DEAR AMY: I have three grown children. They are all gainfully employed, with good educations and good relationships. I feel we have a good relationship, and when we are together we seem to have fun. My husband travels internationally, and is gone frequently. Never once has it ever occurred to any of my children (who live an hour or less away) to call me and ask me to go out to grab a bite to eat, or even to visit. They know I am here alone. They are perfectly happy to let me come to them and treat them to a meal, but they never reciprocate. I am 62 and retired. I have activities and friends, but my family is important to me. I was always involved in all my children’s activities. I worked part time but was pretty much a stay-at-home mom. I don’t want to be that parent that whines to their kids about not spending enough time with me. I want it to be their choice to be with me. How do I reverse what I am starting to feel is a one-sided relationship, where I am a very low priority?
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Telling your children you want to see them more often doesn’t make you whiney, it just makes you a person not yet capable of telepathy.
You can’t assume that because you were present for your kids that they will automatically know exactly what you want and need. There’s a good chance that they have no idea of the real impact of your husband’s frequent travel, because you’ve always managed so well.
Basically, they don’t know what it’s like to be you. So you should be more proactive about asking for what you want. You can say, “Guys, I feel like I’m carrying the ball, here. I’d really appreciate it if you would check in more often.”
Remind your children when your husband is going to be out of town. Stop enabling them, and ask for — and expect more — from them.
DEAR AMY: I have difficulty connecting with people and forming meaningful relationships. However, for the past few years, I’ve been part of a group that meets every week. This group is full of wonderful people, and when I’m with them, I feel truly happy. I feel like they’ve fully accepted me. A few months ago, my boss’s daughter asked if she could start coming with me. I couldn’t see the harm in that. She had trouble making friends, just like me. Unfortunately, I quickly realized why that was. This woman has no social skills whatsoever. If two people are in the middle of a conversation, she’ll invite herself over and start blabbering about something completely random. And it happens all the time. Amy, this girl is driving me absolutely crazy. I can’t even talk to anyone anymore because of her. But if I tell her to stop coming, or even say anything to her about it, I know I’ll hear about it from my boss. I want to keep a stable work environment and a good relationship with my boss. At the same time, I want to be able to talk with my friends in this group again. Any ideas?
Not a Social Butterfly
DEAR SOCIAL: Have you tried to get this woman to ease up by offering a polite correction? The next time she starts in, consider saying, “Excuse me, can you wait a minute because Jane here was in the middle of something, and I really want to hear what she has to say.”
Privately, you can say to her, “I get frustrated because you interrupt a lot. I don’t think you realize you’re doing it. I know how hard it can be to connect in a group, but you really need to listen more. I can help you with that, but first you need to be aware of it.”
Be firm and polite, and offer this correction before she drives you away from the group. Your boss undoubtedly knows this about his daughter; you should not be punished for your honesty.
DEAR AMY: Thank you for your compassion and practical advice to “Sad Mama,” the widowed mother who was looking for good male influences for her young son. I love it that you suggest theater and music as important outlets for children — and not only sports.
DEAR FAN: Thank you. Arts programs are incredibly important for children. Unfortunately, arts parents don’t always yell as loudly as sports parents, and these programs are always at risk of being cut.