Long post as usual, LOL - I can't do short ones!!
I am genuinely interested in receiving feedback from the lovely BH ladies about what we do, if anything, in this situation. It's starting to upset me, so I was wanting to know if my feelings are valid, or am I over-reacting a bit.
My nephew recently turned 4 years old and my husband and I have never been invited to babysit or to have him on our own for one-on-one time so that we can start bonding & developing a good relationship with him. I know that every family is different and not everyone is comfortable leaving their children with relatives, but in DH's family they have always been very open to building extended family relationships by the kids being minded, staying overnight and even going on week long holidays with other family members from a very young age (including these parents having other relatives children stay with them).
DH's children have stayed with his sister and BIL (the parents of the 4yo) from eighteen months old for both overnight stays and for up to a few days, and every school holidays I ensure that DSS has a night or two with his Aunty, Uncle and cousin at their place so that he can build a strong relationship with them - which they all love.
However, DH and I have never been invited to babysit our nephew, even though we only live 15 minutes away from them. From a suitable age we suggested that if they would like a date night we would be thrilled to mind our nephew for a couple of hours, and hoped to continue building that until at some point he could stay overnight with us. We take DSS & another two of his cousins on holidays every year, and we also hoped in the future that when he was old enough, our nephew might also be able to join us on this trip.
To date both our subtle and more direct asking has been met with a smile and a nod, but we've never been taken up on our offers to spend time with our nephew. Any interaction is always at the parents house and even though they have been invited to our house many a time, they rarely visit us. Our nephew is in daycare two days a week, so it's not that he isn't comfortable spending a little bit of time away from Mum... They are very tricky as a couple, and DH is not comfortable asking outright what the problem is, as if they think we are too much trouble they are likely to completely diss us (as they have with other family members) and then we won't get an opportunity to see them, or our nephew at all. My DH is the peacemaker of the family and hates causing waves, but our nephew is now 4yo and we're starting to wonder if it's personal.
DH and I are both great with kids, we have a safe house, don't drink or smoke, and we can't really understand why we've never been asked to babysit. It seems that it's fine one way - in that they think it's great that DSS comes to stay with them - but they aren't interested in supporting us in having a good relationship with their son. We were thinking about being more specific, for example, saying that we would like to take our nephew to the park with DSS on Saturday for an hour, can we pick him up at 2.00pm? And see what they say. Is that a good idea or not? Please don't think that we are trying to shove ourselves into their lives, we can go a couple of months without seeing each other, so we're not pushy by any means.
I'm likely missing something here - so if you have any ideas or feedback I'd be happy to hear them. We were so excited when they had their little boy, and wanted to be a great Uncle and Aunty, but seem blocked from doing that.