Dear Grandparenting: Didn’t I see my 17-year-old granddaughter locked in a “passionate embrace” with her boyfriend of the moment on my front steps? I think what they were doing is called a soul kiss. Did she bother to stop when I walked right past them? No way. I am positive she heard me. What am I, just some leaf blowing in the wind? It was dark outside, but my porch light was on. They were lit up. That’s not the first time either. I’ve heard noises when she’s down in my clubroom. The noises aren’t coming from the TV or the radio. The girl has no shame.
I am not so ancient that I cannot understand wanting to flirt and fool around. But I draw the line when she gets it on right under my nose. It is offensive and inconsiderate. I’ve already had a talk with my granddaughter about this once before. How do I drive home the point without getting her all up in arms? In my experience, telling her she can’t do something is the worst approach. Old Alice, Boston, Massachusetts
Dear Alice: Remember the outcry in 2000 when Al Gore gave wife Tipper a passionate kiss on national television after accepting his party’s nomination for president? One pundit called it a “can’t-wait-to-get-back-to-the hotel” kiss.
Groping, necking and other sloppy displays of sexual abandon have become so commonplace they are now simply called PDAs — short for public displays of affection. For grandparents accustomed to more restrained conduct, PDAs are another insult against civility. They may not be as offensive as the profanity and acts of aggressive behavior that increasingly intrude into America’s public spaces, but show the same disregard for accepted norms that have governed society for decades.
Why are we not surprised that such considerations seem lost on your 17-year old granddaughter? Children reflect the prevailing standards that surround them, not yesteryear’s. Between the trashy values of popular teenage culture and the more permissive, anything goes national culture, your granddaughter may not know any better.
Instead of demanding compliance, try eliciting her empathy. Ask your granddaughter what situations make her feel uncomfortable and then compare it to your reaction to her openly romantic encounters. That might do the trick. Explain everyone’s fundamental need for privacy, especially in the sanctity of your home. How would she like it if his or her parents were watching? Should all else fail, you have our permission to pull rank and ban her male companions from the premises. Enough is enough.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Joker51 from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, overheard a conversation between his two young grandsons.
“What are you giving up for Lent?” asked the younger one.
“I’m giving up Cokes and ice-cream. You know how much I like them. What are you giving up?”
“I’m giving up ice cream and fighting with Brad Powell, but Lent lasts so long I’m not sure I can make it.”