Dear Amy: I am the maternal grandmother of a sweet, intelligent 5-year-old boy, “Danny,” who, because of divorce, spends time at his paternal grandma’s house in a conservative area of our state.
She and I have a good relationship, despite this very-contentious divorce.
She is a wonderful grandmother, not only because she is kind, intelligent, and empathetic, but also because her career is in education. She’s a principal at an elementary school.
I recently discovered that she has not received the COVID-19 vaccine, nor does she have any plans to get it. When I asked her why, she just shrugged and said it was all blown out of proportion and she didn’t need it.
The rest of the family (the child’s parents and myself) have all been vaccinated, so we can feel safe going between homes, but now we have this added situation with Danny spending time with his unvaccinated grandmother for long weekends.
I told my former son-in-law, thinking that he could deal with his mother (he can’t). I said I would have to tell my daughter about this.
Once she finds out, she will insist that her son not go there until grandma and her husband get the vaccine, and she WILL get the lawyers involved.
What advice can you give me on how to navigate this mess?
A school principal needs to model good behavior, and all of the experts say to get the vaccine.
Do we have the right to give her an ultimatum: Vaccinate, or no grandson?
– Worried Grandma
Dear Worried: You believe this grandmother has a duty to “model good behavior.” You do, too.
Unless you’re leaving out important information, your proposed ultimatum reflects a strange logic.
The way I read your narrative, “Danny” has been moving between households since before his parents and you were vaccinated. If that is true, then the risk of the child contracting or carrying the virus between households is much lower now than it was pre-vaccination.
Yes, you could tell the child’s mother that you are upset about this, but, if so, you should urge her to behave rationally and respectfully. She should ask “Danny’s” pediatrician for a risk-assessment regarding the child spending time in an unvaccinated household.
Unless he has underlying medical conditions, I assume the doctor will say that the risk to Danny’s health is extremely low, and now that the other adults are vaccinated, the risk of him carrying the virus to this other household is also very low.
If the child’s doctor suggests that these visits place Danny’s health at risk, your daughter should share the physician’s written assessment with her ex and suggest that visits should be postponed until Danny can receive his vaccination.
Vaccinations for children are currently being tested and are expected to roll out relatively soon.
Parents must do everything possible to offer the healthiest choices for their children.
Talking to a lawyer when you should be talking to a doctor does not represent the healthiest choice.
Dear Amy: I recently retired and got a dog – my first dog since childhood.
I absolutely adore my little mutt. He is really fun to be with and easy to take care of.
However, I’m a little embarrassed to say that I find the level of everyday attentiveness I must pay to him somewhat exhausting. He’s up very early in the morning; I walk him again before bed, and I also want to give him all the attention and playtime he deserves.
I’ve never heard any other dog owners mention this as a problem. Should I just not have a dog?
– Embarrassed Dog-Dad
Dear Embarrassed: I think this is probably a common reaction in the earlier phase of dog ownership. And honestly, I know of many parents who feel the same way about the earlier phases of parenthood.
I highly suggest that you find a nearby “day care” facility for your dog. Check out various places with the same care you would check out pre-schools.
One or two days a week of freedom from these daytime duties may give you the breather you need, as well as a new set of pals for your dog to play with.
Dear Amy: I appreciated the question from “Crushed,” who had developed a wicked crush on one of the workmen renovating her house.
I liked your answer, but I wish you had counseled her to pursue this only after her renovation is completed. To do so during the work-phase could lead to unfortunate consequences.
– Been There
Dear Been There: Absolutely. Thank you.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.