Dear Annie: Let me say that I am grateful my parents are alive and well enough to enjoy their grandchildren. However, they expect to be included in everything involving their grandchildren. Each of my children plays a sport (sometimes two) in addition to school plays and recitals. This adds up to multiple events every week. If my parents find out that I neglected to invite them to something, I get the cold shoulder, and my father won’t talk to me for weeks.
Annie, the parents of our children’s classmates have become our friends. They comprise our social group, and I simply don’t want my parents to butt into this part of our lives. My folks crave conversation, but don’t have the best social skills. They are retired, have no friends, aren’t involved in anything and create their schedule around their grandchildren’s events, saying they “need to be there for them.” But our children truly don’t care whether their grandparents are there.
Please don’t tell me to encourage my parents to seek out new friends and get involved in other things. If they truly want to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives, I wish they would spend time with them instead of watching from the bleachers. We’d love it if they would introduce the kids to experiences they might not otherwise have, teach them something and share memories with them.
Is there anything we can do? – Frustrated in the Midwest
Dear Midwest: Tell your parents what you told us: you want them to spend individual time with the kids, creating memories that will last forever. Offer some suggestions. But please don’t banish them from your children’s school and sports events. These things provide structure and purpose for your parents. There is no need to be embarrassed by their social skills. Your friends understand.