Dear Carolyn: My husband and I have a 4-year-old grandson who is wonderful in all the ways a 4-year-old boy can be! His mother, our daughter-in-law, is a professional photographer who posts photos of her boy on social media at least once every day, stating how exceptionally wonderful, smart, beautiful, special, compassionate, you-name-it he is.
To me it is over the top. We all know how precious children are to their parents, but it’s almost as if there has never been another beloved child in the history of time! Yet no one in her sphere posts anything other than yes he’s wonderful, special, compassionate, blah blah blah, which seems only to encourage this. (Isn’t anyone tempted to say, “Put a lid on it”?)
Besides being of a different generation, am I missing anything here?
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What you’re missing is the commentary of those who share your nausea and choose not to type what they really think. No doubt the temptation is strong – however, the cost-benefit analysis of telling a rapturous mom to get over herself heavily favors just hiding her from one’s feed.
Presumably you don’t unfriend her because of the photos (at least you have those) or the politics. And it’s her right to make unhealthy use of social media, bizarre as that sounds.
These limit your choices to block it or bear it. The latter might be easier if you treat her excesses as the work not of a person, but of a persona. Social media is all a curated view, and good taste and judgment aren’t, let’s say, givens.
At least on the internet, no one knows you’re rolling your eyes.
Dear Carolyn: I always invite my sister and her husband to holiday dinners and other events. For the last three, she has asked if she could bring someone along. Christmas Eve, it was a cousin and his wife. My husband has never met them, and I haven’t seen these relatives in years. I told her no.
For Thanksgiving, she asked if her (adult) kids could join us. I said yes and planned and grocery shopped, but at the last minute I was told they would be with their dad and his wife.
This Easter, I asked my sister and her hubby to join us. Days later, she again asked if her (almost 40-year-old) son was invited.
Am I wrong in feeling that I don’t want to host and feed her guests? How do I reply to her requests?
With a conversation, no? Each of these situations is different. For example, she asked about the cousins, you said no, the end. Maybe that wasn’t a problem. And including her kids seems reasonable to me, it’s the last-minute reversal that chafes.
So decide what your concerns are, decide what your limits are, and then discuss them: “Your kids are welcome, of course! But when they back out last-minute, I feel frustrated/insignificant/used.”
Or: “Extra-guest requests are fine, but not every time.”
Or: “Anyone else you want to invite?” Asked upfront when you invite her to something.
Or: “Please don’t keep requesting extras, it puts me on the spot.”
Or: “The more the merrier, but I’d appreciate help with the meal when the head count hits six or more.”
Whatever your preference, clarity is kind to you both.
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.