My wife and I are in our 80s. We have two boys, both in their 50s. Both are married, and each have one boy and one girl in their 20s, our grandchildren.
The older son is a psychologist, working with teenagers. His daughter moved out when she was 18. She didn’t speak to her parents for more than two years. She wrote on social media that her childhood was unhappy and her family was dysfunctional.
We never saw any of this. She was brought up in a loving and caring home. We all live in the same city and visited each other often. We never knew of any unhappiness in our family.
Her parents maintain that his brother (my younger son, her uncle) influenced his daughter in a negative way. His daughter still has close contact with her uncle, his family and us. Our sons haven’t spoken for over two years now.
Now, almost five years after she moved out, our granddaughter wants to make peace with everyone. She always said that it was her decision as an adult to move out. But her father and mother have such ingrained bad feelings for his brother and family that there is absolutely nothing we can do to change their minds towards reconciliation.
We know his brother never influenced or talked badly about her dad to her. Her parents are very hurt at the loss of their close relationship and maybe jealous of his brother’s wife because their daughter visits them.
We have a close relationship with both our boys. But we cannot understand why the older one and his wife are so stubborn. This puts a terrible strain on us since we have to juggle visits, birthdays, holidays, etc., between them. We’ve tried to reason with them in different ways. To no avail.
If you have any advice, I would appreciate it. I read your column often.
Your family situation has become very complicated over time. There is blame from one side to another, bad feeling between brothers (despite one of them being a professional psychologist), and throughout, you and your wife as the elders are left feeling frustrated and hurt.
Yet, at age 80, you are doing yourselves no benefit by trying to resolve a complex set of personality differences. At this stage of your lives, you, as grandparents, have the right to peace and decent family gatherings. It is neither wise nor helpful for you and your wife to feel any responsibility for this situation involving so many different personalities and unexplained grudges. Maintain your personal relationships and let them figure out theirs.
My daughter is taking her driving course, both in class and in car. I watch her as she drives away with the instructor. She’s terrible. My wife takes her driving sometimes and returns white as a sheet.
We hear from our friends who already have young drivers that some kids are inherently better than others. But what worries us is that we also hear that everyone passes the test!
My wife and I don’t think she’s ready to be out there on her own. What do we do?
I remember those days of worry and uncertainty as to whether I felt my child was ready for the responsibilities of driving a car.
I know for a fact that not all drivers pass on their first go around, so don’t believe otherwise. I did some research, asked today’s parents of similar-aged teens, and discovered there are many ways to monitor your child when they’re behind the wheel. Some cars even have an app where parents can see the speed at which the car is being driven.
But, as with most things in life, practice, practice, practice.
FEEDBACK Regarding the working woman who wants to go on a girls’ trip (Oct. 20):
Reader – “I do not disagree with your advice to “am I wrong”, I would however say that her boyfriend is definitely trying to control her. If she will feel miserable and resentful for caving to his wishes, she sets an immediate precedent. It just gets worse.
“He could use the month he talks about regarding a trip to Boston to look for a new job. Then they could afford to take a nice trip together. To me it sounds like classic manipulation on his part. She can be at once kind and supportive but firm in her decision.”
Ellie – “Classic manipulation” may be too harsh a conclusion, however after five years living together, these two should have learned to adjust to their different needs at different times, without judgement.
Tip of the day:
When you reach a “certain age,” take a step back and let people make their own mistakes.