Dear Grandparenting: I am in need of advice about my two grandchildren. Their attitude is terrible and none of it is my fault. I’m just pitching in to make the best of a bad situation.
Here’s the deal. My daughter (the mother) is stationed on a military supply ship halfway around the world. She’s the breadwinner. Their father has jumped ship. Nobody has heard from him in three weeks. I hope he stays gone. That bum never showed me anything and was lazy.
So I am the new boss at the tender age of 76. My grandchildren are 10 and 13. I have to stay on their backs to get them to do anything. I crack the whip and keep after them until it’s done right, whatever “it” happens to be at the time.
The whole family knows what’s happened, but I still haven’t heard from all the aunts, uncles and other relatives of my cousins of my jerky son—in-law. I would be real happy for a little family help, and my grandchildren would be better for it too.
My guess is these individuals do not want to get involved. Do I call or wait for them? Or forget it? I am not real close to any of them as you could guess. Gina Davies, Chicago, Illinois
Dear Gina: Yours is an excellent question with implications for other grandparents that carry the same weight. Although aunts and uncles are a paramount family resource, they are frequently treated like invisible actors in such situations. Instead of being asked to play a major role, they are shunted off to the wings of the family drama.
Grandparents have their limitations, and you’ve apparently hit the wall after three weeks. Even under the best of circumstances, adolescence is the most challenging developmental period in a grandchild’s life, a period when they try on different identities and round into shape. Our guess is they have shut you out since you’re so negative regarding their departed father.
It’s high time for the extended family to circle the wagons. Your grandchildren surely need their support, and aunts and uncles are well equipped for the job. Nieces and nephews generally value family elders as confidants and sounding boards.
So stop badmouthing your departed son-in-law, even if deserved. Your grandchildren don’t need to hear that now, and it drives a wedge between you and his side of the family. To get the ball rolling, reach out to announce you’ve buried the hatchet. We’ll bet the extended family has room in their heart and perhaps their home for the grandkids. Help is on the way.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Itsy Bitsy Mitzi, of Kingsport, Tennessee, weighed in with this observation:
“You know you are a grandparent when you find yourself laughing at the same things that used to make you angry when your children did it.”
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.