Ban­ish­ing grand­kids for draw­ing on walls might be step too far

The China Post - - LIFE -

My sis­ter, “He­len,” and her first hus­band never had chil­dren. He died eight years ago. He­len has since re­mar­ried a won­der­ful man, a wi­d­ower with two sons, a daugh­ter and sev­eral grand­chil­dren. He wants my sis­ter to be a real grand­mother to them.

He­len is an ex­tremely but­tonedup per­son. The daugh­ter re­cently phoned to say she was com­ing over with her kids. He­len said the kids were out of con­trol. One col­ored on newly painted walls, so she told her hus­band that they were not al­lowed to re­turn.

I re­al­ize that He­len has never dealt with chil­dren, but I think her ban­ish­ment goes too far. Her hus­band once com­mented that he didn’t think He­len liked kids at all. He may be right. This is the sec­ond time in three years that this thing about chil­dren has come up. I have tried to ex­plain to He­len that her hus­band needs to spend time with his kids and grand­kids, whether she likes it or not.

I don’t want to hurt my sis­ter. My fam­ily ac­cepts her, faults and all, but it won’t be so easy for these grown chil­dren to do the same. He­len has asked me to meet her for din­ner to talk about the sit­u­a­tion. I feel that I have al­ready been quite plain­spo­ken about it. What should I do now?

— Lov­ing Sis­ter

Dear Sis­ter: Whether or not He­len likes kids is be­side the point. She needs to tol­er­ate them for her hus­band’s sake. Draw­ing on the walls is an is­sue of dis­ci­pline, not ban­ish­ment. It’s OK to set rules, but kick­ing them out per­ma­nently is a sure way to earn the kids’ re­sent­ment and her hus­band’s un­hap­pi­ness.

The like­li­hood of He­len be­com­ing a “real grand­mother” is slim. In­stead, please sug­gest that she be un­fail­ingly po­lite and kind, while en­cour­ag­ing her hus­band to visit the kids in their homes, spend­ing plenty of time with them. He will be grate­ful, the kids will ap­pre­ci­ate it, and she doesn’t have to go with him. And if she could de­velop a sense of hu­mor, it would help enor­mously.

The let­ter from “Ex­hausted Af­ter 10 Months,” who of­fered tips for peo­ple to help ill or in­jured friends con­tained many great ideas. I would like to add one more thought.

Be­fore some­one brings food to the ill per­son and their fam­ily, please call to ask about food re­stric­tions or al­ler­gies. My mother was in hos­pice for four months and many peo­ple brought de­li­cious meals that con­tained high lev­els of sodium and sugar. We gra­ciously ac­cepted the food, but much of it could not be eaten.

To bring food in this sit­u­a­tion is so kind and such a help for the fam­ily. How­ever, a short in­quiry about med­i­cal, re­li­gious or eth­i­cal re­stric­tions could make it so much bet­ter.

— New York

Dear New York: Thank you for point­ing out that, although meals are al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated, some folks have al­ler­gies, some have re­li­gious re­stric­tions, oth­ers are ve­gan, etc. It doesn’t hurt to call first and find out. It is such a kind­ness to bring a dish to some­one who is ill or in­jured, but how much bet­ter to make it some­thing that will serve the pur­pose for which it is in­tended. An­nie’s Mail­box is writ­ten by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, long­time ed­i­tors of the Ann Lan­ders col­umn. Please email your ques­tions to an­nies­mail­box@ cre­, or write to: An­nie’ s Mail­box, c/o Cre­ators Syn­di­cate, 737 3rd Street, Her­mosa Beach, CA, USA.

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