DEAR ABBY: I am a grandmother of five. I love my children and their children. However, when they visit, the parents of my grandchildren rarely supervise them. My house and yard are somewhat "childproof," but the kids still get into a lot of things they shouldn't. As I am the only one who seems to witness this, I feel like I am forced to be the baby sitter rather than being able to enjoy the family.
We have a large family, and while I don't mind doing most of the work, I am starting to resent the fact that my husband and I end up doing the lion's share. When I ask one of my grown children to help, the reply I get is, "We are socializing and relaxing," and they don't really respond to my requests. They also leave without picking up their children's toys. When I mention that I need help, the usual reply I get is that I am being "uptight" or unpleasant.
This is causing a lot of arguments between my husband (their stepfather) and me. I don't want family times to be stressful, but the last few visits have been exhausting because I am taking care of everyone. I never had grandparents, so I'm confused about the proper approach. -- CONFUSED IN SANTA BARBARA
DEAR CONFUSED: Well, I had grandparents, so permit me to enlighten you. If my parents or I had ever spoken as disrespectfully to them as your children have to you, there would have been holy heck to pay. It is not being "uptight" or "unpleasant" for a host to ask a guest for help if there is more going on than he or she can handle -- and certainly not if the guests are family members. In fact, they should be asking YOU if you need a hand.
However, there is blame here to go around. Who raised these self-centered ingrates? If the answer is you, then you must ask yourself why you tolerated this when they were young. It's still not too late to put your foot down -- and I hope you'll do so the next time you ask someone to assist you and the person shines you on.
DEAR ABBY: My adult stepsister who lives in another state is being married next summer. We are not close, and I have spent about one day a year with her over the past nine years. We haven't seen each other in more than two years.
My cousin's daughter is being married on the same day. I am very close to this cousin. I have been a part of her daughter's life since she was born and have always been "Auntie" to her. I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place regarding which wedding to attend. No matter which I decide to do, someone will be upset with me. Have you any advice? -- BETWEEN A ROCK, ETC.
DEAR BETWEEN: There is a reason why you and your stepsister are not close, and attending her wedding will probably not make you any closer once it's over. Go where your heart tells you, and please do not think you owe anyone an apology. It is physically impossible to be in two places at once.
DEAR READERS: Tomorrow is Veterans Day, the day set aside to honor those Americans who have served our country through military service. Our veterans deserve our respect and our gratitude for their dedication and sacrifice.
To mark this special day -- and also the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays, which are fast approaching -- please consider expressing your gratitude to the young men and women now serving in the military by sending a personally written message of support via OperationDearAbby.net. Visit the site and send as many messages -- to all branches of the service -- as you wish. Messages of support from home are the best morale booster there is, so let's let them know we care.
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