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by Abigail Van Buren

Sons Use Grandchildren as Leverage Against Mom's Gruff Husband

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 22 years. He's a diamond in the rough. My grown children, three boys, have always just tolerated him. They say he talks too much, doesn't listen and still treats the younger two like children. I know he can be overbearing at times.

They have now ganged up and will no longer allow the grandchildren to come stay with me. They say my husband is too harsh in correcting them, which isn't true. The only time he is loud and fast to correct is if the parents aren't here to do it. They have offered no alternative solution.

Two have expressed to my husband how they feel. My husband is trying to acknowledge their feelings and wants to do better. How do we proceed as a family? I'm afraid they will withhold the grands each time they disagree with us. Counseling is out since we live in separate cities. Any words of wisdom for us? -- HURTING HEART IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR HURTING HEART: Look at this from your sons' perspective. When they hear from your grandchildren that your grouchy (but well-meaning) husband yelled at them, as parents, their first instinct is to protect their kids.

I can't guarantee that your sons won't use emotional blackmail in the future, but I can offer two suggestions: Your husband should take a deep breath and count to 10 before he reacts, and he should defer the discipline to Grandma. And if that isn't enough to satisfy your sons, then you will have to visit them instead of having them visit you.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce