Dear Annie: My daughter just gave birth to our first grandson. The problem is, she and her husband plan to take the baby to his parents’ house for babysitting, even though I offered. We both live nearby. I’d love to watch him at least one or two days a week.
I find my son-in-law to be arrogant and rather disrespectful. I get the impression that he is encouraging our daughter to have a negative attitude toward us. Before they were married, we were close to her, but now there is a huge rift. I am hurt by her actions. They are stealing my joy of having a grandchild. I am lucky if I get to see the baby twice a week for an hour at a time. I have offered to help with dishes and laundry, and occasionally, they let me do those things. My husband and I are generous and give them lots of baby gear and food. It’s as if I need to bring a gift in order to hold my grandson.
Life has not been easy the past five years. My only parent died, and my siblings are squabbling over the estate, creating an estrangement. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. Due to all of this stress, I have had two shingles outbreaks in the past two months. I always thought that when my only daughter became a mother, we would become closer, and she would be more sympathetic toward me.
This hurts so much that I have trouble sleeping. When I talk to my daughter about more time with the baby, she says, “We’ll see,” and that she needs to talk to her husband about it. And nothing changes. How do I fix this?
— Sad Grandma
Dear Sad: We know many grandparents would consider an hour twice a week to be a blessing, so we caution you not to be overly focused on the downside of your relationship. There may be myriad reasons why your daughter prefers her in-laws to babysit. Some of it may be that you seem depressed and stressed, partly due to your medical problems and sibling issues. You may come across as needy and demanding, rather than loving and generous. Talk to your daughter gently. Tell her you love her and her family, and ask how you can improve things between you.
Dear Annie: We have a family funeral coming up. Like the rest of the country, we are plagued with many upper respiratory viruses. How do we politely refuse handshakes, hugs and kisses? I thought of holding our hands behind our backs, but that seems standoffish. Should we post a sign by a guest book? What should it say?
I am a health care professional and am aware of how viruses spread. I want to be discreet and keep everyone healthy.
— Don’t Know What To Do in Connecticut
Dear Don’t: When people approach you, it is OK to say, “I hope you don’t mind, but with all the illness floating around, we are trying to limit physical contact to protect everyone.” Of course, some people will hug you anyway, so be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Dear Annie: If “Kidless in the Caribbean” is so anxious to take his children abroad, and his ex-wife really is afraid for them to fly, why not take them on a cruise? If she refuses to allow that, it’s not a fear of flying that is motivating her. And I agree with your suggestion to take her along. That should take care of any separation anxiety.
— St. Maarten
Dear St. Maarten: Several readers suggested a cruise, although the father had more extensive travel in mind. Nonetheless, we think this is about the ex-wife not wanting her children to travel out of the country. We hope they can reach some sort of compromise.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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