Closing Down a Demanding Granny
Dear Margo: I am a single mother to a special needs child. Not so unusual, right? However, I am also a soldier in the U.S. Army. My ex-husband is also in the military, and we are both currently deployed overseas. He and I maintain an amicable relationship. It seems that when it comes to our daughter, we are on the same page (thankfully). While we are both deployed, my family has taken on the responsibility of caring for “Emma.” My family, of course, adores her, and my sister has done a wonderful job of raising her.
During the time I’ve been away, my former mother-in-law has insisted on more and more visitation. Emma does not deal well with transition and functions better with a strict routine. Because of this, I’ve allowed Grandma one weekday visit and an overnight every other weekend (despite the fact that it takes Emma almost four days to get back to her schedule). Now she is demanding an overnight every single weekend! Does this woman not realize how hard it is for Emma to go back and forth for even one night?
Now I want to restrict all visitation with Grandma until her son comes home, and he has said he would even tell her as much. I would appreciate your opinion. — Fed-Up Mom/Soldier
Dear Fed: Great good luck that your ex agrees with you about Emma and his mother. I would, indeed, let him deliver the message that the main consideration must be what is best for the child. A four-day readjustment is not worth one visit. Have your family suggest she come for an afternoon at “Emma’s house” and bag the sleepovers. If Grandma balks, have Emma’s doctor write a note to remind the old girl that her grandchild is a special needs child. The strength of your position is that Emma’s needs are special. — Margo, concurringly
In the End, People Do as They Like
Dear Margo: I need advice about dealing with my brother’s relationship. He’s been dating a woman for three years (she’s 23, he’s 28), and as far as my family can see, he is not really committed to her. He seems to be coasting along, while she is very marriage-oriented and has even planned her dream wedding.
In addition to this, she is very controlling of him and has no interest in our family to the point of rudeness. A recent example was when I was visiting their house (I live on another continent). I sat alone in the living room while she stayed in their bedroom. My brother is no saint, and he can be snappish with her. He has also complained about her weight gain since they started dating.
My family has always told my brother that if she makes him happy, then we are happy for him, no matter how she behaves toward us. I’m thinking about sitting down with him and having a frank talk, telling him that if he’s not planning to marry her, then he shouldn’t stay with her, as it’s unfair. We are close and confide in each other a lot, so I feel I am well positioned to do this.
Would that be interfering? I don’t want to alienate my brother or further damage my relationship with someone who could turn out to be my sister-in-law. — Navigating Difficult Relationships
Dear Nav: My hunch is that your bro will tire of the controlling lady friend who is wedding-minded, rude … and gaining weight. But do feel free to have “the talk.” That way you will know you’ve gone on record, and of course, he will do just exactly as he pleases. I don’t think you could further damage the relationship with what’s-her-name, because, really, what is more dismissive than hiding in her bedroom when you are visiting? There is a message, however, in your brother’s acceptance of her imposing a distance between them and the family he supposedly likes. Maybe they deserve each other. — Margo, domestically
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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