DEAR AMY: During our 20s, 30s and 40s, my wife and I traveled to see our parents, who were in their 50s, 60s and 70s, during the holiday season – and at other times.
We burned vacation time to see family, without thinking twice.
Now we are retired. Our kids are in their 30s and 40s, with children of their own. They visit maybe once every five years. They tell us that if we want to see them, we will have to travel.
They say they are too busy (just like we were). They say visiting us is a financial strain on them (just like it was for us). They say they don’t want to waste vacation time, and that traveling with their kids is hard.
We know all of this, because we did it.
We have elderly parents who can no longer travel, so we have to leave them in order to see our children.
The kids don’t make any efforts to stay in touch (let alone travel) to see their elderly grandparents.
Recognizing that life is not always fair, has there been a generational change that has once again turned boomers into the sandwich generation?
DEAR DAD: Here’s my take: People in your generation (older boomers) raised your own children to occasionally miss a tournament or a birthday party in order to climb into the station wagon and spend time with (and have their cheeks patted by) older family members.
I’m describing a family structure that was more “++top down,” where the parents made choices on behalf of the family.
But there has been a significant shift. First of all, two working parents are working long and hard. But these parents are also exhausted because they assume their children’s priorities – including dropping everything for sports tournaments that are scheduled during national or religious holiday weekends. These parents promote a family structure where everything revolves around their kids.
I assume that when they’re older your grandchildren might see their own parents the way your adult children see you – as a “waste” of vacation time.
My advice to you is to accept the parameters and do what you want to do – but to do your best to love them, regardless. More than ever, young people need to spend time around older relatives.
DEAR AMY: I am the teenage daughter of an alcoholic. My mom is not abusive in ways that people can see, but the verbal and emotional abuse she directs at everyone in her family is tearing us apart.
She ignores all attempts to communicate, claiming that everyone hates her – no matter how gentle we are when attempting to talk to her.
She is volatile and forgets what she has said or done. I leave for college next fall, and the thought of being thousands of miles away from her is the only thing getting me through this. But now she’s trying to take even that away from me by trying to manipulate me into going to a college close to home.
Should I give up? What should I do?
Emotionally Exhausted Daughter
DEAR DAUGHTER: I hope you have other adults in your life who can support you.
My advice is to leave. Don’t give up on the relationship, but learn to accept the truth: You are responsible for your life. Your mother is responsible for her life. This is a very hard truth for the loving child of an addict to accept, because hope is dangled and then snatched away so readily, and so often. Please find a local Alateen meeting to attend. Meeting other young people in alcoholic households could be a game changer for you. (Check al-anon.org for locations).
DEAR AMY: “Worried Mommy” was upset that her 4-year-old was being bullied by some young cousins. I agreed with your answer – she should be watchful, but she should teach her son strategies to deal with this. Other parents don’t always control their children.
DEAR BEEN THERE: This child is probably too young to fight his own battles effectively, but this situation offers teachable moments. I agree that the mother should keep a close eye.
Write Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.