Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My son and daughter-in-law have a darling daughter. She is the light in our lives. We enjoy seeing her, but we are starting to see her way too often. My husband and I and my sister are her primary sitters. At first it was just a day or two for a few hours, but now my daughter-in-law has assigned us "our own day" so we can count on being there all day -- sometimes well into the night. She and my son work with irregular schedules, so day care is pretty much out. We're retired and really don't want to start raising another family. It's exhausting. And now my daughter-in-law says that she wants to have another child. We are active volunteers and have already given up several activities we enjoy to accommodate their schedules. We are hesitant to take a trip because that would place the burden of baby-sitting on my sister. How do we tell them to raise their own children without sounding like monsters or causing a rift?--Exhausted Gran
DEAR GRAN: If you believe that drawing a simple boundary will make you sound like "monsters," then you can count on raising this child (and any others). These parents will have to make a tough choice to change their schedules -- or not have another child.
Saying no to a family member can be challenging, so prepare yourself: The people on the receiving end may act out. But you should trust that your family bond will be stronger than the various tasks you can perform for your kids.
You and your husband must speak with one voice. You should call a meeting with both parents and say, "We love our granddaughter dearly, but we are not going to be your regular baby-sitters anymore." Do not offer excuses or elaborate explanations.
You will be tested. Remember that your no is only as good as the backbone it requires to maintain it.
Let your sister know you are doing this. She may also have to create a healthy boundary.