Dear Grandparenting: My grandchildren think I’m “safe” because I can keep a secret. Since I don’t go tell on them to their parents, they let it all hang out right in front of me.
I reached one obvious conclusion: The most important thing in their lives isn’t their cell phone or computer. It isn’t a celebrity or professional athlete, or doing well academically. What matters is who they like or dislike, and who likes or dislikes them.
School is an enormous popularity contest. Those kids can spend hours debating who’s in and out this week. What a stupendous waste of time and energy! Is playing this this popularity game normal for modern-day children? More importantly, when does it end? George Bays, Springfield, Massachusetts
Dear George: Social media rules young America, and thanks to Facebook, Twitter and friends, grandchildren swim in streams of digital gossip. Think of it as their daily soap opera.
But school likeability often depends on traits that don’t play so well off campus, like social aggression and athletic prowess. Out in an increasingly fast-paced and diverse real world, success swings more on an open mind to new experiences and social situations, coupled with emotional strength.
Studies found that between 15% to 20% of students that seek out a wider variety of encounters during high school develop that skill set. These individuals are well regarded — classmates learn by observing their social mastery.
Another study holds hope for popularity also-rans and misfits. A yearlong survey of students ages 13 to 14 found that individual assessment of one’s own popularity was the best predictor of their future social adjustment. It doesn’t matter what others think. If they figure they’ll be fine wherever, then they probably will.
Grand remark of the week
Duke Miller from Marshall, Michigan reports that he saw “this silver-haired lady” behind the wheel of a pickup truck with a bumper sticker that read, “I’m a Grandmother Who’s Loving Life.”
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.