Carolyn Hax: Friend expects more child care than aging parents can give – The Washington Post

An enraged new mom sees night blindness as her parents’ “excuse” not to babysit late, and her best friend wishes she’d see reason.
Adapted from an online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I love my best friend since childhood dearly, but she believes she’s the world’s biggest victim of middle-child syndrome, when I think she can act rather spoiled.
She had a baby seven months ago and complains constantly about how her parents aren’t stepping up compared with how much they help with her older sister’s kids. I know her parents. They are lovely people who care for their daughter and their newest grandchild deeply. They do help a lot with the other kids, but the imbalance is primarily circumstantial, namely distance: 10 minutes from the sister and 45 minutes from her on a highway in good traffic. Our parents all have more limits than they used to even a couple of years ago.
Recently, she confessed to me that she’s seriously thinking of cutting them off from her son entirely after they “refused” to come babysit so she and her husband could have a date night for their anniversary. She said their reasoning — that they’re not comfortable driving in the dark anymore — was just an excuse.
I gently tried to suggest that she’s not viewing her parents fairly, and tried to probe whether she’s dealing with any postpartum depression that’s clouding her judgment, but she just said, “Of course I’m depressed when my parents blatantly favor their other grandkids.” She then refused to respond to any of my texts or calls for the next two weeks.
I have since avoided the topic with her, but I believe she’ll do it. It will devastate her parents, rob her son of his grandparents and drive a wedge with her other siblings. I don’t know how to get through to her. Help!
— Best Friend
Best Friend: It must be crazy-making to watch this play out: For her to deny her child these grandparents just because she refuses to accept a ridiculously common problem — declining night vision in older adults! — is parental malpractice.
She can frame her parents’ choices in the best possible way or the worst, and chooses the worst.
You obviously know all this and have seen it play out before. But it was cathartic to write it out.
Plus, I’ve talked myself into advising more forceful truth-telling now with a grandchild involved. She may cut you off for it, too, so weigh that risk before you speak up.
But a clear, loving statement seems warranted: “It is so painful for me to watch you vilify your parents — and discount how much they love you! — when advancing age explains their decisions so much better than favoritism does. I know you’ve felt the middle-child problem forever. But bad night vision is a thing. Postpartum depression is, too.
“So humor me for a second: What if you decided just to trust me on these for a while? And held off on any big decisions, at least till this wild new-baby time is behind you? If you’re right about favoritism, then you’ll still be right two or three years from now and can deal with it then — but if you’re wrong, rushing to cut ties now could do real harm.”
Adapt with your own words, of course, as always.
A reader also suggested talking to the husband about the possible postpartum depression.
Usual disclaimer: You can’t make someone listen who doesn’t want to. Plus an extra disclaimer: There could be stuff in this family even you don’t know about.
But, still, best friends have standing to break glass in case of emergency. Good luck.
From the archive:
How to act around your jerk brother-in-law after he has an affair
His fiancée can’t have kids, which is a dealbreaker for him
Sorry, but your daughter isn’t the one donning a trashy look
Estranged daughter’s new baby puts couple on the spot
Lax grandparents want to take 5-year-old on vacation
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