DEAR AMY: My brother and his family (wife and two young kids) moved about three hours away. Any visit by my retired parents usually requires an overnight stay, since they are not comfortable driving long distances at night. Staying over at his house means either sleeping on the couch or sleeping in the same room as the two young children. My parents then complain to me about the lack of sleep they get and how exhausted they are from sleep deprivation after a visit. Lately they have been renting a hotel room when they visit, just so they can sleep in a bed. This is a burden to a couple on a fixed income. My brother and his wife also like to take some “me time” and use the grandparents as free daycare for hours (or overnight). The situation has resulted in fewer visits to my brother’s house. He complains to me that our parents, who “do nothing all day” should visit more frequently. A road trip with two kids under eight is challenging due to school and weekend “commitments,” and so they don’t reciprocate trips very often. My parents are adults and can make their own decisions. However, I am annoyed with my brother. He is insensitive to the time, money and effort it costs to visit him. I feel that not every “championship” soccer game involving a 7-year-old is worth a six-hour round trip. Should I continue to let him bash my parents behind their backs, or tell my parents about his comments?
Had it Sibling
DEAR SIBLING: It seems that your parents and your brother are using you as a go-between. If you don’t want this role, then tell both parties to work this out themselves. And yes — if your brother is bashing your parents, then tell him to stop it.
If he asks you for guidance, then explain it to him: “The trip is expensive and tiring for them. They’re not as young as they used to be. You really need to be more grateful for their presence.”
Some grandparents interpret what you call “free daycare” as “spending time with the grandkids.” If your parents are not willing or able to take full charge of the children (it’s a big job, for sure), then they will have to tell your brother, “We love to visit and see the kids, but we want to spend time with you, too.”
DEAR AMY: A dozen years ago, my husband and I moved from a part of the country I’ve always loved to a place that I’ve always intensely disliked. Because this move was good for his career, I reluctantly agreed to it, though it meant leaving many good friends and living in a place which I hated (and still hate).
The only thing that made the move less painful was the fact that he promised we’d move back someday — after he retired, and possibly even sooner.
And throughout the years, he’s continued to imply that he felt OK about moving back.
He’s now in his mid-60s and plans to retire in the next year or two. But now he says that he likes living here, and doesn’t want to move back. I’m absolutely heartbroken.
I don’t know what to do; it seems like I have three choices, all of them bad: One is to stay here with him and continue to be profoundly unhappy. Another is to leave him, and move back by myself; but aside from all his broken promises about moving, I do still love the guy. And the third option would be to put my foot down and insist that he keep his promise, and that the two of us move back.
My hunch is that he would agree to this, but that he’d be very resentful.
What do you suggest?
DEAR UPSET: I vote for what’s behind “Door Number 3.” You two had a deal. You kept up your part of the bargain, even though it has been tough on you.
Now it’s his turn.
You sound somewhat afraid of his reaction. Don’t be.
DEAR AMY: Recently you gave supportive advice to “Feeling Alone,” whose family has abandoned her. She expressed concern that her children would miss out on knowing their grandparents. Perhaps she could contact a local senior center or her kids’ school about a foster grandparent opportunity. Having another generation involved in her family’s life can be valuable and helpful to her and her children.
DEAR CONCERNED: Great recommendation. Thank you.