Dear Annie: I am a 62-year-old Nana of two beautiful girls, ages 6 months and 3 years. My son and his wife live 2 1/2 hours away, so I visit them every six weeks or so. My daughter-in-law took extra precautions during the pandemic. She limited visitors, including her family, and I’ve been blessed to go into their home and help out between au pairs. We have a very nice relationship.

I’ve observed that Mom is often holding the baby while the au pair or Dad takes care of the 3-year-old. The toddler is naturally jealous of her sister and is acting out. She has not been in any structured day care and has had very minimal outside social interaction. At birth, the baby was in the neonatal intensive care unit for about a week. She is now doing beautifully. The toddler was breastfed even while Mom was pregnant.

I just came back from a recent visit. The 3-year-old had a miserable cold with a constant runny nose. Her parents would not allow me to wipe her nose. It was impossible to play with her, as she constantly had to run to Mom or Dad to get her nose wiped. I’m not allowed to change diapers either, and the 3-year-old is in diapers, too. When I was emptying the dishwasher, Mom told me not to bother, but I did continue, in a spirit of service. That evening, the toddler was not at her best, and she hit her sister in the face rather hard while she was being held by Daddy. I said firmly, in a slightly raised voice, “That is wrong; you cannot do that.” Seven words, that’s it. Mom came running to the scene, told me she has this. Mom spoke to the toddler in a kind voice, explaining it is never OK to hit her sister.

The next morning before I left, Mom said that, because she cares about me, she needs to talk about a couple of things. First, I shouldn’t have continued to empty the dishwasher because now she needs to supervise where things go, and I didn’t listen. Secondly, she doesn’t want me saying any words of discipline to my grandchild. I agreed that transparency is good and brought up feeling not respected by not even being allowed to wipe the toddler’s nose.

I do know Mom is in charge and Dad stands by her, but I feel that the toddler’s coddling and isolation is not good for her social and emotional development. I did wipe a tear at the table after being told what not to do.

— Saddened Nana

Dear Saddened Nana: Your letter focuses on all the things that your daughter-in-law and son are doing wrong with their children. Instead of visiting them with a critical eye and finding all the faults in their parenting, try to visit with a loving heart and see all the things they are doing right. That your daughter-in-law communicated to you right away what bothered her is amazing and that you were able to tell her so was great. It sounds like you have a really nice relationship with them; now it’s time to just start enjoying your time with them rather than fretting over why they didn’t want you to wipe her runny nose.

Where to write: Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.