Dear Grandparenting: Kids grow up fast today. My grandchildren are not old enough to do much of anything except keep up their active social life. It is all about who is cool, and who is not, and who is hanging out together. They can get in these dating-like relationships. That is what happened with my grandson Marc. He is 13. Marc was like any other kid that age. He was kind of goofy and sweet. Then he met Lisa.
I did not meet Lisa. That will not be happening. Lisa must be a small witch. Lisa played games with Marc’s head. Now she is gone. Marc is miserable. I know how love hurts. I am not big on handing out advice. If I made an exception, do you think anything good might come of it? Elias York, Chicago, Illinois
Dear Elias: You say love, but we say puppy love. Either way, we well remember the intense feelings that accompanied our first romantic impulses. Infatuations can become all consuming, and then sooner or later you’re on Heartbreak Hill.
But we recover, right? There will be others. Most of us careen through a series of romantic entanglements before we’re done. Yet somehow the first ones stay with us long after they’re gone. The shock and awe of discovering the joys of the opposite sex is not readily forgotten.
Many families will no doubt dismiss puppy love as inconsequential. But recent research indicates there is a positive payoff when grandparents dispense dating advice to their youthful grandchildren. When older family members make themselves available to talk things over, grandchildren go on to enjoy quality romantic relationships marked by less conflict than families who sit idly by, according to developmental psychologist Stephanie Madsen. The trick, she says, is for adults to be nonjudgmental and good listeners, capable of withholding their advice until it’s asked for.
A study published in the journal, Child Development, that was called “striking” by researchers, corroborates the value of adult advice in helping grandchildren as young as 10 to make better romantic decisions. From middle school on, the choice of romantic partners impacts a grandchild’s mental and social health. Clearly, this situation is just one more good reason for grandparents to build and nurture open lines of communication with their grandchildren.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
“Not Older, Just Better” from Reading, Pennsylvania, was talking to granddaughter Annie about the girls in her school.
After Annie had ticked off the names of her friends, “Not Older” asked who was popular.
“That’s easy,” said Annie. “Everyone likes Alex. She makes the best faces. She can even cross her eyes!”
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.