I have drawn lines in the sand with my family. I have had to set boundaries. It was difficult at first. It started with my father and grandmother. I had to get them to call before “dropping by.” I also had to get them to agree not to drop by so often.
It hasn’t been easy. I know their feelings have been were hurt. And, in hindsight, there have been times I made decisions out of personal convenience instead of a greater good. I have said, No, to family gatherings, if the boys were sick or if the weather was bad or (and I hate to admit it) if I didn’t feeling like dealing with my family.
It is important to me that my children bond with their grandparents – all three sets of them! It is more important that my family is healthy and happy.
I grew up not knowing much about my father’s side of the family. I knew only that my grandmother was a second wife and that my father was her only child with my grandfather. He had several children with his first wife but my father was the only child he had with my grandmother. At least this is what I have pieced together.
My wife’s family is very close and my mom’s family is very close. Being close means that life is not always cheery. Sometimes being close is too close. Recently, I have had to draw a thicker line in the sand for my mother.
My mother comes over to “help” my wife manage the house and our two sons. It began as a visit once or twice a week but then grew into a visit a day. Some weeks she even came on the weekends. My wife and I no longer spent time alone with our children (especially the our youngest child). Her visits had become more of an inconvenience than a source of help and support. She made greater and greater demands of us and took control of how our youngest was being raised (including issues of health and medication).
I have asked her not to come over anymore. However, I have yet to confront her about her actions. She doesn’t know that anyting is wrong. I simply told her that my wife, my kids, and I needed some “nuclear bonding time”; bonding time as just a “nuclear family.”