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by Abigail Van Buren

Grandparents Have No Idea Why They're Out in the Cold

DEAR ABBY: My brother "Brian" and his wife, "Laurel," have an adult son, "Dick," who dated a girl I'll call "Crystal" for 10 years before they got married. Everyone got along fine, until Crystal gave birth.

After their first child was born, Crystal started withholding visits from my brother and his wife. Crystal and Dick had two more children. The oldest is now 6. The only way Brian and Laurel see their grandchildren is if there's a family reunion, wedding, etc. Crystal allows her parents to see the kids and spend time with them whenever.

Brian and Laurel are flabbergasted by what has happened. They have no idea why all of a sudden after giving birth, their DIL has not allowed them to visit the grandkids, babysit or anything. My brother and his wife are great people. They don't drink to excess or use drugs and would be wonderful grandparents for these children. Would it be appropriate as a family member (aunt) to write a letter to Crystal and, in a kind, nonaccusatory way, explain the hurt this has caused and how much their children are missing out from not being around these two great individuals? -- MISSING OUT IN OREGON

DEAR MISSING OUT: While it isn't unheard of for the wife's parents to take precedence over the husband's, Crystal's behavior does appear to be extreme. It also appears the way she's acting is retaliatory, but the people who must get to the bottom of it are your brother and his wife. I don't think there is anything to be gained by involving yourself in this sad mess, because if you do, Crystal and her husband will resent it. Sympathize, but stay out of it.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Holidays & Celebrations