Dear Annie: My wife and I live overseas and have three children, all of whom live in the same city in the United States.
Our youngest grandchild was born to our second son about 10 months ago. We came to the States in hopes of spending time with the baby. During the three months we were here (we stayed with our other son), we saw our granddaughter a grand total of four times, all of which were during large family get-togethers.
We were never invited to our son’s house to spend time with the baby. We know from social media that our daughter-in-law’s mother was there all the time, however.
Though we’re not big fans of our daughter-in-law because of how controlling she is with our son, we’ve never treated her with anything other than kindness, so we don’t know why this is happening.
My wife and I are scared of saying anything for fear of being cut off entirely. Is there anything we can do? Should we say something?
— Scared to Say Something
Dear Scared: The worst thing is to do nothing. Your goal should be to have a fully honest, loving and open relationship with your son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
Sometimes being vulnerable and expressing your feelings lovingly has the ability to shift perspective and open the lines of communication.
People are not mind readers. Maybe they thought you wanted to stay at your son’s house and it would be easier just to see your granddaughter at family gatherings. Maybe his wife is suffering from postpartum depression and her mother came to help out.
Regardless of the reason, it might not have anything to do with their feelings toward you. My point is that it is entirely possible that they did not know that you wanted to go over to their house — if you didn’t tell them.
So long as you don’t attack your son and daughter-in-law, it should be well received. Just express yourself from a place of love and wanting to get to know your granddaughter better.
According to author Brené Brown, “Vulnerability is our most accurate way to measure courage, and we literally do that as researchers.”
Vulnerability allows them to assess fearlessness, she says.
“We can measure how brave you are by how vulnerable you’re willing to be,” she explained.
Vulnerability is the willingness to show up and share your authentic self while knowing that you have no control over the outcome of your interactions. Vulnerability removes defensiveness, promotes empathy and bolsters creativity.
Many associate vulnerability with weakness and push people away out of fear of rejection or ridicule. However, you can’t experience wholeheartedness without it.
Brown’s book, The Power of Vulnerability, is a great resource on guiding you on the power of vulnerability.