Grand­par­ents’ claims don’t match re­al­ity

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON Email: askamy@tribune.com Twit­ter: @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: My par­ents and my wife’s par­ents both live 20 min­utes from us. Both sets of par­ents pur­posely moved to be close to us.

Both sets of par­ents tell peo­ple how of­ten they see their grand­kids, which is sim­ply not true.

My mom speaks as if she sees them mul­ti­ple times a week, but she gen­er­ally only sees them about once a month.

She does watch my niece three days a week, but speaks as if all of her grand­kids fall into that cat­e­gory.

My wife’s par­ents see me, my wife and our two kids about twice a month, but they have told oth­ers it is “all the time,” and when we meet, they ba­si­cally ig­nore the kids.

The rea­son I am both­ered by this is twofold: They’re all get­ting credit for “help­ing us out” and I am sick of hear­ing how lucky I am to have such won­der­ful grand­par­ents for the past 12 years. This has ac­tu­ally caused us to lose help from ex­tended fam­ily when they visit, since they think we are given so much help from our folks.

Is there a nice way to tell them that the story they are sell­ing is fic­tion? We re­ally do love our par­ents. We sim­ply want them to help out the way they claim to al­ready. — SAD DAD Dear Dad: Your prob­lem is pred­i­cated on the no­tion that your par­ents and in-laws are sup­posed to help you. You claim that their ex­ag­ger­a­tion dis­cour­ages other fam­ily mem­bers from help­ing you dur­ing their vis­its.

How much help do you and your wife re­quire with your two chil­dren?

Your mother is al­ready pro­vid­ing reg­u­lar child­care with one of her grand­chil­dren. If you would like for her to in­crease her ef­forts, per­haps you could ask her out­right if she could dou­ble up on those days and watch your kids, too. Or maybe they would be will­ing to host your chil­dren for an oc­ca­sional overnight. Have you asked?

I’m sug­gest­ing that if you aren’t get­ting what you want, then you should ask for it, nicely. Have you done this, or are you ex­pect­ing them to in­tuit that this is what you want from them?

The way to cor­rect their ex­ag­ger­a­tion of the role in your kids’ lives is to have a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion, and tell them that you love them, but this both­ers you.

You could try harder to fold th­ese grand­par­ents into your fam­ily by invit­ing them to spend time with you, to at­tend school events and to ba­si­cally be with you when you don’t re­ally want any­thing from them.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you and your chil­dren ARE prob­a­bly lucky to have grand­par­ents close at hand, even if their ef­fort is dis­ap­point­ing. It would be un­for­tu­nate if you only re­al­ized this in ret­ro­spect, af­ter they were gone.

Dear Amy: I am 65, and I met a won­der­ful woman. We were plan­ning on get­ting mar­ried on the beach in Hawaii at my brother’s time share, and then cel­e­brate with fam­ily later.

I have four kids who say they want to be there when we say our vows. They can­not af­ford to go.

I told them that this is not our first mar­riage (we are both wid­owed) and we just want a small thing in Hawaii, and then to cel­e­brate with them af­ter­ward.

My one daugh­ter is get­ting mar­ried next month, and she said, “How would I like it if we went off and got mar­ried and then came back to cel­e­brate?”

I feel that this is her first wed­ding, and it is a big cel­e­bra­tion. We don’t want a big wed­ding. We just want a small cel­e­bra­tion. Should we say our vows in Hawaii, or should we save it for home? — CON­CERNED FA­THER Dear Fa­ther: You should have the wed­ding you want to have (and so should your daugh­ter).

How­ever, while I don’t usu­ally ad­vo­cate for the tail wag­ging the dog, given how many adult chil­dren don’t wel­come a par­ent’s sec­ond spouse into their lives, per­haps you should be hon­ored by their en­thu­si­asm. Maybe you could plan a small cer­e­mony and brunch in your home with chil­dren and spouses, and then catch your flight to Hawaii for your hon­ey­moon.

Dear Amy: “Sleep­less Sis­ter” wor­ried about her sis­ter’s re­la­tion­ship with a mar­ried man.

I think if she were my sis­ter, I would also point out that if he’ll cheat with her, he’ll cheat on her. What kind of foun­da­tion is that for a last­ing re­la­tion­ship? She may need to be there for her sis­ter when Mr. Won­der­ful goes back to his fam­ily or finds a new love. — WISER WOMAN! Dear Wiser: This very log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion about how cheat­ing works does not seem to per­suade peo­ple, un­for­tu­nately.

Dear Amy: “Lucky Sib­ling” wanted to give their sib­lings cash gifts. Your re­sponse: “When you give, you also have to let go,” re­minded me of a favourite quote from Dr. SunWolf:

“The para­dox of gifts: I know what I have given you. I do not know what you have re­ceived.” — GIFTED Dear Gifted: Very wise.

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