Submitted by Michele Glaser-Techman
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for three years and have two beautiful children. Shortly before our first child was born, my in-laws b(the grandparents of my children) bought a new camera. They bring it along to every visit and constantly take pictures of all of us. Neither my husband nor I likes having our pictures taken. My in-laws have thousands of pictures of all of us already.
The biggest problem is that they don’t have a relationship with their grandchildren because of this. They complain that the kids “don’t like them.” They feel they should therefore visit more often, but in reality, these visits consist of nonstop photo-snapping, and no quality time is spent with either of the children. How do I make this stop without causing problems? — OUT OF FOCUS IN NEW YORK
DEAR OUT OF FOCUS: A diplomatic approach would be to suggest to your in-laws (the grandparents) that they “shoot” only for a limited time when they visit — no longer than the first 10 minutes. Explain that you realize the kids are growing and changing quickly, and you understand their desire to record all of it, but the children need a deeper kind of interaction with their grandparents in order to form a positive bond with them. Then suggest some ways they can relate to the little ones after the camera is put away.
If they balk, tell them the reason their grandchildren don’t seem to like them is that children need face-to-face and eye contact, and the camera has prevented it from happening. If they’re smart, they’ll listen.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Jeanne Phillips began assisting her mother, Pauline Phillips, with the Dear Abby column at the age of 14 in order to earn an allowance. When Jeanne asked her mother for an allowance, Pauline answered, “What are you going to do for it?” Pauline then said that her Dear Abby column received a substantial amount of mail from teenagers and that Jeanne could reply to some of them. If Jeanne’s responses were “good”, her mother would use them in the column. If her responses were not good, Jeanne would rewrite them. Jeanne spent her allowance money on watching movies and plays. She went to San Francisco several times to see the play, Li’l Abner.