Dear Annie: I am hoping that you can help me solve this problem. My son recently divorced the mother of his two children. My former daughter-in-law has decided to unfriend me on Facebook and talk negatively about me to others. I would like to still be able to show my friends pictures of my grandchildren from her Facebook page. I am very sorry that their marriage did not endure. I have not treated her negatively. Do you have any suggestions that would help me reconnect with her? — Blocked Out
Dear Blocked Out: The divorce was recent, and the wounds are fresh. When she speaks negatively about you, that's probably her pain talking. Rather than call, text or email, take a gentler, less invasive approach: Write a letter. Tell her exactly what you told me — that you're sorry the marriage ended but you still care about her and the grandkids. Once she has had some time to heal, she may be better able to see the benefits of having you in her children's lives.
Dear Annie: I agree that "Distressed in Utah" should set boundaries for family members regarding what she will do in retirement. I can speak to the importance of this as someone who has guarded my free time in retirement. Many family members and friends assume that the newly retired person will have nothing to do and will be bored and lonely. And 50 years ago, that might have been true. But today, most of us retirees have hobbies and activities that keep us occupied, and we feel confident enough to treat ourselves to the luxury of sleeping in if we want to, after years of having that luxury only rarely.
I love my family members, and I love my grandchildren, but I am determined to maintain those boundaries and protect my ability to finally live a life I choose. I want to be a grandmother, not a baby sitter or a surrogate parent.
I assume this woman's children think she will be bored and lonely, and they probably like the idea of having the grandchildren with someone they can trust without question. But that doesn't mean Grandma should give up her long-anticipated freedom. And if Grandma's husband, who wants her to be a full-time servant to his elderly father, believes that his father's having care is so important, perhaps he should quit his job instead and take care of his own father. I'm guessing her husband would be more than happy to pay for a housekeeper or order Meals on Wheels if faced with that option. After being retired for a while, if "Distressed" feels she'd like to spend a day a week with her grandchildren, she certainly could offer that option to her kids — but it's hers to decide and to offer, not theirs to expect or demand. — Love Being Retired
Dear Love Being Retired: Beautifully said. Bravo for boundaries!
Dear Annie: In response to "Just Saying," who holds the door for female customers and then stews if they queue ahead of him: When you don't want to be passed, simply enter first but hold the door ajar behind you for the next customer to take. It's still a nice gesture, for which women today are unlikely to fault you. — Adaptable
Dear Adaptable: This is the sort of solution I like: practical and polite. I wish I'd thought of it. Thanks for writing.
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