and OP only had a short-term relationship and it was an accidental pregnancy.

“To be blunt, I never wanted to be a parent, particularly not at 21. 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.”, says OP.

OP’s Relationship With His Son

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However, OP always tried to do right by Jake. OP would have him every other weekend and for a month during the summer, would do his best to deliver on anything he asked of OP, treated him kindly and tried to be a good father.

Then at a certain point, Jake’s mother married a guy Jake hated and OP had him move in with him once he was 13.

What Does OP Say

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“I won’t lie, I wasn’t cut out to be a parent. 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.”, says OP.

Fast Forward To Today

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Jake also became a father at 21. However, he was all for it and is happily married to Mike’s mother. OP also got him into his electrician’s union and had him set up on some good jobs. So, he was on much, much better footing than OP was for a child.

Back then, they had a long talk and OP told him “Jake, being a parent is a very, very different life. It is hard, exhausting and on a day-to-day basis, you don’t really get to do what you want to do very much. It will be a very long time before you don’t have that kind of responsibility anymore.”

The Conversation About OP’s Role As A Grandparent

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Then, the conversation turned to how OP would help Jake. OP told him no. OP told Jake, “I am retired from parenting. I am turning back to my own life.”

OP thinks Jake has his own home and union job, is engaged, and is adult enough to decide to have a baby. He’s an 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.”, says OP.

How Has OP’s Life Been Recently?

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OP has largely held to it. OP has been doing a lot of travel, he has a GF, hobbies, and to be blunt, he’s doing all the things he didn’t get to do in his 20’s.

“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.”, says OP.

What Happened Last Week?

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Things came to a head last week when Mike had a baseball tournament and OP refused to go because he had plans to take a scuba class with his GF (which OP thinks, admittedly, could be rescheduled).

OP didn’t tell Jake this, but he spent so many Saturdays bored out of his 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.”, says OP.

The Final Fuss

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So, OP told him, “Jake, I spent 20 years parenting. That’s enough.”

Jake then yelled at OP that he is always jetting around, playing like a teenager, and not putting him first. OP told him that no, he wasn’t. OP 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.”, says OP.

Now OP wants to know if he is a jerk.

You’re Punishing Him When He’s Not Even Guilty

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“My question is simply this: how would you feel if someone you loved told you that they never really loved you and that they were finished with you?

You may not have chosen to be a father, but neither did your son choose you to be his father. He had no choice, either. Now you are punishing him for something he didn’t do. You think you’ve missed out on life, but really you’re just choosing to miss out on love.”

Hope You Guys Talk This Out

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“Not the jerk. I don’t know if I’ll be in the minority or majority on this but I get you. I think there are a lot more people out there who have done what you did (did right by their children even if parenthood wasn’t their first, second, last choice or even on the list at all) and are just ready to live for themselves now.

I would hope that there’s an occasional trip to get ice cream thrown in there for your grandson, but if not, that’s your decision. I hope you and your son can come to an agreement on this where he’s not angry about it.”

You Can Choose To Come To A Middleground

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“I think you’re looking at it the wrong way.

This isn’t just about your son anymore, it’s also about your grandson. It isn’t fair for him to not really have a grandfather in his life as you just don’t want to hang around with him much.

I 100% understand that you want to live your life, but this doesn’t mean just giving up on being a parent/grandparent. There is a middle ground that you aren’t looking for here. It seems like you took parenting your kid as a chore or a responsibility more than you know, being a parent, and once he got married you’re bailing out.”

You Sound Resentful

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“You sound resentful that you had to be a parent and Jake’s picking up on it. Also, you don’t stop being a parent just because your child is of the majority. He’s barely into his adulthood and he needs you and you’re telling him that you’ve done your duty and that’s it now. You’re the jerk.”

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