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Annie 10.6.11

Annie 10.6.11

Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2011 8:03 pm

Dear Annie: My mother-in-law, “Joan,” lives nearby. Since the birth of our son three years ago, she has not once offered to babysit or have him sleep over. She never asks to spend time alone with him. When I’ve suggested it, she tells me how tired she is, and yet she runs around with her friends all day. On those rare occasions when we absolutely are desperate for her to babysit, we practically have to beg, and it’s only for things like doctors appointments. She would never babysit so my husband and I could go out for an evening.
However, Joan wants to go everywhere with us. She thinks that qualifies as spending time with her grandson. She also says she wants to be there for his first vacation, first movie, first day at school, etc., which makes us feel as if our son can’t achieve any milestones without her.
I have dropped hints that my husband and I could use a night alone, and I’ve mentioned how other grandparents enjoy having their grandchildren over, but she never responds. I know she is comfortable around children because she used to be a preschool administrator. In addition, if we all go out together and our son acts out, Joan just sits there. Apparently, Joan wants to be there for the fun, but not the other stuff.
My mother and my friends think Joan’s attitude is strange. They say grandparents normally take the kids out to give the parents a break. I am sick of asking her to watch our son when we are in a bind. Am I being selfish, or is she not being much of a grandma? — Beleaguered Mom
Dear Mom: Both. You may not like it, but grandparents are not obligated to take care of your children because you want a night out. And after being a preschool administrator, we suspect Joan has had enough of watching little kids and correcting their behavior. That is the parents’ job. Of course, it would be nice if Joan took a greater interest in spending time with your son, and she may be more inclined when he is a little older, requires less supervision and they can communicate better. But if you want a good relationship with her, please take babysitting services off the table.
Dear Annie: I am amazed at how you continue to cater to cheating husbands. Every time a woman writes that she suspects her partner is cheating, you always take the guy’s side and suggest counseling, even when the woman says he won’t go.
These slimeballs exist, and yet you defend them. Please explain to the wives out there why you continue to take the man’s side. — Voice of Many Betrayed Wives
Dear Voice: You misunderstand. We are not defending the cheating spouse, male or female. We are defending the marriage. One should not walk away without making an attempt to see if the problems can be fixed, particularly if there are young children involved. And if the husband refuses counseling, the wife should go anyway because she will need help making decisions about her future and working through her anger and resentment — something, apparently, you have not yet done. Please consider it.
Dear Annie: One of the things you suggested to “Lonesome” was to join the Peace Corps as a senior volunteer. As a returned Peace Corps volunteer, occasional recruiter and full-time advocate, I like to see Peace Corps service suggested. But people should be aware that it’s not like going on a cruise.
Those who serve should expect about a year of application and preparation, three months of training and two years of service. There is no upper age limit, and there certainly are rewards. — Glad To Have Been There and Done That
Dear Glad: Thanks for making it clear to our readers that the Peace Corps requires a true commitment. Those who are interested can get more information through
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Published in The Messenger 10.06.11

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