Dear Annie: Let me say that I am grateful my parents are alive and well enough to enjoy their grandchildren. However, they expect to be included in everything involving their grandchildren. Each of my children plays a sport (sometimes two) in addition to school plays and recitals. This adds up to multiple events every week. If my parents find out that my sister or I neglected to invite them to something, we get the cold shoulder, and our father won’t talk to us for weeks.
Annie, the parents of our children’s classmates have become our friends. They comprise our social group, and I simply don’t want my parents to butt into this part of our lives. My folks crave conversation but don’t have the best social skills. They are retired, have no friends, aren’t involved in anything and create their schedule around their grandchildren’s events, saying they “need to be there for them.” But our children truly don’t care whether their grandparents are there. They like to see them in the audience on occasion, but otherwise find their constant presence intrusive.
Please don’t tell me to encourage my parents to seek out new friends and get involved in other things. It’s too late for that. And they do not respond well to suggestions from their children.
If they truly want to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives, I wish they would spend time with them instead of watching from the bleachers. We’d love it if they would introduce the kids to experiences they might not otherwise have, teach them something and share memories with them.
Is there anything we can do? — Frustrated in the Midwest
Dear Midwest: Tell your parents what you told us — that you want them to spend individual time with the kids, creating memories that will last forever. Offer some suggestions. But please don’t banish them from your children’s school and sports events. These things provide structure and purpose for your parents. There is no need to be embarrassed by their social skills. Your friends understand.
Dear Annie: My brother-in-law has been living with us for nine months. He’s been unemployed for a year. “Ralph” does some work around the house and uses his food stamps for many of his meals, but he’s hit the end of his unemployment benefits. Ralph will not take just any job. In fact, he turned one down, saying it was too hard for him at his age. He’s 61. He simply wants to wait until he’s 62 and then retire.
How do we get him to move out? Ralph won’t even go for free medical care.
He hasn’t paid us anything for his upkeep and ignores our message to find a job or go on welfare. He is draining our extra funds. We don’t want him on the street, but we’d like him to be more independent. Any suggestions? — Peeved and Had Enough
Dear Peeved: Ralph apparently believes he’s so close to retirement that he is entitled to sponge off of others until he gets there. Are there any other family members or friends who might take him in and give you a break? Unless your husband makes it clear to his brother that he can no longer stay rent-free at your home, this will continue, with no guarantee that he will suddenly move out when he’s 62. Talk to your husband and decide what type of deadline you are willing to give, and stick to it.
Dear Annie: “An Independent Wife” said a previous writer should not expect her husband to call every night when he’s out of town on business. Instead, she should find her own interests to keep her occupied.
My husband travels, too, and unfailingly calls me every night. I am thankful to be married to a man who believes our relationship is important enough to warrant a daily call, if only to tell me he loves me and to “hug my pillow” for him. — Virginia
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.