Dear Amy: My daughter and son-in-law recently welcomed our first grandchild. Both the other grandma and I have shared part-time babysitting to help the parents with their work schedules.
We have also helped on weekends when they have social obligations, etc.
Recently, it feels as if we are being pitted against the other grandparents as to how much we are doing for them and vice versa.
This makes me uncomfortable, like I’m being pushed into a corner.
I raised my children with very little help, as we frequently moved for my husband’s job. The in-law family has roots in the area and many extended family members.
It suddenly feels like we “don’t love them” as much as the other side of the family does.
My husband is still working, and I am caring for an adult child with special needs. We are not getting any younger and I don’t want to participate in this kind of dynamic.
What else can I say and do to assert myself in a kind way?
I would do anything for my grandchild and feel we are extremely generous with our time and gifts.
We are definitely the second choice when it comes to holidays, birthdays and special occasions. It feels like a no-win, and the resentment only grows.
Dear Weary: To clarify, you aren’t asking to do less — or more — in terms of child care. You would like to be treated differently by the adults.
I suggest that you initiate a calm and open-ended conversation with your daughter, telling her that you adore your grandchild but detect a sense of dissatisfaction from her. Ask her where this comes from, and tell her how this dynamic — and the way she frames things — makes you feel.
The way you describe your experience, your daughter comes off as somewhat entitled (and fortunate to have so much help). But while you may have been a hard-working stay-at-home mother with very little child-rearing help, she seems to have a job outside the home.
Even though most parenting experiences are actually universal, she won’t see your situations as being analogous. New parents never do.
You very wisely say that you don’t want to participate in a dynamic of competition with the other set of grandparents.
Do not ask for “equal time” or even equal attention with the other grandparents and rooted extended family who all live nearby. Do not let your daughter manipulate you (this isn’t good for either of you).
Do ask your daughter to be aware of her tone and of your feelings.
Dear Amy: My family just received another “form” thank-you from a newly married couple whose wedding we attended.
We gave a very generous gift of several hundred dollars and enjoyed celebrating with them.
However, the envelope was marked to my husband only and not even with the effort of a “Mr.” – just his name.
A different bride-to-be also thanked me for a shower gift in a group Instagram post.
Amy, what gives? I get that things are different for this new generation, but is a personalized thank you too much to ask?
Exasperated Gift Giver
Dear Exasperated: These “form” thank you notes supply printed language and leave gaps for the grateful sender to fill in particulars: “Dear _______, Thank you so much for the ________. We ____ you so much. Sincerely/Love _____”
Or there are no blanks to fill in at all, just vaguely worded slips of greeting card gratitude, using fancy fonts to fill the space where actual gratitude should reside.
Some of these forms carry the personality of a utility bill; receiving them can seem like a gentle, fancy-fonted diss. (I would rather be tagged in a group Instagram thank-you post than receive one of these.)
That having been said, you do not get to criticize someone for leaving “Mr.” off of your husband’s name (and yes, your name should have been included).
Is it better to be thanked in this way, versus not being thanked at all?
Dear Amy: “Woman on the Fence” was matched online with a guy she had met in person previously. Your suggestion was cute, but why not just tell her to go for it and tell the guy she is interested in seeing him?
Dear Disappointed: I take your point, but the two had met in a professional capacity; my idea to reach out warmly was to open the door — and give him the option to walk through it.
You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.