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Kids take a back seat when grandfather needs care

DEAR AMY: My parents have taken in my 95-year-old grandfather. Money is not a problem, so he could have gone into a nursing home or into assisted living. My grandfather has six other kids, and no one else wanted him to live with them. I feel as if I have lost my parents until my grandfather passes. I’ll invite them to come to their grandchild’s “grandparent day” at school, and it’s, “No, we can’t leave Dad alone,” or, “Oh, we can’t make it to the twins’ birthday party, because we can’t leave Dad.” I live almost two hours away, and my grandfather won’t go anyplace other than the doctor or church. No other family member is available or trustworthy enough to watch him. Amy, this could go on for years! I was never close to him. He is difficult to get along with and could not tell you one thing about me as a child, because he (and my grandmother, who died years ago) didn’t take an interest in most of their grandchildren. Fortunately, my other grandparents were total rock stars, so I was not deprived. Every time I talk to my mother now, it’s all about my grandfather. I DON’T CARE! Short of cutting off ties with my parents, what am I supposed to do? I expressed all my opposition to this before he moved in. I said that it was a bad idea. I was not listened to. I do still try to visit them once a month, but it’s hard. I work full time and have to do things like take care of my kids’ laundry and buy groceries. My folks used to travel to see us once or twice a month — sometimes more often. I miss my parents, and my kids miss their grandparents!

Want Them Back

DEAR WANT: As much as I would like to answer your letter by saying, “I DON’T CARE!,” I won’t do that, because I have a shred of compassion toward you. And you should have a shred of compassion toward your parents. It is hard to imagine that these people you are so desperate to spend time with raised such a selfish, self-centered person.

For the next phase of their lives, your folks are going to be wrapped up in this hard thing they are doing. Your mother is going to be at least as concerned about your grandfather as you are about your kids’ laundry. So yes, for now her life will be all about him. Deal with it.

You should suck it up, and find ways to support your parents during this challenging time. If you want to see them, take the kids to visit. It would probably be good for your children to witness some multigenerational loving kindness.

DEAR AMY: I need advice on how to help my sister, “Betsy.” Betsy was married for eight years to a guy who lied, took drugs and was verbally abusive. Thank goodness, they got divorced two years ago. Since then she has tried flirting with some guys at her work, only to be shot down. Basically, they only like her as a friend. She briefly tried online dating, again without much success. She talked to a couple of guys (at different times) who said they would like to get to know her better, but they ghosted her after she suggested meeting in person. This has led to loneliness and self-pity. She says she wishes she was numb so she doesn’t have to feel the heartache. Amy, she is a sweetheart. She is smart and very caring. How can I help her out of this downward spiral?

Worried Sister

DEAR WORRIED SISTER: Rather than focusing too intensively on your sister’s dating problems, you should encourage her to work on some social and friendship skills, in order for her to become more self-actualized. Professional counseling or coaching will help. When she feels better and more in control, she’ll have an easier time coping with her meeting and dating challenges.

And dating is a challenge for everyone. Your sister will need both confidence and patience.

DEAR AMY: “The Invisible Wife” was lonely because her husband concentrated more on his laptop and his phone than on her. I was at a restaurant the other night and the next table had a party of four (a family) who did not exchange one word with each other, as they stared at their phones the entire time.

Discouraged

DEAR DISCOURAGED: Our addiction to technology is affecting relationships. We all need to be more intentional.

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