DEAR ABBY: I am a divorced, single woman in my 50s. I love my grandchildren dearly but am faced with a dilemma. I work full-time and take my grandchildren some nights and on the one day I have off -- usually on weekends.
I can't plan things on a weekend without feeling I have made it difficult for my son and his wife to find someone to watch their children. Her mom, a stay-at-home wife, watches them several days a week.
I want to continue spending time with my grandkids, but I also want the freedom to be there when I choose to be. I realize finding a sitter you can afford and trust to watch your children is a challenge. I have tried talking to my son, but it doesn't seem to get through to him. I know I need to do something, but what? I'm afraid I won't see the kids at all if I take a stand. -- LADY ON THE LAKE IN MICHIGAN
DEAR LADY: Check your calendar and plan some time for yourself -- one or two weekends a month. Then tell your son and his wife which ones you will be AVAILABLE. Free baby-sitting services are hard to come by, and you are not giving yourself enough credit. If the unspoken threat is that it's "all or nothing," then, frankly, you should step back further and let your son and daughter-in-law shoulder even more responsibility for the children they brought into this world.