Why the sudden attention from grandparents?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  April 30, 2010 06:00 AM

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My husband's family all of a sudden wants to take my daughter out for the day to a park out of state. She does not really know them, and at 6 years old she still gets car sick. Why can't he take her local and why all of a sudden? And what about my 4-year-old son, he wasn't asked to go.

I do not get along with my husband's family, nor do I want to at this point. They are a weird bunch and do not consider me in the family. I was on occasion not asked to go places, only my husband was. Then we moved and they wanted to come use the pool, sunbathe in the yard, not spend time with the kids or us, and made it a point to let me know that.

From: Rachel, NY, NY
Hi Rachel,

Is this a divorce/custody situation? I think it is, but the end of your email leaves me a little uncertain. If it is, my understanding is that you can't stipulate that your children's grandparents are off-limits unless that's part of the custody agreement.

Whether it is or isn't a divorce situation: Are you acting in your child's best interests or are you letting your personal (hurt) feelings get in the way? (I'm putting aside for a minute the issue that she gets car sick; I'll come to that.) In almost every case, the participation of grandparents in a child's life is a good thing, and I urge you to examine whether you are letting their poor treatment of you unduly influence your willingness to allow them to have a role in the children's lives.

OK, now to the practical issues. Why one child and not the other? Something to do with the ages? That they think the younger child is too young, or that two children are too much for them? Those are reasonable explanations, but you'll only know the answers if you ask them. (It's possible to explain to your son that, when he is older, grandma and grandpa will take him for a special day, too. Children get that.)

That your daughter still gets car sick is another issue. Perhaps they've forgotten. Perhaps your (ex?)husband thinks it isn't a big deal. Perhaps they all need a reminder. It's hard to imagine that anyone would want to subject a young child to potential carsickness unnecessarily. (Children do outgrow carsickness, by the way, but only trial and error will tell you when. I didn't until I was 9 or so.) 

I will certainly grant you that it doesn't sound like your in-laws have been particularly loving or even nice to you. But children have a right to have a relationship with their grandparents unless the people are downright abusive, neglectful, or otherwise unsafe. I can't judge that.

It doesn't sound like a good idea for your daughter to go on this particular trip, but my advice is to get the chip off your shoulder and explain why not in a polite way that includes suggesting they take her for an outing locally, and that also opens the door to more civil contact in the future. You owe that to your children.

I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.


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22 comments so far...
  1. I think it's a pretty huge expectation of a woman to set aside the fact that two adults who have no respect for her or interest in her life want to spend quality time - alone, far away, when no precedent has been set for this - with her child.

    Even without all the background, I happen to agree with this letter writer - why all of a sudden and so far? It doesn't sound like she wants to completely deny them access to the kids. How about some baby steps? Come visit at the house first, then go out to lunch, then maybe for an afternoon at the park...and if all is successful there, only then would I start worrying about the car sickness on a longer trip.

    Sure, the children have a right to a relationship with their grandparents despite all other circumstances. But it does NOT have to be on the grandparents' terms. This is an issue with which I am struggling with my own in-laws. They want it all on their turf, their terms (which are not ever easy or considerate of our family's time and/or other responsibilities) all the time.

    Working towards a middle ground is almost always the solution - but it only works if both parties are willing to bend a little bit. The responsibility of a relationship between and adult and a child rests squarely on the shoulders of the adult (auntie, granparent, godfather). It's my job to be open to those relationships and foster them however I can help. I can't close the door. But do I need to allow my kid to hop in the car for a day trip when it's a first-ditch effort? No way.

    Posted by RH April 30, 10 08:11 AM
  1. My first thought was "What kind of park out of state"? Is she talking about some creepy wooded state park or Hersheytown?

    I do 100% agree with RH, however. The grandparents have not been around, or nice, to the children, and Rachel has a bad vibe from this request,

    No one has ever been sorry she listened to her gut instincts.

    I also agree that a small, local outing is fine....the one they're asking for, not at this time. Best wishes!

    Posted by just_cos April 30, 10 09:12 AM
  1. Huge red flags going up here. Don't let your daughter go.

    Posted by Stephanie Gill April 30, 10 09:27 AM
  1. there is no way i would allow for an out of state trip - even if its only a day trip. it would make me uncomfortable and i'm sure my child uncomfortable to go someplace with people she doesnt really know that well. i would tell them to start with something local for a short while. maybe a lunch date followed by the park?

    i do agree that maybe taking the two is too much for them? but i would ask. i also think its strange that they didnt volunteer that info too. why wouldnt they say - we'd love to take both but it may be too much for us - we'll set another day aside for child #2.

    i think they sound odd. why out of the blue? why to a place that is so far? strange.


    Posted by kiki April 30, 10 09:30 AM
  1. i find it odd as well that all of a sudden they want more "quality" time with them? and what about the 4 year old? They have their own agenda and only want to see their grandkids on their terms. Why would anyone just all of a sudden request an out of state trip just for the sole purpose of a trip to a park. As Just_Cos says, what could be so special???? Seriously, don't let your girl go. I would not let my kids go out of state with anyone without me especially...even my mom-in-law who I do trust with them. Also, they have already indicated how important they are by being clear that they went to your house to just sunbathe and use the pool and NOT to see you or your kids. That speaks volume to me

    Posted by jd April 30, 10 10:44 AM
  1. I agree with HR. And before this trip ever takes place, there need to be baby steps and smaller trips and efforts to make all parties comfortable, including the child.

    Mom needs to feel sure that her child will be safe and comfortable. The child needs to have the opportunity of "connecting" with this family that has not been emotionally part of her life. The father should help create this balance. BUT if that's not possible, then Mom will have to manage the situation and offer suggestions that better accommodate the transition.

    The out-of-state day trip will have to wait until grandparents and child know each other better, and until mom and grandparents can agree on some ground rules (for safety, things like allergies, and other needs of the child). At this point it's too early to release a child to, basically, a set of strangers that do not know the child and viceversa. If something was to happen on this trip because of lack of communication or information... it would be an incredible tragedy.

    I'm surprised that this writer has not explaiend the situation with the husband... Why is the husband not supporting his wife and setting the paternal grandparents straight about their behavior and lack of respect toward his wife and children? ---They don't have to like them but they must always respect them.

    IF this is a legal custody situation, then it's another matter than we can't address with the information you provided.

    Posted by rmg April 30, 10 01:12 PM
  1. If your instincts are telling you this is a bad idea, then don't agree to the trip. The columnist can speak in general terms, but you know your in-laws.

    BUT be very careful in how you respond, AND make sure that you offer an alternative option for a local trip. If this is a custody/divorce issue, or there is one looming in the future, this could be a setup to make you seem unreasonable in front of a judge. You do not want to seem like you are trying to keep the children from his side of the family or that the kids best interests are not your concern. When you speak with your in-laws do not accuse them of anything, attack them or mention your suspicions, the conversation has to remain about the well-being of both kids. You can reasonably state that you are concerned about the distance of the trip being too much for your daughter, both because of her carsickness and because she'd be going alone when she's not entirely comfortable with them. Also, point out the unfairness to the younger child and ask that they reconsider and do what's best for both children by staying closer to home and choosing an activity that both kids could enjoy. Have a few suggestions ready that they can choose from and let the choice of an in-state activity be theirs, so they can't accuse you of being controlling. Put the onus on them to be reasonable and accommodating while you demonstrate that the well-being of your kids are your only priority, despite your rocky relationship. You may also want to document this by summarizing the discussion in an email to them, ostensibly by sending information on local activities for kids. If they don't use email, you can write it in a journal (objectively and succinctly).

    Posted by Ava April 30, 10 01:40 PM
  1. Major creepy reaction to the letter as posted online. Lots of reasons for sickos to choose girls and not boys. Out of state when she can't ride in a car? There have been too many murders of little girls (aged 5-10) lured away from home by perverted men using their female family members to do the inviting.

    I wonder if the father might be twisted into carting the girl off to meet them across the river from NYC in NJ and then letting them have the girl to themselves....

    I would say in writing in very simple phrases, that the child cannot ride anywhere in a car because of her carsickness. I would say that the grandparents must keep the child's comfort in mind for any trip or outing. I would invite the grandparents to lunch with the kids and make my final decision from that visit or refusal.

    I might also consider quietly talking to the local police family unit about this because it just stinks from a mile away.

    Posted by Irene April 30, 10 03:50 PM
  1. I just re-read the Rachel's post and noticed that she just referred to "her husband's family" as the ones wanting to take her daughter -- not her husband's sister, not his parents, just a generic "husband's family".

    That makes it weirder than ever, I think.

    Posted by just_cos April 30, 10 04:07 PM
  1. Hold on. I think you missed the boat. The key was that the grandparents made a point of telling the mother that they only wanted to use her stuff, not visit with her (or presumably her children). I have lived with a mother-in-law who has belittled me to my children and has undermined all of my efforts to have a reasonable relationship with her. I concluded that it was simply not possible to have her as part of their lives. And, as they are turning adults and know her from family functions (weddings, etc.), they see the picture. (Fortunately, only my oldest remembers the day that she declared to the entire clan that I had miscarried "on purpose.")

    Posted by Kitty April 30, 10 05:03 PM
  1. Fortunately I had wonderful grandparents who are just a memory now. I would say that there is an ulterior motive going on here. A child who gets car sick isn't a pretty sight. I have to agree with some of the posters that this could be a divorce and suddenly the husband's family wants to look like they care...

    Kitty: My husband's grandmother was the same way. She didn't live with my inlaws but she was an sob. She didn't know when to keep her mouth shut. My sister-in-law use to call her my father's mother. She had regrets before she passed.

    Posted by sophie08 April 30, 10 07:15 PM
  1. Why would they want to associate with her if she's as hostile as she seems towards them?

    To the person who posted that there are "creepy" reasons for them only wanting to the take the girl...buy yourself a copy of Free Range Kids STAT. You're totally brainwashed by the fear mongers.

    Carsickness may be a valid reason to say no, but the mom is cruel to cut grandparents out of a child's life without a REAL reason--and that they're "weird" and she doesn't like them (and they don't like her) aren't real ones.

    Posted by seriously? May 1, 10 12:31 AM
  1. The third sentence starts "why can't he take her local" and I trust Barbara's editing skills. If this letter is about an adult male relative then the creepy feelings are reliable.

    If only one person is the active concern, then it's not a big family vs family problem, is it? And maybe the rest of the husband's family already knows that this person can't respect women's boundaries. Because showing up to somebody else's house and treating it as your own in the rude manner described is an abnormal attitude.

    And I would consider a restraining order against this one person if the insistence on a girl-across-the-state-line-visit continues.

    Posted by Irene May 1, 10 09:43 AM
  1. Are the grandparents are actually step-grandparents? If correct, there's no natural emotional bond. And, since historically they have been indifferent to your children and you find them weird anyhow, I wouldn't let them be near your kids without supervision -- especially in or by the pool -- let alone take them (or just one of them) away on an outing.
    Once your kids grow bigger and stronger and smarter(!) than their step-relatives, I might ease up a bit.

    Now before folks accuse me of generalizing, my advice would be the same if the grandparents were indeed blood relatives. When a mom gets bad vibes, it doesn't matter whether there's a bloodline or not.
    And being a step-relative myself, I know that bonding and love and being in tune with the best interests of the child can and do evolve -- no bloodline required.

    But in this particular case....

    Posted by Sherry Lane May 1, 10 11:35 AM
  1. There have been too many murders of little girls (aged 5-10) lured away from home by perverted men using their female family members to do the inviting.
    Okay somone is watching too much Nancy Grace.

    I wonder if the father might be twisted into carting the girl off to meet them across the river from NYC in NJ and then letting them have the girl to themselves....
    Again a little extreme

    I would say in writing in very simple phrases, that the child cannot ride anywhere in a car because of her carsickness.
    So this child never rides in the car. And stays home All the time. Must be inconvenient with Kindergarden and all.

    I might also consider quietly talking to the local police family unit about this because it just stinks from a mile away.
    Are you for real. Call the police? For What? Maybe the grandparents now think the child is old enough to be away from the mother who may or may not be a little paranoid.

    Posted by R May 2, 10 10:31 PM
  1. Just because they are the grandparents does not give them the right to spend time with the children, esp if they have shown no interest in them previously.

    I would NOT let my children go out with them without me present.

    Something is not right here. If they want to spend time with the kids, it will need to be supervised visits for some time so that the children are comfortable with them, and the parents (mom especially) are comfortable letting her children be with his parents.

    I wonder what the husband thinks and if he thinks his parents are out of line.

    Posted by Anonymous May 2, 10 10:36 PM
  1. you are the mom and if you don't want them to go, they don't! I don't care who is asking... this child is entrusted to your care. If the grandparents are NOT 6, they should have figured out they need to have a respectful, cordial relationship with the child's mom to have any kind of a relationship with the children.... And no, you don't take only one child. Hire someone or better yet; invite mommy... creepy, controlling, manipulating bores...I can only imagine. I spent years being not invited and to this day... and I allowed my children for the most part...only local; however... they knew not to even ask...AND an aunt (mil's sister) asked to take my daughter overnight and said my son did not behave well enough to stay, he was two years younger and entralled with her kitties... ??? ) he was a delightfully well behaved little boy and now a wonderful delight as a young adult..never a behavior problem... ) Auntie had no children, had no clue.. and no my daughter did not ever stay over and they're in the catagory of not a clue... My children are realists just like me... MORE is CAUGHT than TAUGHT!!! My daughter went shopping with All the girls in the family as Grandpop would take them.. This girl was never invited.. My daughter was 9 and asked me why... I was honest and stated I was not invited. She asked more questions and I stated I am not really family as I married into the family... I guess that's how they think ??? Maybe they didn't have room in the car? I really had no idea how or why they did what they did... I stated it gave me a chance to get some things done and I didn't mind not being invited and assured her to go and enjoy her grandparents... Eventually she stopped going on her own and that was her first clue to what was going on. They were always manipulative for things to go their way. Both kids figured it out by the time they were teens... The grandparents still try to manipulate and the kids don't have any of the baggage/feelings I did trying to navigate them...I was never validated; my children are. I raised them so that it's okay to voice your feelings; it doesn't matter if it doesn't feel right...take a step back...no worries... and I validate them in how they're feeling saying I understand. I also say..they aren't going to change. I know they love you, they do things very differently.. My children are more mature because of this silliness they imposed. We have more open communication because of it. My children learned that you can love someone and not agree or respect lots of things they do... that's family. My children know how not to treat people and how to distance themselves. In the end; the grandparents lose out on what could've been a close relationship. I will say that if this couple is still married; the hubby better put his big boy pants on and straighten out mommy and daddy, if he leaves it to his wife... everyone loses.... she will prevail! She and the kids will not respect him... they will know his weaknesses...My children also learned that... they see it for what it is.. And I do care for my children's grandparents even with all the hurt and nonsense.... it just could've been a real close loving relationship and it's not and never will be and I feel less fullfilled all the way around even w/ hubby... but I survived and always will and you know when they are aging; their daughter can take care of them. I have distanced myself long ago. I guess i'll do for them if it's easy but won't go out of my way or worry of them as you do for family... let their little family circle; the one they couldn't broaden do all the work... funny... even to call and request them to babysit on occasions when the children were small and something came up w/ my side of family; if I called she put me off and I would call maybe three times and then when hubby asked I'd say I wasn't going... and he'd ask why... I said well, I've asked your mom several times and she keeps putting me off...so it must be she can't do it...and I'd have him on speaker phone sitting at my mom's..( of course they kept asking me when she would give me answer and my mil frustrated everyone... I was on to her long ago!) My husband would say, I'll call her... and he'd call me back in three seconds!!! My mom said she'd do it.... everyone was quiet until I hung up then would burst out laughing... she was so predictable~! My family hates her games too. Imagine her life when nobody was willing to play her game! I do know other family members who distanced themselves from her as well. Sadly, if her son had stood up to her, she may have been able to get over it and cultivate real relationships with others beside her two kids! My marriage would feel more real.... I would stronly suggest this mom sees this as a bigger issue than grandparent/grandchildren as it is... her hubby needs to man up or drag him to counseling so he gets a grasp on his weaknesses or divorce him after you are able to support yourself... If you're going to be married; have a meaningful, deep love or the kids see it for what it is too.... If they are not forced to get it they don't~ I am considered the cold one, the one with the problem... and I know differently... I know they like me even less as they feel it is I who may have said negative things so the kids are that close to them. And it was them and their actions all along. I didn't have to say or do anything. My one child with her own child avoids calling and asking for her to sit even for a minute or two or to come enjoy the baby while she is busy in the house for all the same reasons I never bothered with her... she can't just accomodate; she wants to change all the plans so she's in control. she wants to drive with the baby etc.. and my daughter is like it's baby's nap time and my appt coincides...if I wanted the baby in the car seat I'd take the baby with me...she'll hang up frustrated. The other day, my daughter asked me to please call her for something and I stated. I did my time, I'm not getting involved, I said you call her, you want her to do something for you, and my duaghter siad it's not worth the aggravation to sit and talk w/ her for half an hour and then she'll do it on her terms.... forget it; I'd rather just take the baby with me which is what she did do and what I always did. The grandmother wants to drive with the baby and the baby's mom is not at all comfortable with that. She is up there in age ( 77) It's always what the mom wants .... it's her baby, that needs to be respected. Grandmom and Great grandmom had their kids... I always took, I should state they always gave their criticism and I would ask who told you, you were doing it wrong with your kids? HELLO!!! Stand firm mommy and get the coaching you need to stay strong and to also document everything. My pediatrician told me that years ago. My first appt when they said the baby was growing nicely ,etc, I cried...in laws kept tellling me I was feeding my child right. The pediatrician was all over that and set me on my track to advocate for myself. In those days; he recommended I did not go for help as it would look like I had the problem... today... that's not true... unless some dr tried to medicate you... apparently and hopefully that has changed...??? I never saw anyone or took any drugs.. Just loved my children to death and enjoyed every minute with them and never wanted anything so I was never disappointed! I talked with someone when my oldest was almost an adult!!! I wish i'd done it sooner.... it's good to have someone to bounce thing off of who is documenting the nonsense

    Posted by ceil May 3, 10 08:00 AM
  1. I really think there is not enough information here to give any advice other than what Barbara has already said, either because the letter writer is purposefully leaving things out or because it was not well written. I agree with Barbara that its hard to tell if what she is reporting are her own personal feelings about the family or some valid concern.

    I don't see how anyone but the family can answer "why all of a sudden". If we knew the entire story, it might not seem so sudden.

    It is interesting how everyone just leaped to the conclusion that these people have some sort of nefarious interest in the child. I think its more likely that this is some sort of control issue, perhaps related to a divorce or some sort of mutual dislike between the letter writer and the family.

    Posted by ash May 3, 10 10:07 AM
  1. Cut ties with these people completely. Now.

    Posted by mcor May 3, 10 10:32 AM
  1. As an adult who had a negative relationship with my grandparents, I somewhat disagree with some of Barbara's advice. My Father's parents were spiteful, controlling people. After the divorce, my Mom tried to facilitate a continued relationship for me with them. But after they sent me a nasty letter, my Mom told them if they could not be nice, then to not contact me again. So they didn't. And I am better off for it.
    My point is, sometimes kids ARE better off without their grandparents. If these people are really as bad as the LW claims, maybe the kids would be better off with no contact.
    I am also concerned how they treat the LW. Is it really healthy to have a kid spending time alone with people who despise her Mother so much?

    Posted by KW Mama May 3, 10 01:41 PM
  1. As far as why both kids weren't invited, I think that makes sense. There is an article on grandparents.com about the importance of spending individual time with grandchildren, that it is good for the child and easier on the grandparents, etc.

    I would agree with previous posters that we just don't have enough information here. It's all very sketchy, and it seems the letter was written carefully to elicit a particular response.

    Posted by Momof2 May 5, 10 09:10 AM
  1. I think people here are really jumping to conclusions. First of all, no one who is divorced is going to refer to their ex as their "husband" and say how upset she is that she is not considered part of the family by her husband's family. There is no divorce here.

    Here are some alternate views about the husband's family:
    They want to see the kids but don't want to bother the mom, so they say, "Can we come by? We'll just sit by the pool and won't be any bother to you..."

    They love Yosimite state park and are planning a trip there and would love to show it to their granddaughter (or whatever the relationship is).

    They aren't sure how comfortable they are taking care of a 4-year old also, so they just invited the 6-year old this time.

    The only thing we know is that the mom is not comfortable with the request - let's not leap to the conclusion that these people are pedophiles. If mom's not comfortable, she should suggest an alternate plan that she is comfortable with and take it from there. Might be nice to also ask the daughter what she thinks/feels about visiting with these folks.

    Posted by poppy609 May 7, 10 02:24 PM
 
22 comments so far...
  1. I think it's a pretty huge expectation of a woman to set aside the fact that two adults who have no respect for her or interest in her life want to spend quality time - alone, far away, when no precedent has been set for this - with her child.

    Even without all the background, I happen to agree with this letter writer - why all of a sudden and so far? It doesn't sound like she wants to completely deny them access to the kids. How about some baby steps? Come visit at the house first, then go out to lunch, then maybe for an afternoon at the park...and if all is successful there, only then would I start worrying about the car sickness on a longer trip.

    Sure, the children have a right to a relationship with their grandparents despite all other circumstances. But it does NOT have to be on the grandparents' terms. This is an issue with which I am struggling with my own in-laws. They want it all on their turf, their terms (which are not ever easy or considerate of our family's time and/or other responsibilities) all the time.

    Working towards a middle ground is almost always the solution - but it only works if both parties are willing to bend a little bit. The responsibility of a relationship between and adult and a child rests squarely on the shoulders of the adult (auntie, granparent, godfather). It's my job to be open to those relationships and foster them however I can help. I can't close the door. But do I need to allow my kid to hop in the car for a day trip when it's a first-ditch effort? No way.

    Posted by RH April 30, 10 08:11 AM
  1. My first thought was "What kind of park out of state"? Is she talking about some creepy wooded state park or Hersheytown?

    I do 100% agree with RH, however. The grandparents have not been around, or nice, to the children, and Rachel has a bad vibe from this request,

    No one has ever been sorry she listened to her gut instincts.

    I also agree that a small, local outing is fine....the one they're asking for, not at this time. Best wishes!

    Posted by just_cos April 30, 10 09:12 AM
  1. Huge red flags going up here. Don't let your daughter go.

    Posted by Stephanie Gill April 30, 10 09:27 AM
  1. there is no way i would allow for an out of state trip - even if its only a day trip. it would make me uncomfortable and i'm sure my child uncomfortable to go someplace with people she doesnt really know that well. i would tell them to start with something local for a short while. maybe a lunch date followed by the park?

    i do agree that maybe taking the two is too much for them? but i would ask. i also think its strange that they didnt volunteer that info too. why wouldnt they say - we'd love to take both but it may be too much for us - we'll set another day aside for child #2.

    i think they sound odd. why out of the blue? why to a place that is so far? strange.


    Posted by kiki April 30, 10 09:30 AM
  1. i find it odd as well that all of a sudden they want more "quality" time with them? and what about the 4 year old? They have their own agenda and only want to see their grandkids on their terms. Why would anyone just all of a sudden request an out of state trip just for the sole purpose of a trip to a park. As Just_Cos says, what could be so special???? Seriously, don't let your girl go. I would not let my kids go out of state with anyone without me especially...even my mom-in-law who I do trust with them. Also, they have already indicated how important they are by being clear that they went to your house to just sunbathe and use the pool and NOT to see you or your kids. That speaks volume to me

    Posted by jd April 30, 10 10:44 AM
  1. I agree with HR. And before this trip ever takes place, there need to be baby steps and smaller trips and efforts to make all parties comfortable, including the child.

    Mom needs to feel sure that her child will be safe and comfortable. The child needs to have the opportunity of "connecting" with this family that has not been emotionally part of her life. The father should help create this balance. BUT if that's not possible, then Mom will have to manage the situation and offer suggestions that better accommodate the transition.

    The out-of-state day trip will have to wait until grandparents and child know each other better, and until mom and grandparents can agree on some ground rules (for safety, things like allergies, and other needs of the child). At this point it's too early to release a child to, basically, a set of strangers that do not know the child and viceversa. If something was to happen on this trip because of lack of communication or information... it would be an incredible tragedy.

    I'm surprised that this writer has not explaiend the situation with the husband... Why is the husband not supporting his wife and setting the paternal grandparents straight about their behavior and lack of respect toward his wife and children? ---They don't have to like them but they must always respect them.

    IF this is a legal custody situation, then it's another matter than we can't address with the information you provided.

    Posted by rmg April 30, 10 01:12 PM
  1. If your instincts are telling you this is a bad idea, then don't agree to the trip. The columnist can speak in general terms, but you know your in-laws.

    BUT be very careful in how you respond, AND make sure that you offer an alternative option for a local trip. If this is a custody/divorce issue, or there is one looming in the future, this could be a setup to make you seem unreasonable in front of a judge. You do not want to seem like you are trying to keep the children from his side of the family or that the kids best interests are not your concern. When you speak with your in-laws do not accuse them of anything, attack them or mention your suspicions, the conversation has to remain about the well-being of both kids. You can reasonably state that you are concerned about the distance of the trip being too much for your daughter, both because of her carsickness and because she'd be going alone when she's not entirely comfortable with them. Also, point out the unfairness to the younger child and ask that they reconsider and do what's best for both children by staying closer to home and choosing an activity that both kids could enjoy. Have a few suggestions ready that they can choose from and let the choice of an in-state activity be theirs, so they can't accuse you of being controlling. Put the onus on them to be reasonable and accommodating while you demonstrate that the well-being of your kids are your only priority, despite your rocky relationship. You may also want to document this by summarizing the discussion in an email to them, ostensibly by sending information on local activities for kids. If they don't use email, you can write it in a journal (objectively and succinctly).

    Posted by Ava April 30, 10 01:40 PM
  1. Major creepy reaction to the letter as posted online. Lots of reasons for sickos to choose girls and not boys. Out of state when she can't ride in a car? There have been too many murders of little girls (aged 5-10) lured away from home by perverted men using their female family members to do the inviting.

    I wonder if the father might be twisted into carting the girl off to meet them across the river from NYC in NJ and then letting them have the girl to themselves....

    I would say in writing in very simple phrases, that the child cannot ride anywhere in a car because of her carsickness. I would say that the grandparents must keep the child's comfort in mind for any trip or outing. I would invite the grandparents to lunch with the kids and make my final decision from that visit or refusal.

    I might also consider quietly talking to the local police family unit about this because it just stinks from a mile away.

    Posted by Irene April 30, 10 03:50 PM
  1. I just re-read the Rachel's post and noticed that she just referred to "her husband's family" as the ones wanting to take her daughter -- not her husband's sister, not his parents, just a generic "husband's family".

    That makes it weirder than ever, I think.

    Posted by just_cos April 30, 10 04:07 PM
  1. Hold on. I think you missed the boat. The key was that the grandparents made a point of telling the mother that they only wanted to use her stuff, not visit with her (or presumably her children). I have lived with a mother-in-law who has belittled me to my children and has undermined all of my efforts to have a reasonable relationship with her. I concluded that it was simply not possible to have her as part of their lives. And, as they are turning adults and know her from family functions (weddings, etc.), they see the picture. (Fortunately, only my oldest remembers the day that she declared to the entire clan that I had miscarried "on purpose.")

    Posted by Kitty April 30, 10 05:03 PM
  1. Fortunately I had wonderful grandparents who are just a memory now. I would say that there is an ulterior motive going on here. A child who gets car sick isn't a pretty sight. I have to agree with some of the posters that this could be a divorce and suddenly the husband's family wants to look like they care...

    Kitty: My husband's grandmother was the same way. She didn't live with my inlaws but she was an sob. She didn't know when to keep her mouth shut. My sister-in-law use to call her my father's mother. She had regrets before she passed.

    Posted by sophie08 April 30, 10 07:15 PM
  1. Why would they want to associate with her if she's as hostile as she seems towards them?

    To the person who posted that there are "creepy" reasons for them only wanting to the take the girl...buy yourself a copy of Free Range Kids STAT. You're totally brainwashed by the fear mongers.

    Carsickness may be a valid reason to say no, but the mom is cruel to cut grandparents out of a child's life without a REAL reason--and that they're "weird" and she doesn't like them (and they don't like her) aren't real ones.

    Posted by seriously? May 1, 10 12:31 AM
  1. The third sentence starts "why can't he take her local" and I trust Barbara's editing skills. If this letter is about an adult male relative then the creepy feelings are reliable.

    If only one person is the active concern, then it's not a big family vs family problem, is it? And maybe the rest of the husband's family already knows that this person can't respect women's boundaries. Because showing up to somebody else's house and treating it as your own in the rude manner described is an abnormal attitude.

    And I would consider a restraining order against this one person if the insistence on a girl-across-the-state-line-visit continues.

    Posted by Irene May 1, 10 09:43 AM
  1. Are the grandparents are actually step-grandparents? If correct, there's no natural emotional bond. And, since historically they have been indifferent to your children and you find them weird anyhow, I wouldn't let them be near your kids without supervision -- especially in or by the pool -- let alone take them (or just one of them) away on an outing.
    Once your kids grow bigger and stronger and smarter(!) than their step-relatives, I might ease up a bit.

    Now before folks accuse me of generalizing, my advice would be the same if the grandparents were indeed blood relatives. When a mom gets bad vibes, it doesn't matter whether there's a bloodline or not.
    And being a step-relative myself, I know that bonding and love and being in tune with the best interests of the child can and do evolve -- no bloodline required.

    But in this particular case....

    Posted by Sherry Lane May 1, 10 11:35 AM
  1. There have been too many murders of little girls (aged 5-10) lured away from home by perverted men using their female family members to do the inviting.
    Okay somone is watching too much Nancy Grace.

    I wonder if the father might be twisted into carting the girl off to meet them across the river from NYC in NJ and then letting them have the girl to themselves....
    Again a little extreme

    I would say in writing in very simple phrases, that the child cannot ride anywhere in a car because of her carsickness.
    So this child never rides in the car. And stays home All the time. Must be inconvenient with Kindergarden and all.

    I might also consider quietly talking to the local police family unit about this because it just stinks from a mile away.
    Are you for real. Call the police? For What? Maybe the grandparents now think the child is old enough to be away from the mother who may or may not be a little paranoid.

    Posted by R May 2, 10 10:31 PM
  1. Just because they are the grandparents does not give them the right to spend time with the children, esp if they have shown no interest in them previously.

    I would NOT let my children go out with them without me present.

    Something is not right here. If they want to spend time with the kids, it will need to be supervised visits for some time so that the children are comfortable with them, and the parents (mom especially) are comfortable letting her children be with his parents.

    I wonder what the husband thinks and if he thinks his parents are out of line.

    Posted by Anonymous May 2, 10 10:36 PM
  1. you are the mom and if you don't want them to go, they don't! I don't care who is asking... this child is entrusted to your care. If the grandparents are NOT 6, they should have figured out they need to have a respectful, cordial relationship with the child's mom to have any kind of a relationship with the children.... And no, you don't take only one child. Hire someone or better yet; invite mommy... creepy, controlling, manipulating bores...I can only imagine. I spent years being not invited and to this day... and I allowed my children for the most part...only local; however... they knew not to even ask...AND an aunt (mil's sister) asked to take my daughter overnight and said my son did not behave well enough to stay, he was two years younger and entralled with her kitties... ??? ) he was a delightfully well behaved little boy and now a wonderful delight as a young adult..never a behavior problem... ) Auntie had no children, had no clue.. and no my daughter did not ever stay over and they're in the catagory of not a clue... My children are realists just like me... MORE is CAUGHT than TAUGHT!!! My daughter went shopping with All the girls in the family as Grandpop would take them.. This girl was never invited.. My daughter was 9 and asked me why... I was honest and stated I was not invited. She asked more questions and I stated I am not really family as I married into the family... I guess that's how they think ??? Maybe they didn't have room in the car? I really had no idea how or why they did what they did... I stated it gave me a chance to get some things done and I didn't mind not being invited and assured her to go and enjoy her grandparents... Eventually she stopped going on her own and that was her first clue to what was going on. They were always manipulative for things to go their way. Both kids figured it out by the time they were teens... The grandparents still try to manipulate and the kids don't have any of the baggage/feelings I did trying to navigate them...I was never validated; my children are. I raised them so that it's okay to voice your feelings; it doesn't matter if it doesn't feel right...take a step back...no worries... and I validate them in how they're feeling saying I understand. I also say..they aren't going to change. I know they love you, they do things very differently.. My children are more mature because of this silliness they imposed. We have more open communication because of it. My children learned that you can love someone and not agree or respect lots of things they do... that's family. My children know how not to treat people and how to distance themselves. In the end; the grandparents lose out on what could've been a close relationship. I will say that if this couple is still married; the hubby better put his big boy pants on and straighten out mommy and daddy, if he leaves it to his wife... everyone loses.... she will prevail! She and the kids will not respect him... they will know his weaknesses...My children also learned that... they see it for what it is.. And I do care for my children's grandparents even with all the hurt and nonsense.... it just could've been a real close loving relationship and it's not and never will be and I feel less fullfilled all the way around even w/ hubby... but I survived and always will and you know when they are aging; their daughter can take care of them. I have distanced myself long ago. I guess i'll do for them if it's easy but won't go out of my way or worry of them as you do for family... let their little family circle; the one they couldn't broaden do all the work... funny... even to call and request them to babysit on occasions when the children were small and something came up w/ my side of family; if I called she put me off and I would call maybe three times and then when hubby asked I'd say I wasn't going... and he'd ask why... I said well, I've asked your mom several times and she keeps putting me off...so it must be she can't do it...and I'd have him on speaker phone sitting at my mom's..( of course they kept asking me when she would give me answer and my mil frustrated everyone... I was on to her long ago!) My husband would say, I'll call her... and he'd call me back in three seconds!!! My mom said she'd do it.... everyone was quiet until I hung up then would burst out laughing... she was so predictable~! My family hates her games too. Imagine her life when nobody was willing to play her game! I do know other family members who distanced themselves from her as well. Sadly, if her son had stood up to her, she may have been able to get over it and cultivate real relationships with others beside her two kids! My marriage would feel more real.... I would stronly suggest this mom sees this as a bigger issue than grandparent/grandchildren as it is... her hubby needs to man up or drag him to counseling so he gets a grasp on his weaknesses or divorce him after you are able to support yourself... If you're going to be married; have a meaningful, deep love or the kids see it for what it is too.... If they are not forced to get it they don't~ I am considered the cold one, the one with the problem... and I know differently... I know they like me even less as they feel it is I who may have said negative things so the kids are that close to them. And it was them and their actions all along. I didn't have to say or do anything. My one child with her own child avoids calling and asking for her to sit even for a minute or two or to come enjoy the baby while she is busy in the house for all the same reasons I never bothered with her... she can't just accomodate; she wants to change all the plans so she's in control. she wants to drive with the baby etc.. and my daughter is like it's baby's nap time and my appt coincides...if I wanted the baby in the car seat I'd take the baby with me...she'll hang up frustrated. The other day, my daughter asked me to please call her for something and I stated. I did my time, I'm not getting involved, I said you call her, you want her to do something for you, and my duaghter siad it's not worth the aggravation to sit and talk w/ her for half an hour and then she'll do it on her terms.... forget it; I'd rather just take the baby with me which is what she did do and what I always did. The grandmother wants to drive with the baby and the baby's mom is not at all comfortable with that. She is up there in age ( 77) It's always what the mom wants .... it's her baby, that needs to be respected. Grandmom and Great grandmom had their kids... I always took, I should state they always gave their criticism and I would ask who told you, you were doing it wrong with your kids? HELLO!!! Stand firm mommy and get the coaching you need to stay strong and to also document everything. My pediatrician told me that years ago. My first appt when they said the baby was growing nicely ,etc, I cried...in laws kept tellling me I was feeding my child right. The pediatrician was all over that and set me on my track to advocate for myself. In those days; he recommended I did not go for help as it would look like I had the problem... today... that's not true... unless some dr tried to medicate you... apparently and hopefully that has changed...??? I never saw anyone or took any drugs.. Just loved my children to death and enjoyed every minute with them and never wanted anything so I was never disappointed! I talked with someone when my oldest was almost an adult!!! I wish i'd done it sooner.... it's good to have someone to bounce thing off of who is documenting the nonsense

    Posted by ceil May 3, 10 08:00 AM
  1. I really think there is not enough information here to give any advice other than what Barbara has already said, either because the letter writer is purposefully leaving things out or because it was not well written. I agree with Barbara that its hard to tell if what she is reporting are her own personal feelings about the family or some valid concern.

    I don't see how anyone but the family can answer "why all of a sudden". If we knew the entire story, it might not seem so sudden.

    It is interesting how everyone just leaped to the conclusion that these people have some sort of nefarious interest in the child. I think its more likely that this is some sort of control issue, perhaps related to a divorce or some sort of mutual dislike between the letter writer and the family.

    Posted by ash May 3, 10 10:07 AM
  1. Cut ties with these people completely. Now.

    Posted by mcor May 3, 10 10:32 AM
  1. As an adult who had a negative relationship with my grandparents, I somewhat disagree with some of Barbara's advice. My Father's parents were spiteful, controlling people. After the divorce, my Mom tried to facilitate a continued relationship for me with them. But after they sent me a nasty letter, my Mom told them if they could not be nice, then to not contact me again. So they didn't. And I am better off for it.
    My point is, sometimes kids ARE better off without their grandparents. If these people are really as bad as the LW claims, maybe the kids would be better off with no contact.
    I am also concerned how they treat the LW. Is it really healthy to have a kid spending time alone with people who despise her Mother so much?

    Posted by KW Mama May 3, 10 01:41 PM
  1. As far as why both kids weren't invited, I think that makes sense. There is an article on grandparents.com about the importance of spending individual time with grandchildren, that it is good for the child and easier on the grandparents, etc.

    I would agree with previous posters that we just don't have enough information here. It's all very sketchy, and it seems the letter was written carefully to elicit a particular response.

    Posted by Momof2 May 5, 10 09:10 AM
  1. I think people here are really jumping to conclusions. First of all, no one who is divorced is going to refer to their ex as their "husband" and say how upset she is that she is not considered part of the family by her husband's family. There is no divorce here.

    Here are some alternate views about the husband's family:
    They want to see the kids but don't want to bother the mom, so they say, "Can we come by? We'll just sit by the pool and won't be any bother to you..."

    They love Yosimite state park and are planning a trip there and would love to show it to their granddaughter (or whatever the relationship is).

    They aren't sure how comfortable they are taking care of a 4-year old also, so they just invited the 6-year old this time.

    The only thing we know is that the mom is not comfortable with the request - let's not leap to the conclusion that these people are pedophiles. If mom's not comfortable, she should suggest an alternate plan that she is comfortable with and take it from there. Might be nice to also ask the daughter what she thinks/feels about visiting with these folks.

    Posted by poppy609 May 7, 10 02:24 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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