Dear Annie: My husband’s parents are wonderful people in their late 70s, but I am concerned that their kindness is being abused by my brother-in-law, “Dan,” and his wife, “Jane.”
Mom and Dad have always been involved in their grandchildren’s lives, but lately it has become taxing for them both physically and mentally. Dan and Jane call on them for baby-sitting day and night. Often they drop the three kids off the evening before. My in-laws always oblige, even though the youngest is not even a year old.
Last spring, Dan lost his job. He now is home all day, but the kids are still with Grandma and Grandpa a lot of the time. Twice in the last two months, Dan and Jane strolled in well after 1 a.m. and my in-laws had to drive themselves home in the wee hours.
Saturday, Dan dropped the kids off at Mom’s while he went golfing with a neighbor. Yet he complains that they don’t have enough money to hire a sitter. I have taken Dan’s kids when my schedule allows, but I think it is irresponsible for them to expect his parents to be their children’s caregivers. I have been biting my tongue, but it is obvious to everyone that they are taking advantage of his parents. Should I speak up? I don’t want to cause a family feud. – Fuming Over Freeloaders
Dear Fuming: Your husband should talk to his brother, explaining that it’s becoming difficult for Mom and Dad to take care of such young children, and urge him not to count on them so often. You are a caring daughter-in-law, but to a great extent, this is up to Grandma and Grandpa. Until they decide they’ve had enough, there’s not much you can do.
Dear Readers: Happy Halloween. Please dress your trick-or-treaters in flame-retardant costumes that don’t obstruct walking or vision, and be sure an adult accompanies them. And when you tuck them into bed, don’t forget to change your clocks back one hour and replace the batteries in your smoke alarms.