Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - by Amy Dick­in­son Con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email,

Dear Amy: I have four adult chil­dren and three grand­chil­dren. They all live 2½ hours away and have very suc­cess­ful, fulf illing lives. My hus­band and I couldn’t be prouder.

They usu­ally call ev­ery week or so and I send an oc­ca­sional text or email. The prob­lem is our daugh­ter-in-law, who wants noth­ing to do with us. She is the mother of our only grand­chil­dren. She re­fuses to visit, es­pe­cially on the hol­i­days. When we visit, she is pleas­ant but seems to barely tol­er­ate us.

We want to see more of our grand­sons but we are not per­mit­ted to babysit, and if I ask to take them to the park, etc., she ig­nores me, hop­ing I will let it go (which I do to keep the peace).

I have spent many a sleep­less night try­ing to fig­ure out what I have done to her and can­not think of a thing.

Hon­estly, in the 10 years they have been mar­ried, I have never said a mean word or of­fered ad­vice, even with new ba­bies.

I say noth­ing to my son. I know he sees her treat­ment of us and feels guilty, but fight­ing about it isn’t worth it to him.

I agree that his wife has to come first, but we’re not sure if our other three chil­dren plan on hav­ing kids, so these may be our only grand­chil­dren.

The boys love to see us, and I have heard the old­est ask­ing if he can go home with grandma and grandpa, and mom al­ways says no!

We just came home from a visit and it was worse than ever. I am de­pressed over the sit­u­a­tion and don’t know what to do. — Anx­ious Grandma

Dear Anx­ious: You have kept silent in order to keep the peace, but this doesn’t re­ally seem like peace so much as a cold war. You have noth­ing to lose at this point, and so I hope you and your hus­band will be brave enough to have a con­ver­sa­tion with your son and daugh­ter-in-law, re­spect­fully ask­ing them if there is a spe­cific rea­son they seem so hes­i­tant to let you play a larger role in the lives of their chil­dren.

You might want to draft an email where you say, “We no­tice that when it comes to the kids, you seem hes­i­tant about let­ting us spend very much alone-time with them. We’d love to be more in­volved in their lives, and hope you can help us to find ways to do that. If there is some­thing you think we need to do dif­fer­ently, please let us know. We are ab­so­lutely ba­nanas about the boys and want to be closer to all of you.”

You are try­ing. Good for you.

Dear Amy: Seven years ago my older sis­ter died at 45, af­ter a dif­fi­cult bat­tle with can­cer.

I re­cently vis­ited her two daugh­ters (now 26 and 23) who live in the Mid­west, never went to col­lege, and are mak­ing do at restau­rant jobs on their own.

They told me they haven’t been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their dad, who lives in the same city, since he re­mar­ried last Septem­ber. Ac­cord­ing to them, he is fo­cused now on his new wife and her daugh­ters and can only see them if his new wife is present.

He is up­set be­cause one of them stepped out dur­ing the wed­ding be­cause she was hav­ing a hard time and re­turned shortly af­ter. His re­ac­tion seems un­war­ranted.

I’ve been told by other fam­ily mem­bers that I should in­ter­vene and en­cour­age their dad to con­nect with his daugh­ters again. Is this my place? I also feel like I should step in with more sup­port to my nieces, but liv­ing in New York makes that dif­fi­cult. — Lov­ing Un­cle

Dear Un­cle: Yes, you should be in touch with your nieces’ fa­ther. Tell him that you had a great visit with his girls and that they ex­pressed a wish to see him more of­ten. That’s it. Don’t give ad­vice and don’t step in fur­ther. Just put it out there.

You can be a sup­port­ive pres­ence with these young women, even from a dis­tance. Text them now and then, and (if you can swing it) send them tick­ets to visit you.

Dear Amy: Af­ter read­ing your ad­vice to “Only an Ac­quain­tance,” I would like to add that many cou­ples fac­ing in­fer­til­ity find it help­ful to join a sup­port group. Re­ is a good re­source, based on my prior ex­pe­ri­ence as a nurse in an in­fer­til­ity clinic. — Vicki Levy, RN

Dear Vicki: Thank you for the rec­om­men­da­tion!

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