Dear Ann Cannon • My parents have been divorced for 20 years now, but my dad still refuses to show up anywhere if my mom is going to be there. I love both my parents and want to include them in my kids’ lives and activities, but instead I’m busy juggling everybody’s schedules so my parents’ paths won’t cross. The stress of doing this is getting to me. Help! What can I do?
Dear Frazzled • I suppose there’s such a thing as an “amicable divorce,” but I’ve never seen one go down when a couple is first divorcing. Over the years, however, people often figure out how to move on — and that includes finding ways to deal civilly with an ex-spouse for the sake of the kids. I’m sorry this hasn’t happened in your case.
It sounds like the divorce was particularly traumatic for your dad, and that’s hard territory for sure. In my opinion, however, it’s time for him to grow up and stop acting like everything is all about him. (Wait! Did that sound harsh?!) Anyway, if you haven’t done so already, let your father know that his decision to stay away really isn’t in anybody’s best interest, including his own, and that you’ll no longer run family events separately to accommodate him, which may or may not make him come around. I hope for everyone’s sake that it will. Good luck!
Dear Ann Cannon • I feel embarrassed to admit this, but I am bothered that my grandkids spend so much more time with their other grandmother than they do with me. Whenever I look at Instagram, I see them doing fun things together. Part of the problem is that they all live in the same town, whereas I live in the next town over. Also, I still work, which the other grandmother doesn’t. She’s also able to give them more materially than I can and provide them with more opportunities to do fun things. I don’t want to feel resentful. I just want my grandkids to like me as much as they like their other grandmother.
— Second-String Grandmother
Dear Second-String Grandmother • Your feelings are both natural and understandable, but to the extent that you can, try not to turn this situation into a Grandma Derby where you view the other grandmother as a rival competing for the hearts of your mutual grandchildren. I’m guessing there’s enough love to go around for everybody, even if you can’t see the grandkids as often as she does.
Meanwhile, focus on the ways that you can be present in their lives. Little things — phone calls, sending letters in the mail, sleepovers, Sunday dinners — can go a long way when it comes to creating memories and forging bonds. Feel free to include the other grandmother in some of your activities, too, which can help the two of you build a friendship. And who knows? Maybe she’ll even reciprocate and include you in her family activities. The truth is that children are lucky to have as many loving adults in their lives as possible. Keeping that in mind may (sort of) help lessen feelings of jealousy and resentment.
I hope this helps. Best wishes!
Dear Ann Cannon • I’m a woman in my late 60s who regularly attends my grandkids’ swim meets. The problem is that people often stand in front of me like I’m not even there. I realize that older people are often invisible to younger people, but seriously? What can you even say to people who are so oblivious? Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.
— Please See Me
Dear Please See Me • You politely say, “Excuse me. You’re in my way.”