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Man refuses to be active grandfather; says, 'I spent 20 years pretending to care.' AITA?

Man refuses to be active grandfather; says, 'I spent 20 years pretending to care.' AITA?


"AITA for not being an active grandparent?"

I (M47) have a son Jake (M26) who has his own son Mike (M5). Jake's mother and I 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.

However, I always tried to do right by Jake. 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.

Then at a certain point, his mother married a guy Jake hated and I had him move in with me once he was 13. 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.

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

Back then, we had a long talk and I 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.'

Then the conversation turned to how I'd help him. I told him no. 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.

I've largely held to it. 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. 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.

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.

Here were the top rated comments from readers:

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”.

Do you want him to go no contact with you? Because that’s the direction this is heading in.

The OP responded here:

Maybe this will make me the a**@ole, but if that's the price, Ok. I've spent 20 years putting Jake first and not really having much of a life. I didn't get on a plane to Thailand and change my name. I didn't tell his mom 'I don't want to be a father, so if you have a baby, I'll pay child support but leave me alone.'

I was a very active parent. Jake was raised into a fully functional adult with a stable, steady job, his own home and his own wife and baby. I did it because I fathered a child, he couldn't take care of himself and it was my responsibility. Jake is fully able to take care of himself and Mike. As is Mike's mother.

If I need to give up the next 20 years, and be Daddy again--no. I'll only do it once. This time I'm proverbially getting on the plane to Thailand. The price is too high. I've done my duty and hung up my parent hat. At this point, yes I am done. I've signed up for and took responsibility for Jake. Jake chose to have Mike, well and good. But now he's the parent. Not me.

Although every disagreement on the internet always has going no contact as literally the first port of call, real life isn't like that. But, because it seems that is what everyone wants to talk about, if let's say that were really what it came down to, so be it. I'd wish him and his family well. But whether it makes me the asshole or not, I've taken my life back and I'm not going to put it to the side again.

If the choices are I walk off into the sunset or I have to be daddy again, I am walking off into the sunset. Nobody has threatened such a thing, nor is anyone talking about it. But this being the internet, it is the go-to that everyone says immediately. I hope things don't go that way. I don't want them to go that way, but if those are the terms, that will be my choice.


'Ok. I've spent 20 years putting Jake first and not really having much of a life.'

What's that bull$#*t?! You had him other weekends and barely a month in the summer... For the first 13 years you were barely present, why would you blame someone that's not there for stealing your time ... by being absent from your life?


That made me gag a bit, too. He did not put much time into being a father.


Guess what, he didn't want to be a dad but he did his duty. Sorry that's not enough for the ghouls in this subreddit but it doesn't make him TA no matter how much you wish he would conform to your delusions.

So, do you think this OP is being selfish or is he admitting that he does not feel obligated to be there and deserves to live his own life?

Sources: Reddit
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