ASK AMY: Helpful grandma doesn’t want to compete for attention


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Dear Amy: My daughter and son-in-law recently welcomed our first grandchild. The other grandmother and I shared part-time child care to help the parents with their work schedules.

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We also helped on weekends when they have social obligations etc.

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Lately we feel like we’re being pitted against other grandparents about everything we do for them and vice versa.

It makes me feel uncomfortable – like I’m being pushed into a corner.

I raised my children with very little help as we moved frequently for my husband’s work. The in-laws have roots in the area and many extended family members.

It suddenly feels like we « don’t like them » as much as the other side of the family.

My husband is still working and I am caring for an adult child with special needs. We are not getting any younger and I do not want to participate in this kind of dynamic.

What else can I say and do to assert myself with kindness?

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I would do anything for my grandson and think we are extremely generous with our time and gifts.

We are definitely the second choice when it comes to holidays, birthdays and special occasions. It feels like a no-win, and the resentment only grows.

– Already tired

Dear Tired: To clarify – you’re not asking to do less – or more – in terms of child care. You would like to be treated differently by adults.

I suggest you strike up a calm, open conversation with your daughter, telling her that you adore your granddaughter, but you sense a sense of dissatisfaction in her. Ask her where that’s coming from and tell her how that dynamic — and how it frames things — makes you feel.

From the way you describe your experience, your daughter seems somewhat empowered (and lucky to have so much help). But while you may have been a hardworking stay-at-home mom with very little help raising her children, she seems to have a job outside the home.

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Even though most parenting experiences are actually universal, she won’t see your situations as analogous. New parents never do.

You say very wisely that you don’t want to participate in a competitive dynamic with the other group of grandparents.

Don’t ask for « equal time » or even equal attention with other grandparents and rooted extended family who all live nearby. Don’t let your daughter manipulate you (it’s not good for either of you).

Ask your daughter to be aware of her tone and your feelings.

Dear Amy: My family just received another thank you « form » from a newly married couple whose wedding we attended.

We gave a very generous gift of several hundred dollars and enjoyed celebrating with them.

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However, the envelope was marked for my husband only and not even with the effort of an « M. » – just his name.

Another bride-to-be also thanked me for a shower gift in a group Instagram post.

Amy, what’s up? I understand that things are different for this new generation, but is a personalized thank you too much to ask?

– Exasperated Gift Giver

Dear exasperated: These “forms” thank you notes provide printed language and leave blanks for the grateful sender to fill in the details: “Dear _______, Thank you so much for the ________. We ____ you so much. Sincerely/Love _____”

Or – there are no blanks to fill in at all – just loosely worded scraps of greeting cards, using fancy typefaces to fill in the space where real gratitude should reside.

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Some of these forms have the personality of a utility bill; receiving them can feel like a soft, whimsical diss.

(I would rather be tagged in a group Instagram thank you post than receive one.)

That said, you can’t criticize someone for leaving « M. » your husband’s name (and yes, your name should have been included).

Is it better to be thanked this way, than not to be thanked at all?


Dear Amy: « Woman on the Fence » was matched online with a guy she had met in person before. Your suggestion was cute, but why not just tell her to go ahead and tell the guy she’s interested in seeing him?

– Disappointed

Dear disappointed: I understand your point of view, but the two had met in a professional capacity; my idea of ​​reaching out warmly was to open the door – and give her the chance to walk through it.

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