We have just returned from a family cruise paid for by us. On leaving, two of our grandchildren, 7 and 5, who had a wonderful time, would not look up and give us hugs and reluctantly said goodbye. We see them a lot when home.
We feel hurt about it.
What should we do?
Our son asked them to give us a goodbye but they put their heads down and we did not think it was worth making a scene about it.
From: GPs in (Guilford), CT
Dear GPs in Ct,
Good for you for not making a fuss in the moment; it wouldn't have done anyone any good. And yes, I can understand that you were (are) hurt and disappointed. Here's the thing, though: young children, even when they are coached in polite behavior, fall apart because they are hungry or tired or hot or, well, because they are 5 and 7.
Nonetheless, I suggest you let your son and his wife know that your feelings are hurt that the children couldn't give you a more loving goodbye and thank you. Express your feelings in a calm, loving way.
Then you are done.
Anything else -- saying that you don't want to take the kids away again; offering to teach them manners yourself -- could be seen as a threat by your son and his wife, and could potentially backfire on you. Unless, of course, you are so offended by this that you want to take it to that extreme. But, again, I think that would be an extreme. Giving your son and daughter-in-law an honest and sincere expression of your feelings is not only acceptable but also important for all of you. It gives the parents a valuable opportunity to go back at this with their children by helping them to paint, draw or write you thank you notes.
Could the parents have done more with their kids in that moment of goodbye? Sure. Why didn't they? Here's are two possibilities: (1) they knew something about their very young children in that moment that that you didn't know, for instance, that they were tired, cranky, hungry, hot, sleepy..... etc. (2) They are entitled, spoiled adults with manners that aren't so hot, either. Did they give you a sincere and appropriate thank you?
Either way, here's a book that might be helpful: "Don't Bite Your Tongue, How to foster rewarding relationships with your adult children," by Dr. Ruth Nemzoff.
Grandparents out there, what would you do? Parents, what's your take?
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