Life Advice



Ask Amy: Grandparents excluded from Sunday dinners

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My daughter, who moved to the East Coast for college 15 years ago, recently had a baby.

My husband and I, recently retired, came out from the West Coast for the baby's birth and were convinced to move.

We upended everything, moved 12 minutes away from our daughter and now watch our grandson four days a week, which is great.

My daughter's in-laws live about an hour away and now that the baby is older they have resumed their routine of Sunday dinners, with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson. These dinners, which used to be at the in-laws’ house, are now held at my daughter's house.

We are rarely invited to join, even on Mother's Day.

We were invited on Christmas and Easter, but we bought all the food and did all the cooking.


How can I handle that they are purposely (and hurtfully, on Mother's Day) excluding us?

– Feeling Shunned

Dear Shunned: You see your grandchild four times a week. Granted, you are providing childcare and not dropping in for special occasion visits, but these in-laws likely believe that because you have so much access to your grandchild (also their grandchild), they should have their own special and exclusive access to the baby. Hence, the regular Sunday dinners.

There is a known phenomenon in Western cultures called “matrilineal advantage.” This is where a child’s maternal grandparents (and other maternal relatives) tend to spend more time with and be closer to grandchildren than the paternal relatives. A major factor is the tendency of mothers (and grandmothers) to be the “kinkeepers” of their families. They make the arrangements, remember the birthdays, host the occasion dinners (in your case, also cooking the dinners), and – yes – provide childcare. They are the linchpins of the family network.


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