Families are urged to take control of their own schedules

Q: When the dealership offered me a full-time job if I moved into town I thought we were about to get the perfect place.

I love my job and our new home is convenient to everyone important to our family. My wife’s parents are just about an hour and a half to the west of us. My parents are an hour east. Everyone is close enough that I did not think that we would have to worry about keeping in touch with our parents or about our kids getting to know their grandparents. It was perfect, or so I thought.

But I was wrong. Both my wife’s parents and my mom and dad are pressuring us to get out to their homes and have Sunday supper or whatever with them. We have three active young kids, who are involved in numerous sports and after-school activities. The extra pressure to get everyone out to one of the grandparents’ house or, at times, to both of their houses, is becoming unbearable.

My parents are complaining, my wife’s parents are grumpy and our kids are starting to resent the whole thing. Can you think of anything to help us through all of this stress?

A: Let me see if I have this straight. You really want your wife to like you, so you do what you can to appease her and her parents; going out of your way to let granny and grandpa know that they are cherished.

She is doing the same thing for you, and for the same reasons. She likes you a lot and she wants to respect your time with your mom and dad. She bends over to their demands.

In the meantime, both sets of parents, or shall I say grandparents, are adding up the times you spent in each house and if one or the other thinks that the other set of grandparents is getting more time with the grandchildren, then they will let you know that they are disappointed.

While all of this is going on your kids are saying: “Can’t we just for once stay home? We’re bored at granny’s house (either one, it doesn’t matter which).”

That bothers you because you want your kids to like you too and it gets a little precarious when they have such ambivalent feelings about their grandparents.

Let’s throw in a demanding hockey coach, ball coach or track instructor, who won’t play your kid if he or she does not like you, and the plot thickens.

Your normally reserved anxiety has just been kicked into high gear and everything is a mess.

I think you need to remember one little thing. When your parents invite you over to their house they are doing so at their convenience. The same is likely true for your wife’s mom and dad. They are not going to have you over unless it fits in with their schedules.

I have also noticed that coaches book extra practice times and club activities around their own available time.

The only people missing the convenience factor here are you and your wife.

Maybe it is time for the two of you to decide when you are going to spend time with whom. Take the initiative. Tell your wife that you love her, and then invite both sets of grandparents over to your house when it is convenient for you. And don’t worry about preparations for your grandparent day. Your parents can bring along with them a homemade saskatoon berry pie.

And just after you make those calls to both of your parents, call the coach to let him or her know when your schedule is free for extra practices for your child. You have a right to have some control over your family.

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