DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have three children ages 14, 13 and 9, all very active. Between my husband and I both working full time and getting all three children to where they need to be, we hardly have a spare moment.
About four years ago, my parents decided to move to be “close” to us. Naturally I was very excited and could not wait to have them here.
However, now that they are here, we see them less than we did when they lived out of town.
We invite them to every activity the children have, but they always have an excuse not to come. Finally we determined that the real reason was that they just weren’t interested in the types of events that we were inviting them to.
I am resentful and sometimes cannot keep from being a little short when I do speak to them. If I say something about it to them, they turn it around on me and say that we never come to see them or make time for them, and that we are just too busy.
I just don’t understand how they can expect us to come and sit at their house, when we rarely have time to “sit” at our own! Any night of the week, at least one of our children has some type of activity to participate in.
We have made it clear that we would love for them to be more of a part of our everyday lives; however, they do not seem interested and almost seem angry that we don’t make time for them.
Am I being unreasonable? I feel like this time in my life is all about keeping my children as involved with activities as I can. I enjoy watching them and just can’t seem to get my parents to realize this.
GENTLE READER: As impossible as it may be for you to imagine, perhaps your parents’ idea of spending time with you and their grandchildren does not include shuttling around to their various activities. Would you be eager to observe their book club or watch them take an exercise class?
You find it an imposition to sit at their house — or what Miss Manners would call socializing — yet are insulted that they don’t consider standing on the sidelines as being “close” to their grandchildren.
An occasional dance recital or pivotal sports game may be entertaining, but it is a lot to ask, even from a loving grandparent, solely to watch the children, rather than interact with them.
The constant bustle that you describe hardly sounds sociable or relaxing. And it’s probably not what your parents imagined when they decided to move across the country in order to be close to you. You might consider that developing family bonds is an extremely worthwhile activity for your children.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it OK to multitask during an e-date? I’d never do such a thing in person, but if it’s an e-date and I’m sitting in my kitchen, how would he know?
GENTLE READER: It is true that manners differ from morals in that what you do doesn’t count against you if nobody finds out about it and is therefore unaffected.
But that means no giveaway noises. And Miss Manners warns you that tasks you do in the kitchen, as in other rooms with running water, are apt to be obvious.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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