Dear Grandparenting: Everybody says your childhood is the carefree years. Try telling that to my granddaughter, Megan. The kid is 7 and acts like the weight of the world is on her little shoulders.
Nothing is ever good enough, and Megan is quick to tell you why. She complains constantly. If I fix one problem, she comes right back with another. She complains to me when we’re alone and when we have company. She breaks in to whine about something when I entertain friends. I can tell what they think by the look on their faces: “Tell that child to put a cork in it. Turn it off.”
At first, I didn’t care so much why she complained as how to stop it. Then I tried putting myself in my granddaughter’s shoes thinking how miserable she might be. Or is she just putting it on?
My granddaughter’s life is not perfect. Megan is eight years younger than the next oldest child in her family and I suppose she was bullied. It was all her idea to move in with me. Do you have any bright ideas? I am getting worn down. Going Bonkers, Tucson, Arizona
Dear Bonkers: Is she miserable or manipulative? Is it a cry for help or a cry for attention? We’ll get around to that, but for crying out loud, where are the limits? Any grandchild who is empowered to incessantly complain soon wears out their welcome. Megan, turn it off.
It’s not unusual to see this behavior in adolescent grandchildren, during the trying years when youngsters try to assert themselves. But it raises flags in one so young, especially when it’s habitual.
Assuming there is no underlying physical condition, we suspect your granddaughter adopted this behavior to level the playing field against her much older siblings.
Constant whining is bothersome to be sure, but it gets her noticed and elicits a response. Psychologists call this negative attention — but it’s better than no attention at all.
Work to improve her low self-esteem. Helping your granddaughter develop her natural gifts and aptitudes should give her confidence. Megan would benefit from stronger social supports. Does she have any friends she wants to invite over? Add a grandmother’s unconditional love and that should start to turn it around.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Billie Fulton, of Everett, Washington, took 9-year-old grandson Rudy shopping to let him pick out his birthday present.
“No need to rush,” she told Rudy. “Let’s find something special that will make you happy.”
“That’s why I love you, Grandma,” said Rudy. “You make me feel like you have all the time in the world just for me.”
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.