Dear Abby: Grandkids’ father thinks I babysit them too often

Woman wants to share the challenges of raising her daughter’s kids, one with special needs, but her son-in-law objects.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are not on the same page about helping with the grandkids. We moved here six years ago to be closer to my daughter, her husband and their two daughters. The older one is 9, and the younger is 6.

Although the 6-year-old has multiple physical challenges and developmental delays, our son-in-law thinks “we” babysit far too often. My intention is to help my daughter with the challenges that a special needs child presents to the family. Mostly, I am the one providing the care; my husband does the minimum.

Every time I agree to watch the children, I feel huge stress because I know my son-in-law will complain about it. It’s tearing me apart. Thank you for listening. Just writing this helps. — HELPING IN THE EAST

DEAR HELPING: I agree that parenting a child with special needs is challenging. You are a loving, caring mother and grandmother, but this is something your daughter and her husband have to reach a meeting of the minds about. The last thing she needs is dissension in her household.

Counseling for them might help your son-in-law understand that your daughter’s health might be compromised if she does everything herself. Some sort of compromise about your level of involvement could be key.

As to your husband, I’m not sure what more you think he should be doing. He agreed to move closer to your daughter so you could help her. It has to have been disruptive for him. Please give him points for that, because I do.

DEAR ABBY: I have a couple of weddings coming up, and I have a small dilemma. They are both in my husband’s family and only a month apart. One is his brother’s, and the other is his cousin’s. My question is, can I wear the same dress to both weddings?

I normally don’t care about what people think, but I also don’t want to be the subject of ridicule or scorn at a family event. I’ll also add, it’s not about financial concerns. It’s just that it’s a beautiful dress, and I really don’t see the point in going out and getting another fancy dress. I worry about pictures at both weddings. I guess I’m confused and could really use some advice. — BEAUTIFUL DRESS IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR BEAUTIFUL DRESS: You are not a Hollywood actress during awards season, who “must” have a radically different look for each ceremony. Your family weddings are special events, but there is no reason you can’t use the dress you have in mind for both. If you’re afraid it may cause a problem in wedding photos, consider accessorizing your dress differently for each one — gold jewelry for the first, silver for the second and a different colored shawl or wrap.

I’m sure you can pull this off. Please write back and let me know.


May you always have

A sunbeam to warm you

Good luck to charm you

And a sheltering angel

So nothing can harm you.

Laughter to cheer you

Faithful friends near you

And whenever you pray,

Heaven to hear you.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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