I have been married for over 20 years and have been a stepparent for all of these years since my stepdaughter was just 3 years old.

My husband's ex-wife despises my husband and myself and has always taken every opportunity to say so, including always calling him just the sperm donor to everyone (stepdaughter told us what they call him and laughed at how funny it was) and for the most part pretending I do not exist at all.

He was not allowed to walk her down the aisle at her wedding, we were allowed to stand at the back of the ceremony but not allowed in any pictures. What her mother and grandmother say goes, and it has always been that way. When their baby was born we were not allowed to go to the hospital, so that her mom and grandmom wouldn't get mad.

She asked me to babysit when she went back to work and I thought it would great, and things would change and I could be grandma; but after watching her for a few months, now I found out my name is just the babysitter by her and all her family.

I honestly thought we had a great relationship and all this other stuff was just her not willing to stand up to her mom, but now I am just hurt and mad.

So do I keep up the free babysitting, knowing full well we will never be invited to a birthday or graduation or be allowed to be called grandparents even, just to be able to see our grandbaby some? Or do I tell her I cannot babysit and get attached to a child that will be taught to just use us for what she can get, like her mom was raised to do?

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    I suspect this is too opinion biased, and after all the only opinion that counts is yours. Think carefully about what this kid is to you. Do you think you have the right or responsibility to assist raising this kid? Is this kid worth putting up with all the trash from the parents and grandparents? Do you think you will have enough influence now or in the future to help shape the kid to be a person you'd like better than their current role models? Only you can answer those highly personal questions.
    – user26011
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 17:58
  • I have 4 other grandkids from our other children, 3 are biological. All 5 mean the world to me but no I don't have the right or responsibility to assist raising them. I want to be grandma and thats it. And i will never have any influence on her to help shape her, and i say that because although i tried, i never had any influence on her momma, neither did/ does her dad. As for putting up with the stuff i have and will continue to have to if i let things go as they are, i dont want to. It is just so exhausting but I cant hardly turn my back totally and not have issues within my marriage.
    – Jean
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 17:39

5 Answers 5


If it were me -- (and there are only going to be opinions, no 'answer'), I would take the opportunity to be positive and loving. Show this baby who you really are and teach her to appreciate her family -- all of them. Just keep showing 'them' who you are. Hold your head up.

There will always be people who for no good reason, don't like you. You are smarter, or kinder, or different, or you married the person they no longer wanted. It is actually their loss. They could simply be threatened by you having what they no longer have or because you think something they don't think. You can't fight them. You just keep on being you -- the best you that you can be. You might never change their minds -- but that is not your job.

So take this opportunity to take the higher road.

On Edit: Jean, it sounds to me like you do not want to sit for your step-grandchild. Do you sit the other grands? If you are basically providing childcare for a few of your grands, then I urge you to continue to include this one.

If this is the only child you are providing care for, have you considered putting down some ground rules? You'll never make anyone like you, but you can insist on respect and courtesy. I do not know if you charge them (I bet not) -- but if you don't -- change the fee. Insist that this baby is taught to treat you respectfully -- that is your fee. You can give yourself a name that means grandmother to you -- Nanny, GMa, Meemaw -- my step granny was Nank Nank. I have no idea why! You can point out rationally that if you are not 'good enough' -- you should not be providing childcare.

Perhaps this is the only way your husband sees his daughter or grandchild and if that is the case, then you are between a rock and a hard place. Take the high road -- in the long run, it will always be the best choice -- even if it changes nothing, you know you did the right thing in the right way for the best reasons.


Honestly, I think you should do all you can to babysit regardless of what they call you. You yourself can prove that you are more than a babysitter and to children they don't care about names, they care about being loved and wanted. That's all you need to do.

This bit is important:

...and I could be grandma but after watching her for a few months now I found out my name is just the babysitter by her and all her family.

You are grandma and don't think otherwise. Start by calling yourself that when she is around. Like "mummy" and "daddy" those first words that every parent can't wait to hear and constantly repeat to their child. You can do the same by referring to yourself as grandma. Don't get mad though when she doesn't call you that and calls you babysitter instead. Remember this is not her fault.

Grandparents have an important role to play. There will come a time when this child will understand what is going on and will have questions. That question may be Why do I never see you? Do you want to answer that kind of question or do you want to provide a loving relationship so she doesn't need to ask?

It is however going to be tough. Nobody likes to be put out when it comes to important occasions but you have to rise above that at least for now.

It does sound like a really difficult situation to be in and I really feel for you. It's hard to express emotion over a wall of text but I really hope you find a way to be involved in this girls life.

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    Yes, particularly "children don't care about names" - the child most likely does not even fully understand the implications of this naming dispute, so it will not influence how they see you make them like you less.
    – sleske
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 9:28

Ask yourself why you babysit, what you get out of it. Make a list if need be. Some of it will be positives, such as being able to see your granddaugther, others will be negatives such as seeing the way her parents treat you. Some of these points will be way more important than others.

Should you decide that the negatives are too much, there are more options than just telling the parents that you can't babysit. You could also tell them that you won't babysit under the current conditions, and you'd be more than happy to help if some things changed. Maybe there is room for compromise.


Have a talk with the daughter. Ask her straight away what she thinks your role is in your step-grand daughters life. Whatever she thinks about you, force her to tell it to your face. Most bullies are cowards, and having to tell you to your face might for the first time in her life make her see how awful she is behaving.

Make it absolutely clear to her that the baby can have a grandfather and a grandmother, if that's what she wants, but not a free babysitter. Then it's her choice.

"So: do I keep up the free babysitting, knowing full well we will never be invited to a birthday or graduation or be allowed to be called grandparents even, just to be able to see our grandbaby some? Or do I tell her I cannot babysit and get attached to a child that will be taught to just use us for what she can get, like her mom was raised to do?"

These are all the wrong questions. Don't say "I cannot babysit and get attached..." Make it clear to them that it's about what you want. That's the only language they understand and respect. What you want to say would work with a decent human being, but not here. Give them the choice: Grandmother or no grandmother, but never, ever, free babysitter.

And remember that you have other grandchildren that will be happy when you care for them. You should help those most that appreciate it most, not those that insult and belittle you and have insulted and belittled your husband for years.


You seem to be in a cancerous relationship. Ask yourself what do they do to a cancer when it is found in your body, they cut it out? Maybe you should cut the emotional cancers out of your life.

I ask myself the question of how could a woman who openly verbally abuses her child's father like that ever be given custody of children, but I guess that is neither her nor there.

I also wonder what hold this other woman has on your husband as to enable her to deny him access to his own child's wedding.

You have to know that you do not have to form part of this. If your step-children can make jokes about the belittling of their father then it just shows you what kind of people they really are.

If you think they are taking advantage of you or your husband with the babysitting then don't let them. I personally would decide that in an attempt to regain my own self-respect I would charge them money for the babysitting.

50 USD per hour seems reasonable for a babysitter of your stature. If they think that you are not worth then tell them they are free to get some 16-year-old, whipper-snapper to come do it for free if they so wish. And Just like that you may find your problems solved.

You just simply cannot let these other people treat your husband like that. I do not know what he did in his past that makes him feel he deserve such treatment but believe you me, people do not deserve this type of institutionalised abuse.

You may have to take your husband to some sort of therapy as to get to the heart of this. He may have some sort of guilt issues that are being exploited by these people.

His self-worth may have to be rebuild and this can only be done in a caring and loving environment but for that to be at all possible the abuse has first got to stop.

Remember you do not owe these people anything.

Good Luck!

  • 1
    This might be the only way the OP's husband has to have a relationship with his daughter and grandchild. The OP said refusing childcare could cause trouble in her relationship with her husband. " but I can't hardly turn my back totally and not have issues within my marriage." The OP mentioned that in a comment beneath her question. So, while she does not 'owe' them anything, she may feel she wants to help her husband. I was unsure if you saw her comment.
    – WRX
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 15:37

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