Dear Carolyn • My brother, sister-in-law (SIL) and nephew, 5, live halfway across the country from us. I live near my parents where we grew up.
The few times a year that SIL and Nephew and sometimes Brother visit, they are up and down the state visiting family and friends. The last visit, my parents were away. SIL and Nephew stayed with us. Now they are coming again in a few weeks.
SIL emailed to ask if they could stay with us again, before they visit with her family. Her email made it clear she is not excited about seeing my parents and mentioned setting aside one night “so they can see (Nephew/Brother).”
I feel she is putting me in a position of choosing her over my parents. I responded that I would be willing to have them stay with us if she made seeing my parents with my nephew more of a priority. I am heartbroken for my parents (and feel a little used, too). They are good and very loving people, at times argumentative (Dad) or fussy (Mom), but always wonderful grandparents.
I have not heard back from her. Is there anything to be done besides wait?
Dear M. • You can apologize to SIL for overstepping your boundaries.
And you can stop acting on advice only from those in your camp. You see your parents as “argumentative” and “fussy,” and you’re their loving child! Imagine how those traits come across to someone they didn’t raise — someone who is raising their grandson, no less, a process that can bring out the fuss and argument in the best of us.
While you’re entitled to and surely justified in your heartbreak, it is so not your place to dictate whether SIL brings Nephew to your parents’ home, when, how, or for how long. She and your brother visit as they see fit. Period.
So, apologize, unconditionally. You put yourself in the middle when you didn’t belong there; it’s on you to take yourself out. Assure her that of course your home is open to her. Say you’re sorry you meddled. Hope it’s not too late.
Carolyn Hax’s column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.