A grandmother who babysits her grandchildren regularly has expressed her resentment towards her daughter-in-law for having a “dance card full of activities” despite having two kids at home. The grandmother, who raised two kids herself and stayed home full time when they were small, feels that her daughter-in-law is neglecting her family and taking advantage of her generosity.

The dilemma

The grandmother wrote to Carolyn Hax, a columnist for The Washington Post, seeking advice on how to deal with her frustration. She said that she loves her grandchildren and enjoys spending time with them, but she also feels that her daughter-in-law is not being fair to her or her son.

Grandma unhappy with daughter-in-law’s busy social life
Grandma unhappy with daughter-in-law’s busy social life

She said that her daughter-in-law works part-time and has a lot of hobbies and interests that she pursues outside of work and family. She said that she often goes out with her friends, attends classes, volunteers, and travels. She said that she rarely sees her son and grandchildren as a family unit, and that her son seems unhappy and stressed.

She said that she has tried to talk to her son about it, but he always defends his wife and says that she needs to have a life of her own. She said that she does not want to interfere in their marriage, but she also does not want to be taken for granted.

The advice

Carolyn Hax responded to the grandmother’s letter by saying that she understands her concern, but she also advised her to be more respectful of her daughter-in-law’s choices. She said that the grandmother has no right to judge how her daughter-in-law spends her time, as long as she is not harming anyone or neglecting her responsibilities.

She said that the grandmother should focus on the positive aspects of the situation, such as the fact that she has a close relationship with her grandchildren and that they are well cared for. She also suggested that the grandmother should set some boundaries and limits on how much she is willing to babysit, and communicate them clearly to her son and daughter-in-law.

She said that the grandmother should not assume that her son is unhappy or stressed because of his wife’s social life, and that he may actually appreciate and support it. She said that the grandmother should respect their marriage and let them work out their own issues, if any.

She also reminded the grandmother that different people have different needs and preferences when it comes to balancing work, family, and personal interests, and that there is no one right way to do it. She said that the grandmother should be more open-minded and flexible, and try to see things from her daughter-in-law’s perspective.

The reaction

The column by Carolyn Hax was published on September 26, 2023 on The Washington Post website. It received over 300 comments from readers who shared their opinions and experiences on the topic. Some of them agreed with Hax’s advice, while others sided with the grandmother or offered alternative suggestions.

Some readers praised the daughter-in-law for having a rich and fulfilling life outside of work and family, and said that she was setting a good example for her children. They said that the grandmother was being unreasonable and controlling, and that she should mind her own business.

Other readers sympathized with the grandmother and said that she was being exploited and disrespected by her daughter-in-law. They said that the daughter-in-law was being selfish and irresponsible, and that she should spend more time with her family. They also said that the son was being weak and passive, and that he should stand up for his mother.

A few readers suggested that the grandmother should talk to her daughter-in-law directly instead of going through her son. They said that this would help them understand each other better and resolve their differences. They also said that the grandmother should find some hobbies and interests of her own, so that she would not feel so resentful or bored.


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