While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On favoritism: As the parent of three boys (high school, middle school and preschool), I can say without reservation that I love them equally. Each can be a pain in his own special way, and each is very different from the other. So my relationships with each of them are different, but they all receive love, support and direction.
Our two oldest will occasionally complain that we are treating them differently, and we always say that we are: different time, different place and different child. And then we ask if they feel we are treating them unfairly.
If the answer to that is yes, then we talk about it.
We make no claims to perfection and are willing to admit mistakes to our kids. This is more important as they get older, but it’s important when they’re young, too. It is also true that each parent has a different relationship with each child, and it takes communication to make sure that there’s no resentment between parents as well. Families thrive on communication, even when it’s loud.
On getting obnoxious political emails to stop: I had someone constantly sending me political emails. Most were forwards and simply inflammatory rhetoric, which was easily refuted. Instead of getting angry or just deleting them, I wrote back giving him the facts on the subject and referencing a reputable fact-checking site.
I did a “reply all” so everyone on his list received it also.
My tormenter stopped sending me things very quickly when he realized that his whole list was getting the responses.
No Longer Tormented in Florida
On managing a (not-so-different) barrage: I worked with a lady who would bring pictures of her daughter to work every day, and she would show them to me. I understood her feelings for her child and was really willing to look at them.
One day, after I was looking at the pictures of her daughter, I asked her if she’d like to see a picture of my cat. She gave me the nastiest look and said, “Why would I want to see a picture of your cat?” My response was, “For the same reason I’d want to see a picture of your daughter.”
No more daughter pictures showed up after that.
On the line grandparents can say that will get them invited back often: My dad has passed, two years now, but I always appreciated him saying, to Mom or to himself, “We had our chance to raise our kids. Now it’s their turn.” He never doled out unsolicited opinions nor advice on parenting choices. I’m certain there were plenty of times he had very strong opinions, and he wisely kept that to himself.
Part of being a grandparent is to respect and appreciate that your adult children and their significant others are going to do their best as parents, and in their own ways.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.