Parents give in, but still aren’t allowed to see grandchildren

DEAR ANNIE: My son and daughter-in-law are no longer on speaking terms with my husband and me. A year ago, they wanted us to sign something for them and said if we didn’t sign, they would no longer let us see our grandchildren. My husband refused and they took the children away. These children live next door to us. The oldest is 10 and the youngest is 5. They spent more time with us than they did at home. They mean the world to us.

After a few months, I convinced my husband to sign the paper. He did so, but my son and daughter-in-law still refuse to let us see the children. We gave them what they wanted, but we still lose. What should we do? — Fed Up with Our Son

DEAR FED UP: How lovely. Your son and daughter-in-law are holding their children hostage to get whatever they want from you, and it’s working. In order to see the kids now, you will have to go on bended knee and beg forgiveness for not signing those papers right away, and then promise to do whatever they want in the future. We know you feel it is worth any sacrifice to see your grandchildren, but we suspect your son and his wife will pull this stunt repeatedly. The only way it will stop is if you are willing to be estranged. Sorry.

DEAR ANNIE: My daughter has two cousins, "Carly" and "Joelle." She was always closer to Joelle, so when it came time to plan her wedding, she opted to have her two best friends stand up for her instead of either cousin. She didn’t want to hurt Carly’s feelings.

Three days before the wedding, one of the bridesmaids became very ill and could not attend. My daughter was desperate to fill the role and asked Joelle, who was happy to oblige. With all the last-minute chaos, it totally slipped my mind to mention this to Carly’s mother, who also happens to be my dearest friend.


Well, when Carly and her mother saw Joelle walk down the aisle, that was it. They made a fuss during the dinner, Carly got drunk and cried, and then told the other guests what a monster my daughter was. Two days later, her mother called me to say she wants nothing to do with any of us ever again.

It’s been two years since we’ve spoken and I miss her terribly. She was like a sister to me. Were we wrong to ask Joelle to be a bridesmaid? Carly’s mother has moved to another city and my pride won’t let me call her. If I mean that much to her, why hasn’t she tried to call me? What should I do? — Heartbroken in Montreal

DEAR MONTREAL: These petty arguments have a way of taking on a life of their own. Brides are entitled to select whomever they wish as bridesmaids. Carly acted boorishly, Mom no doubt felt it necessary to take her daughter’s side, and everything escalated from there. A gracious cousin would have let it go, and a sensible mother would have stayed out of it. If you want her back in your life, you should make the first move. Call and say you’re sorry Carly’s feelings were hurt, tell her you miss her and ask if you can start over. We hope she’s missed you, too.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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