Ask Amy: College friends only want to talk about their kids

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Dear Amy: I am part of a group of friends who met at university 50 years ago. We reconnected 20 years ago and now meet several times a year. At first, the conversation was varied, with personal updates, current affairs discussions, shared book recommendations, and more. Very quickly it turned into a conversation that is almost 100% about kids.

I am an independent girl with no children. It’s not what I had planned, but I’m happy with my life, especially with my fulfilling career. Other women have little interest in my job, and have even pooped about what I do. I tried to add different and relevant topics to the conversations. Responses are either “I’ll let (insert husband’s name) handle it” or just blank stares.

They are all nice women, but these encounters with hours of conversation limited to children, children’s spouses, in-laws, moves, etc., are unsatisfying and somewhat hurtful. I need a way to politely decline invitations until I can withstand the onslaught of kids’ conversations – if ever. I don’t know how long “I’m sorry I can’t take this tour” will last.

I would appreciate your ideas on how to decline these invitations, while maintaining the relationship.

M: “I’m sorry I can’t make this visit – but keep me in mind for next time” is a polite way to respond to an invitation you don’t want to accept.

You must determine if you want to maintain these relationships outside of these visits. People separate. Life events – in terms of health, career, partners, children, and various triumphs and losses – affect our perspective.

If you choose to reconnect and want to revive and expand on the topics discussed at these gatherings, you can ask group members if they would be willing to play some sort of game and respond to “prompts”. You can search online or at your favorite bookstore for sets of invitation cards meant to inspire lively conversations.

I also suggest bringing artifacts, photos, or yearbooks from your shared college years as a way to reconnect by sharing your memories and anecdotes of the early days of your friendship.

Dear Amy: My daughter-in-law just finished her doctorate. I am very proud of her. She worked hard for many years to achieve this goal.

I asked to take her to dinner with our son to celebrate. My son informed me that although they appreciate the sentiment, they would rather not. I was a bit upset to be rejected because I know they were celebrating with his parents. My son finally confessed that our daughter-in-law felt “unsupported” by me in her pursuit of a doctorate.

I asked her regularly after her doctoral studies, and she often replied with something like, “I’m stressed about this or that. My typical response was to tell her that I was sure she would do just fine with anything. I thought I was supporting her, but apparently she hears it like, “You’re complaining for nothing and it’s wrong that you’re stressed.” At this point, we seem to be at an awkward impasse.

Am I wrong to be hurt and insulted? I think she was very sensitive to interpret my comments in such a negative light. Moreover, during all these years, she never told me anything about it. Now I find that I committed the great crime of telling her that I thought she would make it. Am I missing something?

Shrew: Your feelings are justified. Your son has been honest with you about his wife’s sensitivities. Some people consider any comment, even a positive one, as criticism, when they think they are just expressing themselves. It’s immature and frustrating.

I suggest you communicate directly with your DIL. Tell him wisely what your son explained to you and ask him if you can both do a “reset”. Maintain an open attitude, don’t resort to sarcasm, listen carefully, and do your best to understand his feelings and communicate yours.

Dear Amy:reluctant grandmother” did not want to organize a baby shower for his unmarried son and his partner. Twenty years ago, my niece was pregnant and single. Her 13-year-old brother told her, “It’s not my job to be mad at you, so I’ll just be happy for you.

I’ve thought about this many times over the years when I’m tempted to pass judgment on someone.

Proud: I like this wise expression.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by content agency Tribune.

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