Dear Annie: You have printed many letters from older people who are upset because they are estranged from their grandchildren or because they are not allowed to visit as often as they would like. Here are a few questions these folks might consider:
1. Do you treat your adult children like adults? Or do you mar visits with unsolicited advice and criticism disguised as concern? Typical topics that should be off-limits include child discipline and housekeeping.
2. Do you constantly make jokes at your children’s expense or revisit sensitive issues from their youth and then, when they object, claim they have no sense of humor?
3. Do you expect to be treated like royalty while visiting, rather than pitching in like family members should? This is especially frustrating when babies and young children are involved and parents could use an extra hand.
4. Do you consistently undermine your children’s authority in front of their own children?
5. Do you find yourself complaining to peers about your children’s reluctance to invite you over or to take your advice about parenting? If so, trust me, it means the time before, during and after your visits is stressful to your child and his or her partner. And the grandchildren will eventually pick up on this. You are grandparents. That doesn’t make you infallible. Take responsibility for your end of things. – Rolled Up the Welcome Mat
Dear Rolled: You make some good points, although we remember a time when grandparents received more respect, when a parent’s advice was cherished and no one would dream of asking Grandma to clean up the house. But on the other extreme, we’ve heard from children whose parents were physically and emotionally abusive and still expect to have full access to the grandchildren. The healthiest relationships lie somewhere in between.