Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: When my stepmother-in-law has a party for her grown children (previously a wedding and now an engagement party), our young children are specifically not invited. On the most recent invitation, "No Kids" was underlined with a long note about getting a sitter. At the wedding, the reception was full of children, confirming our belief that it's just our kids who were being excluded. There have been other incidents in which we have been invited to a family function, but only if we don't bring the kids. We live 50 miles away from this side of the family. We don't really have a sitter we could leave the kids with for the six to eight hours it would take to make these trips (not to mention the money). Our boys are pretty well-behaved, but they are young children. We don't usually go to parties and "check out" as parents. It's important to us that the boys are respectful and polite. Are we right to be hurt? We can't help but think that our kids' grandmother doesn't much like them.Querying MomDEAR MOM: I agree that the grandparents should be supportive toward you and your children, but my impartial take is that engagement parties are often cocktail parties for grown-ups held in the evening and I can't imagine parents wanting to bring young children to that sort of party.
However, when you attend a function where there are children present and yours have been expressly excluded, you have no choice but to take it personally. By all means mention this to the grandparents; they may tell you things you don't want to hear about your children, but if you approach this with an open attitude, you may see practical things you could do differently (such as hire a sitter for the youngest and bring your oldest son with you).
You could help the kids build a relationship with their grandparents by hosting events in your home and inviting these out-of-town family members to get to know all of you better.