Dear Annie: I am a 62 year old Nana of two beautiful daughters, 6 months and 3 years old. My son and his wife live 2.5 hours away, so I visit them every six weeks or so. My daughter-in-law took extra precautions during the pandemic. She limited visits, including her family, and I was fortunate enough to go to their house and help between the au pairs. We have a great relationship.
I have noticed that mom often holds the baby while the au pair or dad takes care of the 3 year old. The toddler is naturally jealous of his sister and takes action. She did not attend any formal daycare and had very little outside social interaction. At birth, the baby spent about a week in the neonatal intensive care unit. She is now doing wonderfully. The toddler was breastfed even while mom was pregnant.
I just returned from a recent visit. The 3 year old had a miserable cold with a constantly runny nose. His parents wouldn’t allow me to wipe his nose. It was impossible to play with her, as she had to constantly run to mom or dad’s house to get her nose wiped. I am also not allowed to change diapers, and the 3 year old is in diapers as well. When I emptied the dishwasher, Mom told me not to disturb, but I continued, in a spirit of service. That evening the toddler was not in her best shape and she hit her sister in the face pretty hard as she was held by Dad. I said firmly, in a slightly raised voice, “This is wrong; you can’t do it. “Seven words, that’s all. Mom came running to the scene, told me she had this. Mom spoke to the toddler in a kind voice, explaining that ‘It’s never okay to hit your sister.
The next morning before I left, Mom said that because she cares about me, she needs to talk about a couple of things. First, I shouldn’t have kept emptying the dishwasher because now she has to watch where things are going, and I haven’t listened. Second, she doesn’t want me to say disciplinary words to my grandson. I agreed that transparency is good and I grew up feeling disrespected by not even being allowed to wipe the toddler’s nose.
I know mom is responsible and dad is supporting her, but I feel like pampering and isolating the toddler is not good for their social and emotional development. I wiped away a tear at the table after being told what not to do. – Saddened Nana
Dear Saddened Nana: Your letter focuses on all the things that your daughter-in-law and your son do wrong with their children. Instead of visiting them with a critical eye and finding all the flaws in their parenting, try visiting them with a loving heart and see all they are doing right. That your daughter-in-law told you right away what was bothering her is amazing and that you could tell her was great. Looks like you have a really good relationship with them; now is the time to start enjoying your time with them rather than wondering why they didn’t want you to wipe their runny nose.
“How can I forgive my unfaithful partner? Is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology – featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication, and reconciliation – is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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