Dilemma: my children don't like my parents

Jo Brand / 17 January 2017

A reader writes to agony aunt Jo Brand with concerns about the poor relationship between her children and parents.

Dilemma: my adult children don't get on with their grandparents

My children, now in their 30s, refuse to see my parents, who are in their 80s and Victorian in their attitudes. Their relationship broke down as my father would smack the children while I was working.

There is no point in trying to reason with my parents and I’m very proud of my children, who have turned out well. I have appealed to them, but no. So I visit alone, and have to listen to comments about how badly I have brought my children up as they won't visit their only grandparents.

Jo Brand's advice

I am trying to get to the essence of what is important to you here. Is it that you are sad your children don’t like your parents? Are you sad that you don’t like your parents?

Are you upset that you have to hear your parents constantly moaning about your children?

Or do you feel frustrated that neither of them will make the effort to compromise and listen to your entreaties. People are so annoying aren’t they?

The thing is… you can’t change anyone’s entrenched behavior. Sadly, your heartfelt requests have not worked. Neither your children nor your parents seem likely to relent in the near future, so the solution is really about how you deal with the problem.

And I think my advice on that would be to try and relax about it a bit more. You are fighting a generational battle here, as well as the age-old battle of trying to force members of same family to get on with each other. The stark reality is that sometimes they cannot stand each other. I would just accept this and do your best to be resigned about it.

You sound like a brilliant, caring mother so if there is any way you can ignore the carping remarks of your parents, then do so. Try humour, maybe? Do they like a joke? Maybe not. 

Ultimately the only power you hold here is to withdraw yourself. Ask your parents to please stop endlessly sermonising on your skills as a parent and say it is upsetting you. If they cannot do this, cut the visit short.

Just a quick thought…given the variety of modern technologies, would your children be prepared to do a Skype call to your parents? Could be funny, could be entertaining, could be a disaster. And the encounter can be ended at the push of a button. An easy get-out for both sides.

Read more of Jo Brand's down-to-earth advice

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