Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: Kids feel rejected by grandparents

 

Dear Carolyn: What should a mom do when her children feel rejected by their own grandparents?

My in-laws are divorced, and each is disconnected from my children’s lives despite living no more than 15 minutes from us. My own parents live an hour away yet visit frequently, help out and never miss a chance to see them in performances or sports competitions. The difference has become noticeable to all three, who are now in elementary school.

Grammy only comes over when invited, and on holidays has dictated when that will be, based on her other kids’ schedules. We have never been invited to celebrate a holiday with her, nor has she ever offered to adjust her schedule for us. She does give gifts to the kids, and in emergency situations will baby-sit.

As for their Gramp, he has never attended a birthday or holiday gathering. Instead he calls up a day or so afterward and tells us when he can come over. He arrives, sits down, takes pictures with the kids and usually leaves within the hour.

Now here is the core of the issue. I married into a highly dysfunctional family, and the result is my kids now suffer. As an only child, I had dreamed of marrying and creating a warm, extended family for my children with loving aunts, uncles, cousins and especially grandparents. On my side of the family, my cousins, their kids and my aunts and uncles embrace and celebrate my children.

How do I resolve this? How do I explain to my children, who deserve to be loved and valued by the people around them, that these relatives are the losers in the equation?

Disillusioned

You want to lay this all at your in-laws’ feet, and from your description, their behavior sure makes that tempting. We’re talking grandkids here! Who doesn’t love grandkids?

Your in-laws, that’s who. Or, they love your kids but love themselves more. Or love them plenty but are morons at showing it. Or love them in the abstract but find kids annoying. Or they have the classic gerania in crania. Who knows. There’s certainly ample precedent for each.

Here’s what we do know:

You dreamed of a warm, extended family for your kids.

Then you married into a highly dysfunctional family.

And you didn’t adjust your dreams accordingly.

So while your in-laws are fully responsible for their stunted excuse for grandparenting, you are responsible for continually setting them up to fail — and continually exposing your kids to that disappointment.

Please just let go of the idea that your husband’s family will ever play their designated role in your dream. Holding on to it not only perpetuates the aforementioned cycle of failure and disappointment, but also, over time, will drain away any good feeling these people can and do generate. When you always hope for a gallon, you’ll never be pleased with a pint.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

Read more Lifestyle stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Mariner of the Seas is docked at the international passenger port in Shanghai, China.

    Global cruise lines set sail for China

    Royal Caribbean’s newest ship has attractions not usually seen on cruise liners, including bumper cars, a skydiving simulator and a glass observation capsule on a mechanical arm that lifts its passengers high into the air.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Bhindi masala: </span>Fried okra in a flavorful spice paste is a surefire way to fall in love with the misunderstood vegetable.

    YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG

    No slime: Indian dish brings out the best of okra

    I am glad that no one ever forced stewed okra on me during my childhood, because the stories I’ve heard from stewed-okra veterans have been traumatizing. Friends and colleagues have described memories of okra that was sulfurous and slimy and yet left a cottony feeling on their tongues and gums. (This is no coincidence: The okra plant is related to the cotton plant.)

  •  
Khuly

    Pets

    Cats can pick up virus at vet’s, but they can also transmit it themselves

    Q: Our cats had to go to the vet hospital last week to have their teeth cleaned. The procedures went very well and, as predicted, both were back to normal that evening. Unfortunately, two days later they both started sneezing. First Patches and then Stumpy came down with the exact same cold. Patches got better but we had to take Stumpy back to the hospital. We actually had to pay more for his cold than for the teeth cleaning! Shouldn’t the vet have gone easy on us since our cats live safely indoors and they obviously caught the cold there?

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category