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Make it clear whether invitation includes baby

Published Oct. 12, 2005

Dear Lois: We invited our son and daughter-in-law to dinner at a very nice restaurant to celebrate our son's promotion. We said nothing about them bringing their 3-month-old baby along with them. Imagine my shock when my daughter-in-law showed up not only with the baby but with plans to nurse the child (thankfully, not in public). You can imagine what happened. Every time the hot food was served and we tried to eat, my daughter-in-law ran with the crying baby to the ladies' room. It was a very uncomfortable evening. My husband said it was my fault because I should have had them to dinner at home. I say it was my daughter-in-law's fault. What do you say? _ No Saint in St. Petersburg

Dear No: I say that you and your daughter-in-law failed to communicate, and before the baby gets another month older, I suggest you find ways to open the lines between you. If you invite your kids for dinner, make sure they understand that they are going to a restaurant and that you have certain expectations regarding bringing the baby. Is that rude? No, it's sensible. Don't be afraid to tell them you simply can't cope with dining out because your daughter-in-law can't leave her baby, can't get a sitter or has firm ideas about when and how to feed and care for her child. What we all have to remember is that most mothers-in-law and their children-in-law really want peace and harmony.

Dear Lois: My son and his wife separated two years ago. In view of the mental anguish I am going through because my daughter-in-law does not allow me to see my grandchildren, I find it quite difficult to understand some of the letters of complaint you receive from grandparents. My daughter-in-law insists on punishing me because my son left her _ for good reason. I only pray she comes to her senses because someday my grandchildren will not understand why their mother deprived them of visits with their grandparents. _ Philadelphia Grandmother

Dear Grandma Philly: How sad when parents use children as pawns in their divorce. Maybe someday, in some way, you can make that ex-daughter-in-law understand that you don't want a divorce from the children, that you want to be able to add to their lives with time, love and attention.