Archive for Tuesday, June 27, 2000

What children, grandchildren really want is time

June 27, 2000


Dear Ann: Many older readers have written to you complaining that their children and grandchildren are ungrateful wretches who are only interested in their money. You have said many times that an inheritance is a gift. May I say a word about that?

My folks are living in a paid-off $500,000 home and sitting on a $750,000 nest egg, which is still growing. They mention it often because they think it is significant to us. We don't care about it. My husband and I and all my siblings are quite comfortable financially, and we do not need our parents' money.

Here is what we DO want. We want my parents to take some interest in visiting their grandchildren and spending time with us while they are still healthy enough to enjoy it. When my parents retired, they moved 3,000 miles away. They have the disposable income and time to travel, yet they expect us to visit them. I did that for several years when I was first married, but with three children under the age of 6, it has become complicated and expensive. My parents have visited me once in the last 12 years. Their excuses are pretty lame the planes are too crowded, the trip is too long, who would care for the cat? Our relationship has deteriorated badly over the years, and I am sad about it.

My in-laws are wonderful, and just the opposite of my parents. My mother-in-law, who has much less money, visits as often as possible from across the country. When we take family vacations, we invite my in-laws to join us, and they arrange to meet us wherever we are. They probably won't leave us a dime, but we will have something much more valuable memories of time spent together as a family. That is something no inheritance can buy. Please print this. Conflict in California.

Dear California: If your parents are not interested in visiting you and their grandchildren, you should not pressure them to do so. Face the reality, and rejoice in the fact that your husband's mother (bless her) will fill that void. Down the road, your parents will regret their lack of interest. I guarantee it. And your in-laws will revel in the pleasure they derive from the grandchildren's love.

Dear Ann: When I was 17, I met the man I intend to marry. When I was 20, we moved in together, and I became pregnant. We do plan to get married someday, but we are in no hurry.

Here's the problem, and I don't know how to deal with it. My mother, who is very religious, was horrified when she found out I was expecting a baby. She always hated that we were living together, and she demanded to know when we were going to get married. I told her in a very nice way, "Someday, but not now." That was three years ago. Since then, she has made no effort to see her grandson. I am very hurt by this.

How can I explain to my mother that she has no reason to be embarrassed by my situation and that she needs to accept her grandson? Wounded in L.A.

Dear Wounded: Your mother is "punishing" you because you are living with the father of your child and seem to be in no hurry to marry. She finds this unacceptable, and frankly, I can see her point. While I do not condone her refusal to see you or her grandson (her loss, I might add), I, too, wonder why you don't legalize your relationship for the child's sake. This does not make a whole lot of sense to me.

Gem of the Day (Credit the Prairie Rambler): They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise, like being moderately rich and just moody?

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