Boozer Grandma Means No Grandchildren Sleepovers

My kids won't let their kids, my grandchildren, spend the night at my home because they think I drink too much

By Susan Stiffelman

My kids won't let their kids — my grandchildren — spend the night at my home. They think I drink too much and that I wouldn't take good care of their children. I’m a loving and caring person and very responsible around my grandchildren. Can you help me figure out how to convince them to let my grandchildren spend more time with me?

In her fascinating book, Excess Baggage: Getting Out of Your Own Way (Penguin), Judith Sills describes five blind spots that get in the way of people's happiness: Needing to be right, feeling superior, dreading rejection, creating drama, or cherishing rage. The hard part is looking at these obstacles honestly so we can live our lives without indulging in tendencies that may compromise our health, happiness, and relationships.

You sound like a very caring person, and I believe you when you say you act responsibly around your grandchildren. But you must understand that your children are obligated to guarantee that their little ones are  perfectly safe when someone is caring for them in their parents' absence. While it may be difficult to hear, it is possible that what you consider moderate and acceptable drinking may be unsettling to your grown kids. They could be seeing what, for you, has become a blind spot about your drinking.

It is not easy to hear that your kids think you drink too much, but consider if it could be true. If that small voice inside you intuitively feels they could be right, then take the brave step of exploring the possibility that you need some help and support.

Visit aa.org and click the tab, "Is A.A. for You?" Attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting as an observer and listen to some of the stories that members share. Pick up a copy of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book; you can even read a downloadable version online. As you listen and read, ask yourself if the information resonates in your heart. If it feels true, it could be valuable for you to get further involved with the tremendous support A.A. offers people from all walks of life.

If you tell your children that you're taking an honest look at what they consider your excessive drinking, it would send them a powerful message that you are earnestly taking their concerns to heart.

If these steps don't make sense to you in any way, then simply enjoy whatever time you have with your grandchildren. Place less emphasis on wanting longer and more frequent visits. While you might love to have the grandkids sleep over, it sounds like you do get to have some time with them. Make the most of that by being fully present when they're with you. Play games, take walks, bake, tell stories. Build the relationship with your grandchildren by letting them know how much you enjoy their company. 

And please, don't tell  the grandkids that you wish you could have more time with them, or manipulate them in such a way that  they ask their parents to let them spend the night. That decision must come from your children, and should be based on their unwavering sense that you are 100 percent able to give your grandchildren the care they deserve.

 

Got a vexing issue? Want more advice? Our therapist answers even more readers' questions.  

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