Dear Ms. Meniscus:
My grandchildren – 2 and 3 – come over about every two weeks. They are destruction machines. Even though I try to child-proof the house, they always find something to break. I love them, but I’m running out of patience. I don’t want to talk with my son or his husband, because I don’t want to risk losing the time with them and my grandchildren.
Love often has a high price. You know this. I’d suggest a quiet and reasonable talk with your son and his husband. Explain your situation, making sure you are clear that you love everyone, parents and children, and that you want everyone to visit you often. Then stop talking. Listen carefully to their response. Keep listening, even when you think they are finished talking, just wait another five seconds to make sure they don’t have other thoughts. If you hear their sincere concern for your things, and if they suggest ways to stop the destruction, thank them and discuss how you can implement their suggestions. It’s important that you follow their suggestions. This makes them responsible when the little darlings grab your cut-glass crystal vase and lob it across the kitchen.
Although this seems like your problem, it’s not. It’s your son’s and his husband’s. Let them offer the solution.
If they don’t readily suggest ways to fix the problem, we could talk about where you failed as a parent, but that’s another column. Let’s hope if you listen carefully and encourage your son and his husband to offer a solution, they will accept their responsibility for their kids. In the meantime, hide the crystal, and wait for them to turn 13.