Grandma Maggie,

I also am a Grandma of twin girls, aged 22 months and their new little brother, aged 3 weeks. Since the twins were newborns, I have literally been at my daughter and son-in-laws “beck and call” and am suffering the physical effects of overexertion. Long story short, I am burned out physically and emotionally from being at my daughter’s and her husband’s beck and call since the children were born. My daughter is 31 years old and she and her husband are angry at me because I have asked them to please hire help for their rambunctious youngsters who have been spoiled by their dad’s refusal to enforce limits on them. I do not agree with the way they let their toddlers jump on chairs and beds and flip over the back of couches, etc. This has caused me a great deal of anxiety when I have been at their home doing caretaking, and I have been told to “stop bossing them around.” My way of stopping is to stay away from their house as much as possible for the past 3 weeks. Her husband, my son-in-law, has family that would come and help, but my daughter refuses to allow them to come. She has only wanted me to help her in the past, but alas, I am so worn out and have spent an average of 10-25 hours a week for the past year alone babysitting for them.

Please advise how to respond to them,


Dear Janet,

It sounds like your son-in-law is running the ranch and it’s up to you to set your limits. I suggest you tell him the time you will be available, and once a week sounds very generous to me IF you can handle that without it affecting your health.

When you are being taken advantage of, and you definitely are in this situation, then you have yourself to blame first. Here is what you do. Set a time. “I can give you two hours every Thursday between 2 and 4.”

If they want more or different times, try this word: NO. If he continues to rant and rave, tell him you are sorry he feels like that but that is the way it will be from now on. No other explanation is needed. Your life is yours to do with as you like. If they cut you out of their life then too bad for them and the children, but if you don’t take care of yourself first there is nothing left for anyone else.

NO and “Sorry you feel like that, but that’s the way it is” are the only words you need for someone else who is being selfish. Don’t explain and don’t let him snag you into a discussion.

It’s a sad situation but it’s time you took control of your life.

Grandma Maggie