DEAR AMY: My mother didn't like having kids. She never laughed or enjoyed us when we were growing up, and she's similar in her attitude toward her grandchildren. I once asked her why she had my brother and me so young, and she said, "It's just what everyone did at that time." I've been willing to move past this in the hope of having a strong grandparent relationship between her and my children, but she is not interested. I find that being around her, especially with my children present, conjures up a general unhappiness I recall from my childhood. My brother experiences the same emotions as I do. Her own childhood was tough. Her dad was an alcoholic. She laughs at the idea of counseling. At this stage in my busy life with teenage children, I'm inclined to stop trying to spend time with her and retreat to only sharing holidays and birthdays. I am at peace with the knowledge that in her early 70s, her time could be limited. She doesn't live far from my brother and me, but neither of us wants to continue making the effort. We feel terrible, but is this OK?
DEAR WONDERING: If you feel terrible, then you should adjust your behavior so you don't feel so terrible. Maybe do a little more than two holidays a year, but a little less than the forced march of your regular duty visits with the kids.
Everything will be OK, as long as you recognize your mother's deficits as a parent, continue to move through your disappointment and work on acceptance. When you really and truly understand that your mother did what she knew how to do, you will also be free of your own anger and sadness. You will soften toward her, you won't force encounters and you won't feel so sad when you are with her.
Eventually, you will recognize the only triumph of this sad situation, which is that you are a loving, thoughtful and involved parent. You changed course for your children. Counseling would be a huge plus -- for you.
DEAR AMY: I raised my kids as a single mother after leaving my abusive marriage. My girl (who is 28) has been in and out of a few relationships. Recently she was almost going to be engaged to a wonderful guy. I thought the dates were fixed for the wedding. My girl backed out and to date has not given me a reason. Amy, I am devastated by her behavior. Since making this choice, she has moved out of our house where she lived with her 25-year-old brother. I gave my adult children a nice home to stay in at almost no cost to them. It hurts a lot that she does not care about me or her brother. It has been several months since she has spoken to me. Friends are her priority. I love my children and am always there to help them. I send emails about how I feel, but advice?
DEAR HURT: Your daughter does not owe it to you to get engaged and married. She is a grown woman and is responsible for her own choices. You may feel she owes you an explanation and/or an apology for her behavior, but in reality she does not. She is ignoring you now because she is trying very mightily to separate from your (perhaps strangling) embrace.
Stop pressing her for an explanation. Stop telling her how you feel, and instead ask her how SHE feels. You two could use a fresh start.
DEAR AMY: Concerning "Hurt Grandma" not getting thanked for gifts -- as my two kids grew up, we had a rule for gifts received: Before you could wear it, play with it, or eat it, you had to thank the giver in some way, with a note, a phone call, or a verbal thank you in person. My grandkids, now 8-1/2 and 12, still write great notes when they can or thank people in one way or another. I hope it continues.
DEAR GRATEFUL: Well done!