Life Advice



Grandparent Problems and Communication Challenges

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I've been reading more and more of your stories and enjoying them. But the one that really caught my eye is from "Heartbroken Nana," the woman who wants to have a better relationship with her grandchildren.

I am a grandmother of soon-to-be 15 grandchildren, and I am in daily contact with four of them. I take them to school and pick them up, and one lives with me.

I don't get to see four of my grandchildren because my son remarried and started a new family. The child who is living with me is one of my son's from his first marriage, and he hasn't seen his kids from that marriage in four years. I have daily contact with his first wife.

I feel so guilty. I'm totally stuck in the middle of my son and my ex-daughter-in-law and all these babies. I've tried making arrangements for everyone to see each other, but the mother of the one who lives with us doesn't want him seeing or being around his father, and I support her decision.

But he has these other babies now, and I want to be part of their lives, too. -- Anxiety-Ridden Broken Nanna of 15

Dear Anxiety-Ridden: The only thing you can control is your reaction to all that is going on. If your son is at a place where he can't see his children, then try to help him get help so he can repair that relationship soon.

Perhaps you could suggest a family meeting with your son and his ex-wife, possibly with a neutral mediator, to discuss the possibility of reestablishing connections in a way that prioritizes the children's well-being.

Dear Annie: A reader wrote to you about the family dynamic of rudely interrupting one another and how her mother-in-law hated it. She would quietly leave the table when it would happen.

I am soft-spoken, too, and I married into a very loud, boisterous family where only the loudest get a word in edgewise. I can't even begin to get a sentence out sometimes. I usually soon give up and read a magazine or something.


My son started noticing when I or anyone else was interrupted and would remember who was interrupted and what was being talked about at the time. Then, no matter how long the conversation continued after that, he would say something like, "Mom, you were going to say something; what were you going to say?" If I had forgotten, he would remind me of the topic at the time, and I would usually remember.

He would do this for me, my nephew and all the other shy people who don't often get a chance to be heard. Usually, the interrupter would get the hint and look slightly embarrassed.

It made me feel better that I finally got to finish a thought, and it was such a good idea, I started doing it for everyone, too. I make a mental note of who tried to speak and what the topic was, and then I make a point of circling back to let that person finish their thought. It makes me feel good to help others to be heard and to not feel so small and unimportant. -- Not so Rudely Interrupted Anymore

Dear Not So Rudely Interrupted Anymore: While it is wonderful that your son was able to stick up for you, it is even better that you are able to stick up for yourself and others.

However, try not to be so judgmental about your husband's family. If that is the manner in which they are used to communicating, then they enjoy it. You just have to continue to speak up for yourself.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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