DEAR ABBY: I work and have a family and live five hours from where I grew up. My mom isn’t in the best health and neither is her husband. While I try to visit as often as I can, she always wants me to visit more often, which I understand.

The problem is, she keeps asking us to leave our 5-year-old son with her for long weekends or to spend a week with her and her husband. They are good people, but both have physical limitations. 

Would I let my son stay with them if one of them was still in good health? Yes. It is hard for me to explain to her my concern that my son would be too much for them to deal with at this point. If she has a series of good days, great. If she doesn’t, we would have a problem, and I’d have to drive back to deal with it. 

I have tried explaining nicely, and then other times more directly, that it isn’t that I don’t want her to spend time with her grandchildren. I’m tired of the guilt trips she tries to put on me. I’m also tired of her telling my son to “talk to your mom about staying with me for a week.”

As a child, I was in my son’s position, and I know how it affected me. I just wanted to see “Sara,” and I thought Mom and Dad were mean for not letting me. I do not want my son to feel that way. He’s a child, not a pawn in a game. Can you help me explain to my mom that my concern is for the safety of everyone involved?– SAFETY FIRST

DEAR SAFETY FIRST: Have a series of talks with your little boy. He needs to understand that, although Grandma loves him and wants him to visit, she is not always well enough to look after him properly if he does, which is why you won’t allow it. It isn’t his fault, it isn’t your fault, and it isn’t Grandma’s. If Grandma could come to visit you occasionally for a few days, it might give her more time with your boy and be good for both of them. 

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