Dear Amy: My parents and I have been in a fight for a while, mostly due to money.
I moved in with my folks (with my husband and our two children). They were receiving a generous amount of money from us, covering rent and bills. We were told we didn’t need to pay utility bills, but they asked for extra money, so we did not hesitate.
When I told my folks we were going to move out, my dad got upset, mainly because he would be losing this help.
He said pretty mean things to my husband, and my dad and I got into an altercation where we both said very hurtful words.
It has been a few months now and recently they reached out to me to spend time with my daughter for her birthday.
They didn’t call to apologize, didn’t call to make amends, just texted me like nothing happened!
When I did not reply to the text, they sent my sister to ask me if my parents can borrow my daughter for the day.
How should I respond to this? My daughter, who is 4, misses her grandparents and she asks for them constantly, but I am hurt, my husband is hurt and we believe that they need to try and make amends before we let them see our kids.
What should I do?
Dear Upset: I’m going to offer an alternate read of your question.
You move into your parents’ house with your husband and two children.
Yes, they receive rent money from you, but they are more than landlords – they are parents and grandparents, and they make room in their home and in their lives for you and your family during a period when you need it.
You announce that you are moving out, and your father gets upset. Yes, perhaps he will miss the rent money, but it’s also possible that he will miss you. This news might have blindsided your parents, who reacted badly.
Did you ever thank your folks for opening their home to you? You don’t say that you did. Instead, harsh words were exchanged all around.
In your version, your parents owe you an acknowledgment and apology, even though you and your father both exchanged harsh words. Did you acknowledge or apologize for your own behavior?
You should not withhold contact with your daughter because you are mad at your folks. Your daughter has done nothing wrong, and your parents have not behaved badly toward her. The only legitimate reason to withhold contact would be if they undermined your parenting, or treated her badly (they’ve done neither).
If you want an explanation, acknowledgment and apology, perhaps you should prove your own maturity by offering one yourself. This might inspire some much-needed communication.
Dear Amy: My wife and I have always had dogs. We have a black lab now. We live in south Florida and love having visits from family members.
Unfortunately, we have reached the point that we can no longer welcome guests who bring their dogs.
My wife walks with a cane and additional dogs at her feet make movement around the house difficult. We also don’t want to be relied on to take care of dogs while everyone is off seeing the sights or visiting friends.
This has caused a rift within the family and numerous arguments.
I suggested that the dogs be boarded in one of the many doggie care centers in town (not at my expense). What would you suggest?
Watching Where I Step in Fla.
Dear Watching: Visiting animals present significant tripping (and other) hazards, and also put your own animal at some risk. I completely agree that visitors to your home be given a list of nearby kennels. This is not something you should have to explain too deeply, or apologize for.
Dear Amy: “Sad Dad” complained that his kids’ grandparents boasted about spending a lot of time and “helping” with their grandchildren, when these same grandparents saw them quite infrequently.
I thought you were way too hard on him, Amy. Dad should ask all of these grandparents to define what they mean when they say they’re “helping.”
This might be a question of differing definitions of what it means to help.
You should suggest communication, rather than blame this father for his perceptions.
Not Sad Dad
Dear Not Sad: It seemed to me that this dad’s expectations were as outsized as the grandparents’ perceptions. But I take your point and thank you for it.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.