A reader has been in touch with a very familiar dilemma. She is 'there' for her parents but, at the same time, she has children and needs to be 'there' for them. The only trouble is, she just told her mother.
She writes: 'I love my parents but we never seem to be able do anything without putting their needs first. Whether it's Christmas (Dad likes goose not turkey) or an afternoon walk (Mum doesn't like walks, so we'd better not), they seem dominate everything we do as a family,
'I even find myself arranging the children's birthday parties around them and their tastes.
'Then, last week, Mum made it clear she wanted to spend Saturday afternoons with us. We spend Friday together, they come for lunch most Sundays and I call every day and try to see her in the week. I'd usually kept Saturday afternoon clear for shopping or sports or something just for us and the kids.
'I realise Mum gets fed-up at the weekends, but we need space and I need to give the kids attention. She dominates everything when she is around. They have to go and play while she talks to me. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out: The kids only have one childhood Mum. She hasn't spoken to me since. I know she's really upset. I didn't want to upset her. The children love her and so do I. But we need a little time to ourselves, don't we? What should I do?'