Our Two Cents: My parents dont dote on my daughter

Dr. Sharon Ufberg and her three children offer advice about family, love and life. Send your questions to [email protected]

I am a 30-year-old proud mother of a 16-month-old. My daughter is the first grandchild for both sides of our family.

We are fortunate that both sets of grandparents live within driving distance from us. My issue is that my in-laws seem much more available and interested in spending time with my daughter than my own parents. I am left feeling like my parents are too busy to get to know their grandchild. It hurts me to see my daughter so much more connected to my husband’s parents than mine. What can I do to get my parents to start paying more attention to my daughter? C.K., San Mateo

Jessica: It must be very hard to see your daughter’s blossoming relationship with your in-laws when you are also living close to your own parents. The first question that came to mind when I read your story was this: Are you asking your folks to baby-sit for you, or are you inviting them to be with you and your daughter together? I would start by inviting them over when they can enjoy time with you and your daughter, or offer a set lunch date or story time at the library to set up that special time with the grandparents. You obviously feel close to your parents and want your daughter to feel close to them, too. Why not offer to bring your daughter over so she can get to know them better on their own turf?

Your parents may find the responsibility of a toddler too much and are waiting for a less intense stage to offer their time more freely. I know I would be much happier to take a niece or nephew out bike riding versus changing diapers. Fortunately, I have not been put to that test yet.

Alexis: My plan is to put Saul to that test soon! But in all seriousness, this is disconcerting, and the best course of action is simply to talk to your parents.

Watch how you talk to your parents about time with your daughter. Do you suggest they come over so you can step out for a quick manicure or afternoon jog? Or do you offer activities that you can enjoy altogether? It’s obviously hurtful to desire more time with someone than they desire with you — or in this case, your daughter. But before you draw that conclusion, sit down and have a chat with them. You never know what’s happening on their end.

Sharon: While having a child may have been perfect timing for you and your husband, it is possible your parents are enjoying a new freedom they waited many years to regain. Your parents may just be busier than your in-laws right now but still love and adore you and your daughter. Try not to compare the quantity of time each set of parents gives your daughter but the quality of the time. It is also possible they are trying to keep a respectful distance from your new family while they’re out in the world kvelling about their newest edition.

Don’t be shy about expressing the desire for more time together without bringing guilt-producing “you shoulds” into the equation. Also, try making time when all the grandparents are together with your family — this is another way to close the gap without creating unnecessary competition.

Dr. Sharon Ufberg is a Napa-based radio host, journalist, consultant and integrative health practitioner. Her daughters live in San Francisco: Lawyer-turned-writer Alexis Sclamberg, 28 and married; and hair colorist Jessica Sclamberg, 26 and single. Saul Sclamberg, 24 and single, studies chiropractic in Los Angeles. Read more at http://r-2-cents.com.