Dear Annie: I realize that this is a common issue, but I could still use some advice. When my son first married, his wife was loving and involved with the family. When the babies were born, we continued a warm relationship. Now that their children are older, however, our daughter-in-law is cold and distant, and she is not interested in interacting with our extended family.
She grew up in a troubled family and seemed very happy to join ours. But not anymore. We live nearby and other than chance meetings, occasional help with the children and family holidays, we seldom see my son. We were told early on that we were not to visit unannounced, and we never have. If we didn't attend the grandchildren's school functions, we would never see them.
It seems that our daughter-in-law just doesn't like us and wants minimal contact. Are we asking too much? Are we living in the past? Is there anything that can be done to improve the situation? You've advised parents in our situation to find other interests. I think that if the young couples would imagine our situation in their own future, they might realize the extent of their hurtful behavior. -- Crying Mother
Dear Mother: You are right that this is, unfortunately, a problem that many parents have. We don't know why your daughter-in-law is behaving differently. She may have her own emotional issues that prevent her from having a healthy relationship with you. She may have been putting on a show for the past several years and doesn't want to do it anymore. You may be behaving in a way that seems fine to you, but is annoying to her. You are not asking too much, but you might consider readjusting your expectations.
Never miss a local story.
Do not criticize or assign blame. That will only make the situation worse. You can ask your son whether there is something you can do to help smooth over the relationship, and then do it. You can see whether your son will bring the kids over without his wife so she can get a break and you can spend time with them. Or you can accept that this is how it is, being grateful that you get to see the family on holidays and at school events, and involving yourself in things that will bring you peace.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Fed Up," who objected to people with buckets asking for money to help send their kids' ecology class to Honduras.
As a teacher, I sponsored many clubs and teams. We did do outside fundraisers for charities where my students held buckets at the intersections in town and raised thousands of dollars. Although we didn't bucket-beg for our own activities, I understand why they are so common now.
With recent tax cuts, schools have less money for optional activities, such as band trips, choral productions and academic competitions. When you do a fundraiser through the school, like selling candy, the price of the item has to be inflated to allow a profit margin. With a bucket campaign, the group gets 100 percent of all donations.
Your advice was good. If you don't support the activity, keep your windows up and drive on by. -- M
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