DEAR ABBY: I have two sons I’m very proud of. My husband and I have raised them to be respectful and to make responsible decisions. However, I go to bed in tears each night feeling we have failed.
Our elder son is married and has a son, our grandson, “Charlie,” who is dear to our hearts. Charlie is celebrating his second birthday, and our daughter-in-law told me they are having a birthday party for him and we are invited. She added that she feels the “secondary activities” they are having are the ones that are the most important and ones he will remember. We are not invited to participate in the secondary activities, which include a hockey game, trip to the petting zoo and family photos or videos.
We try to support our son and daughter-in-law, but we do not feel respected and loved in return. When we invite them for dinner, they arrive an hour or two late or don’t show up at all. We send them text messages, but they don’t respond. We offer to help and are there for them when they ask us to be, regardless of our personal consequence. What can we do? — OVERFLOWING WITH LOVE
DEAR OVERFLOWING: When I read that your daughter-in-law told you that you weren’t invited to the special events surrounding Charlie’s birthday, my initial reaction was that she may have thought they would be too much for you and your husband to handle . However, when you described that your dinner invitations are treated like garbage and they don’t have enough respect to return your calls and texts in a timely manner, it occurs to me that you have been so overflowing with love that you have been taken for granted.
You may have raised your son well, but your daughter-in-law appears to be running the show. Her parents may take precedence on the hierarchy of importance, and if that’s the case, you and your husband need to clear the air with your son AND his wife, and sacrifice less when they snap their fingers.
DEAR ABBY: I have been working with a therapist on creating healthy boundaries with my family. I moved out of state with my husband to ensure that those boundaries are met because my parents have alcohol and verbal abuse issues. My younger sister “Maya” became engaged recently, and she is at a very exciting time in her life, planning her wedding.
Here’s the thing: I have no interest in hearing about, helping to plan or being a part of the wedding because Maya and I have nothing in common other than our parents. She’s self absorbed and rude. Her fiancé is an introvert, so getting to know him is incredibly difficult. How do I politely convey this to Maya or (more importantly) my mother without causing hurt feelings? — MOVED AWAY INTO THE MIDWEST
DEAR MOVED: You may not be able to avoid hearing about the wedding if you are in communication with your mother and sister. But you have the advantage of living far away from them. If you are asked to assist in planning Maya’s wedding, politely, logically (and regretfully) explain that your busy schedule AS WELL AS THE GEOGRAPHIC DISTANCE make your involvement impossible. You should, however, attend if you’re invited.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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