I am a college student about to go through sorority recruitment . There have been a few events where I can meet the members of Greek organizations . I have tried to attend these events alone, but one of my friends regards me as an "expert" and insists on going to every event with me . I am not an expert in any way ! I just feel comfortable meeting people I would like to get to know without someone clinging to me, but I am not sure if I am being overly sensitive . I would like to do this alone . Should I be mad at my friend for not understanding that I am trying to meet people alone ? I try not to talk about my schedule, but she constantly brings it up whenever she sees me walking down the hall . Should I ask her to stop tagging along, or should I feel some sympathy for her during this hectic time ?
Dear Recruitment Woes ,
Be upfront with your friend . Tell her you know she is excited and probably a little nervous about the recruitment process , because you are as well . Add that you prefer to go to these events solo . This is what makes you feel comfortable as you are figuring out where your interests lie and engaging with new people. Despite the fact that she really wants to go with you, make it clear to her, and tell her you will invite her to other events when things settle down.
My adult son constantly invites my husband and me to come to his music performances . He is independent now, but he seems to have held onto the elementary notion of wanting his parents to come to his shows . We have just moved four hours away, so we could theoretically see a weekend show but this requires the funds and willpower . We have watched him play the flute for over 20 years and as parents, we are ecstatic that he seems to have found his passion in music . However, he pouts and stomps when we tell him that we will be unable to make a performance . I have not told my husband how my son responds when I say we cannot come, so my husband assumes our son is alright with this change . How do I come clean to everyone about my son's exhausting behavior ? He is much closer to 30 than 20 , and he needs to let his parents off the hook .
No more shows
Dear No More Shows ,
You will have to let yourselves off the hook. It's time for you to share the burden of this experience with your husband . Tell him about your son's strong and unreasonable reaction to your absence at his performances and discuss ways you can remain supportive while giving him and yourselves the space for him to become independent.
In spite of approaching thirty your son sounds like he is still seeking parental approval. Although we all retain just a little of that desire, we do grow out of the need for it and handle our own lives without constantly needing that pat on the head. Your son sounds spoiled and immature, particularly when he throws a tantrum that sounds something like my two year old granddaughter's. You, as parents, obviously have some responsibility for the way he turned out.
But it is way past time that he learned to stand on his own two feet without your constant assurance. It is a sink or swim situation.
My advice is to tell him you love him, and are extremely proud of his talent and accomplishments. Remind him that you have always supported him in every way, in his pursuit of a musical career. But you are all older now and you and your husband live too far away now to make it feasible or economically possible to come to every concert. Tell him you will come periodically when it is possible for you to do so.
He may make a fuss ... just ignore it, give him a hug, wish him all the success in the world, and tell him you have the utmost confidence in his abilities. Then say 'goodbye son, we'll call you when we are coming to town'.
It may take a while but he will come around. Sadly, you did not confront his tantrums effectively when he was a child . You have to do it now . Be strong.
Dear Maxy ,
I realize this is is a common issue , but I still could use some advice . When my first son married , his wife was loving and involved with the family . When the babies were born , we continued a warm relationship . Now their children are older , however , my daughter-in-law is cold and distant , and she is not interested in interacting with our extended family .
She grew up in a troubled family and seemed very happy to join ours . But not anymore . We live nearby and other than chance meetings , occasional help with the children and family holidays , we seldom see my son . We were told early on that we were not to visit unannounced, and we never have . If we didn't attend the grandchildren's school functions, we would never see them .
It seems our daughter-in-law just doesn't like us and wants minimal contact . Are we asking too much ? Are we living in the past ? Is there anything that can be done to improve the situation? You've advised parents in our situation to find other interests . I think if the young couple would imagine our situation in their future , they might realize the extent of their hateful behavior .
Dear Mother ,
You are right that this is, unfortunately, a situation that occurs sometimes with daughters-in-law or with any in-laws, for that matter. I don't have enough information to form an opinion as to why your daughter-in-law is behaving differently now. It sounds like it is possible she may have her own emotional issues, that prevent her from having a healthy relationship with you . Now that the children are older she has more time alone to dwell on her problems.
Then again, you may be behaving in a way that seems fine to you, but is upsetting to her. Give some thought to the possibility that some of the responsibility for this rift may be yours.
You may not think you are asking too much, but you might consider readjusting your expectations now that the grandkids are older.
You must remember that now the children are growing up, they are very involved in school, sports, their peers and their social lives, they don't have as much interest in visiting their grandparents. That is a very natural progression. It certainly happened to me when my grandkids got older. Another fact I can testify to is that now the children are no longer babies or preschoolers there is not so much for you and your daughter-in-law to talk about. She may feel at a loss. She may feel she is the one who has been ostracized.
Do not criticize or assign blame . That will only make the situation worse . You can ask your son whether there is something you can do to help improve the relationship and then do it .
There's no reason you can't call your grandkids to chat. And no reason your son can't bring the kids for a couple of hours some weekends and give his wife a break, if you ask him.
But if you really want to change things, you will have to approach her eventually and hold out the olive branch, even if you don't feel responsible for the rift. And tell her you miss her for herself and not just because she is part of the package consisting of your son and grandchildren. Tell her you would like to see her, maybe take her to lunch or whatever she likes doing. It's up to you to bring her back into the fold and your son will naturally follow. It is more important that he supports his wife right now than visit you.
If you do nothing, you will have to accept that this is how it is.