My adult son and daughter won't let my grandchildren stay overnight at my house with me. They think I drink too much and won't take good care of the kids, but I am very loving and caring, and would never overdo my drinking with my grandchildren around. How can I convince them to trust me and let me have more time with my grandkids, who are 7 and 10?
You sound like you love your grandchildren very much, and I am sure you mean it when you say you will try to practice moderation when your grandchildren are around so that they are safe in your care. But your grown children need to be absolutely certain that whoever looks after their children in their absence is sober, fully present and able to act responsibly in their absence.
Although it may be painful to hear, it is possible that your kids are seeing what has become for you a blind spot with regard to your drinking. In her wonderful book, Excess Baggage: Getting Out of Your Own Way, Judith Sills describes the five types of blind spots that can interfere with our lives. They are: Needing to be Right, Feeling Superior, Dreading Rejection, Creating Drama or Cherishing Rage. Just as we have blind spots when we are driving -- those places where our side and rearview mirrors may not catch a car coming up beside us -- we all have places in our lives where we simply cannot see the big picture.
It is not easy to hear that your son and daughter think you drink too much, but as with any blind spot, sometimes it takes those on the outside, seeing things from a different perspective, to help us understand the truth of a situation. If you are open to the possibility that your kids could be right, then a gift far more meaningful to your grandchildren than a sleepover with grandma would be to explore the possibility that you need help and support around your alcohol use.
Visit the Alcoholics Anonymous website or attend a meeting as an observer and listen to some of the stories that members share. Schedule a visit with a counselor. If what you learn feels like it could apply to you, act on the many forms of support there are to get sober, including AA and professional counseling.
If these steps seem silly, and you cannot find a part of yourself that is open to the idea that you may be drinking more than you should, then simply enjoy your daytime visits with your grandkids, respect their parents' wishes and make peace with the fact that overnights are not in the cards right now.
Do make sure that you don't try to manipulate your grandchildren to push their parents to let them spend the night with you. In the long run, this approach will backfire.
I hope that you will consider looking into the possibility that rather than wanting to deprive you of more time with their children, your son and daughter are looking out for everyone's very best interest. Perhaps a visit to AA or AA.org, or a conversation with a trusted professional will help you get to the root of their concerns.
Susan Stiffelman is the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected. She is a family therapist, parent coach, and internationally recognized speaker on all subjects related to children, teens and parenting.
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