Dear Amy: My wife and I married a little later in life and only had one child, a daughter.
Our wish for a grandchild came true when our daughter had a baby boy a little over a year ago.
We are very excited and love spending as much time with him as we can, and fortunately for us, we see him often.
They will also occasionally ask us to babysit, and we ALWAYS say yes.
I’m good with that. However, over the past six to nine months, my wife has become increasingly irritated when she doesn’t see our grandson as much as she would like.
She wants pictures/videos of him sent to her on a daily basis. She wants to go to their house two to three times a week (unannounced), and then wants them to come to our house at least once during the week and at least once on the weekends.
She also gets upset when they take him to his other grandparent’s house.
Our daughter has no idea that my wife gets so angry, mainly because she only vents her frustration to me – so far.
I tried to explain that they have their own lives to lead, but she says I obviously don’t understand or love our grandson the way she does.
I know she is hurting, but I’m not sure how to make her understand that this baby isn’t our son and that the kids aren’t trying to withhold him from us they just want to live their lives and raise their son the same way we were allowed to raise our daughter.
What do you make of this?
– Proud Grampa
Dear Proud: You don’t say that your wife was an obsessive or overwhelming parent to your daughter when she was young, so I’m assuming that this is new for her.
I agree with her that "you don’t love your grandson the way she does," but in my opinion, loving the way she loves is not the healthy or balanced standard for a grandparent relationship.
Her demands and possessiveness regarding this baby seem less about love and more about control.
Her expectations, as well as her overly emotional response when she is disappointed, show a lack of perspective and are not respectful of this child’s actual parents.
Unless your wife adopts a more balanced attitude, she could end up creating a highly charged and toxic dynamic that will damage her relationships — and will NOT be good for your grandson.
Once he reaches toddler stage, he might instinctively back away from such an overwhelming presence.
You sound like a very understanding and patient person, but I believe that your wife could use some professional help to recognize and learn to regulate her own emotions. I hope you will encourage her to see a counselor.
Dear Amy: You’ve printed letters from people who were parented by a sperm donor, and due to DNA testing are now able to find their biological "father" and other DNA relatives.
I believe this raises a new question for people to ask of potential partners: "Have you ever been a sperm donor?"
For some this may not matter, but someone seeking a partner should go in with eyes wide open.
The reality is that at any time they could be approached by 1, 5, 10, 25, or more people who say: "This guy is my ‘father,’" and may expect to be treated as family members.
It’s something to think about in advance: Do you want to start a family with someone if your children would potentially have an unlimited number of half-siblings?
In the past, sperm donation was something that could be done anonymously, as a gift to a couple who wanted a child. That level of anonymity isn’t possible any longer.
– A Reader
Dear Reader: You bring up a valid question. I would emphasize that anyone seeking a life-partner should do their best to enter the relationship assuming that all sorts of unforeseen events (and people) will arrive to complicate matters.
Dear Amy: I agreed with your advice to an incoming college freshman regarding what college classes to take, but I always think about my mother’s advice on this subject: Find out who the best teachers are and take their classes.
A good teacher will make any subject interesting and will teach you something you’ll remember.
– Student of Life
Dear Student: Oh yes. Great advice. [And here’s to Professor Roland Flint, who made literature sing for me, and who changed my life.]