Dear Grandparenting: This concerns two grandchildren, except I’m talking about the same person. It happens to be my grandson Zeke.
The boy had the whole world in his hands at 13. You name it, the most popular, leader of the pack, the one everyone thought could do no wrong.
More than once, I had the parent of one of his high school friends tell me Zeke was headed for stardom whatever he did.
That was then. Now, he’s 19. Zeke has lost that golden glow and there’s no sign of the confidence that went with it.
It happened like a row of dominoes falling, one thing after another. He dropped out of high school in the middle of his junior year. Most of his friends had finished with school.
He didn’t have a plan. Yes, Zeke had some problems abusing different substances. I know he has been arrested at least once because I posted bail. His parents have three other children and are serious about making sure they don’t end up like Zeke. He lives in northern California doing “odd jobs.”
So, let’s warn families whose children are the talk of the town. The bigger they come, the harder they fall. Mary Hooker, Buffalo, NY
Dear Mary: We’ve seen this before; grandchildren free falling from top to bottom drawer, all before the teenage years have run their course. Some learn from their fall and rejuvenate themselves, but it’s a bumpy road back.
Socially, precocious youth, or “cool” kids, like Zeke, are at greater risk than garden-variety grandchildren for this downward spiral, per a study in the journal Child Development.
According to lead author Joseph P. Allen, trouble typically starts after they hit the fast lane and begin socializing with older kids, indulging in pseudo-mature behaviors like drinking, heavy dating, and drug experimentation.
It can all boomerang back to bite them. Busy carousing, cool kids don’t learn values held by socially mature mid-teens like supportive friendships, hard work, and responsibility. When peers were asked how well former cool kids got along with others, their ratings were 24 percent lower than for average young adults.
Grandparents should reinforce aspects of character that help grandchildren withstand the urge to be too cool and too fast. Young grandchildren with the confidence to appreciate their individuality are always cool in our book.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Everybody thinks T.G.I.F. stands for “Thank God It’s Friday,” said Denny Malone, of The Villages, Florida. Grandson Joseph made my day when he said that T.G.I.F. stands for “This Grandpa Is Fantastic.”
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.