Dear Grandparenting: I am having a little tiff with my daughter Josie. She told me to watch my mouth around my grandchildren.
No, it’s not because I use nasty language, and it’s not because I’m a big meanie. It’s because I like to tell my granddaughters that they look nice or cute or something like that.
Josie put me on notice. No more compliments about my granddaughter’s physical appearance! I do plead guilty, but I hardly think that a little praise is a crime.
She says it sends the message that looks are the most important thing in life. Give me a break. It’s just conversation, like when I tell the kids they look great in an outfit, they might mention some jeans they want, and I’ll buy it for them. Is that a mortal sin? Elaine Houston, Owensboro, Kentucky
Dear Elaine: Looking good weighs heavy on the mind of females from every generation. One recent survey asked more than 4,500 Americans what society values most in women. Over 35% said physical attractiveness, followed by intelligence (22%), hard work (9%) and competence (7%).
But adolescent and teenage granddaughters tend to be their own worst critics; another study found that 80% of girls are unhappy with their appearance by age 18. Few can keep pace with the latest must-have looks making the rounds, like the “thigh gap” — the visible space between a runway model’s thighs when standing with her knees together.
If that’s not bad enough, grandchildren’s heavy use of social media hammers away at their self-esteem. Negative comments rule in the dog-eat-dog digital world, and looks are always an easy target. That’s why we don’t believe the occasional compliment on their appearance is out of order.
We understand concerns about an excessive concern with looks, but are equally certain a discriminating grandparent can discern other aspects of a grandchild that deserve praise — random acts of goodness, no matter how small, that should be reinforced. So mix in a few more about their good deeds. Looks are the first thing to go. Habits can last a lifetime.
Grand remark of the week
Tim Smith from York, Pennsylvania was watching TV when grandson Andrew came back inside with a badly bruised knee after falling off his bike.
When Tim told him to get the bottle of children’s aspirin he kept in the next room, Andrew returned and tried in vain to open the bottle.
“You can’t,” said Tim. “It’s got a childproof cap.”
Andrew paused. “But how does it know?” he said.
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.