Par­ents us­ing their kids as lever­age

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - Amy Dick­in­son You can con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email: [email protected]­dick­in­son.com and fol­low her on Twit­ter @ask­ingamy.

DEAR AMY » Our daughter and son-in-law got mad at us for not giv­ing them some of their in­her­i­tance, and now they refuse to ac­knowl­edge gifts that we send to the grand­kids.

We have sent Christ­mas and birth­day gifts to them and they have al­ways, in the past, ac­knowl­edged our gifts with a thank-you text.

Now we don’t know whether or not the par­ents have given our grand­chil­dren the gifts we have sent. They haven’t spo­ken to us or an­swered texts in over four months.

Should we con­tinue to send gifts to our grand­chil­dren? They live 300 miles away. The kids are 10 and 12. The adults are in their 40s and have master’s de­grees. They make good money and live in a $600,000 home. We are re­tired.

— Gen­er­ous Grand­par­ents

DEAR GRAND­PAR­ENTS » If these par­ents are de­lib­er­ately pun­ish­ing you in this way, then they are en­ti­tled off­spring — and not very good par­ents.

No one should weaponize the re­la­tion­ship with the chil­dren to serve an agenda. The par­ents should not with­hold a re­la­tion­ship be­tween you and the kids, and you should not slink back in fear be­cause they haven’t texted you.

I sug­gest that you call your daughter. If she doesn’t an­swer, leave a neu­tral mes­sage: “Hi, just check­ing in ...” If you do speak with her, break the ice with some small talk: How is she do­ing? Are things OK? Is every­body healthy? How are the kids? Are they nearby? Do they want to say hi?

The mes­sage is, you con­sider the in­her­i­tance is­sue closed and are mov­ing on. You gave them an an­swer they didn’t like, and they seem to want to sulk about it. If your daughter does bring it up, then talk things through calmly — with­out giv­ing in.

They could have fancy de­grees and an ex­pen­sive house, and still be up to their ears in debt. But — it is not your duty to bail them out.

As a par­ent, your daughter must rec­og­nize that surely there are times when her own chil­dren ask for — or ex­pect — things she can’t or won’t pro­vide. Good par­ents oc­ca­sion­ally say no, and you are say­ing no.

And yes — to an­swer your di­rect ques­tion, you should con­tinue to send mod­est gifts and cards to the kids to mark these spe­cial days in their lives.

DEAR AMY » I was shocked at your heart­less re­ply to “Frus­trated Mom,” who wanted her mother to babysit for her one day a week.

Fam­ily mem­bers should take care of each other!

— Up­set

DEAR UP­SET » Ab­so­lutely. And this par­tic­u­lar grand­mother was work­ing as a real es­tate agent and also help­ing with other grand­chil­dren.

One way for “Frus­trated Mom” to take care of her fam­ily (which in­cludes her mother) would be to re­spect the older woman’s lim­i­ta­tions.

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