First Time Grandparent - Separated - Brittany - UK

13 Replies

My first grandchild will be born in the UK soon and I'm living in Brittany.  My partner does not want to return to live in the UK but I don't want to be separated from my grandchild, I want to be a part of his/her life as we only have one chance to see him/her growing up.  Living here in Brittany can be a wonderful way of life for some in comparison to living in the UK but then, there is nothing more valuable to me than being with family and sharing time that you can never get back once the years have gone by.  In an age of social media I know it is easy to keep in touch and this is a lifeline for a lot of us. My parents played a big part in our childeren's lives and so did my grandparents in mine, I would not swap those memories for the world.  If you were blessed with a first grandchild whilst living in France/Brittany, I would welcome any comments on how this worked out for you.  How do I find a middle ground on what my partner wants/needs and what I want and need in my life.  Any private messages will be tated with confidence.  Thank you.    How did this work out for you when this wonderful event took place? 

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vivaofsnape 1444638054

Skype and frequent visits 

staffordian 1444640049

I missed my Grandchildren like mad.It spoiled the first years in Brittany.They came to see us and we spent our holidays over there in order to spend time.My husband would not go back to England to live,so it was my choice to stay here with him.

As they get older it gets easier and now at last I can see the sense of staying here.Its not the same as it was over there when we lived there before.

Mine are now 24 and 20 and believe me they have there own lives to live.

i hope it works out for you ,just try and see as much of them as possible and enjoy the time you have together.

Breeze-906262 1444640412

You're here in Brittany and from here it's relatively easy to get bac for visits.  Skype is also very handy. Other than that it depends on personal feelings and circumstances.  You clearly see your role as being part of the daily life of your chidren and grandchildren.  You need to assess whether this is what works best for them as well;  It can be wonderful having mum just around the corner to lend a helping hand and get involved with all that the grandchildren do - but it won't necessarily be better for your grandchidren (and children) who, unless there is a financial need for you to provide childcare, may enjoy your presence more in smaller concentrated chunks.  I know from experience that being involved in the daily care of grandchildren doesn't necesarily make you closer and that grandchildren who see you for a few weeks a year can regard you as really special and look forward to seeing you  At the end of the day what's the right thing for you won't necearily be the right thing for other people - so think carefully. Life has changed a lot when it comes to the care of young children and most now have formal nursery care of some sort, there are after school clubs and the need for help with a growing family isn't always as great as it once was.  Instead of the mundane things you could do every day if you lived close by, on visits you could have some really good quality time with your grand children.  There is also the thought that later on you could invite them for stays with you in France during the hoidays, giving their parents a break and helping out during holidays.

You say your partner does not want to return to the UK, he also is your family so it's something that needs to be worked out in a way that keeps you both happy - perhaps some sort of compromise.  A partner is someone who will be there to love and support you throughout life.  Children and grandchildren are wonderful, but they are only lent to us and they grow and at points in their lives will be busy.  It would be a pity to find yourself going back to England without your partner only to find later on that your grandchidren have grown and, although loving you, visit only occasionally.  

I don't know how many children you have but if more than one you could find (as have I) that they live so far apart that it isn't possible to be a part of the daily lives of each of them.  

Whatever you and your partner decide I wish you well.


pachypach 1444640864

breeze writes total sense :-)


Dibbyspot 1444642560

Even if you lived in UK what you may want may not be possible due to the competivie Grandparents of your childs partners parents and the competing demands of the parents time and the childs.

This can include child-care - in many UK familieis this is routinely takne on by grandparents as the children need to work to live and pay the bills. The free childcare promoted by the UK Government is largely an illusion. Besides this the family will make friends of other parents even  from the point of birth and these too play an important part in socialising any child.

It is also noting that what you may want may not chime with your children and their partner. Better they have a happy bolt hole in Brittany than on tap child care they may come to take for granted.

As others have said the UK is not the place it was while technology and transport links offer some solace. Take that and be supportive from afar rather than taken for granted on the expensive doorstep.

Dave Evans-439024 1444643753

Be thankful that Britain is a great place to bring up children. As pointed out they grow up and once they start school full time you will hardly see them anyway. So once they are 4/5ish contact will be minimal. Like us you will be useful for child minding and emergencies. Our last grandchild has just started school so we very rarely see any of them. Been back in England now for a couple of weeks and still haven't seen 3 of our grandnips who only live a couple of miles away! I know quite a few families in Brittany who are ruled by what the man of the household wants! Suggest to him that you do not move but whenever you get the urge for seeing your family you go for 2 or 3 weeks and no arguments from him!!! Compromise is what is needed from your other half.

seashore-10052757 1444644969

When I was a child I had one set of grandparents who lived close by while the others lived abroad. it might be hard on the local grandparents but the distant ones were the special ones. The time we spent with them was something to look forward to and enjoy. I have a neighbour who has returned to the UK to be closer to their grandchildren. Her husband has remained in France to sell their house. To finance the move, they have rented a flat, she has had to get a job which has long hours and low pay. In truth she hardly sees the grandchildren as they are busy and involved with their own lives. The quality of life that these 'grandparents' are experiencing at the moment is pretty low.

I am not a grandparent but I do have children in their 20s. I see more of them living in France than I would if I'd chosen to return to the south west of England. It is quicker, easier and cheaper for them to visit me here than to travel hundreds of miles across England. If and when grandchildren arrive I would expect to see them as much as I see my own children now. I would hope to become the sort of grandparent that my grandchildren look forward to visiting, as much for the environment I live in as for actually spending time with me.

There is no easy answer to your problem and only you will be able to find the solution that suits your needs.

Jivedance-411773 1444645875


You have had some sensible replies and advice. However in all cases like this everyone has different circumstances as has been pointed out here.

In decisions like this I always go with my gut feeling and do what I FEEL comfortable with.

Good luck.


kerguen 1444646483

Breeze put it so well. 

We chose to live over here and I visit my family at least twice a year and stay with each of my daughters for quality time with the grandchildren whilst there.  They also visit me so can be spoiled when over.         Skype, internet and facebook all help keep in touch.

 When grandkids are older and going here and there with all the various activities will have very  little free time to see grandparents even if they want to - much prefer to go out with their mates  - there are so many things children do in the UK nowadays. I certainly wouldn't see more of mine if I lived nearby so I appreciate my partner and our life together here.   As he says we are the old fuddy duddies now!    My daughters and families like coming over to france for a rest from the busy lives they lead.  Another advantage with living in Brittany is a reason for the grandchildren to learn another language and be able to practise using it when visiting you.

Only you know what you want in life and your families circumstances - but they have their own lives to lead and you can be as much a part of it from here, more so if you can afford to do frequent quality time visits (whilst they are younger at least) or help them out financially  to visit you if that is necessary.

Good luck whatever you decide..


heathertowie 1444663528

Being heavily involved with grandchildren's life is how most of us lived in times past.  The world has changed, families often do not live close to each other. You could return to the UK only to find that your family there move far away, for work. It happened to a friend of mine. She adored her grandchildren and spent a lot of time with them. Suddenly her son in law got a job offer in New Zealand and within three months they were gone,leaving a huge hole in her life. She had precious few other interests apart from her grandchildren. Also an extended family is great but only if every member is happy to live like that......

The-Singing-Tree 1444665629

Thank you to all for your honest responses to my posting, it is much appreciated and has helped me to put things into perspective.  I am so overwhelmed at becoming a Grandparent after years of thinking it would never happen, I want to do the right thing for us all.  I can see a little clearer now. Thank you so very much. 1444669518

We didn't have children but my sister, who is much younger than me had two girls. By this time I was living in Portugal and in no position to return to the UK. I became very resentful about not being able to be there all the time. I managed trips to visit them at least once a year and we had a lot of fun, always having at least one day where it was just me and the girls, always the same routine, swimming at the local holiday inn, then the cinema then burger king, (their choice not mine, and once a year doesn't hurt). I loved every minute but suddenly they turned twelve and when I went back to uk to see them they were no-where to be found. Like little birds they had fledged  and the aunty with deep pockets was regarded as just  "mums old sister"!  Did it hurt?, you bet it did but it made me realise that what my older and wiser friends from Portugal had said was true- be glad you are living away from them, you mustn't stand on mum and dad's toes when they are bringing them up their way( what you don't see you can't fret about), make the most of your trips back to uk, ( ( three trips of 5 days is more exciting than one of two weeks, if you can afford it) and lots of phone calls, And of course, you will be special Granny because you live somewhere that's different and it will be exciting to visit you via the ferry instead of boring old motorway.

Hang on to Brittany, remember, they are only sweet little rug rats for a few years and then life goes on as before, your partner and Breton life will still be sweet. Best of luck.

Hilary Briss 1444679960

frenchdog has put it very sucinctly

I know of a lot of people who have returned to the UK to"Be with their Grand children"only to find that after a few years they were left on their own and given up a very good life in France.Grand Children grow up and find their own life and friends Grand Parents grow old and are left on their own

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