DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for three years and have two beautiful children. Shortly before our first child was born, my in-laws bought a new camera. They bring it along to every visit and constantly take pictures of all of us. Neither my husband nor I likes having our pictures taken. My in-laws have thousands of pictures of all of us already.
The biggest problem is that they don't have a relationship with their grandchildren because of this. They complain that the kids "don't like them." They feel they should therefore visit more often, but in reality, these visits consist of nonstop photo-snapping, and no quality time is spent with either of the children. How do I make this stop without causing problems? -- OUT OF FOCUS IN NEW YORK
DEAR OUT OF FOCUS: A diplomatic approach would be to suggest to your in-laws that they "shoot" only for a limited time when they visit -- no longer than the first 10 minutes. Explain that you realize the kids are growing and changing quickly, and you understand their desire to record all of it, but the children need a deeper kind of interaction with their grandparents in order to form a positive bond with them. Then suggest some ways they can relate to the little ones after the camera is put away.
If they balk, tell them the reason their grandchildren don't seem to like them is that children need face-to-face and eye contact, and the camera has prevented it from happening. If they're smart, they'll listen.