Dear Grandparenting: I got some awful news. Looks like my daughter is going to be spending the next few years in the big house for check fraud and stealing narcotics. She looked a little ragged lately but this blew me away.
After I picked myself up off the floor, I decided that had to be her problem. But it brings up another problem. My granddaughter, Emily, has nowhere else to stay but right here with me.
I can feel my nerves acting up of late. Let’s just say she is a wild one for 16. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. I am in no mood for lots of disruption. Do I lay down the law from the get-go or wait and see how things go? I love my granddaughter. She is the only grandchild I’ll ever have. Tam Graham, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Dear Tam: We certainly understand your predicament, but your granddaughter’s situation borders on devastating. Although prison often fails to straighten out female inmates, according to research, it does tend to mess up their children.
Your granddaughter could pay a terrible price. Her primary caretaker is gone. People will talk. And now she is statistically at greater risk for poor academic performance, delinquency and dropping out, drug abuse, pregnancy, gang involvement and incarceration. Right now, she is likely hanging by a single thread — you.
Male prisoners will tell you they look forward to getting out, but the women say they miss their kids. America’s female inmate population has exploded. Ever since 1978, the number of women in state prisons has grown at more than twice the rate as the male inmate population.
It’s vital to get off on the right foot. Instead of a wait-and-see approach, gently lay out your basic expectations, making it clear you will hold her accountable. Don’t set the bar too low. Counseling may well be in order. Emily needs to know she doesn’t walk alone. Last but surely not least, keep those hugs coming.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Lindsay Williams, of Everett, Washington, reports that Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday, for good reason:
“Thanksgiving is the one and only day that all of my 15 grandchildren get together. This year we meet at my son Bobby’s house in Marysville. We have a family ritual. My older grandchildren write a special Thanksgiving grace to bless the meal and our good health. Then they rehearse reciting it with my younger grandkids. All 15 of them will stand up and recite the grace before anyone takes a bite of turkey. I count my blessings, surrounded by grandchildren and family.”
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.