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Dutchess_III's avatar

What would your advice be on how to handle this miscommunication issue?

Asked by Dutchess_III (27245 points ) May 28th, 2014

My son, Chris, married Jenna. Back, over Christmas, they asked Corrie to babysit the kids while they were at work. Corrie said, yes. Then it ended up that there was some miscommunication over what times, and what days, and it ended up with some hard feelings. From what I could tell, the miscommunication originated with Jenna, but I withheld my opinion and, apparently, it resolved itself.

Well, then today, this happened to me: Last night Chris texted me, asked if I could watch Zoey and Jaden today from 11 – 5. I said, “Yes.”

Jenna brought the kids over at 10:30 and said, “My mom gets off at 1:00 if you want her to come get the kids after she gets off of work?”
I said, “Well, that’s up to you guys. I’m prepared to watch them until 5:00. I mean, does she want to take them?”
Jenna said, “Yeah, she does.”
I said, “Well, Ok, then. I guess we’ll see your mom sometime after 1:00, if that’s what ya’ll want.”

So Mom shows up at 1:45. She lives about 20 miles from here. I got the impression she didn’t know what was going on either, although she said something about “Frankie’s birthday party today,” (Franky is Jenna’s 25 year old brother) and she didn’t know if they were having a party, but if they were, she knew the kids would want to be there, but she didn’t know if they were having a party or not, but all the stuff was at her house. So, I’m confused. She’s confused.
She takes the kids.

Then I called Chris to let him know that Jenna’s mom did pick the kids up, so they wouldn’t be here at 5:00.
He got kind of angry! He said, “I asked you to watch them until 5:00! Now I have to drive all the way to Smallville to get them, for no reason!”
I said, “Hey! Hey! Jenna just told me this morning… (Reiterate what I said earlier….)”
Then he said something that led me to believe that Jenna suggested that it was somehow my idea! I think he said, “Well, Jenna said you asked if her Mom was going to pick them up when she got off of work!”
I said, “I didn’t initiate this, Chris! I have no idea what time her mother gets off work!”

So now, everyone is a bit at odds, and I’m stuck in the middle.

Jenna sent a text a bit ago, blaming it all on her mom, said her mom was “just confused today.” Her mom is a bit of a wack job, to be sure, but I’m not buying this “It’s all her mom’s fault” business. I don’t know who initiated what, but apparently no one was on the same page, and I think it goes back to Jenna. I got the impression that Chris didn’t even know Gramma was going to pick the kids up.

I can’t just let this slide because it seems to be a reoccurring thing where Jenna is concerned.
So what I want to do is send them both a message telling them that if I agree to plan A, and one of them changes it, I will call them both and hear it from both of their mouths that they agree to the change. If I don’t hear from them both, the plan will not change, and I won’t let anyone else pick the kids up.

I know it’s long, thanks for reading this far if you have.
Do you have any better ideas than a message? I’m afraid that if I try to talk to them in person it will get deflected and garbled…like Chris, didn’t want to hear me out, partly because he was upset.

Or…should I wait until the situation arises and simply do exactly that without saying anything before hand?

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22 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

First of all, unless they are paying you (and Jenna’s mother) it seems to me that they’ve lost sight of the fact that, even though you may love watching the kids, you are doing them a helluva big solid by watching the kids. I know that doesn’t help you with this Q, but hopefully it will give you a better perspective to start from.
I think a message is a good idea, they can’t interrupt a message, and I think the message needs to be written so they can’t argue with content. And, (while I’m feeling overly incensed for you, because even if they are paying you, no one gets to yell at you) they both need to contact you if plans change, as you should not have to track them down and do the dancing.

<dismounts white horse and sheathes sword>

Dutchess_III's avatar

No they aren’t paying me! They offered, and I said No. I did mention that my gutters need to be cleaned out!

OK. I think a message is a good idea too, for the reasons you mentioned @canidmajor. It was just a huge miscommunication and it ain’t gonna happen again, not on my watch.

canidmajor's avatar

Well, it may happen again, but at least you’ll be able to say that there is an agreement in place that needs to be honored, then they may get a bit huffy, then it probably won’t happen again. :-)

GloPro's avatar

Why don’t you make sure to only mass text or mass email when you are communicating with Jenna? Include Chris, even in the smallest of conversations, if any decisions at all are being made. I don’t care if it’s what color shirt the kid will wear.
If you communicate by phone, send a follow up text immediately following the phone call, again to both parents, stating what you think you heard the plan to be.
CYA – and let them sort out the rest.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Should I let them know in advance that that’s what my plan is? Send them a note with a head’s up, while all of this is fresh in their minds?

GloPro's avatar

Nah. Just move forward with that as your new communication strategy. Alerting them to your new plan will only cause pointing of fingers, feelings of blame, and irritation at you.
I’d let this one go and butt out of it, and the next time they ask you to plan a babysitting day, respond to both of them as suggested above, with no explanation or calling out of what you are doing.
It’s similar to cc’ing your boss on all communication when you struggle with a co-worker. No need to explain anything.

Judi's avatar

In the future I would just confirm plans via text to all involved.
That way it’s all documented.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thanks, @GloPro.
My son came by after work. Here’s the rest of the story. Apparently they both texted Jenna’s mom, telling her not to come get the kids, but she insisted, but probably vaguely. Again, nobody told ME that there was yet another change of plans. So, anyway. I think there was enough emotion and frustration for everyone involved, that no one will be at all upset if I call to verify a change of plans for ALL involved.

zenvelo's avatar

There is plenty of good advice above, and little I can add to details. My only insight is to let everyone know you are working on reducing confusion, and then not assign a reason or blame on anyone.

The diplomatic part is to move forward without anyone finding fault or resentment (which to be honest seems to be close to the surface in various people). Be positive and show you are working on helping all to get along well.

Dutchess_III's avatar

^^^^ Agreed! Thanks @zenvelo.

Thanks y’all.

stanleybmanly's avatar

There are 2 approaches that seem reasonable to me. The first is to refuse to babysit, until everyone confirms that they are on the same page. The second and best solution involving your level of inconvenience would be to state that as far as you’re concerned the kids are parked with you, and whichever member of the triumvirate shows up to claim them gets them regardless of previous instructions. It isn’t your job to referee custody.

KNOWITALL's avatar

How exasperating it must be to do a favor and then have to deal with chaos. I would ask Chris to be the communicator in future so there’s no confusion. Jenna may just be a dingbat so that would solve the issue.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL @KNOWITALL!
Well, I’m trying to set a good example. I just sent them BOTH a text that said, “I won’t be available for babysitting on Monday until about noon.”

longgone's avatar

If you all have smartphones, I’d create a group on WhatsApp with those two.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t have a smart phone.

longgone's avatar

^ Keep it in mind, should you ever get one. Solved some similar problems in my family…

Dutchess_III's avatar

How does it work @longgone?

longgone's avatar

WhatsApp is nothing more than a (free) messaging service. The ability to create different groups is convenient, though. For instance, you could call a group “babysitting” and have Jenna, Chris, and possibly Jenna’s mum join. Then, all negotiations concerning babysitting dates would be written down, easily accessible for all.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I can create groups on my dumb phone!

longgone's avatar

Can you? With all the conversations on a specific topic for everyone in the group to see?

Dutchess_III's avatar

No. I can just set them up so that I text certain people. Right now I just have a “Family” group set up.

longgone's avatar

^ Ah. That’s handy, too!

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