Q. My daughter-in-law is bipolar and refuses to take anything for it. Now her illness is affecting my relationship with my 9-year-old grandson.
My husband and I practically raised my grandson until he was 4. Neither parent wanted much to do with him. We clothed and fed him without a stitch of help. A few years ago, however, the two of them finally noticed how close we were to the boy, and they began bribing him to stay at home by buying him things. He still spent weekends with us, but his mother would grill him afterward to find out what we had talked about.
A few weeks ago, we reassured her that all we wanted to know was how our grandson was doing in school. But we discovered that my daughter-in-law was pressuring him to say something negative about us, and eventually, he started telling her all kinds of things that weren’t remotely true. Now they refuse to let him visit, saying he doesn’t wish to come. What’s worse is that my daughter-in-law put our estrangement on Facebook. .
When my daughter-in-law spent a week in the hospital, I had to hear it from a friend who watched our grandson for her. I was livid. When my grandson’s school called to ask me to help the kids make bouquets for their mothers, I refused. That made her angry, but frankly, had I agreed to the bouquet, I know my daughter-in-law would have found some reason to hate it.
I still would like to be a part of my grandson’s life, but it isn’t allowed. What bothers me most is that my own son won’t stand up for us. Do we just hope they come to their senses some day?
A. These estrangements are heartbreaking, not only because the grandparents lose out, but the grandchildren are deprived of a loving relationship. Some states recognize grandparents rights, but not all, which is why we recommend trying to get back in your daughter-in-law’s good graces, whether or not she deserves it. She controls the relationship. The alternative is to lose contact entirely.
Q. I love my job and the people I work with. However, my immediate supervisor and I have very different social and political views. He seems intent on getting me to come around to his way of thinking.
These discussions make me uncomfortable. I don’t want to tell him what I’m really thinking. Frequently, I’m completely caught off guard and blindsided by his statements. How do I respond without putting my job in jeopardy or making him angry?
A. It’s perfectly OK to tell someone that you are uncomfortable discussing politics at work. If that doesn’t help, your safest bet is to politely ignore him, nodding and busying yourself with work. Or plaster a big smile on your face and reply, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.” Repeat as needed. Of course, if he harangues you, you should mention it to human resources.