Tell Me About It: Sons guilt trip parents for refusing to move

Published May 15

Q: My husband and I, 68 and 61, were thrilled to become grandparents two years ago. We are enjoying our first years of carefully planned retirement in our home on the East Coast.

The problem is our sons, who live in two of the most expensive real estate markets on the West Coast, are constantly pressuring us to move closer to them. They tell me, "You know you are missing out on your grandchildís life."

My husband and I visit them as often as we can (not easy on a fixed income); however, it just never seems to be enough.

They have traveled all over the country/world, but not once to visit their "beloved grandparents." Are we being selfish to not want to forgo our retirement, return to work and downsize/relocate to appease our children?

Gramma

A: If they really wish you lived closer and miss you terribly, then thatís a beautiful thing, but the pressure is no way to show it.

If they are generally fine with things but feel guilty for not seeing you more, then thatís disingenuous.

If they are comfortable enough with the arrangement that theyíre unwilling to make sacrifices of their own to see you more, but hope they can enhance their lives of choice by pressuring you to make sacrifices to see then more, then that is selfish.

A simple, "Please stop ó moving is not realistic, so your asking us repeatedly is salt in a wound," is where I suggest you start, because people with boundaries will accept that.

That includes, potentially, calling out a globetrotter son who talks about the grandparent time his child is missing but then walks his walk somewhere else.

Fearing youíre in the wrong can stand in the way of such matter-of-fact reckoning, so be assured: It is not selfish to choose a home you know and can afford over costly and stressful unknowns. Itís not selfish to run your own life.

Ultimately you might have to declare the topic off-limits ó but that still beats their beating you down.

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