Dear Amy: My sister and I both have young children (I have three kids, age 7 and younger, she has two under 4).
My sister relies heavily on my mom for child care throughout the year. As such, my parents spend 90 percent more time with her kids than with ours. My wife and I would like our kids to get more quality time with their grandparents (and we could also use the support). How do we find more balance, while respecting the needs of my sister, and without burning out my parents?
Amy says: It sounds as if you are less interested in balance, and more interested in how to get your mother to do more for you, specifically.
Your mother already provides child care for two very young children. You would like to add on some child care for your three very young children. That's a lot of child care for a lot of children. Hasn't your mother already raised children? Does she want to do this?
You don't note the circumstances behind these needs. Is your sister a single mom?
Is your mother providing full-time care, or is she stepping in on Saturdays? And what are your true needs (vs. those fueled by your sibling rivalry)?
If you want your folks to spend more quality time with your kids, then invite them to spend time with your family — not only to babysit for the children, but to do things with all of you. "Quality time" is family time — playing games together, going to plays, movies and concerts, and occasionally siting on the couch with a cocktail or a cup of coffee, enjoying the children while someone else takes care of them.
Dear Amy: Our father died last year. The youngest of four siblings became the estate's executor. On the day of the interment, "Bart," our older brother, asked how soon he would receive his share of the estate.
I was shocked. I explained the process, which takes time.
Bart made the same inquiry over the course of several months. We suggested he hire a lawyer to explain the process if he did not believe what we were doing/saying, which unfortunately delayed things further.
Although we all received a partial distribution, Bart told our younger sibling that we would no longer have access to our teenage niece and nephew until Bart had received all of his money.
We are almost at the end of the process. Unfortunately, Bart became terminally ill. Given the timing, his spouse may be the person receiving his inheritance.
The executor and estate lawyer have done everything possible to accommodate his expectations. Meanwhile we have had no contact with our niece or nephew.
Our hope is that someday, maybe even at Bart's funeral, we will reunite with our niece and nephew. If this happens, how should we respond if they ask why we've been distant?
Amy says: I'm going to offer you some honest feedback about the situation you describe.
Your brother is terminally ill. Although he disclosed this more recently, it's possible that he either suspected or knew about his illness when your father died. This would naturally have created some very complicated emotions, confusion and perhaps time pressure on his part.
It is also possible that his illness has disrupted, distorted or amplified his emotions and reactions. It would be generous of you and your other siblings to offer your brother every possible benefit of the doubt. I think you would all feel better if you did.
Yes, keep in touch with his children. After your brother's death, let them know that, "For a bunch of complicated reasons, your dad didn't want us to see you, and we have missed you very much."
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