Dear Annie: In the 12 years since my first child was born (and two more children followed), our military family has yet to actually celebrate Christmas in our own home because we are always traveling to our families’ homes, lest we hear from hurt grandparents bemoaning our absence.
Thus, every December, we have to balance the competing desires of two sets of grandparents who currently live six hours away from us in opposite directions (we’re in the middle) and who will pour on the guilt about not seeing their grandchildren. Additionally, the rest of the year, we also must drop everything and make regular pilgrimages to see them, always on our dime.
While we love our parents and our children love their grandparents, my spouse and I have jobs, lives and are limited on time and resources. It’s particularly galling when our two sets of retired parents, who are quite financially secure with plenty of time, demand that we must always be the visiting team.
Grandparents need to understand that, unless there is some overriding health or mobility concern, the road between their children and grandchildren goes both ways and they can make the trip occasionally. — Daughter on the Perpetually Visiting Team
Dear Perpetually Visiting Daughter: Thank you for your letter and for your family’s service in our military. Your letter addresses a very important point. Every relationship is a two-way street and must remain balanced.
If you feel like you are doing all the traveling to see your mom, then tell her that. Communicate to her what you said in this letter. And as for all the grandparents reading this, maybe they will pack their bags today and start visiting their busy children and grandchildren.
Dear Annie: I’m sitting at this wedding writing to you because I was asked to get child care for this event, but everyone here brought their kids. My nephews, over whom I have custody, have disabilities, but they are well-behaved at public events like this.
I feel that I was purposely told not to include them, and I feel terrible because there are family photos at the end of this, and they will not be included. This is embarrassing.
I care about my boys as if they were my own. I have no other children, and I feel so disappointed in my family for hiding them away. — Hurt Feelings
Dear Hurt: How someone treats you and your children says more about them than it does about you. If you know that your children behave well in public, just feel proud of the job you are doing, and continue to build them up.
Don’t write a narrative of the reasons why the bride and groom didn’t invite your children to the wedding. Without having a conversation with the bride, you don’t know what her thought process was in making the invitation list. Try to let it go, and do your best to forgive her for any hurt feelings. Congrats on doing such a great job with your nephews.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — 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.