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Annie’s Mailbox: Rearing of boy concerns grandma

Kathy Mitchell

Dear Annie: I have eight grandchildren and I love them all. I make sure to spend equal amounts of time and care with each one of them.

The problem is my son’s 3-year-old child. My son and his wife live with his mother-in-law in another state. I have been unable to see this grandson, because the wife and her mother are so afraid of colds that they will leave the grocery if someone so much as sneezes.

When I first flew down to meet the new baby, my son called me in the rental car to say that I was not allowed to come because I had a cold three weeks earlier. I was able to negotiate meeting them at a nearby restaurant, but I was not allowed to hold the baby. The mother-in-law came and took the child home before the meal was served.

Yet, my daughter-in-law refuses to vaccinate the boy against more serious diseases. She also lets him climb out of his car seat because he fusses in it, which exposes him to the risk of death from a minor car accident.

When I send Christmas presents, she opens them early and hands them to the child, never saying they are from me. I have sent him clothes, but have never seen a picture of him in anything but a T-shirt and diaper. At the age of 3, he is still drinking formula from a bottle and eating very little real food.

I am worried about the mental and physical health of this child, not to mention my own sadness that we can’t have a relationship. Is there anything I can do?

– Perplexed Grandmother

Dear Perplexed: Is your son not involved in these decisions? It doesn’t bother him that his son isn’t belted into a car seat? Or that he is still getting most of his nutrition from infant formula? And we won’t get into the anti-vaxx movement, which, although well-intentioned, we disagree with.

Please gently suggest to your son that he speak about these things with the child’s pediatrician, to be certain he is caring for his son in the best possible way. If he disagrees with his wife’s child-rearing methods, he should not be a coward about it. Even so, there are limits to what you can do about your relationship with your grandson other than continue to keep in touch, visit whenever possible and maintain the most compassionate communication you can with the boy’s mother.

Dear Annie: “Out of the Loop” says her grown daughters send wish lists for holidays and birthdays that include e-books. If she wants to send something they can open on the actual day, she ought to look into gift cards. Plenty of places offer them for e-books.

These days, gift cards for many businesses, online and not, are available at grocery stores, drug stores, big-box stores, etc. It’s one-stop shopping for you and the kids can buy whatever they want. – Roanoke, Virginia

Dear Virginia: Thank you for mentioning a gift card for an e-book, or more generally, for an online store that carries e-books.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at

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