Parents using their kids as leverage
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!
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.