While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On gauging the health of a marriage:
I have a simple metric for making a determination. Marriages need love, trust, honor, respect and desire. The people in them also need to embody the adjective forms of those words: lovable, trustworthy, honorable, respectable and desirable. If one of the persons stops being those things, or stops working to be those things, the marriage will suffer.
On grieving for a grandchild not placed for adoption:
My daughter became pregnant at 24 and, at the urging of her friends, made the decision to keep her baby. We are a close, middle-class family who were prepared to be supportive of her choice and to be there for her and her child. She talked herself into it because that's what others told her she "ought" to do.
Through the years, I have frequently been the primary caregiver, been there financially when things were difficult, and have been the one who has done homework, volunteered at school, and known all my grandchild's friends. I've basically been the parent, and while I adore my grandchild, had adoption been the choice, I know it would have been the best one for this child.
Two parents who love this child and wanted this child so much, contact with the bio family if the bio family wants it, no regrets every day because you know you kept the baby to make others happy, and knowing you've done what is really best for your child.
You have to understand, it isn't because I resent what I have needed to do; it is all about this child's life.
What no one thinks about in these situations is that women who "aren't ready to be mothers" aren't lying about that; they really aren't, and now, many grandparents are doing the job they had thought that daughter (or son) would step up and do. We're ready to be grandparents, not the parents.
If I had it to do over again, I would take my daughter out for a long drive and beg her to reconsider the decision to keep her child, not for my sake, but for her child's sake.
On warming to flawed parents:
We were brought up by a loving mother and a father who was cranky and cold. All three of us longed for a doting dad. I finally decided he suffered, for whatever reason, from Tiny Little Heart Syndrome — there was only room in it for my mother.
Over the years I observed that the doting-dad/daddy's-little-girl relationship was not always a healthy one. Too much of a good thing can be as bad as too little.
I also learned over the years that while our father was unable to relate to children, he was talented and ethical and funny and a rock we could depend on, and I know he did the best he could.
We had a wonderful friendship as adults, and my life was the better for his being part of it. Why was he the way he was? I don't know, but I do know that when he died at 89 I loved him with all my heart, and still miss him terribly.