Dear Amy: We live out of town from our son, daughter-in-law and our three precious grandchildren. We fly to their town monthly to see them.
Our daughter-in-law’s mother lives around the corner. She is divorced and her life is completely devoted to her daughter, our son and the grandchildren.
She has no boundaries and gives us no time alone with the kids when we visit.
I once tried to talk with her about it, but she ignored my thoughts.
Our son and daughter-in-law won’t address this.
I once asked if we could spend some time alone with the grandchildren, and our DIL replied with a nasty text saying how dare I expect her mom to sit home alone while we’re all together when visiting.
She is with them all weekend — every week.
Our grandkids come to visit us one or two times a year and that is all the alone-time we have.
We’ve tried to discuss this with our son privately, but he gets defensive.
We fear risking an estrangement if we bring this up again.
Any thoughts on how we can handle this?
— Sad and Disheartened Grandparents
Dear Sad: Because this grandmother is so intimately involved in this family’s life, a grandchildren extraction could be extremely difficult. Presumably the couple relies on her for lots of help with the children. You may also assume that they either like her very much and value her presence in their lives, or they need/want the help so much that they are willing to tolerate her boundary-leaping omnipresence.
Because your daughter-in-law was so rude and hostile toward your idea of seeing the children on their own — and your son is so disappointingly passive — if you want to risk one more “ask,” you should appeal directly to the grandmother. Act as if you are asking her permission, and she might grant it.
Say, “We enjoy seeing you during our visits, but we’d also love to spend some alone-time with just us and the kids. Would you mind if we took them out by ourselves one afternoon while we’re here? We’d really appreciate it.”
Dear Amy: Last week, my favorite uncle passed away unexpectedly. I am not on speaking terms with his daughter, my cousin.
She has a long history of verbally degrading me, then insisting I’m “too sensitive” or “mentally unstable” when I get upset. I believe this stems from her own insecurity issues, but after 30 years, I had to put up some boundaries for my own well-being.
I maintained a positive relationship with her parents. I attended my uncle’s funeral, was civil and polite to my cousin and directly expressed my condolences to her.
The morning before the funeral, I was still Facebook friends with my uncle. I showed my husband pictures of trips we’d gone on together, as well as conversations we had about books.
Sometime after the funeral, I was deleted from my uncle’s Facebook friend list and all of our mutual posts were wiped out. I suspect my cousin did this, and I appear to be the only family member eliminated — even my husband is still on his “friends” list.
While I understand that the important memories are the ones I carry with me, I can’t help but feel incredibly hurt.
I texted my cousin asking to be added back, but so far I have heard nothing. I don’t want to bother my aunt with this because she is dealing with her own grief right now, and I don’t want to strain my relationship with her.
Should I cut my losses and try to move on from here? Are there options I am missing?
Dear Upset: If your cousin controls your late uncle’s Facebook page, I don’t think there is any way to be added back without her approving it. She sounds petty and punitive. Stay in touch with your aunt, but don’t ask her to intervene.
I hope you will anchor now to the laudable and loving relationship you had with your uncle, and let these positive memories sustain you. This might be the best you can do.
Dear Amy: Regarding how to address in-laws, before I married, my future mother-in-law addressed the name issue by saying, “If your parents weren’t alive I’d hope you would call us ‘Mom and Dad,’ but since they are, it would be disrespectful for us to expect you to call us anything but Sue and Bob.”
I was always grateful for her to have solved this dilemma for me before it even became an issue.
— Grateful DIL
Dear Grateful: This is ideal.