Craving more contact with distant family

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

bio | email

DEAR AMY: I have two excellent daughters, perfect sons-in-law and gifted, sweet grandchildren. Here's the problem. My daughters live less than a mile from each other; one family followed the other to a distant state so they could raise their children together. However, both of them live 2,300 miles from me. They are living their lives well. So am I. I have a demanding professional job, and, at 63, I have several years to go before I retire. That said, I miss them terribly. It's too expensive for all of them (seven in all) to travel to where I am, so my husband and I travel there once a year for a week. The visits are wonderful, but the months in between are painful. I try to stay in touch with my daughters -- calling and texting a couple times a week, sending books for them and for the grandchildren, sending newspaper articles -- but they don't reciprocate. They never mention the newspaper articles, rarely mention the gifts. If they call or text once a week, I'm lucky. The calls are always loving. There's just not much contact from them, and that hurts. I have mentioned it, but they always get annoyed when I do, so I stopped asking. Is this typical of the relationship between parents and their adult offspring these days? --Missing Out Mom

DEAR MISSING OUT: I shared this issue with my own panel of life advisers. Every single parent confessed to a similar frustration. So it's not just you.

I also remember a time when I was younger, emotionally engaged elsewhere -- and I regret that it wasn't until I was entering middle age when I felt my attachment to my family of birth deepen, and I started to give back.

Remember that your daughters have each other close by for daily familial support. You should do less (because doing more makes you feel so unappreciated). Spread out your contact. See if connecting with your daughters on Facebook is satisfying for you. If you do less, your daughters may do more.