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Ask Amy: Grandma ignores parents’ babysitting rules

4 min

Dear Amy: My husband and I work full-time jobs and are fortunate to have weekly child care for our children (ages 9 and 13) through our parents, all of whom live nearby. However, we recently learned that “Grandma A” has been doing things we have explicitly asked her not to do.

For example, we don't allow our children to be on social media and Grandma A helped our older child create an account to use at her house.

We have also asked Grandma A to limit junk foods, but she gives them unlimited amounts (in addition to our children being at risk for being overweight, they then also don't have an appetite for the dinners I make on the days they go to her house). I've also explained to Grandma A why we have these rules (including that these are recommendations from our pediatrician), but she continues to ignore them.

I'd like to limit visits to her house to only once a week and have the other grandparents cover the rest of the week (they would be happy to), but my husband thinks it's unfair and that both sets of grandparents should have equal time with the grandkids.

He’s also worried that Grandma A will be angry and upset if she finds out the other grandparents have more days with the kids. What do you recommend?

— Frustrated Mom

Frustrated: I take it that “Grandma A” is your husband’s mother, hence this disagreement between you and your husband about how to handle her lack of respect for your (very reasonable) guidelines for the care of your children while they’re spending time in her home.

If these guidelines are mutually agreed to by both of you, then your husband should frankly, respectfully and clearly remind his mother to abide by them.

The relationship between her and her grandchildren is NOT at stake; this is a simple issue of adhering to your common sense requirements. (“Mom, I need you to agree to this. Do you agree? Yes? Fantastic. I hope you understand that if you can't respect these rules, we will rethink having the kids spend time in your home.)

Furthermore, your adolescent children should also be aware of these guidelines and adhere to them! I assume that your 13-year-old has managed to manipulate this loving grandmother into opening a social media account while at her house (gaslighting elders is a teen’s superpower).

This child is responsible for their own actions and choices, whether they are at home, at a friend’s house, or in the care of grandparents. It’s time they understood this is nonnegotiable.

Dear Amy: I recently received a wedding invitation via electronic mail. It was really well done as far as conveying all the information about the wedding celebration.

I opened the gift registry and was amazed at the content. They requested donations toward the honeymoon destination, the wedding cake, etc. They also have specific instructions about what to wear, including color.

I am wondering — is this the new normal?

— Disturbed

Disturbed: This sort of extreme control might not be the new normal, but it is definitely a new normal. (Obviously, some couples do not do this.)

The wedding industrial complex has made this sort of “bundling” of asks and demands very easy for couples intending to marry — and in my opinion, if a couple decides to ask guests to contribute toward their wood-fired pizza oven, then I’m happy to play.

Honeymoon registries (asking guests to pay for various aspects of or “experiences” during the honeymoon) have been around for at least 20 years. Couples are now extending these “asks” into other aspects of their weddings, which sometimes seem more like festivals or tournaments than sacred and intimate events.

Instagram (and other social media) has inspired some couples to pre-curate their photos, which means that they are requesting/demanding that guests wear specific colors.

Is this obnoxious? Absolutely. One thing hasn’t changed, however. If they believe they can’t toe the line (or don’t want to), guests still have the option of not participating. There is a button on your wedding Evite making this quite easy. One “click” and you’re free of all of it.

Dear Amy: Just like the description in “Already Moved On,” when I was 15, my dad walked away from me. I had to decide if it was worth trying to connect with him.

My answer was no. The woman described in the question needs to let it go and instead talk to a person she can trust. It is his loss.

— Been There

Been There: She obviously needs help to let this go.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.