Miss Conduct

Advice: I hear about my future grandchild only when my daughter-in-law posts on Facebook

How can I get my daughter-in-law to tell me what’s going on? Plus, thanks or no thanks.

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My daughter-in-law is pregnant. I live seven hours away. I do get along with her, but we do not talk much. Is it wrong that I feel shut out from all the special moments they have? I found out on Facebook they went for an ultrasound.

Anonymous / Boston

It’s never wrong to feel what we feel. But what efforts had you made to be part of your son and daughter-in-law’s lives before she got pregnant? How much were you invested in her as a person and a friend? If the answer is “not very,” she’s not going to have much reason to want to include you, is she? Whatever her self-concept may be, it’s almost certainly not “Pez dispenser of grandchildren.”


It’s on you to build the kind of relationship with your daughter-in-law and son, as a couple and as individuals, that will encourage them to involve you. If you haven’t already started, well, it’s wonderful that you know that now! Most parents want their children to have a relationship with their grandparents, so don’t worry too much. But under no circumstances act entitled to a certain level of intimacy. The older I get the more I realize that thinking we are entitled to people is the root of all evil.

Whenever I do something to help my neighbor, he sends a gift card as a thank you. Do I then send a thank you for the thank you?

Y.G. / Clinton

Not the kind of formal thank you that you are envisioning. That would lead to an infinite regression of thank yous, like the world’s most courteous Mandelbrot set. But do thank him in person, or pop a note into his mailbox to acknowledge receipt of the gift. Otherwise he may think it’s gone missing.


Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.