Dear Annie: My daughter has five beautiful children whom we love very much. My husband and I often take the kids overnight and on weekends to give some quiet time to their parents.
When the children are with us, they behave beautifully. But when their parents walk back in the door, it is a total disaster. This past weekend was the worst. As soon as their parents came over, the kids began jumping, running around, screaming and teasing the dog. I lost it and really yelled. I know my son-in-law was upset, but he will sit there and do nothing when things like this are going on.
I feel terrible and am depressed about losing control. My daughter and her husband never correct the children, and it is upsetting when my husband and I go out of our way to make a wonderful weekend for the kids and have it end on a sour note.
I want to say something to my daughter and son-in-law, but don’t want to damage our relationship. I have thought of alternatives, such as not taking the children at all, taking only one at a time or only watching the kids at our house. We have a country home, a large yard, a couple of dogs and plenty of space, so it is more enjoyable for us to have the children here anyway.
I am so disappointed, angry and hurt with the children’s behavior, I just want to cry. My husband does not want me to say anything. What do you think?
— Frustrated and Sad
Dear Sad: As tempting as it is to criticize your daughter’s parenting skills, we urge you not to. She will resent it enormously. The most helpful thing you can do is teach those children proper behavior when they are with you. Whenever possible, baby-sit at your country home. If they turn into wild animals when their parents pick them up, so be it.
Dear Annie: Counseling is frequently mentioned in your column, sometimes as your recommendation, sometimes by readers whose partners won’t accompany them and occasionally by someone disappointed or happy with the results.
This makes me wonder how successful counseling is. Perhaps your readers would share their experiences and tell us how to find a good counselor.
— Problem Still Here
Dear Problem: You’ve raised some valid issues. So, readers, how about it? Let us know if you’ve tried counseling, how you found your counselor and what your experience was like. We’ll print the most interesting and helpful responses.
Dear Annie: My boyfriend, “Dan,” recently died after a sudden heart attack. He was only 39 and in seemingly good health.
Dan was completely estranged from his family, so when he had his heart attack, I was the person the hospital contacted, and I was the only one by his bedside. I notified his family, but they didn’t bother to show up until after he died.
At that point, they all swooped down and made funeral arrangements that Dan would not have wanted. Instead of the military funeral and religious service he once told me he preferred, the family had him cremated with no service at all. I was told there was nothing I could do because Dan didn’t leave a will, nor had he named me as the person to handle arrangements. In most states, the immediate family, no matter how distant, has the right to make those decisions.
Annie, please let your readers know how important it is for people to make a will and give specific instructions. It could save a lot of grief and misunderstanding.
— Sadder but Wiser
Dear Sadder: People don’t like to think about their funerals, especially if they are relatively young. But anyone who has specific wishes should put them in writing and see that everyone has a copy. Our condolences.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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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