Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Dad and His Wife Think I Don’t Trust Them With My Daughter”

From the forums:

My mom passed away five years ago when I was in my mid-20s, and my dad remarried within a year to a woman I don’t particularly like (nor do my siblings). “Carla” is harmless but obnoxious: loud, bossy, know-it-all, and intrusive (the opposite of my mom and probably the reason my dad ended up with her). They are very involved in activities and traveling. My dad still works part-time and they spend their “free” weekends at his second home in the mountains. Since they’ve married, I have probably seen my dad 10 times a year, mostly at holidays and events (his “home” is 45 minutes from me — he’s just never home).

I have a 2-year-old daughter. Both my husband and I work full-time. Over the past year, Carla has started guilting us in a passive-aggressive/“joking” way that we don’t “trust” them to let them watch our daughter: and this past week my dad started using the same language. What THEY want is for us to drive our daughter to his house, drop her off for the day, and then come get her before bed.

There are a number of problems with what they want. First, I like to spend time with my daughter on the weekends because I barely see her during the week. This time is important to me. Second, logistically, it’s annoying to drive 45 minutes to their house, which is in the middle of nowhere so there is nothing to do around there, and then drive 45 minutes home and do the same thing again to pick her up later. We also need to pack and bring everything with us because they don’t have anything: a pack-n-play, high chair, toys, etc. (They have offered to buy gear, but it’s never actually happened). Also logistically, she doesn’t nap well in other places, and while that sounds minimal… it throws her off completely and she is cranky for days afterwards. Third, they never offer to see her during times when it would actually be convenient or helpful for us — when we had a wedding to attend they were busy, when we want a date night out the only way they want to watch her is if we leave her at their place for the night, and if we have an after-work appointment, we will need to find a sitter. We are constantly paying for babysitters during those times (we don’t have other reliable family close by).

Additionally, to be honest, I DON’T fully trust them. My dad did very little to help raise us as children, and while he is “fun” with my daughter, he scares her a little with his loud voice and lack of knowledge of age-appropriate play. And Carla just doesn’t seem to listen to our instructions—-though not for lack of trying; she just doesn’t seem to understand. She’s kind of… ditzy? She just does whatever she thinks in the moment even if it isn’t the way we have asked her to do things. I’m not talking micromanage-y things but instead pertaining to our daughter’s sleep routine, her dinnertime routine, etc). Finally, our girl is a really sensitive person. She is really shy and does not do well with new people. She sees my dad and Carla so infrequently that it honestly seems cruel to just leave her with them for the day without any “warm-up” time. In the past, when we left her with them for a couple hours, she literally cried the whole time.

So my question is: what do I do? I obviously want my daughter to have a relationship with my dad, but he and Carla make it next to impossible. I’ve told them on countless occasions that I’d really rather we all met together and did an activity together, or they could watch her here at our house where it would make it less stressful for her (and she’d nap) and without us having to drive and pack things. They continue to feel like we are denying them time with her and that we don’t trust them. I’ve now heard from my sister (who has a 1-year-old and similar problems with them) that they are telling her that we don’t trust them. Do I just suck it up and let them watch her on their terms once to get them off my back? Or tell them my conditions and if they don’t like them, then that’s their problem? My dad does NOT handle confrontation well, and Carla takes it as a personal attack and it becomes a huge problem. I’m worried that no matter what I do it’s going to be an issue, and I can never just talk to my dad about it because she involves herself (and my dad allows and encourages it because he doesn’t want to have to deal with it).

I wish this hadn’t become some kind of ownership issue over my daughter. I don’t know why they want her “away” so badly.

Thanks for any input. — Next to Impossible

I have a little less sympathy for you than the commenters in the forum do. It sounds to me like you have a lot of resentment toward your dad and Carla – because they married so soon after your mom died, because Carla isn’t like your mom at all, because they haven’t made time for you in a way you want. You resent that the time you all do spend together — and the time they’d prefer to see your daughter — seems to be all on their terms, but the truth is, you are being just as inflexible about the time you spend together as they are, and you’re using your toddler as the excuse.

Here’s where I probably differ from those who commented on your forum thread: I don’t believe having a toddler is a blanket excuse to avoid all things inconvenient, and I don’t believe YOU do either. After all, you say that part of the reason you’re hesitant to let your dad and Carla babysit is because you don’t trust them – so, they’re actually right about that! – and yet, when you need a babysitter – for a wedding, a date night, or an after-work appointment – you have no trouble asking them to babysit. And you sound resentful when they’ve declined and you’ve had to hire someone (“We are constantly paying for babysitters during those times.”) I mean, yeah: having a kid means “constantly paying for babysitters” when you need babysitting. If you are lucky to have family close by who can help, that is a wonderful privilege, but it’s not a guarantee and it’s certainly not something people are just entitled to.

Here’s another thing: having a child is inconvenient. Like, pretty much everything about having a child is inconvenient. And helping your child foster relationships – with family members, with potential friends – is no different. Sometimes it takes some sacrifice on your part – like going off a nap routine, paying for travel costs, spending time with people or at places that might not be your first preference. Here’s an example: I have two kids and my parents live in another part of the country. For a variety of reasons, it’s very hard for them to come see us, so it’s up to us to go see them. They don’t live driving distance away – we have to take a plane and there isn’t even a direct flight to where they live, so it’s basically an entire day’s commute to see them, and four round-trip tickets can cost upwards of $2,000. We go see them twice a year – sometimes three times a year. There have been years where we couldn’t afford more than a weekend getaway after spending our travel budget to go see my parents. And while we’re there, the kids get off schedule. Because that’s just what happens when you travel with kids. And don’t even get me started on the amount of gear we have had to travel with (even though my parents were great about stocking their house with many essentials). None of this is convenient. It’s definitely not cheap. Where my parents live is not where I want to spend a majority of my vacation time. And yet! We go see them – happily — because it’s important. It’s so important for them to have a relationship with their grandchildren and vice versa, and so we make the sacrifice and we are glad we are able to.

And, look, I know my situation is not your situation, but I read your letter and I see things like “it’s annoying to drive 45 minutes to their house,” and “they never offer to see her when it’s actually convenient for us” and I think about the many, many, many days I’ve spent shuttling my young children through airports and puddle-jumper airplanes so they can see their grandparents – I think about the thousands and thousands of dollars we’ve spent over the past eight years to help foster this relationship – and I can’t help but think you sound… a little whiney, to be honest. But here’s where I agree with other commenters: your dad and Carla are whiney and inflexible, too. All of you sound pretty selfish. And who loses out because of it? Well, all of you do! But especially your daughter, who is missing out on making a connection with her grandparents.

So, what do you do about it? You figure out where you are willing to compromise. So far, it doesn’t sound like you’ve made any attempt to compromise at all. You are willing only to meet them for an activity – what activity, by the way? Have you made any suggestions? Have you made any plans and invited them? Or have you had them come to your house, which requires little, if anything, from you? You know that what Carla and your dad would really love is to watch your daughter at their house. You don’t want to leave her alone with them there – understandably — but can you spend a day together with them at their place? Can you maybe even spend the night? Can you say, “Hey, we know a roundtrip drive is a lot, so we’re willing to come see you next month if you’ll come to our place the month after that. We can bring a pack-‘n-play, but it would be helpful if you could buy a high chair for our next visit.” Or, you could say, “We’d love for you to babysit, but we’d feel more comfortable if it’s at our home, where we have all the toddler gear and know the house is child-proofed. When she’s older, knows you better, and is a little more independent, we’d be open to her spending time at your place without us. Until then, if you want to spend time alone with her, we only feel comfortable doing that at our home.” And then, maybe, if/when they come to your house to see you and your daughter, you and your husband could sneak out for an hour – go have a quick lunch date or something — so that your dad and Carla can have that alone time with your daughter that seems important for them to have.

The key is to be very clear about what your conditions and boundaries are AND be clear about what sacrifices and compromises YOU are willing to make. Having a child doesn’t excuse you from ever doing anything inconvenient. If you want to foster relationships, doing so requires some give and take. You have to be willing to give a little, to bend a little, to get a little off-schedule or invest some time and money going places and doing things that might not be your first choice. Ideally, the reward is stronger relationships. If your efforts don’t result in stronger relationships, then you re-evaluate: maybe you make an extra effort or maybe you pull back and match whatever effort is being made by the other party. But you don’t get to make close to little effort at all, or only when it’s convenient for you, and then say things like: “I obviously want my daughter to have a relationship with my dad, but he and Carla make it next to impossible.” YOU are making it next to impossible, too. Step up, and show them the line you want them to step up to as well.

My niece’s daughter is getting married this weekend and we were all going to attend even though it’s in another state. But then my daughter found out she was pregnant and the wedding would be too close to her due date, so we cancelled our reservations. Then she lost the baby at 24 weeks, so I told my niece we were still not going to the wedding. And now before the wedding I would like to send a text to her daughter, but I’m not sure what to say. — Skipping the Wedding

 
Do not send a text; send a card and a small gift. Or, send a text, but follow it up with a card and gift. The text, if you send one, should be short and sweet: “Thinking of you this weekend and wish we could be there with you to celebrate the very special occasion of your wedding. We’re so happy for you and look forward to seeing photos later.” In the card you need to send, write something like, “We regret that extenuating circumstances kept us from celebrating with you in person, but we’re holding you and [husband’s name] in our hearts and sending you congratulations and best wishes for a happy and long life together.” For a gift, choose something from their registry that’s within your budget.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

32 comments… add one
  • avatar

    csp October 21, 2019, 9:03 am

    LW1: I think you need to take charge of this situation and Wendy’s 2nd to last paragraph is spot on. I think it is time for you to be the social chair of this. For example, my son has 10:30 swim lessons on Saturdays so I invited my inlaws and then we went to lunch. Then they left for nap time. Or my parents and inlaws installed a car seat in their car and usually one of them picks up my son from daycare after lunch, he naps in the car and I pick him up or they bring him back after work. It is perfect because they get quality time, it breaks up the day care routine, and it doesn’t affect my schedule. Heck, sometimes they make us dinner on those days.

    I will say I think it is very important that your child is used to grandparents and getting picked up by other people. It makes it much easier when there are problems. Like my inlaws help if my son is sick or they can do pick up if we hit problems. I don’t want my son screaming his head off at daycare because grandpa had to pick up in an emergency. But by doing the day care pick up thing, if I get blow back from my parents or in-laws about our time, I can say, why not pick him up any day of the week. Just let me know.

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    • courtney89

      courtney89 October 21, 2019, 11:52 am

      My mom would drop me off with my dad’s parents sometimes if we had a day off that she didnt or whatever and i still have fond memories from childhood of the park near their house she would take us to and going over to Gram’s house. So important!

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      • avatar

        csp October 21, 2019, 12:09 pm

        So I think it is fantastic. Both sets of grandparents are active and they go to parks and make cookies and he gets the attention that sometimes I am too busy or tired to give. It is great for me too because maybe I can run and do an errand on the way there. Honestly, being a working parent is hard and it is nice to be able to share the load and give my kid the experiences that I can’t always give.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse October 21, 2019, 9:27 am

    I think the best idea would be to start trying to visit your father on weekends. You can stay the first one or two times just for a few hours so she gets more comfortable with him and you can show them how you take care of her. Buy a high chair and pack n play secondhand, or bring what you can the first few times. Write down her normal schedule that they can refer to. It will get easier as she gets older. Or they’ll realize they prefer to visit you. Keep inviting them. Keep offering to visit.

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  • avatar

    mimi October 21, 2019, 9:42 am

    LW1,
    The first thing is to recognize that this has nothing to do with your dad and Carla cherishing your daughter and yearning to be with her. If that was the case, they would be close and present already. This has to do with their own self-image and probably to garner attention or show off to their friends or something. Real family togetherness is not much of a priority for them and you should treat their “jokes” about taking your daughter for the night (if you will do all the work) etc., as hot air – they don’t really mean it. Your daughter’s only two. She can cheerfully go about her routines and get in her naps until she’s three or four and still get to know this peripatetic pair when they happen to breeze by your home on holidays. Just say with a smile, “Thanks for offering! Preciosa is really benefiting from her routine right now, so let’s circle back to this later when she outgrows this phase – you know how kids are!” Well, they don’t know how kids are, but this kind of cheerful deflection can save you a lot of bother. Look, you can’t make your dad or Carla behave as you would wish grandparents to behave so for your own sake, let go of that happy extended family all together fantasy you hold and work with the family you actually have and prioritize your daughters safety and happiness over all. Good luck!

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 21, 2019, 10:22 am

      Yikes, this is really not good advice. Because the LW’s dad and Carla weren’t available to babysit the few times the LW needed a sitter, they’re not interested in cherishing the granddaughter? That’s absurd. According to the LW, they’re all seeing each other about ten times a year – or, nearly every month. Clearly, everyone sees some value in getting the family together and fostering relationships; it just seems that everyone could also step it up and maybe make a little more effort, even when it’s not 100% convenient for them.

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    • avatar

      csp October 21, 2019, 12:55 pm

      Honestly, this feels like you are projecting a little. I think my inlaws and my parents both like to be with my son on their own so they can build a relationship separately. I am there to enforce the rules and they can fudge the rules and spoil them a bit. That is the best part of being a grandparent. You play, give them sugar, and send them home.

      I will also say that as you get older, driving long distances, especially at night, gets harder. Sometimes I shake my head because my mom makes a big deal about driving 45 minutes but I drive that twice daily. But it is also a stage of life thing. Plus, my parents feel uncomfortable being at my house with my son without me there. They consider that my space and I like that they respect that. It sounds to me that they want a better relationship but want to respect the time and boundaries of the daughter.

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    • avatar

      Howdywiley October 22, 2019, 1:18 am

      This is literally the opposite of what I think.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark October 21, 2019, 9:53 am

    Hah. I, too, found LW1 kinda bratty and entitled. It was all very me, Me, ME… I mean, yeah. Surprise, surprise. NEWSFLASH: Free babysitting isn’t typically something everyone is willing to go out of their way to provide. You may have to take what you can get and stop being so fucking bossy about it.

    Also — REALLY. The whole obsessed with the baby schedule strike pretty much every non-parents as fucking 100%. pure grade A, utter b.s… Most likely because too many simply never fucking shut up about it. It dominates far too many lives nowadays and — really — I recall none of my parents generation constantly fretting over the occasional missed nap. Neither does my mother, frankly.

    Honestly? This whole letter was just whine, whine, whine.

    LW2). Personally, I’d avoid a text in favor of a card. And gift. Though a cheery, upbeat — additional — text might be much welcomed as youth is obsessed with texts.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph October 21, 2019, 12:56 pm

      The whole obsessed with the schedule thing strikes this parent as BS also. My daughter is a bad napper in public. Oh well. I would have absolutely lost my effing mind trying to be home every day at the right time for her nap. I have things to do. I wouldnt choose to skip her nap every day, but every now and then… yeah.
      And most second, third, etc children do all their napping (or not napping) at older sibling’s events, and they mostly turn out fine. At least I’m not aware of any correlation between birth order and incidence of serial killing.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark October 21, 2019, 2:19 pm

        Yeah. It strike me as very crazy. Fortunately only a few of my friend ever got this way…

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    • avatar

      MarieRose October 27, 2019, 10:52 pm

      Well I had a more detailed and better written explanation, but it disappeared. 😑 Basically sleep schedules cut way down on tantrums and meltdowns which is why parents are “obsessed” with them. It’s hard for non-parents to get this, but that’s because you don’t live with the child to see the proof of this. And as far as this not being a thing before: 1) parents quickly forget how things were when their children were a certain age and 2) there are lots of things that weren’t an issue or a big deal before but are now. It doesn’t make those things nonsense or bs just because they weren’t previously done. (Wearing seatbelts, using car seats, applying sunscreen are just a few examples.)

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark October 21, 2019, 9:55 am

    PS — Mimi has a bizarre, warped view of the world. Yikes. Ignore her. She is beyond baseless in her pronouncements about your dad and his new wife.

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  • avatar

    Sea witch October 21, 2019, 11:36 am

    LW1: If your wish is for your heirs to eventually inherit your father’s lands and estates, you must suck up and allow him to become familiar with her before he dies in battle or of plague. Send her to his fortress on weekends to learn useful skills such as sword fighting, torturing prisoners, managing serfs, etc..
    After he pops his clogs, you can quietly dispose of his consort so as to keep her heirs from getting their grubby paws on his estate. Poison administered in a goblet of wine is the usual method.

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    • avatar

      _s_ October 21, 2019, 1:16 pm

      Sea witch, you shine with the light of 10,000 suns. <3

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  • avatar

    brise October 21, 2019, 11:40 am

    I am not sure to agree with the advice here. The issue is not so much: shall I visit my Dad and his wife with my toddler? Of course she should every now and then. The question is: shall I drive up to their place to let my toddler in their care for the day, because they pressure me to do so and guilt me about not trusting them.
    Of course it is important to visit family. But for the Dad and his wife to insist that the LW brings them her 2 year old daughter, for them to babysit her, this is something else. Nobody is entitled to babysit a toddler. It is LW’s priviledge to trust or not a parent or whoever with babysitting her toddler. Her intuition is telling her that it isn’t ideal, that they are not so much up to it. She doesn’t trust them. So no, why should she? What she could propose is for them to come to her place and pick her daugther for the afternoon, or for a little tour, and then bring her back. Everybody can, I assume, care for a little child for two-three hours. Then, she can see how it goes and start from there.
    My parents often made the trip to my siblings’s places or mine to babysit, or to pick the children for outings. But they never pressured us. My husband’s parents wouldn’t do that. Ok. But they didn’t guilt us either. And I know many female friends or family who wouldn’t accept a parent to babysit their toddler. Their right. To be respected. It doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t visit one’s parents. This is an other topic, in my understanding of LW’s post.

    Anyway, the daughter is still very young. There is plenty of time for the LW to

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark October 21, 2019, 11:52 am

      But the trust thing is a red herring. One that seems pretty baseless in that the real gripe here is that dad and the new wife fail to drop everything to babysit upon command…

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy October 21, 2019, 12:12 pm

        I don’t think that’s really fair either though. While I agree with you that the LW seems unfairly pissed that her dad and his wife don’t drop everything to be available for free babysitting when it’s most convenient for the LW, I could see a parent feeling scared about dropping off her 2-year-old at a home that isn’t child-proofed.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark October 21, 2019, 2:17 pm

        Agreed. BUT somehow I suspect if the babysitting was slightly more convenient to the LW, she would miraculously not sweat all the baby proofing.

        That said — go help your dad babyproof the house. Take him shopping to show him what car seat they need. What packinplay you want. None of this gear existed a generation ago.

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  • avatar

    brise October 21, 2019, 11:42 am

    … confide her child to her grand-parents.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse October 21, 2019, 12:11 pm

    Building a relationship is a two way street. If she’s going up to visit him with her child, it’s an hour and a half drive total. If he came to visit them, the same. What he’s asking for is kind of ridiculously labor intensive for her. She’d pack up the pack n play, high chair etc and drive three hours in a day for him to watch his grandchild in the comfort of his own home.

    That’s in addition to her not fully trusting him with her child, and the stepmom being unable to remember anything she says about how to care for a two year old. She said she did it once and the child cried the entire time. We usually tell moms to do what’s best for them and their family. Isn’t the fact that it’s not convenient and she can’t fully trust them with a two year old enough?

    I’d love to know what the visits they have now are like, if they take turns hosting, etc. They see each other about once a month.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom October 21, 2019, 1:00 pm

    You don’t owe it to anyone to hand over your child just because the someone wants it to happen.

    My son would have happily stayed with anyone. My daughter was shy and timid and fearful and there is no way I would have left her with someone that scared her.

    You need to do what works best for your daughter. If she doesn’t know them well enough to be comfortable with them without you being there then don’t leave her. If your dad scares her because his voice is loud and booming don’t leave her. My daughter cried every time we took her to visit my husband’s grandmother because his grandmother had a loud, booming voice. It scared our daughter. Being left alone with someone who scares you is only going to make the situation worse.

    Keep visiting them when they are available. I know that they aren’t available all that often. That is their choice. They like traveling and staying in their second home. That’s fine but if it keeps your daughter from knowing them well enough to stay with them then don’t worry about it. Keep inviting them to come and visit at your house. If they really want to see her they’ll show up.

    Tell them she is a shy girl who isn’t ready for sleepovers but you’d love for them to come and visit you. In a few years, when it won’t matter if their house is child proofed and when she doesn’t need a high chair, go to visit them and run out for twenty or thirty minutes and leave her with them. If that works try it again in a month or two and stay out for longer. Maybe go and get some lunch. You can slowly lengthen the time you are away.

    My friend’s parents live about 45 minutes away. When their kids spent the night with her parents they would come and get the girls and then my friend and her husband would go and pick them up the next day. They split the drive between them.

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  • avatar

    Leon October 21, 2019, 1:22 pm

    I wouldn’t let someone I don’t trust to babysit my toddler. It is clear that for some reason you don’t trust them, and it is OK. Maybe is your gut telling you not to. I don’t think you are jealous of Carla (maybe yes), but the bigger issue here is that you perceive them as unable to take care of your children in their house (we are talking about context here. I suppose that you would let them babysit her in your house. That is why you put the example of their inaction regarding the time you needed it, but they didn’t do it, isn’t it? But I suppose those are just excuses to justify your suspicion). Is their home dangerous? Like having really really dangerous stairs, that would be potentially harmful if obnoxious Carla or bad parent Dad stopped watching your child for a minute?

    But I guess you should compromise in the middle. Like driving there and expend the whole day with them (watchful), with the excuse that you are not going to drive home. If they complain, whatever, it is up to them and you are doing the best you can for your child to build family relationships.

    The next visit should be in your house. And the cycle goes on and on.

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  • avatar

    _s_ October 21, 2019, 1:31 pm

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned the obvious solution – start with supervised visits to get your kid used to them and observe how they interact with her. Don’t drive 3 hours in a day to leave her alone there for a few hours, that’s insane. But on a day they are free and at home, pack up your husband, kid, and her stuff and go there for an all-day family visit. It’s a win-win – you all get to visit, they get kid time, and you get to observe how they are with her. You can even take breaks so they get alone time with her – you and your husband could take a nap or go for a walk, so they get practice alone time with the kid while you are still close by. At the and of the day you all pack up and go home – a sensible 1.5 hour round trip. And the next time, invite them to come to your house for the same thing, supervised visits with occasional alone time while you and your husband work in the garden or run an errand of something. Back and forth until (if) you feel more comfortable with them having true alone time babysitting.

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  • avatar

    _s_ October 21, 2019, 1:43 pm

    And if that doesn’t work you may just have to have a sitdown to address your concerns – “Dad we love you and we want you and Carla to have a relationship with Todlette, but you are right – we DO have some concerns. We know you mean well, but Todlette is sensitive and shy, and you scare her when you are loud and play with her in a way that’s too rough for a toddler. Also, we know grandparents love to spoil their grandkids, but we do have some basic guidelines to help her stick to a routine that you have not been open to following, which leaves her cranky for days. We’re also a little concerned in particular about leaving her alone with you at your house as you have not demonstrated you are willing to provide the appropriate equipment and childproofing. Are you willing to work with us to provide the best possible experience for Todlette when she stays with you?”

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom October 21, 2019, 2:01 pm

    The thing that bothers me the most about this situation is that grandpa is making this about him. Most grandparents want their grandchild to be comfortable in their home and most grandparents will childproof their home if that is what the parent needs for the child to be left with them. Instead of modifying the way her interacts with the child and instead of doing some childproofing so that the child is safe the grandfather complains about not being trusted. He’s making it all about himself and demanding the LW prove she trusts him. He isn’t interested in making the child comfortable in his home. He isn’t interested in her safety. He just wants what he wants. The answer to someone pushing you beyond your level of comfort is no.

    One of my coworkers became a grandmother six months ago. She was very excited. Her son and his wife explained that everyone had to be up to date on their vaccinations or they wouldn’t be allowed around the child. My coworker thought that their position was a little extreme but she also realized that they were the parents and she had better get the vaccination she needed. She went and did it and gets to see her grandson. That’s what reasonable grandparents do. She isn’t an antivaxer but she was behind on her tetanus shot. So she got the shot. No big deal.

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  • avatar

    ron October 21, 2019, 2:50 pm

    I’m more sympathetic to LW#1. It is her (and her husband’s) foremost job to keep their child safe. First-time parents tend to be more cautious, largely due to inexperience, sometimes needlessly cautious, but they need to stick with what is comfortable to them. That way they feel their child is safe and they are doing what is necessary to be good, adequately protective parents. LW’s father and his new wife seem not to be willing to meet her half-way or to take simple steps to make the new parents feel more comfortable that their child is safe under their supervision. What is known, and imagined, to be safest for children changes significantly from generation to generation. If I were growing up today as I did as a child, my very good parents would have been hauled into court by child protective services, for taking what is now regarded as an extreme free-range approach to child-rearing. All of my friends’ parents would be in the same boat. Adult supervision of all out-of-house activities? Always knowing exactly where we were? Car seats? Protected electrical outlets? Cribs that met specific gap sizes between slats? Didn’t have any of that.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom October 21, 2019, 3:06 pm

      Same with my parents. My mom left us outside, unsupervised as soon as we could walk. My oldest brother ended up in two situations that were dangerous. Once he was in the middle of the road a half mile from home when found by strangers and once he was out in a pasture with a mean bull. The rest of us seemed to follow the older ones around so the rest of us followed the oldest and by the time I was old enough to follow along he wasn’t getting lost in dangerous situations.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros October 21, 2019, 6:43 pm

    My issue here is that you aren’t making any effort to resolve any of the issues that you’ve raised. I think you should just admit that you simply don’t want her to have a relationship with them, or at least that you don’t really care if she does or not. Perhaps you’re punishing him for marrying Carla?

    If you don’t think she’s safe to be there alone, then have her spend more time with them when you are around. If you think that she doesn’t know them, then again, let her get to know them.

    I get that packing her to visit them and driving 45 minutes is inconvenient, but … that’s what you do with small children who have a lot of gear. And 45 minutes isn’t that far. I don’t think you need to drop them off for babysitting because it’s clearly not useful to you. But if you want her to have a relationship with him, then you have to at least vaguely act like it. If you realize that you don’t actually care, then you just have to put up with their complaints.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros October 21, 2019, 6:48 pm

      Also — she’ll eventually get older and to an age where you may be comfortable having her stay with them alone. You want her to have a relationship with them at that point.

      Second, a kid isn’t going to hear the excuses you’re making and think they are relevant at all to why they don’t have close grandparents.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse October 22, 2019, 8:16 am

      But she sees them once a month. I don’t think not wanting to drive three hours in a day so he can babysit means she doesn’t want a relationship with them.

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  • avatar

    Nikita October 24, 2019, 1:28 pm

    Thisms directed at We dy.

    Its not just a 45 minute drive.

    Its 45 mins to and 45 mins from and at the end if the day anither 45 mjns to and from.

    Thats 3 hours spend driving on one single day because grandpa and stepgrandma demand to see their kid.

    The other complaints about hiring a babysitter is to highlight that they never ever take initiative to see their grandkid, they just want her delivered and done.

    Any and all relationships are a two way street, this one is not.

    I think you are unreasonably harsh on the LW

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