Kids take a back seat when grand­fa­ther needs care

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

Dear Amy: My par­ents have taken in my 95-year-old grand­fa­ther. Money is not a prob­lem, so he could have gone into a nurs­ing home or into as­sisted liv­ing. My grand­fa­ther has six other kids, and no one else wanted him to live with them.

I feel as if I have lost my par­ents un­til my grand­fa­ther passes. I’ll in­vite them to come to their grand­child’s “grand­par­ent day” at school, and it’s, “No, we can’t leave Dad alone,” or, “Oh, we can’t make it to the twins’ birth­day party, be­cause we can’t leave Dad.”

I live al­most two hours away, and my grand­fa­ther won’t go any­place other than the doc­tor or church. No other fam­ily mem­ber is avail­able or trust­wor­thy enough to watch him. Amy, this could go on for years! I was never close to him. He is dif­fi­cult to get along with and could not tell you one thing about me as a child, be­cause he (and my grand­mother, who died years ago) didn’t take an in­ter­est in most of their grand­chil­dren. For­tu­nately, my other grand­par­ents were to­tal rock stars, so I was not deprived.

Ev­ery time I talk to my mother now, it’s all about my grand­fa­ther. I DON’T CARE!

Short of cut­ting off ties with my par­ents, what am I sup­posed to do?

I ex­pressed all my op­po­si­tion to this be­fore he moved in. I said that it was a bad idea. I was not lis­tened to.

I do still try to visit them once a month, but it’s hard. I work full time and have to do things like take care of my kids’ laun­dry and buy gro­ceries.

My folks used to travel to see us once or twice a month — some­times more of­ten.

I miss my par­ents, and my kids miss their grand­par­ents! — WANT THEM BACK

Dear Want: As much as I would like to an­swer your let­ter by say­ing, “I DON’T CARE!,” I won’t do that, be­cause I have a shred of com­pas­sion to­ward you. And you should have a shred of com­pas­sion to­ward your par­ents. It is hard to imag­ine that these peo­ple you are so des­per­ate to spend time with raised such a self­ish, self-cen­tered per­son.

For the next phase of their lives, your folks are go­ing to be wrapped up in this hard thing they are do­ing. Your mother is go­ing to be at least as con­cerned about your grand­fa­ther as you are about your kids’ laun­dry. So yes, for now her life will be all about him. Deal with it.

You should suck it up, and find ways to sup­port your par­ents dur­ing this chal­leng­ing time. If you want to see them, take the kids to visit. It would prob­a­bly be good for your chil­dren to wit­ness some multi­gen­er­a­tional lov­ing kind­ness.

Dear Amy: I need ad­vice on how to help my sis­ter, “Betsy.” Betsy was mar­ried for eight years to a guy who lied, took drugs and was ver­bally abu­sive.

Thank good­ness, they got di­vorced two years ago.

Since then she has tried flirt­ing with some guys at her work, only to be shot down. Ba­si­cally, they only like her as a friend.

She briefly tried on­line dat­ing, again with­out much suc­cess. She talked to a cou­ple of guys (at dif­fer­ent times) who said they would like to get to know her bet­ter, but they ghosted her af­ter she sug­gested meet­ing in per­son.

This has led to lone­li­ness and self-pity. She says she wishes she was numb so she doesn’t have to feel the heartache.

Amy, she is a sweet­heart. She is smart and very car­ing. How can I help her out of this down­ward spi­ral? — WOR­RIED SIS­TER

Dear Wor­ried Sis­ter: Rather than fo­cus­ing too in­ten­sively on your sis­ter’s dat­ing prob­lems, you should en­cour­age her to work on some so­cial and friend­ship skills, in or­der for her to be­come more self-ac­tu­al­ized. Pro­fes­sional coun­sel­ing or coach­ing will help. When she feels bet­ter and more in con­trol, she’ll have an eas­ier time cop­ing with her meet­ing and dat­ing chal­lenges.

And dat­ing is a chal­lenge for ev­ery­one. Your sis­ter will need both con­fi­dence and pa­tience.

Dear Amy: “The In­vis­i­ble Wife” was lonely be­cause her hus­band con­cen­trated more on his lap­top and his phone than on her.

I was at a restau­rant the other night and the next ta­ble had a party of four (a fam­ily) who did not ex­change one word with each other, as they stared at their phones the en­tire time. — DIS­COUR­AGED

Dear Dis­cour­aged: Our ad­dic­tion to tech­nol­ogy is af­fect­ing re­la­tion­ships. We all need to be more in­ten­tional.

Dear Amy: I loved your ad­vice to “In­vis­i­ble Wife” to make a video to get her hus­band’s at­ten­tion when he was pay­ing at­ten­tion to his tech­nol­ogy in­stead of her.

It would have been easy for her to sit around and sulk. I hope she takes your cre­ative ad­vice.

— IM­PRESSED Dear Im­pressed: Thank you! Some­times, you have to make a “Hail Mary” pass in or­der to mix things up and make your point.

Dear Amy: I didn’t like the ad­vice you of­fered to “Be­wil­dered Bride,” who was wor­ried about in­clud­ing her grooms­man’s abu­sive part­ner in their wedding. You ad­vised her to “run out the clock,” and see if this re­la­tion­ship ends be­fore the wedding.

How­ever, the wedding gives the abu­sive woman some­thing to hang on to. These friends need to be com­pletely hon­est: “it’s her or us.”

— BOTH­ERED Dear Both­ered: Draw­ing this line might prompt the abused party to choose “her” in­stead of “us.” I be­lieve this places him at risk.

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