Dear Annie: How do I find a stronger connection with my daughters-in-law?

Dear Annie: For years, I have tried to have a relationship with my two daughters-in-law, and at some point, I finally gave up. Now, when we get together, the family gatherings are not horrible. But at best, they are superficial.

It is very difficult to have conversations when they text nearly the entire time -- which I never address -- or converse back and forth between each other and ignore me, even when I interject into conversations. It is as if I’m invisible or in a cone of silence.

When the holiday or event is over, then it’s goodbye with a kiss and a hug and out the door until the next major birthday or holiday. I have, in the early years, tried to meet them for lunch -- on my dime -- or go shopping, but they have always respectfully declined.

This apathy has carried over into my grandchildren. All of them are so close and personable with the other grandparents, who are wonderful people, and I do understand how daughters are just naturally close to their moms, so it stands to reason that the grandchildren would be closer to them since more time is spent there.

I am a grieving mom and grandmother who has tried, to no avail. I feel loved at a distance and pray for a better connection and relationship. I am thankful for the moments I have had, even with the feeling of distance. At least they haven’t gone out of my life completely.

-- Grieving Grandmother

Dear Grieving Grandmother: You are wise to be grateful for the good moments you have had. If you focus on what you appreciate, you will attract more of that. In the meantime, where are your sons? I would suggest that you take them to lunch, rather than your daughters-in-law, and let them know that you are feeling left out.


Along the same lines, if your daughters-in-law are texting and ignoring you during a holiday dinner, why not use that as an opportunity to talk to your sons and grandchildren?

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Dear Annie: I am a woman in my 50s who always thought I had good manners. Recently, I have had several appointments with a new physician, who is in her 30s. She knew she had been recommended by my friend and next-door neighbor, who is a physician of the same specialty but does not see private patients.

She immediately addressed me by my first name, which I thought was friendly and lovely. When I reciprocated and called her by her first name, she informed me that it was not appropriate for a patient to call a doctor by her first name.

Did I miss something in my junior high etiquette classes, or did she? Is there a rule about how people in a professional relationship should address each other?

-- Just Wondering

Dear Wondering: Since she was referred to you by your neighbor, who is a doctor and who, I assume, you call by her first name, it is understandable that you addressed this young physician by her first name. However, as a general rule, it is better to err on the side of caution and address doctors as “Dr.” until they tell you otherwise.

Annie Lane

Annie Lane offers common-sense solutions to everyday problems. She's firm, funny and sympathetic, echoing the style of her biggest inspiration, Ann Landers. She lives outside Manhattan with her husband, two kids and two dogs. When not writing, she devotes her time to play dates and Play-Doh. Write her: