DEAR AMY: I am the mother of three children, ages 3, 7 and 9. My father (their grandfather) is very involved in their lives and he and his wife often take one of them for the day or the weekend.
When my children are returned to me, typically they have not eaten anything but snacks and candy, they have uncombed hair, dirty clothes and other indications of disarray.
For example, my 3-year-old son recently spent the night at their house. He came home the next day wearing a diaper (he is potty-trained but he wears a diaper at night), and when I asked about it, I was told that they had not bothered to take it off in the morning. He had slept in his clothes, which were filthy.
I understand and support the notion that the rules should be relaxed when hanging out with grandparents, but it bothers me when my children come home in this condition.
When I have voiced my concerns, my father responds that I am “nagging” him about trivial things and not being appreciative.
I am grateful he is so active in my children’s lives, but is it too much to ask that he feeds them reasonably well, changes their clothes and puts them to bed in their pajamas? This is just basic caretaking, right? -- Overconcerned Mom?
DEAR OVERCONCERNED: Your standards seem very reasonable.
So why are you consigning your children to spend nights in this household where they are literally lying in their own filth?
You don’t mention what the kids think of this treatment, but even children who enjoy eating candy for dinner at their grandparents’ house also have an awareness of when they are not being well cared for.
Grandparents enjoy indulging their grandchildren with junk food, ball games, occasional late nights or missed naps. But what you report is serious neglect, and because you are aware of it you are as responsible as your father is when you let your kids spend the night there.
You should make sure he and his wife are able to take care of these children in an even minimally responsible way. They should not have overnights there unless the adults can show some basic ability to feed, bathe and clothe them. If this makes you a “nag,” then wear the badge proudly.
DEAR AMY: I have been in a relationship for over a year and we are both in our mid-30s. We anticipate spending our lives together (our friends and family expect this too).
I know that differences between people can often provide balance in a relationship, but our differences may be too great. I consider myself open-minded and compassionate, while he is bigoted. I like to save money, but he is frivolous and spontaneous. He craves adventure and lacks focus; I want structure and security.
To top it off, I believe strongly that he is an alcoholic. While I may be willing to subject myself to that journey, as a child of an alcoholic, I feel it would be selfish to bring a child into a potentially volatile environment.
There are many positives to the relationship. We live together, spend every day together and genuinely love one another.
I know I won’t change him, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for someone to work on being a kinder person and a fiscally responsible, mature adult. He’s not budging.
What’s your take? -- Unsure
DEAR UNSURE: My take is that you need to get out. You may love this man, but you don’t seem to like or respect him enough to make a positive and loving life together. Furthermore, the thought that you would be willing to (in your words) “subject yourself” to the “journey” of an alcoholic sends shivers up my spine.
As the daughter of an alcoholic, you need to make different choices. So start now.
DEAR AMY: Oh Amy, I loved your response to “Sad Sister,” who excluded her sister from outings, seemingly because she wasn’t classy enough. Every once in a while I think it’s good that you simply call people out on their outrageous behavior. -- New Fan
DEAR FAN: Thank you so much.