Dear Grandparenting: My daughter insists her kids are “stressed.” That’s what I’m hearing on the phone lately. They call me every Sunday before their supper. When I ask her about my grandchildren, she starts off with, “I think they’re stressed out,” and proceeds to explain how rough they have it and how they’re coping or not.
I think she exaggerates pretty much everything. My granddaughters are not exactly in what I would call high stress situations. They are 10 and 12. That’s supposed to be the carefree time between being treated like a child and the teenage years when life starts getting serious. So what in the heck is there to be so stressed about at that tender age? C.K., Marshall, Michigan
Dear C.K.: For starters, tell your daughter to turn it off around your grandchildren. Whether they’re stressed or not, hearing their mother calling their fortitude into question can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Numerous surveys have reported spikes in the anxiety and stress levels of grandchildren today. According to a 2014 survey by the American Psychological Association, teens reported their stress level was 5.8 on a 10-point scale, compared to 5.1 for adults — meaning they’re even more stressed than their parents’ generation.
That’s pretty astounding, by our reckoning. Truth be told, life seems to get more complicated a lot sooner than it should. The economic climate has created considerable fear and uncertainty. Shaky finances create shaky marriages, which produces anxiety that trickles down to grandchildren.
Maybe your grandchildren heard the grim predictions that instead of exceeding their parent’s quality of life, they’ll more likely go backward. Maybe they worry about climate change or terrorists or global contagions, three profoundly pressing problems that are right here, right now. Or maybe they worry whether kids at school will make their life miserable.
Technology is certainly no help. Grandchildren aged 8-12 spend an average of six hours daily peering into screens according to Common Sense Media — watching videos, TV and movies, playing video games or using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. When do they unplug and relax?
Back in our day, America was on a roll. The USA was the most dominant nation on earth economically and militarily, hands down. It made for a carefree, happier time to be growing up, and many modern grandchildren will never have it that good.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Artie Burns, of Reading, Pennsylvania, weighs in to say he wishes “I had the energy of my grandchildren, if only for self defense.”
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.