Dear Grandparenting: It’s a mystery to me what has come over my granddaughter. Gracie is 12 but seems older and smarter in certain ways, like some other girls do.
Gracie has good conversational skills too. But lately with me at least, her two favorite words are “fine” and “whatever.” That’s a conversation killer. Sure sounds to me like she’s telling me to get lost.
I go easy on my grandkids. I give them space and bend over backwards not to pry into their business. But every time I open my mouth, Gracie cuts me off with “fine” or “whatever.”
So I ask her, did I do something wrong? Gracie says no but it’s driving me crazy. This has me on needles and pins. Besides wondering why I deserve this, how do I fix things? Sugar Barberi, Leesburg, Florida
Dear Sugar: Your story sounds like classic textbook, the stuff that keeps child counselors and psychologists in business. And while it can keep grandparents on edge, such behavior is fairly commonplace as grandchildren come of age.
Professionals call it “passive aggressive” — a fancy term for behaviors that arise from feelings of anger toward authority figures. Perhaps she’s rebelling against her junior role in the family.
But your granddaughter’s options are limited. If she is openly confrontational or nasty, she risks punishment. It’s much safer to hide behind assorted passive aggressive maneuvers — ignoring, stalling and delaying, sarcasm and backhanded compliments, and the silent treatment.
Here’s the good news. According to child psychologists, passive aggression is an “age appropriate” response — a phase children eventually move on from after their struggle to gain a measure of independence. Knowing what to expect should give grandparents a heads up to avoid getting emotionally bushwhacked.
Grand remark of the week
Shelly Montrose from Everett, Washington “got a big kick” from overhearing grandson Perry, age 7, advising his friend about the right and wrong way to go about kissing.
“If it’s someone like your mother or grandma, just go ahead and kiss her anytime,” said Perry. “But if it’s someone else, you better ask permission.”
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.